Monday, February 25, 2013

Ragnar Del Sol 2013

This last weekend I participated in the AZ Ragnar race, a 202 mile relay race with 12 runners on each team.  One of John's cousins invited me to be on his team months ago.  At first, I was reluctant, especially since the Phx marathon is this coming weekend.  But I'm glad I decided to join and had a great time.

The race started in Wickenburg, then traveled through Cave Creek, Glendale, Phoenix, Anthem, then over to Fountain Hills, then back west to Scottsdale, then down into Tempe and ended up at Tempe Town Lake. 

With 12 runners, each of us had 3 legs of the race to run.  We were divided into 2 vans. John's cousins and uncle were all in Van 1, and I was quite nervous to be in Van 2 with a bunch of strangers who I had never met before. But those strangers quickly became good friends, and we all got along just fine. I was relieved that their standards were similar to mine. (Being in a van with unpleasant people for 36 hours wouldn't be too fun).

Van 1 started the race and ran the first 6 legs of the race from Wickenburg to Cave Creek/Glendale area.  Then I took the baton (actually, we used a slap stick bracelet). Uncle Ralph came in the shoot, took off that bracelet and slapped it onto my arm and I was off.  My first leg was almost 8 miles, most of which was on dirt roads with lots of rolling hills. 

After the runners in my van finished our legs, around 9:30 PM, we crashed at a relatives house in Glendale and caught about a 2 hour nap, took showers, and were back in the van shortly after midnight.  My next run started around 1 AM, 2.8 miles, nice and easy (other than being a bit tired).  One of the teammtes' husbands rode his bike behind all the women on the team during our night runs, which I REALLY appreciated!  It helped me feel safe.

So after the rest of my van did their 2nd runs, it was about 7 AM.  We drove to the next major exchange in Fountain Hills at a high school where we'd start our last runs.  I tried to sleep in the van for about an hour but got really cold, so I went into the gym of the high school where the rest of my team was.   Hundreds of runners were on the floor of the gym, trying to catch a quick nap before their next runs.  It was quite a sight to behold.  And I was impressed with how quiet it was, how respectful everyone was of each other.  I occasionally heard a cell phone alarm go off, then I'd hear the sound of folding up a sleeping bag or letting the air out of a mattress.  One of my teammates lent me his air mattress (thank you, thank you!!), and I curled up with my little blanket and pillow for a quick nap.  It lasted about 1.5 hours, and I never really fell into a deep sleep, but it was nice to lay down and rest a bit. 

My last leg of the race started around 10:30 AM.  Again, Uncle Ralph came through the shoot, they called our team number, he slapped on the sweaty bracelet, and I took off for my last run of the race.  Almost 4 miles, and almost straight up STEEP hills. It about killed me, but that last half a mile it tapered down a bit and I was able to speed up to keep a good general pace. 

After the last runner was handed the bracelet, she ran the last 6 miles of the race towards the finish and the rest of the team joined her to cross the finish line.  Then we sat around, visited, stretched, and "talked shop" about other runs in the future, and had some food.  I got home just in time to see the kids, shower, then attend the adult session of Stake Conference.  Long few days!

I ended up doing well in general, and our team finished about 1.5 hours sooner than we expected.  Other than a small bumper car accident with Van 1, there were no injuries and everyone felt well.

Not sure how our team did overall.  And really, I don't care.  There were about 450 teams all together, each with 12 runners.  Thanks Brent for the invite!!!  It was an awesome experience.

Now I'm trying to mentally prepare for the marathon this coming Saturday.  Already have a few little butterflies flying around in my tummy.  Very excited!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quote from Taylor

As a mother, there are some things that I hope I never forget.  Here's one of them:

After returning from a great Stake Conference meeting, we are in the kithcen visiting and preparing lunch.  I have mentioned a few things that impressed me during the church meeting.  Taylor says to Mason,

"Mason, do you want to know the best feeling in the whole world"?

My ears get peeked, and I get ready to listen to my awesome oldest son teach my other children about something he learned in Conference, something spiritual in nature, something that will invite the other children to be better, to follow the Savior more fully.

Mason says, "what"?

Taylor says, "It's when you find out that the girl that you really like likes you back. . . yea, that's pretty much the best feeling in the world."

I totally cracked up.  Then I had to admit to Taylor that although that's not what I thought would come out of his mouth, I totally agree with him.  We've got some major hormones ragin' in our house!  Love it!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

As January was coming to a close, I found myself dreaming and scheming about all the decorations, parties, fun festive foods, and activities I would do with our family for Valentine's Day.  Funny how it always starts that way. . . lots of cool ideas in my head,  but usually not much to show for it.

We did do a few fun things--not nearly as many as were floating around in my head.  But enough to feel the spirit of love in our home.  And that's the goal, right?

On the first Monday of February, we all drew names of another family member and tried to do secret acts of love throughout the following week.  Then we did it again the following Monday and got different names. 

My shoes were put away by a secret admirer, my bed was made numerous times before I could get to it, someone stayed up late and cleaned up the kitchen one night after I had gone to bed, I found nice notes in my closet saying what someone loved about me. 

It was fun to see what the kids tried doing to their secret admirer.  Some were much more excited about it (the younger ones) than others (the oldest. . . not going to mention any names though).  I liked that everyone was trying to serve each other and not get noticed.

We each wrote a valentine to all the other members in our family and heart attacked our kitchen.  Here it is, almost March, and I haven't taken those down yet. 

  Try reading this one. . Mason hasn't ever gotten an "O" for outstanding in penmanship yet. . . still working on that one.

For Valentines Day, I made heart shaped french toast layered with Nutella, strawberries, and whipped cream for breakfast, and heart shaped pizza for dinner that evening.  Then heart shaped fruit pizza for dessert, of which nobody was a big fan of except for me. . . weird how it works out that way sometimes.  Big bummer that I had to eat most all of it myself.

It was a good day, especially when John walked in the door with a beautiful bouquet of daisies. 

There's lots to love in this family!!

A Close Call

After weeks, months, and years of not liking parts of our landscaping, John and I are finally changing a few things.  Part of that change includes getting rid of a big cement "stage" (that's what the kids call it) in the corner of our backyard. In my opinion, it is totally wasted space.  We plan to extend the lawn and put a citric tree in that corner instead of the stage.

So this past weekend, we held the first official "LeSueur Demolition Day".  All hands were on deck, all sledge hammers and wheel barrows were on deck too.  This isn't any small job.  The cement stage is probably 8 feet long and spans maybe 16 feet across.  So one hit of the sledge hammer at a time. . . it'll be a long process, I'm sure.  But John is determined to do it with his boys help and not hire it out.  Great experience for the boys to learn how to work, right?

Andersen likes being close to his daddy, likes to "help" a lot.  And most of the time he's a really good helper.  John was working hard, bring the  sledge hammer up over his head, then down hard on the cement, trying to make a dent.  Andersen was close by, and as John brought the sledge hammer over his head to the cement, Andersen moved his hand and put it directly under where John had planned to hit.  John saw it and quickly tried to stop, but the momentum was too strong and the hammer came down on Andersen's hand.  OUCH!!!!

Lots of blood and lots of tears followed. . . for a long time.  John felt horrible, and both of us worried if Andersen's hand had broken bones.  After cleaning it all up and helping Andersen calm down, we both counted our blessings-- the hammer had only hit the tip of one finger and hadn't broken any bones.  What a close call.  And a very tender mercy from God.  Such a blessing.

That night, Andersen and I had a good talk about how Heavenly Father was watching over him that day.  If his hand was just a few inches in a different direction, the hit from the sledge hammer could have broken lots of bones in his hand, could have crushed parts of his hand, could have left lasting dammage.  But it was just the tip of a finger.  No broken or crushed bones.  No trip to the ER.  No lasting dammage. 

I was touched when Andersen said his personal prayers that night.  He thanked God for protecting him, for keeping him safe, and for helping him not get hurt too bad.

Four days later, here's all that's left.  A very fat finger and a little red scabby scratch.  

His right second finger is still quite swollen and puffy, but he can bend it just fine.  He was excited today to tell me that he didn't need a bandaid anymore, and it didn't hurt anymore.
I still cringe when I think about the incident.  Then I find myself over and over thanking God for such a tender mercy.  It could have been so much worse!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My New Best Friend

BlendersYes, it's a blender.  But not just any blender.  With this blender, I can secretly hide most any vegetables into yummy treats, and my kids don't even know it.  I find myself struggling to get good nutrients down a few of my children who are fussy eaters.  This Blendtec has been a miracle worker.

Today, for example, I put water, a whole carrot, half an apple, two handfulls of spinich, half a large zuccini, two leaves of kale, a handfull of blueberries, greek yoguart, and cranberry juice into the blender.  Andersen drank it down, then asked for another cupful.  Kate got most of her cup down, and I couldn't get enough of it.  It felt good knowing that I was getting a few servings of fresh veggies and fruits in that drink.

Last Monday night for family night, I made vanilla ice cream, packed with spinich.  The kids named it "Popeye's Ice cream".  Yea, it had cream and sugar as most ice cream does.  But it also had protein powder and tons of spinich.

The blender also makes great whole wheat pancakes, and blends wheat into a fine flour, muffin batter, soups, etc.  Since we got it, I have used it at least once a day, sometimes three or four times.

The kids have a fun time guessing which veggies are hidden in their smoothies for afterschool snacks.  A few days ago, Abby could taste the bell pepper (maybe a little too strong).  We've done cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cucumber, zuccinni, carrots, cabbage, and plenty of spinich.  Add a few frozen strawberries, peaches, blueberries, a fresh apple or pear, or a banana and there you have it.  Deliciously fresh.

Without reservation, I can now say that the LeSueur family gets a healthy serving of fresh fruits and vegetables every day (at least half of which go down in a liquid form).  Awesome!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stop growing, would ya?!

My kids are growing too fast, WAY too fast.  Especially Taylor. 

This past December, Taylor was just barely shy of my height, just barely.  And since then he's grown about two inches and has well surpassed his mother.  His voice is constantly cracking, he's in size 11 shoes, and last week he asked me to teach him how to shave the shadow of a mustache on his upper lip (to which I quickly referred him to ask his father. . . like I've ever shaved my upper lip before). 

He eats a massive breakfast, then a massive lunch, then a massive after school snack that resembles Thanksgiving, then another big dinner and constant snacking until bedtime.  After school, he always has a mouthful to tell about who likes who, what social rumors were spread around school, who tried to flirt with him, which girls are nice, and which other girls are "NICE". . .

When he was little, he was very physically demanding, as all little children are.  Now he does everything (but drive) by himself.  He takes care of his own hygiene, he does his own laundry and keeps  track of his own things, cleans his own room, and does his own chores without any help from me.  He is pretty independent and responsible.

But he has become much more emotionally demanding, as most teenagers do.  I need to be at the crossroads. When he comes home from one activity and leaves to another, I need to be there asking questions, giving counsel, complimenting, and showing love.  I need to be "all ears" when he's in the mood to talk, even when there are  a million things on my to-do list.  I need to make eye contact and show him that I'm interested in his life, in his feelings, in his friends, in his activities. 

As demanding as it is, I absolutely love it.  I love when he wants to tell me about his day, I love when he wants to invite friends over to "hang out", I love preparing good food for him, knowing that he'll love and appreciate it.  I love watching him lead out in social settings, sports, and church activities. 

There are bumps in the road.  There have been plenty of emotions-up and down, up and down.  And I'm learning that he'll occasionally ride that emotional roller coaster, but my job is to not ride it with him. My job is to be there when he gets off, to be a constant in his life, to uplift and compliment when he's struggling about an issue, to let him hold the reins and make a lot of decisions on his own, then to live out the natural consequences of those decisions.  My job is to be a mentor, and a friend.
And as difficult as it is sometimes, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am learning how to be more patient, how to communicate effectively, how to let go of control, and how to love more deeply.

As my children are growing and developing, my role as Mother is morphing, changing, and developing as well.  And I wouldn't have it any other way!  Cheers to raising teenagers!