Thursday, July 31, 2008

State or Bust!

The note below is from a recent email sent out by the kids' swim coaches. This is such an exciting thing for everyone involved with this program. Maddie has been swimming with this club since she was 7 yrs old, Will just started last fall, and I've been on the parent board for over a year. I'm not lying when I say that we have all invested an incredible amount of time (and money!) into the program. About a year ago, the club was at a really low point as it was going through some major coaching and team-philosophy changes. It could just as easily fallen apart as remained a team.

It is truly amazing to see what our dedicated coaches, swimmers, and parents have done. Our whole family truly feels lucky to be a part of this group!



59 swimmers participated making this our largest finals group in club history! It was a fantastic meet for the Sea Devils with many personal best times achieved. THANK YOU to all of the parents for your amazing support of our swimmers, the coaches and the club! It is an exciting time for the Sea Devils as our club continues to grow and the kids keep getting stronger and faster!

The history making will continue this week as we prepare to take our LARGEST GROUP of swimmers to the STATE MEET in Rochester! We started the season off in September with 3 individual swimmers who had achieved champ times. We now have 13 INDIVIDUAL CHAMP TIME SWIMMERS!! This means we will take a state team of 25 swimmers to Rochester!

Help wish our swimmers GOOD LUCK as they head off to Rochester on Thursday!

There was a "Carb-loading" party for the state swimmers on Tuesday night. The kids had a great time hanging out and playing with their teammates. It actually a very strange site to witness all these kids dry, with real clothes on, and actual hair! It's so funny how I almost need to see them in a swim cap to recognize them!

Apparently, part of the State Swimmer tradition, is to give the kids goodie-bags. Inside the bags are small gifts from other families, usually stuff like Goldfish, Swedish Fish (get it?), Gatorade and granola bars. The most exciting part of this little goodie-bag is an apparel gift from the club/coaches/parents.

The parents got to present the kids with the gift bag

STMA Sea Devils State Team
(The four little girls in the center front row are Maddie's relay team...
Carly, Maddie, Anya and Paige)

Posing in her new jacket

Maddie and Coach Terri

Although it's been 90 degrees here for the past couple days, it's been rare to see Maddie without her jacket. A little sweat never hurt anyone, right?

So, we're off the Rochester! And did I mention that one of the other little gifts in the bag was a Window Marker??? My little artist has been busy planning the details of exact designs and words which will adorn our car for the weekend.

Be sure to honk if you see a little white minivan embellished with yellow paint driving down the road... we'll wave back.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Finals Weekend

Wow! What an exciting weekend!! If you ever explore the links on the right side of my blog, you may have read a little about the ABC finals meet in Winona on Flippin' Sweets. We were there as well and I ditto Angela's excitement and pride for my own two "fish".

Swimmers qualify for this meet when they achieve an A, B, or C time in an event. It is also the last chance to qualify for an individual event for the State Swim Championship Meet this season, which is next weekend in Rochester. So, needless to say - it's a little intense and very exciting to participate. And according to the kids, one other huge perk to this meet is that they got to stay at a hotel for the weekend and run wild with a bunch of their friends.

Some of the excitement for finals comes in the actual preparation for the meet. Swimmers can ditch their regular team suits for special competition suits (aka Fastskins), they take pre-race baths in coach-provided bath crystals called "Ocean Water" while visualizing their races, and they do a shave-down. My kids are all over these little Finals rituals. In fact, Will wanted me to even shave his head prior to leaving for Winona on Friday. I convinced him that a #1 clipper attachment and a swim cap would be just fine.

Will had seven events and Maddie had eight. They both had a really great meet and took a lot of time off several races. In a bit of a heart-breaker race for both, they each took off over 2 seconds in the 50 Freestyle only for Maddie to come up 0.03 seconds, and Will to come up 0.72 seconds short of an "A" time. But they had fantastic swims - and there's always next season...

She kind of looks like she could really kick some butt on this one, doesn't she?

Although this photo looks a bit more serious than fierce, he'll tell you he can kick butt too.

Here is a little pre-meet sibling support.

Maddie's starts have become pretty strong this season. She usually gets a pretty good launch off the blocks.

Will's are looking much better too.

Yeah, I know you can count each of his ribs. Really...he does eat sometimes.

Will and his friends Mike and Henry hanging out at camp.

Here, both Maddie and Clare have the kick-your-butt looks.

Rewards of the weekend...

On one last exciting note, Maddie made the State Swim Team as part of the 200 Free and 200 Medley Relays! She is thrilled (and me too)! So, we'll have one more exciting week consisting of early morning practices with the rest of the State Team, a State carb-loading party (aka spaghetti dinner) tomorrow night, and another weekend in a hotel where she can run wild with a bunch of friends!

Friday, July 25, 2008

How much is your blog worth?

My blog is worth $1,693.62.
How much is your blog worth?

I'm not sure how they calculate the worth of random drivelings, neurotic tendencies, and countless swimming pictures, but hey - whatever. Who am I to argue?

And sorry, Wild Man , I don't really mean to rub it in or anything...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Random Sunday

Just so you all don’t think I’m a total loser since I haven’t blogged in forever, here are some absolutely random thoughts for today:

  • I love caller ID. Actually, it may be more of an addiction that a love. In fact, I’d rather sprint up 2 flights of stairs, hurdle a child, and fly over the bed to get to the phone that has it rather than take the risk of answering the call without knowing who it is. And no, there are no stalkers, credit agencies or bounty hunters involved. Just a debilitating, unfounded fear instilled by technology.
  • I am so exhausted lately. Upon reviewing my calendar which is filled with either work, early morning swim practice for the kids or swim meets, the next available time for me to sleep in (which by “sleep in”, I actually mean wake up at 7 am without an alarm clock) will be on August 7. Yeah, I know. I can almost hear your violins playing…
  • I am up to 19 friends on my Facebook account. It’s taken me almost 6 months to get there. And it’s something I’m not proud of. Just thought you’d like to know.
  • After assessing a patient at work today who was involved in a motorcycle accident resulting in him breaking his nose, lacerations all over his body, and missing chunks of skin from all over his face, he says to me, “I think I’ll maybe have to start wearing a helmet.” Hmmmm…you think?
  • Project Runway Season 5 started this past week! God, I love Tim Gunn. I think I’d like to adopt him.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gotta Love a Small Town

There are many advantages to living in a big city. Things like shopping malls, 24-hour grocery stores, Italian restaurants and Super Target are some of the first that come to my mind.

But, there are some very cool things about living in a small town as well. For example, if you're in a hurry to drop something off at someones house, and you happen to be coming from the wrong direction, it's OK to park on the wrong side of the street, or just whip a "U-ie" right there. No biggie. Or if you have a flat tire on a Sunday afternoon, you just call the guy who owns the local gas station/tire store at home to see if he can do you a favor and get a tire for you. Or if you're running late for work in the morning, it's OK. See, you are able to get to most places in under a minute anyway. You can even drink a beer or two with off-duty local law enforcement at an impromptu get-together in the back of the Fire Station, and then just hop in your car and drive the block and a half to get home. No questions asked.

While I was browsing through some pictures of our trip back to Eureka several weeks ago, I discovered a few other things unique to a small town as well.

For one, you can let your 10, 5, and 3 year olds walk home alone in the evening after a nice dinner at the local bowling alley.

Totally unsupervised.

You can't do that just anywhere.

And for another, you can load up your whole family on a trailer full of loose garbage to head on out to the local dump.

My Aunt Debbie, Uncle Charlie and cousins Mitch and Jordan

And don't worry, no one was harmed during this escapade and no litter was lost in the ditches. And if you're thinking that that looks kind of was!

But in all seriousness...this town is awesome! I have great memories as a kid growing up here, and I know that this is definitely one of my kids' favorite places to visit. It's like a whole new world for them. They're allowed to experience a world of independence and exploration that you just don't get growing up anywhere else.

Kinda makes you want to sing a little John Cougar Mellencamp, doesn't it?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kitchen Makeover

Here are some before/after shots of our recent kitchen project:

I love how it turned out. And my mind is already onto our next "project" - stainless steel appliances.

Ooooo, sorry honey...I thought you knew about that already...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We're back!

Yes… I made it.

Not only did we all survive, but we had a BLAST! Perfect temperatures, 5 whole days of vacation, tons of fun stuff to do, and no mosquitoes – it truly doesn’t get much better.

We went to South Dakota’s Black Hills on vacation last week. And let me tell you, we took in almost every “toursity” little thing in the entire area. And believe me, there is no lack of “touristy” little things in that area.

I realize, after my post and camping list last week, that you’re all probably just dying to hear about the actual camping part. Well, it was good. Really. Not dreadful at all. Just peachy-keen. Three nights, in a row, in a tent was not all that bad. Granted, we all had air mattresses, I had a tomato beer and Tylenol PM every night, and Bill rigged his CPAP machine to run off of a marine battery. I’m quite convinced that without that lovely breathing machine in particular, this whole adventure may have ended in catastrophe as my dear husband would likely have been shot by fellow campers who were driven to insanity by his unbelievably loud snoring.

And yes, I brought my hair dryer. And no, I wasn’t the only one.

So, there.

On our last night, we were in the middle of the most amazing thunderstorm I’ve ever witnessed. First, you have to understand that I absolutely love thunderstorms. We watched the lightning edge closer and closer all night. Then at 11:30 pm, approximately 12 seconds after we had all made our last port-a-potty run, packed the chairs away and crawled into the tent, it started raining. And it rained, and it lightninged, and it thundered, for hours. The rain was hard, the lightning was continuous, and the thunder was the kind that makes your ears echo and your insides rumble. It was truly awesome.

The only part that wasn’t so great was getting up Sunday morning and packing away a wet, muddy tent. Oh, well.

And just in case your curious enough to read further; but more importantly, to serve as actual physical evidence to my kids when they say, “but we never do anything...”, here are some of our highlights:

We stopped at Wall Drug on the way to the Black Hills. This is where I first discovered my son’s obsession with gift shops. And Lord knows…Wall Drug is the mother of all gift shops. It almost killed him to have to make the decision between a Buffalo bobble-head and a bag of polished rocks. Who knew he had such an affinity for shopping?

We camped at Center Lake Campground in Custer State Park. It was really nice, although not all that secluded. The kids were disappointed that we could actually see other people.

Fortunately, we were not 4 of the 45,000+ people stuck in the parking lot until 3:00 am after watching fireworks over Mt. Rushmore. We lucked out, found a little side road that runs behind the carved mountain, pulled in near a clearing and watched the beautiful display overhead.

The picture below is the result of what happens when you combine the lack of a tripod and a photographer who has no idea what settings you need for night shots.

We visited Mt. Rushmore, took in a little history of Gutzon Borglum, did some hiking, and met up with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Jerry.Reptile Gardens was probably one of the kids’ favorite things we did. It’s really not as cheesy at it sounds. We got to see a 14-ft long alligator, the world’s most deadly snake, and a komodo dragon. The kids also got to pet a 127 yr old tortoise and a baby crocodile. Bill was like a photography-fiend on this little expedition. When we got back in the car, I looked at our camera and found 38 pictures of snakes through glass cages, 8 pictures of birds, and 1 picture of me and the kids. This is precisely why I take most of the pictures in this family.

The Cosmos was another favorite. They claim that a meteor hit this site many years ago altering the gravitational pull. Really, it’s just a little shack built angled on the side of a mountain. But nonetheless, it made me sweaty, cold, dizzy, and nauseous. By the time I got out of that house, I was green and felt like I just went on one of those virtual-reality rides.

Bear Country USA is a drive-through wildlife park. It kinda reminded me of Jurassic Park minus the dinosaurs. It was cool how the animals would walk right up to your car. As you can see, some were more outgoing than others.

We really couldn’t leave the Black Hills area without going to Deadwood. Not that we’re gamblers, but Maddie had put so many hours of research into Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane’s life stories, it would have broken her heart if we didn’t stop. Seriously, you can ask her anything and she’ll know it. We got to view the gun-slinger show on Main Street, witness the re-enactment of Wild Bill’s shooting, and then see his gravesite at Mt. Moriah cemetery. Maddie’s favorite bit of info: Aces and eights, the dead man’s hand.

If you’ve never been to the Badlands of SD, you really should. It’s pretty amazing. Next time we’d like to go at night under a full moon. Creepy. But in a cool way.

We got back home a couple days ago. Our tent is now aired-out and dry and I'm still washing stinky clothes. It was a really great vacation; but as always, it's nice to be home again!

So...who's up for a camping trip next weekend?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Swimming Big 10 Style

A couple weeks ago, the kids swam in their first Long Course Meter pool this season. Actually, this was Will's first 50 meter pool, ever. It was held at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, and it was great! I think that all of our jaws dropped open when we walked in and saw this amazing facility. Maddie and Will both thought that this is probably what the Olympics feels like.

The spring/summer season is the Long Course Meter season, which means that some of the meets, finals and state will be in 50 meter pools. Fall/winter season is Short Course Yard season, which means that all the meets take place in 25 yard pools. There is a whole different set of Time Standards (C-B-A-Champ times) to go with each course. I know it sounds took me about 18 months to figure this whole thing out.

The kids both had really great meets. They each improved their times in every event they swam, pretty much covering most of the B times and edging in on those A's on several.

Here is a few pictures and videos from the weekend. One of the coolest things for the kids was to see their name "up in lights". Of course I couldn't miss out on that photo opportunity...