Events

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This morning we’re off to what will probably be our last trip to the water park for the summer.  I still can’t get used to this thing where pools and amusement parks completely shut down after summer.  I’m from Los Angeles, where these things are open year-round.

Sammy’s birthday party was this past Saturday and it went very well.  Adam planned and executed the whole thing.  I’ve delegated the birthday party thing (both attending and giving) to Adam.  It’s a nice, self-contained, and rewarding thing for him to do.  A perfect dad-job.

We decided to opt-out of the “goody bag” phenomenon.  I can’t stand the idea that the host of the party owes something to the guests.  A birthday is a celebration of and for the birthday child, and the party is a way to share the fun.  Gifts for the birthday child are a way of recognizing that this is his or her special day.  When gifts are given to the attendees, whether you mean it or not, it lessens the special nature of the day for the birthday child.  We did not give out goodie bags when I was a kid, and I’m sure this developed out of the egalitarianism that has run rampant in our culture since the 1970′s.  We did give each child an extra piece of birthday cake to bring home, along with a couple of balloons.  This was just a good way to get rid of all that stuff.  We still came home with tons of cake and balloons.

Sam’s real birthday is on Thursday.  She hasn’t opened her gifts from us or from the party yet, so we’re going to bring them over to my parents’ RV and have a special dinner and gift-opening event.  She’ll also get her usual room full of helium balloons that morning.  That is the one birthday tradition we decided on from her first, and we really enjoy it.

Now, I’d better go get my bathing suit on before Sam explodes with anticipation!

Ironman

My best friend just qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii this October!  I’m not sure I even comprehend how big a deal this is, but I know it is big.  Here’s what Wikipedia says about those who qualify for this race:

The Ironman format remains unchanged, and the Hawaiian Ironman is still regarded as the most honored and prestigious triathlon event to win worldwide…

Although thousands of athletes worldwide compete at an Ironman event each year, the vast majority aim simply to just finish the course if they are first timers, or set a PR (personal record) time if they’ve raced this distance before. Only very talented athletes realistically compete for a spot in Hawaii [the World Championship], and just finishing an Ironman race is often the highlight of many triathletes’ career.

I think she gets some bragging rights for such a great accomplishment, so I asked her to write up something for my blog.  She sent me this interesting explanation of the race, how you qualify, and what her goals are:

Ironman (capital “I”) is a registered trademark of the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC).  WTC owns some Ironman races and licenses other triathlons to become official Ironman races.  Although “ironman” is generally used synonymously with “2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile [run]“, there are non-Ironman brand races of these same distances, but legally, they cannot be called Ironman or even ironman (I think they now use the term “full-distance”).  Only Ironman brand races have qualifying spots for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.  There are currently 22 Ironman races all over the world; most of the Ironman races in North America (7 races this year) will have a total of 70 Hawaii spots for age group athletes, while some of the international Ironmans have fewer participants and thus give away fewer spots to Hawaii.  My age group (W35-39, usually the largest of the female age groups) usually has 4 spots.  Most Ironman races have over 2000 participants and I believe the Hawaii race usually has about 1500-1600.  In addition, there are about 30 half Ironman (exactly half of the full-distance: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) races internationally each year and about 8 of these offer qualifying spots for Hawaii with each age group having only 1-2 spots.  Hawaii spots do “roll-down” so if someone passes on the spot or has already qualified at another race, the spot rolls down to the next place.
 
After my 2nd Ironman in 2007 when I was 7th in my age group, I realized I could possibly qualify for Hawaii if I could put together a good enough race (“good enough” is vague, I know, but generally for me it means not losing too much time on the bike portion and then, since running is my strength, running the marathon I know I’m capable of.  After 4 Ironmans, I still have not run a good Ironman marathon but hopefully this year I have it more figured out!).  In my last 3 Ironman races, I’ve been close to qualifying but just not quite close enough.
 
So in order to qualify, you have to finish high enough in your age group to get a qualifying spot either outright or via a roll-down.  In my race this past weekend [a half-Ironman], I finished 3rd in my age group and there were 2 Hawaii spots (I expected only 1).  The girl in 2nd place had already qualified so the spot rolled down to me and I took it! :)  Half Ironman races with Hawaii spots are usually very competitive so I wasn’t even thinking about qualifying at this race.  [My husband] and I just wanted to do this race in Hawaii because we love Hawaii.  My main goal was to qualify at the Ironman I’m doing this July in Lake Placid.  Even though the pressure is now off for Lake Placid, I still want to have a really strong race there and approach the race as if I’m still trying to qualify.  I’m not going to change my training plan or take it easy in the race because I want to put together that “good enough” race.  Doing the Hawaii Ironman will be a bonus, more for the experience of being there and participating, with no expectations or time goals.

Impressive!

Edison Hour

If you are repulsed by the man-hating, primitive-worshipping, anti-progress evil which is environmentalism…

If you are inspired by inventors, creators, discoverers…

If you respect man’s mind and feel awe at all that the human race has accomplished…

Then turn on all your lights tomorrow, March 28, from 8:30-9:30pm for Edison Hour!  Environmentalists will be turning everything off for “Earth Hour,” so let’s show them that we reject the call to sacrifice, the renunciation, and just plain dreariness of their creed. 

You can see the oppposite of that creed in this now familiar, but still moving image.  I wish Thomas Edison could have seen this!

us-at-night

(Image courtesy NASA/GSFC)

Three Good Things for the day (and today was a rough day):

  1. I braved the biting cold and took Toby to the dog park for the second time this week.  I’m trying to make it a point to get him out more often.  The dog park is yet another wonderful discovery in our new neighborhood.
  2. I did some dooce archive reading.  Leta is now 2 years old and repeating the final word of her parents’ sentences – just like Sam was doing a few months back.  Thank god for mommy-bloggers.
  3. I found a bottle of the same champagne we enjoyed so much for Christmas dinner with Adam’s parents.  Happy New Year!

We’re having a wonderful Christmas in sunny Florida with my in-laws.  I’ve been swimming twice, ridden on two killer roller coasters, seen some tigers, read two popular novels, and have been introduced to the greatest game since Pictionary.  I took a nap today, too.  Hallelujah!

And I have showered and washed my hair 7 straight days in a row.  I hadn’t been keeping track, but I’m fairly certain that that is the record since Sam was born 2 years, 3 months, and 23 days ago.

More details to come…

Luckily, we will be having Christmas this year.  We’re going to Florida to visit Adam’s parents.  We managed to put up a few little Christmas decorations around the house, but no tree or outside lights.  Santa will come while we are gone and leave a few things.

This is the third year in a row that we’ll be away for Christmas.  We visited Adam’s parents in St. Louis for Sam’s first Christmas, then last year we were literally homeless, in between living in San Diego and Lexington, so we stayed at our super-great friends’ house in Richmond.  My mom pointed out that these early years are really the best time to take Sam to other places for Christmas – when she gets older it will be more important to stay home. 

I finished my “Christmas shopping” today.  We managed to make zero Christmas shopping trips by picking up items here and there along the way.  Besides Christmas cards (which I’m very proud to say that we got out in early December) we didn’t buy a single thing for anybody other than Sam.  I picked up stocking stuffers at Target (where I’ve been 4 times in the past 3 weeks for stuff we need for the house) and Adam picked out the big-ticket item at Ikea: an easel which has paper, chalkboard, and whiteboard.  I know she’ll get some nice things from the grandparents and maybe a couple of friends, and that is enough.

I’m looking forward to the vacation.  I really need a break and I’m hoping the grandparents will take over and let me sleep in a few days.  I probably won’t blog while we’re gone, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.  Get off your computers and go play with your kids!

I can’t figure out which Sam is my boss.

Daughter Sam

Uncle Sam

Happy Anniversary