Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My First Triathlon!

On Sunday, I competed in my first triathlon! It was so much fun! I'm ready to race again!

So here is my recap, words of wisdom and points to ponder!

1. Plan ahead and TRAIN!

While it may seem like I just decided to do this on the spur of the moment, I've really been thinking about this for about 13 years! In 2001 we lived in an area that had a gym and an indoor pool. I started swimming there and worked up to swimming about a mile a few days a week. One day, a woman was swimming laps next to me and when we were finished, she asked if I had ever thought about doing a tri. I said no, that I couldn't run.  Ever since then, it's been in the back of my mind... if I could run, I could do a tri. And well, now I can run. :) So over the last year my running friends and I have talked about tri's, but I didn't have a bike. Nor did I have a good place to swim. Then one of my friends loaned me a bike, a GOOD bike! And then at the end of March, since I'm a mentor teacher for our local university, I got a faculty card that gives me pool privileges. So with all of the obstacles out of the way, I decided to DO IT! Finally.

Thankfully my fitness level allowed me to really enjoy participating in the tri, but I have to say, if I hadn't had marathon experience to draw on, it would have been difficult.  My time has LOTS of room for improvement, but because I am in good shape, I wasn't sore! That really does help the overall experience! :)

So all that to say...if you want to do a tri, I suggest getting a training program! I swam some, I ran more and I biked a little. Because of that, I had an okay swim, a great run and a bad bike time. Lesson learned!

2. Get GOOD clothes!

I am so very thankful that a friend of mine loaned me her tri clothes! I don't know what I would have worn if I hadn't had her pants and shirt! I'll be purchasing my own Pearl Izumi tri clothes now. Even with the moisture wicking fabrics and all those fancy names, I was still wet when I finished the race. Granted the humidity was crazy high and it rained on me during the bike portion, but I was damp the entire race. If I had been wearing a regular running tank, I would have been miserable!  I did wear my own sports bra and compression shorts under the pants and shorts. I wanted a little more structure. 

3. Know how to use the GEARS on the bike!

The race course for the tri was hilly! In fact, it was ALL hills. Lots of little hills, some bigger hills, and one big hill, but lots of ups and downs. If I had known how to use the gears on the bike, I really could have capitalized on the downs. Instead, I coasted down the hills and labored on the ups. It's completely my fault. The borrowed bike is really nice and a good one. It has 3 gears on the left side with a lever (gear?) on the right. I only knew how to use gear 2 on the left and I knew how to go up and down on the right. So... going up the hill, I'd click to a smaller number. Going down I'd click to a higher number. On the flat-ish parts I'd be somewhere in the middle. No wonder my time was a good 30 minutes slower than the fast people in my age group! My average mile per hour was almost 12, the fastest ones were at 20. ouch.

4. DON'T buy Wal-mart pedals!

One of the reasons my biking time was so slow... my right pedal fell off TWICE!! EEK! Crazy stuff. So, I had to circle back pushing the bike until I got to the pedal and then had to put it on the bike. Great. Prior to the next tri, I'll be hitting a bicycle shop and purchasing some better pedals! I didn't like the idea of clip-in pedals as I am claustrophobic and can't stand the idea of my foot getting stuck, but I think I'll deal with it to not have to deal with a pedal falling off and my foot moving to forward on the pedal.

5. Understand the rules of the TRI!

Triathlon rules are hard-core. Lots of rules compared to running. So if you are competing in a USAT official tri, be ready to adhere to them. For me, it was a shock to not have electronics on the course. It was cool, but weird! And no littering! That's why I ran in with my cup from the last water stop! I was still drinking when I passed the last place to put my cup and I was NOT going to in trouble for "abandonment" so I ran in with the cup! 

6. CHANGE shoes!

After the swim, I did as suggested and dried my feet off before putting on my shoes. This is done to get your socks and shoes on faster. This does not keep your feet dry! When you are cycling, all of the water that is in your clothes works its way down your legs into your socks and shoes. Your feet will be soaked. Then if you did like I did, and cycled in your running shoes because you don't have cycling shoes, you will be running in wet socks and shoes. I had to stop about a mile in and retie my shoes as my shoes were slipping so much because they were water logged. Next time, I'll bring separate shoes for the the running section!

7. No finishers medals.

Ouch. I didn't realize that. I wanted a finishers medal. We get them for running almost every distance, but not for doing 3 sports in one morning! Wow. Only the age group winners got medals. I guess that is motivating? The top 3 time for my age group were 30 minutes faster than me! Guess I'll be buying my own medal!

Last thoughts...

I truly enjoyed this tri. The distances were great for me as a newbie. 300 meter swim, 13 mile bike and a 5k run. The course was hilly, both the bike and the run portions. It was windy and it rained. The pedal issue was a problem, but one that I will fix. I had some GI issues, but given that I have ulcerative colitis, that's not anything new and with a new experience I expect to have issues.

The biggest downer of the event was that I didn't know anyone at the event, so none of the 400 photos taken by the sponsors include me. Thankfully Doug was there and got a couple! The biggest highlight of the day, I ran the 5k at the end of the tri in 29:30!

Will I be doing this again? YES! Sign me up!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Art Camp Projects

With the school year winding down, I've moved to working on preparations for art camp.  Art camp isn't until mid-July, but that doesn't mean that I wait until July to get to work!

I've been working on camp stuff since last year's camp! To be honest, that's why we have such an awesome camp experience for the kids! Mindy (the theatre portion of camp) and I work year round to be organized and on top of our game!

Anyway... since this year's show is BUGZ, a mini-musical about bugs going on a picnic... all of the art projects will be related to bugs!

Here is one of the projects the kids will make. (Yes, even the barely/almost 4 year olds!)

Check out How to Use Your Name to Make Original Bug Art by Emily McLemore on Snapguide.

In case you need a reminder about art camp...


Thursday, April 17, 2014

3rd Grade Egg Drop Day!

One of the coolest things 3rd graders get to participate in at our 3rd and 4th grade campus is the Egg Drop!
On the last day before Easter break, in lieu of an Easter Egg Hunt, the 3rd graders bring their Egg Drop project that they create at home to school and watch their principal throw the projects off the roof to see if they created a project that protects their eggs!
It is soo much fun to watch the kids faces and hear the ooh's and aah's and splats!
Lexi's project is below in the box with the blue tape.

Here you can see how she filled the box. We did a little research, talked about it a lot and then went to the dollar store and let her pick out different soft and squishy things.
She used pool noodles and kitchen sponges.
As you can see, Doug hollowed out an area for the egg to live in the sponges. And it worked!
Here Lexi is with her teacher!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bluebonnets 2014

It's Bluebonnet season again!!  Oh how I love this time of year! Warm weather and sunny days!
For the last few years we have gone out to the same friend's land for pictures. They have a fantastic place for pictures! So thankful for good friends!
Here are this year's pictures. The poor quality of the pictures is frustrating, but the girls looked great! One day, I'm going to get a nice camera. For now... at least I have pictures!

Makes my heart melt.
And just for grins...

 Where has the time gone?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another New Painting

We have been so busy lately that I haven't been able to stop and paint. Last night I said the heck with all of the extra stuff that claims my evenings and painted.

The little girls did their thing around me and I enjoyed some painting zen in the midst of their noise and chatter.

Here is what I painted last night. Not too bad for 2 1/2 hours of work.

Once again, I have to say I love Leonid Afremov's style and inspiration!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting ready for Art Camp!

It's almost that time again! Sign ups have started for summer art, theatre and photography camp! I'm pumped about it!

Want more information? CLICK HERE.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What a week!

It has been one of THOSE weeks! Lots of good stuff happening, but no time to savor it as we have been so incredibly busy!

I have a little time this morning as it's raining and Kylie was up for a couple of hours during the night throwing up, so our plans for the day were cancelled.

Anyway, here is a recap of the week. 
Monday and Tuesday were state standardized testing days. Fun times for students and teachers alike. 

Tuesday ended with Lexi being given a child sized REAL guitar from her Papa. She is beyond excited. And it's baby blue! 

Wednesday morning started nice and early with the annual art show set up. However, we had to take down the existing cork and felt off the large display panels when we found DEAD BABY RATS AND LIVE SPIDERS!!!!

It was beyond gross. My student teacher and I spent all day cleaning and prepping the panels for new felt. (Unexpected and unplanned expense!) Once we had things clean, the exterminator came in and sprayed every panel and the building! The panels had NOT been stored on school property, instead they had been in a rented storage building. Needlesstosay, we are working on alternate storage!

Thursday morning we started putting up new fabric and hanging artwork. Thankful we had afternoon reinforcements in the form of tech theatre kids! They enjoyed helping us and we were exhausted! Prepping over 3000 pieces of artwork takes a while!

Friday morning came in a hurry and with it our annual hat day to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation. The kids in Stephenville public schools raised $1050!! Woohoo!

As soon as I could hand off fundraising duties and make sure the art show setup was in the final stages, I headed for College Station and the State VASE contest. This is the big time art contest in the state. 26 thousand pieces of art are judged around the state and 1600 are chosen for the state event! Yes, it's a tough competition! 

One of my students was selected! Here she is with her piece!

And since I was there and they needed workshop presenters, I taught "how to paint an acrylic landscape with a kitchen spatula" to about 80 students! I made a guide for this, I'll link it later!

I got home Saturday night about 8pm. Kylie woke up at 2am throwing up and then the rain started. 

So for the second year in a row we have missed the kidney walk. Major bummer for all of us. Last year we drove in hoping we'd get to walk. This year, Maddie said no, it wasn't worth it. They ended up walking in the drizzle, but I'm thankful Maddie didn't want to try. Her immune system would not have done well in the cold and wet.

But we were represented! The Tarleton girls were there and sent me this! What a blessing this bunch of girls has been to us!

And lastly, I desperately wanted a donut this morning. And I resisted! Yay me. I ate a pear with almond butter instead! Still want the donut though.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spatula Painting

Some times you just have to paint with a spatula! Okay, maybe only art teachers say this.. but really, it was a ton of fun.
So why did I paint with a kitchen spatula? Well, simple.. art specific tools are expensive. Things purchased at the dollar store are not!
I'm teaching a workshop on Saturday to two groups of 35 art students at a state level competition and I need tools that I can get super fast. Ordering palette knives would have taken a couple of weeks and would have been  at least a dollar a piece for plastic.. that means, expensive. .25 cent spatulas are the way to go!
So a little back story.. I offered to teach the palette knife painting workshop last Friday when the organizers realized that they were short workshop providers. I figured that since I am living in palette knife world right now, it would be perfect. I knew I'd have to revamp some, using acrylic paint instead of oil, but I didn't think about how difficult it would be to get 70 palette knives! eek. I'm a planner and this last minute stuff has my brain whirling!
After I searched a few stores and online for cheap and fast palette knife options, I decided to head to the dollar store. Walking in, I asked God to open my eyes to the options. (Yep, I am becoming one of those people. While I'm not asking God for close parking places, I am asking for eyes to see the provision that He provides!)
Here are the three vary different, usable options I found! The handle on combs, baby plastic knives, and spatulas.

Here are the new "palette knives" with the traditional ones!

I also only used the paint that I'll be using on Saturday. Primary colors plus white and black acrylic.

I used the baby knife for mixing the colors and for most of the base coat on the canvas. I loved the smooth way the paint went onto the canvas. This is a new go-to tool for me!

But then I needed something that would provide a little more of the traditional palette knife look. I trimmed the spatula so that it had a point and went to town.
Isn't it fantastic!?! :) I mixed all of the colors on wax paper. The biggest difference between the acrylic and the oil is that I had to let the paint "set up" a little bit before I could use it easily. Otherwise it was just too runny!

Me in all my glory. Sad. It looks like it's uber late.. it was for me. Probably 9pm! But I wanted you to see the finished piece.

And here is a close up. I think the students will enjoy the process!

God Provides for "Team Maddie!"

I know I've said it recently, but I really feel like I'm living in the sweet spot of life! Here is another FANTASTIC example of this!

Since Maddie was diagnosed with kidney disease, we have been particpating in the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Walk. This year, the walk is on April 6th, a Sunday, and that is a hard morning to get our family and friends together to go to something out of town. We had resigned ourselves with having a small team and just enjoying the morning.

Then I got an email from the walk organizer from the NKF that a group from our local college, Tarleton State University, had been in contact with her as they needed a project for their event management class and they had decided to do something for kidney awareness. She asked me if the group could contact us. I said YES! Two students came over to our house one afternoon and asked lots of questions and were super nice. They said that they would have a walk sign up drive on campus a couple of afternoons and maybe they could get some people to join our team.

I knew that their group would join, so that would be five students and I figured we'd get a few more, but as of this morning, we have a team of 50!!! Yes, that is FIFTY! They had over fourty students sign up to be on Team Maddie! How cool is that!!!

So we have a large group... now we just have to raise some money!  And guess what, to help us do that every campus is Stephenville ISD is hosting "Hats for Kidneys" on Friday! Every student is invited to bring $1 to school and pay to wear a hat all day! Every $1 bill goes to the National Kidney Foundation! And for student's that want to help, but don't like to wear hats, we have cool bracelets to wear! Over the years student's have started collecting the Team Maddie bracelets! It's incredible to live in a community that loves and supports each other the way this community does! We should bring in at least $1000 with this fundraiser.

But don't be left out! If you want your Team Maddie bracelet, let us know and we will save you one! Just $1 a piece and ALL funds raised go to the National Kidney Foundation!

Want to join our team? Click on the link below! ALL walkers are welcome! EVERYONE can be a ONLINE WALKER!