Home for the Holidays

 Christmas 2016 did not dissapoint
 Grandma and Grandpa came.
 There were books to be read.
 Gingerbread men to be baked
Muffins post a cold muffin run
 Christmas Program !
 Christmas dress that just so happens to match the angel on top of the tree!
 Snowboarding in the front yard!
 Skiing at Marquette Mtn. No... you need not be capable of saying your own name to score a pair of skis in this town. You better bet it was 100% advised by at Issac's 18 month check up.
Teaching is the highest form of learning, so may as well save money on ski school and put the 5 year old to work teaching ski lessons rights. I promise Mom is not checking Facebook or sipping Bailey's at this moment.
 Sledding. Sort of like the U.P. 200 sled dog race only Mama Jen Jen is the musher.
 YMCA fun ..the Mom's run. The kids craft and play. Can you beat it? Doubt it

 Christmas Eve Ski session. You have to be super cool or super geeky to wear goggle/glasses like that. ...and yes ..they are awesome!

 Candy on the jersey! Don't forget the gingerbread house!
 It was a team effort. Constructed and consumed by all.
 We so advanced from last years near disaster and didn't even need to utilize bbq skewers for extra support

 Santa delivered!
 A clubhouse and a bike!
 Seat dropper!!!!!
Party in the house!
The only way to keep Isaac out of trouble.

Time for Mom to step it up a notch. "Plank with no legs" as ordered by Annika. I double dog dare you to try this move. 
Plastic skis for an evening yard ski session. 

Gymnastics showcase!

Issac's first time wearing a chef's cap

He loves to cook.

and helping make dessert

and maybe his last?

Who can say no to a face like that? .... I don't know...maybe the person cleaning the mess

 Take it back outside....First day of Ski Cats. kid nordic ski program.

 Issac tags along.

Issac is technically too young for the official program

He feels he is the exact right size for the donut table.

Let's be 100% honest right here and right now. There is no child on this earth who will choose to nordic ski over alpine. Nordic skiing is about patience and grit. Alpine is about speed! However, nordic skiing is a great lifelong sport and bribes of donuts are acceptable and appropriate if we hope to keep the sport alive and well in future generations.

Let the record state Annika would like to try ski jumping. I mean it looks so easy on tv in real life. Can you spot the figure flying through the air? For the records ...we offer no bribes to encourage ski jumping in this family. 

How's the Boston training going? Well, the only injury to report around here would be a stress fracture to the treadmill deck. Just imagine being in the final minute of your last 5K  paced interval and hearing a crack.... as Annika said "Wow Mom, I'm glad that wasn't your leg." Yeah, me too.  It seems ironic that for years I would go so much longer in terms or time and distance just to avoid the intensity and fear of interval training only to come to a place of understanding and enjoying the need for intervals to break my treadmill...Ironic because the one thing more important that intensity is  consitency..and when you are a Mom of small children who nap and get sick....the easiest way to  maintain consistency is utilizing a treadmill.  After multiple knees scopes and hip replacements..my husband performed a deck replacement on the treadmill ...only the treadmill then needed a cardiologist accumulating static electricity and delivering shocks to the runner. I'm competitive and I love to run....but we all have our limits. I'd rather loose fitness and have to walk the Boston marathon than be repetitively shocked while training.  

 Let's be honest when it comes to the Boston marathon...I'm not really looking at a podium spot. I think what I have done over a lifetime and what I am doing will trump a few workouts missed due to not having a treadmill. OK and new treadmill is on the way
It's been a strange winter. It should really be called a Sprinter for half Spring half winter. It was above freezing all week , rained, then was beautiful for the kids race . 
And then dumped fresh ungroomed snow on to the race course and proceed to blizzard throughout the entire race.  I have been told that "I'm scary." Apparently racer #556 heard this rumor.
That's right. I'm coming for you!!!!!
In all honestly ...I passed racer number 556 at some point and then he edged past me entering the finishing chute. I was so tired from heaving myself through ungroomed snow for the entire race that I thought if I fell I would never get up. Experts say....The difference between me and really good female nordic skiers is they do "40 dips " in the weight room without a struggle and NOT baby dips....to think my strength regime consists of carrying a baby.

Tim won the Fatbike race at the Noque the day after the nordic race. He's not sure if he was the fastest or most skilled but he was the smartest and did not skip half the course like most of the field.

Sometimes it doesn't pay to go with the flow.
Pre race excitement. 
Catholic schools week....St.Elizabeth of Hungary for the win. You see when your veil gets tangled in the basket you are carrying ...the basket that really is a bit too big and heavy. It's full of bread to feed to poor ...and you almost fall over but persevere...there is no costume that can outshine your heart!

Fall: Fabulous, Fearless & Fast

With school back in session it was time to capitalize on all things fall. Of note ...Now that Annika is in full day pre-K and capable of crafting her own stories it is time for this blog to revert back to the original voice of this blog now better known as Mama Jen Jen. 
Mama Jen Jen will be the primary storyteller of this blog. The stories will largely be inspired by the cast shown in the photo below.
Photo taken on top of Sugarloaf mtn overlooking Lake Superior. Annika was deeply submerged/immersed in role playing the character of "Thundercloud The Snow Leopard"

After Annika's  8 a.m. drop off Isaac and I play at a nearby park before heading out for  run. It is quite a "dynamic warm up" for Mama Jen Jen indeed.
Family time and trips are awesome. Multiple airline changes, delays, time zones and endurance sports really are not so awesome for kids. This fall Mama Jen Jen and Papa Tim Tim each flew the coop for a weekend. It wasn't really an "I need a break" trip so much as this seems like an awesome opportunity to do what we love and reconnect with old friends.
Papa Tim Tim scored a weekend in St. George. Gooseberry Mesa is awesome.
Meanwhile Mama Jen Jen, Annika, And Issac had their own adventures
Soon Mama Jen Jen had her turn....
The Grand Canyon
In all it's glory. Rim to Rim to Rim. 48 miles of South Kaibab. North Rim and back up Bright Angel. Complete with a mountain lion sighting ...Yikes!

18 hours of awesome. It really was great to reconnect with Julie and Jon. ..and yes Julie and I can talk non stop for 18 hours. Unfortunately I realize there were subjects we didn't do justice to...So I guess we'll have to reconnect for another adventure. 

Training for R2R2R is really awful...one must commit to long runs with exposure to the below scenes
5 hours running along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Oh boo hoo. I got some mud on my shoes. The day was no fun at all.

Fall and trails...they go together like peas and carrots.
And every nice day we spend some time outside
I spend a lot of time attempting to keep up with younger athletes.

So this fall I entered an NCAA XC invitational as an independent runner. Yes, I'm 39. Which makes me ...ohhh just about 20 years older than the average competitor. So technically yes...I could be the mother of one of those athletes. Maybe someday I will race my own daughter. That would be swell.

I tried very hard not to make a spectacle off myself. Isaac sat in a wagon groggy from a nap. Annika dug in the dirt with her pals. Tim played the bugle. I ... I blended in. I stayed in the thick of things. All in all it was a very forgettable performance to anyone but me. Showing up to a collegiate race 20 years late and blending in is something I define as success. To run a 6K well you have to hold on to the knife end of intensity.... It takes a tremendous amount of courage. I tried to be brave. I tired to be as brave a lion.

Often I say that "intensity is hard for me". It's easy for me to just do the distance. Raising a child,  racing a child, and racing alongside a child has reminded me of many, many  things. Mostly that you become what you believe and that skill acquisition is a process of patience. The end result is worth the wait.
So is intensity really "hard for me"?

I doubt it.

Next up was Halloween. Annika had the creative and bright idea that she would be a Chippy (Chipmunk) for Halloween. In case you are wondering ..there are no Chipmunk costumes for purchase in a size greater than 2T. I could have bought one for Isaac. That would have gone over so well when it was Annika's idea. Of course pinterest didn't even have any easy patterns (Yes...I have oodles of extra time to spend crafting up pinterest creations.) PINTEREST IS A LIE anyway. In the end Chipmunk costumes were homemade and a big hit. 
Unfortunately Isaac pinched his finger in the baby gate that was supposed to be keeping him safe  just before the party. Yes...for many children baby gates are more dangerous than the actual stairs.

Annika was pretty happy with her costume...and I didn't have to explain to more than 75% of the crowd that she was a "Chippy" and not a skunk.

I don't claim to be the best crafter around...but have you ever seen a brown skunk? Seriously... I inhaled toxic paint fumes turning a halloween pumpkin into an acorn for people to mistake my beloved children for skunks.

No fall season would be complete without multiple Halloween costumes and football games.
I'm sure it is a perfectly average experience to be concussed while playing football and be examined by a Doctor who utilizes a small lion as first assist.
Most of the time we are much more average and can be found sliding down slides. 

or swinging from bars and monkeying around.
A fall outing to Hayes corn maze can not be missed