Saturday, November 21, 2009

Observations on our daily walk to school...

One of the coolest things about our new home is that it is right around the corner from the elementary school.  It is close enough that it actually takes longer to drive there in the morning.  The road between us and the school tends to get a bit backed up between parents dropping off kids and commuters heading to the freeway.  Thus, we have walked Jackson to school every day since October 12.

The following is a sample of what we experience on our daily walk*:
  • neighbors' roses-- Amelia LOVES flowers, especially roses.  I am so happy that we chose her middle name, Rose.  She feels a special connection.
  • the traffic light-- they both like to push the button for the walk signal.  This is sometimes a trigger for an argument, but we always work it out.
  • the dogs of the park-- Amelia hasn't met a dog she doesn't like.  There is a group of people that walk their dogs every day.  We are now on first-name basis with all of them.  There is Buddy the yellow lab, Foolish the golden retriever, Sam the collie, Yoda the poodle, Vegas the chihuahua, and George and Gracie the Irish Setters.
  • walkers-- we see the same people walking nearly every day.  There is a lone man who wears a cotton t-shirt and shorts, even when it is 40 degrees, the Indian woman, the two couples, an older gentleman with white hair and the middle aged women.
  • the big kids on the playground as we cut through the back way-- Jackson always looks longingly at the "big kid structure."  The other night at a school function, he and his friend played on the upper grade playground and was in heaven!
  • Mrs. Elkins-- Jackson's teacher is really sweet.  I think Amelia likes her as much as Jackson does.  Every day when we drop him off at his classroom, Amelia says "good morning, Mrs. Elkins!"  Mrs. Elkins always responds, "good morning, Amelia."
  • the sun-- inevitably, on the walk back home, Amelia complains about the sun in her eyes and asks me to carry her.  I have tried having her wear hats and sunglasses, but most days I end up carrying her at least a part of the way home.  *sigh*  If it is a cloudy day (which it rarely is), her legs are hurt or tired.   I do need to remember that she is only three and a little less than a half mile each way is actually a long way for her.   At least I get a workout.
I really hope we can find a house to buy somewhere in our neighborhood.  I love our daily walk

*one of these days, I will try to remember to bring the camera and take pictures along the way.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Kenny and I are having a debate. It sucks when we aren't exactly on the same page. I want his time at home on the weekends to be nothing but fun, but we have serious things to discuss about our future-- both short and long term.

I want to start our new life. This limbo is taking its toll on me. They are asking for volunteers at Jackson's school, but I can't take on something that I can't finish. I want him to be in a school where he can put down roots and make long-term friends. I want to put Amelia in a dance class; she is obsessed with ballet right now. People are asking me to sub for them at Stroller Strides, but it is hard to commit to anything. I also want to start my new business. So many things can't start until we move. Mostly, I want us to be a family every day again. I miss my husband. The kids miss their daddy. He misses us. I had hoped we would move in the beginning of October.

Kenny wants to wait until we rent out this house. Apparently, the rental market is very, very soft. Renting out this house by October 1 might be a tall order. By moving in October, we are risking paying double rent indefinitely. Who knows how long it will take to rent. The last six months were really hard. With no job, we nearly exhausted our reserves and dug ourselves a decent hole. The future is bright, luckily... but making that hole deeper is not what we want to do.

So here is the dilemma... move in October, taking a financial risk OR wait to move until we rent our house, risking my sanity. It is not that simple of a decision.

I just hope that we get a ton of calls on the house this next week and the question is answered for us. So if anyone out there needs a nice 3.5 bed,* 2.5 bath house with an amazing view, community pool and nice neighbors, send me an e-mail at lisagensel at cox dot net.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of School! First Day of School!

I often think of Nemo waking his dad saying, "first day of school...time for school" to his dad, Marlin. That was Jackson today! I'm not sure if there are many kids who were as excited as he was to go to kindergarten. I only got a tear in my eye once. The rest of the drop off (and pick up) I was just happy for him.

He had a great day. I picked him up and he was grinning as much as he was this morning. When I asked him (as I did every day after preschool) what his favorite part of the day was, he replied, "coming here." I said, "but what was your favorite part?" "All of it!" I am so happy.

I was one of those geeky kids that loved school. Heck, I still love school. I think that Jackson might take after me in that regard.

Another right of passage down. A new chapter in our lives stretches before us. On to the next thing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kindergarten Orientation!!!

How is that possible??? Last night I took Jackson to meet his teacher and learn all about kindergarten. First this*.......and then kindergarten? What's a mom to do?

It was a tough night emotionally for me. First, by baby is growing up. I am happy and proud, but also a little sad. It flies by, doesn't it? Then I was happy that I had put him in such a great school. The PTA is super involved and the school loves parent involvement. His teacher is AWESOME. Not only does she have 24 years of experience as a kindergarten teacher, but she is passionate about health and fitness. She is an avid runner!! Could there BE a better match for me?

Then I was sad. Really sad. As I started getting excited about the school year and getting involved, I realized that I won't be involved in this school. We are moving in October, and I will be pretty busy until then. Jackson will be spending most of the school year somewhere else. I won't get to hear all about the teacher's style etc. in orientation. He'll be just another "new kid." I am excited about our new life, but now the pressure to find another school just went up. Murdock has set the bar pretty high. At least I know he'll be in good hands for the next six weeks or so.

Lots and lots of changes. I suppose that is life. Bring it on!

*The tooth was lost a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Remembering to BREATHE...

I can finally breathe. I feel like someone has literally cut strings on a corset and the crushing feeling around my chest has loosened up.

My husband accepted a job last week. It is a great job that pays more than what he was making before. Not only is it a good opportunity for him, but it allows me to potentially start a business in fitness rather than rejoining the corporate jungle. We still have an uphill road ahead of us-- paying credit cards, savings etc. and moving two hours away. However, that uphill road is just a hill after a long run rather than the downward spiral we were feeling only weeks ago.

While thrilled to start a new chapter in our lives, it is all bittersweet. We have come to love living in San Diego. It is really the perfect place to live for us. I am sad to leave the friends that we have here. We have a wonderful network here and it is going to be tough to start over. I remember when I quit my job how hard it was to find moms with kids Jackson's age. Once kids are two or three, all the moms groups are established. I found my group through moms of babies Amelia's age. It will be harder to find mommy friends now that my kids are older. I think the schools will be key. I am sure it will all work out.

Kenny and I spent the last couple of days in Catalina, an island off the coast of Southern California. It was wonderful. We rode our bikes everywhere and spent a lot of time relaxing. Catalina is so laid back. We had a fabulous dinner in a fine dining restaurant in our biking clothes! We both feel relaxed and recharged. We are closer than ever, having come through some bleak times. We are looking forward to the future.

Our next steps are 1) getting this house ready to rent 2) figuring out where we are going to live. Kenny starts on Monday. He will be staying with his parents during the week and coming home on the weekends. I will be a single mom five days a week. Deep is going to be a long few weeks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Karma is a bitch...

What kind of karmic retribution is there for someone who is evil and doesn't know it? Some people are so narcissistic that they don't realize that their actions are as bad as someone who knowingly does evil, yet they go through life believing that they are "good" people.

Something happened last night that set me off. It made steam come out of my ears. I am glad I wasn't with Kenny last night. While I am normally very averse to conflict, I may have said something. Kenny was at an event with some former colleagues. Everyone was very cordial and friendly. After all, bygones are bygones, right? So Kenny was chatting with a particular person and he mentioned that he had recently completed a triathlon. The other person said, "Wow... that's great. So being unemployed isn't so bad!" W.T.F??????? Um... that's like saying to a guy with no legs that he is lucky that he couldn't run that marathon because it was really hard. Seriously? Unless you have the kind of relationship where that kind of interaction is common (it is not in this case), that sort of comment is not appropriate. It is especially not appropriate when you are the person responsible for the unemployment and a good deal of the stress associated with it.

Kenny said that many of his former colleagues were surprised that he hadn't found a job yet. We're surprised, too. This economy is far worse than a lot of people think. When Kenny and I have been laid off in the past, we found employment within weeks. We aren't even getting call backs for interviews this time. This has been an incredibly difficult time for us. It has been hard on our marriage, hard on our family and we have really tried to make the best of it (by doing things like competing in triathlons). For someone to make light of our circumstances is hurtful. It makes it worse when that person seems oblivious to our stress and complains about his (he has to work and doesn't have time to train for a triathlon). I choose to believe that this person is not malicious. He just doesn't think about how is words and actions affect other people. I think that is the definition of narcissist.

This post was originally a specific attack on the individual who said the hurtful comment (with names, links and pictures designed to trigger search engines). I realized that nothing good can come out of putting negative things on the internet about a specific person. I feel a bit better now. I know that the comment by itself doesn't seem like much. However, combined with ALL the things that this person has done (even without knowing), I had had enough. Since this is a somewhat private vent about this person will stay right here on this blog.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Where's my lucky charm?

*warning: this post is more of a rant and has a very whiny quality.

I used to think that I had lived a pretty charmed life. I had good jobs, great friends and family, and things worked out pretty well for me. However, there was always the worry in the back of my mind that the charm would fade. I still have a pretty incredible life with two of the best kids in the world and a great husband. BUT... I am not living the charmed life and I don't know what to do to get it back.

I know that compared to some people, we have it pretty good. They aren't foreclosing on our house, but that is because we had a lot of savings built up. The key word is had. The only reason that we aren't in a worse situation is because we had been living beneath our means for the most part and we are blessed to have family who have and will help us. However, the longer we go without income, the bleaker our bright future looks.

The last few months have been tough. Kenny and I have both been laid off before. In the past, we found jobs within weeks. This economy is as bad as the media is saying. At least it seems pretty darn bad for us. Kenny has put in for dozens of jobs and only had one interview. Most people don't even bother to e-mail him to acknowledge the receipt of his resume. Since throwing my hat back in the ring, I have experienced the same thing. I have applied for jobs that I am clearly qualified for (several years experience in that particular position). I have only received one "thanks, but no thanks" response. The other jobs disappeared into the void. In addition to people not giving candidates common courtesy, they are low-balling. We have both seen cases of companies wanting to pay far less than market for qualified candidates, just because they know they can.

The past few weeks have really taken their toll on my positive attitude. Aside from the bleak job situation, my life seems to be falling apart. The grill fell off our BMW. We have the trashiest looking luxury car around! Our big television took a crap. It is sitting on the dining room table with the parts spilled out everywhere (as Kenny takes on DIY). "Check Engine" lights are on in both cars. Our floors have no baseboards, making our beautiful new(ish) hardwood floors look trashy. The other day I was backing out of a parking space and c.r.u.n.c.h....I ran the right front panel right into a cement pole. GRRRRRRR.... a COMPLETELY avoidable cosmetic ouchy on my car! Nothing, by itself, is cause for undue anxiety. But, EVERYTHING seems to be falling apart and we don't have any extra money to replace/fix them. So it is no wonder that when my sister-in-law's dogs chewed a giant hole in Kenny's rash guard, I was nearly in tears. It is a ten-year-old rash guard that is easily replaced. In fact, it was even a bit thread bare. At any other time, this would be no big deal. But COME ON.... can we catch a BREAK??????

Normally, when I start feeling the world close in around me like this, I go for a run. It has saved my sanity on numerous occasions in the past months. Well... I can't even do that!! Somehow, I injured my chest.* It hurts pretty much all the time. It hurts worse when pressure is put on it. A nice hug from Kenny is very painful. :-( I can only sleep on one side and sleeping in any position other than with my arm slung over a pillow is uncomfortable. I ran twice last week. On Sunday's thirteen mile run, it hurt a bit for about 5 or 6 miles and then I stopped noticing it. On Tuesday's seven mile run, it hurt the entire time and seemed to hurt worse afterwards. I decided not to run until I find out what is going on. It is not like the pain is unbearable. I can run fine with a little discomfort. However, the location (the left chest) and the fact that it is not better in eleven days has me concerned about the origin of the pain. I would hate for running to make something minor turn into something worse. I miss my endorphins and I don't have money to go out and get drunk. So until the doctor tells me I'm being a big baby, I'll just pout and feel sorry for myself.

*I am pretty sure it happened water skiing, but I didn't feel any pain while doing it. I had one big fall at the end, but, once again, it didn't hurt. Hmmm....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Civic Duty...

Several years back, I made a promise to myself that I would never miss an election, no matter how small. I really value my right to vote and what women went through so that I can have that right. While I am not very active politically and really don't like talking about politics at all, I do my part in my own little way.

I have not succumbed to the absentee ballot lure because I really love going to a polling place and casting my vote. There is something symbolic for me that I enjoy. I actually wish that my polling place had red, white and blue curtains like I remember from my child hood (our grade school was a polling place). I also love to take my kids with me so they can know the importance of voting (not just to annoy the other voters with two small children). I became emotional in November as I explained what I was doing. It was such a monumental day.

Yesterday was a special election here in California. The only things on the ballot were a set of measures from the governor's office. Honestly, there hasn't really been much talk about them that I have heard and the political ads were practically nonexistent (thank goodness). Due to the lack of hype, I completely forgot it was election day. I was driving to meet my friends for a Mom's Night Out when I suddenly remembered that I needed to vote. I decided that missing one drink wouldn't be a bad thing and I took a little detour to my polling place. Honestly, I had only done some cursory reading about the measures and wasn't completely prepared. I did know about at least two of the measures and wanted to vote on at least those issues.

As I walked into my polling spot, I found out that they had moved my precinct. I don't even recall receiving my election book; only Kenny did (he is an absentee voter). Did I miss a notice telling me that my polling place of the past five years had moved? The volunteer told me vaguely where I should go. I drove to the street where she told me and turned in where I saw a sign for a polling place. Nope. I needed to go two blocks over. O.M.G. This was getting to be quite an ordeal. For one or two ballot measures, I was driving all over the place. A fifteen minute detour was quickly becoming forty-five. I was starting to get a bit grumpy. At this point, I was committed. I couldn't quit now.

I finally found the right spot. After joking with the volunteers, I was able to finally vote. My mood improved. I went and joined my friends proudly wearing my "I voted" sticker. I didn't miss the drink or two I would have had if I had arrived earlier. I had done the right thing.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

She's my girl!

Amelia just cruised by me with her baby in her stroller telling me she was going to Stroller Strides. Awwwww. She did a few laps and started getting faster and faster. She slipped in her socks and fell down (we have hard wood floors and tile). I said to her, "you know you aren't supposed to run in socks." She got up and started going again,"but, Momma! I am running a marathon!"

Like mother like daughter. It warms my heart.

oh... she just crossed the finish line in victory. :-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kitty Kitty vs. The Easter Bunny

Our cat is a predator. In the years that we have had her, she has brought in various samplings of her prey (both alive and dead) including numerous mice, a couple of birds, a few rats (*shudder*) and most recently a rabbit (Kenny found this one up in our room-- EWWWWWWW).

Jackson just came out of his room after being tucked in for the night. I asked what was wrong (as I hid plastic eggs and fillings behind my back). He was very concerned that Kitty Kitty (yes... that is her name) would attack the Easter Bunny. Can we make sure that Kitty is outside tonight? Oh! But what if the Easter Bunny comes in from the outside and she gets him??

Don't worry, Jackson, we reassured him. The Easter Bunny is tough. The kitty won't hurt the Easter Bunny. We promise.

I sure do love that kid!

Friday, March 27, 2009

grocery shopping gives me a sense of accomplishment...

Due to our current economic situation, I have been trying different ways to cut costs. One of the easiest is to clip coupons and use them wisely. I follow a couple blogs that help me find some deals, but the rest is from reading through the ads and planning out my shopping excursion. It takes some time (clipping the coupons, sorting them, going through the different ads etc.) but it is definitely worth it. Shopping itself is more involved. That is why I can't do my coupon-crazy shopping excursions with the kids. That is one benefit of an unemployed husband. If he is unavailable, I have a couple of hours on Tuesday mornings when both kids are in school. In a perfect world, this time would be for massages or pedicures. Now it is shopping or getting in a run.

I have had some success lately. Last week I saved over $100 by shopping club specials and coupons. Yesterday, I saved $80 and still have over $9 of coupons that I earned on that trip to use next time.

Here is an example of a great deal I got yesterday at Albertsons:
Five boxes of Kellogg's Cereal
$2.38+$2.38 +$2.38+$2.50 +2.39=

Two manufacturer's coupons for $1.00 and

$12.03-$1.70=$10.33 (Albertsons doesn't double

They gave me two coupons for free gallons of milk (up to
$4.69 value)

$10.33-$9.38= $.95

I just bought five boxes of cereal that we use every day and two gallons of milk for less than a dollar!!!! How cool is that?????

For some great money saving tips, try these blogs (there are a ton more, but it gets overwhelming, so I am sticking with a couple for now):

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My baby is THREE.

March 17, 2006 12:04 a.m. (look at how big she is... she looks like the newborns in the movies. LOL)

Her big brother loved her right away.

At 5 months old, you could tell that she was going to have beautiful blue eyes. She has enchanted us with those eyes. How many people in the future will be enchanted by those eyes?

She was a butterfly her first Halloween. To me, she looks like an angel.

Our little precocious 9-month-old took her first steps right before Christmas.

And by her first birthday, she was cruising the party.

Here she is on her 2nd birthday.

She is really becoming Daddy's little girl...

Mmmmm.... cupcakes!

by three years old, she really gets the idea of a birthday party in her honor. She loved every minute of it!

She really is our little princess.

Although the day after her party, she said in a matter-of-fact manner, "Mommy... I don't like princesses anymore. I like POWER RANGERS. Next time I want a Power Ranger party."
Ah, the fickle nature of a three-year-old.
Where did the time go???

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Great Forecast!

Amelia turns 3 a week from today. Where did the time go???

I am super happy that the forecast calls for sunny and 73 degrees on Saturday for her party. We have borrowed a friend's jumpy house and Kenny has added some cute features (a steering wheel and trapeze swing) onto the play structure in the backyard. Between playing outside, coloring and doing foam crafts inside, twelve preschoolers will be entertained. I know that you should really only have three or four kids at a three-year-old's birthday, but how do you pick and choose kids from a playgroup? I am friends with all the moms and Amelia calls all the invitees her friends. I didn't even invite any kids from her preschool.

I think we are pretty darn lucky to be able to call so many people our friends. Isn't that what really matters?

I am looking forward to Saturday.

I love give-aways!!

I have started to follow a few blogs helping me to save money. I am learning about coupon clipping and all that jazz. One of my favorites, Mommy Making Money, is giving away an Amazon gift card. I can't decide if I will buy my Luna Bars with it, or splurge on a new book.

This particular blog has some sort of giveaway every few weeks or so (and she often links to other giveaways). It is cheaper than playing the lottery. The odds are sure better. A few weeks ago I won some sport wipes from a running blog I read. Even when I don't win, it certainly is entertaining. Give it a try! :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ooh, a fantastic giveaway!

Check out this cute little coat and the fabulous photographs this woman took. I will need to find someplace to wear a coat like this. I love it!!

I need to get some talent so I can giveaway cool stuff on my blog.

Check out the link: Grosgrain: The Conservatory Overcoat GIVEAWAY!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Although, honestly, I am not a fan. I really don't have any positive things to say about Valentine's Day. This doesn't come from a bitter place; I left that place a long time ago. Kenny and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day and I don't miss it. It is actually a relief. We wait and try to celebrate the day we found each other at the end of the month. It is more personal to us and doesn't seem quite so contrived by Hallmark.

Why, you may ask, am I such a curmudgeon about a holiday all about love? Well... there are several reasons. Valentine's Day is often stressful for singles, people dating, married couples and parents. I think more people stress out about Valentine's Day than truly enjoy it.

When you are single, it is one of the worst days of the year. Everything around you for the days and weeks leading up to it serve as a reminder that you are ALONE. I remember many single Valentine's trying to get together with girlfriends to ease the pain. Even those times I was single by choice, perfectly content living my single life, Valentine's Day would come around and try to make me feel bad for not being in love.

When you are in a relationship it causes stress. In the early stages of dating, you never know what to get the other person. Are we in a card stage? If so, what kind of card? Funny? Mushy? Should I just give candy? What if he gets me something nice? What if he doesn't get me anything at all? Seriously... it is rarely a relaxing occasion. When a couple has been together for a while, it always seems like there are expectations. I know too many women who have high hopes for VD only to be disappointed year after year. Do we really want cards that are mass produced with predictable sentiment? It is a rare man (or woman, for that matter) that can write a love poem year after year for his/her true love.

And going out to dinner? Forget about it. Menus often are prix fixe and ridiculously expensive. You need a reservation almost everywhere. Everywhere else has long waits. Personally, I'd rather go on a random Tuesday than fight the crowds. This year, it falls on a Saturday. I can only imagine what a zoo it is going to be.

Now that I am a mom, I try to get into the spirit with the kids. However, it seems to be ALL about the candy. I rebel against that notion. My kids didn't get any candy from me. They got books. They did, on the other hand, get loads of candy from the valentine exchange at school. There is no escaping it. I just need to endure a few days of sugar highs and constant begging for the lollypops in their valentine bags.

Don't get me wrong. I love romance. The idea of Valentine's Day is nice. It has become something that is anything but romantic. While I dislike this made-up holiday*, I don't think any less of those who embrace it. More power to them. Some people truly enjoy today and for them, I am glad. I am not sad today. On the contrary, I am having a very nice day. I hope you are, too. *grin*

*I do know that there really was a St. Valentine. However, even historians disagree as to the real saint for which the holiday is honoring. Check out this article on to read more:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Unlikely friends

I saw this on another blog I read and thought it was really cute.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Finding inspiration...

Hope –the belief in a positive outcome in events and situations in our lives.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. ~Anne Lamott

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Chapter

This is a couple of weeks late.... I wanted to share some pictures of a momentous day in our little world. My baby started school. There's no going back now. The growing up thing is happening faster and faster and there is nothing I can do about it.

Amelia has been wanting to go to "Jackson's school" for some time now. It was always for "big kids." The director offered me a spot in October for her. I am pretty sure that she would have loved it just as much then. But I wasn't ready. Right before Christmas, she told me that she had a spot available in January. I knew that it would be now or not again until the summer. Amelia is nearly three (sniff sniff) and is really ready. I knew that I was just going to have to suck it up. I had been taking her to a mom's morning out in order to get Christmas shopping done and the hours of free time it gave me was great. I suppose I was finally ready to admit that my baby is becoming a big girl.

I was prepared for her to be enthusiastic about school. I don't think I was quite prepared for how enthusiastic she was. She had to be reminded to say good-bye to me and give me a hug and kiss. That is not just for the first day. Every day since, she has run off to her friends without a second thought about mom. I suppose it is good. She is confident. She is independent. The only thing that makes me feel better is that she is excited to see me when I pick her up after lunch. On her first day, I was fine. I didn't have any tears like I thought I might. I just had an empty feeling while driving away. When I went to pick her up on the second day, she was sitting at a table with other kids eating her lunch. At that moment, a wave of emotion hit me. She really was a big girl.
Here she is, ready to go. She is dropping off her lunch box before going out to the playground before school.
Out at the playground being forced to pose for that "1st Day of School" picture. Jackson wanted to get in on the action. Once I was done making her pose, she ran over to the "merry go round" that several of the kids were on.

I stuck around until they lined up and went into the classroom for circle time.
She didn't look quite sure at first, but seemed to find her place.

She had a great day that day and every day since. For two days a week she gets to be a big girl at school. The rest of the week she is still my baby ;-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year...

Here is an overview of 2008 with some pictures...

January (we didn't take any pictures in January....oops)

I embarked on a journey with three women that changed my life. My Stroller Strides buddies, Jen and Laura, made an announcement in class that they were going to run the Rock-n-Roll marathon in June. I had always thought about running a marathon someday and the opportunity was presenting itself to me in a perfect package: other moms running it for the first time. The next four months four of us (Jen, Laura, Lisa and myself) ran hundreds of miles together. That decision would change my life and how I see myself forever...

My kids are getting bigger. I don't have babies any more. I just love how much they are growing to love each other. Unfortunately, there are almost as many moments where they are fighting as there are funloving ones. In the end, they are each the other's favorite person.

My BABY turned two. Where has the time gone? We didn't have a party this year, but we took her to an indoor playground and out to dinner. She had a good day. I don't think we'll be able to avoid a party this year. She's been talking about it since September.

I also ran my second race ever. Our little training group ran the Resolution Run 15K. It was the furthest that three of us had ever run.

We went with my friend and running partner Jen and her husband to her sister's house in Canyon Lake, CA. We waterskiied, swam and had a wonderful weekend with new friends. The kids are all the same age and it worked out perfectly. Jen and Greg have similar parenting styles and we all get along great.

My life was focused a lot on running. The marathon was coming up and we did our longest runs in May.

The big day arrived on the first. Months of training had led up to that day. It was a day of relief, excitement, happiness and even a little disappointment. I ran 26.2 mile in 4:54. I had hoped for a 4:30 finish, but when all is said and done I FINISHED A MARATHON.

A week after the marathon, Kenny underwent surgery to fix his hip. He had a hip resurfacing procedure, which was a major surgery. They shaved of the outside of the top of his femur and put a metal cap there. Six months after the surgery, he is good as new. For the first time since we've been married, he doesn't limp, especially after exercise. He is able to play basketball and volleyball without pain.

We had a fun month. We spent the 4th up in Dana Point.
My friend, Heather, had her baby girl Devon. She is a sweet-dispositioned baby and will be a nice complement to her active big sister. Jackson and Amelia just love her!

At the end of the month we went on a family vacation with Kenny's parents and sister to Big Bear. It was beautiful and there was a lot of fun stuff for the kids. One of the highlights was a pirate cruise on the lake.

The house we stayed in had a great deck with a beautiful view of the lake. It was very relaxing at sunset.

The kids continued swimming lessons at Bubbles Swim School. It was amazing to see how much improvement they had. Amelia is almost 100% water safe (she still has to be reminded sometimes of her rolling over skills etc.). Jackson is a confident swimmer and loves it.

I ran my first half marathon (ironic that it was after my first full marathon). My friend and running partner Laura ran it as well. We ran the first half together and then I started fading during the second half. It was a hot day and the race was hard, but I am very glad I did it.
Jackson turned five. He is growing up to be such a great kid. He had a pirate party down at Spanish Landing park on the bay. There was a buried treasure full of prizes for all the kids to share. The weather was perfect, so after treasure hunting the kids went swimming. Who needs a bouncy house when you have the beach?

The kids had a fun Halloween. They were probably both in the most common costume for their age groups. They didn't care. They had a great time playing the part. They both dress up in their costumes still on a regular basis.

Even Mommy and Daddy got into the spirit! Jackson's best friend Greyson was a pirate too!

Kenny and I went to Moab, Utah for a mountain biking weekend. Jackson and Amelia stayed with Uncle Jason and Aunt Kristi and had fun playing with their cousin, Serena. It was a lot of fun and the scenery was unbelieveably breathtaking. I definitely got bitten by the mountain biking bug. It is difficult for us both to do it, as I am not confident enough to ride alone. We need to wait until we have someone to watch the kids.

This was the best year in terms of Christmas spirit for the kids. It was PRIME Santa year. Amelia completely understands the concept and Jackson doesn't doubt at all. They both squealed at all the Christmas lights as we drove around our neighborhood. Simple white lights on a house would elicit oohs and ahs from these kids. It was really fun.

We flew to Portland for Christmas. There was record snow on the ground. During our direct flight from San Diego they closed the Portland airport. They diverted us to the tiny Yakima airport for several hours. If you look at these pictures, you'll notice that Amelia is wearing my sweatshirt. I had her coat packed in the suitcase and never thought that we would be out on a snowy runway. It was an adventure.

The kids loved their first real taste of snow. Every day, Daddy had them out frolicking in the winter wonderland.

It was a great Christmas and a great year. I hope the next year is even better. Happy 2009!