Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Uncle Paul is So Cool!!

... he rides a motorcycle!!
Last weekend we got to go watch "Uncle Paul" (Jared's brother) race in a motocross event. It was an endurance race on a 6-mile track, so we only got to see Paul come around a handful of times. But that was enough for the boys! They were thrilled to be able to witness Uncle Paul in all his coolness!

 Paul - in black - passes by us, heading for a big curve on lap # 2.
"All done!" Paul circles around off the track & comes to greet his fan club!

 Uncle Paul with his biggest fan ... Jonah!
Jonah really wanted to put on that helmet - but changed his mind when he saw the mud splatters all over the front & sides :)
Paul said a really cool thing, too. He thanked the boys for coming to watch him & said that whenever he'd come around the track & see the boys cheering for him, it made him want to do better & keep going (even though he was getting tired)! Awesome!

Karate - Yellow Belts!!

Every Thursday evening is karate night. We pack up the car, usually w/ a dinner on-the-go & drive to Grandpa Cowden's house, where we meet up w/ cousin Jake, who also attends. Then we continue to karate class. This has been the routine for the past year or so. And finally, two weeks ago the boys earned their yellow belts!!! "Excited" does not even begin to describe how they were feeling about it! Grandpa Cowden (who almost always goes w/ them to class, or even takes them by himself oftentimes) was there, of course. And Jared & I made it together. (Jared met us there after rushing from the office) Even Deb, (Jakey's mom) finagled her work schedule in order to be there to see Jake. In order to earn their yellow belt, they had to perform their memorized form (a particular series of kicks & punches), as well as demonstrate three self-defense moves.

Here Jake & Merrik practice one of the self-defense moves.

Merrik goes first doing his form in front of the class...

Then it's Jonah's turn to do his form for the class...

Yay, they did it!!! Mr. Russ ties on the new, shiny belts!!!

 OH! - And they also had to break a board while barefoot & doing a side kick! So here they've got their new belts and their broken boards!!! "Congratulations, boys!!!" So proud!

"Cousins! ...hie-yaw!!!

My Jared is One "Tough Mudder"!!

On Saturday, May 5th at Mount Snow, Vermont, amid many cheers & high-5's, Jared earned his coveted Orange TM Headband!!!
Scroll down to see how!

The Tough Mudder website claims that this may very well be "the toughest event on the planet!"

"Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $3 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world."

And here is the Tough Mudder map. Over the course of 10 miles running to & fro over Mount Snow, there were 26 obstacles. In 5.5 hours, Jared's team of 4 endured cold, mud, smoke, endurance, frigid waters, mud, fire, snow, ice, ropes, electricity & more mud to complete the course & claim their prize!

After registration. They write your race # on your forehead so they can "identify the body". And Jonah couldn't be overlooked, so he got a # too.
 Jared, Brian, Demery (Brian's sis) & Jess (Demery's friend). They're all smiles now, but just wait :)

And we, the family, are here for his support! "Go Dad!!!!"

And to start it off, you had to scale this 8-foot wall just to get to the starting line! Jared (center & at top of wall in grey shirt, black shorts) makes it look easy.

They corralled all the runners (this wave of 500, anyway. through out the day, I believe some 7-8,000 runners took to the course). Here they gave them a powerful pep talk & sent them off.

This was the first obstacle we saw, "Arctic Enema". They're prepping here by filling these huge tanks w/ water & ice!

Jared & Brian climb the stairs & get ready to get wet ... and very cold!
 Jared's look say it all. "Yeah, we're doin' the Tough Mudder! Bring it!"

One of our views & we made our way to meet the team at various obstacles.

Here comes my muddy Hon! From one obstacle to the next! At least he's smiling.

This was called the "Electric Eel". Hanging above them about 6 inches above the water are wires that spit out a current at sporadic intervals while you're mushing thru the muddy water. Great fun.

At the top of "Cliff Hanger". That is one steep hill! Jared gets a handshake & a smile from Jonah! What was really cool was that Jared said it gave him renewed energy & endurance to go on whenever he'd see the boys & me waiting to greet him at different obstacles. I'm so glad we all got to go & experience this with him!! I was so proud watching him, too!!

Jared's on the farthest wire, in all grey/black, kinda off center, to the right. (right in front of the random person standing/walking thru the woods w/ a blue bag) This is called, "Dong Dangler". He made it all the way across this freezing cold lake suspended on a 25-yard (?) rope without falling off! Most people didn't make it 1/2 way without losing their grip on the rope & either swimming thru the arctic waters or shimmying across the rope w/ just their hands on.
 "We just survived the Dong Dangler!!! Fist bump!"
 Jared & Brian - BFF's :)

 At the top of "Everest" - a 15-foot (?) half-pipe that you had to run/climb your way up. After these two made it up, they stayed at the top to help others make it there, too.

 And - right before the finish line - you've got to endure "Electroshock Therapy". Yes, those are live wires, although I don't think that every single one shocks you. But still. No thanks for me. It was amazing watching Jared compete!!!!
At the finish line, Jared's looking back to find Brian.

 "Yay, we're done!! I mean, yay, we did it!!"


What do Piggy's, Baseballs & Lambs Have in Common?

We spent 2 of our 5 spring vacation days at OSV. The boys spent the other 3 days taking turns being sick, which should be outlawed during school vacation weeks! I figured that OSV would be a great place to get some fresh air without being right in someone else's face where they could share germs. So for the most part, these are the highlights of spring vacation. :)

Let me say that when my boys are getting along, they are extremely cute!! M decided that J needed to give him a piggy back ride! And so J happily obliged.

The boys managed to take part in a 19th century baseball game! The ball was actually very soft, the bat was a broom or shovel handle & once you hit the ball - even a foul ball was good then - you made a mad dash to your left! Back then you rounded the bases clockwise. That was just enough to almost be confusing. But the boys quickly caught on & had a lot of fun.

 And it would not be spring at OSV without lambs!

And Baby Makes ... 5 !!!

The week of Jonah's birthday (back in February) was when we actually found out I was pregnant!!! So we were fortunate enough to share our good news w/ my parents in person a couple weeks later while they were here for Jonah's baptism. We didn't tell anyone else for quite some time. We wanted the boys to be close to the first to know & yet we knew that once we told them, the world would find out :) So we went thru our days & weeks with our little secret ... ...

During April vacation, I actually had my 1st ultrasound scheduled & so we told the boys the good news w/ the ultrasound photo. I'm glad we waited until we had that picture because Jonah would not believe us! So the ultrasound photo was good proof! Merrik was instantly excited ... mostly I think because he "wouldn't be the littlest anymore!" And I think Jonah's excited just because he's such a social kid. "The more, the merrier!" In fact, once Jonah was convinced, he grabbed Merrik in a bear hug & proclaimed, "Merrik - we're gonna be brothers!!!!" It was very sweet. So now we get to share our news w/ the world!

~Baby # 3 is expected to make his/her arrival sometime around October 31st, 2012!!!!~
And we could not be more excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(we have another ultrasound scheduled for June 8th in which we hope to find out the sex of the baby)

Easter 2012!

Easter Saturday we attended "Breakfast w/ the Easter Bunny" sponsored by the local Girl  Scouts. It was fun & delicious!
 Complete w/ face painting! So M could get a shark & J could get a dragon. Cool!

 (And ... I'm certain I took photos of Easter Sunday & their baskets & such, but can't seem to find those photos. Hmm...)

Merrik's 6th (what?!?) BIRTHDAY!!

This year we decided to let our kids plan a friends birthday party. Merrik decided he just wanted to "have a few friends over & play games". So that's exactly what we did!

The night began w/ outside tag while everyone was arriving. And then a scavenger hunt!
And for the record, this photo below has got to be one of the most genuine smiles I've ever captured on Merrik!!! I just love it! He was so happy & excited to have some of his school, church, neighborhood & bus buddies over to our home.

 Once the kids were full of fresh air & had expended lots of energy, we brought them in for pizza.

And of course Merrik had to show his two good buddies his "art gallery" bedroom.

Then it was back outside for The Shark Pinata!
Merrik started it off & then spun each & every party guest as they took their turn.
 M's good buddy Tucker attempts a good whack! "Good form, Tucker."
Finally, with Jonah's strong arm saved for last, the shark gives way to candy, stencils, glow sticks & other fun prizes inside. It was a frenzy!

After the kids gathered their prizes into their goody bags & enjoyed a little more fresh air, they retreated back into the house for one last game of, what else, Pin the Tail on the Donkey ... with the birthday boy in the lead.
(The party finished off w/ cake & presents but for the life of me, I cannot figure out where those photos are!)