Runs in the Family

Part of my motivation to run more was the hope that I’d inspire the kids to want to join in on the activity. When we registered for the Princess Half Marathon weekend races, we signed Cordy and Mira up for the one mile race for kids. We expected to see Cordy cross the finish line first, with Mira further behind. But we were shocked when Mira was the first one sprinting across the finish line in under eleven and a half minutes, with Cordy following about a minute later. Mira quickly recovered from the dash and declared she wanted to try longer distances.

I went looking for a 5k that would be friendly to kid runners, especially if she couldn’t do the distance and we needed to slow walk a part of it. Mira insisted it had to be a race with a medal – the kid takes after me in her love of runner bling. I found out about a new race called the MommyMile, which encouraged kids to run along with their moms, and decided it would be a good first 5k for her to do in late April. And it had a medal.

Thanks to some bad weather, we didn’t get in as much training as I would have liked for Mira. The day of the race was chilly, which made me worry that she’d decide she didn’t want to do it anymore. Getting up early on the weekend is bad enough, but getting up early to go out into the cold is even less exciting to a seven year old. Surprisingly, she was still ready to go and looking forward to the race.

Before Mira's first 5k

I had a deliberately slow plan for us: we’d do intervals of 30 seconds of running, followed by one minute of walking. I can run faster intervals than that, but I didn’t want to wear Mira out too quickly.

At the start line, Mira was bouncing with energy, so excited to get started. I reminded her that during our run intervals, she needed to not go at 100% or she’d run out of steam. She agreed that she would run slow and conserve her energy.

Crossing the start line, though, she shot ahead of me, weaving in and out of people with an enormous smile on her face as she glanced back to check where I was. I had to push myself to keep up with her. When my Garmin watch signaled it was time to walk, I called out to her and she slowed, waiting for me to catch up to her. I reminded her to pace herself, and she replied that she was running slow. We repeated this process for several sets of intervals.

But then right before the first mile marker, it caught up to her. She looked out of breath and she told me her side was hurting. “Let’s walk this next run interval and take some deep breaths,” I suggested. She was happy to comply. After she caught her breath, I again suggested running slower, and she finally agreed with me.

Now that she wasn’t huffing and puffing, though, she had enough air to complain:

“This second mile is taking forever!”

“Where is the water station?”

“OMG, we have to run uphill again?”

“I’m SO tired and my feet hurt!”

I can’t blame her – I have many of those same thoughts in the middle of a race, although I usually only say them in my head.

I remained her coach through the entire race, reminding her that she can do anything for 30 seconds, and that she was stronger than she thought she was. I reminded her about the medal at the end, too, and that she had to finish the race to earn the medal.

As we reached the last half mile, the smile returned to her face. “We’re almost there! I can see it!” She had renewed energy and started to run a little bit faster. Seeing people cheering for the runners at the end helped boost her spirits, too. She yelled thank you to those cheering us on as we passed them.

We made the final turn, and with the finish line in sight Mira sprinted towards it as she waved at Aaron and Cordy cheering for us. I could see how proud she was to finish the race and collect her medal. I was proud of her for sticking with it and not giving up.

And – like many runners – despite the complaining during the race, after she had a snack and some water and rested for a bit, Mira asked, “When can I do another 5k?”

Welcome to the club, kid.

Mira's first 5k medal



A Bumpy Start to School

School started on Wednesday, but it hasn’t been as smooth as I’d hoped it would be. Honestly, this has probably been one of the hardest back-to-school weeks we’ve endured.

The week started with me getting what I thought was a small cold. By Monday evening I could tell it was spiraling into something worse, so I kept drinking lots of water, taking vitamins and supplements, and hoping it would go away. On Tuesday I was feeling run down, but determined to finish getting supplies packed into backpacks and clothing set out so everything would be perfect for the first day of school.

Wednesday started on a high note. The girls were awake, excited, and ready for their first day. And somehow Mira grew from 7 to 14 overnight.

First day of school 2014 No really, why does she look ready for high school?

The bus was even here only a couple of minutes late. I expect that on the first day, as drivers are still getting used to routes and some kids take longer than expected to get onto the bus. Cordy was a little nervous, and as the driver and aide greeted the kids she asked, “Are you nice? Because I had a mean bus helper in first grade and I didn’t like her.” The aide responded, “Oh, I think I’ve been on a bus with you before.” I’m really hoping it wasn’t in first grade…

But the bus pulled away with two happy kids, I settled into a (peaceful!) day of work, with only Cosmo curled up next to me and a whopping sinus headache to endure. I was pretty sure it was a full-blown sinus infection at this point. Even my fatigue couldn’t get me down, especially since there were no calls home from the school during the school day.

Then at 4pm, half an hour after the end of the school day and just as I was starting to wonder if the bus would show on time, I received a call from the school. I expected it to be an update on how Cordy’s first day had gone. Instead, it was her teacher telling me that Cordy and Mira were still at school, as their bus had not shown up yet and the school didn’t know where it was.

Seriously?? I expect first day delays, but when the bus hasn’t shown up to the school 30 minutes after it was due, and no one knows where it is or when to expect it, that’s a problem. I sent Aaron a message quickly and he left work to go pick them up, rather than wait for who knows how long for the bus to arrive.

While waiting, I checked the transportation department’s Twitter feed – which is designed to alert parents to bus routes running late – and despite notices for several other routes, ours wasn’t listed. What good is an alert system if you only provide updates on some of the routes?

When Aaron and the kids got home, the girls looked exhausted. Gone was the excitement of the morning, replaced by sweaty hair and shirts and half-open eyes. They said they’d had a good first day, but it was very hot at school. (No air conditioning in the building, and it was near 90 degrees.) We went through their folders and pulled out the requisite first day stacks of paperwork for me to fill out.

We ordered pizza as a special treat for the first day of school. Mira only ate one little square of pizza, and despite being home in air conditioning, looked really worn out. At one point she asked me, “Do I feel warm?” I placed my hand on her forehead and said, “No, sweetie, you’re cool to the touch. And a little clammy, too.” Half an hour before bedtime, she announced she was going to go to bed because she felt so awful.

But before she could go upstairs, she suddenly clamped her lips tightly together and had that wide-eyed look that all parents quickly recognize – she was about to vomit. Aaron rushed her into the bathroom and they made it just in time. After that excitement, we cleaned her up and, in true Mira fashion, she said “It’s a good thing I only ate one piece of pizza!”

She said she felt better and so we put her to bed. At first I thought her vomiting was probably related to being in the heat all day. Cordy had a 24-hour stomach virus on Saturday, but those tend to have short incubation periods, so Mira would have been sick long before Wednesday, right? I convinced myself that her proclamation of feeling better meant it was a one-time thing.

My assurances fell apart about five minutes later when she started vomiting again. And then 15 minutes after that. And 20 minutes after that. It was clear now that this wasn’t related to the heat. She finally stopped vomiting around 2:30am.

I slept fitfully the rest of the night, waking up with sinus pain and coughing. At 7:15am yesterday, I dragged myself downstairs to help Cordy get ready for school. The second day of school routine wasn’t nearly as cheery. Even though Mira was already on the couch sipping juice and announcing she felt better, I knew she wasn’t able to go to school. So yesterday she spent the day on the couch, watching Phineas and Ferb episodes all day long, while I sat across from her doing my best to get a little work done through the brain fog and exhaustion. I felt bad that Mira had to miss the second day of second grade – what a lousy way to start.

And then at 4:05pm, the phone rang. It was the school, telling me that the bus had just shown up five minutes ago, so to expect Cordy to be home late. 30 minutes late to the school again? And yet again, no notice on the Twitter feed. Oh wait, they updated after I complained to them on Twitter. But they updated 10 minutes AFTER all kids had been dropped off. Thanks for letting us know the bus was on its way back to the depot empty.

Guess who has earned themselves the special honor of being my project this year? I’m utterly fed up with transportation, and it’s only the second day of the school year. I can understand some delays at the start of the year, but their lack of communication and their lack of respect for parents and students is unbelievable. I’ve heard some horrible stories from other parents already, too. Stories that make ours look minor.

The good news is that we’re hopefully ending the week on a positive note. Mira was completely recovered by last night, so she happily went to school today. The bus was on time this morning. And I think I’m finally starting to get over this sinus infection. Now if the bus could make it to the school on time this afternoon, we’ll hopefully have a perfect day to end the week.



Back To School Time!

We’re now less than a week away from school starting, which has everyone in this house excited. Yes, even the kids. Summer camps are over, and this week they’ve been tortured with having to entertain themselves most days while I work. At this point, going back to school is a welcome alternative to the boredom of being at home and occasionally having to be super quiet while I’m on a call.

They really do like school, though. We went to the school last night for a “welcome back” ice cream social, and Cordy and Mira were so excited to see their teachers and some of their classmates again. We also found out which teacher Mira will have for second grade – he’s the same teacher that Cordy had for most of second grade. Cordy had promoted him so much to Mira that now Mira thinks she has the perfect second grade teacher.

We already knew which class Cordy would be in for this year. She was eligible for the gifted class this year, so in the spring we applied for her to have a spot in the class at our school. We found out in June that she was accepted into the class – not a big surprise, since she met all three of possible criteria for inclusion.

Because the district tried to drastically slash the number of gifted ed classrooms last year, applications for our gifted classroom were down this year, most likely due to a fear of sending a child to a school for only a year and then having to be re-assigned again the next year. There are only 14 kids in the class instead of the typical 20. (Not complaining, since that’s actually good for Cordy.) I’m going to stay on top of the issue to try to ensure our school keeps their gifted ed classroom, as it’s the perfect resource for a twice-exceptional kid like Cordy.

We also received the school supply lists for the year. Have you gone shopping for school supplies yet? I started shopping a couple of weeks ago when we received Cordy’s supply list in the mail, and then finished last night with Mira’s list. I’ve learned something very important in the process: compare prices between stores.

We did most of Cordy’s supply shopping at Staples, when they were advertising a sale on school supplies. This is what we bought:

School supplies from Staples

All of that cost about $60. I was a little shocked that school supplies cost so much.

And then last night, I went to Target to get Mira’s supplies and get the last few items we needed for Cordy. This is what I bought:

School supplies from TargetDog paw not included.

That includes a handful of extra items to donate to district schools as well. Total cost? $31.

That’s almost half the cost of the Staples items. Wow, what a difference! Yes, I did buy more Target brand for crayons and colored pencils, but the price difference between those and Crayola was less than thirty cents per item. And the glue sticks were store brand in either case.

Had I known that supplies were that much cheaper at Target, I would have gone there at the start. I’m considering returning the Staples items and getting them all at Target instead. (This post isn’t sponsored by Target, but I’m learning I need to shop there more often!)

At this point the kids are ready for school to start. Of course, now I need to work on my parent back-to-school supply list. This includes:

  • Coffee k-cups to get me moving for those earlier mornings
  • Pajamas I don’t mind my neighbors seeing when I take the kids out to the bus
  • Space on my memory card for first day of school photos
  • Double-check that the Transportation Dept. phone # is programmed into my phone
  • Afternoon snacks for hungry kids getting off the bus
  • Lots of patience for helping out with homework

I’m hoping this will be a good school year for all of us!



Box of Rocks

On the last day of school, the kids cleaned out their desks and put everything into their backpacks to bring home. This is always the fun time of the year when I get to see all of the supplies I bought at the start of the year, some of them barely touched, and others trashed.

As we were walking into the house, Mira was visibly having trouble carrying her backpack. “Do you need some help with that?” I asked.

“Um, yeah, maybe,” she replied.

I smiled at my youngest daughter, expecting that it was mostly an act to get my help. It’s possible her backpack was a little heavy, but probably not that much. Mira likes to exaggerate.

I reached out and grabbed one of the backpack straps, and then she let go.

Thud.

The backpack hit the ground. It was much heavier than I expected!

I applied a little more effort and lifted it again. “Wow, Mira, what are you carrying in this thing? A box of rocks?”

Mira went wide-eyed and said in her most exasperated tone, “Whaaaat? We had to clean out our desks! It’s everything from my desk!”

I was imagining that she’d been hoarding books and art projects in her desk all year long to produce a backpack that weighed this much. But I set it aside and didn’t think about it for a little while.

And then I cleaned it out.

OMG.

After pulling out a few things, I grabbed a box to contain the contents of her backpack. This was everything that was in it:

All in a single backpackthis photo doesn’t do the depth of papers and notebooks justice

Papers, supplies, notebooks, her school yearbook (I wondered why we only received one!), her art shirt, etc. It’s no wonder it was so heavy. She had papers from as far back as October in there.

But wait, it gets better. That little pink box that was supposed to hold her pencils? Here’s what it held:

A box of rocksRocks. Seriously.

She really did have a box of rocks in her backpack. Apparently it was her rock collection from school.

Next year’s rule: school rocks will stay at school.



Mira’s Cedar Point Birthday Extravaganza

Today, Mira woke up as a seven year old.

SEVEN.

Wait. Wasn’t she just a curly-headed toddler not that long ago?

Last year, Mira insisted on the big party with all of her friends from school there. This year, she traded in the big party for the chance to spend two days at Cedar Point over Memorial Day weekend. We were already going up on Saturday for Blogger Day (disclosure: Cedar Point furnished our park tickets and provided lunch on Saturday), but Mira was interested in making it a two-day long trip, and willing to give up a chance at having a big party in favor of an amusement park adventure.

So, we did. We spent two days at Cedar Point, staying at the Sandcastle Suites resort on-site. Even though Cordy was firmly against the idea of riding anything other than the Tilt-o-Whirl, she agreed to come along, too, just because it was Mira’s birthday weekend.

We arrived shortly after opening on Saturday. Mira was a little disappointed that she was half an inch too short to meet the 52″ height requirement. She was still tall enough for most of the rides, which only require 48″, but it still meant the GateKeeper – quite possibly MY favorite roller coaster – was still off-limits for her.

Cedar Point GatekeeperGateKeeper over the main entrance (photo credit: Stephen Blanzaco)

Our first ride of the day was the Cedar Downs racing carousel, which at this point is a tradition for us. It’s a carousel, so it’s a gentle enough first ride of the day for Cordy, but it also goes faster than a typical carousel, and the horses in each row go back and forth as well as up and down, so there’s a winner in each row by the end of the ride.

Cedar DownsCordy’s many trips on Cedar Downs over the years

After our first ride, we stopped for our sponsored lunch. Cedar Point, having been tipped off by me that we were celebrating Mira’s birthday, had a little surprise for Mira.

Mira's ice cream cakeThank you, Bryan, for the fantastic surprise for Mira!

She was thrilled to have a chocolate Dairy Queen ice cream cake. She had asked us for cake and ice cream for her birthday, and was stunned to realize she could get both all at once.

After lunch, it was time to get back to the rides. Mira had asked her sister to ride just one roller coaster with her for her birthday. Cordy has only ever been on one, the Cedar Creek Mine Ride, and used to love it, but then last year became scared of it and refused to ride it anymore.

Mine Ride CollageWe still use it to track how big she’s getting.

Cordy wanted to ride the Mine Ride as quickly as possible to get her obligation to her sister over with, but then something amazing happened. We all rode it…and Cordy loved it. Then asked to ride it again with her sister.

On the Cedar Creek Mine Ridesecond and third rows (photo credit: Stephen Blanzaco)

We then went to Camp Snoopy to allow the kids some time to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl a few times. (That ride never gets old.) Right next to Camp Snoopy is the redesigned Midway area, where we couldn’t pass up the Monster and the new Pipe Scream.

At that point, Mira was ready for her next roller coaster. She went for another favorite of hers (and mine): the Iron Dragon. Cordy had never been on this suspended coaster before, but we talked her into it. And? She loved it! Score! Two for two!

Cedar Point Iron DragonCordy’s smiling at the end of the ride! (photo credit: Stephen Blanzaco)

At this point it was getting really warm, so Aaron convinced Mira to go on Thunder Canyon to cool off. It’s a water ride where you will get wet on the ride. Mira was the unlucky one on their raft to pass under every waterfall. She was drenched.

While they enjoyed having water dumped on them, Cordy and I made friends with the petting zoo animals in Frontiertown. Cordy met her hair-twin, an alpaca she named Andrew.

It was late in the day at that point. Before we could have dinner, though, the kids insisted we visit the dinosaurs in Dinosaurs Alive. It’s a cool area to learn about lots of dinosaurs, with full-size dinosaurs that move and roar and generally look menacing. All of us love reading about the dinosaurs. But we also love being goofy around them, too.

Dinosaurs Alive What do you mean don’t turn around? (photo credit: Stephen Blanzaco)

Mira finished the night with the Corkscrew roller coaster, and then we called it a night.

The next morning, though, we were up bright and early to take advantage of the one hour early entry for guests staying at the Cedar Point resorts. Our first stop: GateKeeper. (Well, for those of us who could ride it.) It’s definitely my favorite – it’s a winged coaster, and probably the smoothest roller coaster in existence.

Meanwhile, Cordy and Mira went on the Iron Dragon again…all by themselves. I’ll admit that freaked me out a little, because I’m not ready to consider them standing in lines and riding rides without us, but they were fine. They ended up riding it twice together, because Aaron and I had another roller coaster to conquer: Millennium Force.

Over 300 feet tall, 93 miles per hour top speed, and voted the best steel coaster. It’s intense. I’ll just leave it at that.

At that point, Mira had yet to ride any new roller coasters. Millennium Force was a little outside of her comfort zone, so we offered to take her on the Mean Streak, Cedar Point’s big wooden roller coaster. I was sure she’d be scared of it, but apparently turning seven years old gives you a lot of courage. As soon as it was over, her first words were, “Can we ride it again?” (Cordy decided she was done with coasters for this trip and refused to ride. She drove me around on the antique cars while Aaron and Mira took a second turn on the Mean Streak.)

Mean Streak - Cedar Point

After two trips on the Mean Streak, we then suggested Magnum XL-200. It’s only 200 feet tall instead of the 300 of Millennium Force, and not quite as fast. Mira trusted our opinion of it, and we stood in line again. I was concerned Mira was going to change her mind on this one. It’s tall. But she decided to be brave and go through with it.

As we were going up the first hill, I could see the worry on her face. I held her hand and told her it would be fun. And then by the end of the ride: “That was awesome! Can we ride it again?” We did ride it again, and even tried to be cheesy for the ride camera.

Magnum XL-200 We forgot to tell Mira to give a thumbs up. She was having too much fun, anyway.

Before we left Cedar Point on Sunday, we bought Mira her first Ride Warrior t-shirt. She had earned it. As we started the drive home, I asked her what she thought of our trip to Cedar Point as her birthday present. “Best. Birthday. Ever!” And then she promptly fell asleep, holding tight to her pink polar bear and her newly purchased stuffed blue dinosaur.

Fast asleep

She may be a ride warrior, but she’s still only seven. Happy birthday, Mira!

Thank you to Cedar Point for the park tickets and lunch, and for helping to arrange for Mira’s surprise cake. Also, thanks to Wiccy and Steve for joining us on the trip, helping with the kids, and taking photos. Mira’s summer plans include growing half an inch so she can ride the GateKeeper when we’re back later this year!

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