Friday, July 29, 2011


Years ago, in high school, I was a small town actress. School plays, one community theatre play.

I don't think I was very good, but I enjoyed it.

After high school, I have not acted. I have been part of a few vocal groups and such and I have encouraged my children, and so far Kate and Julia have carried on my love of performing.

But as for myself, I left it all behind me so to speak.

Until now.

There are auditions, tonight, for a musical put on by a bunch of talented people in our area.

It's for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And guess what?

I'm auditioning. Along with Kate and Julia.

And guess what else? I've had a constant stomach ache from the nerves, all week.

I've almost emailed the gal a couple of times cancelling my audition.

But I decided that I can't let myself down. I've wanted to do this for a long time.

And you know what? If I'm no good, it's fine. I know I can sing. I have no idea if I can act at all anymore, but I will be mad at myself if I don't try.

So don't wish me luck, tell me to break a leg. Our auditions are tonight, and I'm preeeetty sure I won't be eating anything between now and then.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ragnar 2011

Ragnar this year was awesome!! And by all accounts, it really shouldn't have been.

For me personally the road leading up to it was super annoying. I thought I was running, then my knees were giving me problems. So I bowed out and a friend of ours was going to take my place.

Then she couldn't run because she was coughing up blood during her runs. Yikes!!

Then I discovered that if I ran with two huge knee braces (to keep my knee caps from sliding out of their groove), I could do it. But I had been out of training for 8 weeks so I was super nervous about the mileage I had to run-15.8 miles to be exact.

Then a week before Ragnar I hurt my back. I called our team captain to tell her what was going on and we discussed trying to find a replacement. Then I called her back to tell her I had prayed about it and felt that everything was going to be ok. This girl is an angel, let me just say, so have put up with my back and forthing with nothing but kindness. Love you Alexis!!

Anyhoo, so I had felt that everything was going to be ok, but I still hurt and I was still nervous. So then we decided, with some prayerful consideration on Kate's part, for me and Kate to switch running positions. That way I would have less running and she would have more, by about 4 miles.

So now she was way more nervous since she hadn't been training for that. But nobody else was worried given that she is 13 and her body could probably handle waaay more than she thought.

So the day of the race came. My dear friend Trisha had offered, yes offered, to watch the other kids for us. Saint that she is.

Everyone of my kids love her, but Nora was having some separation from Mommy issues.

It was so hard to drive away with her looking like that. She kept asking to come with me. And as much as my mother's heart wanted to say yes, I just couldn't imagine a 3 year old being in the van for practically 24 hours with no sleep. So I wisely said no:)

So with the new arrangement of Kate trading positions with me, Jeff would be handing off to Kate.

You can't tell from this picture, but trouble was already brewing for the Allen's.

At this point Kate then handed off to my brother Keno. I know right? How awesome is it to run with my husband, my daughter AND my brother? The wonderfulness of it was never lost on my, I'll have you know.

So I must tell you. When Jeff first handed off to Kate and she took off, I was totally fine. Then when we drove past her the first time to find a place to stop and hand her water and cheer her on, I totally got that "I can't believe my daughter is so big and grown up and running Ragnar with me" choked up moment. I promised the rest of our van I wouldn't cry about it again. I didn't mean to lie, really.

So here is how it works. After all six runners in your van run, then you pass off to the other half of your team. Then they run for 4 or 5 hours while we headed off to the hotel to shower, get fresh clothes, and try and take an hour nap.

And then when we run our next leg (we run 3 legs total) they are resting and all that. And when I say resting, I really mean trying to grab any sleep that you can. I think you get a total of maybe 2 or 3 hours if you're lucky. And that's not at one time, mind you. As our team captain Alexis put it, Ragnar is really for the outer fringe of runners. Most people are not crazy enough to do this.

So after we had rested up, we headed out to run our second leg. And this is when the Allen families trouble began. Jeff and Kate had woken up at the hotel both feeling ill. Kate had a massive headache and was feeling nauseous, and Jeff was sick to his stomach as well. It was hard to get out of the hotel in time and we were 5 minutes late to the hand off from van 1. Not awesome.

About 15 minutes into Jeff's run, we stopped the van to wait for him with water and Kate goes rushing out the side door so that she can rid her body of everything she had eaten. She gets back in looking a little better, but still feeling awful.

So here I sit, her mother, knowing that she is supposed to run in about an hour. There is no way. I also know that her next leg is 7.8 miles, which I haven't trained for. And I also know that Ragnar has rules about runners switching legs mid way. IT's a no no. It can disqualify your team. If someone gets injured and stops running, the rest of the team has to finish their legs for them and they can't run again.

But I know that Kate is in no position to run. So I made the call, and her and I switched back. (Upon further review of the rules, it only mentions injury, not stomach flu)

So when we see Jeff running up, I tell him that he will be passing off to me, not Kate, because she threw up. And he says, "So did I. Around mile two. I feel much better now." But he still had about 4 miles to go at this point. What a trooper.

So I start getting ready to run. I'm already taking 5 ibuprofen and 1 vicodin to keep the back pain at bay. But I hook up my little portable stim machine (It send little electrical shocks into your muscles) just to loosen me up a bit more.

Kate is still looking pale and sick, so I know there is no going back. So Jeff hands off to me and I go. Terrified at this long distance I have to run.

And let me tell you, it was not a problem. It couldn't have hurt that I had a constant prayer in my heart as I ran. But I hardly felt the miles. I walked about half a mile of it, walking rests, but other than that I ran the whole thing. Jeff told me later that he was so surprised to see that every time they waited for me, I would come around the corner still running. It honestly was a miracle folks. My back didn't hurt, and I was able to finish it, despite the growing nausea in my own stomach. I ran a little slower than my normal pace, but I did it. It was the middle of the night, hence the glow in the dark accessories.

By the time Keno ran, and it was now Kate's turn again, she was feeling much better and was able to run the next leg, 4.2 miles. And then in the middle of her run, while we waited with water in front of someone's house, I puked. Hard core. So sorry to the poor fellow who owned that house!

By this time, I'm sure that Keno and our other two van mates were quite ready to not be near us. And no it wasn't anything that we ate or just from running. Jeff and I have never puked from running before. But remember Henry falling asleep in the bowl last week, and then throwing up later? Yeah, we had whatever that was.

So after losing my dinner, I felt a little better. But I didn't really feel that great for an hour or two. The rest back at the hotel helped. But I'm not sure any of us felt that great. Jeff threw up again after his final run, but I just felt nauseous on my final run. It was crazy. We later had several Ragnar runners tell us that would have been a deal breaker for them. And it might have been if we were laid out completely, or couldn't stop throwing up. But fortune smiled upon us and it was a mostly one time thing.

Our team was 12 south. That represent 12 runners, our team, running south. Cuz you run from blaine, wa, south down to Whidbey Island.

Here we are at the end in our team shirts, waiting for our last runner.

And here is our awesome team!! By the way, our team captains, Derek and Alexis, were amazing. Super organized, on top of everything. There were a few airheaded moments on my part that I couldn't have made it through without Alexis.

Pay attention to the right of the picture. Yeah, there were a few people like that. Speedo guy and one guy dressed as an indian chief were the, um, "highlights". The indian chief, which I would never have taken a picture of, had a headdress and a loin cloth. And that's it! I don't know how he ran like that, and I'm glad I didn't witness it. Yech.

This team was awesome. They were the Lord of the Ragnar. I don't know how they ran in that gear. But they did it. Someone said they were a Mormon crew. I'd like to think so since they were so awesome.

Van two. We rocked it!

So, again, this was was sooo awesome. Puking and all. It just felt like a blip on the radar screen of what was a stupendous two day running event.

The highlights:

Running with my family. I cannot describe how great it was to spend two days with my brother and Jeff and Kate.

Watching Kate do something so hard. In her words, the hardest thing she's ever done. True that Kate.

Actually running 15.8 miles. So proud of myself, you don't even know.

Laughing with the other two gals in our van, Laura and Rachel. We ran with Laura last year, and I know Rachel from our little mommy co-op preschool we did. They're both awesome. Truly.

Having cooler weather. Being in van 2 you run in the heat of the day, so having it not go above 70 degrees was actually super awesome.

Throwing up on the side of the road. I know this should be a negative, which it is, but it also felt so good. I know, I'm weird.


Speedo guy. Not only did we see him at the finish, but his twin passed me on my middle of the night run. So I had a Speedo bum view for a few moments. Yikes.

The guy who totally gassed as he passed me. Like not discreet little toots that you can try and pass off as squeaky shoes. I'm talking full on, no shame, cutting the cheese. It would have been comical if I wasn't already feeling kind of sick.

Getting killed by about 100 people. You get a kill by passing someone. You get killed by being passed. I passed no one. And got passed about 100 times, no joke. I'm probably the slowest person to ever run Ragnar. But next year, I vow not to be.

And finally, having the stomach flu. It wasn't fun. But, it also made us proud that we ran anyway. I know, we're weird.

So there you have it. Ragnar 2011. It was such a great experience. And Kate still wants to do it again. And Julia wants to do it next year too. You have to be 12. Keno wants his boys to run it too. So maybe we'll have a family team next year, who knows.

Also, my cousin Mandy and her husband ran it too! I saw their van at one exchange, but couldn't find them. She wrote about her experience here.

I can't wait for next year. Why? Because obviously I love running with no sleep, weird food, and stomach issues. I told you, I'm weird!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nora is three

The thought of six children always scared me. I felt competent enough with five, sometimes barely getting it all done, but still accomplishing what I needed to.

I felt that six would just put me over, and I was terrified of that prospect.

So when I found out that I was pregnant I actually only had one thought:gratitude.

You see, at that moment, when the two little lines showed up, I felt that Heavenly Father trusted me. I knew that He thought I could do it. And that sustained me at that moment and ever since.

Plus, Nora has been a gift to our family. We all adore her. She was an easy baby, is an easy toddler (for the most part) and we cannot imagine our home without her.

Is my house messier? Yes. Is my life more hectic? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

The amazing thing is that 3 years have passed since she was born. And my mind just can't wrap around that. How is it possible that so many events in life drag by at such a slow pace, and yet the life of this beloved child (as are all my children) just speeds by at such a fast rate?

I feel so much joy that this little goose (my knickname for her) is here, is ours, and that Heavenly Father knew me better than I did myself.

My friend Heidi made the cake for me. We were gone for Ragnar the two days before her birthday, so I'm forever grateful for her delivering such a beautiful and YUMMY confection.

Nora loves everything Tangled. 'punzel is her favorite, so of course cake and presents had to represent miss goose's love.

It seems everyone we know was either out of town or unavailable, so my brother Keno was our one and only guest.

But the kids made him feel at home I think.

She was so big, and sat waiting for that perfect moment to blow out her candles.

We love that little girl, so much. Happy Birthday Nora baby!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A tale of two sickies

As you know from last week, my car broke down. The day that I got it back from the shop, Jeff's car died. Like, engine seized, gave up the ghost, died.

So we began our search for a new-er car for Jeff. In 15 years of marriage Jeff has driven less than dream-able cars. He drove an 88 maroon cadillac for a long time. And then a 94 escort wagon. And then an 89 (I think) white cadillac, and then finally the 94 Saturn.

So when we went to the car lot and the salesman showed him the blue car, he honestly shut the idea out because he has never had anything really nice that was his own.

But I told him, this is not a brand new car. It's not a huge amount of money, get the darn thing already.

So he got it!

And he loves it. On Monday, he was out of town for work so I took the blueberry(my brother's family nicknamed it and now my kids call it that) to a doctor's appt. for one of my children. I promised this child I wouldn't name names. You'll understand why in a sec.

Well, they had to take blood from the child to test for allergies. This kid was a trooper, not even flinching when the needle went in. No crying, nothing.

Everything was fine until we were driving home. This child kept saying things like,"Did they take a lot of blood mom? I didn't know my blood was so dark. Boy, I think they took a lot of blood."

Pretty soon I hear "I don't feel very good." I look back and my child is white. I say, "Are you going to throw up?"

So I rolled down a window, advised the kid to breathe through the nose, to please, PLEASE hold on until I could find a safe place to pull over.

No such luck. Poor kid let it fly. All over clothing, seat and floor. Luckily breakfast had just been a piece of toast. But still. And me, in a not so good mothering moment, said, "NO!!! Not in dad's new car!"

Poor child kept saying over and over, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm soooo sorry mom." It was pathetic really.

I told the child that it was ok, and when I could finally pull over we stopped at a gas station and bought baby wipes to semi clean everything up. It really wasn't that bad, but I dreaded telling Jeff that his car had been christened in such a nasty way. AND on the second day of ownership.

The next sick story occurred last night. Henry kept saying he didn't feel good and wanted a bowl. So I'm got him a bowl and took him up to bed. When I left him he was on his stomach with his legs and stomach on the bed, and he was supporting himself with his arms, head over the bowl on the floor. Whatever makes you feel better.

When I went to check on him after I put Nora to bed, this is what I found.

Poor little man fell asleep face down in a bowl! He hadn't thrown up yet, thankfully, just drooled in the bottom of the bowl.

When I picked him up to put him in his bed, his mouth looked like it was stuck in open position. I had to force it closed. Sad, sad, sad.

He did end up throwing up later and wouldn't go back to sleep. It was awesome.

So there you have it, my tale of two sickies. I'll tell ya, there is really never a dull moment around here. Ever.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10 students and counting

The grandkids with grandma after the recital.

When we first moved into this house, I did not have a piano. I wanted a piano so that my kids could take the piano lessons I so desperately wanted them to take.

But not having a piano gave me an excuse, because I knew I didn't have the money to pay for lessons for 4 kids.

Then the first little bit of awesomeness happened. My aunt Cathy(my mom's sister) told me that she wasn't using her piano so I could have it.

And this wasn't some broken, run down thing in need of a makeover and a good tuning. This was/is a NICE piano.

Then she made the brilliant suggestion that I get my mom to teach the kids piano. She was a music teacher and a piano teacher years ago, so why not?

Well, I asked, and she said yes. A happy yes. Not a "sure I will since I feel guilty saying no" yes.

So piano lessons began. Free piano lessons where she and my dad drive an hour to my house every week. Do I have it good or what? Or better yet, do my kids have it good or what?

And I'm not the only one who's lucky. She teaches my brother and sister's children as well.

And it was so fun to watch them all perform their recital pieces. My two oldest children now play the piano better than I do. Like, waaay better.

But I know that if I wanted lessons too, I would just have to ask and I'm pretty sure she would say yes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

While I was going to tell you about the fun way that Jeff and I spent our anniversary yesterday, that will have to wait.

Instead, I'm slightly stranded at my sister's house. She graciously watched my children over night, and when I came to pick them up today, my car had a break down. Literally.

So I'm an hour from home, my car is in the shop, and I hope to return to normal life by tomorrow.

But on the positive side: My car broke down in town instead of on the freeway, instead of with my kids in the car with me. Instead of during our Ragnar relay race next weekend. So I am thankful, and getting to spend the night with my sister is always a bonus.

How was your day?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Boo hoo! Baby got a hair cut!

I had decided to pretty much never give Nora a haircut. Her long, lovely, fluffy blonde hair was just too wonderful for me to let anyone take scissors to. I didn't care if it got in her eyes, I didn't care if syrup got in it. I just loved seeing it bounce on her shoulders as she ran off.

Well, Thursday at exactly 1:40 pm, lil' miss decided to do something about that.

She came into Kate and Julia's room where I was chatting to Kate, and of course I gave her a big hug. When I pulled away, I had a bunch of fluffy blonde hair on my face.

It took about 5 seconds for me to realize what it was, and then the frantic search of her hair began; to see what damage she had done.

Her bangs were chopped, and there were chunks missing from different locations on her head. Such as the following one that I combed out.

Needless to say, I cried and cried. She is two weeks away from her third birthday. I had such high hopes that we would skip this.

When I started crying, Nora started crying. "I berry sowwy, Mommy". Me,"I know Nora, I'm just so sad that you cut your hair." Nora, "But I say sowwy, you happy now!"

No. Not happy. She led me to the laundry room where she had been hiding with the round tipped kid scissors that she found who knows where. Amazing the cutting abilities of those little safety scissors.

I decided to not cut her hair short or try to fix it. Honestly, you can't tell unless you really look for it, or unless you try to put her hair in two ponytails. It will grow out and hopefully we can just pretend this little episode never happened. Yeah right.

When I went into Anne Marie and Nora's room to take a picture of Nora's hair for this here blog, I discovered that instead of going to sleep last night, Nora had chosen instead to yet again find some obscure item to change her appearance with:

Why is it only my children that cut their hair and write on themselves?

Everyone always said to be careful of the terrible twos. In our house it's the thrilling three's. Because I'm always "thrilled" to see what they get into next.

Oh well, I still love her, choppy hair, green skin and all.

Can anyone out there PLEASE tell me that their children did this too? Please?!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our camping trip to the beach was mostly successful.
It was the first time since moving back to Washington that my children were able to wear bathing suits to the beach. It's usually too cold.
It was beautiful Saturday, and then it rained Sunday. Weird. Ok not really. Just super typical of the Northwest. Jerk.
It was a major adventure to go camping with 8 of us. Always is. And I realized that I don't like dirt. Or rain, or mosquitoes.
But I like my family, and I like sitting around the fire, stuffing myself with s'mores and talking to my kids.

We didn't leave until Friday evening, so the sun was setting before we even reached our campsite.
We're smart.

Despite how it looks, we did get the tent up in time to actually sleep in it.

Nora and Anne Marie's first order of business was to pick me flowers.
Love those girls.

I've heard that smoke follows beauty. But if smoke's definition of beauty is wearing the same clothes two days in a row and having bed head hair that won't lay down, then yes, it followed me around.

Oh wait, it's trying to get to Kate. That makes more sense.

This kid is just happy to be alive.

I tried to get Charlie to do a "stare off into the distance" pose. Meh, it sort of worked.

She's sooo dang cute. And yes, she's my baby. How could you tell?

It's a funny thing, how 6 dollar kites provide hours of entertainment.

So, I had to fight for this picture of Kate. Seems that the girl is camera shy these days.
Why? Oh yeah, she's a teenager. In my experience the like NONE of the pictures they see of themselves.

I'm not sure what she was saying to me. But you're welcome for taking a picture of you with your mouth open. :)

So the highlight for me was the races. Anne Marie is 7 and Charlie is 9, but he barely beat her everytime. She's fast, and he is motivated by NOT letting his little sister beat him in a foot race.

Then of course, the whole family got into it. No one could beat Jeff. Darn Marathon runner. Plggggg! Show off.

I even raced him, but you won't see photos of that. Cuz well, deep inside I'm still a teenage girl as well.

I love being married to someone that is still really just a kid.
I don't love building sand castles, but he does. Boy did my kids win the dad jackpot!

And my dreams continue to be fulfilled with this little bug. She falls asleep in my arms still. At 3 years old! None of the other kids did that. Maybe cuz there was a newborn in my arms already. Hmm. I hadn't thought of that.
Poor babies!!! Now I just feel bad. You can all fall asleep on me whenever you want!

And the ever constant tug of the swim trunks. Boy doesn't want anyone sneaking a peak of his derriere. Good boy.

Henry looks like he just rolled around in the sand for the most part.

And danced a la Glee, by the looks of it. (Disclaimer:I have not even seen Glee, nor let my children watch it. So I'm only going off of my own perceptions of the show)
Boy has got some moves though.
I laughed and laughed when I saw this picture.

My friend/brother's wife painted this awesome picture when she was in high school of a girl dipping her toe in the water. This picture reminded me of that.
Things I love about this photo: How you can tell from Jeff's body language how content he is just standing there staring at the ocean, juxtaposed with Anne Marie's tiny little body and Julia's on the cusp of young womanhood figure, long legs and all.

And then my man, emerging from the water. Hi. Hubba hubba.

Luckily for my monkey children, there were trees to climb in our campsite.
It helps for them to be entertained as I slave away over hot dogs. Oh wait, Julia made the hotdogs. I mostly just sat by the fire.

Did you know that there are cranberry growers on the coast? Fields and fields of cranberries. Little shacks that say, "Jim Parker, Grower", and houses with the Ocean Spray sign on their front door, signifying that they grow cranberries for Ocean Spray. I love, love, love cranberry juice. And not just for urinary tract health. Did I just say that? No. I just love the juice. Especially CranGrape. Yummers.

And then the photo tied with Henry's Glee pose:
This my friends, is what camping is all about.

And then finally, we got to walk around the base of Washington's tallest lighthouse. It was closed when we were there. Which was probably a good thing. Because they wanted 5 bucks a person to walk to the top. That's 40 bones, just to walk up steep stairs and worry that someone would fall the whole time.

So it worked out pretty good. Of course the kids were a little confused as to why we were even there if we couldn't go inside.
And we got to be the good parents and say, "Ahh, too bad, it's closed, we can't go up". While secretly I was doing a little "I saved 40 dollars" dance inside.

All in all, it was short, it was sweet, and I had immense satisfaction taking a really long hot shower when we got home. Like I said, I don't like being dirty. Actually, I don't mind being dirty, but I hate going to sleep dirty. And waking up dirty, and smelling like dirt and campfire and finding all sorts of sticky things on my clothes.

But yay for camping! Seriously, I do this for my husband and children. I would much rather "camp" in a hotel. But because we have a gajillion children, it would cost a gajillion dollars. So I just suck it up and pretend to love it.
which, I don't , in case you couldn't tell.
Anyway......I do love my family. And I love spending time with them and my hot husband. Who still finds me attractive after all these years.
He is a gooood man. Of course, this is after sleeping in a tent with all our kids and not showering or even changing clothes. But still.

See ya later!
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