Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moving Day!

With the apartment and all the back and forth and trips here and there, it felt like the move was very long and drawn out, but this week, it was really official, for REAL this time!  We did a lot of work this week getting the house ready, moved out of the apartment, and into our home!

On Monday, I did a short swim workout at the gym before heading over to the new house to work on cleaning the bathroom and preparing it to be painted.  We also had the house measured today for new carpet, and the washer and dryer delivered.  I also worked to get as much from the apartment packed up and ready to go.  The kids seemed to enjoy playing at the new house, even though they didn't have any of their stuff yet.  They had fun on their new playground.

On Tuesday, we went to the gym for a quick workout, and then to the Pottery Barn storytime.  The kids really enjoyed the structure of the activity.  We also earned our coupons today and did some browsing/shopping for items for the new house, as well as played by the fountain.

We headed over to the house again to work on getting the kitchen cabinets cleaned out and all ready for our things to arrive.  We ended up staying over here all afternoon and then met up with Ryan at Home Depot to make our carpet order, and then I hit up a Bed Bath & Beyond for more shelf liner and a shower liner, and then back to Pottery Barn to get a shower curtain and nightlight with our coupons. In the meantime, Ryan worked really hard on the bathroom painting.  I took the kids back to the apartment to put them in bed and pack up the apartment.

Wednesday was moving day!  We got everything out of the apartment fairly easily and over to the new house to wait for the truck to arrive.  The kids were very excited about the arrival of the truck.  It was really really hot, and not a fun day for the movers.  It was slow going as they unpacked our things.  I took the kids to McDonalds to lunch to get them out of the way while Ryan stuck around.  They got everything in and the furtniture assembled by late afternoon.  Initially, they had thought they would unpack today, but opted to return tomorrow.  We had dinner at Hometown Pizza in Crestwood tonight.  It was really good, and hit the spot.  After the movers left, we worked on unpacking ourselves and got the beds made.  I also got the playroom mostly unpacked, and Ryan got our new TV stand built, as well as our new couches. We were able to spend the night here tonight in our own beds.  

On Thursday,  the movers returned to unpack.  They mostly unpacked the kitchen items and the china.  This was because it had so much paper trash and work to get each item out, as well as they stacked neatly in piles while they waited to be put away. Ryan handled getting the TVs and computers ready for the cable installer to arrive.  It seemed strange to me that we were able to get our laptop connected to the internet but not our desktop, since it was not wireless.  A return trip was required by the cable guy. I  was actually able to cook dinner on Thurday and eat in our new home.

On Friday, Ryan returned to work I stayed in most of the day, working on unpacking more things and getting things organized.  We stayed in, because we thought the cable guy was coming back today.  The kids had a blast playing outside in the sprinkler.  The lawn is pretty dry, and needs some major help.  We had dinner in again.  Tomorrow, there was a neighborhood yard sale, so I spent some time going through things from our storage unit that we didn't have time to sort prior to packing.  I am so glad I did this, because I found a missing piece from our old TV stand.  It was unusable without this piece, and it had fallen into this box (which I packed and wasn't fully sealed) during transit.  I am so glad I went through all of these things!  Had we not had this yardsale coming up, who knows how long it would have taken for me to go through those boxes.  I know that I would not have checked them for this part, since I packed these, not the movers.

On Saturday, I spent the morning watching the yard sale.  It was hot, but we brought in a bit of cash.  We sold a few large items that we had not been able to get rid of before the move, so I was very happy about that.  I made a bit of money on children's clothes, but most people wanted everything for free, so that was a bit irritating.  I was sick of haggling and the heat, so once the dresser was picked up, I packed everything up.  Ryan got the lawn mowed and went for a mountain bike ride at a trail pretty close to here.  That evening, we had to hit Bed Bath & Beyond again for some rugs, and then had dinner at 5 Guys Burgers.  It tasted so good since we hadn't really eaten much all day, and then had some Graeters ice cream for dessert.  Yum!

On Sunday, we had a quick breakfast of whole wheat waffles and fruit before the Elder's Quorum presidency stopped by for a visit with us.  It was nice to chat with them.  We then headed to church.  The kids enjoy our new ward, as do we.  It is awesome living so close to the church building, and we are meeting more and more people that also live in our neighborhood.  We are super happy with our home so far. 

Up for next week, more and more unpacking, as well as meeting Keira's kindergarten teacher.  I can't believe how quickly the start of school is happening.  I will be doing back to school shopping for her supplies this week!  I am also hoping to get back to working out.  I signed up for the Detroit Half Marathon, so I need to get back in the swing of things.

Officially Ours and trip to MI

This week was really busy, as usual.  The main event was that we closed on the new house!  Yeah!  I was also the bad wife and went back to MI the day that Ryan gained entry to our new home so that I could do 2 races.

Monday was the big closing day.  Ryan took a half day so that we could all attend the closing.  The kids did surprisingly well.  We had a couple of loose ends to tie up that morning, so we left the closing room without being officially funded, so that was an odd feeling, however, we were told it was fine.  We ended up learning later that we had left a check at the office, and so I went back to get it.  When I did find it, I learned that we were officially funded and our sellers had their money, so although the morning felt a bit unsure, everything went fine.  I spent the rest of the day looking at carpet.

On Tuesday, I got up and got in a quick swim at the gym, and then took the kids to storytime at Pottery Barn.  They really love these storytimes.

That evening, there was quite the storm.  Ryan did venture out and pick up the paint and other items for the new home that he would need immediately upon taking possession of the house.  When he got back, we spent some time just watching the storm.  It was so bright!

On Wednesday, I got up and took the kids back to MI.  We stayed with Kris and Linda.  We had a rather uneventful drive back.  Keira and Soren were very excited to see Nana when we arrived.  She took them to see Winnie the Pooh.  It was Soren's first movie, and he did great.  Keira loved it as well.  It was super hot, so it would not have been good to take the kids to the race.  I headed over to the race site, and my race did not go as well as I would have liked.  I did a full recap HERE, but it was pretty ugly.  I had some bike issues before the start that I had to resolve before transition closed, and I was just so upset that I had left Ryan with the house to have a horrible experience.  Thankfully, I was at least able to race, and while I didn't feel the best on the course due to the heat, it affected everyone, and I was awarded the 5th place award in my age group despite the heat.  There was an error with the results, so I was really 6th, but I was not "stripped"of my award.  A duplicate was issued to the real 5th place finisher, my friend Colleen.

On Thursday, we got up early so that I could get my hair cut.  I donated just shy of 12 inches of hair to Children With Hair Loss, a MI based charity.  I didn't think I would initially get this much cut, but I had a lot of damaged ends, and wanted to make sure the charity recieved enought usable hair, especially since the ends are layered a bit too.  I was worried that the kids would not like it, but they did. 

We also played outside this evening outside.

On Friday, we stopped into the gym for a quick run.  It felt good to "just run" and not worry about tris.  I did a bit of a temp run, so I got a bit faster towards the end.   I got ready for tomorrow's race, the Tree Farm Relay and did some shopping for snacks, as well as birthday presents for a party for the kids to attend.  We had dinner at Noodles & Co, since it has been proved to be a great pre-race meal.  I don't feel superstitious, but after such a bad race on Wed, I wanted to do everything within my power to have a better race on Sat.

Saturday morning was the day of the Tree Farm Relay.  It was a big day for the kids too.  They came with me to the race site and stayed until just after I finished.  It was great to have a good lap time.  You can read the full recap here, but our team took second in the Women's Open Sport category.  It was fun, and I really felt strong, despite my lack of mountain biking this year.  My road biking has paid off here too.  Kris and Linda picked up the kids and took them to lunch and then to see Cars 2, to keep them out of the heat, since it was still super hot.  They both enjoyed that as well.  I picked them up after the movie to take them to Katie and Luke's birthday party at Pump it Up.  They had a blast.  We were so happy that it worked out that we could attend, and Keira could play with Katie.  Soren had a fun time too.  It was a long and fun day!

On Sunday, we got up and packed up.  I amazingly was able to bring back both my bikes with me.  We headed over to the apartment first, and Soren took a nap once we arrived.  Later that evening, we were able to head over to the house with Ryan to check it out.  Keira was so excited about her pink room!  Ryan really out in so much work this week while we were gone getting everything ready.  I am very thankful for all of his hard work and sacrifices that he made to get this done.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Bye Olde Orchard

pictures to come later!!!!!

This week we moved out of our condo on Olde Orchard.  It was quite the busy week, and we had a lot of help for which we are very thankful.  We had lots of help from Heavenly Father to make this move happen, as well as help from family, friends, and Ford. 

On Monday, the movers came and packed everything up.  It was amazing how fast they worked!  They had originally estimated 3 days for the pack and move, but Norm, our driver, said it could be done in two days, pack on Monday, load on Tuesday.  I took the kids over to Valerie's for the morning, and then over to Kris and Linda's for the afternoon.  We were able to sleep here for one last night.  Keira was a bit stressed when she got home and everything was boxed up.  Soren on the other hand, was thrilled by all the boxes and pretended they were a train.

On Tuesday, Keira and Soren went over to Becky's.  I admit I wasn't thinking things through very well today.  We went over to the storage unit to rent their truck, and we didn't have our proof of insurance.  It is amazing that I was able to locate it.  I had pulled out our most recent insurance policy and put it into my Ironman bag to compare rates, not even thinking because it had our proof of insurance.  I am so thankful I had set this aside, because it would have been a major pain if I had not been able to find it.  As is, we had to go home to get it.  We also ended up leaving the truck there, another mistake, especially because it had the car keys it in.  I had a delay picking up Keira because I had to ride my bike to the storage unit to pick up the truck to get the kids, since Becky had our car seats.  I did get them down to Linda's with no problem and back up in time to load the truck.  We made it back down to get them just before she had to leave.  It was a crazy day, but all of our stuff was packed up and ready to go. 

We had dinner with Valerie and Kent at 2Booli, a mediteranean restuarant.   We are going to miss them.  It was great and we got so much food.  We spent the night at Kris and Linda's since we only had a few final things that the movers would not take left at the condo.

On Wednesday, I woke up early and worked on cleaning the condo.  I was joined by to ladies from our church, Kim and Shirley.  It was amazing how fast we got everything cleaned.  We were done by 11:30 with the major cleaning, and Linda met me at the condo with the kids so they could say goodbye.  Keira was a bit sad that she did not the day before.  It was a bit emotional for me too saying goodbye.  It had served its purpose as a home for me for 9 years, and as much as I didn't want it anymore, it was strange to  be finally leaving it for real.  We had tried so many times to sell it that it was a bit unbelievable that it was really happening.  I didn't really let myself believe it was real until now because I was paranoid that something would fall through and disappoint me.  I am happy to be able to move on. 

We had a quick lunch with Linda and then did a few errands before heading out of town.  I was super excited that there was a Chipotle right where we needed one, in Dayton, OH.  We got into KY right around the kids bedtime. 

On Thursday, we had a relaxing morning and got Keira's paperwork for school delivered.  At this point, we were only missing the closing papers for our new home.  That would have to wait until next week.  Soren was funny, at dinner, he finished his food and asked for ice cream after. 

On Friday, we did more errands.  The kids are not loving all the errands.  They did get to have some fun riding their bikes in the evening.  We ate at 5 Guys over at the Summit.  We also took them over to Graeters closest to Crestwood after dinner.

On Saturday, Ryan had to work.  Several of the athletes that were at Muncie last weekend were here in Lousiville training.  I was invited to come with them, but between their killer schedule and Ryan's work schedule, we couldn't link up.  I took the kids over to Seneca Park.  My plan was to run to Cherokee, but it didn't really work out.  I ran out of "path" or shoulder to run with the kids in the stroller.  I need to consult a map first.  I was able to get in 6 miles, though.  Soren fell asleep in the stroller, and missed all the playtime.

Soren did get to ride his bike in the afternoon.  It was super hot, and the fountains were off.  Soren is doing a lot better on his bike, and is gliding a lot.  We had pizza for dinner.

On Sunday, Ryan worked again so I got the kids ready and to church.  The kids needed to go the bathroom 3 times during sacrament alone.  I really didn't know that they had that much to drink!  We had a walkthrough in the new house afterwards.  We are getting really excited for the closing tomorrow!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

4th of July Ironman 70.3 Muncie week

******Pictures to be added eventually.  I am over a month behind on adding pictures, but wanted to at least get the thoughts down before they escape me. Ugh******

This week was crazy, but probably not the way it should have been.  This was the week before the movers came to pack up our stuff, so we should have been crazy busy cleaning and organizing.  What did we do instead?  We had a great 4th of July (which was started on the 3rd), and I skipped out of town all by myself with no kids (a first for me!) to do the Ironman 70.3 Muncie, in Indiana.

Monday was the 4th of July, so we got up and went to Northville for their 4th of July parade.  We got pretty good seats in the shade, except the kids needed to be closer up to get candy.  A really nice family let me and the kids sit in front of them on the curb.  We were pretty excited to see the newly announced Presidential Candidate Thaddeus McCotter walking in the parade.  It was pretty classy how he did not have any campaign hoopla, just his representative banner that he usually has in the parade.  The other major highlight was the unicycle group.  They had the tallest unicycles we had ever seen.  The kids really enjoyed that too, and talked about it for a while.

After the parade, we had lunch at Poole's Tavern, which was right across the street from where we watched the parade.  We also went to Maybury so Ryan could ride and I could run. 

We finished off the day with our final dip in the Olde Orchard swimming pool.

On Tuesday, I got up and hit the gym.  This was my final swim before Muncie, and boy was it horribly slow!  We went back to Maybury for another run/ride session again this evening.

Also, while going through things (which we did on an ongoing basis all week), I came across some washer fluid.  Great, since I was out in my car, I would just use it up!  Ha ha.  What happened next was very unfortunate and frustrating.  I went to pop my hood and pulled on the interior release.  Nothing happened.  I pulled harder, and SNAP went the cable.  Fabulous.  I also needed an oil change, so I called around to see if our usual place would take a look at it, and they couldn't get me in until the next week AND wasn't able to order any Mazda parts (stupid foreign car built in MI).  I got an appt with the Mazda dealership where a friend's husband works.  I have not been thrilled with the service from the one where I got my mazda, so I figured why not try theirs?  It just wasn't super close.

Wednesday morning we get up bright and early to go to the Mazda dealership.  It was such a racket, although I doubt the experience at the other place would have been any better, they probably would have broken something else while they were at it.  The got my hood open, but in doing so, made the vehicle undriveable because they had to remove the "broken" (rusted) hood latch to do it.  Of course they didn't have the parts, so I had to call Ryan and have him come and get me and the kids.  It wasn't like I didn't have a lot to do today either.  I ended up taking Ryan to work so I could drive around and collect forms I had dropped off last week to the Dr and dentist for Keira to attend school in KY.  Thankfully, that went a lot faster than I expected.  I guess only so many things can get messed up in one day, this part had to go well, and the day improved.  I was able to get Ryan picked up from work in time for me to go riding with Valerie, my last ride before Muncie, and my last casual ride at Island Lake, perhaps for a really long time.  I am supposed to do 1 more race there, if things align.   I was also able to get home in time for all of us to head out to Ann Arbor so that Ryan could get his hair cut as well as Keira's bangs.  Soren did not want any part of a haircut this evening, so he didn't really get one.

On Thursday, since I did not have a car today, we spent most of the day trying to sort out the kids room.  We were advised to have everything grouped together that would be going in the same room in the new house.  Since things were going to either Keira's, Soren's, or the playroom, I needed to come up with 3 divisions, as well as figure out which clothes I wanted for the 2 weeks when everything was in storage.  Keira and Soren both dressed up like princesses to keep themselves occupied and out of the toys.  It was as a result of the princess dresses that we lost Soren's keen sandal temporarily.  It drove me crazy because I knew I had seen it in the morning, and we had set out a bunch of items to be donated that I was super stressed that it fell in there, but I don't know how.  It eventually turned up, hanging in the closet by its velcro strap to the Cinderalla dress.  The dress got set down on the shoes, and one stuck.  I hung up the dress and didn't even realize.  I am so glad that turned up before the move!  We also got the car picked up, which was insanely expensive for a stupid hood latch.  This evening, Ryan and I discussed the Muncie tri.  Initially, we thought we would have 2 cars in IN, because Ryan would continue to KY and I would return to MI to pack.  However, he was able to work it out to stay in MI for 2 days while the movers were here to help make sure things got packed properly and get the contents of the storage unit sorted out.  This means we would only really need one car to go to Muncie.  It also would mean we would all need to get up super early and be at the race site for a long long time.  It was decided that it was probably a much better idea to have Ryan stay home with the kids.  This way I could leave in the morning on my own to head to the race site and not worry about having super tired kids in the hot sun all day.  It also allowed Ryan to get a few more things taken care of for the new home.  There were several large items from IKEA that we wanted to purchase here and have the movers move for us, and that needed to be done with the help of Ryan's parents.  It would give Ryan more time for that too.  I usually did not go to Ryan's century rides with his friends, so it made sense that I go by myself to this.  It sort of made me more nervous about the race, since I would have to get there on my own, but it took some of the stress away from the nerves of actually racing.  I spent a lot of time printing out directions to and from everywhere I thought I might need to go this evening to be ready.

Friday was a pretty big day.   Ryan left early to be at IKEA early to buy couches with Kris and Linda to help transport them.  I took the kids out to Brighton to meet up with Cristina to borrow her speed suit for the race.  Temps were too warm for wetsuits, and I had hoped to be able to wear her speed suit for the race to at least reduce the drag of my tri top.  This would be my first non wetsuit ows of the year, and anything I could do to help it I wanted to do.  It was also great to chat with Cristina a bit about traveling for a race because I have actually never done that either, except to go to my parents' house, which isn't really the same because I know where I am going there and don't need a hotel.  After we left there, we headed back to Novi.  We had just enough time to stop into the gym.  Due to the car issues, we had not been in since Tuesday, and didn't really get to say goodbye to Angela.  I stopped in really quickly for a hug and a picture.

Then, we went across the street to Chuck E Cheese for Celine's birthday party.  Keira had fun playing with her classmates from school one more time.  We did leave a little early so I could go home and load up and be on my way!

I got on the road and to Muncie with no issues.  I got my packet picked up, and then headed to the Noodles & Co there for my "usual" pre race/Friday night carbo loading dinner.  I actually almost accidently ordered my pasta with a side of pasta, similar to what Ryan's cycling buddies order on purpose.  The girl taking my order didn't realize at first that I wanted to substitute whole grain pasta for the penne, and was going to order me two pastas.  I got into the hotel just fine, chatted with a few people I encountered.  I met one couple who were both out there for their first tris ever.  The husband was going the 70.3, and the wife was doing the sprint distance.  Her husband was crazy, I think, as he signed up for the Louisville IM without ever doing a tri, and here he was, 7 weeks before it, doing his first!  WOW, and I thought I was nuts for doing this race in the middle of a move.  At least I waited until after R4R to sign up for this one and knew what I was getting myself into.  I went to bed pretty early, and tried to go to sleep.

I woke up super early, as I suspected, and laid in bed for about an hour before finally getting up about 30 minutes before I had planned anyway.  They had advised we get there very early, since parking is just in a huge field and the later you get there, the further you are away.  You could have to walk about a mile with all your stuff if you got there late, plus the sprint tri started first, and you should be there before they started closing roads for that at 6am.  I got there a little after 5, and got set up to go.  While I had no really close friends there, I did have several people that I knew for a while as well as a few people I just met there.  There were lots of people from MI racked near me, and there was even a lady from KY that I had ridden with before right by me.  I guess I am just friends with a lot of people who sign up last minute for things, because we were in order by the order we were signed up.  It turned out to be a great day.  I had a very good feeling swim, although the time didn't really reflect it due to a long run to the timing mat from the water.  I had a great bike, taking over 20 minutes off my R4R time, and my run was OK.  My time was about 7 minutes slower here, but it was super hot, hilly, and we had a headwind on the way back in.  Overall, I was thrilled with my performance.  I didn't quite break 6 hours, finishing in 6:06:50, but I had a huge improvement on a tough course.  It is hard to compare different locations times due to the differences in the terrain over that distance.  I was very impressed by the number of volunteers on the course.  They really helped a ton, especially on the run where there were aid stations every mile with water, ice, sponges, sports drink, and cola, as well as fruit and gels.  I was very impressed with the Ironman experience.  They know what they are doing and I would love to be able to do another one of their events.  I feel very blessed that I could have this day to myself to come out here and race this fabulous race.  The WTC can be very expensive with their fees and everything, but they put on a great event.  I got home safely, and the kids were super happy to see me.

Sunday was a restful day.  We attended church, and then went to Kris and Linda's for dinner.  I was so appreciative of this dinner, since we had been working hard to use up the food we have on hand without buying new things, as well as get some extra time with them before the move.  It will be an exciting next week, since the mover come tomorrow to start to pack! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back in Michigan and Happy 4th of July 1 day early

*****Pictures to be added later**********

Our Vacation ended, and we had to head back to MI pretty much immediately.  All of the packing, unpacking, and associated laundry is really wearing on me, but it is just part of the work that needs to be done to make this move happen.  Ryan had work scheduled and we needed to finish up the mountains of paperwork and cleaning required to move.  We have been doing a lot of sorting of things to donate or recycle.  Soren has also been potty training, and doing fairly well with it, but it has taken up some of the little time we have right now to prepare for the move.  This is my last big training week before Muncie too, so that has kept me busy.

On Monday, we made it back safely.  Ryan left in the morning, and I took the kids to workout quickly so they could play before I headed back.  All of this time in the car has been hard and been making the weeks seem shorter.

On Tuesday, we went to Fuerst Park where this week's event was the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum.  In my opinion, this didn't work out as well as the previous puppet show activities, because there were just a lot of children to accomodate.  We opted to wait in line at the bouncer from Pump it Up first, and while it was a wait, it at least let the museum activities clear out a bit.  I was glad that Keira had already done all these activities before since it was the same thing that they did at her school this year and last.  Since I volunteered at those, I was able to make sure Keira and Soren knew what they were supposed to be doing and steer them to the activities that I thought they would enjoy as well as be able to do in a crowd.  Their favorite was mixing colors in the ice cube trays with colored water bottles.

That evening, we went to Lakeshore Park so that Ryan could get in a lap while I took the kids to play on the playground.  They had a blast.

On Wednesday, I took the kids to the gym and they were super excited to see a Mustang on the sidewalk in front of it.  There was an event at the gym last night that we skipped, and it must have been left over from that.

I went for a long ride with Cristina, Julie, and Monica that evening, as well as a run.  It pretty much killed the whole evening.  With Muncie half coming up, I needed to log the miles after missing so many Saturday rides.

On Thursday, I had to do some errands with the kids after a super hot treadmill run at the gym.  Keira hates doing errands, and really seems bummed out that she has to do them with me instead of being at school.  We had to go to the pediatrician's office today to drop off forms for school.  Keira is going to complain again when we have to get them.  That evening, we went to IKEA so that we could look at some new furniture for the new house. Keira and Soren were sad that they couldn't get ice cream.  Soren even mentioned that "Keira wants ice cream too".  This must be because sometimes if I can get them to agree on something, that is what we have.  This is especially true at lunchtime or at a restaurant where they are to share their dinner.  We were short on time today, so it didn't work today.

On Friday, I had a long swim at the gym and then headed to the dentist for more forms.  We thankfully made it right before the left for the long afternoon.  I was worried when there were no cars in the parking lot, but then one man drove up to pick up a patient.  I bet if he got there first, they would have been closed.

We ran errands in the evening.  We went to REI, dinner at Noodles (the usual), and then went to Costco.  It seems funny to go to Costco right before a big move, but we needed milk and vitamins, and the vitamin coupon expired on the 3rd.

Saturday was a big long, HOT day.  Ryan got up and rode with the A group.  They were FAST, and averaged 23mph for their ride.  That is amazing to me, especially since it was so hot.  I took the kids to our playground, but it was too hot for them to want to play.  We didn't stay long, and hung out under a small tree in the shade. 

Once Ryan got home I went out to Island Lake to ride.  I was able to hook up with Kari M for the first 15 miles, and it was just so hot.  I wasn't sure how I was going to do the 50 that I had planned, but I did get it done.  I stopped to refill my water a couple of times.  The time I stopped at the drinking fountain made the biggest difference.  Having cold water was so much better than warm, and I was able to drink a whole bottle before continuing on my way.  I got home and then we went to Bagger Dave's for dinner.  We went to Best Buy to buy a new washer and dryer.  It was pretty cool that we were able to buy it here, but have it delivered in KY in a couple weeks to take advantage of their 4th of July sale.  After Best Buy, we hit Dairy Queen.  It was a late night for the kids, but I joked that it would be in preparation for fireworks!

Sunday was the 3rd of July, and also our first day of really making do with the food we have.  We had a good testimony meeting, but totally forgot it was fast Sunday.  We will probably be at church next weekend if we can get back from Muncie in time, so we didn't really do any farewells today.  We were able to have a good dinner of tortilla soup, toquitos, corn bread, and rice. Soren went down for a nap late, which was good because we realized that there were fireworks tonight in Plymouth at McClumpha park.  We let Soren rest a bit more, and then around 7:30 headed down to the park.  It was very crowded, but we found a spot to park and got good seats.  We let the kids play for a bit, just until dark, on the playground and then went back to our spot to wait.  Keira and Soren changed into their pjs for the show and really enjoyed it.  It was a really late night, but we had a great time.

Up for next week, we have the actual 4th of July as well as LOTS of organizing to pack, and my race in Muncie! 

Ocean Isle Beach and Great Smoky Mountain National Park

*****Pictures will be added later!**********

We spent the week on vacation with my parents and sister in Ocean Isle Beach.  Since it is a far drive, we opted to turn the return trip into a minivacation, and toured the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as a way to stretch our legs on our way home.  Pretty much every day of the vacation consisted of a workout, the beach, pool, and dinner.  We also had to squeeze in some work too in order to make sure the sale of our condo as well as the purchase of our new home progressed.

Monday was the first day we hit the beach.  The kids enjoyed it.  Keira was really brave, and Soren enjoyed it a lot more this year than 2 years ago.  They loved running in the surf.  We also hit the pool too.

We had dinner at the Sugar Shack, which is always a favorite.  They have Jamaican style food.  Soren even tried a coconut prawn.

Tuesday was more beach but no pool.

We had dinner at in Calabash at a restaurant that came recommended to us, but we were not overjoyed by it.  It probably would have seemed a bit nicer had we been able to get a table on the side of the building that overlooked the ocean instead of off in a corner near the bar.  Calabash style pretty much equals fried, and there wasn't much on the menu that the kids would eat.  Applesauce was, but they ran out.  Soren was devastated, but after some searching, our server found us some spiced apple rings that sufficed.  We did have fun sitting in the tree outside while we waited for our table, as well as walking around looking at the crabs.

On Wednesday, Ryan and I got up early to do a bike ride with the Island Hoppers group in Ocean Isle.  We did a 28 mile ride with them at 19mph.  WOW!  I was happy that I could hang on, while Ryan was not hardly winded.  We changed things up a bit today and hit the pool and then the beach.  It made keeping the kids clean a little easier.  My mom worked with Keira a lot today on floating and she was even able to swim a bit, as well as go underwater. 

We went to the beach later, and finished up the day with some pizza.  Soren mentioned "Foster the People's Pumped up Kicks" to Sarah, and she was able to find it on her phone.  Soren was so excited about that!

On Thursday, I got up early to do a long run.  It was so hot!  I was thankful there were beach access showers to use to drink and cool off!  We hit the beach afterwards.

Ryan and I had to sign some paperwork and email it back, so we drove into Myrtle Beach for a while.  It took a bit longer than we thought, but finally got it taken care of.  We had dinner at a really nice Italian place pretty close to OIB.  Everything was delicious.

Friday was our last full day at the beach.  We had a good time playing with the kids, and Sarah offered to watch them so that Ryan and I could have a date night.

Saturday morning we got up early and got on the road.  We made it to Smoky Mountain National Park about mid afternoon.  Soren actually started using the potty today too!  Of all the times to decide to use the toilet, Soren picks a day where we are driving most of it.  Go figure.  At the south entrance to the park, there was a primarily agricultural historic farm to tour.  It was great for the kids to be able to run around a bit.  They loved it, and the setting was so beautiful. 

Once we finished up at the farm, we started our drive through the park.  We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks to check out the spectacular views.

We also were able to take a few steps on the Appalachian Trail.  It is amazing that it extends almost 2000 miles to Maine!

We made our way through the rest of the park and to our hotel outside of Knoxville.  We were able to bypass Gatlinburg, but not Pigeon Forge.  It was so slow going through that tourist trap! 

On Sunday, we drove the rest of the way back to KY.  We encountered some interesting weather.  We were driving and very suddenly the clouds overhead were very dark and ominous looking.  It got very dark and almost spooky because it was just sunny, and the change was not gradual at all.  We kept our eyes on the sky for funnel clouds and such, but just had rain.  We made it safely home in time to attend church in our new ward.  We got packed up again to head back to MI!