Oops- earlier I accidentally published this post when all it was was pictures. So now I have gone back and done some explaining.
This past weekend was a busy one! Friday we got the house ready and anxiously awaited the visit of Aunt Sandy, Uncle Will, and Anders. Here's Drew showing how excited he is to see them.
Unfortunately for Drew, he didn't get to see them until Saturday morning, because they got in after 10 on Friday night. We basically all said hello and went to bed.
Saturday morning everybody was up and ready for action. Will entertained us all by his keen fashion sense.
The three cousins enjoyed the cranberry-orange muffins and scrambled eggs that I made. Sadly, I think this is the only photo I got of all three boys the whole weekend.
Sandy and I went to run a few errands (including hitting up the tea store at the mall and spending way more than we planned to on tea) and went to pick up our race packets at the race expo for our half marathon the next day. We got back just in time to get Zach to his last soccer game. In the mean time, the guys stayed home and watched the Hawkeyes maintain their undefeated status by beating the Badgers!! Then Mike and a couple of our college friends headed up to the ISU game in Ames. Sandy and I played with the boys.
I like this picture of the boys playing for a couple of reasons. First, I think Drew looks kind of funny (and slightly thuggish) wearing the new Hawkeye stocking cap I got for Zach earlier that day. Second, I think we'll look back at this picture in 20 years and recall the Snuggie trend (notice the commercial on the T.V. in the background).
After playing upstairs for a while, we headed down to the basement. I set up an obstacle course for Zach, and here he is demonstrating his jumping jacks. He isn't quite coordinated enough yet to really do his arms and legs, so mostly he jumps up and down and flaps his arms.
Aunt Sandy was a great sport and did the obstacle course, too, even the somersault in the middle.
Meanwhile, Drew and Anders played pretty well together, or at least next to each other.
Zach was very excited to get back upstairs to help Uncle Will make the pizzas, and he was the official "Cheese Boy." Making pizza with Uncle Will is a special treat Zach has come to expect every time we're with Sandy and Will, so we may soon have a full album full of pictures of Zach and Will making pizza.
Apparently there was something on the pizza stones that didn't appreciate being in the hot oven, and as a result, we nearly smoked ourselves out of the house. Amazingly, though, the smoke detector only went off twice. Given the amount of smoke that seemed to be in the house, though, that may not be a good sign. I'll have to be sure to change the batteries when I change my clock in a couple of weeks!
Despite the smoke, the pizza turned out very delicious, and we all enjoyed it!
Zach's favorite part was the flour on the bottom of the pizza. He and Will decided they should start a pizza place called "Flour on the Bottom" or something like that.
After dinner there was a little more playing before bedtime, including a concert by Drew and Anders.
Sunday morning Sandy and I got up early and headed downtown for our half marathon. Apparently we didn't get up early enough, though, because we were looking for a parking spot at 7:50, and the race started at 8:00! We improved over our last race, though, because we got to the starting line for that one with just 2 minutes to spare; this time I think we probably had about 4 or 5 minutes.
The race went really well. Nobody came and cheered us on, so we have no action shots from the race. My best half marathon time was one hour and 53 minutes, so my goal this time was to finish in 1:50. Because we got there with just minutes to spare, we couldn't get into the starting area next to the 1:50 pacer, but we weren't too far behind. And though there were a lot of people, it only took us a little over 2 minutes to cross the starting line instead of the 10 minutes it took us in the Twin Cities, and it wasn't as difficult to maneuver around people in the beginning. Sandy and I stayed together for the first couple of miles, but then we separated. The run was really pretty, and the weather was pretty nice, too. A bit chilly and breezy at times, but overall it was not bad. The course runs through some of downtown Des Moines, right up by the gorgeous capitol building, through the huge Water Works Park, around Gray's Lake, and then back through some of downtown again. Though we weren't together, Sandy and I both saw a Bald Eagle in Water Works Park, which was really cool. I felt like nobody else I was running by saw it, and I was almost compelled to shout out, "There's a Bald Eagle over there!" because I feel like it's not every day you see a Bald Eagle, but I chickened out. Somewhere in Water Works Park I caught up to the 1:50 pacing group, and then I passed them. I kind of wondered what I was doing, passing them like that, but I just felt like I needed to keep my pace up, and my pace was faster than theirs. Going into the Gray's Lake loop, I felt good, but my hamstrings were starting to feel a bit tight. I knew I just had about 3 miles left, though, so I knew I'd be ok. As I hit the 10 mile mark, though, right at about 1:23, I did the mental math and knew that 3 more miles at 8 minutes per mile meant another 24 minutes, which would put me at 1:47, and there actually was another tenth of a mile since a halfvmarathon is 13.1 miles. So then I felt a little nervous that I wouldn't make my goal, and I wondered if the 1:50 pacing group would finish in 1:50 if I was ahead of them. The last 1.1 miles felt really long, but I ended up finishing in 1:46:02, and I was very happy with that.
After crossing the finish line, I stuck to the plan Sandy and I had made, which was for me to wait on the right-hand side of the finishing area just past the finish line. I stood there for a minute or two and then decided that I didn't think she was immediately behind me, so I figured that if I went and got a quick snack and came right back, I'd be fine. So I did that. I came back and crouched low because it was windy and I was cold. After 10 minutes or so, I moved to the left-hand side of the finishing area because the sun was shining, and I watched like a hawk for Sandy to come through. Pretty soon the 2 hour pacer came through. I thought it was a little weird I hadn't seen Sandy yet, but figured she'd be there any minute. Then the 2:10 pacer came through, and I thought, "Hmm, that's weird. I haven't seen her yet." Then the 2:20 pacer came through, and I started to think, "Did Sandy get hurt? Is she just having a bad race? Where is she?" Then the 2:30 pacer came through, and I thought, "I have been waiting for 45 minutes. This is not right. Oh my gosh, where is my sister?!" So then I checked the medic tent, but she wasn't there. Our back-up plan for the Twin Cities race was to meet at the family meeting area by the letter Z, so I decided to do that here, too, even though we hadn't discussed it. Well, the brilliant race organizers had spots for each letter of the alphabet up to U, but then they just stopped. So there was no Z, and no Sandy. At this point I was imagining Sandy injured on the course, and I couldn't remember ever seeing a medic tent or anything along the course, so I worried that she was alone on the course and hurt, and I was feeling terribly guilty for leaving her behind. I ran into my friend Sara's husband and started talking to him and mentioned how I couldn't find my sister. As soon as I opened my mouth to talk, I thought, "Oh my gosh, I am about to cry. I better shut up." So I quickly left Matt to search more for Sandy. (It turns out I didn't hide my emotion very well, as Matt's wife Sara called later to check on me; Matt had told her I seemed upset and about to cry. There go my hopes of an Academy Award.) At this point, though, the fastest marathoners were finishing and the people who had walked the whole half marathon were finishing, so I knew Sandy had to be done. I wiped the tears from my eyes (thank goodness I had on sunglasses!) and asked a guy at the medic tent if he knew of a pay phone anywhere. He didn't, but then he offered for me to use his cellphone, which I was so thankful to do. I called Mike and asked if he'd heard from Sandy, and he said that yes, she had called an hour ago and was on the stage by the letters. We quickly hung up and I ran to the stage/amphitheater area. There was nobody in the middle of the stage, so I figured if I walked out there Sandy would see me if I didn't see her first. I think we saw each other at the same time, and I tell you, it was a made-for-T.V. movie scene. We ran to each other and embraced, and I cried, saying, "I was so worried about you! I didn't know where you were! I'm so sorry!" I am not that emotional of a person, but there were definitely tears of relief and joy over finally finding Sandy and knowing she wasn't hurt or lost. It turned out she finished in 1:55, so we probably missed each other while I was off getting food, NOT following the plan of staying on the right-hand side of the finishing area.
Later we reenacted our reunion for a photo op, but Will was too slow with the camera and missed the reenactment. Instead he got this funny one of us giggling at our own reenactment.
Once we got home, I had time for a quick shower and sandwich and then Mike, Zach, and I headed out the door for Zach's last flag football game. Zach was ever so focused on the task at hand (unlike in his soccer game the day before, when he was quite distracted). There was much
blocking (Zach is in the yellow and black),
blocking after the play was dead,
more flag grabbing,
and scoring touchdowns!
Here's Zach and his friend Caleb, whom I take to/from preschool every day, posing for a picture. They're only about 4 months apart in age, but many inches apart in height!
And here are Zach and Mike after the game.
Ross is Caleb's dad and the head coach of the football team. Ross and Mike graduated from Wartburg together, and Ross's wife Kristin and I graduated from Wartburg together, so it's a lot of fun to have our sons playing football and going to preschool together. Mike and Ross were on the championship IM football team at Wartburg, so I like to call this picture the past and future of IM football at Wartburg College.
After Zach's football game, the boys took naps (well, Anders didn't seem too interested in napping, unfortunately for Sandy and Will, though Anders never really was in a bad mood; he's a very easygoing kid), and Sandy and Will packed up the car. After a tasty dinner at Cheesecake Factory, we said goodbye to Sandy, Will, and Anders, and they headed south to the train station to head to Denver. Drew was insistent on giving Anders a hug, which was pretty sweet. And once we were in the car, Zach did the same thing he did when we dropped off Becky and Cam at the airport back in August- he bawled. He said he was so sad to have Aunt Sandy, Uncle Will, and Anders leave. I said, "It's hard to say goodbye, isn't it?" and Zach's response was, "It's too hard!" with more bawling. Then Zach said that when he visits people who live far away, he hates to leave them. I tried to make it better by telling Zach that in just a couple of weeks we'd be visiting Aunt Becky, Uncle Tom, Cam, his new cousin Myles, and Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Dick in Colorado. Through his tears, he said, "And while we're there, can we go to Minnesota?" It breaks my heart to have Zach so upset when we leave my family, but at the same time, it's so sweet.
It was a busy weekend, but a great one. Thanks, Sandy, Will, and Anders, for coming to visit. And thanks, Sandy, for doing the half marathon with me! Great job! Sorry about the debacle at the end of the race!