Discus Practice

A clip of my discus practice this week. Dan is really making some progress with me. All mental...revealed in the physical. Throw went about 50M. Achilles has healed 95%. I am extremely motivated to compete. A burning fire if you will.



Easter Weekend and Stephanie's Visit

We had an exciting Easter weekend with lots of egg hunting and a visit from Joe's sister, Stephanie, who was on Spring Break from Harvard Law. The Easter celebration started on Thursday at Rowan's pre-school where they had a party. Then I took her to an egg hunt at the church we've been attending (Quail Lakes) on Saturday morning. Why is every holiday about candy? It's fun to have the activities and the excitement...but then for weeks after, all we do is negotiate when sweets can and can't be consumed. We've been encouraging our roommates to partake of the candy basket just so it diminishes faster! We also had a small egg hunt at our house on Sunday morning...Nana sent an awesome basket filled with Easter things that was the ultimate prize of that hunt.

Steph arrived late Saturday night and was able to join us for church on Easter morning. Then we came home and cooked cornish hens for Easter lunch...and ate in a sunny backyard with a few of our roommates. In the evening we had a few other friends over for pizza and played some games. A perfect day!

Joe had to train most of the time that Steph was here...and she was gracious about hanging out with me and Rowan, not really doing much! We checked out some new parks, ate ice cream two afternoons in a row, she treated us to a yummy dinner, and we hit some outlet malls one afternoon. We hung out with the neighborhood kids (there are lots of them...I posted a few pictures) and helped Rowan fly a kite. Steph also introduced me to Wi-i...and after some competitive tennis and bowling games, she handily kicked every one's butts in almost every track and field competition there was. It's always fun to have family here...thanks for coming Steph!

Rowan has been very interested in the meaning behind Easter this year. Several weeks before Easter, while walking through all the Easter stuff at Wal-Mart, it dawned on me that she probably didn't know what it was about. So right there at Wal-mart, I told her a simplified version (she knew Jesus died on a cross...I told her about the resurrection). Her eyes were wide, and when I was done she exclaimed "we have to tell daddy!"

From that day on, every day had some version of these questions: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Why didn't he just run away? How did they hang Jesus on the cross? How did they carry him to the tomb? Did he go to heaven when he died? Who is Jesus? Who is God? Why did Jesus have to die again? What is sin? What does forgive mean? Did Jesus do something wrong? Who killed Jesus? What does dead mean?

Phew. It's a lot of responsibility to have to answer these questions---not only in a way that she will understand and can handle, but in a way that is authentic and comes from a place of real belief for me. It's challenged me to re-think some things that are easy to take for granted....and be able to say with confidence, yes, I believe!

After one of our conversations, Rowan was feeling nervous about dying herself. We talked about it...I tried to take away some of her fears. Then she said "I don't like dying. I don't want to die. I want to stay here forever so that you can always hold me."

I wasn't prepared for that one...and right there in the car, I wept.

To see a few more photos of Easter and the few days after, click here.


Jenny Visit

Every March for the last several years my sister Jenny and I have managed to get together. I traveled out to Oregon one year when she lived there....and since then, she's mostly made the trip to Jonesboro (once to see a newborn Rowan and help for a week!) This year, she decided (even though she works full-time, is in school full-time, and is planning a wedding for this summer!) to come see us in California over her Spring Break.

It's hard for me to express just how much I love to be with my sister. It's the kind of thing you always HOPE will happen as you get older....that more than just sisters, you'll be good friends. Jenny is truly one of my best friends. We talk on the phone almost every day. She is gracious, kind, self-less, thoughtful, positive, flexible, and gorgeous. Rowan wore her out....and Jenny never once complained about the endless requests to play. We mostly just hung around Stockton...went to the park, brought Rowan to pre-school, did some shopping. It was relaxing and rejuvenating to have her here!

To see more photos of our time together, click here. I took some photos of Jenny to submit to Istockphoto...I've been working on building a portfolio there (designers can search for and download photos to buy..then I get a cut). You can check out my progress here if you are interested. As you will see, Jenny and her fiance Mark are some of my best subjects! I think Jenny is just beautiful...and she was willing to put up with my crazy idea to get some shots of her.

I also added a set to Flickr from a photo shoot I did in Sacramento while Jenny was here (another example of my sister's graciousness...she not only tended to Rowan while I took photos, she also dangled rattles over my head to get the babies' attention!) My friend Edye referred me to 3 moms with their 4/5 month old babies...so I went to their play-date and took lots of photos! It was fun to do this again. Click here to see some.

One other special thing that happened while Jenny was here was an afternoon spent with some dear friends from Jonesboro. Dave and Rebecca Matthew's house was a home-away-from-home for us in Jonesboro, they are a family who took us in...gave us good advice, loved us, let us show up unannounced to swim in their pool and then fed us fabulous dinners. Ironically, they lived in Stockton for many years before they moved to Jonesboro. They were in town just for a few days....and we got to attend church with them, were treated to a yummy lunch with some of their old friends from Stockton, and then wandered around downtown with them and their two sons, Micah and Ben. We were reminded of why we always gravitated to their house in Jonesboro...good conversation, lots of laughter. It made me really miss Jonesboro. I forgot my camera that day...so no photos to post....but it really made us feel special to get a chunk of their time when they had so little of it in Stockton.


Nothing If Not Stronger

Hello. I don't actually have the energy to do a long entry tonight, as I am fatigued beyond recognition. Thought I would at least throw up a quick vid of part of my lifting session. Then I have to go downstairs and eat until I go to sleep. We have been doing body fat testing on a regular basis, and mine has been too low. Means that I am not getting enough calories in my diet to offset the training that I am doing. This means I have been catabolic, and using muscle as energy instead of stored fat. Not good to do early in the season. So a few weeks ago Dan upped my caloric intake by 1000 calories. I gained 4 pounds, but no increase in body fat. So again I have been asked to increase it by another 1000. So my daily intake is somewhere around 7-9000 calories now. Sounds like fun...but it is not. It is a lot of work to eat that much. So off I go to begin the gorging. Joe


Newspaper Photo

Click here to see a photo of Joe and Rowan that appeared in the paper today. There was a "meet and greet" open house at the training facility at the Port of Stockton yesterday--so lots of business members, community members, and news representatives were present. The Record snapped a shot when Rowan ran over to say hi to Joe.



This is a quick update mostly to give some links to our Flickr account for a bunch of photos I posted. The photo above is of the new training facility at the Port of Stockton. Click here to see a bunch more pictures of the building, plus a few of a discus practice that the throwers did at a local high school...so the high schoolers could see some professional throwing.

Rowan had her first week of pre-school and it went great. The photo below is from her first day. She was very proud and excited and from what she reported, all went well. It's hard to know for sure...the details come out in spurts, and we're never sure what to believe. But it's a relief to have her in something a few days a week--will offer social outlets for her, and work time for me!

Click here to see some random pictures from the last few months, including oil collecting, playdate, laundromat, and Rowan having some fun in the mirror.

If you want to see a few interior shots of the new house we're renting, click here.


New Digs

As many of you blog-readers know, the group of athletes here is now training at the Port of Stockton, under a local non-profit called Tri-Valley Athletics (you can check out their developing website at www.trivalleyathletics.com) The move has been stressful, but good. We spent all of February making the nearly one-hour commute from our RV park to Stockton...and trying to figure out where we could park the RV closer to the training facility.

When it was clear that we could not find a free place to park the RV...we became open to other living situations. A group of athletes had been living together in Oakley (near the old training facility), and were also looking to be closer to Stockton. So we had two options: pay $600 a month at an RV park and stay in the RV, or pay $400 a month to live in a big house with these athletes.

We decided to move into a house---and last week we officially moved into a 5-bedroom, 3-bath house about 12 minutes from the Port of Stockton. We're living with 4 other athletes---all pole vaulters. Two of them only train here part-time....so some of the time, there will only be two other athletes living with us. Joe, Rowan, and I have the master bedroom (and our own bathroom with a huge tub!)---complete with 2 big walk-in closets, one of which became Rowan's room. It's far bigger than her space in the RV...but it still feels strange to say her room is a closet!

So this is quite a change of direction for us. Honestly, it was a very hard decision for me (easier for Joe because it was clearly the better financial choice). I love the idea of living in an RV, and have truly enjoyed it these last months. I was in no way “eager” to get out of the RV. I like the hard-coreness of it, the thought that we can live on so little, in such a little amount of space. There has been something very simple about life, about cooking, about cleaning, about being together as a family in the RV. I feel like if we could live in an RV for a year with a toddler, we could do just about anything.

But that wasn't in the cards for us. I've always loved living with other people (we often had roommates in Jonesboro) and the idea of community. So I guess this is God's way of putting that back into my life. Already in the week that we've been living here, I've found joy in communal meals, carpooling to church, watching Rowan wrestle with Bubba and play hard with Uncle Yoo (we're going to have to put boundaries on how much Rowan bothers Uncle Yoo—for his sake!), and spontaneous conversations over lunch in the sunny backyard.

Not that the week wasn't stressful for me. I always hate moving; hate being “in-between” and not having a routine down yet. It makes me feel insecure, on edge, and out of sorts. Joe was long-suffering with me, and has been going out of his way to make the place feel like “home” for me. Rowan, on the other hand, has been full of energy and excitement about the new house. The day we were moving in, she said “It's been awhile since we lived in a stuck house!” She loves her new room, and wants to show anyone who comes over where her toys and books are. It also doesn't hurt that Yoo has a new puppy that Rowan has been playing with endlessly!

So now we begin the process of developing new routines: where to grocery shop, which library to visit, what parks to play at. I think that it was also in God's plan for me not to find a pre-school for Rowan—she would have just begun, then we would have had to pull her out! I managed to find a pre-school in a nearby town (Lodi) that had an opening--so Rowan will start pre-school next week and go every Tues and Thurs morning.

I promise to post some pictures soon--of the new house, and the new training facility. I'm hoping that life slows down a bit in the next weeks--the Trials are only 4 months away....time to focus!


Big Sur

It's been awhile since I updated---the last few weeks have been exceptionally busy with the move to Stockton (which I will detail in a later post). But we did get to take a fun weekend away (last weekend!) to Highway 1 and Big Sur before all the busyness—and I want to report on that first.

When we were moving to CA with the RV, we figured that one of the perks would be getting to utilize the RV on weekend overnights to see all the cool sites in Northern CA. Little did we realize how busy Joe would be with training---that Saturdays would all be booked with workouts and clinics. So last week was a rest week, which meant Saturday was off, and we decided to take advantage of it and spend a few nights on the coast. Even though the prediction was for a storm with heavy rain and big winds!

We hadn't towed the RV since we landed here in October---but it was like riding a bike. Buckle it down, hitch it up, get lots of veggie oil to burn. We took off after practice on Friday...and drove a few hours to a Wal-mart parking lot just north of Monterey. It felt strange to be living in the RV in a different location. When we traveled cross-country, it was all new and unfamiliar. Now that we've been living in it for 4+ months, it felt weird to wake up and walk out the front door to see a busy street and stores. Cool, but strange. It really is like taking your house with you wherever you go. We didn't have to pack!

Saturday morning we got going early---the forecast was calling for lots of rain, and we wanted to see some of Highway 1 without too much storminess. We connected to Highway 1 just south of Monterey.

Wow. We had no idea.

We did know that Highway 1 was going to beautiful....that it was scenic...that campgrounds filled up months in advance in the summer. Yada yada yada. But we were not prepared for how truly awe-inspiring it was. It was better than the famed “road to Hana” in Hawaii. Vista after vista after vista...and all this in the gray, almost-rainy weather....still brought us to our knees. Huge, pounding waves...rocks just dotting the shoreline and out into the water....green, unspoiled hills framing it all.

We drove (and stopped many times) for about 30 miles to a campground in Big Sur....Joe had to concentrate so hard to pull the RV, it was a relief to get rid of it so we could continue our exploring! The campground was in the Redwoods...and it was a challenge to navigate the RV to the site, to say the least. We took a bit of bark from a Redwood home with us on our back left bumper. Opps. Totally my fault: I was trying to take a photo of the precarious position of the RV, and failed to alert Joe to the impending bump.

By the time the RV was all settled in and set up, the rain had started. We drove south for awhile longer, stopped at some more beautiful vistas (and one utopian spot where a 40-foot waterfall literally lands on a sandy beach near where the waves crash ashore), visited a cool art gallery for awhile, and finally decided to brave a secluded beach in the cold rain. It was secluded, especially in that weather, and it was beautiful...but it was cold, wet, and windy, and we didn't last long.

The coolest thing is that the next day (Sunday) we returned to the same secluded beach...and caught the last hour or so before sunset....and saw the place in a whole new light and circumstance (see above photo). The waves had battered it for over a day... it was amazing to see the power of the ocean unleashed on a spot.

On Saturday, after hot showers, making fish tacos, and a chilled evening at the campground, we decided that Monterey Bay Aquarium was in order for a rainy Sunday. Rowan is crazy about aquariums, and since it was her birthday last week....we knew this would be a special end to her celebration week. Monterey Bay has one of the best aquariums in the world....and it didn't disappoint. The weather even cleared up while we were there, and we made it back to the aforementioned beach for sunset and some great photo opportunities.

One unexpected benefit of seeing the coast around the time of the storm was the sheer power and size of the waves that were produced. We had never seen waves so huge....we would just pull the truck over and watch....awestruck. I'm sure we will be back to see this coast in it's blue, sunny glory....but there was something moody, special, and mystical about seeing the gray mistiness reveal the water's size and strength.

We were energized. Which as it turned out, we needed for the coming week!

To see (way too many) photos of the weekend, click here.