August 31, 2010

Ending August with a Bang!

The last day of August always feels like it's the last day of summer. September is synonymous with school and changing leaves, cooler weather and shorter days. We packed our last day of August FULL of fun activities to celebrate a wonderful summer!
Before we left MA, I bought these boots at a fabulous discount. They finally fit! The twins tried them on and loved walking around the house in them (which takes some effort!) - even though Ryan doesn't look like he's having fun!

I met a mom who moved to the area not long before we did, who has triplets and enjoys biking! Since I needed to bike to train, and we were both looking for social outlets, we started biking together...with all 5 kids...who are only a month apart in age! Today's highlight was that we completed the whole ride (roughly 12 miles) without either of my kids having a meltdown or torturing the other (they like to pinch when the other one is strapped down)!!!!
All 5 kids ready to go!
Part of the trail goes across the railroad and you have to get off your bike and walk it through a fence maze on each side. This is extra hard with a bike trailer. This is extra, extra hard with a bike trailer AND a kid on your bike...but we do it!
We got home, ate lunch, and played a little before nap time. One of the highlights today was that Allie was wearing pigtails for the first time! She looked so adorable, and so old...
The twins LOVE their giant penguin (who has been featured before), and currently they like playing with it WWE style. They push it on the ground and jump on it and throw themselves on it. Occasionally it gets a little out of hand and they start doing flips over the penguin...which Mama does NOT like.
When this happens, the penguin gets put in time out (because sometimes its easiest to just eliminate the problem). The penguin ends up in time out pretty much every day. Today was no exception.
This evening we went with our friends (the triathlon friends and their families) on a boat ride and swimming at the sandbar. We haven't had the twins on a boat since they were 6 months, and they loved the experience!
Allie stood at the front of the boat and waved at everyone we passed.
The guys in the back of the boat.
Pretty soon Ryan joined her up front!
My water babies love boats!
The kiddos running around in the boat.
I wish I could have taken some pictures during the swimming, but it was pretty much an all-hands-on-deck situation. At the sandbar, they could touch and Ryan loved walking around. Allie enjoyed jumping off the large piece of floating foam.
On our way back after swimming.
The girls.
The boys.
Our talented driver.
I happened to have the camera turned on and Allie started pressing the button and taking pictures without my knowledge. I thought a few of them were pretty good. This is one...

August 29, 2010

The Triathlon!!!

I very honestly cannot believe the triathlon has already come and gone. Months of preparation are over. I've talked about it a few times, and wanted to fill you in on the race, since it is one of the biggest physical challenges I have ever taken on!

The day of the race was beautiful, sunny, warm...which was a slight disappointment because we were hoping for cool, cloudy and misty. BUT, you can't be upset with beautiful weather. As we drove to the race I was a bundle of nerves, but once we got there and registered I started to relax. By the time we had the ore-race meeting I was excited and ready to go!
At the pre-race meeting. I'm in the middle, looking at the camera.
My number. It was printed on our left arm and leg.
After the pre-race meeting (where they gave us rules for safety), we walked to the beginning of the swim, and waded in the water to the starting point. In the pre-race meeting, they told us that they would blow a whistle to give us warning before they shot the gun, but NOT TO SWIM at the whistle. Of course, they blew the whistle and 2 guys started swimming. Of course, everyone started yelling for them to come back. Of course, they thought it was the crowd cheering for the race and kept going! By the time they stopped and were back at the finish line we were all laughing. It was the perfect ice breaker before the race began!

The Swim:
The swim was not what I expected at all. I have to confess that the swim was really my strong suit, and the part I was looking forward to the most. It was swimming that started me thinking about doing a triathlon in the first place, and my first real training milestone was swimming just short of a full mile straight! So it was a little disappointing that the swim turned out to not really be much of a swim at all. The water was shallow a long way out, and, since people could touch the bottom, most people just ran through the water. There was such a thick wall of people water-running, that I tried to swim but couldn't! Had I known this I would have made more of an effort to be at the front or far side so I could have utilized my only natural ability! The swim was over in record time and we were excited to get to the next challenge!
I'm somewhere in this sea of swimmers. The large, orange buoy on the right was the starting line.
Catherine and I coming out of the water.
The Bike:
I really enjoyed the biking. Catherine and I rode together, and we were pretty confident that we were going faster than we ever had in our training. I was excited, and confident that we were going to set our overall personal records! The weather was beautiful, the scenery was pretty, and there were spectators cheering us on. The only downfall was that I hadn't realized that my bike (the handle of which we had heard rubbing against the pickup cab on the way over) had switched gears during the drive. As you know, when you switch gears while not in motion, it messes up the chain. I had a difficult time getting started and getting my gears set. I was actually halfway through the biking portion before my gears were functioning like normal. The worst part was that around mile 2, while trying unsuccessfully to switch gears, my foot slipped off the petal and somehow got lodged between the pedal and bike. It was a quick, but painful, mistake, and I worried about the effect it might have on the race. But once I confirmed there was no blood and it didn't hurt to keep biking I finished the biking without another thought about it. Lesson learned: before a race you should do a short bike ride to make sure your gears are set BEFORE the race!
Starting the bike portion! See you in 6 miles!
The Run:
I was most nervous about the run since I knew it was my weakness. But, we had done a few practice tri's and I knew that I could run the full distance with a strong finish as long as I stayed mentally focused. Catherine and I started the run together, and I was very enthusiastic at first. Then, about a half mile into the run I noticed a throbbing pain in my calf. At first I thought my calf was cramping up, but it was so specifically located in one spot, and it hurt all the way through to my shin. We decided to walk (since she wasn't feeling well herself), and regroup. I think this was a bad decision for me because as soon as we stopped to walk the pain intensified. I finally realized that my leg was hurting where I had caught myself with the bike pedal! Worried about potentially injuring myself more, I ended up walking most of the second mile. At first the frustration and disappointment really started to get me down, but I remembered that I was there to have fun. I couldn't change what happened, but I could choose the enjoy the race and be happy with the outcome regardless of whether or not I ran the whole way or set a PR. I did run the final mile, but about a quarter of a mile I came down wrong and twisted my ankle (on the already injured leg). It was pretty painful, but my pride was most injured as a spectator not only saw, but came to check on me!
Catherine and I starting the race (the 2 in black in the middle) with enthusiasm!
A kind spectator offered to let the kids run around in their yard while they waited for us to get back.

Almost to the finish line and still smiling!
Crossing the finish line was a little overwhelming and surprisingly emotional. I didn't accomplish all that I wanted, but I did have an incredible time, and I completed something I, at one time, thought I could never do!
With my babies after the race. Yay Mommy!
That night, before bed, Lucas and I were talking through the race - the things I would have done differently had I known, the lessons I learned, the disappointments I had...and he reminded me that ultimately, regardless of how the race ended, 2 wonderful things were accomplished through the triathlon - I exercised and got more in shape (achieving goals I never would have thought possible or even attempted had it not been for the race), and I made 2 wonderful friends (Heather and Catherine). Ultimately, the friendships that I have as a result of the training have been the most significant outcome. These are wonderful women and I feel so lucky to have not only met them, but accomplished this incredible goal with them by my side. The experience of supporting, encouraging, and challenging one another in preparation (along with the therapeutic outlet of our talks while training) was incredible. Even if I hadn't finished the race, their friendship as a result of the training is the most valuable thing I gained.
Heather, Catherine, and I after the race. Go Team Tripod!!
Would I do another triathlon? Absolutely! In fact, I'm considering training for a longer one next summer. It was an amazing experience, an accomplishment I'm very proud of, and really a lot of fun!

August 25, 2010

Zoo #4!!

A while back we planned a trip to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo with our Indy Cousins! This week the trip was finally here! Despite some trouble getting there (I jogged 4 miles the night before and was a little sore and slow, we discovered we only had 3 diapers to last the whole day - or we would have to make a stop, we had an empty gas tank, a warning light came on telling us that one of our tires was dangerously low and needed air - which we discovered after some frantic flipping through the manual - requiring ANOTHER stop, and traffic due to construction), we had a great time once we arrived!
Note: There are tons of pictures and I'm not even sorry - I already cut out a TON!

We discovered that there are a few perks going to a zoo that is specifically for children - things are placed lower and the viewing areas are all designed for short people, there are tons of rides, and there are lots of little places for them to explore and run around! This was great because the twins LOVED running around. This was bad because occassionally we needed them to be in the stroller and this caused massive tantrums every time...but back to the good stuff :)
Driving the jeep at the first interactive area. Allie looks a little wary of her brother's driving...
Cousin M & Allie watching the water. Cousin M was trying to say "hi."
M looking at the lion.
We were able to see the African Journey, Indonesian Rainforest, and most of the Australian Adventure. Keep in mind that this took us almost 5 hours! We didn't ride any rides, we skipped some play places, we hurried through lunch (mostly because of my little girl...had a temper tantrum), and we still didn't see the whole zoo! It's a pretty incredible place!
On a cot at another one of the play places. Allie was super into the mosquito netting!
The Zebra exhibit was SOOOO cool! People could feed the zebras which meant that they were up really you can see!
In this picture Allie was leaning forward because she was offering her cracker to the zebra...and you can see the zebras tongue sticking out to take it! I caught her before the zebra got the cracker, but not before it got a lick!
In one of the indoor exhibits they had plastic safari hats that the kids loved!

They had a Kid's Treehouse - a small, completely fenced-in area for the kids to run around in. A bridge there, a small open area, and a bridge back. The kids LOVED it!
There was a statue of a komodo dragon in a separate area (surrounded by benches - bonus!), so we penned the area off and let the kids play by the dragon.
They all enjoyed petting the statue.
And climbing on it.
All 3 together!
I may have mentioned tired/cranky kiddos earlier (think lunch). One in particular was super tired...and all it took was a stroller switch up (she and M traded places), and the new digs (and Mickey to cuddle) put her to sleep!
They have a splash fountain, and the kids really enjoyed playing in the water.
See the joy?
Ry-guy & M (Allie was still sleeping at this point)
Then Allie woke up and she shared a nice moment with her brother!
and had some fun on her own!
We talked about making this an annual event (which I think is a great idea!). It was a really fun day, and it was great to spend some fun time with our cousins! Bonus: It was M's FIRST trip to the zoo!!! Its nice to live close enough to be able to have these fun memories :)
The whole gang

August 20, 2010

Oh, Where, Oh, Where Have the Millers been?

The answer is: at VBS! Our church decided to host VBS for the first time in years (they used to have it, but stopped having enough kids in the church to make it a priority). Lucas and I, as you can imagine, played an integral role. Not only were we the connection to the partnering church who gave us their materials, props, decorations, etc. (my dad's church!), but I ended up being the decorations coordinator, Lucas was in charge of Games, I was the skit coordinator (and Lucas and I were both in it), I was the photographer, he taught the Bible story the last day, etc. In a small church, everyone takes on many roles to accomplish a project this big!

Even the twinners helped decorate!

VBS was, in our opinion, a smashing success! We averaged 16 kids a day (4 times the number of kids in our church who are VBS age!), and had multiple kids tell us how much they LOVED coming to VBS! One told us the first night was the best night of his life! Their enthusiasm helped boost our spirits anytime our energy started to wane (which is a lot when you're trying to keep up with that many kids!)
"Water Woman" working the registration table the first day.
"Pizza Man" trying to find and diffuse an egg bomb (note: Lucas was not a fan of this, and kept trying to get me to change it, but I knew the kids would LOVE it, and some said it was their favorite part!)
Pizza Man & Water Woman with their teacher and advisor "Maintenance Mac" - or us with the guy who also did the skits with us :)
We are exhausted, the twins came down with nasty colds the last night of VBS, I'm pretty sure I caught it as well, the house has been neglected, the fridge and cabinets are bare...we're desperately trying to get back to life as normal. AND, I only have 1 week until the triathalon (and I spent the entire morning driving to and completing a practice tri ON the course we will be racing on next week!).