Saturday, July 26, 2008

Isn't it ironic?

Unlike the content of the Alanis Morrisette song containing this line, what I have to comment on truly is ironic. While walking lovely downtown Mount Vernon this afternoon perusing retailers wares during the big "Sidewalk Sale", we passed the Skagit County Democrats office. They were out telling people to vote for their big "O". In recent weeks, Obama has been critized for changing his opinions on some issues, while stating that he is simply "revising" his views. Interestingly enough, what is for sale outside the offices? Possibly their own favorite footwear: Flip-Flops.

Need I say more?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coeur d'Alene & 23 Weeks

I have freckles! And Tony is sooo brown!

We have had a wonderful couple of weeks gallivanting around in the sun, and it is beginning to show. We recently returned from our trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where Tony had a great big CPE (Continuing Professional Education) class on taxes and other fun accounting stuff. I, on the other hand, joined him for the weekend to enjoy the nice east-of-the-mountains weather and a change of pace. We slept, ate, and went on hikes. Well, Tony might have called them "walks" but to me, they were hikes. Tony also worked out a bunch, so I have no doubt he will kick butt on his next triathlon.

The main attraction in Coeur d'Alene is the resort (creatively named The Coeur d'Alene). We are not really resort people, so it was good that this was a short trip for me. I think Tony got pretty bored, however. Turns out that if you are not the type of person to spend $1000 per day on unnecessary amenities, like golf, spa, and fake antique shopping, resorts are not really your thing. Add that to the fact that Tony and I are not, by nature, lazy people who are content to lie around a pool all day long, and resorts end up being no fun at all. So, to pass the time, we walked/hiked the 2-mile loop around the point (not sure what point, just that it jutted out into the lake), walked around town, watched movies on TV, and watched the baby kick my belly hard enough to see it from the outside (YEAH! Go baby!).

On Saturday, we drove out to Wallace, a small silver mining town that is listed, in its entirety, on the National Historic Register. The town is, well, what you might expect from a tiny historic town. Not much there, but interesting. Here I am next to the Bordello Museum. But, of course.

We took a trip on a Sacramento Trolley to a real, live silver mine for a tour conducted by a retired miner. It was very interesting, and mining turns out to be just as disgusting and depressing a profession as I always thought. I nearly passed out in the mine (combination of too much heat and too little space) and had to leave, sit down, and put my head between my knees at one point. I didn't miss much of the hour-long tour, though, and I still got to see all of the machine demonstrations and the dynamite blast map, so that was cool. Also, chipmunks! They were so cute!

There was quite a large tour group with us, and they do the tours every hour or so, so it is quite the popular tour. There were some German folk on the tour, and the dad was translating-- it would have been awesome to have Sarah or Leland around to converse with them. One very rude, older lady tried to get the tour guide to stop the tour because the German dad was translating, and she didn't want "another conversation" going on while she was trying to listen to the guide. Even this crazy woman's husband looked like he was at his wit's end with her!

I enjoyed ice cream for the first time since becoming pregnant in Coeur d'Alene... a combination of the heat and working really hard, I'm sure. We walked A LOT. I couldn't even look at ice cream last night, though, so I guess it was a one-time thing. Lucky for me, the raspberries will be harvested this week and ready by Thursday, so berry smoothies, berry cobbler, and berry scones with light up my life for a few weeks!

We also had lunch in Coeur d'Alene at the famous golf course overlooking the signature "floating green." Essentially, you shoot from the shore to a small island that the golf course can move (is it 90 yards? 120? You NEVER KNOW.) and you only get two chances before you have to take a little boat over and take a drop. Apparently, once a year, the golf course hires SCUBA divers to retrieve over 30,000 balls lost to the lake. Poor golfers! (or not, since they pay $220 per round)

So that was our trip to Coeur d'Alene. Tony might have more to say about it based on the fact that he "learned" something while there, but all in all, that's what we did. Buster was sure glad to see us home.

You might have noticed my prominent belly in the photos above. I am now at 23 weeks pregnant, meaning that there are only 17 to go (15 if this kid pays attention to mom's directions and comes two weeks early). The baby kicks and punches like crazy, and if I am just hanging out, some of the kicks are big enough to SEE. Wow, strong kid. In my paranoia and disbelief that this is really happening, I have been hesitant to purchase anything baby-related (ohmigawd, anything could go wrong! Do not get me started), but the other day I did buy a book of baby animals and an awesome laundry hamper for the nursery. We have also received two baby gifts, one of a great 360-degree, hand-made, applique bib from George & Terri Morrison, and the other a Whitman Junior sweatshirt from Maggi & Matt. Thanks, everyone! One day, we might even be prepared for this baby!

Monday, July 14, 2008

22 Weeks and Counting

Thank goodness, I seem to have finally reached that stage where people no longer have to guess too much to know that I am pregnant. Well, this weekend I was offered a beer, but I think that's because older men are more likely to play it safe and pretend they don't think a girl is pregnant than assume she is and be wrong. Unfortunately, the side affect of this is me wondering if I still look plain fat instead of pregnant, but most of the time I have strangers asking me when I am due. At which point I respond "mid-November," and they reply with a look of horror and a quiet "Oh." Yes, I am large for my dates. I know. This kid will be like The Incredible Hulk when it comes out, a GIANT ball of screaming anger at being ushered into the cold world from the cozy, aquatic environment that is my uterus.

The baby kicks a lot these days, and also does full-on summersaults and flip-turns in my belly. Oh, baby, I can't wait to have you squirming in my arms. In the meantime, think you could slow down a bit? Maybe not grow so much? Mommy wants to retain some shadow of her former figure.

I've decided that there are a few different classes of pregnant women... I fall into the "showing early" class, as opposed to a bunch of other women whom I've know who have been pregnant in the last couple of years... they would be in the "gained very little weight and showed late and even in the 7th month didn't look as large as Amelia does at 5 months" class or the "was slightly overweight to begin with so mercifully didn't have the bloated-no-clothes-fit stage to go through and then ended their pregnancy by promptly dropping down below their pre-pregnancy weight" class. Someone asked me recently if I thought I wouldn't gain any weight while pregnant. Well, no, of course not, it's just that I had hoped I would be one of those girls who all of the sudden went from wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans with a rubber-band through the button (which haven't fit since week 9, rubber band or no) to hiding a basketball under my shirt. Not this.

So my question is, when people say things like, "wow, you sure are getting big!" or "Amelia, you look like you've put on a little weight! Ha! Ha!," do they not understand that the last thing I, or probably any pregnant woman needs, is to be reminded that the body she once knew, had come to accept with all its flaws (or most of them, even if she was on a perpetual quest to firm up and lose another five pounds), not only no longer exists, but also is not for her personal use any longer? These hips? Which a casual acquaintance noted immediately upon meeting me at a party a couple of years ago were "birthing hips"? Not mine. They've widened for the baby. These breasts? Which receive such lavish attention from my husband, who continues to be awed by their increasing proportions while I continue to be shocked that my bra size has gone up again? Not mine. They've grown to fantastical dimensions to one day soon sustain life. This face? I can't tell you why, but it too belongs to baby. Because God in His infinite wisdom sees some reason for me to break out like a horny teenager who eats too much chocolate in order to grow a child.

Some advice: we won't believe it about 50% of the time (because 100% of the time we are irrational, hormone-crazed, baby-making machines who see no connection to the body we once had, the body we have now, and the body others assure us we will have later), but when you see a pregnant woman, perhaps one you haven't seen for awhile or one with whom you usually share a bit of self-depricating humor, tell her she looks beautiful, glowing, lovely, or something else nice. Because even though we don't believe it about half the time (half the time we do-- and we are amazed that such a wonderful miracle can take place in our own bodies and we feel beautiful in our blatent display of fertility), we certainly don't want to hear anything else. Like how our thighs now have cellulite, our arms are getting a bit flabby, and our cheeks round (oh, yeah, and our buttcheeks too). We know all those things, we have mirrors.

When I get up the courage, and I decide I like the outfit I am wearing that day, I will have Tony take another photo. So you, too, can see my belly in all its glory.

And, I just want to say that I am so stinkin' proud of my husband! He kicked ass on his triathlon on Saturday and even managed to stay awake through the whole night at Skagit Speedway and drive his dozing wife home at 1 am. I don't know how he does it. But I do know that I love him and I was happy to cheer him on at Clear Lake. I guess he's doing a couple more races this summer, so I'll get to see him compete again-- so cool!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tri Tri Again

So yesterday I competed (using this term loosely) in my second triathlon ever. It was the same event I had done the year before held in Clear Lake, WA about 6 miles from our house. If you are really curious about the event, here is the link for more information. Also, I think the official results will be posted there on Tuesday.

For those of you not completely familiar with triathlon, it starts with a swim, then you bike and finishes with a run. This particular event was a 1/3 mile swim, 14.8 mile bike and 4 mile run.

As you can see in the picture above, the swim start is utter mayhem. Last year, I was so weak in the swim that I completely avoided the main group. However, this year I decided I was going to hang with the group and see if I could actually stay with most of them. I was aware that it is not uncommon for people to kick you in the head and/or crawl over you and basically try to drown you, but I escaped without incident. My swim time was about 7 1/2 minutes and last year I think it was over 12 minutes. I swam with a wetsuit for the first time and I doubt I will go back.

Here is a picture of me coming out of the water. Note the two guys next to me who have a more typical triathlon shape (read 30-40lbs less weight than I do). I look like the Hulk next to these guys. Speaking of this, I found out that there is a "heavyweight" class for triathletes known as Clydesdales for guys and Athena for gals. The cutoff for guys is 198lbs. I'm not a small guy, but I never thought I would qualify as a heavyweight in any sport except maybe midget wrestling.

The bike portion of the event was fairly uneventful for me. I heard there was one guy that completely wiped out and a gal in front of me lost a pedal at mile 7 of 15. She finished by simply pedaling with one leg. I guess that is all you can really do at that point. I probably improved another 8 minutes on the bike this year over last year. However, to improve the bike time, I would have to invest in a new bike and I like my $60 bike. I would have to spend $500 or so to get a better bike and I have a hard time justifying that kind of cost. I saw many bikes in this event that were well over $1,000 and some that I would guess were multiples of that. I guess if that is all you do....

I'm sure I improved the run portion of the event by about 5 minutes as well. Mostly, I just didn't walk as much as I did last year. I figured I walked about a mile and a half last year and probably only walked half a mile this year. There is probably still about 4 minutes in there to shave off the run, if I don't walk and push a little harder.

I finished the event in 1:49:00 and last year my time was 2:04:58. Pretty solid improvement, I would say. If you are keeping up on the math, you may be asking yourself, "How do you improve 5 minutes in the swim 8 minutes on the bike and 5 minutes on the run and your final time is only 15 minutes better than last year? Aren't you an accountant?" The 3 minute difference is my time in the transition area. Wearing a wetsuit increases this time between the swim and bike and I never did find my original spot after the bike. So after looking for a couple of minutes, I just parked my bike and took off running. Luckily, I didn't need to change anything between the bike and run. Later, I found it and I still couldn't figure out why I missed it before.

The Clearlake Triathlon doesn't provide split times so I am not exactly sure of my improvement on each event, but it is not that important. I have two more events this summer and each of those have a chip that each participant wears to provide that sort of information. Registration for those events are also about $20 more to cover the cost of using that technology.

After the event, Buster and I went on a swim. He LOVES the water. I didn't want to let him off-leash, so I put the leash on my arm, pushed it up to my shoulder and swam around a bit. He thought that was pretty awesome. Here is a picture of him and me after our brief swim.

I do have a bit of a sunburn because I have an aversion to sunscreen, which drives Amelia crazy. It is pretty warm again today and I am still pretty tired, so I imagine we will stay fairly low key.

Stay tuned for more triathlon adventures.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

93rd Percentile

We're gonna have a big baby. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Thar she floats!!

Ahoy Mateys!
So the last few weeks has seen us visiting some vessels of notable historical significance. You can see the picture below of the USS Constellation. This weekend the "Tall Ships" were visiting Tacoma. There was quite the festival, complete with carnival folk and cheesy pirate entertainers. I would have taken some photos of these characters, but unfortunately our camera was about out of juice and I didn't want to miss out on any boat pictures.

We did end up standing in line for close to two hours. Amelia was a pretty good sport as it was really hot to begin with, then rained a little, then warmed back up. We both ended up with slight sunburns, but overall we were really glad we went.

There were three boats we went aboard:

The USS Eagle:

This is an officer training vessel for the Coast Guard. Under full sail it has over 22,000 feet of area to harness the wind. This vessel was originally built for Nazi Germany and used to train their naval officers. It was one of "five sisters". After WWII, we took it as a prize of war. Most of the cadets I saw were wearing caps that had 2011 on them, which would put them at the end of their freshman year. Not a bad way to spend your summer. It was quite a juxtaposition to see huge booms and sailing rigging and very modern equipment inside the galley.

The HMS Bounty:

This is a replica of the ship from the book "Mutiny on the Bounty". It is the exact ship from the movie. It was built in 1960 specifically for the movie. This replica is roughly 1/3 larger than the original Bounty would have been. The helm (or steering wheel) is the original from the movie and is one of the most "celebrity touched" items around. They also carry passengers for hire. If you are interested, you can check out this link

The most historically accurate replica of Cristopher Columbus' Nina:

This was probably the most surprising of all the boats displayed. The picture doesn't quite do it justice, but this boat is relatively small. A crew member told us that currently they sail with about 7-11 crew members. However, if they were to cross the Atlantic Ocean, they would start with a crew of 16-20. Columbus sailed to the new world with 27 and went back to Spain with almost 120 people! There were about 30 on board touring it with us and that seemed crowded. There is only one enclosure on board and that was for the captain. It was about 4ft high and maybe 6x6. The crew slept on the decks and there is a hold for cargo and animals. Check out for more info on this particular boat.

This saturday I compete in my second triathlon ever. We will make sure to post some pictures of that this weekend. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heat Wave

Whew! The plane ride back was a rough one, but we're home from Baltimore now, safe and sound. It appears that it was quite hot whilst we were away, and my poor brother, who graciously agreed to watch the pups for the weekend, was downright miserable. You see, our house has no air conditioning, and the upper floor gets pretty stifling in the summer. Which, of course, is why we have an abundance of fans to provide a cross-breeze. I am not sure that Leland ever bothered to turn them on, though, so he probably didn't benefit from their goodness. He also didn't move downstairs to the relative cool comfort of the couch. I guess I will save the story of his common sense, or lack thereof, for another time :-) Perhaps I will just chalk it up to stress from the heat.

It could not have been anywhere near as bad as the heat in Baltimore, though! Wowee, when you have that much humidity, heat takes on a whole new meaning. I was wiped out.

We arrived on Friday, mid-day, and I promptly sent Tony off with my parents to the rehearsal dinner at a local crab shack. Being deathly allergic to the crawly things myself, I opted to stay behind with my parents college friends, George & Teri, who were nice enough to allow us to stay with them the whole weekend. We had a great time trading stories about living in Europe, and went to bed quite early. The next day was the wedding! It was wonderful! My cousin, Anna, was gorgeous in her cream gown. The most startling thing about the whole event is how much she looks like her mother and how much Owen, her brother, looks like our grandfather, Charles. It's uncanny, really. The sweltering heat just about killed us, and I was grateful for the chance to sit during the short ceremony. Here is a photo of me and cousin Owen:
He is so very tall and I am so very fat. Blech.

Here is Anna (the bride) and her dad, my uncle, John:

After the wedding, we went out to a famous (and somewhat sketchy, at first sight) Greek restaurant and had a fabulous meal with my cousins (minus the bride & groom), Aunt, Uncle, and friends. At the end of the day, I could barely hold my head up, and I was reminded the next morning at breakfast just how old I am -- my cousin Owen stayed out until 5:30 am with the wedding party!

On Sunday, we visited Fort McHenry, famous for a battle that took place there during the war of 1812 (though the war lasted until 1815). The battle itself was famous because it disheartened the British that we didn't surrender and their bombs didn't do much damage, but it became much more famous after the battle when Francis Scott Key's words, written from his vantage as a prisoner on a British ship in the harbor, became our national anthem. Did you know that "The Defence of Fort McHenry" (now known as "The Star Spangled Banner") actually has 4 verses? I prefer the last one:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

After the Fort, we toured Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and Tony, Dad, and I spent some time checking out the Constitution, the last wooden-hulled boat commissioned by the US Navy. Here we are on the deck:

And here is the ship:
Then, we went and toured the USS Torsk, a WWII submarine. It was pretty cool as well. Here is Tony, obviously way too large to sleep in one of the bunks:

And here he is in beautiful Baltimore Harbor:

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. Well, all except the guy seated next to me on the plane into Seattle who insisted on telling me about his multiple surgeries and how great having a colostomy bag is. I mean, hey, he never has to go to the bathroom anymore!