Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sean & Ashton's 7th Birthday!

My twins are now 7!?! When did that happen? I cannot believe how much they have grown this year- in second grade and firmly asserting their opinion on any and everything. Is this a precursor to their teen years? We celebrated their birthday on Sunday last weekend- a small party with close friends (with children) and family- not like the big ordeal we planned last year. I took too many crunched classes this summer to plan anything big. But as long as we had some other kids over and cake, Sean and Ashton were happy. I'll just let the pictures show you how the afternoon unfolded~

First, the cake! The boys requested this cake special- a chocolate picture cake! Raley's makes pretty tasty cakes too. :)

We had balloons- lots of helpers blowing them up: my mom

Kevin's Mom and Uncle George blowing up balloons:

And the balloon wars that followed

And they posed with their tattoos:

And then came the pinata! First comes the turning and dizzyness (Sean's up!):

And WHACK! Daddy was in control of the rise and fall of the pinata.

Here's Abby:

Next up is Julien,

and cutie-patooti Sofia:


and finally, the blindfold came off so they could actually hit the thing~GO Ellie:

Watch out, Ashton's up!

Dude Sean. Bat much?

Next is CAKE!


Julien being himself~ :)

Ashton, Ellie and Sean~

The boys got a special present from their Aunty Alice, who just started college at Williams in Massachusetts.

The boys went fishing with Grandpa George, and Grandma Crystal caught them on camera with their full load of fish! Talented boys~

Thank you everyone for sharing their special day! (And sorry I got this out so late!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lungs on Legs Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran in a race for the first time since I hurt my back (again) in May. I spent all summer going to physical therapy (instead of the chiropractor) and religiously doing lunges, ab work, and lat exercises to strengthen my thoraco-lumbar fascia. Yes, my butt and lats were apparently too week to support this ligament that stretches across your lower back. I couldn't have made a better choice! Instead of waking up every day feeling like I am 90 years old and wondering how I'm going to get out of bed, let alone get through a full day of work, I get up, stretch, and every other(ish) day head out for a run! I was almost convinced that my running days were over because of the constant pain I was in. Need help with your lower back? Let me know and I'd be more than happy to share with you the exercises I've been doing! :) Here is a pre-race picture:

The Lungs on Legs Half Marathon started and finished at Damonte Ranch High School. The 13.2 mile course wound through the Double Diamond/Damonte Ranch area neighborhoods and even part of a trail. It was a beautiful morning, and the perfect temperature for a race, and fellow Team Library Dork member Dave came to spread some awesome team support and take pictures, even though he's still dealing with a calf injury. I started off at an easy pace, and soon the pack spread out into groups of various running paces, and I found myself running next to a girl who looked about my age. Even though we didn't say anything, I found my pace perfected matched hers, and we settled into a silent understand that we would run together. The miles passed pleasantly, and I enjoyed looking at the mountain scenery (which was visible throughout the entire race) and the houses and landscaping, and noticing the interesting smells in this section of town: the boggy marshland, a bit of sewer, and farmland? It smelled like horses and cattle and farms (brought back memories of when I lived in Germany when I was little!) even though I saw none of these. And manure! This was mostly at the start of the race on the outskirts of the development. Once we got into the neighborhood, it smelled like wet lawn, asphalt, and (I swear!) grilled hot dogs! Around mile the girl I was running broke our silence with a comment on the beautiful scenery (we were running around the marshes at this point), and I replied with something to the effect of the roasting hot dog smell not quite matching the landscape around us. Then I introduced myself and we shook hands. She had been training with a running club in town (with Eclipse Running? Not sure.). We chatted for a couple minutes and both agreed it was nice to have someone to run with, and settled back into comfortable silence. At the half way point I noticed we were right on schedule for a 2 hour half marathon! If I could only keep up this pace... Right around mile 9 I could feel my legs starting to get tired, and I concentrated on my breathing and posture. This is where the trail section started, and as I looked around, I saw some wild horses! That perked me right up! Three were 11 of them, and one was still in the foal stage of life. :) We passed them quickly, without them showing a spark of interest of the steady stream of ants running by. Right after the 11 mile mark I was really feeling the miles, and started to get a strange stomach cramp right in the front of my belly- not the usual side stitch. I didn't want to stop, and I ran for another half mile before I started to feel nauseous. That did it. I didn't want to barf during the race, so I was forced to walk. There went my 2 hour half marathon pace. I told Kendra to keep going (she was getting pretty tired too, and stopping I swear is contagious, and it's SO hard to start running again after walking!). My head started to spin and my legs felt like they had clod-hoppers attached to their ends. After a few minutes, my head settled down, and I picked up an easy jogging pace and made it to the last aid station and dumped down a quick cup of Gatorade. I took a Gu after the first 45 minutes of running, and really wished I'd brought a second one with me. Or some Shot Blocks (which were in my car- how stupid was that?!). I found myself walking sometime during the beginning of the 12th mile, but by then the school came into sight and I was NOT going to walk in plain view of the cheering spectators! Not gonna shame TLD like that. :) That was one painful last mile though- I wanted to walk, and why did they make us run all the way around to the back of the school to finish? That was just cruel, passing the finish only to circle around the school to run through the chute. It was convenient for the race officials, and the layout of the race, but it was really hard to jog past all the finishers and booths and water when I wanted to be finished. Here I am about 1/4 mile from the finish, in the front of the school, nicely faking a positive smile. Nice butt shot, Dave.

But finish I did, and even found some hidden reserve burst to, well not sprint, but run the last 50 meters. Thank goodness Dave was there there for me to lean on! You can see from my expression and slumped form how tired I am in the last few yards:

It was a great race, and flat! I didn't quite get up to this distance in my training, and I thought a flat road race is what I needed to build up some endurance. I greatly prefer trails though- the soft giving dirt is so much easier on my knees and hip flexors. Good training for me and yes I still have a long way to go, but mostly I'm super thankful/grateful that after a good half year of being in pain, I can actually run this distance when I wasn't sure if I had any running days left only a few short months ago.

Some stats for this run:

~30 songs I listened to on my iShuffle
11 wild horses that I saw on the trail
10 streets + 1 section of trail
10+ interesting smells
2 number of times I had to walk about mile 12 (not including the few steps when I paused to gulp some Gatorade at the last aid station)
??? number of times I wanted to walk during that last mile
0 number of times I actually walked during that last mile
1 huge blister (Skipped taping my feet since these were all road miles. Mistake!)
1 awesome running partner

=2:07.42 of running time! Results are up on already!

I found the girl I was running with after the race- she finished only 2 minutes in front of me (I thought maybe she would keep the 2 hour pace), and asked if we could take a picture together.

Thanks Dave for coming- I really appreciate your positive spirit! I needed someone to collapse on at the finish line~

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture

Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920 Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920 by Abigail A. Van Slyck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read quite a bit of “Free to All” for my Public Libraries class, and greatly enjoyed pouring through all the photographs and floor plans of the old libraries- the grand arched entries and classical colonnades that are easily recognizable as libraries, even today. I was surprised to see different subject areas housed in different rooms instead of all together (fine arts, social sciences, music) and stack rooms in the back (housing what types of volumes exactly?) that only library workers had access to. But despite the housing differences, I still saw many similarities to today's libraries: meeting rooms and auditoriums (in the large city libraries), and lots of tables and chairs for reading and study. They were public meeting places, even if the libraries then had a much more pensive atmosphere, and daunting librarians watching over their tomes.

I was very pleased to read about Melvil Dewey’s positive stance on women working in the library (even if it might sound a little sexist with today’s career freedoms). He got women interested in working in the library and appealed to their sense of order and enticed them with the quiet atmosphere away from the hectic tiring job of a teacher. He expressed to others concerned with their advancement in the profession by saying, “The natural qualities most important in library work are accuracy, order (or what we call the housekeeping instinct), executive ability, and above all earnestness and enthusiasm.” (p. 163) There were many men who felt the librarian profession was already shaky in its recognition of stature and credibility. I knew there were few professions open to women during this time period (mainly teachers and nurses), but I didn’t know many specifics of how they came to the library profession, or how they were discriminated against in pay (receiving up to a full quarter less then the men in the same position), and in position- they were only allowed to hold lower assistant positions dealing mainly in clerical work- cataloging, index making, book repair and working with children, but need not be “bookish” or need that “intellectual spark” that was considered necessary for the highly sought reference positions.

Andrew Carnegie received a lot of criticism for how he dispensed his funds through libraries. I think because he had so much money to give, and a vision of libraries across the nation, he needed a plan. A plan that would help him determine where to build, and how to divide funds. I think if he just gave the cities and towns a chunk of money, there are so many different ways it would have been used, and many of them probably would not have followed his vision. So he was strict on whom he dealt with (city officials only), and the architecture and structure of the library itself. I think that he was fair in giving money only for the building itself and letting the cities furnish and fill with books, because nothing should be completely free, and also in doing so the town could take ownership of its new library.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts by Douglas Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Douglas Adams is hilariously clever, and I'm looking forward to the next 3 (well 4, someday 5 with some help from Eoin Colfer?) books in this trilogy. His writing style reminds me very much of Terry Pratchett. This is a fantastic book to listen to on CD, although it makes for slightly dangerous driving when I'm laughing so hard I nearly drive into the people next to me... (okay, not really)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hatching Magic

Hatching Magic Hatching Magic by Ann Downer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Cute book about wyverns, which I knew little about. (Mostly I like to read about dragons, but this was a good bridge-over). Fast read about a girl named Theodora with a penchant for wyverns, and as luck would have it, a newborn falls right in her lap! But she must be on the watch-out for wizards- both the good kind, and the bad. Who can she trust? And what about the demon that has inhabited her caretaker? And her father losing his tenure at the university?

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Second Day of 2nd Grade!

Yep, I remembered, forgot, remembered, and then forgot to take the boy's picture yesterday morning on their first day of 2nd grade. But not today! I have comparison pictures of their first day of kindergarten and 1st grade- they grew SOOOO much this summer! Amazing. Okay, here's their kindergarten picture first: (Ashton is always in red, Sean in blue.)

And first grade (yes in the same shirts as the previous year- it's what they wanted to wear!). They grew some...

And today's picture: they grew some more! (Sean is saying, "I help my brother a lot!" and is up on his toes a bit, and that's why he looks taller than Ashton.)

Ah, my boys! The days just fly by, and when I take a moment to look at how far you've come in the past year it makes my breath catch. I love you both so much! Just keep growing and growing~