Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lance, and Levi, and David! Oh My!

The family as we get ready to watch stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California!

Team Astana leads the peloton (and race leader Levi Liepheimer) into Pasadena.

Lance Armstrong (center of photo, black bike w/ yellow helmet) escorting Levi, right behind him in blue and yellow.

C enjoying the park before the ride home.

T being the daredevil she is on the swings!

And finally, little L playing peek-a-boo with the camera!

Well, talk about a dream come true! Matt, the kids and I have all had the AWESOME experience of attending part of the Amgen Tour of California. For those of you that don't know me well, I am a totally obsessed groupie avid fan of men's cycling. I know all the American riders and follow them and their teams. It's lucky for me that my husband is into it too, or he would probably be bothered that I can talk about these men as if they were my boyfriends part of my family.

Anyway, my adventure started last Thursday, when we went to Visalia to see the start of the 5th stage of the race. The course was 134.3 miles and it was estimated to take a grueling minimum of 5 hours to complete. We barely got there before the race started (with all 3 kids in tow, it's a wonder we made it before the race started at all!), but were able to get some awesome pictures of the peloton before they pedaled off for Paso Robles. It was AMAZING, but very brief. My sweet husband felt bad and could tell that I was slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see and do more (there were other people walking around with autographs of riders, bags of team paraphernalia, and souvenirs from the event). He then offered to drive us to a point on the racing course and cut the riders off so we could see them one more time (how much do I love my husband)!

First, we got some lunch and let the kids play at a local park in Visalia. We needed to let them stretch their legs and burn off some energy before another long car ride out into the middle of nowhere. We all made it to the intersection of Highways' 41 and 46 (and for all of you history buff's, it's the location where James Dean was killed in a car accident in 1955). It was a total circus there, with what seemed to be every CHP officer in California attempting to control the chaos. We had arrived just in time, got an amazing spot to view the race, and waited for the peloton to arrive. Seriously, I was ecstatic with joy and anticipation - I mean, these are some of the world's best athletes and I had an up close and personal view of the action. And did I mention that we were basically ALONE on that highway with the best view anywhere. I was giddy as a schoolgirl so incredibly excited, with camera and video recorder in hand, just waiting and watching all the action unfold around me.

We had parked the car just off the Highway, but didn't want to go too far off onto the dirt (after all, we didn't want to get stuck there). The kids were all in the car with the back hatch up, facing the direction the riders would be approaching. This way they could move around but not be on the road and in harm's way (the cyclists can get upwards of 40 mph when in a big group and going downhill). Anyway, lots of lead cars were coming and the helicopters were there filming for the Versus Network on cable. There was a lead group of about 6 riders that came through first, it happened so fast, my head was spinning. The peloton arrived about 5 minutes later in a huge group with team ASTANA (that would be Levi Liepheimer, Lance Armstrong, and Chris Horner's team) leading out front in an attempt to catch the lead group. All I can remember is that the peleton was about 12 inches from our car, having to swerve away due to the rearview mirror being in their way. The wind that was generated when they went by was incredible, and all you could hear was the voices of the riders in multiple languages. I didn't realize it at the time, but afterwards when watching the video tape, I was screaming cheering wildly. Honestly, this is one of the things I really wanted to do before I die, and now I can scratch it off my bucket list! PRICELESS!!!!

The photo's I took were phenomenal! I actually got pictures of Levi Liepheimer, Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, and Christian Vandervelde (all of whom are AMERICAN riders). And then, my only non-American hero, Ivan Basso (swoon), who I might add is not so hard on the eyes! I only managed to take 368 photos of the event (I told you I'm diseased when it comes to cycling), but in one of the most horrendous mistakes of my life (I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but not much), every single one was deleted when I was reviewing my pictures. I was so close to tears, but then had to remember that I didn't even know these people (although I would sometimes argue otherwise). It was, after all, just a race, and these were just pictures. My only consolation was that I still had the video. Still, M and I were both so incredibly disappointed (he may have wanted to kill me for a very short time, but luckily, it passed). Regardless of the loss, we had a great time, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always treasure!

On a lighter note, M felt so bad for me and the loss of my photo's (this could qualify him for husband of the year), he offered to take the kids and I to the 7th stage of the race. I wanted to go, but wasn't going to push my luck, especially after my boneheaded careless act of deleting the photos. We caught up with the riders mid-race in La Canada/Flintridge along a very snobbish upscale residential street. It was much more crowded, but we still had a great view of the action. Luckily, I got some more great pictures (although not as good as before), and was somewhat redeemed. The only unfortunate part was that prettyboy Ivan Basso was no longer racing (he dropped out after an injury warming up before stage 6). That's okay, I stole a picture off the internet to make myself feel better. I can assure you, he will be represented in the scrapbook whether I took the photo or not.
I've also included some pictures of the kids at a local park we found before our trip home. They just love exploring new parks and we love getting their energy out before the trip home! That's about it for now, enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prayers please......

Well, after getting over the original shock of M getting laid off from his job, we've finally started to adjust to things. You could say we had a brief pity party for ourselves, and then quickly moved on to figuring out what in the heck we we're going to do now (and that does NOT imply that we know, we're still trying to work that one out).

We are both very lucky, and had some great friends/family offer their support and encouragement (which has been so very appreciated - Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!). M did a ton of networking this week and has an application in at Aera Energy. He has a few different people that work there who are willing to give him a recommendation, and help out as much as they can (but we also know that the competition is stiff among those looking for a position right now - Oxy let go 7 other geologists the same day as M). He also has a few other leads and ideas, but Aera is definitely what we are hoping for. Please keep M in your prayers right now, and that his resume makes it to the right people at Aera. I'll keep updating as we find out more! :o)

My diet kind of hit the skids this week. I actually backslid, and gained a pound (Eek!) The stress in the S household was too much for me to take and I slid headfirst into anything I could get my mouth on (very bad girl). I was also victim to a glass of wine (or two) those first few days after the lay off. But, I'm back on the bandwagon, and I've been excercising at night to try to make up for my errant ways.

L is getting two new teeth (her upper molars) and has been a little fussy for a couple of days. C and T are exstatic to have M home during the days (although M in not enjoying his new "manny" duties). The house is a wreck, and impossible to keep clean because everyone is home all the time - it's making me CRAZY!

We are all headed to Visalia tomorrow to see a stage in the Amgen "Tour of California". It's a bike race, and I'm so excited to see some of my all-time heroes. I'll post pics later this week for you to see what a fanatic I am about the men in tights. Whoo Hoo!

Thats about it for now. Please keep M in your prayers and that he gets this job with Aera! We are so hopeful, but also realistic. It's a tough economy, and this will be no easy task, but anything is possible with God, right? Right! Thanks again, and God bless!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Well, I always like to start off positive, so here's some GOOD news..... I've lost 16+ pounds so far and I'm incredibly excited to see the difference, and can truly imagine what it will be like to reach my goal! I really believe that it's going to happen, and that I will be a thin, confident women come this September. Please keep praying for me - there are still times (like today, just wait - you'll understand) that I still want to slide headfirst into a cheesecake/six-pack of beer (depending on the events of the day) and I need all the support/encouragement I can get!

Also, M and I are getting along so much better! We are starting to finally communicate and identify with each other. I can't even tell you how much I truly love my husband - just absolutely adore him, and am so grateful that things might be starting to get better for us again! I've done my best to understand his perspective, and to relate to his feelings on our situation. It's taken a lot of time and effort, but I truly feel like we're finally connecting for the first time in ages! I am truly hopeful (and expectant) of better days ahead!

Now for the BAD. M was laid off from his job today. I can't say that it wasn't expected with the economy, but it was still devastating nonetheless. I will admit that I'm totally scared, but not for the reasons you might think. Worst case scenario - even if we lose our house, I can deal with that. My family is safe, healthy, and that's what matters. I'm only worried that all the progress that M and I have made in our marriage could be lost in this misfortune. The stress of money (or lack of it) has ruined many a relationship, and I am wary of it's influence. I can deal with any outcome except the loss of my husband. Please keep him (and our family) in your prayers, we really need it right now!

And, now the UGLY. Stephanie, a pregnant friend of mine (or more correctly named acquaintance), in the Junior League had her baby last Saturday. We are on the same committee, and have worked together on a monthly basis on various charity projects. Unfortunately, the day after she delivered her baby, she had some complications from labor and fell into a coma and is not expected to recover. Her family is now facing decisions on organ donation and termination of life support. I can't even imagine what her family is going through, and suddenly feel guilty for my trivial problems. It's amazing the perspective you can get when you take the time to look around. Please think of her and her family, and remember them in your prayers as well!

All of these things remind me of a great quote I came upon last week. It's still in my mind, and really means so much to me.
"Happiness doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It simply means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." Anonymous
Right now, obviously, there is a lot to be upset about. Oh well. Instead, I choose to be happy for today and the blessings I do have. My kids are alive and healthy, my husband is finally coming back to my marriage, and I'm 16+ pounds lighter. Not so bad really. But..... just in case I lapse, please cover me and my family in prayer. Thank you so much, and God bless!