Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in review

One of my favourite parts of the end of the year, beginning of a new year, is looking back at what was accomplished and then looking forward to what the new year might bring. 2009 turned out to be a fantastic year, and we had a lot of fun!! So, what made the year exciting and fun?

For me, it was something like this:
-on January 9th, we welcomed Sullivan John Brent Andrusiak into our family. He was born via scheduled c-section. The surgery and recovery were a bit rocky (I choose not to remember all the nausea and vomiting that were involved). He was born healthy weighing a whopping 8 pounds 13 ounces (keep in mind his brother only weighed 1 pound 13 ounces when he was born). Sullivan's birth was emotional and special. We actually got to hear him cry when he was born, and we got to hold him right away. And, I got to have him stay right in the room with me!! And, when I checked out of the hospital, he got to come too. It might not seem like these details matter, but with Sebastian, none of this happened... he was taken away on a ventilator after only a glimpse, to stay in the NICU where he was for 72 days before coming home for good). So, Sullivan was special in that even though he was our second child, he still let us experience all sorts of firsts!!
-In March, I started training with a trainer. The road to recovery after the c-section was rocky at best and it was nice to be six weeks out and starting to work out again.
-In May, I ran the Mother's Day run with my friend Cindy doing her first ever 5km run. I love this race. We again raised well over $1000 for the NICU and once again, our shirts were decorated as "proud preemie parents", with Sebastian having his own shirt with "NICU grad" on it. This was the 4th time we did this race, and the third time for Sebastian.
-In August, I attempted to run a 10km in under an hour. I did not succeed. I was devastated. This was the Ronald McDonald House Rock The House Run. It was a hot day and I just didn't have it in me. At the 8km point I needed a break and in the end, it took me 1:01:45. It didn't matter that this was more than two minutes faster than my previous best 10km, I had set myself up and failed in the process. In the end though, I was happy that I still finished and did better than I had and, this gave me the determination to do better the next time!!
-In September I completed my first ever triathlon. This was a women's triathlon in Leduc. It was a sprint distance and involved 750m of swimming, 20km of bike riding (2 out and back loops), and 5km of running (again two out and back loops). It was so much fun. It was neat getting body marked and it was neat doing laps, then running out of the pool to transition to get my shoes on and get out biking. And then once the bike was over, putting on a hat and running. I finished strong and even after swimming and biking, still managed to run my 5km in under 30 minutes, which felt great!!
-also in September was Melissa's road race. This is one of my favourite races. I did the 10km which of course includes a huge hill. It was a great run. It was a little different this year, but in a good way. We got to run along the river for awhile which was a nice change. When I completed 9km, it became apparent that I just might be able to finish in under an hour, so I ran like I'd never run before and finished in 59:53. I was so excited and happy. This was a goal I have had in the back of my mind forever, but suddenly it was a reality. It made me cry even (I'm such an emotional suck sometimes!!). So, this race that I always loved, I now love even more because it was the race where I first broke an hour!!
-the first weekend in October was the Ambulance Chasers run. This was my second 10km where I would break an hour. This time, there were no huge hills to slow me down and I ended up finishing in 57:29. I figured I'd be under an hour but even that was faster than I ever could have imagined!! Suddenly, I'm not just a plodder anymore (not that there's anything wrong with that). Now, there's actually a chance I can maybe someday finish a half or a full at a 6 mile an hour pace!!
-in October, we finally reached the race we'd been training all summer for. The Okanagan Half Marathon. It was a challenge getting there (can you say big snow storm with nasty roads... thank goodness for winter tires... thanks mom!!). There were three of there to run the race, and for Cindy and Cathy, it was their first half marathon ever. For me, it was my 8th half marathon. My goal was about 2:15. I figured that would be a big improvement over my previous best of 2:27 whatever. I ran and ran and ended up finishing in 2:04:44. I was shocked. Truly, this meant that I was running at 10km an hour for the whole thing. It meant that my pace was 5:55 per kilometre. If you had told me at the beginning of the year I could have kept that pace up for 21km, I would have laughed, but suddenly it was real!! Of course the downside was, I ended up with a heel spur and plantar fasciaitis (which I am still battling), but I made some huge gains in my running that I never really believed I could do.

So that was my 2009. It was great. I loved it. However, as a family, we had a few more adventures...
-In May, I went to Europe with my mom and baby Sullivan. It was a fantastic trip. We went to Munich and then Prien to visit with my friend from my days at Disney. So much fun. After that, we took the train to Salzburg. Such a beautiful city!! Then finally we spent time in Paris. My mom even did a day at Disneyland Paris with me. It was fantastic!! I got to go on Space Mountain, Phantom Manor, Pirates of the Caribbean, even the Tower of Terror. And how can you go wrong with the Eiffel Tower and shopping in Paris!!
-In July, my mom and I took the boys to Kamloops, Vancouver, Seattle and SunPeaks. We did and saw all kinds of things. Jeremy was working, but flew out to Vancouver for the weekend and we drove down to Seattle. The car was a bit squishy with all of us, but it worked and we had an amazing time. I also got to reconnect with an old friend from my Girl Guide days and her kids at the Space Needle and Science Centre. We had a good time and took lots of pictures from our road trip!!
-In July, I went hiking with my friend Jody and Sullivan in a kidpack. We managed to get to the top of Ha Ling in Canmore. It was a bit sketchy at the top with some tough footwork, but Sullivan can officially say he has been to the top of a mountain!! And, since it was Jody's first time getting to the top of a mountain, it was an accomplishment all around!!
-In August, we went with Cindy and family to the top of Sulphur Mountain as a hike. We were originally thinking a nice short hike around Lake Louise, but instead, our little three year olds hiked over 5km to the top of a mountain, gaining about 700 m of elevation in the process. It was fantastic!!
-in December, we headed to Orlando and went on the Disney Wonder to the Bahamas, then spent a week at Disneyworld. It was a super fun trip and fun to go with another family. We had an amazing time and even booked to go on another cruise in 2011!!

Sebastian did lots too this year...
-he took skating lessons twice, the first time being a frustrating experience for both of us. By the end of his second class though, he was actually skating without a whole lot of help. It was great.
-he also took swimming lessons twice. Currently he's hanging out in SeaTurtle. He does well, but is a little afraid of putting his head in the water, so we are working on that!!
-he started preschool and although tears abound some days, he has done so well learning songs, days of the week, taking turns, playing with other kids, going to the library, swimming etc. I am amazed by him every day. He is doing great. From his very scary start to where he is now, is nothing short of a miracle!!
-over the summer, Sebastian did his very own training. He had a poster and ran 41 kilometres, then in October, at the kids race of the Okanagan Marathon, he completed his final 1.2km, so that when he crossed the line and finished, he had run a whole marathon. I was so proud of him. He stopped to walk a few times, and finished near the end, but he kept going and did great. He's my little hero and I look forward to him someday running a race with me!!

And Sullivan, of course he did tons of changes. He's gone from that lumpy sleepy baby phase to an active kid who army crawled, then regular crawled, and who is now standing and shuffling along furniture and the like. He loves playing with cars and pretty much doing anything he can copy his brother doing. He is an eating machine, and it's so different having a baby that eats so well after all the challenges we have had (and still have), with Sebastian and his eating. They are totally different kids when it comes to eating!! I am guessing the six teeth he has only help in that cause. And now, he's on the verge of being a year old. His baby days are nearly behind him and the toddler phase is calling his name. He's attentive and happy and he's been a real joy to have in our family. I look forward to all the changes the next year will bring for him!!

And then there is Jeremy. He's fantastic. He's been working all year, while I chase my little adventures. He's the best supporter ever at the races and does a great job getting the boys to cheer me on too!! I appreciate him so much for supporting my dreams. He's got big plans for this year and is already hard at work trying to achieve them. I just know he will!!

As for 2010, I'm diving a bit more into triathlons, hoping to complete a few including the Calgary Ironman 70.3 in August, and maybe the Olympic distance one in Canmore in July. I am also hoping to take a personal training course. I want to help others follow their dreams as well, and since many dreams involve marathons and races and the like, it seems only fitting that I get some real training to go along with my experience. I also went to part time at my job so I can still get Sebastian to preschool and to his appointments at the Children's. I'd love to win the lottery and just spend the rest of my life doing fun things for others, but so far I just haven't had the winning ticket. Soon though. And I want to start figuring out how I can live in a warmer climate. Winter is nice in that picture perfect postcard kind of way, but I'd way rather live in a tropical climate. I much prefer heat. Bring it on... so if you have any ideas, let me know!! And finally, we'll still be doing the Mother's Day Run, because once again the money is buying equipment for Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Calgary. So, let's see just how great 2010 can be... I gotta feeling, that this year's gonna be a good good year...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Disney Cruise... loving the verandah...

So I keep meaning to add more details about the cruise we were on, aboard the Disney Wonder and I keep not getting around to it. So, here's my next little post. We love the cruise. We absolutely love nearly everything about it. It's fun being at sea. It's fun feeling important. It's fun walking down the hall and someone says hi to you just because. It's also fun having a verandah. We have done this cruise four times now. And three out of four times we have had a verandah. One time, we had an outside room with porthole windows. It was not nearly as fun. And we will probably only ever do a cruise with a verandah if we have any say in the matter!! Having a verandah is nice. You can open your door and just listen to the ocean. Plus, this time, while we were waiting to sail, we saw a sea turtle. Too cool!! And the kids love it. Sullivan climbed in and out the door hundreds of times. It was great. And Jeremy got to chat with Ed until the wee hours of the morning on the verandah while everyone else in our family's were sleeping. And with little kids, you can still be in your room while they nap, but sit out on the verandah enjoying the heat and sounds of the ocean.

Dad and Sebastian with the Carnival ship in the background.

And, as we were booking for a future cruise, we asked for the cheapest category that still included a verandah. The crew member we were dealing with us suggested the second cheapest, because then we'd still have plexiglass that the kids can see through. I never would have thought of this, but our little guys can see much better with the plexiglass than if it was a solid verandah. Thanks for paying attention to the details for us, so we don't have to!! As you can see from the pictures, Sullivan absolutely loved standing outside checking out the views (in this case Nassau, Bahamas).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home for the holidays...

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

We got to build a home, a gingerbread home. This was a really fun challenge. Last year we built little gingerbread houses for the boys to decorate. This year, we built them little houses and then built bigger houses for us moms to decorate. It was fun. Cindy's family and our family built the houses and had a great time. Ed really got into it and Edan's house was a masterpiece. Sebastian wanted nothing to do with the house I made for him, so instead, he built a train with his dad (that was a kit). The houses turned out well and everyone had fun making them, but even more so will be the fun in eating them!!

The actual gingerbread recipe was simple enough to make. I chose the Good Housekeeping one. I ended up adding a bit of extra cream and that seemed to help a lot with it not being so dry. I baked the house the day before then assembled them the morning of the day we were meeting to decorate. I found the glue to stick them together rather interesting. Basically all you do is put sugar in a pot and it slowly melts. I may have stepped away at an inopportune moment but that's what happens when you have a baby and his diaper needed changing. Needless to say, when I finished washing up from that, the sugar was really dark. I'm not sure if it would have been quite so dark if I hadn't been otherwise occupied for five minutes. It still worked really well. One piece fell off and broke into six pieces and the "glue" was perfect to put those pieces back together. So much so, that both Jeremy and Ed thought that's how the side was supposed to look, not realizing it was actually bits of glue to fix my broken piece.

We had all sorts of candy, as is evidenced by the pictures. Smarties, penguins, trees, mini jawbreakers (love them as Christmas lights!!), mini wheats, pretzels, marshmallows, coconut, etc. The royal icing worked well but definitely got easier to work with as the time passed and it warmed up a little from holding the piping bags. It was a super fun afternoon and I look forward to doing this again next year!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Life jacket anyone?

On December 3rd, we boarded the Disney Wonder for a three night cruise to the Bahamas. It was so incredible. I loved it. This was our fourth Disney cruise, Sebastian's 2nd and Sullivan's 1st. We had a blast. What's not to love really, even the rough seas made for a good night's sleep! On the first day there is a mandatory drill where everyone has to wear their life jacket and go to their muster stations. Sebastian thought this was the coolest thing ever. After all, there was a whistle on his life jacket and a light. When you are three, that's about as cool as it gets. Even Sullivan had fun in his little life jacket!!