Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Phoebe's 12th Birthday

Phoebe is 12! - 4/15/14

It was another pretty eventful last few days for Phoebe's birthday weekend. My baby girl turned 12 on April 15th 2014. Time sure does fly. I sure do love that girl. It really shows in the way her birthday plans were right in line with the type of stuff that I would enjoy doing. Friday night was taken up with 2 soccer games for Max, So we didn't really get to start until Saturday

Saturdays Activities:

We had a relaxed morning and I went for a trail run with Penny at Cliff Cave. I knew I would have plenty of time for that before the kids woke up. When I got back I tried to call around to schedule a horse trail ride for Phoebe, her friend, and myself. Everyone was booked up for Saturday, but I managed to get a 1PM slot for Sunday. That was our plan for today, so it opened up our entire day. I tried to "suggest" that we do the SLOC (St. Louis Orienteering Club) event at West Tyson, but I didn't get any takers. We ended up going on a hike with my mom at Bee Tree. I really enjoy walking there. We did a little shopping around after that. I have it in my mind that we need a puppy for Penny, so we stopped by to see the dogs up for adoption. There were some cuties, but we walked away without one. We had to get back home to get ready for a little family gathering at our house. We had Emily's parents, my parents, and my sister, Shelley's family over for taco night and cheesecake brownies instead of a cake (per Phoebe's request). My favorite part of the evening was playing a game the kids and I had made up. It's a combination of tag, jail break, capture the flag, and hide and seek. It's very hard to explain, but it was great to get all the kids out running around the house along with Shelley, Charles (brother-in-law), and myself. We played until everyone was worn out, even me! They were some well earned brownies! After everyone left, we settled down with some TV and playing on our electronics. Then Phoebe came up to me with an idea. A crazy, wonderful idea. She wanted to wake up early and watch the sunrise from the top of the cliff at Cliff Cave. I was sold and to my surprise, Max was too. He is normally one to sleep in. Awesome! With that decision, we were quick to bed so we could get up early.

Sunday's Activities:

This morning was much different than yesterday. I had my alarm set and we got up early. It seemed pretty bright out and I got Max, Phoebe, and Penny moving quickly so we could be on our way. We were actually cutting it pretty close. We could even see the colors of the sunrise in the sky on the way there. The clouds were also pretty thick, so I was concerned we wouldn't really see anything. We get within sight of Cliff Cave park entrance, and just as I feared the gates were closed. I pulled off and into the near by subdivision and we all got out and had to go for a morning jog. Now it's REALLY cutting it close. The kids ran pretty fast for so early in the morning. We made it to the cliff and hadn't missed it and it wasn't completely covered by clouds. It was nice to stay up there and just take it all in for a while. We eventually headed on our way back to the car and to get some breakfast. We went to Panera (St. Louis Bread Co.). It was delicious. We sat outside so Penny could join us and the temp was cooperating. We got back home and we had some time to relax before Phoebe and I had to head out for horseback riding at 1PM, so I took a quick opportunity to go for a quick mountain bike ride back at Cliff Cave. Oh no, the rain was coming. It had rained a decent amount and I got the call canceling our horseback ride. Phoebe's friend was already on her way over, so we had to come up with a backup plan quickly. Lots of ideas were tossed around and we settled on indoor rock climbing at Upper Limits. Thankfully Phoebe's friend was up for the change as well. We had a good time and the girls did great! My arms and fingers are easily the first to go and eventually I can no longer manage to hold on at all and that's when it's time to go. We stopped for some milk shakes and pre-dinner snack at Steak N Shake. That concluded our weekend with the kids. Phoebe had a birthday dinner to get to at Laury's parent's house.

Monday Night:

One last birthday dinner from us for Phoebe. We took her out to The Melting Pot. Everything was incredibly good. Between courses we were having fun making jokes, goofing off, and making videos on my phone. The notable highlights were the slow motion video of Emily, Phoebe's "don't you DARE touch my food" picture, and me getting caught by our waiter playing with the lobster tail shell. We also ended up with a second plate of deserts to dip in our chocolate! It was a 3 hour dinner, but time really flew by. On the way to the car I stepped on a sandwich on the sidewalk. I'm not sure i can quite explain how that turned into something so funny, but trust me that it was. It was a great birthday run. I hope that Phoebe had as much fun as I did!

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Parent's 70th Birthday Extravaganza!

Ray and Carol Rodenbeck's 70th Birthday Celebration

My family has a big weekend planned to be together celebrating my parent's 70th birthday (Mom 4/6, Dad 4/10). Yes, they are just 4 days apart in age. My sister, Lynn and her family (dogs included) were going to be in town from Kansas City to celebrate with us. Since this was closer to my mom's birthday, she did most of the decisions when it came to what she wanted to do. It was quite and adventurous plan as you will soon see. My oldest sister, Shelley, and her family (including dogs) were there along with my family. That made for a total of 14 people and 5 dogs (sorry cats, you were not invited).


I had a race in the morning. You can read about those details HERE. I came straight from the race to grab my family and head out. The first thing on the agenda was a picnic. We all met up at Castlewood Park for a nice picnic. We got a nice spot along the creek with enough picnic table space for the lot of us. It didn't take long for the water fun to commence. It's hard to say who started it. Max is a likely candidate, as he always finds a way to test his limits and beyond to fall into whatever water source is around. Although my dog, Penny, isn't shy about jumping right in. I was trying to abide by the rules and keep her on leash which meant that I was knee deep in it quickly as well. It was a little cold, but in a refreshing way. Lunches were eaten and soon we were ready for more.

My mom wanted to hike the Castlewood Lone Wolf trail. Good choice. It starts with a steep climb straight up to the top of the cliff. Some of the kids got courageous and thought they'd try to race to the top. Most of them didn't make it much past half way before slowing to a walk. I think my daughter, Phoebe, actually was the winner to the top (proud pappa)! Penny was just full of energy and we ran up and down and up and down from the front of the group to the back. The kids did their best to get close enough to the edge to terrify their parents.
There was plenty of running, jumping, dog sniffing, climbing, and other activities going on. We stop for a group photo that is always impossible to keep everyone together and still long enough to take a good one. The trails eventually comes back down the hill and has a little bit along the creek. My adventureous family hopped down into the creek and was walking along the gravel banks. We eventually got to a spot where we couldn't go further. I had found a plank and used it to secure a walkway up the 4 foot embankment over a section of the creek and back to the trail. The dogs were not so sure of this and most had to be carried or lifted over. We were back at our picnic area and enjoyed some more water time. We moved to one of the big fields after a bit. Some of us played some kickball while others just enjoyed sitting out in the sun. It really was a beautiful day to be at the park. It doesn't take long for thirst and hunger to motivate a group to move on.

Emily worked on the dinner for everyone, Lynn got the salad together, and Shelley had made the cake. My son, Max, and my nephews, Austin and Jacob, had some paintball fun in the woods behind my parents house while we waited for everything to be ready. Target practice is fun I guess, but moving targets are better! I came up with a game for me to be their target. My goal was to capture their flag, while their goal was to shoot me first. Simple enough. We did a round for each of them. I got fairly close each time, but they managed to hit me before I could get there. It was well worth the few welts/bruises and the kids had a blast. Time to eat. Food was all good and the cake was designed exceptionally by Shelley. We got my parents a Missouri hiking book, a birdhouse shaped like a camper, trekking pants for each of them, a backpack, and a Camelbak. They loved it all and we even got a fashion show by my dad with his new pants. It was hilarious. If I were better at guessing sizes, my mom probably would have joined him in the fun. The rest of the night was spent together catching up and talking about the days activities. The kids played some version of flashlight tag. We had a fire going out on the deck. Penny got a little too close backing up and singed some fur on her tail. Dad caught that just in time before it was really bad. We called it a night before it got to be too late because tomorrow had more on the agenda and we would need a good night's sleep.

Sunday 4/6/14

Everyone got ready, had a good breakfast, and met up at Creve Coeur for the Go Ape! Zip line and obstacle course! The kids played on the playground and played 4 square while waiting for our reservation time. 10 of us were adventurous enough to take on the course. Ray, Carol, Charles, Jacob, Austin, Summer, Emily, Max, Phoebe, and myself. The other watched, cheered, encouraged, and took pictures. We went through the safety demonstration and through the mini practice area. Poor Emily is so afraid of heights that even trusting the line for the practice area wasn't easy. I wasn't sure what was going to happen once we got up to the real platforms. Rope ladders and small platforms really made things interesting.

The safety lines for the ladders and tarzan swing actually felt like they were pulling you down which was strange to deal with. Despite some screaming, Emily made it down the zip to complete the first site. The obstacles were challenging, but everyone was getting more at ease being up in the air and trusting the safety lines. Max, Phoebe, Summer, and I were even testing our courage to the limits. We would try to clear some crossings without holding onto ANYTHING. The surfaces had a tendency to want to swing out or twist out form underneath you, so it was harder than it looked. The landings were hard for most, and ended up getting drug along the bark crash zones. It was good for a laugh for the others and no one got hurt. I wore my Garmin to keep track of speeds when zipping. I got up to 21.3 mph. Not too shabby. I was so proud of my parents for getting through the entire course with very little trouble at all. Emily was the one that probably had the biggest fear to overcome and she did GREAT!

I was really so incredibly proud. That got everyone hungry and worn out. The weekend wrapped up with another gathering at my parent's house. We all grabbed some lunch and visited for a bit. Lynn and her family had to head back to KC. I had to return the kids to my ex who had been nice enough to let me have the kids for all of this on her weekend.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Emily's Kidney

Emily's Kidney

I can't believe this day finally came! Four and a half years after going back on dialysis, Emily finally got a kidney transplant. The support from our family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers has been overwhelming. Her surgery yesterday went well and made for a very long day at the hospital. 9AM arrival to 11PM to be out of recovery and in her room. I'd love to say more, but I'm going to have to pass so I can get back to her.

Take care and thank you all again.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

1 Year Anniversary - Brian & Emily Rodenbeck

1 Year Anniversary

Yesterday was our 1 year anniversary. Emily, myself, family, and friends were at Myrtle Beach where it became official. It was a fabulous week in Myrtle Beach, and it's been a fantastic year since. We finished our evening with a nice dinner at the top of the Millennium revolving restaurant. It was delicious. During dinner we talked about a lot of stuff, but what really struck me was everything that we had done during our first year of marriage. We went to Vermont, Seattle, Florida, Kansas City, and Columbia. Emily did more traveling that that for work too. I love that we got to do so much traveling. I'm not sure we can keep up that pace, but hopefully we can do some. At least two of those were for my races, and I think I will look to expand my destination races to new places so we can continue to explore. That doesn't even account for all of the adventures we go on. Every weekend has at least one or two activities, events, races, or other type plans. I can't believe Emily has the energy to keep up with all this and be in kidney failure. Once she's got a transplant and is feeling better, where are we going to find the time to do even more stuff? I guess that's a good problem to have. I look forward to another wonderful year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend

A long awaited three day weekend, a weekend with the kids, and no race in my immediate future. Those were the ingredients to a fantastic weekend. We did our usual family planning to get a guideline for the weekends activities. It was a great combination of action and relaxation. I think it turned out fabulously. You can be the judge.

Friday's don't normally include too many activities outside of the family planning session. However, this week was a lot more eventful. Phoebe and I managed to go for a bike ride. We ended the day by going up to Mehlville pool for a nice swim. Phoebe went head first off the diving board for the first time just before it was time to go. I figured out that it's hard to get Max to do anything other than a flip anymore. I fit in some regular swim set training while the kids did their own thing. Swimming does a lot for draining energy and everyone sleeps good those nights.

 Wow, was that just Friday? Saturday started off early to try to beat the heat. We went for an early bike ride around the trail at Jefferson Barracks park. I can't say we really beat the heat though. It was hot early. I had to ride through a flat tire on my cyclocross bike. We took it slow and I managed to keep from ruining the tire or rim. It was time to head home and cool off for a bit through the heat of the day. We all played a full game of Monopoly (I won thanks to Boardwalk/Park Place). Off into the heat again and to St. Francis' school picnic. The kids and I rode a few rides and that was seriously all I could handle. My days of being able to handle non-stop riding or any ride are over. Momo the monster (octopus ride), scrambler, and the round up. We ran into Tisa whom I hadn't seen in forever. Phoebe went on to use up the remaining tickets on her own with the Pharoh's ride and then finally the nice, relaxing carrosel. We weren't there for much more than an hour and that was all I could take of the mid-day heat. We also watched the Men in Black movies to get the kids ready to seeing the new Men in Black 3 movie that is coming out. It was decided to do a backyard camp out, so we setup the tent and got the fire pit down by our "camp site". We roasted marshmallows and told some stories before bed. Emily didn't join us in the tent and Max didn't last long because of the heat. I don't blame him. It took forever for it to cool down so I could sleep, and the birds woke me up early.

Sunday morning was another try at an early start to beat the heat, but this time it was the Renaissance Fair. Again, we failed with the heat. It came on early and even with the shade, it was still just plain hot. We went to a juggler show there that was good and funny. The kids threw knives while Emily and I threw axes. The kids did most of the quest (Max did finish, but wwe weren't able to stick around for his knighting).  We also somewhat successfully shot the bow/arrow. The people there are always interesting. The camelbak full of cold water helped get us through the day. Poor Emily with her liquid limitations though, darn failed kidneys. Time to get home to cool off and relax. I made a stop at the bike shop to get tubes to fix my flat. I made some other smaller bike repairs as well. We watched some really cheesy scary movies with some of the worst acting I've ever seen. It just ends up making the whole thing funny. We eventually went for another bike ride around the neighborhood once the sun started going down (again, with the heat dictating our schedule).  When we got back Emily and I introduced the kids to a couple new games. We played our favorite card/word game, Quiddler. Then the fireworks came out and we had a blast playing Risk. Very little happened in the way of ganging up or teaming up. The battles were constant and had a "take no prisoners" feel.  It's a long game and didn't finish until Monday morning with Emily routing all of our troops leaving everyone else in her wake.

Monday. Yes, can you believe we did all that and still had another day to go? We finished our Risk game, ate some breakfast, and a quick visit with Emily's mom, Maryann. Then the kids and I were off to Gypsy Caravan to meet up with my parents. Emily stayed home to relax. Not a bad choice with the heat and all the walking we had to do. We found my parents right away and wove our way around two of the three big areas that were setup with seemingly endless rows of tables of peoples stuff and people everywhere. We all got at least a little something there. I even picked up soem things for Emily. The kids got some cool rags and I brought the camelbak, so those kept us cool and the heat manageable. We headed back with the kids so they could go to a BBQ with their mom and that side of the family. The house gets so quiet , so quickly when they go. Roxie, our cat, likes it but I miss them pretty quickly. I immediately made myself busy cutting the grass.

Monday continued... It is Memorial day and all. I went out for a short run. I headed out to Jefferson Barracks cemetery. A mere 2 miles there and 2 miles back doesn't make for much of a training session. That wasn't the purpose though. I was taken back by the large line of cars coming to and from the cemetary of people visiting their lost loved ones. I was there to do the same. I visited William A Edens. He was agreat friend and just one day younger than myself. We were told we looked like brothers a lot (although he was always thought of as the older one because of my size). We lost him in 2005 and there aren't very many days between times that I think about him. He inspires me still to be the best me that is possible. It drives me to know how much of a gift my life is and that I need to make the most of every moment. I miss you, Wil. While there I took a moment to look out over the sea of seemingly endless graves, each with a flag, and be hit with the impact of how many lives, at this location alone, that were effected. On my way home there was still the endless flow of cars and in and out of the cemetary. It was good to see so many people remembering this day was for so much more than just cook outs.

Weekends with the kids

Weekends with the Kids

We have implemented a new process for handling our time with the kids in order to maximize every minute. Every Friday when the kids arrive we gather at the dining room table with a dry erase board. It's time to create a family plan. I love this. We all sit around the table and start calling out and writing down all the options of things that are happening or things we want to try to fit in (no one's idea is to be ignored). Then comes the elimination process because there are only so many hours in a day. I'm always pleasantly surprised to see how smoothly that goes. Sometimes the plans are jam packed, non-stop action and other weeks it is a more laid back relaxing guideline. I think it is so successful because everyone gets a say and are open to other people's ideas, knowing that their own ideas will be heard. I bet it helps that it takes some of the control out of my hands and we don't end up participating in "boot camp" the whole time.