Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thank Goodness for Family!

Last weekend my sister Sandy, brother-in-law Will, and nephew Anders came down for a visit. On their way down from the Twin Cities, they stopped to pick up Mike's sister Katherine and her fiancee Sam, who happened to be on fall break and needed a ride home. It worked out quite well for them to all ride together, and it sounds like Anders enjoyed having some new friends to talk to in the backseat of the car. It was also nice for Mike's parents and Sam's parents to not have to drive up to St. Olaf to pick up Katherine and Sam this one time.

We attempted a 3 boy sleepover in Drew's room after everybody got here on Friday night. Zach and Drew were already in bed, and Zach was asleep, but Drew was still awake. We could hear Anders and Drew talk a little, and then they quieted down. It wasn't a terrible night, but we decided not to do a sleepover again on Saturday. We decided everybody needed a little bit better night's sleep than they had Friday.

Will and Mike headed out early Saturday morning, Will to the Hawkeye game and Mike to Wartburg for a weekend with his college buddies, so Sandy and I were on our own with the 4 boys. While I took Zach to his soccer game, Sandy stayed home so Jake could nap and Anders and Drew could play. Once Zach and I got home, we dropped Jake off at Grandma Linda and Grandpa Curt's house, and the 3 bigger boys, Sandy, and I headed out to a pumpkin patch. In the past few years we've gone to this really big, really popular pumpkin patch south of town, but we didn't feel like making that long of a trek or dealing with massive crowds, so we decided to try out a different place nearby. It was another beautiful October day, and we weren't disappointed.

Right after we got there, we decided to head out into the pumpkin patch to pick our pumpkins. Drew found a nice pumpkin pretty quickly and his mind was made up (guess he takes after Mike), whereas Zach, a little more like me, found one, but wasn't sure it was the one, and had to search around a while longer before finally being convinced (with a lot of help from me) that it was the one.

I think Anders picked his pretty quickly, too. The boys also helped me pick a little pumpkin for Jake. Trying to get a good picture of all 3 boys and the pumpkins, gourds, and squash we picked provided these funny (mostly thanks to Anders and Drew) photos.

After picking pumpkins, we decided to let the boys ride horses. There were a variety of sizes, and Zach, being the first one, felt a little unsure, so he picked a small horse. Technically, this is probably a pony, but I don't really know.

Drew was up next, and although he first said he wanted a big horse, then he decided he wanted a small horse like Zach, but then changed his mind to a medium horse.

Anders, ever fearless, knew he wanted a big horse!

Sandy and I chuckled at the fact that the older the child, the smaller the horse. The minute Zach got off his little horse/pony, he asked if he could ride again, but on a big horse this time. We were only willing to let each kid go once, though, so he'll have to ride a big horse next time.

The boys and Sandy went on the wagon ride while I took the pumpkins to the car. I had a little mishap in doing so. The car was parked on a downhill, the wagon got to rolling too fast, I tried to turn it as I got to the car, it tipped, and pumpkins, squash, and gourds started rolling everywhere. Thankfully a nice family helped me gather up my harvest so that I didn't lose anything under the others cars. It was a little embarrassing.

The boys also rode the barrel train, played in the bouncy houses, crawled through the hay (or maybe straw) maze, and played in the corn bin. While the boys were playing in the corn bin, I heard Anders, channeling Johnny Cash, shout, "MY NAME IS SUE! HOW DO YOU DO??"

We got done in time to eat a late lunch at home, and get all the boys (including Jake) down for naps. Sandy and I were happy to have a little bit of time with no little boys or their little boy energy buzzing around.

After naps, Anders showed Drew his guitar skills

and gave him some love.

Once everybody was up (I think we had to wake Drew up), we got the boys going on frosting the sugar cookies I had made the day before. I wasn't sure how it would go, but we kept it simple and it actually worked quite well. I asked the boys what color frosting they wanted, and they each got their own bowl. Well, Zach actually got two, because he wanted orange and black frosting. We also pulled out some Halloween sprinkles, and they boys were all set.

We decided I had to get a picture of Drew's cookies, which had a little dab of frosting and ton of sprinkles. I guess it's hard to tell in this picture, though.

Sunday morning was the morning of my half-marathon. It was a little stressful having Mike gone and knowing I was leaving Sandy with her own 3 year-old and all 3 of my kids. I knew Sandy could handle it, but I also know how crazy mornings can be. I was being picked up by friends for a ride to the race right around 7:00, so the plan was for Sandy and the bigger boys to come down to the race, and I knew that that would mean getting the boys ready quickly. Drew and quick in the morning don't exactly go hand-in-hand, on most days, anyway. I'd had a big talk with Drew the night before about getting dressed right away when he got up. I was able to nurse Jake just before I left, but Zach and Drew weren't out of bed yet. Thankfully, I knew that Cynthia and Katherine were coming over to help Sandy out with the boys; one of them would stay home with Jake so he could nap, and the other would head downtown with Sandy to figure out where along the race course to try to watch for me.

The race went well. Two years ago, when Sandy and I last ran this half-marathon and had a little problem finding each other (read about it here, if you forgot), I finished in about 1:46, so I kind of wanted to meet or beat that, but I also thought that was unlikely, given the fact that I've had less time to train now that there are 3 kids and time to myself is kind of a hot commodity. I felt good going into the race, and I enjoyed the run, for the most part. I ended up finishing in 1:48:38, which put me 37th out of the 465 women in my age group, and 607th out of 3,992 runners total. Unfortunately, Sandy, Katherine, and the boys just missed me at the 10 mile mark, and again at the finish line. I did see some other friends who were there cheering along the course, and it was really nice to have a little support out there from people I know. It was a bummer to not see Sandy, Katherine, and the boys, but I really appreciated their efforts. I know it couldn't have been easy getting around with all the road closures, finding parking, and getting all 3 kids walking fast enough to get to where they needed to go. Amazingly, it didn't take that long to find them after the race was over.

The rest of the day was a pretty lazy day, as I was a bit tired. One of my favorite moments was Drew and Anders laying on the couch, looking at the imaginary fireworks Drew was describing on the ceiling. I think Anders maybe started describing them, too, and it was just so cute to hear them pretending like they were, with such animation in their voices.

I'm not sure where I was when this took place, but apparently Mike gave all the boys (except Jake) a horsey ride at some point.

As I sit here and think about last weekend, I realize how lucky I am to have such supportive family members. When I mentioned to Sandy a month or so ago that Mike was considering getting together with college friends the weekend of the half-marathon, she immediately offered to come help out. And when I asked if she and Will could pick up Katherine and Sam on their way down, she didn't hesitate. Further, I think I've said it before, and if I haven't, I've certainly thought it before, I am very lucky to have 2 great sets of in-laws who help me out tons. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without their help. Between Curt & Linda watching Jake on Saturday so I didn't have to cart him around the pumpkin patch and Cynthia and Katherine helping out on Sunday with all the race stuff, I feel like the old saying about it taking a village to raise a child really holds a lot of truth. So to all of you who helped out last weekend, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it!

To close, I have to leave you with possibly my favorite moment from the weekend- Anders singing a little Johnny Cash for us. Anders loves Johnny Cash and plans to be him for Halloween, and I think he's got his act down pretty darn good. Enjoy!

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