Saturday, February 25, 2012

Colonial Erg Sprints

Today we had our first competition (called an ergathon) for crew since we ended last season and started winter conditioning. We aren't on the water yet (two more weeks!), but we've been erging our butts off and doing lots of cardio and junk (ergs are the rowing machines). Today we went down to William and Mary for an Ergathon, and JMU, St. Mary's, UMW, W&M, Purdue, and U of R were all there. It was actually a lot of fun, which I didn't really expect. Everyone on the team just cheers for each other and helps each other out, and unlike the regattas from last season, you can see them pulling and how well everyone is doing the whole race. I really enjoyed it!

For spring season, all the races are 2Ks, as compared to 5Ks from last fall season. I'm excited for our first regatta on the actual water, because I've heard they are just so intense. I started the season with a 2K time of 9:14, which I think was just January 17th. A little over a month later, my 2K Personal Record (PR) is now 8:30, which I was pretty excited about. I'm definitely not the fastest by a long shot, but considering I was never athletic before this, I'm excited!

Some of the girls team waiting for the ergathon to start!

Catherine (our girls captain) and Colleen, Varsity rowers.

Dom and Chris right after they ergged. Chris was first in his heat and he got off the erg about to die, lol. The faces we make after we finish are a little bit scary!

The also have a coaches race. Our coach Sam (blue shirt) coxes Amelia (purple shirt) and has been really pushing her to pull a 2K in under eight minutes, so she let Amelia have at her as her cox for the 500m coach dash.

Watching the races was so much fun... and got SO intense the closer to the end everyone got because everyone is just yelling and hollering!

Haha. There's me on the erg. I was actually right next to a girl from JMU that I went to middle school and high school with, so that was a little extra motivation :). Melissa got first in our heat, and I had second in our heat, so VCU definitely dominated that one.

I love this picture. Amelia had just finished pulling a 7:56 2K! She ended up in second place overall, and a girl in the last heat beat her by ONE second. It was so intense. Lucia nearly passed out, but she did awesome as well!

We seriously are such a lucky team because we have some of the BEST coxes. I love Kavya. She is in the Honors College with me, and we started crew together not knowing what we were getting into and how much we would love it! She quickly became a coxswain and LOVES it and is SO good at motivating us and pushing everyone to do better than their best. Her face just says it all.

The coxswains also had a 500m dash, which was really fun to watch. We had Kheim, Kavya, and Wendy racing!

After we had all raced! Everyone on the girls team beat their best time of the season so far, so we all did extremely well. The ergathon definitely helped motivate me, and really just proves how far we've come in a short amount of time. To me it also shows how awesome our coach is and that she knows what she is doing and what we need to be better rowers.

Two of the three Gold Hammers that our team got! Eian got first in the Novice Mens category, and Victoria got first in the Varsity Womens pulling a 7:27 2K (faster than our coach's all-time PR of 7:28!). Victoria and Amelia also got another Gold Hammer for the Women's 10K relay! SO awesome!

Joining the crew team is probably the best decision I've made so far while in school here. Last semester at the beginning of the year I really just hated school, and I contemplated transferring out of this place. Once I joined crew and really starting getting to know the sport and the team, I started to like this place a little bit more. It's definitely a time consuming sport, which is good because it gives me something to do and think about besides school. I love how much more in shape I am and how active I am now! When I told my family back in September that I was going to try it out, we all kind of laughed because it was totally out of character. As far as sports ever went, I was on the summer swim team as a kid (where everyone just had fun), and played Parks and Rec sports in elementary and middle school. So definitely not a very active person, lol.

In two weeks the crew team is headed to Florida for Spring Break, and after hemming and hawing for ever over the idea, I finally decided to go. Although I'll miss just hanging out lazily at the house, I am SO excited to be able to row in Florida with the team! It's going to be the first week back on the water, lots of sun, and of course some sand and waves, too :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Old Rag Mountain

Over President's day weekend, Andrew came home from West Point and brought two of his friends, Shawn and Shen, with him. On Saturday, the weather was actually really nice (we've had a really warm winter!) for a February day, so we decided to go ahead and hike Old Rag. It's something I've wanted to do for a while now, so I was pretty excited. Gray and Andrew hiked it about a year ago together, and this time around Derek was home so he came as well. Gray's girlfriend, Stephanie, also came along, and Suzanne and Rachel came too. Everyone had a really good time. I was surprised Rachel did as well as she did on the hike, because it's a little bit rough at times. Going up the "mountain," it's only about 3 miles, but there are lots of rocks to climb in and around. The rock scrambles were definitely really fun and sometimes a little challenging. Coming down the mountain was a little bit anticlimactic, because it was easily downhill, no rock scrambles, and eventually was just a long dirt road, but it was still an awesome time! The hike was eight miles, total.

The car drive there--It was about an hour and a half from Fredericksburg.

The roads and view from inside the car on the way there.

When we got to the mountain it was about noon, so we hiked a little bit until we found a good lunch spot. This rock area worked out perfectly. As you can see, Suzanne was already pooped out :) We just ate some simply peanut butter and jellys, but they were pretty good.

Haha, Suzanne and Andrew's faces. Suzanne looks nervous. One of the rock scrambles we climbed down.

Took a picture just like this two years ago when Andrew graduated high school.

Shen, Shawn, and Andrew

Some good lookin' sisters.

Shawn and Suzanne. Shawn ended up helping us all up a few of the harder rock scrambles... good thing he was there! And he helped make fun of Suzanne a time or two, which is always a good thing in my book :)

Happy to have reached the summit!

Gray and Stephanie ended up staying back a little on the hike, so the rest of us finished a little bit early. Notice the variety of shoes on this hike: actual hiking boots, normal tennis shoes, and three people wearing vans.

Shen and Andrew

Just a picture of the view we had. It was so pretty, but once we got to the top, the wind was blowing and we weren't moving anymore it was COLD!

Here's the group--all nine of us at the end! Such a fun hike.

Andrew and Gray took a similar picture to this one when they hiked last year, and so it was only proper to replicate it. Last year they had thrown their knives into the tree and they stuck right in, but since then they both got new knives and didn't want to ruin them, so they just placed them in there :)

After the hike was over, we piled back into the car, and most people zonked out. Andrew took all of us stinky teenagers to his grandparents' house where they gave us some awesome dinner! It was a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tubes Three Times

Today Ryan had to go in for his third set of tubes in his ears. A few of the boys in the family just have bad luck with their ears--Tanner and Ryan so far, I believe! I got the picture version of the morning from Mom while I sat in Chemistry class today--love picture phones, that's for sure.

Waiting, and occupying the time with games on the iPad! His PJs look comfy and warm!

Right before being wheeled off to the quick little surgery.

And he's off--with webkinz in tow! Then they put him to sleep, did a quick little procedure, and he was done.

After he woke up. Worth it for a popsicle? Maybe.

Mom sent me this picture and said: "Ryan said he is the happiest one. Gotta love that kid!"

They did both ears, but this is his (sideways) left ear, with just a smidgen of blood :)

Well, if it wasn't worth it for the popsicle alone, getting tubes again was definitely worth it for the Paul's Bakery donuts (oh, and increased hearing and less ear problems... that helps, too).

And to top off the day, we received letters from Elder Kemmey in the Philippines! So exciting. I opened my mailbox at school and had a letter sitting in it, and texted a picture to Mom. Mom sent this one back... letters all around! So nice to hear from him besides in the weekly e-mail! He's doing great, and the Philippines (they call it "the Phils") sound like quite the experience!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A babe, Nertz, and Hospital Fun

I happily went home again this past weekend. My friend picked me up with her Mom, and we went to Cheesecake Factory before we headed back home, which was delicious and a good time! When I got home, I got to see this kid:

Cute cute cute. What a stud.

Saturday night we had our awesome friends over and played an old card game. When Gray, Suzanne, and I were little, Mom and Dad would get together every few weeks with a group of their good friends and play a card game called Nertz. I remember getting to stay up way too late, sneaking all kinds of junk food from the table, and being shooed away from the card table to go watch movies and play with toys as the adults played. Every now and then you could hear someone yell "NERTZ". Well, finally a few weeks ago Mom and Dad taught us the game, and it's addicting to say the least. I love it. Everyone laughs because they don't realize how competitive (and I think a little bit mean/loud) I can get when playing card games.

When I was little, we didn't get computers to play while the adults played cards. We got barbies and The Little Mermaid.

The Nertz table... can't wait to play again. Dad and I were partners at first, and we crushed. Then Dad continued to crush with every other partner he had.

Sunday Mom, Dad, Evan, and I went down to Virginia Beach. We probably would have just left Evan, but we were just going to drop him and me off at VCU and have Mom and Dad continue to the beach. In the end to save time we all just went down to see Grandma. She's still hanging tight in the hospital, going on 22 days. They're still trying to figure her out! A few weeks ago they actually cut out one of her ribs in order to get to her lung, so she had a nice incision with 20+ staples on her side. Tough woman!

The ladies and young women in Grandma's ward worked on fixing up a quilt for Grandma (it has family meaning somehow... just not sure what).

After Grandma's, we headed back to Richmond. Dad, Mom, and I ate some Chili's for dinner on campus, and then they were on their way back to Fredericksburg! Weekends home are SO good!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Famous Cinnamon Rolls

During the winter, cinnamon rolls are always being made at the house. Mom used to make them all the time, especially on snow days. Eventually she taught me how to make them, and now we both make them all the time. The boys (mostly Ryan) really love helping to make the cinnamon rolls at the end, after they rise. They like to punch down the dough, and then cut them with the dental floss. This year we didn't have as much cold weather for the winter, but we did still make a plethora of cinnamon rolls! These pictures are old, but still cute. One weekend I came home from VCU, and Mom had already made the dough for the rolls, so the little guys and I finished them up.

Ryan is so excited after punching down that dough!

Rolling up the dough--we use tons of cinnamon, because in Dad's opinion, you can never have enough!

Aleena rolling out the dough

During part of the rising process... so many layers of cinnamon and sugar :)

The day's cinnamon roll making crew!

One of my favorite parts of making cinnamon rolls is seeing how they turn out in the end. Some are perfectly circular, and others pop all over the place! So fun, and even more delicious!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back-to-Back Birthday Weeks

In February we have two birthdays in the family, a week apart. Tanner's birthday falls on the 1st, and then a week later Gray's is on the 8th. Happy Birthday to them both!

Last week Tanner turned 11. He's now in scouts with the older boys, and he, Harrison, and Dad are all going to be going to scout camp this summer, which the boys are pretty excited about. Tanner has always been a very compassionate and sensitive person. He easily loves the little guys around him, and is usually willing to help out with the younger babies, which is awesome. Tanner often wanders into the kitchen when I am cooking, and wants to help, which I love. He's smart and does so well in school, which is one of the most important things at his age! Also, he played some soccer this year, and he started piano lessons. He's just all around a great kid and awesome younger brother! Happy Birthday, bud!

Tanner hanging out with Landon Shields over the summer! He is so good with the little guys (seems like a general trend in this family)!

Tanner's first piano recital around Christmas time.

Helping me make homemade apple pies for Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow Gray turns 20! This past year for him seems (to me) like it was full and crazy. Last May he was able to quit working at Subway and he now interns at the Dahlgren Base doing computer programming, something I will never understand. He is so good at it, too. With the co-op program at the base, he doesn't have to work during the school year, so he's just still going to University of Mary Washington. We're both ready to be done with school, haha, but he's still doing well, no surprise. Two things I especially love about Gray: 1. Over the summer I started going to the gym with him, and he helped me out a lot in the physical fitness area of life, lol. We still hit the gym together on weekends and whenever I'm home, and it's always a good time. 2. He is the main person teaching me to drive. He is pretty patient considering how bad of a driver I am, but I haven't had much practice. He often takes me back to school after a weekend home, and so I get some prime driving practice. Pretty awesome. Gray generally just does a lot of things for other people, and is quick to give. At the same time, he has a hilarious, cocky personality that keeps everyone laughing! Happy Birthday, Gray!

Mhmm. Stud.

This year he also managed to chop off a portion of his thumb...just some skin! It bled a lot though... he went into shock, haha :)

He was able to participate in Evan's Blessing as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was awesome--all the older boys in the family participated. And Gray was looking sharp!

And after working all summer long and making a ridiculous amount of money for a college kid without any degree, Gray was able to buy an Apple Laptop. He loves it!

Happy Birthday, guys! Love ya!

PS. Being at school during birthday celebrations is a little bit unfair. They had some delicious looking homemade lasagna for Tanner's birthday and I had some nasty Shafer Dining hall.