Riley & Sheridan Run the OC Marathon

Yes, you read that right. My kids, my not-so-little girlies just finished the Orange County Marathon today. All 26.2 miles!

However ... in all fairness, they started it about 14 weeks ago.

Last quarter their elementary school offered a twice weekly after school running program that was designed to help pre-adolescent kids become more physically fit, promote an active and healthy lifestyle, and combat the onset of childhood obesity... while having fun! By the end of the program they had accumulated the equivalent of 25.2 miles of fun activity and were ready to finish off their own Marathon by completing their final mile at the Kids Run the OC. Which they did. Today.

So without further ado ... here they are in all their glory. I don't have their final times, but according to the announcer, Riley ran her last mile somewhere in the 9 1/2 minute time frame. Sheridan ran hers somewhere around 12 minutes.

I'm SO incredibly proud of their accomplishment. Not enough to get my a** out there running with them... but totally thrilled from the sidelines. Rock on little ladies. Rock ON!

Riley crossing the finish line. On the left in the navy blue shirt.

Sheridan crossing the finish line ... and right after she received her medal.


Like A Well Oiled Machine ...

Because just when you thought life was getting to be a tad too easy, reality throws you yet another curve ball. And you need to figure out a way to swing.

Case in point. Tonight when this update goes live, you'll find me all smushed snuggled up like a bug in a rug somewhere in a center aisle ... in a center seat ... on a redye flight bound for Virginia.

To check out our house. That is one month ahead of schedule.

I got the phone call from the builder last Tuesday asking if I could make it out there for the pre-drywall walk through on the 29th. "Sure," I exclaimed. "Five weeks to plan out childcare and book my itinerary would be a breeze!" Of course, there was a lot of silence on the other end. "Um ... no Jill. We mean the 29th as in April 29th."

I immediately hung up. I scrambled. I frantically called my in-laws who normally watch the kids when I jet back and forth to Virginia. Unfortunately they had several commitments this week and couldn't help out. And the babysitter I would have used? Also busy. So I called my dad and begged my parents to fly down for the two days. Which they were happy to do. Except that it meant more work on the front end as this is the first time they're watching the kids here. I had to work around their work schedules, they had to work around my flight schedules, and I had to detail the kids crazy afternoon schedules for both days that I'm gone.

But as I sit here now on the plane I'm thankful. For the rather hectic week of planning this trip is over. The semi-clean rental house and squeaky clean kids are in the capable hands of my parents. And this tired mom is getting about the same uncomfortable amount of sleep on the airplane as my parents are now getting in my bed. Except they have newly washed sheets. And me? I'm just lucky that the airplane cleaning crew pseudo-cleaned the seat pocket in front of me and lightly dusted off the ground-in peanuts and goldfish crackers left on my chair.

Frankly, with all the grime and the snorting people around me, I feel at home. Now all I need is a kid to vomit near me and I'm good to go.

Pictures from this whirlwind trip forthcoming.


Turning The Corner ...

We don't post a calendar in our house. On a good day I'm lucky if we remember what day of the week it is. We often forget to return library books on Wednesday, pack Sheridan's baton on Monday morning, and remember to bring Spanish homework on Tuesday afternoons. We're notoriously late for elementary school and Sunday School. And goodness help me when I forget that Wednesday's are early-out days.

But today? Today we remember.

April 26, 2011.

Nine months to the date that Matt left for Iraq. Two hundred seventy days. Just about the amount of time it takes to "cook" a baby. Or complete a school year.

We normally don't do any countdowns. We don't cross days off our non-existent calendar. We really try hard to stay on track, keep to our schedule, enjoy the days as best we can.

But today? Today, I'm making an exception.

Nine days until Matt comes home on his next and last R&R. Three weeks until Grady's birthday. Six weeks until our pack-out. Six and a half weeks until we move into a hotel. Eight weeks until school ends. Nine weeks until we possibly move to Virginia. Ten weeks until we possibly move into our new home. Thirteen weeks until Matt flies out of Iraq for THE last time, and we start our new chapter together. As a family.

Not that I'm counting or anything.


Her Backpack's Like A Box of Chocolates ...

... you never quite know what you're going to find.

Almost every day she comes home with oodles of doodles like this ...

The irony here is that her extracurricular "work" is always neat and tidy,
while her classwork is crumpled and stuffed into the side pockets.


Viva Las Vegas!

As it is tradition for this time of year, last Sunday I packed up the kids in the family truckster and headed East. For Las Vegas.

Just call me Ellen Griswold...

We had originally planned to drive up north to visit my parents during the girls spring break, but due to my dad's convention schedule, we decided to take a detour and visit them in Vegas instead.

Great idea, right? Well ... in theory yes. But reality? Who the hell takes their kids to the Vegas strip for 5 days? Someone who clearly doesn't know anything about Vegas.

See it all started when I asked a few people where to stay with kids. I wanted relatively inexpensive. I wanted kid friendly. I wanted a large room and comfortable amenities.

The answer? Well Circus Circus of course!

So I went online. And I booked it. Four nights in a large room with 2 queen size beds. For a whopping $54 / night! Hooray! Except for one teensy tiny thing. As someone who has ONLY been to Las Vegas one other time in their entire life, and stayed at the Bellagio, let's just say that this hotel not only didn't measure up to my expectations ... I OVERPAID!

Anyone who remotely thought that I'd be OK staying at Circus Circus clearly does NOT know me. Or my girls. It was a pit! The overwhelming smell of cigarettes and stale alcohol singed my nose hair from the minute we walked in. The dark dingy carpets, low light, and no Starbucks in sight pretty much set the tone of our stay. And the circus show that had ONLY one act every forty five minutes was anything BUT a "world class act". Our saving grace was that our room was large and scent-free with the only downfall of a leaky shower that dripped all...day...and... all... night. Bygones.

I'm sure for many, Las Vegas is a destination vacation spot. It probably would have been for me too, had I gone sans kids, or if we managed to get off the strip during our stay. But this trip was purely a location of familial convenience. And our convenience was hanging at the local shopping mall on the day where it was too cold to go swimming. And relaxing at the Aria hotel swimming pool where my parent's stayed, when it was warm enough to don a bathing suit.

Of course it was great to see my parents, and the kids and I truly enjoyed our time with them.

But the best part of the entire trip for me? Trying to explain to the girls why there are a never ending amount of billboards of half-dressed ladies ... and why women dance on stage in just their underwear. Nothing else. Since they already have trouble understanding why I wear underwear that doesn't cover my rear ... they really couldn't fathom that women wore thong underwear on a stage. Where others (aside from their husband's or kids) could see their tushies. That, along with the commentary that their bras that didn't quite cover all that they should led to many a giggle in the backseat.

And in the front seat as well.

Please let this be the last time I see this.

Any of this.


Do You Want A Face Lift ... Lip Implants ... or Lipo For Free?

Just hire Sheridan to sketch you ... and she'll make sure you look like a whore a million bucks.

Take a look at the girls in her class. Apparently no six year old is complete without makeup and a strapless evening gown. And me? I can't believe how well she captured my inner beauty.

But just in case you aren't sure what your future appearance holds. Never fear. Sheridan is also skilled at age progression. Just look at her self-portrait ...

I'm just relieved to see there's no booking number underneath it ...


It's Only A Matter Of Time Before I Hear Those Five Dreadful Words Again ...

.... Your Card Has Been Declined.

Without fail, every month for the past eight years our one and ONLY credit card has been temporarily suspended due to suspected fraudulent activity. Regardless of how many times I informed the company that we were living outside the US, how many emails and letters I sent, or how many times the company SWORE that it would NEVER happen again, it did. Like clockwork. About four weeks later. And it always happened with the most frivolous of charges and at the MOST inopportune time.

As frustrating as it is when your credit card is continually suspended, you begin to get used to it. You just know that once you make a $4 charge at AliBaba's Schwarma House in Oman you're going to get the red flag on your next Nordstrom internet order back in the US. You also know that the minute you touch down on your month-long R&R trip in California, you have four, maybe five minuscule charges at Target, Old Navy and the nail salon before you're faced with your card being held on contempt. You can't help but get upset. Get angry. Shake your head in amazement ... every single time it happens. But after a few years, you no longer yell (as loudly) at the poor fraud alert customer service person who asks you repeatedly inane questions about the county you lived in back in 1993. Instead, you just add the 1-800 number to your speed dial as you know you'll be calling monthly for them to unlock your card.

So imagine my surprise this week when the phone calls from "said" credit card company DIDN'T come. When I went into store after store charging several of the big ticket items on the card for our new house ... spending FAR more than I've EVER spent in a three month period ... all in a three day period.

Because over this past weekend the girls had the time of their life, as THEY picked out their new beds ... for their new rooms ... in their new home.

No Drexel Heritage brown headboard for them for the next several years. No sirree. It is all about the white washed, bead board beds. The finials. The funky legs. The frilly flower inlays. And the canopies that made their hearts swoon.

Three visits to the kids bedroom furniture store that my cousin recommended. Including a scouting trip to take pictures, a two and a half hour trip there on Saturday afternoon with the kids to choose and pay for the bedroom sets, and THEN a follow up trip Sunday morning to change the bed that the eldest daughter decided she wanted the previous evening to an entirely different style of bed. And we are done!

These are the beds that they chose. For the beginning of their new lives. A small decision that mattered far more to them than it did to me. And I couldn't be happier with their decisions. Because they owned them. And my credit card too.

I'll just hold my breath for the next few purchases. Because I know what's coming. And my speed dial is ready ...

L to R ...
Sheridan's bed shown as a sleigh bed, though the one she chose is the same design with a higher, straighter headboard and finials. Grady's bed (shown in brown but we ordered it in blue).
And Riley's bed. Shown w/o her because I had to go back and order THIS one instead of the one she chose and photographed on yesterday.

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