[If the font is showing up weird or small for you, sorry. I can't get it changed on the first section]. 

Brent has been participating in a triathlon in a nearby town for the past couple of years, and it is one of his favorite events that he gets to do. "Gets" is in italics, because I would have to be forced. [I have let Brent know that this event is off limits to all future bets we make with one another.]

This year:

Brent was pumped about this year because last year he convinced my dad to give it a go, and he was going to be back out on the course, and together they had convinced Paige and Torri to race. They spent the past couple of weeks finding bikes and "fitting" them for the girls [road bikes are in a league of their own and involve "fitting", I guess]. They had swam together, run on their own, and even practiced their transitions to try and get their time slivered down as much as possible. 

So when 5:30 rolled around Saturday morning, Brent was decked in spandex and loading up his stuff. 

Mom came to pick the girls and me up around 6:30, and she was wise and brought me coffee. My girls are wonderful, wonderful children and don't get up at this time on a normal basis, so it was a little rough and slow moving for all of us. We got there around 7:10 and Brent had just jumped in the pool and Torri was already almost done! 

This event is a super- sprint triathlon, meaning the swim is 200 meters, the bike is 8 miles, and the run is 2.1 miles. No matter how you look at it, that is a lot of movement. 

I snapped a picture of Brent in the pool, and then got one of Paige, but Torri was already out and I had to head over to the bike transition before I could get one of my dad swimming: 

Swimming is no joke. If you have ever gotten in a pool and done more than lay on a float [ahem, that's me], you understand it is a workout! They all said the last 50 meters basically feel like you're drowning. I felt like I was drowning just watching them, so I believe them. 

Torri had a ridiculously fast swim time, coming in fourth overall for the women. Dang. 

They then had to jump from the pool, run over to their bike station, put on shoes and a helmet, and take off on their bikes [uphill!]. 

Brent claims he couldn't find his shirt, but I think he just wanted to be shirtless ;). Just kidding. He hated it. Cause that's the kind of guy he is. 

FYI, if you ever see me in spandex shorts like these girls you will realize just how good they make them look. 

They all did really well on the bikes. Paige and Torri hadn't been on road bikes until the week prior to this event, and they take some time to figure out, so this was impressive. My dad is like a professional bikesman, so obviously this was his best event. [He left a few hours after the triathlon for Iowa to ride 140 plus miles over two days in RAGBRAI. Like I said, professional. He owns spandex and bike jerseys and DVRs the Tour De France. So there's that, too]. 

At this point Becks finally got to eat for the morning… but was not very happy it came in the form of a bottle. Girlfriend, softball season is around the corner and you better get used to it!

My mom was a tremendous help because, honestly, I wouldn't have gotten there and unloaded and squared away with the girls until they were all crossing the finish line without her. 

 Not only did I have to wake up Blythe about an hour and a half before she normally gets up, but she had a cold. She didn't mind being lugged and wheeled around all morning. She finally started to wake up at about 9 or  so for the awards ceremony [mainly because there was food]. 

Blythe wore a Nike onesie to Brent's first tri, and it is still packed away so I had to bust out the Under Armor for Becks. Who knows, maybe she will be our little athlete? [It's okay if she's not… as long as she doesn't become a cheerleader ;)] 

Okay. Where was I? Oh yes, they were on the bikes. 

After the bikes, another quick transition [Brent looked for his shirt again, to no avail], and they take off on the run. [I must note here that Torri was the fastest female and only had three men ahead of her, Brent included, for this transition]. 

For most normal humans, this is the dreaded last leg. 2.1 miles after swimming and biking? No, thank you. But for Brent? This is his dream. As soon as he took off running, I knew I should start making my way to the finish line because I didn't want to miss him. Translation: it would take me about as long to push a stroller a half a block as it would take him to run sprint two miles. 

And sprint he did. He finished his run in 12 minutes and 52 seconds, for the fastest run time of the day out of all 117 participants. Without his shirt on. He would tell you, "The numbers were down this year…" ya da ya da ya da… but I think, no matter how you slice it, running six and a half minute miles after swimming and biking is a pretty incredible feat. 

The other three would back this up, I'm sure, as they all said quite disgustedly, "The run sucked."

If you've never been to an event like this, the finish line is such a cool place to be. I'm finally almost to the point that I don't get emotional over random people finishing with a look of utter amazement, exhaustion, and pride. And sometimes a vomit-face. I've learned to detect that early and look away.

As these four finished, and several others from our small town, it was so fun to hear their stories from "out on the course" and watch them compare notes with lilts in their voices that only comes from an adrenaline high.

Blythe showing her muscles. I had these pictures pulled up and she saw them and she said, "Papa runned. And Paige runned. And Torri runned. And Daddy runned. And Blythe had crackers and went down the big slide!"

She remembers the important things, people.

It's pretty cool that several people from our small town drive over for this event each year. It's quite an accomplishment.

Torri finished 9th overall for the women, and 2nd in her age group with a final time of 54:02

Paige finished 20th overall for the women, and 2nd in her age group with a final time of 59:43

My dad finished 30th overall for the men, and 1st in his age group with a final time of 57:39

Brent finished 4th overall for men and women, and 1st in his age group with a final time of 43:45

They're already making plans for how to shave off some time next year.

It's incredible to see people tackle things physically, and push themselves just beyond what they are capable of doing. Paige and Torri didn't decide until a couple weeks before that they were going to do this. And look what they did? My dad is 57, and look what he did?! And Brent, well, I never will get over how hard he works and how disciplined he is and he is always incredible to watch. Great job, you guys!

Blythe has also been to this even for three years in a row now:

Blythe's First year:

Blythe's Second year:

This year:

post signature


these days...

These days I am:

- asking, "Do you need to go potty 23,098,237 times a day.
- using any "free time" aka "dual nap time" I have to sit outside and sweat and tan and read [it usually lasts for ten minutes].
- thankful that Becks is a better nurser than Blythe was and that prayers were answered in that regard
- trying to do Ab Ripper X [from the p90X workouts] with Brent, and it's comical
- trying to live fully and be thankful in the present
- going to push myself to write more- either on this blog or in my "Grandma Pat" project
- thankful for a husband who actively helps me with the kids, a 2.5 month old who sleeps through the night, and a toddler who makes my days so.much.fun
- gearing up for fall softball.

These days Brent is:

- working like a maniac at the bank to get ready for their big compliance exam in August.
- working like a maniac, physically, and getting ready for his third sprint-triathalon this weekend.
- hilarious. Seriously, the guy cracks me up on a daily basis. Maybe I just find him funnier because I'm more tired?
- enjoying getting to know Becks more and more.
- wrestling, racing, coloring with, feeding pancakes to, and running around town with Blythe.
- singing and guitar-ing in the band at church.

These days Blythe is:

- potty training. We're doing all or nothing. She does best with "nothing" in regards to undergarments [ahem], and is doing quite well. Occasional accident, but overall impressive.
- talking non-stop. From the moment she wakes up, her mouth is going. I love it.
- loving a little more independence. "Move back, please."
- into stickers, tea parties, her doctor kit, and reenacting bible stories [her favorites to play are "the lost coin", "Jesus calms the sea", and "Daniel in the Lion's Den"]
- eating green beans!!!!!!
- asking for "noodles" for every meal. [me too, let's be honest].
- randomly quoting Frozen. I promised myself this would not happen to my child, but I think they've laced that movie with hidden messages to brainwash children. Yesterday she said, "All good things, all good things," [Olaf], and today she said, "Wake up, it's coronation day!" [Anna].

My caption for this picture is, "Oh, hey Mom, while you were sleeping I became a teenager." 

These days Becks is:

- just finishing another growth spurt and sleeping like a champ for naps and at night.
- randomly being finicking about eating. She'll eat for about 3 minutes and then just want to talk and smile at me. Okay.
- starting to start to laugh. It's the best.
- becoming more of her own person.
- getting rounder in the face and losing her hair, just like her sister did.

post signature


a collection of thoughts about leaving and living and strength

I have written about moving before. About dealing with changes. About how I often stink at it.

This picture popped into my head earlier today:

It is the last picture I snapped as Brent and I closed our apartment door for the last time in Louisville. It was our first apartment together. It's was the place we clung to only each other when everything around us was new and different. Moving there was an exciting time, but scarier than I ever dreamed it would be to leave everything I knew, move in with my new husband in a new city, and begin a brand new career.

And then we left and I cried.
And the fact that I cried nearly scared me more than when I arrived. That place and that time had been important. I hadn't realized that while living it. And then it was too late.

When I left for college, I realized how wonderful my home was, and part of me ached to return to my childhood. But it was gone.
When I moved to Louisville, I realized how wonderful college was, and I ached to return to residence life. But it was gone.
When I moved to Missouri, I realized how wonderful Louisville was, and I ached to return to the simplicity of those first years of marriage on our own. But it was gone.
When I had a baby, I realized how wonderful "just the two of us" was, and part of me ached for the ease of that life. But it was gone.

When I had a second baby, I thought of the picture of my empty apartment.

I thought about how each stage of life has been so full and heavy of good things. I thought about how, because of that fullness, each stage sometimes felt like more than I could handle. More than I had bargained for. More than I had expected. More in the wrong ways. But as each season of life has passed, I can look back and see that the fullness-- the heaviness, the more-ness-- are so very commingled with the beauty and grace that came to me during that time that I can't separate them. In fact, often it's the fullness of that stage that I want to return to.

I look at that empty apartment and am reminded that we always want to go back. We always want to relive seasons of our life that are gone. And I wish I had been more present for many of those seasons. I wish I would have realized how good I had it. Even in the hard, messy, unfilled in parts.

Right now I am potty training and discipling a two year old, and nursing and nurturing a two month old. My days feel very chaotic and messy and exhausting and overwhelming. I was thinking about teaching and how much I miss the structure of those days. And then I thought about Louisville and how much I miss our little-one-bedroom-apartment-evenings. And then I thought about that picture. How leaving was so hard because I felt like I hadn't sucked all the marrow out of life that I was supposed to while I was there. And then I looked at my baby and my even smaller baby, and thought to myself: You're in the middle of another season, Kels. Someday this will be past. Don't begrudge this time. You'll want this season back too. 

I thought of that Donald Miller quote again that I love:

…everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like the seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God's way. All my life I have been changing... Everybody has to change, or they expire…. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently. Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning.

And this season is changing me. It is shaping me in new and different ways than my time in college did, or my first years of marriage, or even having one child did. And it is the heaviness of that changing-- the fullness and grit of it-- that sometimes makes me want to cry and wish this time away. But I am trying to live with 20/20 vision, instead of saving that for my hindsight. I am trying to relish in this season of my life that I know I will look back on fondly and miss someday. 

During my quiet time [which is not so quiet these days], I was asking God to give me the grace to know how to live that kind of very present way; I was asking Him to show me how to not feel so exhausted and overwhelmed. And then in Deuteronomy I saw: "…and your STRENGTH will EQUAL YOUR DAYS."  

When I was a "weary" college Junior in the throws of finals and missing my fiance, next to that verse I had written in purple pen a quote by Robert Louis Stevenson that Elisabeth Elliot referred to in one of her writings. It says, "Anyone can carry his burden, however heavy, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely 'till the sun goes down-- and this is all that life really means." 

Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. 
Your strength will equal your days. 

So today I will try and live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely. I will take a deep breath when Blythe fights her nap or has an accident on the carpet. I will whisper a prayer for more patience when Becks wakes up only twenty minutes after I put her down. Or wants to eat…again. I have been given enough strength for this day. And because of that, I can enjoy it more. I can treasure it more. I can accept this season with unclenched hands and hopefully when I look back I will think: I was exhausted in all the right ways and sucked every ounce I could out of that season. 

And if one day we choose to leave this home, and I snap a picture of the empty walls and space as we are leaving, hopefully I will smile and know that our time here was filled with all the best kinds of MORE because there was a wife and mom who embraced each season of life she was given. 

post signature


verruckt thoughts

I just said to Brent, "I want to blog. What should I write about?"
He said, "Write what your thoughts would be if you went on the new water slide at Schlitterbahn."


Here goes.

Background Part One: Schlitterbahn is a water park in Kansas City, Kansas. Or SchluckerBuns if you're my brother in law [who has a knack for not pronouncing anything right-- he often calls me Chelsea because he actually called me that once after having known me for at least 3/4 years and being married to my sister for at least 2. Chelsea. ShluckerBuns. Whatever]. This summer they are unveiling their new monster water slide VERRUCKT. The tallest water slide in the world. Let me repeat that: the tallest water slide IN.THE.WORLD. We live in a big world, people. And it's the tallest water slide in it.

Background Part Two: I freak out on roller coasters and normal sized water slides/rides. Freak out. Like a little child.

Okay. Now for my thoughts if I were ever crazy enough to get on Verruckt [which keeps having a postponed open date due to SAFETY!].

I step onto the concrete. I've no doubt been dared for this, my maiden voyage, on the world's tallest water slide. The price was steep. The person who made the bet with me has offered to pay off my remaining student loans. Yes, there is that much left to pay that I'm willing to risk my life.

But half way up the SEVEN STORIES of metal stairs my knees begin to buckle and I think that being indebted to Northwestern College is a far better idea than it has ever been before. My lunch is rumbling in my stomach, which is bared to the world. Only at water parks are we willing to surround ourselves with a thousand other people while in our underwear. But now, in this moment, I know why. Because water parks are evil masterminds and they just want us to live out the proverbial nightmare where we are in our underwear in front of a crowd of people. I would rather live out that nightmare a hundred times over than take one more step up this monstrosity designed in the name of fun.

With only two flights of stairs left, I realize I can't turn back. I could maybe parachute off the side, but I can't turn back. And I forgot my parachute. So I start reminding the people with me that I googled "Verruckt" last night: it is German for mad, crazy, lunatic, freaky, insane…I could go on but they are laughing at me. Loudly. So I stop talking and grip the metal rail tighter and tighter despite my germaphobia about doing so in public places such as this.

I will my jello legs to keep moving. Actually the crowd is pushing me forward against my will and soon I'm at the top. I can see the other people loading into the rafts. I wish I would have brought my cell phone with me so I could call and make sure my will was in order-- will my daughters be in good hands if their parents die on this stupid ride? Because we're going to. It's a fact. It's going to happen.

And then the sunburned teenager who got turned down at McDonald's who is supposed to know how to save my life but doesn't even look like he knows how to drive let alone administer CPR is telling me to step in the raft. "Step in the raft please, ma'am." To make matters worse he just ma'am'ed me…while I'm in my swimming suit.

The people who are supposed to be my friends have to pull me into the tube. I nearly throw up in its mesh-lined bottom. I begin frantically searching for a buckle, a harness, a PARACHUTE! But there are only thin strips of nylon to hold on to. Nothing to tie around me? Nothing to secure me to this ride? Nothing to keep me from going airborn a million, gazillion feet up and plummeting to my swimsuit clad death?

I shouldn't have put on sunscreen because my hands are slippery and I can't get a good grip. Do I sit cross legged? Straight out? Do I lock arms with my buddy? Why is the teenager twirling that stupid whistle around and not telling me all of the rules. I NEED TO KNOW ALL THE RULES! NOW! Immediately! I have approximately 2.3 seconds before you shove me to my demise and all you can do is twirl your whistle!?!

And the shove.

And my world goes black for a moment.

Then I hear a sound. It is other worldly. It is animal-like and yet strangely familiar. It is piercing and shrill.

It is me. I am making that noise. I don't dare open my eyes because I know, I just intuitively know that I am somewhere over the rainbow. SchluckerBuns has been my death. I am soaring through the clouds and will splat at any moment.

What was that? Water? Is it raining up here in the clouds where this beast has ejected me? And then I feel it. Someone is nudging me in the rib. I know it is Jesus.

I slowly open my eyes. I am the only one left in the raft, my knuckles white around the nylon grips. My group is out on the pavement already. I assess them one by one: arms and legs all seem to be attached to their bodies at proper angles, and their necks are remarkably standing upon their shoulders supporting their heads.

It is like a fog is being lifted. There seems to be a strident sound all around me. Very slowly images and sounds come into focus.

And people are shouting at me. What are they saying? It's like I'm waking up slowly from a dream.


Like a newborn foal, I weeble and wobble my way to to pool's edge and will my war-worn body out of the water.

"Never ever ever EVER again," I tell my cohorts.

But somehow we're already up three of the seven flights of stairs again.

 all images courtesy of google 

but seriously, how do you survive this? 

post signature


letting freedom ring

A few years ago I wrote this about my deep appreciation for the freedom we celebrate on the Fourth of July. This year was no different. 

Kali and her rambunctious and wonderfully awesome crew were here for the week to celebrate with us, and celebrate we did. 

Kali's middle child, Ellie- she will be 3 in a month. 

My dad got out the turkey decoys to play with and Blythe was in heaven, of course

Blythe wasn't so sure about the "food" Caroline had made. Caroline is Kali's oldest and she will be 5 in two months. 

Brent and Dan, my sister's husband. These two L.O.V.E. each other. Like, a lot. It's kind of great. 

Playing in Papa's hunting blind. It became Laura Ingall's central. 

Uncle Dan has some practice at loving little ladies.

And then the children throwing commenced...

Papa didn't quite get the air that Dan did

This little lady will steal your heart rather quickly… 

I mean, really…. just give her whatever she wants… 

They may look bored/exhausted, but they were just enjoying the campfire and sunset and snuggles

And then we tried to take a family picture…this was about the best we got. We will have to try again next time. 

A very happy Nana and Papa with all their grandkids: Becks, 2 months; Ellie, almost three; Caroline, almost 5; Blythe, almost 2.5; and Wesley, 11 months

Yes, my dad is serious about that American flag shirt. 

A better one of Kali's children...

A better one of my children/ Caroline choking Wesley and Becks sliding off of Ellie's lap

Becks' first tri-corn hat experience. I'm sorry, daughter, but it won't be your last.  And those eyes? 

A backyard picnic at its finest. And I do mean finest. My Grandma knows how to throw a backyard party [as those of you at my wedding can attest to]

And then my dad gathered all the great grandkids and talked to them about what the Fourth of July stands for and why we celebrate it and the history of our flag. 

Blythe just really wanted him to shoot the gun. Don't worry, it wasn't loaded. And Sawyer really wanted that flag. 

My grandma got all the kids little flags/ eye poking devices

We had a great week and had a beautiful night to celebrate the Fourth with family in one of my favorite backyards.

Can't wait for next year! Hope you all had a great Fourth, however and wherever you chose to celebrate.

post signature