Monday, December 31, 2012

Hangin in Colorado

A few days after Christmas we packed our bags and headed to Colorado Springs to rendezvous with a large number of the Martin clan. Tim drove out from Indiana and Shaun came with Allen and Lisa from Arizona. We all gathered in Donny's beautiful new home. The last time we had come for a visit to the Springs was over Labor Day weekend, and we got to tour the house before Donny and Ellie moved in. They are now settled in to their first house, and what a house it is!

I must say, each time we gather with Theo's siblings, especially lately, I am always struck by the contrast of gathering with the Ross crowd. On the Martin side, our kids are the "older" cousins. All of Theo's siblings started their families pretty much around the time we were done having kids. It is fun to see our boys take care of the little ones. I admit, it is also nice to be the one with kids that don't throw tantrums anymore, need diaper changes, naps, or any of that other good stuff. We are loving the stage that our boys are in!

One of the most challenging parts of the visit was the weather. Colorado in the winter can be chilly, and we were not disappointed in that regard. The kids had to stay in most of the time, and with such a large bunch of excited boys, it was not always easy to keep them entertained. Lots of good food and our boys' willingness to wrangle the rascals was awesome.

We had a lot of fun shopping for Christmas gifts for all the little cousins. We decided to get them all masks of different superheroes. Here I am modeling the Hulk in Target. Haha.

Of course, the boys (big and little) can only take being cooped up in the house for so long. One afternoon, they bundled up and venured on a hillside trail in the middle of town.

Here is cute little Max, Tim and Anne's youngest. He is full of energy and such a happy go lucky guy!
Here are Symond (Tim and Anne's older son), Rex, and Josh (Donny and Ellie's son). These three did a lot of playing together and just about wore me out reading book after book to them.

And here are most of the boys hamming it up for a group picture. I think this may have broke down in to a big wrestling match shortly after this was taken.

Here are all of the boys and their wives, from left to right: Tim and Anne, Donny and Ellie, Shaun and Melissa, and Theo and I.
We gathered in for another group shot to include cute little Isabelle, the only girl in the crew, and Drake. Poor Drake got a stomach bug while we were there and spent about a day and a half just laying on the couch feeling pretty crummy.
Isabelle tried on Theo's new boots, and she did not want to take them off!

Finally, the "Brudders". These guys sure enjoy hanging out, and I am glad we were able to really spend some time together. With New Years approaching as well as the promise of a big winter storm, we all headed home the day before 2013 was too arrive. Thanks Donny and Ellie for hosting! See you soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

It is hard to believe that we are already spending our second Christmas in Amarillo! We had a quiet family  holiday at home enjoying each other and generally relaxing. One sort of new tradition we started doing this year was the ever popular "Elf on the Shelf". My mom gave us one last year for Christmas, so this was his first real Christmas season in our house. If you aren't familiar with the story, it is supposed to be one of Santa's elves, and he is essentially spying on you every day so he can report back to Santa. There are lots of ideas that float around the internet on what kind of mischief an Elf on the Shelf can get into during the wee hours. Since our kids are getting a little bit older, we decided that we would let them each take turns "hiding" the elf each night. I regret to admit that I didn't document their choices with pictures, but they had fun hiding him in places like on the ceiling fan, in plants, in the food cupboards, etc. I think one of the most popular was when the elf drew mustaches and horns all over our family picture with dry erase marker. It was fun.

Here are some snaps from Christmas morning, though I don't know what is up with the picture quality. The camera must have been on some weird setting.

My very favorite gift this year was from my mom. She had asked each of the kids to choose a quilt pattern that she was going to work on while she and my dad served their six month mission in Cove Ft. I had obviously picked the pattern, and I had a hand in choosing the fabric, but the end result was far more wonderful than I could have imagined. My mom is such a talented woman! I love this beautiful treasure.

To cap off the day, we decided to have a treat from home. I have been working on my fry bread making skills, and I must say that they turn out yummy more often than not. I got to make the bread in my second favorite Christmas gift, a ceramic dutch oven from Lisa. I have coveted hers for quite a while now. I love it! Navajo Tacos were a delicious Christmas dinner!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Junior Olympics

This year, only Corbin ran for his school team. Bowen had originally started the season with Westover, but had developed a stress fracture and had to sit out for six weeks. After the end of the cross-country season, we thought it might be fun for all three of the younger boys to try racing in a bigger arena, namely the Junior Olympics series. In these races, the USATF holds events ranging from local to regional, and then national levels. Why not?

One of the requirements to compete in these events is a membership in the USATF. This was not hard to get, but as we started seriously looking into the races, we thought it might be fun to recruit some of Corbin's teammates from school to try and form a team. They had won every meet in our region during their regular season, so we thought they would be able to go further as a group. To get into the team stuff, we hooked up with a local running club called Super Star Sports run by a great woman named Sharon. She is even a former Olympian herself in some kind of skating.

Corbin had already been training through the cross-country season, but Bowen and Rex had to get started on a regular schedule. For a couple of weeks, they ran every day after school. The first event was held in the nearby town of Plainview, and our boys were able to easily qualify for the next level as there were very few kids that even participated (we live in football country).

A few weeks later was the next round, and this would include all of the state of Texas. We traveled to Dallas for this one. We had a great time driving down and spending the night, and then watching the boys race the next day. The weather was great, and the course was nice. This was also not a huge event, but the boys had to step it up to make sure they could qualify for the nationals. They took the top 20 runners in each age group, and the top three teams.

Corbin raced first. There were two other boys from his Westover team as well as a boy from Canyon that they had battled all season, and a kid that had actually raced with the high schools all year because of his speed. They were a strong team, and they won handily.

Next came Bowen's age group. He only knew one other boy in his team from his school, but they were also a strong little group. Bo was not their top runner, but considering his very limited training, he did awesome and scored for his team.

Finally cam Rex's race. There were not enough boys from Amarillo to make a team, so he was on his own. We knew he would have to make the top 20 to move on. He ran strong and was easily in the front until about the last 400 meters. As he came out of some trees and spotted us cheering for him, he had a total meltdown crying and screaming that his throat was dry! We just encouraged him to keep going, and hoped he wouldn't quit before the finish. He managed to pull himself together, and he ended up 19th. Phew.

Back home we went and spent a couple more weeks training. We were very fortunate that the big national race was held in Albuquerque, NM, just a short 4 hours from our home in Amarillo. This event was finally the big one we had been looking for. There were over 4000 kids there, and it was big time. Theo's mom came over to see the boys run which was awesome. I think all of the boys were quite intimidated by the huge venue.

Each kid had his turn running, and we loved watching them. All three boys ended up in the high 100s. I think this was a real eye opener in many ways as they are not really used to such a high caliber of competition. Most of all, I am grateful for the lessons they are learning through these experiences. There is a bigger world out there. Even more important, when they work hard, they can do really awesome things. Even when your throat is really dry, or your foot really hurts, or you are just super tired, you can dig down and find out what you are made of. Running does that for our boys.

We will be back for more.