Our Summer 2013 Bucket List

Our Summer 2013 Bucket List

This is our family bucket list – we have joined the happy family movement challenge thanks to a friend of mine! After seeing her bucket list and checking out the site I realized that we always say we want to do things and go places as a family but almost never get to everything we absolutely want to do! So, after careful planning, we created our own family bucket list for the summer. I am looking forward to the fun we will be having and the memories we will be creating as a family. Join the movement, take the challenge! More info: http://thehappyfamilymovement.com

GO RUCK CHALLENGE: Class 516 Seattle, WA

SO – I said I would post about the Go Ruck Challenge ( https://www.goruck.com ) once I completed it and I haven’t … until now.

They say that anyone can complete the Challenge, as long as you are willing to stick it out and get over any kind of “tiny heart syndrome” you might have.  They say that it is a team event and that “teamwork is the key.”  Well, what they say is true.  After having only really, REALLY exercised maybe twice since my daughter was born (7 months old when the challenge rolled around), I hopped into our car with my husband at about 11:00pm and made the trip to our start point at the Space Needle in Seattle.  I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I had been searching and reading as many blog posts as I could about a Challenge before the event.  All I knew was that for the next 8 to 10 to maybe more hours, we would be rucking around Seattle carrying bricks and whatever else our cadre deemed necessary.

At the start point, we had a beautiful view of the Space Needle up close with all its lights on.  We got to stand around for a little while and check out our teammates.  Some we had met on mini-training get togethers, most were still complete strangers that we would have to work with to survive whatever lay ahead.Image

Once our cadre arrived the fun got started.  All cadre have a background in Special Ops and they love, almost seem to live on, making us do fun things like stay in the front leaning rest (push up position) and do flutter kicks (on your back, legs extended) while we get to learn about why they are a cadre and what Go Ruck means to them.  We also did fun activities to learn each other’s names – like staying in the front leaning rest until we could go through and name every single person in our group of 25 strangers … without making a mistake.  After our team hashed that out, we got started on our trek.

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The night was filled with fun.  We learned a lot about our cadre – Cadre Bert.  We mostly learned that he’s a fair guy.  Meet your time hash to get wherever you need to go and he’ll be fair … miss your time hash by 03 seconds and he’ll still be fair.  That’s where our bear crawls, crab walks, and relay race happened to us.  With rucks on.  What is in the ruck, you say?  4 to 6 bricks (depending on your weight), water, and whatever else you thought you were going to need but ended up realizing was just extra weight you had to carry around all night.

Throughout the event we had great views of the city at night and into the wee hours of the morning.  The team picked up a log to carry along the way in addition to our team weight (combined 25 lbs of Ernesto the wooden fish and Rainier beer cans), American flag, and the cadre’s keg.  It was a night of good livin’.

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And you really do everything as a team.  If you take on this event go into it with a “nobody gets left behind” attitude.  One team, one fight.  One of our teammates at the beginning said something interesting – don’t LET anyone quit because they will have to wake up tomorrow and look at themselves in the mirror knowing that they gave up.

One of our teammates was badly injured just a few miles short of completing the event.  He didn’t quit, he was buddy carried to the end.  The team stayed with him and he finished with the team.  I felt tons of support as well.  There were moments where my knees were killing me, where I thought I wouldn’t make it because I’m a mom and this stuff is hard.  But our team worked together, we kept a good pace and stayed motivated throughout the event.  It also helped that Cadre Bert told us a story at the beginning that made a lot of sense.  If you think you can’t go on because you’re “gonna die” then stop where you are and just die.  It sounds ridiculous but you realize you are not in fact dying.  And you keep on going.

Anyone can get through a Challenge.  It’s an interesting experience to have to pull together as a team in such a short span of time with complete strangers.  But I wholeheartedly recommend taking on the Go Ruck Challenge.  It’s an event you won’t forget.

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Our Summer of Fun: Science Week

So, this summer I decided that I can really do all of the fun projects that I have been wanting to do with my son.  He is no longer a little kid – he’s a FOUR-YEAR-OLD.  Okay?  This means, we can do science experiments, make messes, build stuff, grow stuff, climb stuff, and who knows what else!  And really, really enjoy doing all of this together!  It is still fun to do things with your toddlers, but as your kids grow, it just becomes more exciting!  Here is what we have done so far.  Some of these ideas were borrowed from Pinterest (links included), some from his book of “101 Great Science Experiments” by Neil Ardley, and some of the ideas were mine.  All of the pictures are ours!  Enjoy!

Science Week:

For our Science Week, we learned about water tension, the reaction between baking soda and vinegar, spent a morning at the Children’s Hands on Museum in Olympia, WA ( http://www.hocm.org ), mixed various liquids, and experimented with balance using an egg, toilet paper roll, pie tin, and cup of water.  I grabbed one of my husband’s white button down shirts and a pair of goggles we happened to have and an old notebook that hadn’t been used.  This became a lab coat, protective eyewear – not that we did anything dangerous – and our lab notebook.  It’s just fun to look the part while you play!  Here we go!

Baking soda and vinegar; water, pepper, soap.

What you need:  Baking soda, vinegar, water, pepper, soap, and jars.

Above:  We started small.  First, we sprinkled pepper on water in multiple jars and then dropped a little bit of soap into the peppered water.  It may not seem like much but for a little guy it’s amazing watching the soap make the pepper “run away” to the edges of the bottle or fall to the bottom.  We did this multiple times and every time was a hit.  Since he’s a little bigger and learning to write, we brought out the “Science Notebook” and wrote down words that we used for the experiment and little descriptions.

For the baking soda and vinegar, we started with multiple small jars that had baking soda in them and added the vinegar.  Each one bubbled up – which was “awesome”!  We did the big jars a few times too.  After we had fun just making a mess of things we decided to fill more jars with baking soda and vinegar.  Only the last few times we also included descriptions in the science book about what was going on.  It “bubbled” and was “white” and also made a “fizz” sound as the baking soda and vinegar reacted.

What you need:  Nothing!  Get out of the house and have fun checking out the museum! (Above: air funnels and water pressure tubes.)

Above:  Fun at the Children’s Museum ( http://www.hocm.org ).  It’s always fun to go just to play and explore.  But THIS week we took our time and really read everything that we needed to do at various stations so that we could get the most out of our fun and learning.  It was especially fun watching the water build up pressure and then shoot the plastic balls out of the spout at the top.  We also experimented a little with the wind tunnels by first leaving the cones to see if they would float (they didn’t) and then adding slits and folding the paper back to expand the surface.  Learning can be so much fun!  Especially when you get to see it in action!

What you need:  RAW egg (I know!), toilet paper tube, pie tin, cup of water, and lots of faith.

Above:  Okay, so this one I found on Pinterest and HAD to try.  I’ll admit, I was a little nervous that I would end up with raw egg on the walkway but we tested it and had a lot of fun with it!  Here is the link provided by Pinterest: http://www.ordinarylifemagic.com/2010/01/newtons-first-with-raw-eggs.html

You need a raw egg, toilet paper roll, pie tin, and a cup of water.  Place the pie tin on top of the cup of water, stand the toilet paper roll in the pie tin, and then set the egg at the top of the toilet paper roll.  Check to make sure they are aligned with the cup of water and then SMACK AWAY!  Hit the pie tin to the side and the egg will fall straight down into the water!  Definitely fun, my kiddo set this up again and again!

What you need:  Water, oil, syrup, food coloring, rocks, sticks, leaves, and lots of jars!

Above:  “See How Liquids Float and Sink” and “Find Out if Liquids Mix” – both experiments out of the “101 Great Science Experiements” book by Neil Ardley.  Boy, what a lot of fun!  If you don’t have this book or one similar to it, you should!  We filled jars with water, then added oil, and added syrup.  It was fun to see where they all landed and how they worked with each other.  We filled a jar with water first and then oil, then we added drops of food coloring.  The pictures above show the food coloring staying as a little ball in the oil but then breaking into the water.  Very fun to watch!  We also added sticks and small rocks to our syrup, water, oil jars to see where everything stopped in the mix.  A very interesting lesson in water density for small people!

There you have it!  Just a first in a series of fun and learning that will be going on in this place!  Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated!  Almost everything here can truly be found around the house and will entertain little ones – for the bigger kids, just add a notebook and it can become a mad scientist’s experiment notes!

My 2013 Events

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In 2009, while my husband was in Korea, I was in Maryland with our first baby, and I had plenty of extra time to sit around and realize I wanted to do something more.  I needed to do something more with myself, something to push myself out of my comfort zone.  Something physically challenging… even just a little bit.  So, when a group of friends invited me to participate in the Iron Girl Triathlon in 2010 as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (http://www.teamintraining.org) I said “YES!”.  Since then, I have done a series of 5ks and a Warrior Dash.  This year, I want to do even more!  So, here is my (growing) list of fun and challenging events for 2013:

1.  GO RUCK Challenge April 2013, https://www.goruck.com/Events/Challenge

When my husband told me he signed us up for this challenge I immediately started reading as many blogs as I possibly could about this event.  I concluded the Go Ruck Challenge is a slightly scary mystery.  What I do know is that you have to carry a ruck around the city hosting the event for 8 to 10 hours, covering about 15-20 miles, while doing all kinds of energy exerting exercises with a group of strangers who make up your team.  I hear it involves buddy carries, bear crawls, log carries, and lots and lots of water.  I am ready.  And excited.

2.  Benaroya Research Institute Seafair Triathlon 2013, http://www.seafair.com/anevent.aspx?ID=5

After competing in the Iron Girl Triathlon I was hooked.  I wanted to compete in other sprint triathlons with the goal of bumping up to the olympic distance triathlons.  Since it has been a few years, I plan to start here.  This event highlights the fight against autoimmune diseases.  Another event right up my alley.

3.  Tough Mudder Seattle October 2013, http://toughmudder.com

Well, this event just looks like fun.  And if we can get a sitter, I am looking forward to taking on mud, ice cold water, and getting shocked throughout the course with my loving husband.  The Warrior Dash gave me a hunger for fun, but oh-so-challenging events.  Tough Mudder, quench my thirst.

I am excited about these three events and I plan to add others throughout the year!  Color runs, zombie survival runs, bikes throughout Washington state.  There are so many challenges out there and I am ready to take them!

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Ernesto the Cedar Fish

Ernesto the Cedar Fish

Ernesto the Cedar Fish is our team weight for our upcoming Go Ruck Challenge (14 days away). We’ll be carrying him, along with his Seattle appropriate slab of wood, on our 15-20 mile trek. Who knows what kind of events he will be enjoying with us! The slab is still a work in progress. Look forward to posting pictures of Ernesto’s Go Ruck adventures!

Are You Going To Miss It? Absolutely.

This is it!  For the last eight years of my short life I have been a Soldier in the United States Army.  I can’t exactly say I have had the most exciting time, but I can say that I am proud of the experience I have had and of the work I have been able to contribute to our ongoing mission in Iraq.  But, I hesitate to say this, in just six short months I will no longer be a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in America’s finest ranks.  By June of this year I will be just Christina.  My mornings will no longer consist of waking early to put on a physical training uniform.  I will no longer hustle my kids out to daycare so that I can get to formation by 0620.  My days will no longer be made up of ensuring my soldiers are properly trained and have what they need to maintain a good level of morale.  I will no longer be a part of the team and family I have grown to love – and hate at times.  It is a difficult decision but the time has come for me to move on.  I want to focus my attention on the home front, spend more time with my kids while they are little.  These years pass so quickly and I do not want to miss a moment if I don’t have to.

Am I going to miss it?  Absolutely.  I love spending the day around soldiers, listening to their war stories as they return from their most recent deployment or hearing their excitement and concerns as they get ready to head out to theater.  I will miss hearing “good morning Staff Sergeant” when I drive through the gate onto post, and the silly – sometimes intense – conversations with the people I have come to accept as my brothers and sisters.  I will miss the laughter that erupts from listening to one guy tell us about his evenings at home and then hearing another come back with “You clean your guns at night when everyone is sleeping?  Dude, that’s called insanity man.”  Unless you have been in uniform, there is no way to accurately describe what it is like to have these oddball relationships.  Some I see as siblings, others have become my own kids in a way.  It is painful knowing that I will not be here to work with these fine people.  Sometimes I even think about running over to the retention NCO so that I can hold my right hand up and swear to wear this uniform a little while longer.  I feel like there is still a lot to be done, more leadership that I can provide to the young Soldiers being indoctrinated to our team.

It is interesting that I have such strong feelings about the Army now.  Back when I enlisted, just in 2004, I had a heavy case of cold feet.  After graduating high school (I know.  Still a baby.), I spent some time in San Diego, enjoying my freedom.  By that time I had already been to the recruiter’s office and was enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).  At that point, I wasn’t officially in the Army and could still opt out of signing my service contract.  The time in California, paired with advice from a very close family friend, had me rethinking what I wanted out of my life.  I decided that I was going to run the other way, completely forget about the Army, enjoy some time at college while learning about myself!  But, obviously, that isn’t what I ended up choosing.  My recruiter ended up talking with me and I decided to take the jump.  I was off to basic two months later with my head full of fear and excitement, and my heart full of dedication.  I wanted to make a career out of this!

In my eight years, and some change, the Army has taken me from Arkansas to Missouri; to Texas, Maryland, Argentina, Iraq, and now Washington.  It is where I met my husband, had my children, found a large part of my own personality and character, and where I was able to meet many great friends.  The Army is my home away from home, the extended family that makes being far away from immediate family not so bad.  This is going to be one of the hardest decisions and transitions of my life.  But, it is my time to move on.

Am I going to miss it?  Absolutely.