Friday, December 28, 2012

Gavinisms & Samversations

Hello friends, long time, no post. It's been a crazy month - traveling to NM for Cross Country Nationals, a re-org at work (resulting in more work for me, a new boss, and no more compensation), the Sandy Hook shootings, and the holidays - well, it's been a seriously emotionally draining month for me. It's hard for me to put words on a page when I get in a funk like this. My life is good. I have nothing to complain about, especially not at a time when so many are mourning the loss of their sweet children. It's doesn't seem appropriate to talk about how national tragedies affect me - even though it affects us all, it doesn't come close to how it affects those directly impacted.

And you certainly don't need another post about how lucky and grateful I am - I've written plenty of those, and I still feel lucky and grateful. So, it's hard to write.

I'll finish recapping NM and the holidays another time, instead I'll leave you with the latest funny from the kids.

Gavin was at my office yesterday morning. We've replaced paper coffee cups with re-usable mugs, and there are red mugs in the break room for guests. Employees have green mugs that we are responsible for keeping track of. I gave Gav a mug of hot chocolate, and as we were standing around with our coffee mugs, chatting with my (former) boss, Gavin said:

"I feel like a real businessperson with this mug!"

Sam woke up Christmas morning with a story on his mind. As soon as he woke up he said:

"Mom, you know about the Angels that have to guard the garden?? There was a sneaky snake that poisoned the apple. And they weren't supposed to eat it, but Eve gave it to Adam, and he ate it - and that's how they got in trouble with God! And now the Angels have to watch over the garden."

I posted this on FB tagging his teacher, who was so proud that he pays attention at "Jesus time"!

Sitting on the couch, right next to me, playing on his new Kindle Fire:

"Mom, I just feel alone right now. I feel really, really alone."

Heartbroken to hear this, I prod him on how he could possibly feel alone when I was right next to him. He felt alone that I wasn't playing his game with him!

Telling me about his day yesterday:

"Mom, it was a bad day for the Avengers today. There were so many bad guys, and not many good guys at school today!"

He and his buddies play Avengers all the time at school. They all are a character and from the stories I hear, these are very elaborate games that they come up with. Hopefully good will prevail.

"Avengers - assemble!!" Santa fe train "sam, give me a nice smile"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We Made it To New Mexico!

This morning we had a very uneventful plane trip to New Mexico via Denver. Only hiccup was a little bit of a delay getting out of Denver and it was minor. When we landed in Albuquerque, we got our rental car and went stratight to the cross country field where Gavin and I ran the course and practiced a fast finish. It's a nice flat course, and hopefully the elevation won't bother him too much! He drew a really good starting box slot, so he should have the best possible conditions for a great race.

The house Chad rented is awesome, and he is the official travel planner of the family now. It's a nice big place in a newish development.

In our front yard at the new mexico rental #runcation

Not the house that you can see in the pic, but the one right next to it is for sale for just $400k if you are interested  :)

We are off to the grocery store and to grab dinner. Trying to be a better blogger, so look for mini updates throughout our trip!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sam's Freakin' Bucket List

Sam Sellers, as always, is precocious and keeps our hands very very full. His latest joy is the very liberal use of the word "freakin'".

As in "I don't want you to go to your stupid, freakin' job today".

Or when he is mad, he simply just yells "freakin'!!".

He apparently told Chad a couple weeks ago about his bucket list.

He wants to:

Go Fishing
Ride a Train (and he wants to sleep on it)
Fly in a Helicopter

We are planning our trip to New Mexico for USATF Cross Country Junior Olympic Nationals and there is a train we can ride there. Chad told me that we could fulfill one of the things on Sam's bucket list. I hadn't heard them yet, so Sam jumped up and rattled them off for me.

Oh, that freakin' kid.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sam: Soccer Star

Sam has been playing soccer with i9 sports this fall. I helped coach the team and twelve 3 & 4 year olds are a lot to handle!

Yesterday was his last game - of course, just as he was starting to get into it. The kid does not like the cold, and unfortunately most of his games fell on pretty chilly weekends. Somehow the nice weather has all been reserved for the work week this fall.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Setting His Own Pace

Gavin Sellers has never done anything in his life according to plan. One of the things I love about running is that it is such a metaphor for life in general. There are so many lessons to be found in between the lines of the track, or out in an open field running all alone, or pushing up what seems to be an insurmountable hill.

As anyone that reads this blog knows, Gavin was born three months early, only to beat all the odds initially. Vent tube out after 6 hours. Contracting a scary staph infection at 10 days old, but that was the "only" major setback of his NICU time, which was pretty amazing. Getting to the end of our odds-beating NICU stay to discover his stomach and intestines were malrotated (1 in 5,000 odds), requiring invasive surgery to correct. Being the first baby at our children's hospital to have said surgery performed laparoscopically, reducing the risk, pain, and recovery time.

He came home and we knew the rules of "What To Expect the First Year" did not apply. We expected delays, and regressions, and really had no idea what his full potential was. Would his lungs ever catch up, or would they always put him at risk for illness, would they be a limiting factor in playing sports? Would his motor skills ever truly catch up? Had his brain bleeds affected his development, physically, intellectually, socially?

When you are staring at this sweet child, all you want as a parent is for them to reach their fullest potential. While I have spent most of his life cautiously optimistic that he would be "the same" as any full term kid, I was never really sure when those preemie scars would raise their heads and show me what they had done to him.

I believe there are some character traits that all preemies have. It's either a Darwinian trait that allowed their survival or one they develop from everything they've gone through. One thing I know from all my preemie blog mom friends is that they all have it. A fighting spirit. A determination and focus like no other.

While Gavin has brought that to school, there is one place where this has come to life, and it's on the cross country course.

We started taking Gavin to the track when he was 4 or 5. It certainly wasn't my intention to make a runner out of him - it was just something to do to get out of the house and burn off some steam. Then he participated in some field days at school and a week long track camp in Kindergarten. We started entering him in some kids fun runs. He enjoyed it so we kept doing it.

Spring 2011, he went out for the track club. He was really young, and stuck to shorter distances, and we didn't expect much other than for him to have fun. He did, and he made it to the regional meet at Hamline University - his dad's college. At 6 years old, he competed on his Dad's college track.

Over the fall and winter he would run here and there, but never too much, too often. Spring 2012 came and we were coaching. We encouraged him to try the 1500m. He was terrified, but he did it - and he did it really well. He competed all the way to nationals.

But where we saw the biggest change was the cross country course. After the Iowa Games 4k, he proclaimed he loved the hilly xc course and "I want to run a 5k every weekend!".

Cross country started and he came to life. He connected with the team, he enjoyed (for the most part) the workouts, his confidence built as he ran more and more miles.

The thing I've always noticed, and admired, about Gavin when he runs - is that he has this innate sense of pacing. Most adults are not this astute and yet he knows just how hard he can push. He doesn't let other kids push him out too fast, and he knows which ones he can catch before the end of the race.

Last night the kids competed at the Westside Track Club Invitational. This was an important one because the state meet will be held at the same course. Gavin finally had a chance to compete in a 2k, the race distance for state and nationals. As he had been running 3k's, I didn't know if he would go out fast enough, too fast, or what would happen.

Off the start line, he stumbled, and a girl took off in a dead sprint. He was a couple seconds behind her for a good quarter mile, and I was a little worried! But he slowly overtook her and stretched out a good lead. He ran 2/3 of the race with a strong lead, chasing the gator.

He crossed the finish line in 8:08 minutes, running a 6:06 per min mile pace, and taking the course best down by 32 seconds.

I'm a worrier. I worry I'm pushing too much, or not enough. Am I giving too much instruction, do I need to step back and let him figure it out on his own? I don't want to see people fail, so I turn into this person that needs to control everything.

One of the hardest parts of parenting is having the faith to let go a little. To trust. To know that wherever he goes in life, he is leaving it all out on life's course. Finding his proper place in the pack. Setting his own pace.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gavin's First 5k! (Johnston Spooktacular)

Gavin and I ran in the Johnston Spooktacular 5k on Saturday. This is my 3rd 5k of the year and Gavin's very first! You can read my whole race recap if interested here.

Let's just say we majorly lucked out with the weather. A major storm ended right in time for the race and it was a nice, cool mid 50's morning for the race.

Gavin's longest race distance to date is a 4k turned 2.75 mile race this summer at the Iowa Games. A year ago, I couldn't imagine him completing this distance, let alone wanting to run this far. I keep thinking back to early track season this year when getting him to run a mile was a struggle and I would literally be walking at a 12 min mile pace along side him as he jogged. He has come so far and worked so hard and I was so proud of him for even wanting to sign up for this race!!

The race started and ended at the high school track and went through some local neighborhoods. Gavin's school principal was one of the organizers, so it was fun to see her and for her to see Gavin in action.

You can read the whole detailed race recap from my perspective if you want, but let's skip to the good stuff: Gavin ran a 23:42!! That is amazing, and a time I was so proud to run in the two 5k's I ran this summer. I saw his finish on the track and he looked so good and strong. An older gentleman watching the race made sure to come tell me how impressed he was, and what perfect form Gavin has and how amazing that is from a little kid. Made my heart absolutely swell with pride.

After the race, there was a kids 100m dash on the track, so Sam was able to get in on the action and run on the track. They all got ribbons, and were so nice to give out extra race shirts to the little kids - who hadn't paid for the kids run! All they had left for Sam was a youth med, to which he replied "It's ok, I'll grow up to it".

There was face painting and hair spraying by a local beauty school, so after much consideration the boys finally decided they wanted in on that action.

Gavin's black eye was very realistic!! After the race we went to Village Inn for brunch with another xc family. They have a really good menu these days! The Farmer's Market Potato Pancake Benedict was amazing.

The rest of the day was spent with more running related activities - spectating at the middle school state meet, and taking Gavin shopping for clothes he could run in. Perfect Saturday, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Running, Soccer, Eat, Repeat

That is pretty much what our fall has felt like!

Bridie and Chad have really started running a lot, so we are squeezing our running time in during lunch hours, early in the morning, or during a rare block of time in the evening.

Gavin is running cross country and is doing so well!! He really seems to love the sport and says he likes it way better than track. He really enjoys being out on the cross country course, running up and down hills, and has an incredibly competitive drive. He's consistently beating kids 2 - 5 years older than him. We're pretty much a sure bet to go to nationals for cross country, which is good because our tickets are already booked!

Gavin is also playing soccer this fall which he continues to enjoy, except for when it's freezing and windy like yesterday.

School is definitely more work this year and the new math program has been an adjustment for Gavin. I am not convinced about the new curriculum, but I guess time will tell.

Sam is playing i9 soccer (since he's not old enough for Johnston soccer) and I got roped into coaching the team, which means trying to wrangle twelve 3-4 yr olds and trying to keep six of them on the field at all times. Sam is a pretty fair weather soccer player, this boy is not a fan of the cold! I am re-thinking whether or not it is a good idea to teach him to ski this year. He also likes coming to cross country practice and running on the track with the kids once in a while. Right now I am not seeing the same sports drive in him that I see in Gavin, but maybe that will change.

Sam continues to enjoy his school and has a crazy active imagination.

Yesterday we had special one on one days with the kids. I took Sam to soccer, the circus and then home to play. Chad took Gavin to soccer, a cat show (not kidding, he saw an ad in the paper and I knew Gav would love it- he did) and to Ames for a quick informal wedding, and then they played at an arcade. It had been too long in coming, and it's so important to give the kids that individual attention once in a while.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Baltimore Trip

Back in July, we went to Morgan State University so that Gavin could compete at the USATF national Junior Olympics competition. He ran in the 800m and 1500m. After the meet (he ran the 800m on a Saturday and the 1500m on a Sunday, we headed to North Beach, Maryland for some vacation time.

Sammy was impressed that we were above the clouds - the boys did great on the plane!


Gavin did a great job, and I was really overwhelmed with the idea that we were potentially seeing future track Olympians competing.

800 results: 29th out of 47, time 3:01.9
1500 results: 20th out of 40, times 6:03.30

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Completely Without My Permission.....Gavin turned 8

I spent August 27th this year on the verge of happy tears all day. As each year passes, I get a little more assured that there is not "something else" prematurity related about to emerge.

But enough about me. Let's talk about this year this guy had.

These family pictures were taken last year. He has grown front teeth since then! I think braces will be in his future. Thanks, Saldanha-big-teeth genes!

He still has those amazing eyelashes. And attitude to spare.

He had an amazing track season, and this pretty much sums up how much respect he gave his coach. Don't coach your own kids if you can avoid it.


Gavin is very protective of Sam when he needs to be, but for the most part they still fight a lot. Gavin said it best when I complimented their behavior when we were stuck at the airport coming back from Baltimore, a four hour delay that lasted til almost midnight.
"Yeah, but we'll probably be jerks to each other again tomorrow"
Gavin made great progress is second grade, catching up to grade level in all areas, and surpassing on some. He still claims he doesn't like school and that PE is his favorite subjecr.
Gavin is a mommy's boy when it comes to most things...


 In Little Ninjas they teach the kids about indomitable spirit: difficult or impossible to defeat or subdue
Of all the ways we can describe Gavin, this one fits him best.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life Lessons: Father to Son

So this gem of a conversation happened this weekend

(Gavin - pouting because we picked the restaurant to go to)

Gavin: You guys always get to pick and I never get to pick!!

Me: Gavin, when you are a grown up and you make your own money, you will be able to make all your own decisions.

Chad: That's not true Gavin, you will get married and then your wife will always decide and tell you what you're going to do.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iowa Games & Purple Hair

Mid July we participated in some running events that are part of the annual Iowa Games. The Iowa Games are held every summer and include just about every sport you can think of! Frisbee, soccer, baseball, track.....just to name a few.

On the 14th, the entire family signed up for the track meet. Gavin ran the 800m and 1500m events, winning the 1500m in 6:04.31 and getting 2nd in the 800m in 3:02.96.

Sam was signed up for the 100m and 200m dash but decided not to run.

And....Chad and I also signed up for the adult track meet. It is really too bad more people don't come out for it - lots of people representing the 60 - 70 age groups which was so inspiring to see.

Chad won his age group and came in 2nd overall in the 800m with a time of 2:17.58. Bridie won her age group and came in 2nd overall in the 1500m with a time of 5:59.91. That's not saying much since I was the only one in my age group and there were only 5 participants in this race. I was really happy to run it in under 6 minutes though!

Gavin, Chad and I also ran the 4k cross country race the weekend following the track meet. It was Gavin's first race at this distance.

Gavin took 2nd in the 11 & under age group with a time of  22:11 (32nd overall!)
Bridie took 1st in the female 30 - 34 age group with a time of 20:54 (26th overall!)
Chad took 1st in the male 30 - 34 age group with a time of  16:26 (4th overall!)

The night before the xc race the boys dyed their hair purple in anticipation of our trip to Baltimore (Johnston Dragons - represent!).

Bleaching in progress

Photo by Sam at the track meet
Little man wanted a purple mohaw

Proud of his medal finish

Triple medal morning on the ISU xc course

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sam's First Soccer Game

We had to miss Sam's first soccer game through i9 sports due to our trip to Baltimore, and last week's game was rained out. This week Sam had practice and a double header!

Last week, ready to go - until we hit a torrential downpour on the way there.

Unfortunately, the box of jerseys was misplaced when we got there Saturday. Forunately, the above picture was taken the week prior, and this time he had a shirt on, although he was a little bummed to not get his jersey.

He was pretty shy and hesitant when he first got there. They did a few practice drills like dribbling the ball up to the net and shooting, and standing in a circle passing the ball to each other. Then the games started. He did a good job running around the field, but kept giving up these goofy sideways looks "are you watching me? let me make a cute shy face at you while I know you are watching me". He was not terribly aggressive about getting in there and getting the ball, but I think that will change as he gets more comfortable.

The first game they were pretty good at rotating kids in and out every few minutes. By the second game kids were getting tired! So the coach was asking kids who wanted a break. Sam never wanted a break and played the entire second game!

Getting pretty tired by the end. Overall had a great time though!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sam is Outraged: all Gavin's sports

You may have noticed a new theme posting here. Sam likes to be outraged about things. I'm sharing the rants that have captured my attention lately.

The other night we were talking about Sam's upcoming first soccer game (post will be up in a couple days - and this time I promise, I have written up a bunch of posts and scheduled them to post every couple days for your viewing pleasure).

And instead of focusing on his excitement of his game, he went off:

"I always have to watch Gavin play sports! I have to watch Gavin play baseball, and Gavin play soccer, and Gavin play track!! And nobody every gets to watch me play ANYTHING!"


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Swim Lessons

Last week the kids took lessons at Morris Swimming. This is Gavin's third year there. The first time I tried swimming lessons for Gavin they were group lessons at the middle school and we could not get him off the side of the pool for the majority of the lessons. He was terrified.

One of the parents on our soccer team sent out an email about these private swimming lessons and I thought that might be what he needed. The first year we only signed up for one session and he did great!

Last summer we signed up for most of the sessions and he took lessons for most of the summer. This year I just signed him up for the last session of the summer, not knowing how track would impact our ability to attend lessons.

The night before his session started Sam decided he wanted lessons too. Unfortunately, she was booked up, but the next day she called me with a last minute cancellation in Gavin's session! How perfect was that? So they got to take lessons at the same time. Gavin got his favorite instructor, Adam. Sam got to work with two girls, since the cancellation had been siblings.

Suzanne Morris holds private lessons in her backyard pool in Urbandale. She oversees the sessions, sometimes working one on one with the kids. The kids are also paired up one on one with high school/college kids that Suzanne knows from the Johnston swim team. The individual attention, plus the casual backyard atmosphere, and the fun that high school kids bring, all create a great experience for the kids.

Gavin worked on the freestyle stroke this week, as well as the back float. By the end of the week he was able to swim across the pool and take breaths while doing the freestyle. He was also able to do a pencil jump off the diving board and come up into a back float. Gavin is not terribly comfortable in the water, so my main goal is that he build enough skill so that he can go to the pool with friends and I'm not worried constantly that he get in too deep that he gets in trouble. He has been making steady process, but I think his competitive skills will stay on dry land  :)

For youngsters like Sam, their goal is getting them comfortable in the water. They get him to put different parts of his face in the water, eventually getting him to go completely under by the end of the week. He jumped off the side of the pool into the instructors arms, and then onto a noodle, and worked up to jumping off the diving board. He also worked on kicking his legs - going around the pool with a noodle, as well as a backfloat with his head supported on the instructors shoulder.

Lessons aren't cheap - $75 for a week long session (5 days x 30 minutes). However, I think the quality of instruction they get is well worth it. I think swimming is a skill well worth the know, drowning and all.

Here are a couple pictures I took of Sam, and then some underwater pics from the Morris Swimming Facebook page.