Touch A Truck

While scrolling through Facebook, I saw an upcoming event near us called Touch A Truck and, after reading the description, knew it was something both kids would enjoy.  The following Saturday, we picked up our friend Addi Clare and hit the road to go see all kinds of cool vehicles!  There were fire trucks, ambulances, school buses, police cars, jeeps, an army tank, a mobile command center, and a few others I can't remember.  The best part was that the kids were able to climb in each one and check them out!


I think this jeep was their favorite because they got to honk the horn...over and over and over again.


After we'd touched all the trucks, the kids played in some nearby fountains.


And we didn't leave for home until after eating popsicles from a food truck.  Yum!


Small Fry Tri

For the second year in a row, the kids were participants in our town's Small Fry Tri.  It's a mini-triathlon event for kids ages 2 to 6 and is so fun!  First they run a quick race, then they hop on their bikes and ride, and then for the "swimming" portion, they run through the firemen's water hose sprinklers!  I mean, really, what kid wouldn't think that's the most fun thing ever?

Thomas, that's who.  Our little guy was not about to let go of his Daddy to participate in some race.


Katie Wynn, on the other hand, did awesome this year!  She was in a heat with five other kids her age and she took her place at the starting line, eager to go!


She took off running and was so fast I didn't get a picture of her!  Then came the jumble of all the kids trying to get on their bikes at the same time.


It took her a minute to get going, but soon she was off.


I raced to the next stop where she would ditch her bike and run through the sprinklers so I could be ready for a picture.  Her friends arrived on their bikes shortly after I made it there, but no Katie Wynn.  That's when I looked down the path and saw that at the 90 degree turn, she'd fallen off her bike and was still there with it tumped over.  Talk about breaking a mama's heart!  I raced to her as fast as I could!  She was being so brave and fighting back tears.  We got her bike back upright and even with all of her friends done, she got back on her bike and finished the ride.


She was all by herself for the sprinkler run but she still gave it all she had and finished strong!  I was SO proud of her!


She earned her finisher's medal and was proud to wear it.


Rocky the Redbird was in attendance for the event and Thomas thought he was cool until I got close to him.


The kids insisted on wearing their registration tshirts after getting cleaned up at home.  Katie Wynn had to wear her medal too, of course.


The medal was even worn to church the next day!  I have a feeling that's one trophy I won't be able to accidentally "lose" anytime soon...


Hopefully next year Thomas will be ready to give it a go too!

Books to Read

This blog post comes with one rule: If you read it, you absolutely MUST leave a comment with a book recommendation for me.  Got it?  I'm gonna give you some suggestions so it's only fair that you do the same.

Do you write down the books you read?  Or keep a list of ones you want to read?  I keep one in the notes app on my phone and anytime someone mentions a good book they've read, I add it to the list.  I also skim those articles on Pinterest that are like "If you enjoyed reading ______, then you'll love ______" and I add a book or two from those.  Sometimes I pull titles from "Must Read Books of 2016" lists and "Top 10 Books to Read this Summer Before the Movie Comes Out" or whatever the catch line may be.  If I see that someone on Facebook or Instagram has asked for book suggestions, I always skim the comments.  If a title is listed repeatedly then I'll add it to my list too.  

The problem with doing my list this way, though, is that I never remember why I added a particular book to my list - who or where did I get the recommendation from?  And then when I finish one that I don't think was any good (like I just did), I think "Why in the world did I read that awful book?!"  On the flip side, if I really enjoyed a book I might recommend it to a friend only to be reminded that they're the one that suggested it to me!  It's not a perfect system, is what I'm saying.

As you can see from my list above, I add a check mark when I've read a book.  Why don't I just delete them?  Because I read on my kindle and cannot ever remember the names of books that I've read - often times I don't even know the name of the book I'm currently reading!  And don't bother asking me about the author - I can promise you I won't know that either. 

Ok, who needs a book to read?  If you haven't read it already, you absolutely must start with Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf.  

I knew about Katherine and Jay before their book came out and had even watched their video and read some of their blog posts.  So I was familiar with the story line.  Maybe that's why I tried hard to ignore it even though the book kept popping up in my social media feeds and on blogs that I read.  I think I was scared of it, maybe?  But oh my goodness, what a great story of survival and hope and faith!  And it's written in such an easy way to read.  I devoured the book in less than a week, which is fast for this slow reader!  My descriptions will never do it justice - just read this one, ok?

In keeping with the "true stories," Fearless by Eric Blehm is another good one.  This probably isn't a book I would have picked on my own but Matt read it first and thought I'd enjoy it.  The book is about the life of Adam Brown, a US Navy SEAL that was part of Team SIX - the group responsible for killing Osama bin Laden.  I'm really not good at writing book reviews but this book really showed the "real person" side of this Navy SEAL and all that he overcame to get into the navy and then to become a SEAL.  Like the title suggests, Adam was fearless and it made him a great hero for our country.  This book was one I couldn't put down.  

In the category of Historical Fiction, you must read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Burrows.  The Nightingale is a story of two sisters and the different paths they take during World War II.  Set in France, each sister fights against the Nazis in their own secretive way - each very different from the other.  If I remember correctly, it took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did I was hooked.  

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (longest title ever!) is about the community on Guernsey Island (near London) also during World War II.  It is less about the actual war and more about the people living on the island, but you can't tell their stories without seeing how the war effected their lives - with curfews, food rations, soldiers in town, etc.  The book is written in letter format which makes it an interesting read - you get to hear the voice of many different characters.

I think I may learn more from these types of books then I did from any of my history classes.  

Oh, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a good one for this category too!  I read it so long ago that I can't remember many of the details, but I know it tells the stories of two different girls with similar backgrounds and was an interesting read.  

Do you like "whodunnit" type of books?  If so, try The Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons.  This is another one that Matt read first so I gave it a try on his recommendation.  Man, I stayed up way too late every night when reading this one!  I just had to know what happened next.  I did not have the mystery figured out early at all.  Now I'm realizing this is part of a series so I may need to read another one!

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult is not necessarily a "whodunnit" book but it had a twist I didn't see coming.  It still does try to figure out what happened to a missing person and while going through that investigation, you also learn so much about...elephants.  One of the main characters lives and works at an elephant sanctuary so there is so much elephant information added in.  It was quite educational!  The voice of each chapter rotates between the characters so if you don't like books that do that, then skip this one. 

How do you feel about books where the main characters are in high school?  (Does that make them Young Adult??) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys was good.  We got it for Anna for Christmas and since the back cover mentioned prostitution and brothels, I gave it a quick read before giving it to her.  I really enjoyed it!  It's well-written and is actually historical about how brothels were run back in the day.  (And no, the main character is not a prostitute, but she was raised by one.)  I kinda want to try another of Ruta's books...

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell is about two high schoolers and first loves.  I enjoyed reading it.  Matt read it after I did and probably rolled his eyes a hundred times but he did finish it.  We both agree that Park's family reminds us of one we know, so that made it even more entertaining.  This would be a good beach read!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is another good vacation book.  In fact, I think I read it while we were at the beach.  It's another story of two young adults but the interesting thing about this one, if I remember correctly, is that the whole book is only 24 hours of their lives.  It's a quick, easy read and will leave you wondering - is love at first sight really possible?

And now, going off the top of my head, here are some of my all time favorites that I like to recommend to someone looking for a good read:

And my mind just went totally blank!  Those three are all some of my favorites so check them out if you haven't read them already.  Right now I am reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and I can already tell it will be on my favorites list too.  It's about an ornery old man that stays cranky and mad at his neighbors, and I kind of love him.  Actually, I wish he was my neighbor!  I have already downloaded These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy Turner so I guess it's next on my list.  Of course, I have no idea who suggested it or why I chose it, so I hope it's good! 

I feel like I should give you some warning about a few that I didn't like too, since you can see them checked off on my list above.  I'm not even going to bother linking to them!

  • Tigers in Red Weather was weird and to me, had no point.  It also had a creepy character that, well, creeped me out.
  • King of Heists is more documentary-ish so it took me forever to read (it's based on facts).  I chose it because I saw that it was about bank heists and I thought that'd be interesting and it was, to an extent, but it just didn't suck me in.   
  • Just Another Number is the book I just finished and, call me a prude, but the language was just a tad too raunchy for me.  Also, the author and I don't necessarily make any of the same lifestyle choices.

Now, if you've made it this far, do you remember the one rule from the beginning of this post?  You are required to leave a comment with a book suggestion for me (and all the other commenters!).  I wanna know - what's your favorite book recommendation?  Can't wait to read what all you suggest!

Tie Challenge: Complete!

Well, here's another post that's long overdue.  I'm sure the Tie Challenge is long forgotten for most of you!  So here's a brief recap:

  • Matt has a lot of ties.
  • His tie rack broke and kept falling off, spewing ties all over our closet.
  • We decided to count just how many there are, one day at a time.

I'm not certain, but I think we started keeping up with his daily neck wear at the end of September.  And yes, we have a picture from everyday to prove it!  I would say 92% of these pictures were taken before 7am, which means I (the chosen photographer) was still half asleep.  In fact, flipping on the overhead light in our bedroom to take the picture was usually a rude awakening.  The other 8% were either taken in the evenings or by Matt himself while he was traveling for business.  Highlights from the pictures include one sleeveless day after a lost bet at work, two bow ties, and one cameo from Thomas.

If you'd rather not click through the carousel of pictures above, here is a quick video of Matt in all of his ties.

So just how many does he have?!?  

First, let's see what you all guessed:
Allyson H - 62
Jill L - 72
Marcia S - 88
Erin S - 74
Patricia E - 102
Allison C - 96
Bill E - 93
Catherine C - 90

Before I even started writing this post or even looked back to see the comments, Matt and I decided the prize would be a $25 Amazon gift card.  Nothing too exciting, but if you're like us, there's always something in your cart on  :)

And if you'll remember from the original post, Matt was very confident that he'd be wearing his [tacky] Christmas tie on Christmas Eve just like every other year...

Well, the joke was on him when he got down to his final tie and it was only December 21st!  Not really a big deal since it was the week of Christmas (and not, say, Thanksgiving) but he definitely overestimated how long he thought his ties would drag out.  The weirdest part was deciding which tie to wear on December 22nd since all of them were available again and he'd already worn his Christmas one!  

After counting up all the pictures, and confirming with number of ties in the closet, the final tally came in at SEVENTY-TWO ties!!  And that makes the winner of the gift card Jill with a perfect guess!  Congrats, Jill...we'll get your gift card to you soon!

Thank you all for playing.  We'll think of some other ridiculous contest to do again soon.  :)

26.2 Miles

Matt's resolution for 2015 was to run 365 miles - one mile per day - over the course of the year.  He started out strong thanks to some mild weather in January and some business trips that allowed him some time on treadmills.  By the end of February he was already several miles ahead of the number of days in we were, but then March came and he got hit with an awful migraine that lasted for days and days.  Without any daily running, he quickly went through his surplus miles and got pretty behind which meant he was heading into the hot months having to play catch up.  Then in April, he thought "Why not run a full marathon this year if I'm going to be running anyway?"

I'll be honest, I was against it from the get-go.  Did you know the first person to ever run a marathon died at the end of it?  Yeah, that's pretty much all I could think about.  Not really worth it, ya know?  But his argument was that if he was ever going to do it, then now was the time - before he got any older and while he was still in good physical shape.  Bucket list and all that nonsense.

So that's how he found himself training for a full marathon mid-year.  He signed up for the St. Jude marathon in December - one that he'd run the half marathon three times already.  I tried not to remind him that every time he ran the half, the first words out of his mouth were, "I'm never doing that again."  I just smiled and let him go about his running business, especially when he offered to push a kid or two in the stroller with him!

Matt was strong in his training (even running every day in Jamaica!) until the last couple of weeks.  His longest training run was supposed to be 20 miles, but he only made it through 17 before running out of energy (literally).  Of course this only made me more nervous.  I tried to talk him into just doing the half again but he felt confident that the day-of adrenaline would carry him the additional miles.

The day we had all been waiting for (dreading!) finally arrived.  Matt laced up his running shoes and was out the door super early in the morning.  We sat at the dinner table the night before mapping out our plan of when I would try to see him with the kids.  His parents were in for the big event as well so we'd be in multiple cars.

Our first spotting of our favorite runner was around mile 6.  We found a great stretch of road that didn't have anyone standing on it so we could have a front row view.  Turns out no one was standing there because it was just past a drink station where the runners through their cups down.  We had to dodge some water and gatorade being thrown at our feet!  

We had our signs and were ready for him!

We hopped in our cars and drove to our next location - the 11 mile mark where the course splits between those doing the half marathon and those doing the full.  I wanted to see him at this point so that I could encourage him to go the half route if he wasn't feeling well.  I was tracking him on my phone but still didn't see him sneak up on me until he was right in front of us!  He looked great and was still going strong so we waved him off in the full marathon direction.

At this point in the day, my mom took the kids home for lunch and naps so it was down to just me and Matt's parents.  We did some wonky navigating through the city and were able to see him two more times before Pat, his mom, had to leave to go pick up the big kids.  Then it was down to just me and his dad.

Our next sighting was at mile 20 and he gave us the typical Matt sign of "I got this."

When we had talked the night before, he had admitted that he thought the stretch from mile 20 to the end would be the hardest part.  We knew he'd need some encouragement so we drove to mile 23 to see him again.  I was sitting down while we waited for him but quickly jumped up when I could make out his figure.  I didn't dare complain about being tired while he was doing all the running!

Bill and I drove downtown and parked to head to Autozone park where the race ended.  I parked way too far away and was scared we were going to miss his finish.  Just as we reached the park, Matt called to let me know he was walking.  His left knee was killing him and he said it felt like it might explode.  He only had a mile and half left to go!  I told him to take his time and go slow and we would be there waiting.

The runners enter the stadium from the outfield so they have big screens projecting them crossing the finish line.  Here are both his dad and my dad glued to the screen watching for him.


I really expected us to hang out there for a little while.  We had him a change of clothes and thought he'd want to dry off and rest and get something to eat.  But as soon as he found us and I took the picture above he said, "I'm ready to go home."  Oh, and also "I'm never doing that again."

That evening, Thomas rewarded him with a back massage.  I'm pretty sure he earned it.  

After he tallied up the total number of miles he'd run after the marathon, he was at 493 for the year.  With three weeks left, he figured he might as well make it 500.  And he did!  He met his new goal the last week of the year and said those last 7 miles were the hardest ones to do.  I think he may hang up his running shoes for a while.

I wish I could say this was the end of our marathoning days but guess who's got this crazy idea to give it a try this year?  Yep, this girl!  Now, before you start thinking I'm nuts, I'm considering doing the HALF not the full and I will be WALKING, not running.  And, you know, it's January while I'm typing this which is when everyone is gungho about resolutions, so ask me again around July to see how I'm feeling about this.  I've got a couple friends who I'm trying to talk into doing it with me and Matt's sister, Jill, says she's on board, so hopefully that will keep me accountable.  Time will only tell...