Sunday, December 5, 2010

Endymion Spring

Endymion Spring (AUDIOBOOK) [CD]Endymion Spring (AUDIOBOOK) [CD] by Matthew Skelton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the author's first book- I listened to his commentary at the end about how this novel came into existence (written one full half at a time, and then interweaving a second from the beginning- I couldn't tell the author didn't plan it that way from the beginning!), and was fascinated how his life flowed around it. Even though it's cataloged as a YA book, Blake and Endymion Spring are younger than that, but it's writing with a descriptive language that even adults will appreciate (me!). I highly recommend it~

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Donner Lake Turkey Trot

This morning Team Library Dork headed up to Donner for a lap around the lake for an early Turkey Trot. It didn't start until 10:30, at it was cold waiting for the start- just under 50 degrees, but then there was a breeze off the lake to factor in. Here is a hill just on the west side of the lake, and you can see that it snowed recently up here (and in Reno too, but all our snow melted the same day):

I told Gretchen after at 50/50 Brewing where we went for lunch (and won't ever be going back since we waited an hour for our food) that I would have been happy wearing a down jacket to start the race, but I felt better almost immediately after we started running. Turi stuck with the front of the pack while Dave and I hung back to get in a solid warm up- I desperately needed to work out the kinks after the long drive up to the Lake. Around mile 2 I shed my sweatshirt and had a pretty comfortable run with a long sleeved tech shirt. I haven't been putting in the miles that I would like because of ongoing knee and lower back pain, so I surprised myself when I found myself pushing up the hills and ahead of Dave early in the race. I kept the group of girls ahead of me in sight and managed a respectable 1:05.46. If my knee wasn't giving me so much grief this year I bet I could have done it in under an hour, but I'm not complaining. :)

After the race there was an awesome raffle with frozen turkeys and pumpkin pies to give away, not to mention the usual race stuff. It was a great race, and I've always loved running around Donner Lake. Here is a post-race pic of the three TLD's that were able to make it today:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mockingjay (book 3) by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang. Finished this series finally- I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen at then end, but that wasn't what I could have guessed at. This is one of those series that I'll think about for a long time...

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Martha Speaks

I've been traveling to all of the schools in Carson City giving each student a new library card! The entire staff has been working non-stop entering in all the information into the system, and then I go to a different school each week and talk to every class about all the library has to offer- not only books and music and movies, but also online databases and free live homework help from tutors that students can chat with and get their questions answered by certified teachers. Not to mention all the fun programs we offer- Love on a Leash, Lego Club, book clubs, storytime, and lots more! And I always have a mascot travel with me. Pictured here is Martha, the dog from the PBS show Martha Speaks. And inside? My boss! The library director of the Carson City Library! Isn't that awesome that she is willing to do one of the hottest-I mean most fun-jobs with me? :) I am super excited to see all the students, and already they have been flooding to the library to use the computers and get homework done. And of course, meet and chat with their friends. It's the happenin' place to be!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sean & Ashton: Lego Daze

Yes, they love Legos! And you can tell how comfortable they are in the library as they have no problem camping out in the middle of a rather busy hallway being creative. :)

The C-Span Bus visits the Carson City Library!

Yup, here are Sean & Ashton sitting with the Mayor of Carson City on the traveling news channel C-Span bus getting a special tour and history lesson! Sean described the water cycle when they asked what they are learning in school, and he described it perfectly, remembering his vocab words- precipitation, condensation and evaporation! The mayor said he was very impressed with how smart our community's children are. :) I'm a super proud mama right now!

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Blogger Phone Ap

Yup, I have a fancy phone, and am testing it out! News? Lets see- I ran just under 5 trail miles today, swam yesterday (2100), (both in 45 min.) and haven't done a P90X workout in 2 weeks! Better get on that. Announcements: I have the two cutest, sweetest boys a mama could ever hope for! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tough Mudder!

Yes, I am wearing a mustache in this picture. Because I am one of a 5-piece quintuplet of Magnum P.I.'s! I'll admit I wasn't stoked about the 'stache, but once I got it on and started parading around in it, I got a total kick out of it! I got a ton of hilarious comments and support from other "Mudders." We got all dandied up in Hawaiian shirts and shorty shorts in honor of the '80s and the proclivity for men to show WAAAY too much leg hair.

There were months of preparation and training for this race, mainly lifting and muscle building for me. Mainly with P90X! Since this 7-ish mile course was held on a ski resort, Bear Valley California, with double black diamond slopes factored in, I knew there wasn't going to be as much running during this race as much as straight hand-over-hand climbing. Both up and down. This was an almost-epic trip for Team Library Dork + Ben- I'll get to the almost part soon. I'm going to tell this story in pictures- and I actually have some pretty good ones to share since Dave brought his indestructible camera which is waterproof and mud and rock proof too!

This is a view of the mountain below where the race took place, from the parking lot. It dawned quite the beautiful day! There were 5000 people signed up for the even (the majority of which were men, so for once in my life when I used the bathroom there was a huge line for the men's room but not for the ladies!), and waves of starters every 15 minutes of 350, on a very steep hill. Our wave didn't start until 11:30, so we got to sit down to a nice breakfast at a normal hour instead of the usual Clif bar.

Here I am before the race, milling around trying to find the packet pick-up area:

And Turi:

And Chris:

And me with Mario and Luigi:

A close up of the 5 of us, all 'stached up!

And finally, dah dah Daaaaah! The Walk To The Start (cue: Sunshine! Notice how they're all in step?):

This is one of the steepest, hilliest, most elevation gain and loss races I've ever done. Check out the hill they had us slide down to start~

Turi, and me edging down trying to get some of the worst out of the way before the shot went off, because for some reason the rest of the guys wanted to hang back (which I think they regretted for the rest of the race)...

And we're off! I lost my mustache in the first obstacle, crawling through mud and grit under the barbed wire fence (where I nearly lost my hat several times as well, and in which I drew first blood, I think, from the bottom of Chris's shoe), and hastily stuffed it in my front shirt pocket. Bruised knee #1. The photos for this one didn't come out clear, but immediately we started down our first steep downhill (yup, I sat down once after my feet slipped out from under me on the gravel covered rocks, but with shouts from behind of, "Mudder down!" I was up again like a rocket). Here's me:

And here is part of the track, wide still,

And Dave getting pissed off as we ran into our first wait, which was backed up because there were so many people filing onto a steep down-hill single track.

And then we started back UP that monster we just worked our way down. Turi and I are rock skipping here, just like I've done at Tahoe countless times:

After hiking back up the mountain (which I think was considered an obstacle in itself) we came to another obstacle: the Snowblowers. They weren't blowing snow, but more like stinging ice water. It was blinding in that man-made storm, and I had to walk through knee-deep water to get to them. Oh well. I knew I'd be doing a lot of running/hiking with wet shoes. Beauty in the Beast- the rainbow from the top was spectacular, and this picture doesn't do it justice.

Another obstacle climb. Can you say steep?

It just kept on going up and up and up...

My heart was pounding by the time I got to the top of this one! But I never stopped. And there were lots of "stoppers." Then a fun obstacle appeared: the construction Spools! With a good 10 minute wait to get to them. Between the two spools (your team got to pick one to hop over) were tires that no one but Dave ran through:

Turi and Chris made it over the top on their own because of their towering height, but I only managed to land on my stomach and needed to be pulled the rest of the way over. Bruised knee #2. Then, finally a flatish and downhill stretch to run!

And then another huge wait. I'm sure we waited a good 20 minutes at this one, and most of us had no idea what was going on at the front of the crowd. Then one of the volunteers waved through a huge part of the crowd, and TLD was left at the front, cut off from the rest and made to wait because of another huge back-up at the next obstacle. But at least we had a clear view of what was to come. The Mud Pit. It was 20 yards of that thick sloshy mud that tries to take your shoes off followed by a pool of liquid concoction that reminded me of the consistency of what's at the bottom of a port-o-potty. Someone piped up from the crowd, "While we're waiting, would it be okay if I ran and jumped in the mud and got back in line?" He ran, jumped, and landed flat on his belly with the most satisfying belly-slap! So of course this put ideas into Chris's head that he needed to follow suit. He ran and flew threw the air, and with a SLURP dissappeared into the mud. He climbed out dripping, and made a bee-line for guess who? Yes, there was no out-running this mad man, and the entire crowd cheered as he slammed into me and slathered me with slimy mud! He even went back for seconds and got me good in the face. And now I smelled like the out-house I was just previously imagining. By the time this picture was taken, I'd managed to wipe off most of the mud from my face onto Turi and Dave's shirts:

Another down hill and we came to the "high poles." These poles were vertical, and taller than my head. This one also required team work to get over the top. Chris and Turi were helped up by other Mudders, and then I was given a boost up, and then almost fell on my rear coming down the other side. Should've gone over forward instead of gripping the pole and easing off my stomach.

After this we had another climb that went up and up and up forever into the heavens- and deceived us by hiding the next hill with the previous one (and again, I'm proud of myself for not stopping until I got to the top. Dave on the other hand had to wander into the woods for a while to find a private bush to ease his angry stomach of the biscuits and gravy he powered up with for breakfast, and found his way to the top, gloveless), and a half hour wait to do the "Berlin Wall Climb." This obstacle consisted of a pile of logs with a hard plastic sheet you had to run and scramble up to get to the wood. I wouldn't have managed this nearly as gracefully as I had without the help of two guys from another team reaching out helping hands. Thankfully, that was the last long wait we had to do for the obstacles.

The next obstacle was one that I had been waiting for, actually. I still had stinky mud flaking and dusting off my body and was eager to wash some of it off. Here is Chris right behind me easing his way down into the water:

The pond however I swear was melted snow, and froze my girl parts as I dunked under the two barrels. I was so cold I hurt and couldn't get out of the water on the other side fast enough!

As you can see from this picture, you cross the pond once and then go down the slip-and-slide on the other side and climb out again. Chris, Turi and Ben somehow got ahead of Dave and I, and I watched with a crazed expression on my face as Chris went down head first! Not many were brave enough to pull that stunt. Dave slid down seated, and I took a few quick steps thinking I'd make the best of a fast slide, and I TRIPPED! Crap! I went down head-first, and straight for several people in the water, Dave included! So I balled up my fists and punched my way into the crowd, "YAAAAAAAHHHH!" I popped up out of the water (not nearly so bad the second time in!) and apologized for running into someone, who just brushed it off. I missed Dave. Whew!

Immediately after this obstacle was the wood pile. Yes, we all sported our wood in a variety of positions, carrying our pieces down a trail and back about a half mile. I think this was Dave's favorite obstacle by far! He looks surprised in this photo, but most of the time he was grinning with the implications of this part of the race.

I keep saying "race" in this blog, but it really wasn't. It was a team effort and we all stuck together waiting for those at the back of the lines. It was about camaraderie and support and not about time- we only ran about one mile total anyway. But I'll continue to call this a race, okay? That was the last race photo I have because Dave's camera ran out of space, but we still had 3 obstacles after that. And not really worth photographing. One was a 12-foot fence that we had to climb back and forth over 16 times (that was kind of fun, and made it worth carrying thin gloves in my back pocket for the entire race), and one was drinking a tiny shot of hot sauce just meters from the finish (that was lame). The final obstacle couldn't have been more disappointing. The "wall of flame" was a mere grill to jump over, that I thought was only slightly warm. Even so, someone still managed to fall on it and burn him or herself. Geez people! TLD's last member finished at 3 hours and 3 minutes. I wonder how we would have done if we didn't have all that waiting around to do? The rest of the team was not happy about that part, to put it lightly. I, however, was SUPER sore for the next several days- I completely destroyed my quads on the downhills trying to watch my form and not mess up my knee (or back), and didn't feel like I had the right to complain about the race, even though it was the mountain that difficult and not the actual obstacles (I left out mention of a few of the super easy ones, like the spider-web crawl over a school bus, and a claustrophobic dark crawl through a tunnel that made my knees hurt). But I am still proud of myself for all the training I did, and if nothing else, I got to spend the entire day outside in the beautiful sunshine with my teammates, and share some good food and beer after (although not the Dos Equis at the post-race party). This is one of those races that I looked forward to and can say I completed, but don't feel the need to ever do again. So my thanks is to TLD for a great weekend!

Two last pictures. Not only were my quads destroyed, but so were my Magnum PI shorts. These went straight into the dumpster after this photo was taken:

And the skin on my knees:

But worth it. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vibrams Update

7.18 miles today! Whoo-hoo! And unlike last Sunday's 7 mile race, I didn't get any blisters (working up those calluses)! Gradually my calves are getting stronger- the muscles even feel more solid to me. My dad has always called me "chicken legs" because I have pretty small calves and ankles. Well, no more! When I run in my Vibrams, I land on the balls of my feet, and this uses lotsa calf muscles! I started out the first day in my new Vibrams runnng only a mile and a half on my trail, and my calves were crazy sore! The upper part of my calf, almost behind my knee. I could only run about 10 minutes before I started having to drop down to a full-foot landing (but still not a heel strike like I would in my running shoes). Today I ran uphill a full 45 minutes before I started needing to drop down to a full-foot landing, when I turned around started back down the hill home again. I could feel the muscles in my ankles, Achilles tendon and that muscle right under my calf (what's it called?) being used today. I signed up for a account today so I could click my way through today's run for mileage (no I don't have a fancy GPS Garmin, although I guess I could have run with my iPhone... But that doesn't upload my routes... but there's probably an ap for that :). It shows an elevation gain of 890 feet. I don't know how often I'll use this site since I tend to run on the same trail since it's about 1/3 of a mile from my doorstep. Today is also the third day in a row I've run. I can't remember the last time I haven't needed to take a day or two or even three off to let my knee or lower back heal, and it makes me light-headed with happiness. I bought these shoes daring to hope that my knee (and back) would strengthen up because I'd be running as God intended (barefoot!)- I'm giving myself time to work up to longer distances and really listen to my body and my muscles for signs that I need to back off or for other aches that might crop up (no fair trading one set of injuries for another!). I'm listening to a book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall that talks about the science of barefoot running, ultra runners, and a tribe in Mexico called the Tarahumaras that have known the secrets of running crazy long distances (50, 100, 300 miles!) for hundreds of years and loving every step of it! This book makes me want to run and run and run and not stop, and revel in the beauty of the nature around me and appreciate a pain-free strength I've worked hard to build. And I'm extremely grateful for all of this- a book full of inspiring stories, shoes that don't make my knee hurt, and most of all for the chance to run~ :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bay to Bliss Tahoe Trail Run

It was an early morning for me as Abbey and I headed up to Tahoe for a race- one that we'd been drooling over since we read Gretchen's blog post of this event last year. Seriously, check out her pictures (I decided not to run with my camera, and she's a WAY better photographer than I am anyway). I ran just over 7 miles in my new Vibrams at the Bay to Bliss Emerald Bay Trail Run- I am determined to keep running and be healthy, and so far these shoes have proven their worth! Yes I developed some gnarly blisters, but my knee and back were in great shape after the race- and that's exactly what I was hoping for with this new "barefoot" technique. I'll take blisters any day over a pain-filled knee! It was a beautiful cool morning for a run (temp. in the 50s), with a steep downhill jog to the start line. Which we soon discovered was the first hill of the race. As the race director was giving us the countdown, the wind whipped up in a flurry of pine needles exactly one minute until go time. It settled back down again with 15 seconds to start, and then the rain picked up instead. A light, but cold drizzle that kept us cool on that climb. Looking out to our right a dazzling sight met our eyes- we could see a double rainbow through the trees, with its end touching the lake. Only 2 minutes in and already I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera! But ultimately I think it was best to leave it behind as I had to watch the trail extra carefully for rocks and roots since there wasn't much between my feet and the dirt. Even though I held back on the speed, I felt super agile with my extra grippy and flexible soles and found myself leaping up onto rocks and bouncing over fallen tree trunks. The first half hour passed in a blink of greenery and sparkling water below me, and then the trail became hilly again with steep stone steps to navigate. But by the hour mark, the pads of my forefoot (feet) were feeling very sensitive and every every pebble was making itself known to me. This might not have been the best idea to double the distance I've run in these shoes all in one go, especially only 2 weeks after I got them, but I knew how much my knee would be hurting if I wore my regular running shoes. I took a deep breath and ignored my feet and enjoyed the twists and turns of the trail, the rocky outcroppings and the ever present turquoise bay to my right. I finished in 1:23, (8th in my age group) and didn't stop at the finish line on the beach but stripped off my shoes (saw the blisters! no wonder I was feeling every pebble!) and headed into the blissfully cool lake. Abbey finished in 1:09 and placed 3rd in her age group and scored a sweet medal- her first for an age group win! We lazed in the sand waiting for awards and the shuttle back to her Jeep, and I felt for the life of me that I was on a tropical island beach soaking up the sun. This is definitely a race I want to add to my list of yearly runs. And hopefully by next year I'll have gotten used to running "barefoot"!

Thank you Abbey for driving, and for the miles and miles of comforting, funny and stress-relieving conversation- I needed that as much as I needed this gorgeous run after an extra long work week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vibram TrekSport

Yup! I bought new shoes today, and it being my day off, I even got to try them out! I tried on a couple different pairs of Vibrams, but much preferred the Treksport because of the nice tread on the bottom. Now, I love wearing toe socks, so this shoe didn't feel at all funny to me- if fact, I think they're downright comfy! I popped them on as soon as I left the store, drove home, changed and then took off for Whites Creek Trail to give 'em a whirl! The salesperson said I should stick to a super short run to try them out as they use a different group of muscles in your feet, ankles and calves. I ran about a mile and a half of trail and then a little bit on the street to try my paces, and I found that running both up and down the hills I land on the ball of my feet. In fact, I ran about 90% of the time on the balls of my feet and only landed flat-foot on the street with no incline. Does anyone else own a pair? Are you only supposed to land on the ball of your foot (and rotate back to the heel on the flats), or is okay to land flat as well? I guess what comes comfortably, naturally is best. I'll have to look up some videos on these Vibrams and see what the experts say. My left knee has been plaguing me with aches as has my lower back this year, so I'm eager to see if this is from an imbalance of stride while I run, and if so, if it will heal over time. Now I just gotta watch out for those sharp rocks and build up some calluses on my big toes...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! I cannot WAIT for the next book, Linger, (which I ordered for my library a week ago! A WEEK ago!) to get here! For any Twilight lovers out there, this is similar, but substitute wolves for vampires. Not werewolves per se, but wolves. And no vampires.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Sean and Ashton started 3rd grade today!

Yup, I have the yearly picture to share, and compare with the past two years. I think they grew like 4 inches just this summer! Check this out- here they are on the first day of kindergarten:

The second day of 1st grade:

The second day of 2nd grade:

And the first day of third grade (this morning):

What big mature boys I have! The growth difference from year to year just blows my mind! Measuring from the picture behind them, it looks like they grow about 3-4 inches a year. Crazy weeds. :) They came home from school today super excited- I high hopes for them academically this year. No longer will they get O/S/N/I for grades but A/B/C/D/F. They will be held responsible for their actions and their work. They will be learning higher level skills and get to start doing book reports this year! Yay! (Says the librarian mom- I'm sure that word will never escape their lips in the same sentence as "book report!")

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Boys at Lake Tahoe!

This summer has been so jam packed with fun and sun races and vacations and work work work that I haven't blogged hardly at all. I apologize for not sharing pictures (of which I have tons just waiting for me to blog!), and hopefully I'll get to them soon. However, I do have a photo of Sean and Ashton when I took Wednesday off last week, and just the three of us headed up to Lake Tahoe for the day, followed with burritos at T's Mesquite Rotisserie! Mmmmmm, yummy! Of course they headed straight to the nearest rock and shimmied up and asked for a photo before we headed down to the water. Boys. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Alice I Have BeenAlice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a difficult time getting into this one, but since it was for book club I plowed through the slow beginning. BUT! It was totally worth it! This historical fiction had much more depth and feeling to it than I was expecting, and despite the discomfort caused by the relationship between Alice and Mr. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)- who was 20 years her senior, there was much to learn about life in the Victorian age, and love. And yes, there were tears too on my part.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Snakes and BFFs.

I found a snake under my car at my parents' house this weekend and Ashton took this photo of me. I can officially say that my boys now loooove snakes. Thanks to me. :) I hate spiders but lurve snakes! You?

I also took this photo this morning- it is our triplets. What, you say? You only have twins! Well, Okay, yes, but Abbie was born one month after the boys and they have grown up together since the boys' second birthday. So, it's as close to having triplets as I'm gonna get. Except that Abbie and Greg and Jess are in the process of moving to LA and we are going to miss them tremendously! We are all losing BFFs to CA within a week, and life will not be the same without them. Good luck to you Greg going back to school, and Jess and Abbie in a new land with new friends and adventures!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July Vacation!

And it's almost over! I managed to score a 10-day vacation with only taking five days off from work. Not bad, eh? I have a lot of photos to share, so I'll let them tell a lot of the story. To start, we met Kevin's parents for a Father's Day BBQ up at Sand Harbor. It was windy which made it cold, but it was nice to spend some time with the fam, especially Alice who is home from her first year of college! I only managed one good picture of the boys though:
On Saturday, June 26th (right after work, on vacation day one), I drove out to Red Hawk in Sparks for Andy and Sarah's wedding! It was a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding, if a bit warm in the sun. I snuck a pic of Sarah before the wedding, who was just able to keep the tears back as last minute gifts were exchanged.
Kevin was one of the grooms men (you can see Dr. Mack and Earlene sitting right in front of him),

and Dan & Amy's Aubrie was the flower girl (sweetest ever!) and Chris & Geneveive's Tai was the ring bearer:
Then out walked the bride with her father,

and we watched a beautiful ceremony. Aubrie, as I a fore mentioned, was the sweetest flower girl I've ever seen. Just look at her twisting her curls!

Andy and Sarah, I wish you joy and peace and a long lasting life together! I know you will, with these radiant smiles!

During the photo session, Kevin and I passed around our camera too and got a nice one of the two of us:

And the fun begins!

On Monday, Kevin and I drove through Gardnerville to drop Sean & Ashton off with their grandparents for a few days and headed on through to San Francisco to celebrate our 11th Anniversary (July 3rd). On the way, I suggested stopping at a fruit stand, which also led to a stop at a winery in Davis. How did I choose which one to go to? I typed in "Winery Davis" (which we were soon to drive through), and picked one that was right off the highway. The lucky winner was Rominger West Winery. There were 5 wines all lined up for a free tasting when ever someone walked through the doors. It was neat to see the working winery, with barrels and equipment in open view. I liked the 2008 Rominger Ranch White best, but the 2005 Syrah - Yolo County was also very good, and Kevin's favorite. So. We bought a case! A 40% discount made it totally worth it since the 4 bottles we wanted to get was nearly as much on their own. Never bought an entire case of wine before! Great gifts. :)

On to San Francisco! We stayed in the Argonaut Hotel, which was right at the end of Embarcadero. Our room wasn't huge, but they did offer the guests a glass of wine at 5 every day! Plus the gym was pretty nice.

About once a year, or every other year I make it out to SF for one reason or another, but I've never been to a professional baseball game!

Since the Giants were playing Kevin's team, the Dodgers, and because I've never been, we pretty much had to get tickets. By the end of the first inning and heading into the second, the stands were packed!

If you look really close, you can see the ball just about to pass over home plate (click on the photo for an up-close):

And the best part of the location of this stadium? It's right next to the ocean!

The Dodgers killed the Giants, 8 to 2! And get this. For lunch I went All-American and had peanuts. And a beer. Proud? :) And I have to say that watching a game in the stadium is NOT boring like it is on TV! I greatly enjoyed myself.

Of course there was lots of shopping at Pier 39, and we stopped to watch a show at the end of the pier: Captain Jack Spareribs. And guess who he pulled out of the crowd? You guessed it. Kevin! When asked his name, he gave the first alias that came to mind: Jack. Funny. He was invited on stage to help with the show, and he was game, and even yakked it up a bit!

He got to sword fight, and even poke lances and swords through the basket containing Captain Jack's "daughter"!

Kevin said she was definitely IN the basket the entire time and guided the poking objects through the basket so she wouldn't get skewered. VERY impressive. I wonder if that ended up on YouTube (there were lots of people recording), because while I did record it on my camera, I didn't post it. I would post it here, but it takes forever and a day to upload. Also on the pier is the famous San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay, and for an extra $6, we got a 45 minute behind-the-scenes tour! I learned a ton about sea life, and the kitchen where they prepare animal food is no larger than my own! Seriously, the fridge is actually a double freezer that is only slightly larger than the one in my kitchens. Fish apparently don't eat much, or very often. Most of the fish are only fed once a week, small fish like mackerel and shrimp. The three largest fish they own, white sea bass (average weight is 315 lbs), they feed three times a week- mackerel that are only about 3 inches long. There are schools of sardines in the tanks if the fish decide they need a snack in between meals. It's a very delicate balance- keeping the fish well enough fed that they don't eat each other. For the smaller animals that have mouths too small to eat fish they feed brill that comes in dried form to the aquarium and they add water to. Like sea monkeys! The other thing I learned at the aquarium is how fascinating octopi are! The are VERY intelligent animals (most intelligent invertebrates in the world), and have been known to cause "mischief" at large aquariums. Our guide told us that they are dark-dwelling creatures, and at one particular aquarium (in So. Cal?) they had a small exhibit with a light shining down into the tank. So the octopus squirted water at the light bulb until it burst, and knocked down the power in half the aquarium! Then it was happy in the dark. :) I also watched a video that talked about how they contortionists- they have only one hard bone in their bodies- their beak, and can go through any opening large enough to fit their beak through. Indeed, I watched one problem solve it's way through an underwater gerbil maze into a big tank of water on the other side. I also watched as one octopus took the lid off a jar to get the crab inside it, out. A third experiment they tested their intelligence with was a with a Erlenmeyer beaker with a crab in the bottom. The octopus could see it and smell it, but wound it's way around and around the jar and couldn't get to it. Then it sat back for a minute, thinking (I swear it was problem solving!), then went back for a second go. One of it's tentacles found the opening in the top, and then it sucked it's entire body in to get the crab, where it ate it happily. Amazing!

The other major event of our 3-day trip was to see Wicked!

I read the book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire with my teen book club at the Carson City Library in December (yes, they are a very mature group! Their pick, I swear!) and have been dying to see the musical ever since. I was not let down. And being married to a band director has its advantages- he wanted to see it almost as much as I did! I need to buy the CDs now...

On Wednesday night (July 1st) we picked up the boys and headed home. We were going to plan a trip to Montana to visit my brother Scott and new wife Sara, but decided that my back couldn't cut 35 hours in the car (we were going to come back via Seattle so I could visit the Woodland Park Zoo and see the snow leopards). Instead, I gained some time on the homefront catching up with things like some deep cleaning (weeded the boys closet), and extra workout time, and most importantly, quality time with m'boys! On Friday, we headed out to Virginia City with my co-worker Abbey and her two teens, and while I somehow didn't take any pics of us, I did get this great view of the valley behind VC:

We had a great time window shopping, eating ice-cream and taffy from the Candy Barrel, and Sean & Ashton even picked out a piece of agate to take home. On Sunday, we headed to the Animal Ark (it's no substitute for the Woodland Park Zoo, but I like to support our local animals!). Sendari, their snow leopard, died a few years back, but there are lots of other lovely big cats, including Ashton's favorite: a white tiger!

They also have two cheetas, Moyo and Jamar, brothers from the same litter who can purr loud enough for you to feel the ground vibrate under your feet. They are very close, as you can see here. Makes me think of my own twins who are almost never apart (except not the licking or snuggling part). :)

We also saw the CUTEST arctic fox named Effie! When we walked up to her enclosure, she had just caught something, which she paraded around for a minute before hiding in some tall grasses.

Then she came right up to the fence like she wanted us to pet her! Awwww, I totally would too if it were allowed. :) What a sweet face!

Right by the side of Effie's enclosure was one of the biggest bumblebees I've ever seen. I tried to get a close-up, but it crawled most of the way into the flower before I snapped the shot:

The boys also had fun in the gift shop. Check out that huge stuffed snow leopard!

To celebrate Independence Day, we trekked out to Truckee for the Firecracker Mile and parade (and don't forget window shopping!). Gretchen made a great report on this event last year, and I thought I'd give it a go! I warmed up with a 25 minute jog up a super steep hill (that's about all that was available unless I wanted to head right out of town, and I didn't know of any immediate trails, which is what I would have preferred and looked for), and then stretched and waited with about 350 other runners for the one mile entirely-downhill race. I've never run this short a distance in a race before, so I didn't have much of a game plan other than hold a quick-ish steady pace and try not to slack off. Shouldn't be too hard since it is all downhill, right? I don't normally run so much as a warm-up because normally I use the first 1-2 miles as my warm-up in a longer race (yes Chris, I'm not nearly so competitively built as you!)- otherwise I get too tired at the end of the race. But since my body wouldn't have warmed up until after I finished this race, I figured I'd better change things up. My left knee didn't so much like all the downhills I ran (and jogged), but I was careful of my stride and managed a 7:24.5 minute mile, as they clocked me (I had 7:29ish). New PR! Whoo-hoo! I had fun anyway, and came in 109th. I walked/jogged back up the hill to where Kevin and the boys were watching the beginning of the parade, and was congratulated by many of the bystanders, and asked how I did. I've never run with so many people cheering on the runners before! That was awesome! I didn't get a great picture of the boys begging for candy on the front line, but you can see how many people support this event (especially since Reno doesn't do a parade, or have any $$$ for fireworks this year for that matter).

We didn't actually make it out to see the fireworks this year, much to Ashton's disappointment, because Sean wasn't feeling great, and running around in the sun for 4 hours probably didn't help. So while Kevin headed off to see the Aces game (which DID sport some pretty cool fireworks, apparently) I treated the boys to a new DVD purchase of their choice and we had what they like to call a "snuggle night." Which they are always begging for because it means a movie of their choice, and popcorn. Well, there wasn't any popcorn this time because I made them a very festive dessert, complimented with a glass of Martinelli's.