Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seaside in September

It felt more like a summer weekend get-away.  With temperatures reaching well into the 80's, the Pacific Ocean dazzled us as her waves crashed on to the sandy Seaside beach.  We took the girls out of school a little bit early, which allowed us a little extra beach time.  We headed straight to the water as soon as we arrived in town.  

The Three Course Challenge, a massive cross country event, was the reason for our Seaside visit. Caleb was busy working out with his team and doing other fun things like having bonfires on the beach and drawing colored poker chips to see which of the three courses (easy, moderate or hard) each runner would be assigned to the following day.

Jon, the girls and I were busy doing things like playing on beach, slurping gluten-free clam chowder and eating gourmet caramel apples.

After dinner, we returned to the ocean to watch the sun slip brilliantly below the horizon.  It was absolutely stunning.  We couldn't stop taking pictures.

About the time the starfish lamp posts illuminated, we washed the sand from our feet and headed to the arcade.

There we find a game called Fascination.  Jon first played it at Lagoon when he was a young boy.  Our whole family had fun playing it when we went to Seaside last year and the girls were excited to play again on this trip.  Fascination tables line both sides of the room.  Each game, which costs $0.25, is won by rolling a small rubber ball into holes that then light up a game board.  The first table to get five in a row wins.  This particular Fascination hall appears to be older than me and has likely never received a renovation.  Something about it adds to the experience.

I was the first to win a game, which won me 99 points--which can be redeemed for junk at the prize counter.  Shortly after my victory, Natalie won a perfect game, meaning she only rolled the ball five times and got five in a row with those five rolls.  She got 198 points for that fanciness.  And did a Felix pose to celebrate:

And then, folks, the Hatch winning streak just kept rolling.  (Pun intended.)  Jon won a game and then it was announced that we would be playing a blackout round and would be using two balls.  Alyssa won that round and added 998 points to our stockpile.

We played a few other arcade games and then cashed in our points for a new card game and lots and lots of candy.  Such a fun, fun night.

We relaxed in the hotel pool, hot tub and sauna before calling it a night.  

Caleb was down the street camping out on a high school gym floor with his teammates.  Just before falling asleep, I was able to text with him and find out that he had drawn a blue chip, meaning he would be running the moderate course the next morning.  We both felt relief.  He'd run the hard course last year and was really hoping to draw something lighter this year.

Calling his course moderate might not be totally fair, however, because it is still quite difficult.  Much more so than your average cross country course.  

All courses are run at Camp Rilea, a military base.

Here's a picture of the starting line of Caleb's race.  The finish is located beyond the hill to the left, not seen in this picture.  There are 442 high school boys lined up for the gun.  Over 2300 racers would run before the day was over.  So many, many runners!

We wished Caleb well at the start and then ran to the mud pit portion of the course.

These pictures of the girls running to the mud pit show the types of terrain that the race covers.  At times the course is gravel (as seen on the left), at times it's grass covered trails (such as seen in the picture on the right), and at times it's sand so deep that your feet sink and slip with every step.  All of these elements on lots and lots of hills.

And then there's the mud pit.  So entertaining to watch the runners splash and swim their way through.

Spectators are sure to get splattered.  My clothes were covered with dots of mud and Alyssa took one splat right to the middle of her forehead:

Caleb looked so strong.  I turned to Jon and said, "It seemed like he was ahead of hundreds of runners!"  We later learned that he was 137th in his race and finished ahead of 285 other boys.  That means that he finished in the top third of his race, which we thought was great!

Washing off the mud:

This drum line played at the beginning of each race and then again when runners came into the finish line.

Caleb ran hard and then refueled with a big ol' Gatorade.  I love his unruly curls caused by his sweat.

After the race we found a place to watch the BYU game.  We (Caleb and I) may or may not have drawn attention to ourselves when we cheered our team to victory.

The candy store in town even supported our team:

With another Cougar win in the books, we went back to the beach for one final hour of frolicking in the sun and waves.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day!

Jon drove us part-way home and then let Caleb take the wheel.  He brought us safely home from a most wonderful sun-filled weekend.  Such great memories for the whole family!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ready or Not

I'm definitely not one of those moms that does a happy dance when the kids go back to school.  As much as I love fall--and I really love it, saying goodbye to summer is something we always dread.  

I've long had a love affair with the Pacific Northwest, but the summer of 2014 was perhaps the most beautiful, picture-perfect summer I've ever experienced.  Gorgeous, I tell you!  But whether we were ready or not, (and we were not ready) back to school we did go.

Alyssa is the first to leave the house every morning, leaving to catch the bus at 6:55 am.  She's an eighth grader this year, the upperclassman of the middle school.  Don't let her tiny stature fool you, she's a mature and responsible young lady.  Beautiful too.

She's set to tackle a challenging algebra course and is really excited that the doctor gave her a PE waiver, which allows her to take a leadership class.  She'll continue to play the violin in the school orchestra again this year.

My fourth grader and I get to go to school together every day.  We spend a few minutes in my office together before she heads to her classroom.  I walked her to her door on the first day and she gave me an adamant warning that I was not to kiss her goodbye!  She continues to be rather embarrassed by me, even though several classmates have told her that I'm one of their favorite teachers.  I'm not too offended, I know that deep down she loves me and appreciates that we have the special experience of attending school together.  And boy oh boy do I love this baby of mine!

Caleb got to ease into school on the first day.  Because the high school does a freshman orientation the first day, the other students don't have to be there until afternoon.  He got to sleep in and then I drove him down to school when I got home from work.  I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I have a junior in high school.  A junior!  It's hitting me hard that we only have one more first day of school.  This handsome boy is growing and maturing every day.  

Caleb will be taking civics, pre-calculus, spanish and language arts this semester.  Release time seminary continues to be his favorite period of the day, but he's quite excited about his culinary arts class.

Back-to-school also brings a birthday every year.  We celebrated with one of Jon's favorite dinners, macaroni and cheese, and a super yummy white chocolate, raspberry cheesecake.  There were no gifts this year since a new car has become a necessity.  Let's just say Caleb has been a better driver than his dad lately. 

Our sensational summer seems to be giving way to a stunning fall.  We are all becoming adjusted to our back-to-school schedule, balancing gymnastics and cross country with homework, paper routes and driver's education.  Oh, and BYU football games.  The very best reason to welcome fall.

Ready or not, here we come!