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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Race the Chase 50k

This post won't have anything to do with fourth grade or a jungle.  I just need a spot to dump some thoughts.

As many of you know who will read this post, I've spent my days since the middle of May training for a 50 kilometer (31 miles) race through the Flint Hills.  The cray cray folks from the Dirty Kanza are widening their scope and opening up more events for people to test their limits.  Cool.  Cray cray.

Here's a shot of my running calendar for the past few months.  
Lyndsey, our friend Hilary, and I had been making weekly trips out to the Tallgrass Prairie to get in our fun on the trails.  As the summer continued, the trails became overgrown, much to my dismay.  Kansas summer set in and the ground became hard and uneven, making for achy feet even after a relatively easy 15-miler.  Runs out there were shadeless, windy, and unapologetically lonesome.  More than once I found myself cursing myself for being 5+ miles from the Prairie's Visitor Center with just a trickle of water left in my bottle.  Sounds awful, doesn't it?  You can't believe I got through it, can you?  My motivation was this: If ol' Pa Ingalls can get through the prairie, so can I.  So, I'd suck it up, realize I'm not really stranded, and truck it back to the parking lot.  

I probably put in about 10 training runs at the Tallgrass and I'm confident saying that two of them left me satisfied, as I loaded back into my car, ankles covered with dust and ticks, that I'd be able to rock and roll for 30 miles on some of the most beautiful hills people forget to respect.

Elevation profile from my Garmin of Race the Chase 50k.

Come race day, my legs felt rested.  My stomach felt settled (oh so important), and I had a plan in place for paces to hit and how to fuel and water my tired little body.

Scratch every part of that.

My first 12-13 miles were terrific, like always, as I felt like I was passing the time easily while skirting along the newly trimmed trails (big shout out to the DK folks for making that happen), dodging spider webs, and keeping my mouth moistened with water every one-to-two miles.

My mood shifted around mile 10 when the heat started becoming more pronounced.  If I had my druthers, I'd order up 45 degrees and clouds for a race like this.  In Kansas, though, you get what you get and you sometimes throw a fit.  When the race started, it was 68 degrees and the observed high yesterday was 88 degrees.  More appropriate for backyard pools and barbecues if you ask me.

To make things better (not really), my blindness took hold of me and I missed a turn around mile 12, adding on about 1.5 miles with a doozy of a hill.  Going up the hill, I took a spill when I caught my toe on a rock that didn't get out of my way.  I completed the entire loop before I got back to the sign I'd missed and realized what I'd done.

Next came the demise of my race.  The Prairie Fire Loop, my favorite section of the trails, was waiting for me.  According to the volunteers at the aid station, I was in the lead by a good 10-15 minutes entering the loop.  But, while on the loop, someone began constructing invisible walls in front of me every time I tried to start running.  I was only running about two minutes at a time, followed by stretches of 4-5 minutes of walking.  It was the worse five miles of any race I'd ever done.  I kept checking behind me for competitors and couldn't see any bobbing heads (but, I did miss a very evident sign just minutes before).  At the end of the loop was an aid station, and I stopped there for a solid 3-5 minutes.  In that time, the second place runner started coming down the hill and I knew I was going to be caught soon.

I fought her off for another two miles or so.  After she passed me, I admitted to myself I was toast.  The rest of my focus was simply on getting to the finish, regardless of how long it took, and keeping out of sight of any runner behind me.  I mixed about minute-long spurts of running with 30-second-long walks as I slugged my way back to the finish.  Pretty miserable.

While that looks like a grimace on my face, it was actually a smile.  I was more than happy to be done.
The best part about the race was knowing that so many people were at the finish.  Lyndsey's brother and mom were able to see me run by a few of the aid stations.  People from Village were posted at the finish.  Shane and my family had all driven from Lawrence just to watch me creak and crawl my way across the line.  Thank you doesn't do it justice, but it's all there is to say.  This post turned out to be more of a reflection of my race than I intended.  I meant to write about how much it was all the people at the finish that got me through the prairie.

It's odd, though.  The friends that showed up at the beginning or end of the race, just because I mentioned to them that I was doing it probably don't understand how special that is.  There was no invite with an RSVP that would give the ladies a reason to sport their new dresses and there was no free food or beer to make it worth the 40-minute drive.  They came because that's how our circle rolls -- we support each other.  At times we're the the spokes and at times we're the rim, but we're all a part of the wheel.  

In all, thanks to everyone who came and supported.  Thanks to Lyndsey and Hilary for giving me peer pressure to wake up at 4:00am on weekdays to get my runs in and for acting like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this sport.  Thanks to my family for making it to the race.  Thanks to the volunteers who were so helpful when I'd rather have been curled up in a ball until the sun went down.

About 11 miles in and feeling fresh.  Things quickly deteriorated.

I was smiling because I was able to get myself onto the podium even though my muscles were in knots.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Love, More or Less

Two entries in 2013.  Boy, I've fallen off the blogosphere, for real.  I made up "blogosphere."  Should it be blogisphere?

Here we are, two full months into 2014, and we're experiencing one of the coldest winters I can remember in Kansas.  I ain't complained once, though, like a real Kansas cowboy.  You get what you get in Kansas, and what you get is always good enough.  There's no other way to think about it.  You get 100 degrees when you don't want to sweat through the button-up you're sporting and you get 20-degree temperatures when you didn't do laundry soon enough to get your Smartwool socks washed.  You get wind when you spent an hour doing your hair for a night on the town and you get rain pouring down as soon as you pull the mower out of the garage.

I've got the itch to write and I can't figure out why.  I'm doing my best to resist the whining dogs at my feet.  But, why should I resist?  They haven't peed since the AM hours and it's an hour and fifteen minutes past their normal dinner time.

She just said, "Do you hear that?"  She was fully referring to the whining canines.

I'm back, 12 minutes later.  The dogs peed.  The wind is a'holwin' outside.  Current temps are standing short at 14 and a windchill of -3.  It'll put hair on any human's chest who gathers the guts to waltz without a coat into the needle-like nips of early March right now.  I'm content to stay placed on my perch here in my kitchen.  I don't drink much brew, but right now I'm sipping the Jose concoction from the Radius Brewing Company here in Emporia, Kansas.  You shouldn't be surprised that this beer contains many ingredients, yet the only one I can rightly recall is jalepenos.  Will I purchase this again?  It's hard to tell.

Speaking of Emporia, you might be surprised that I'm content with the city's direction right now.  Never have I pretended that I could hold the position of city councilman or mayor because I'm sure there's much more "politics as usual" involved in the game of running a city that anyone would readily admit.  I'm all for shopping locally, and in the past two years, local businesses have been actually sticking in downtown Emporia.  Mulready's pub has put down a hefty footprint and Studio 11 doesn't seem to be loosening it's grip on being the real-life version of Pinterest for anyone in the entire county.  A local cupcake shop actually had a strong presence in town for years until both owners were struck with family hardships, that had nothing to do with the business, and were forced to close.  They were even featured on a nationally recognized show on the Food Network, I believe.  (Cupcake Wars, maybe.)  I'd link to it, but I'm more concerned with writing before I lose this jazzed up feeling that's bumbling from my brain to my fingertips right now.  The Granada Theatre is making big moves, too.  T-Pain is coming to Emporia.  I'll type that again (no, I won't copy and paste).  T-Pain is coming to Emporia.  If T-Pain doesn't excite you, I'll encourage you to expand your interests in music because what he offers, albeit mostly with Auto-Tune, I ask you to accept him into your musical palette.  He can rap and sing (without Auto-Tune, mind you).

You want something else to sink your teeth into at the Granada?  How about Travis Tritt?  I know I've got a wedding to safe my money for, but how can these acts keep coming to Emporia if I don't shop locally?  How can I keep myself entertained if I don't get my boogie on once in a while with some live tunes?  Mr. Tritt will be hitting town with an acoustic set.

Speaking of the wedding, I'm so glad people keep asking me how planning is going.  There's nothing as electric as the response, "Eh, it's not."  Why did wedding DJs, photographers, and venues ever allow themselves to be booked over 12 months in advance?  Had they not ever thought of the procrastinators in the world?  And, even more importantly, had they not ever thought of the teachers who have the itch to put a ring on each others' fingers?  I mean, for real, we've both got workouts to do each night to make sure we want to keep looking at one another.  Following that, we've got to crank out lesson plans, complete grading, enter grade cards, find resources for next weeks' lessons, or prepare for substitutes so we can go to trainings.  (I realize I just made excuses, and I apologize.  However, those are some #teacherstruggles that many educators will relate to.)

Yes, back to the wedding.  My bride has found a gown and I have found a DJ and a photographer.  My bride and her mother dive through Pinterest boards that bore me as I watch YouTube or engulf myself on Twitter.  My bride creates "save the dates" while I rank font choices.  My bride asks, "Should I buy it," while I internally cringe, acting like we don't need, when I only return the question to her every month about running shoes, flannel shirts, or CDs at the store.  Ultimately, to end this topic, wedding planning is going.  That's it.  It's going.

Lastly, to blend this whole entry into the finest weight-loss smoothie you could ever imagine, I will bring up the most oft-scoffed at, and most oft-sought after emotion; love.

Love.  It keeps us humble and it keeps us hungry.  Without hunger you never dig into what makes you uncomfortable; like the cabinets full of non-perishables that are so unorganized a Hoarders episode couldn't fix them.  Without humility we would never appreciate $22 entrees like we do when we actually splurge on them.  Love will keep those you care about close to you, supporting you in ways that not every person deserves.  Love makes me hug the smelly kids in fourth grade.  Love makes me sacrifice two hours on a Sunday, when I should be lesson planning, to fulfill my hearts need of quick-moving feet on a syncopated beat, watching a video that should be put off until summer vacation.  Love makes planning for a wedding worth the chore (which is really all there is to say about it).

To end this tip-tap for the Misses sitting across the table from me, I will leave you with well wishes of fulfilled hunger, both emotionally and stomachally, as well as a never-ending sense of humility.  Big words for a small blog, I know.  It sounds awesome and prestigious, cheesy and prophetic.  So, I'm leaving it.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Talking to Strangers

Last night, we were to celebrate a friend's birthday.  It was last-minute, and we didn't really expect to converse with him much, as he has loads of friends.  But, we caught wind the evening's events would be held at Mulready's Pub, a new Irish pub in downtown Emporia.

This picture is all I could find. It's from months ago, before the place opened.
Here's some background information.  The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) is holding the Amateur and Junior World Championships in town this week.  Here is link to video highlights.  There have been loads of disc golfers in the area since Sunday.  So, a birthday shindig plus out-of-towners both occupying the same watering hole presented the perfect opportunity to do exactly what our mothers told us not to.  We talked to strangers.

Lyndsey, Michelle, and I walked into the bustling bar around 8:30 as a block party was going on from the 900 to 1200 blocks of Commercial Street.  I didn't count, but I'd say there were thousands of people milling around checking out the disc golf vendors who were in town, buying dinner from local food vendors, and competing in some putting competitions being held in the middle of the street.  

Mulready's was packed and when we walked in, it was clear there was nowhere to sit.  We migrated to the northeast corner of the room where we heard cool people hang out, and stalled until some chairs and/or tables opened.  When one did, it had five chairs available.  A bald, stout, quiet fella inched his way toward our table with a glass of Diet Coke, then rumbled his voice downward asking if he could sit in one of the chairs (we later learned his name was Paul).  Sure thing, guy, go for it.  The three of us continued our conversation, catching up about events from the past few weeks.  A couple of minutes later, another guy, slimmer, with bifocal glasses and a much more demanding presence, came and sat next to Paul.  His name turned out to be Mike.

A replay of Thursday's stage in the Tour de France was on TV.  Mike was turned around, neck cranked like a bike pedal, trying to watch the race and simultaneously trying to educate Paul about how the Tour worked.  I interjected myself into the conversation, having a similar interest in the annual cycling expedition.  Something slipped out of my mouth about being a teacher, Mike's eyesight turned 180 degrees back to the table where we sat, and the next four hours were suddenly occupied with two strangers from Connecticut.

Mike recently retired after a career of over 30 years in education.  From what I gathered, he was a middle school teacher for 26 years and then walked into retirement after a five-year stay as an elementary school principal.  Paul has had more of a journeyman career, starting as a teacher back in the 60s or 70s, serving in the military, teaching again, leaving to teach in Leavenworth at some type of prison school (which he hated), and a few other stops in and out of education before he met, and taught with, Mike.  They take a yearly trip with each other to wherever the amateur world championships for disc golf are taking place.  

They, surprisingly, were thoroughly impressed with Emporia and the surrounding Kansas landscape.  On Wednesday, they had ventured to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve to do some exploring.  Returning on back roads to get to Emporia, the duo made a stop in Americus to get the "small town" feel that many of us in Kansas, and the Midwest, are familiar with.  They found it unbelievable how there "was nothing around" during their drive and how the stoplight on the main street was only a simple blinking red light.  I asked if they have small towns like what they'd seen in Connecticut, they pondered, chuckled, and said "No, nothing like that."

The two disc hurlers were also surprised to learn that Emporia is a Title 1 school district, that our schools are filled with nearly 50% Hispanic students, and that Village has a dual language program, where the goal is to teach students to effectively listen, speak, and write in both English and Spanish.

Michelle has been chasing her administrative degree for years and has future aspirations of becoming a principal of a school.  She took the opportunity to ask Principal Mike what his one bit of most valuable advice to an aspiring administrator would be.  Mike, who had come across as honest, trustworthy, and real all night, took nearly 30 seconds to construct an answer.  I was sitting next to Mike expecting him to suggest that Michelle perfect her organization skills, or that she be ready to answer loads of questions from students, parents, and teachers alike, or that she be prepared to be a decision-maker.  I suppose his answer may help with all of those aforementioned predictions, but he didn't give a one-sentence, predictable, I-could-have-gotten-that-from-any-professor answer.  

Mike, in his experience, noted that it was most beneficial to always be in control of his emotions.  Simple, yet powerful, especially for educators.  As a teacher, I am usually an expert at losing my cool with my classes in December before winter break and during the last four weeks of a school year, when students can see the summer sunshine smiling through the window panes of room 108.  Valuable advice it is, to keep control of one's emotions.  Think about the last time you lost your cool, got upset, and felt like the only way to resolve the situation was with anger, rash decisions, and aggression.  As I replay bits and pieces of last year, I can surely imagine handling those situations in a calmer way and visualize how that approach could have helped the student(s) I was upset with.  Think about, as a teacher, all the times when your tone of voice could be misinterpreted, or when you might be tempted to give someone a piece of your mind in a way you'll later regret.  Phone calls to parents, parent-teacher conferences, disciplining a student, interacting with colleagues, or trying to gain control of a talkative bunch of students.  You get the picture, I'm sure, so I'll move on.  But, that was one piece of teacher pie that Mike served and I devoured last night.  Let's see if I can carry it out in this coming school year.

Spliced in all the chatting last night were topics ranging from teacher salaries to marathons, retirement benefits to families, insurance policies to disc golf, and Thanksgiving road races to Paul's driver education stories (he's an instructor).  

Mike told me his marathon history that consisted of entering five marathons, yet he only finished two of them.  The one time he ran the Boston Marathon, he had to drop out because he had foolishly (to paraphrase Mike) set his 10-mile PR in the midst of the 26-miler.  Also, he's run a Thanksgiving Day race annually for the past 40+ years.  Paul shared a tale about having to instruct a foreign exchange student in his driver's ed class with limited English skills how to turn left or right, but was forced to so by communicating in her native language.  One of the directional words, he said, was pronounced exactly like "die."  So, each time the student needed to turn, Paul felt like he was telling the girl to die.  

When we all agreed that it was time to call it a night, due to 8:00am tee times for the disc duo, and a seven mile run before a chiropractor appointment for me, Mike and I exchanged e-mail addresses, old school style.  What will I do with it?  I'm not sure.  But, he seemed genuinely interested in keeping in touch, and is considering coming back to Emporia to play in the Glass Blown Open disc golf tournament.  

So, I dedicate this post to Summer.  If it were not for Summer, us teachers wouldn't have crossed paths in an Emporia speakeasy.  Without Summer, none of us would have been willing to stay up until 12:30 in the morning on a Thursday when it had nothing to do with lesson plans or grades.  And, without Summer, there may not be the Tour de France, which led to five strangers into a four-hour conversation about their collective passion.

For those of you who shy away from dairy, I apologize for the amount of cheese in that final paragraph.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Story You May Have Heard

Yo.  It's been awhile since a mere word has been typed here.  The silence ends, at least temporarily, today.  However, silence will still be present, unless you read this post aloud.  I recommend refraining from doing such so you can spare others' ears and retain any friendships that could possibly be harmed by stumbling through this rambling post.

Catching you up, whoever you are, since October would be silly.  I often forget what I wore to work the previous day, so, trying to recount the experiences and events from the past many months is a foolish task that I will not undertake.

What's new, though?  A marriage on the horizon.  Like, way off on the horizon.  Imagine being on the east end of town (you can imagine yourself in any town of your choice) and seeing the sun slowly collapse toward the horizon to your west, and you wonder how many miles away it may be; that's how far away this wedding is.

Photo courtesy of Mark Kucza

I proposed to the one and only Lyndsey Balkenhol about two weeks ago.  Ladies, consider this my wholehearted apology for taking my fine body and eloquent sense of humor off the market.  Lyndsey's staked her claim on Mountain de Jacob, and there's no shaking her.  Now, to answer some of your FAQs.

How did you propose?
It was romantic, really.  To shorten the story, it went a lot like this:
1) Tell Lyndsey I'm going to the liquor store.
2)  Drive to Lyndsey's mom's house, rather than the liquor store.
3)  Tell Lyndsey's mom I have a ring and I'm planning on putting it on her daughter's finger, most likely tonight.
4)  Have a conversation with Lyndsey's mom that undoubtedly exceeds the amount of time it would have taken a person to go to a liquor store and return home.
5)  Get in the car to see 3 missed calls from Lyndsey.
6)  Ignore those calls, and call the real keeper of my heart -- my mom.
7)  Tell Mom what I'm about to do.
8)  Pull into the driveway at home to realize Lyndsey's car is missing.
9)  Panic.
10)  Have a self-realization that this must be a sign that Lyndsey doesn't want me to propose and I can take the ring back to the store.  Lyndsey would really want me to spend the money on marathon entries and running shoes instead.
11)  Have a self-realization that the first self-realization was crazy talk.
12)  Call Lyndsey and act very upset while questioning her to figure out why she isn't home.
13)  Understand that this woman does really like me, because she was out driving around town thinking I'd been in a car accident.  Tell her I ran into my best friend and he had a new puppy, so I went to his house.
14)  Ask forgiveness from any higher being that may appreciate what I'm doing in the name of love.
15)  Grumpily remind her to hurry home because we're supposed to be meeting friends downtown.  She says she doesn't want to go.  I say we have to because I've already started changing.
16)  Greet Lyndsey at the door, grumpily, and rush her to the bedroom so she can help me decide on a shirt to wear.
17)  There is no shirt decision to make, just a small one about whether or not she wants to marry me.

Maybe that's funny, maybe it ain't.  But, it fits our lives.  Nothing's planned out, we slip up in our communication, but everything is solved with a proposal.  Right?  Sort of?  Ok.

I was going to write more about the school year ending, since that's what this whole blog started for years ago.  Maybe in a few days.  I'm heading out for a bike ride on this gorgeous Kansas afternoon.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Twins in the Twin Cities

Two weeks after we turned 26, Mark and I were running our first 26.2 mile race.  Also, we thought it fitting (back in June), to do it in the Twin Cities

Our hotel was mere steps from the finish line of Saturday's 10k race (and the marathon for the next day).  Mark had a friend who was racing the 10k, so we meandered over to Summitt Avenue to see where our dead bodies would lie the next morning.  We were pleased with the grave plots as they were delicately covered in deep oranges, reds, and yellows of Autumn's peaceful essence.  We took some celebratory photos.  "Celebrating?" you ask.  Yes, celebrating every life moment and the fine women we had attained for ourselves, should we escape the torture of the Twin Cities Demons.

Then came race day.

Before heading up north for the excursion, we knew it'd be a cold trot on race day.  We wound up on the starting line with temperatures below 30 degrees. 


The Metrodome was rather cozy when we first arrived, nearly two hours before race time.  Anxious runners lined the walls, stretching, sleeping, or talking.  Mark and I lounged for probably 5 minutes before the nerves got the best of us.  We promptly hopped up and headed for a bladder-emptying bathroom break.  Then, it was out for a run to make sure all our body parts were properly functioning.

We wound up at the 10 Mile race start line.  An exceptionally long line was in place for the portapotties, so Mark and I indulged.  Again, bladders were empty and bowels were iffy.  It was all we could hope for.

We jogged back to the Metrodome while talking to Mom on the phone.  We realized we had quite a bit of time before the race and I think our nerves were calming.  But, as soon as we caught a glimpse of the front of the Metrodome and its parking lot, we weren't alone.  Thousands of runners were in lines for portapotties and the area of the dome opened for marathoners was utterly packed.  It was chaos trying to get to the bathroom for one last pit stop before the the gun sounded.

We did manage to take two last leaks, lube up (to prevent chafing on our thighs), then strip out of our warm-ups into race gear.  In a panic, we rushed our warm-ups to bins to be shipped to the finish and got our spots behind the starting line.

It wasn't too unbearable since we shamelessly donned sweatshirts that other runners had ditched at the starting line.  I ran the first 3 miles in an old painting crew neck that was easily a size XL while Mark scored more of a hipster-themed, inside-out, zip-up hoody.  He's always been more stylish than I.

Progressing through the race left both of us impatient as I think about it now.  After mile eight, I think we were itching to pick up the pace because we felt so fresh. 

At mile nine, we both decided a pee stop was in order.  I never thought I'd really have to do that.  But, after sucking down water and Powerade every other mile, the ol' Anatomy de Jacob can only handle so much. 

Mark began feeling sluggish around mile 13 or 14, so I did what I could to pep him up.  Obviously, it didn't help, which I should have anticipated.  Why?  Hearing someone talk, and having to listen to them when you're knee-deep in struggle while plodding over perilous pavement is immensely aggravating.  For real...

Sorry, Mark.

At mile 19, we finally separated.  It was lonely not having Mark there to chat with and keep the pace up.  But, it was nice to think to myself OK, you're alone and feeling fresh.  Take it for what it is and make the race worth it

I'd imagine I succeeded.  I ended up running a 3:10:08, which exceeded my hopes by roughly 20 minutes.  And, it was invigorating to hear Mark's first comment after crossed the line a minute or so after I did.  "Dude, we could qualify for Boston."

So, that's where I leave you.  We're aiming for a race in the first half of 2012 where we can hit a good time, and hopefully qualify for the Boston Marathon. 

But, until then, enjoy the approaching winter, continue your strive for immortality, and understand that sometimes doing nothing means you're making the most of your opportunities.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Break from Labor

I skipped August for you.  I didn't want to force you to pain your way through an entry of mediocre proportions.  Here's what it would have said, more or less: I'm finishing Summer.

On the home front, the new pup is now over four months old, has learned (mostly) what to chew on and what to keep his teeth off of, and has been accident-free in the house for some time.  Of course, that's not including one day last week when we stepped on the porch after a full day at school to smell the dirty aroma of diarrhea.  Sure enough, poor ol' Winston had left a surprise in his kennel with him for us to clean up.  Props to Lyndsey for handling that one with the grace of a maid at the Jayhawk Motel.  I simply, and quickly, got the dog in the shower and proceeded to scrub the stupendous scent of stool off of him five times over.  After a rough night of nothing but puppy whining and a day in a shady backyard (while we worked), the little feller was back to normal, regular bowel movements and all!  Here some photos of the guy.




Ollie, Mr. Hair-Like-a-Barber-Shop-Floor, is keeping his heart centered when it comes to Winston.  He likes to entertain himself by proving that he can dominate any type of physical endeavor in which Winston cares to make a challenge.  However, Sir Oliver Mortimer is much like this cranky dude because he'll only play on his own schedule.

Also, three or four weeks ago, Mark moved his fanny (and everything it packs) out to Fort Collins, Colorado.  Sarah and Noah were treated to their first taste of what may be referred to as a "road trip."  I just took the animals outside for a restroom reliever and have now forgotten all good thoughts I had been brewing.  Unfortunately, the vehicle I drove didn't have the capabilities of playing an iPod, had a minimal CD selection, and pretty much resisted finding a radio station unless it was less than 50 miles away from the vehicle.  Here are some photos of the excursion.


We also made our way to a Royals game with some other friends from Village.  We scored some sweet retro mailboxes and decent temperatures to watch the game.  Here are the visuals.

Mom, Dad, Sarah, and Noah were at the game as well.  Coincidentally, they bought tickets for the same game.  Look Pa's yellow shirt.  I wish you luck that is good.


It always takes longer to get pictures posted than I expect.  So, honestly, I'm pretty much finished sitting in this lousy computer chair.  School is 10 days in and it's keeping me plenty busy.  Unfortunately, I'm going to head to school for a bit on this Sunday evening of Labor Day Weekend to get some things cleaned up.  I'll hopefully get something posted about school in the coming days.  Or weeks.  Time will tell!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

One Month at a Time

It's been a month since you've had the joy of reading this.  Surely, you missed it.

Much has happened in the past month, but little of it is noteworthy.  Summer school proved to be another opportunity at developing my abilities at handling kids who have learning at the end of their priorities lists.  It's a huge reminder that you can connect to students by doing your best to dive into their backgrounds.  Some kids have had it rougher than we can ever imagine, and part of convincing summer school kids that it's OK to be there is kneeling next to them and asking them things like "So, what's going on this weekend?  Why?  Who's going to be there?  What's so bad about it?  Really, nothing's bad, because you sound bored about going to your aunt's house?"  The average 8- to 10-year old will spill everything except their guts.

If you're into checking Facebook, you've likely seen the photos of the newest furry creature roaming my house.  Winston Albert Kucza has joined the crew.  He was a mere $80.  Lyndsey and I were worried about how Ollie would get along with the pup.  At first, he was quite reluctant to do anything but smell The W.  Against all his prior beliefs, though, Ollie dove into daily wrestling sessions with the young one about three weeks ago.  Now, each morning and night there are two 15-minute to hour-long wrestling, biting, chasing-each-other-on-wood-floors battles that result in two panting pups and black pet hair between my toes.  At last check, Winston weighed 19.8 pounds, and he's eating feverishly any time his stainless steel bowl touches the floor.

Sarah and Noah also kept the family dirty by spending a week north of Wichita at the Wheat State Morgan Horse Show in near-100 degree heat and plenty of barn dust.  There were many ribbons handed out, a dog show organized, and close calls for first place winnings.

Aside from that, I've been sweating it out here in the great bread basket of America.  We've had numerous days over 100 degrees.  Just a few days ago, I checked the 10-day forecast to discover that all ten days were forecast to reach at least 100.  It's made for early-morning runs, loads of sweat, and long days inside.  I've been reading up on lots of materials for the approaching school year, prepping my brain for the onslaught of a new year.  I'll aim to update you in the coming weeks.