warning: mom gushing ahead

the past four months have gone by so quickly that i didn't mention henry's high school swim season at all. well, one quick mention at christmastime, but that was it.

he has enjoyed high school swimming so much over the past two years, but this year it was officially High School Season because he is now, officially, in high school. he truly felt more like one of the guys, and even found that many of them forgot he was only 14 because he's been competing with them for the past two years, and competed at the varsity level with them for much of that time.


this year i got texts from him like, "the team is going for breakfast after practice. i have a ride," "austin is giving me a ride to the pasta dinner," "i'm going to stay and hang out longer. i'll let you know when i'm ready."

not gonna lie: those texts threw me for a loop. my baby? "catching rides" with the guys? that's a hard, hard thing to accept when it comes at you the first time. however, i had to let him. it's time. now, we did have a bit of a disagreement when he asked why he had to ride the activity bus to practice after school instead of riding with The Guys, but we had our reasons. safety, obviously (being a winter sport, i was a little paranoid about teen boys and winter driving), but we also don't want him to be completely wrapped up in the upperclassmen group and forget to keep in touch with the younger (ie his age) swimmers. at some point, these upperclassmen will graduate and he needs to still have that connection with the kids his age. and, in true henry fashion, he said that he understood, and okay ... he'd ride the bus.

(have i mentioned how much i love this kid? zero push-back ever.)

in the pool, however, he was with the Big Guys. he would train daily in the fastest lanes, with the fastest guys. he was exhausted, to be sure, but he said he was keeping up and loving the challenge. he felt proud that his coaches were recognizing he could swim at that level, and was determined to prove he belonged there.


and he so belonged there. if he didn't truly believe it at the beginning of the season, he knew it by the end.


he was 110% determined to make letter times this season, since he was so stinkin' close last year. he actually got a letter time in the 50 free last season, but got it in a relay so it didn't count. which made him crazy.

first meet of the high school season, he not only got a letter time in his 50 free, but also in the 100 free. and he was pumped.



for the rest of the season, he continued to drop time in his 50 and 100 free. and his 100 back, which has been kind of stalled for awhile, also improved, and he finally broke the elusive 1:00 mark. and earned a letter time in that, as well. and then the 200 free, which he never liked swimming ... he swam that at a meet and boom: another letter time.

he was so pumped. best part - two of his buddies on the team swim the same events he does, and they tend to go back and forth with each other, always on the others' toes. it was so fun to watch them gather immediately after a race to hug and congratulate whomever happened to finish before the other that week.



his team and coaches had a successful season. one of their big meets is True Team Sectional - a preview of sectional, and only the top four swimmers in each event participate. lakers won again this year.



and henry made it to True Team State at the U in all of his events ... and got his best times at that meet.


the guys lost only one home meet through the season, won True Team Sectional, and then went on to win their sectional, as well.

henry earned spots in sectional finals in the medley relay, 50 free, and 100 back. after prelims, his relay's time was two seconds off of a state cut time, and his 50 free time was .75 off of state cut ... even better, his 50 free time from the relay was only .10 off a state cut time. he was feeling super positive heading into finals.

the medley relay is the first event of a meet, and his team swam their hearts out. each of the swimmers stepped up and dropped time, and at the end of the race, the laker team was less than a second from state time. they just missed it. heartbreaking, but they were all so proud of themselves. and henry? henry swam the freestyle leg and dropped time on his 50 free again ... :21.9. state cut time in the 50 free? :22.11. he was beyond excited.


unfortunately, when the 50 free finals came around, he just couldn't get the same momentum going. he ended up placing seventh overall (which, hello ... seventh place his freshman year? not too shabby.), with a time of :22.98. he was disappointed, but one thing about henry: he is always philosophical. he told us later, "well, i got the time in the relay. now i know i can do it next year."


(also in the back of his mind for next year? at last year's end-of-season banquet, henry's coach compared him to another swimmer on the team, saying that he went from a "nobody" to a break-out swimmer that season. and this year? that kid won the 50 free and the 100 free at sectional, and got a new school record in the 50. his time? half a second faster than henry's best time. and of the top 16 swimmers in this year's state finals in the 50 free, 11 of them are seniors.

henry is quietly gearing up.)

but back to sectional.

after the 50 free, he then swam the 100 back. he had just barely broken 1:00 during prelims, and in finals, he went down another half a second. he finally broke the 1:00 curse, and again placed 7th overall.


i think we were a little sad and a little relieved at the same time that the season was over. it's amazing how quickly three months can go.

henry was asked to be an alternate for state, but he was exhausted and declined. since then, he's been enjoying a month of swim-free afternoons and weekends. he takes only two months off a year from the pool, and is very serious about having those two months. next week he starts back up with club, and this weekend he will start a 14-week clinic, lead by a former-olympic swimmer katrina radke, and her former-olympic coach husband. he will tweak his skills, learn techniques for stretching, flexibility, strength training, learn more about the psychological component of racing.

i spoke with katrina when i was signing up henry for the clinic, and she asked me about his best events and times. i told her, and she said, "whoa ... he's already there at 15? we'll get him prepared to go :20 or even :19 in the coming years, and he'll be under :50 in the 100 free by next high school season, for sure." when i told henry about her confidence in him, he got a big goofy grin and said, "that's the plan."

his focus is set, and the target is locked. and i'm excited to see where he goes from here.

(footnote: at the banquet the other night, all the swimmers got a book of the team's accomplishments and times. henry is the current record holder for time swum by a freshman in a 50 free in a relay. he was a little shocked by that, especially when he saw the names of the guys under him. and he is ranked on the all time top 20 list in the 50 free (20th) and 100 back (15th). so proud of this little guy. oh - and he got that letter jacket.)




staycation '15

so ... spring break is over, amazingly enough.

we had a good week. instead of the sun and fun of, say, disneyland or puerto rico, or having a historical adventure while visiting someplace like washington dc, we opted to spend our vacation days exploring beautiful st. paul.

yes, st. paul. minnesota. but i'll get to that.

spring break was actually kind of a two-week deal for me. the week before break, my mom was in town to visit. we did lots of shopping and wandering, she was able to attend henry's band concert, and she took care of my family while i had some 24-hour bug on friday. it was a little mini-vacay for me, because i got to just enjoy all the little boutiques and fun shops that i love but never get myself to on an ordinary day. and my mom is now a friend rather than just "mom," so it was great to girl talk and have fun.

saturday, the first official day of spring break, we celebrated harper's birthday while mom was still here. harp wanted to spend some time at heartfelt doing a craft with her bff, so that's just what we did. they chose to make little fairy cottages, then run next door to the bakery for a giant cookie. after that, it was special birthday dinner at the hibachi place.







sunday morning, harper's official birthday, mom left early and harper had the whole day to do as she chose. there were presents, then play time with henry, lots of drawing and crafting, and dinner at cheesecake factory so she could get a grilled artichoke. (really.) a perfect day for little miss 10-year-old.


on monday, we didn't do a whole lot of anything. the kids wanted to hang out at home, play on the computer. harper did more crafts (she got a sketch book for her birthday and spent hours drawing dragons and wolves and mermaids. then she moved on to making three-dimensional dragons out of clay.), marc and i spent quality time on the couch catching up on shows we hadn't had time to watch in weeks. it was a total lazy bum day.


we did, however, leave the house to get a burger at red cow ... and harper ordered an avocado cheesecake. seriously. this child's eating habits are beyond bizarre.


tuesday we got our irish on and headed into st. paul for the st. paddy's day parade. the sun was shining - even though it was a wee bit chilly - and the people watching was epic. my favorite part of st. patrick's day.






(i think the o'keefes started their drinking waaaay before the parade began.)



(irish elvis)




(st paul saints' mascot, mudonna)


(roller derby ladies)




(the bouncing club)



before and after the parade, we spent some time watching irish dance and music groups.


then we got some mini donuts from a food truck, said goodbye to ol' scott fitzgerald.


which ... hello ... fitzgerald. totally irish. also, one of my favorite writers.

then we were out of there, home to lazy bum away the rest of the day. i think we played some uno ... that was the extent of expended energy.

 wednesday, harper was invited to watch "cinderella" with her bff's family, so marc and i took henry to see "kingsman."

hold on a minute: i have a beef with "kingsman" and, realistically, most movies out there ... especially in the "action" genre. (spoilers ahead, so if you haven't yet seen "kingsman" and plan to, avert your eyes and skip the next paragraph.)

"kingsman" is the story of a young man setting out on a hero's journey to become a secret society cia-type assassin/badass gentleman. he is called to action by the ever lovely colin firth (which is why i agreed to see this movie). the villain in the movie, valentine, is attempting to talk world leaders into following his (evil? necessary? that's up for interpretation.) plan, but one resists - a swedish princess. she refuses to go along with it, so valentine puts her in a cell "to protect her." she's a strong woman who stands up to a man and voices her disagreement and concern. however, at the climax of the movie, when the hero goes into action mode, he comes upon the princess's cell. through the bars, she says, "if you save the world, i'll give you anything you want." he replies, "a kiss? i've always wanted a kiss from a princess," to which she replies, "if you save the world, we can have the butt sex." and at the end, when he's killed everyone in place, he returns to her cell with a bottle of champagne, and he's greeted at the door by her naked rear-end. my problem? how do you take the ONE strong, independent woman who stands up to the evil mastermind, and turn her into nothing more than a faceless, naked reward? literally, a faceless, naked reward. infuriating. so, so infuriating. and i told my boys so. they, of course, only "saw" the action in the movie and completely missed the anti-feminist moment. they are so lucky to have me around to point out these teachable moments.

okay ... back to spring break.

we saw movies, we ate burgers afterward with the bff's family, et voila.

thursday was Hang Out In St Paul day. we planned to walk around the state capitol grounds, check out the capitol building, then go through the minnesota history center. henry and i had been to both places years ago on a field trip, but it was a first for marc and harper.

we started out wandering the capitol grounds and looking at all of the monuments and statues:



USS Ward cannon ... shot the first shots of the pacific war after the attack on pearl harbor


monument to the living



roy wilkins memorial spiral


vietnam memorial, which is located in a sunken area shaped like the state of minnesota


promise of youth statue


WWII memorial, with monuments to the story of the war in both the atlantic and pacific, respectively, on each side.

at this point, i really had to use the bathroom, so we missed a couple of monuments, but we fast-walked into the capitol, which is under heavy renovation right now, and climbed stairs until we found a bathroom.

goal attained, we then realized we were right outside of the state senate chambers. we had a little chat with the sergeant-at-arms and he asked where we live. we replied, and a man walking out the door said, "oh! that's so-and-so's district! he just left ... let me see if i can catch him! he would love to meet his constituents!"

um ... we didn't vote for the guy. awwwwkward.

the nice man came back empty-handed, but it turns out that he was the state senator from the district next door. he walked us to our rep's desk and offered to take our picture. again ... didn't vote for him ... but the other guy was being so darn friendly that we said sure.



so that was that. we thanked him, wandered a bit more through what we could access in the capitol (which wasn't much), and decided it was time for lunch.

the history center was a quick walk from the capitol, and there is a great cafeteria on site. they were featuring a hmong lemongrass-pork belly dish in honor of a special exhibit on the hmong in minnesota, so we tried that, then it was on to the rest of the museum.


(it's super crazy how much henry looks like marc's brother in this picture. like, super. crazy.)


(did i ever tell you about the day i was looking through henry's 8th grade yearbook, and discovered the page with the class dignitaries and Most Likely Tos? yeah ... henry? voted the class clown. this picture makes me believe that 100%.)



my favorite exhibit was of a home that was built at the turn of the century (the 20th, that is) in st paul, and the exhibit followed its history and the people who lived there up until present day. "the little house" is my all-time favorite children's book, so this exhibit was fascinating and so moving.

friday was our big spring break road trip: we headed two hours south to wabasha, minn. ... home of "grumpy old men" ... to visit the national eagle center.

we left mid-morning so that we could get to wabasha in time for lunch. why? so we could eat at slippery's, the bar where max & john hung out in the movie. it was the same place in name only, but that mattered not a bit to me. and to capitalize on their fame, slippery's has the movie running on a loop all day long.


sandwiches and fries later, we made it to the eagle center.


this was harper's favorite. there is information about eagles all around the building, but in one room there are actually live eagles sitting on perches. all have been rehabilitated after injuries and can no longer fly. this was harper's happy place.



she even took a seven-minute-long video of a golden eagle, while one of the handlers was answering questions, and only stopped recording when the eagle turned around and pooped right at her. she was laughing too hard to continue.

we watched a presentation about the eagles and the eagle center, saw one of the bald eagles eat a fish, and found out that harper's wing span is as wide as a wild turkey, then we walked around a bit more before leaving for home.




saturday and sunday were our "get back in school week mode", with homework and laundry. marc and henry kicked my and harper's butts in settlers of cattan, we made some pulled pork, we watched "grumpy old men."

then sunday afternoon, as we were winding down from our relaxing break, it began to snow.


and on monday morning, as the kids were heading out to finish up the school year, they did so into 10" of wet, heavy snow ... the biggest snowfall of our entire winter, and it came three days into spring.




the snow is good, though ... it makes it feel as if time isn't moving as quickly as it is. when i stop to think that spring break is already over and we're in the final stretch to the end of the year, i get a little freaked out.

make that a lot freaked out.

because she's 10

i have more to write, but for today, there is this:


she is so utterly in love with him. and he is (generally) so very, very good to her.

today she is ten-years-old. double digits. growing too fast. and we said, "whatever you want to do today, you name it!" and her reply?

"i want to have alone time with henry."

and they have been up in her room playing together ever since. laughing, being silly, like old times before he grew up faster than she did and life got less fair (in her mind).

today she is 10. and i look at this photo and think, "it's going to have to be a very special person to be able to win her over, because she will have high, high standards after growing up with her brother."

i hope their bond is forever. i hope he always protects, and she always knows how to voice what she wants and needs.

and listening to them today feels like old times. and it makes it that much easier to accept that she's 10 today. because the alternative? is that in my mind they still look like this ...


and that seems forever ago. and five minutes ago. all at the same time.

happy birthday, sweet girl. you are so very, very loved.


wha ... ???

i'm having a very hard time wrapping my brain around this one, but yes: henry turns 15 today.


(technically, not until 6:50 this evening, so i have a few more hours of deniability.)

i'm truly floored each year, when i have another "my kid is how old?!" moment, that they are growing up so much more quickly than i am. but this? this 15 thing? no. i am not sure i can accept it.

i mean, come on:


that was 15 years ago?! granted, i barely remember ... but it wasn't THAT long ago!

little mr serious ... mr frowny face ...


this little buddha? he's 15 now?!



it happened way too fast.

just about one minute ago ...


it was all bob the builder and thomas the train, and he snuggled with me and was the cutest thing i'd ever seen. and he looked way, way up at his daddy.


he loved the water ...


and loved to read maps and instructions and figure things out.


truthfully, neither of those things has changed at all.

and there was a sweet spot, when he was so wonderful and funny, and we thought life couldn't get any better.

and then he became a big brother.


and he was in love with her, and she was in love with him.





but that hasn't changed, either.


he was such a sweet little boy, with so much personality.





but that hasn't really changed, either.



as fun-loving as he is, he definitely has a serious side. the side that wants to just do his thing, focus, achieve a goal.





he's always been ahead of the curve: held his head up the minute he was laid on my chest after he was born; consistently in the 95th-100th percentile for height; early reader, advanced classes. in many ways, he never felt like a baby. he's always been mature for his age, and now we are seeing the man he will become.

he is polite, kind, patient, intelligent, analytical.





he will be a great father if/when the time comes. and he's taken lessons from a great role model.


and the friends. oh my word, the friends. he's picked some great kiddos to surround himself with, since the very beginning.






it makes my heart so happy to see him with his friends, because they are always smiling and laughing with each other. always.




maybe he hasn't changed so much. maybe 15 years really isn't so bad. as long as i don't dwell on the "we've signed up for driver's ed and lifeguarding class, and he has to take the PSAT in the fall, and scholarship? he wants to try to get a swimming scholarship? for college in three years?", i might just make it through his 15th birthday.

snowflake, days 16 - 25

i blinked, and christmas is over.

don't get me wrong: we had my family here for four full days. and they were FULL. DAYS. but yet it flew by.

and i'll write more about that later.

first: giving snowflake her proper wrap-up.

day 16: snowflake got a little crafty with some glitter paint, a glass ornament, and mica flakes.


day 17: snowflake was hiding, adorably, in our container of chocolate chips. sadly, though, harper never saw her. she woke up at 3 a.m. vomiting, and kept going until lunchtime. she spent the entire day in bed and didn't once venture downstairs. i did tell her that i found snowflake while making lunch, and took my camera upstairs to show her a photo. that was good enough for my poor sick girl.


day 18: still sick but no longer vomitous, harper spent most of the day lying in bed, watching "magic school bus" episodes on the ipad. she had company, though. snowflake and gray kitty were sitting on her dresser, offering moral support - with proper safety precautions.


day 19: harp flirted with fever status on and off the day before, so on friday, she missed her last day of school before christmas break. she was, however, feeling better, and convalesced on the couch. snowflake kept a cheeky eye on her from inside a bowl.


day 20: one last crazy day of cleaning before my family arrived, one last day of rest and recuperation for harper. snowflake, meanwhile, channeled her inner miley.


day 21: harp woke up sunday morning to discover snowflake sitting in the little tree in her room, bearing a gift.



the note on the gift read, "santa knows this is my favorite job as your elf!"

what job was that?

bringing harp's christmas jammies.


day 22: snowflake was part of the family festivities, but from a safe vantage point.


day 23: snowflake and gray kitty hid a dozen candy canes, and harper had to hunt for them. much like easter, she zipped through the house, glancing at eye level, and declared, "i can't find any!" while we, the rest of the people in the room, looked around and said, "uh ... we can see five just from here."


eventually, harp decided to Look.


day 24: our last day with snowflake. she celebrated the arrival of christmas by sitting on the mantle with a banner declaring, "one more day until christmas!" and there was much excitement.


bonus day 25: before she flew back to the north pole, snowflake let me take a photo of her with a little gift that she left for harper for christmas morning: a book, entitled "sparky." if you know harper at all, you will understand why this is the most perfect book in the world for her. it's about a little girl who desperately wants a pet, and her mom says no to them all, then says she'll say yes if the girl can find one that doesn't require care. so the girl orders a sloth, which is delivered via express mail.


harp was super excited to find this little special gift in her room christmas morning.

and that was our month with snowflake. i'm challenging myself to put a bit more effort into the elf thing next year ... this year was pretty ... let's just say basic.

i'll get to actual christmas ... maybe tomorrow.

here's a teaser of just what you can expect, though:


hope your holiday was merry and wonderful!

snowflake, days 9 - 11

december is going way too fast. waaaaay. too fast.

however, the house is 85% ready for family to visit for christmas; starting on monday, i'll have marc home for three weeks; and i'm ready to spend next week enjoying the glitter of the tree and the twinkle of lights, and listening to frank and nat and bing and perry while baking and prepping food. (and attending three swim meets, one band concert, picking henry up from swim practices, taking harper to and from swim practices, and taking henry to and from a hockey game for which the pep band is playing. oh, and harper has an eye appointment. and who knows what else ... i'm afraid to look. don't want the calendar to harsh my holiday mellow. but thankfully, there is a swingin' christmas pandora channel ... frank and nat and bing and perry come with me everywhere i go.)

there will also be more elf adventures.

on tuesday, we found snowflake sitting on a wreath in the stairway.


and she lived up to her name and the "let it snow" sign on the wreath, because leading down the stairs to where she sat, we also found a flurry of snowflakes.


it isn't looking like it will be a white christmas outside, so she brought the snow inside for us. thanks, snowflake!

on wednesday, she was taking a ride on a reindeer in the bathroom:


pretty pedestrian.

however, today? oh, was my daughter happy!

first, you need to know that every christmas since she was three, harper has been obsessed with "the nutcracker." it started with a barbie nutcracker dvd. that lasted two or three years. then, when she was in her all-day, every-day tom & jerry phase, we discovered that there is a tom & jerry nutcracker special that airs only at christmastime, and only once. so we have recorded it for the past four years. she watches it over and over ... and over again.

this year, we found it and set the tivo, but for some reason, it didn't record. harper was heartbroken. but, thanks to the power of amazon the north pole, snowflake knew how to remedy the situation. this morning, this is what harper found when she went on her snowflake search:


to say our morning started with a happy squeal would be an understatement. also? she had an ortho appointment before school, so that happy squeal took place at about 6:58 a.m.

and on the way to school, she asked if she could watch "tom & jerry" after school, and i said sure, once homework is done. she immediately responded, "if i don't have homework, maybe i can watch it twice!"

happy kiddo.

snowflake, days 5 - 8

we - and snowflake - had a busy few days!

first, on friday, day 5, she sent us a subtle reminder that the tree had been up for nearly a week and was still lacking ornamentation.


later on friday, harper and i drove 45 mins away to her second swim meet. she was feeling very nervous about it in the car, but once she got there, all the worry melted away, she got to be with her bff and another friend who has been super dear to her since they were three, and it was time for fun! she even helped her friend over a case of her own First Meet jitters, which probably helped harp out, too.






she placed 3rd overall in her age group's 50 backstroke, 5th in the 50 breakstroke, and  6th in the 50 free, and earned a C time in the backstroke and freestyle. she was super proud of herself!

(then i had to pull over on the way home so she could throw up on the side of the road. still haven't figured out if that was from nerves or a bad sandwich, but she's fine now.)

saturday morning, instead of being super tired and sleeping in until 7:30, harper was up and searching for snowflake.

here is where she found her:


apparently, snowflake and gray kitty are not so good with the pot holder loom.

sunday morning, snowflake gave us all a good giggle:


silly elf.

and this morning, we found her dressed in holiday finery and sitting atop the barbie tree:



this week, i have a city council meeting to go to ... our neighborhood is fighting the city's desire to connect a through-road from our 'hood to the casino's doorstep. to say we are infuriated is an understatement. ... henry's parent/teacher conferences, his first high school swim meet of the season, marc's heading to seattle, and who knows what else.

hopefully, snowflake will act accordingly and be nice and easy for the next five days.

snowflake, days 3 & 4

yesterday, harper came down to breakfast and said she hadn't yet found snowflake. i told her she needed to eat, finish getting ready, and then she could look for her elf. which apparently she took as permission to peek into other rooms while brushing her hair and teeth, because she discovered right away that snowflake had brought her laundry to our house overnight.


that sounded like a good plan to me, too, and i decided to hang out with snowflake and play catch-up from the four days i didn't do laundry over thanksgiving, while marc's family was here.

however, as with most days, plans changed. i received a text from my lovely friend, tina, who said "breakfast in linden hills with me and amy." well, i love any minute i get to spend in linden hills, so laundry was promptly abandoned in favor of brunch and christmas shopping.

which is likely why snowflake showed up this morning with new socks for harper; she knew i hadn't gotten those washed yesterday and harp would have had to wear who knows what.


that snowflake. she's always thinking.

she's baaaaack

sunday night, as we were trying to get lights on the tree (only to discover that more than half decided to die over the past year while sitting in a bin in the garage), harper remembered that it was november 30th, and her elf would likely be coming the next day.

she ran up to her room to get the "elf on the shelf" book, brought it down to the couch, and read to us as we (marc) battled the lights. then she ran up to her room and laid out a bed for snowflake, found a dress form for barbie clothes and put a robe on it for snowflake to wear, then proceeded to tear her room apart looking for snowflake's little friend, gray kitty.

no gray kitty.

i told harp not to worry about it, gray kitty would turn up. and who knew ... maybe snowflake would use her elfin magic to make gray kitty appear.

that seemed reasonable to harp, and she was off to bed.

monday morning, snowflake was, indeed, in her robe and on the bed harp had prepared for her. and in her little arms? gray kitty.


oh, the happiness!

(which lasted about 20 minutes. until i told her she had to drink the smoothie i'd made for her and her brother for breakfast. which turned into a 30 minute battle of the wills. which became 30 minutes of harper in tears, refusing said smoothie. which resulted in her missing the bus, having to be driven to school by daddy, and having to admit to the nice secretary in the school office just why she was arriving to school late. which led to harper having a smoothie popsicle for dessert instead of ice cream. sigh. life with her is always interesting.)

this morning was a much different story: homemade blueberry pancakes, and snowflake and gray kitty helping with the christmas decorations.


welcome back, snowflake.


and so it begins

i now have two swimmers.


two kids. two different age groups. two different pools. two different practice times.

but it's cool. i'm handling it.

even easier to handle when she has bffs on the team with her. makes it so much more fun ... giggles during kicking, snacks after practice, carpools ...



(lots of snacks after practice.)

it was especially great when harper and her bff were able to share the momentous occasion of First Swim Meet with each other.


i'll admit it: it was fun to watch a different kid swim for a change. and she did an awesome job!



she won her heat in her very first event, the 50 free, and it was a huge boost for her. she looked amazing!

(lane six ... third from the top)


IMG 8776 from michele skinner on Vimeo.

the win was also huge because on her last practice start, her foot slipped and she got a scrape, resulting in her being afraid of the starting block and refusing to get back on it for the meet. after her win in the 50, she waved us down for a conference, but being unable to go on the pool deck because we're parents, henry went in our place. he thought he was going to have to talk her down from a ledge, but in fact, she was so jazzed about winning her heat that she just wanted someone to talk to.


after some high-fives and a little expert advice, henry returned, and she finished up her last two races (second in her backstroke heat, fourth - i think - in the breaststroke). she was so happy and so proud of herself, and was even happier that she and cece got to experience it together.


and now we're officially a two swimmer family. harp has two more meets in the pipeline, and henry has one more before high school season starts up in december.

which ... december?! how?? i was just excited about the start of october and then ... october went. it's gone. that's crazy.

i didn't quite get to the fall decorating, as declared, but that's life. we DID make it to the orchard for apples ...


and to the pumpkin patch for apple cider donuts pumpkins ...


and made the kids' halloween costumes:

a phoenix


and a bob ross who couldn't find a brown wig.


bob actually went to the high school halloween dance, not trick-or-treating. that was a new experience for us all. but he had a blast ... and actually danced!! maybe there's hope i'll get to someday dance at a wedding, after all. because heaven forbid i got to dance at my own wedding but no i'm not bitter.

and now: november.

which, apparently, will be full of swimming.