Sunday, August 21, 2016

Seven Is Spectacular

While our sweet Mackie Claire turned 7 last Saturday, she started celebrating a week earlier. This year's friend party included a special Pinkalicious story time at Bluebird Books with her favorite reader, Miss Dell. 

It was a wonderful afternoon with seven of her gal pals, including pink cupcakes and juice, stories from Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy, a special craft time, and of course, gifts! She had a fabulous time with her sweet friends - and may I say they were all oh-so sweet and cute! We thank God for the sweet friends that He has placed in Mackie's life. 

You already know that on Mackie's actual birthday she participated in the Salty Pup Triathlon. After much-needed naps and showers, we enjoyed the rest of the day doing (mostly) whatever her heart desired in the Hutch area. 

We took a trip to Petco (for their "mama and daddy won't let us have a pet so we come here to look" fix)...

We perused the Target toy aisles in search of a special something to buy with the birthday money already burning a hole in her pocket...

We ate ice cream before dinner...

And we capped off the evening with a trip to the restaurant of her choice, Ken's Pizza. We had a great time, even if she was 40 cents more for being 7 years old through the kids buffet line. 

Mackie Claire had a pretty rock-star day. We were excited to gift her with a heart KC shirt (to match mama as we cheer on our beloved Royals!), an American Girl Olympics swim suit/gymnast outfit (complete with a gold medal, swim cap, goggles, and more!), and earrings. Little bro went in on the fun and found a bucket o'beads and puzzle magazine for big sis. 

Her look says it far, seven is spectacular!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Official Triathlete!

It's been a frequent laugh in our house that Mackie was born to one day become a Salty Pup triathlete. 

It (literally) almost happened, as I delivered her five days after waddling through our community Salty Dog/Salty Pup Triathlons in 2009, serving as coordinator. The poor little miss has celebrated her fair share of birthdays and birthday weekends at the Dog/Pup events, running around with grandma while mama coordinated and ran around like a madwoman, daddy by her side, and cheering on papa to the finish line. 

So when Mackie realized last year that her 7th birthday would fall on this year's Salty Pup Triathlon, she begged us to compete. It really didn't take much begging, as Jack and I finally felt she was old enough to compete and she had the heart and desire to train. 

She spent the summer on swim team and prepared for the swim. She spent some of her mornings running a lap or two with mama (or daddy) around the neighborhood as part of our own cool-downs during our morning runs. And she and daddy went biking on the trails several times these past few weeks, making sure she could handle the bike leg of the event. 

Race week arrived this week - and with it, brought a surprise fever to our little miss on Wednesday night. Mackie hadn't been sick for months (maybe even a few years?!), so it came out of the blue, and put us in the parental tricky-tough spot - when do we decide to throw in the towel on her first triathlon? 

Thankfully her fever broke and she woke up raring to go her birthday morning - not minding one bit that her "alarm clock" of mama and daddy singing "Happy Birthday" at 4:45 a.m. was happening. She bounded out of bed and exclaimed that she was 7 and going to take on the Pup. 

And that she did....but first the toughest part. Waiting and standing around while mama and the other Salty Pup coordinators marked, chipped, and gathered the other 80 Salty Pup kiddos (ages 6 to 15) in order while watching the 200+ adults start before them in the pool. 

Mackie was (almost) the last swimmer in the water, as the youth entered oldest to youngest. She started off the 100-meter swim great, going immediately into one of her stronger strokes - the breaststroke - and then flipping over on her back for the final 50 meters.

It was then off to transition and the bike area, where daddy (who was helping mama coordinate the Pups) helped her with shoes and bike helmet. She was off - but almost instantly became confused and was turned around, going the opposite direction and heading toward the run turn-around area. We later found out that she went about an extra 1/2-mile or so in the confusion (in a normally 4.2-mile leg), stopping and just waiting for a volunteer to help her turn around. 

Post-race we told Mackie we were proud of her pushing through and that these types of things happen. (Mama also made a mental note to make sure that "tricky" corner was covered with a volunteer next year so it didn't happen to someone else!). 

After going longer on the bike, little miss hopped off her bike and headed out to the 1-mile run, which eventually led her to the finish line. 

It warmed this mama's heart to see her blonde-headed ponytail and long legs and arms bounce through the finish line, all smiles and giggles. Immediately after the race she told Jack she was ready to train for next year (slow down, baby girl!). 

We are oh-so proud of our Mackie-girl...for pushing through when things didn't go her way during the race...and for persevering and being patient with the up-down-up-down decisions of whether or not she was able to compete as her body healed from the fever earlier in the week. 

It was fun cheering on her and the fellow Salty Puppers, as well as some of our favorite Salty Dog (adult) competitors, including Papa Jimmy, who won 2nd in the 60+ age division. What a treat to have a Salty Dog competitor in the family in the oldest age group, and a Salty Pup competitor in the youngest age group. 

We're excited to take on the Dog/Pup next year! Jack already tells me that after helping me with coordinating duties for years, he's ready to compete as a participant again, and I'm eager to help coordinate the kids triathlon again. It's much simpler than coordinating the entire event! ;)

The family that swims/bikes/runs together..... 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mackie Claire - On Your 7th Birthday Eve

My dearest, sweet Mackenzie Claire,

Today is your 366th day as a 6-year-old (the calendar gave you an extra day to enjoy being 6 this year!). Tomorrow you're (gulp)....SEVEN!

What an amazing 366 days you've had as a 6-year-old.

You entered kindergarten. You started reading more than "just" sight words and small sentences. Your love for God expanded as you continued learning and studying His precious word. You began many sweet friendships with school friends that I hope lasts a lifetime. You attended your fair share of Lady Crusader basketball games (among other sporting events). You began dance lessons and gracefully fluttered across stage at your first dance recital. You learned how to play softball. You swam to your heart's content. You enjoyed dates with daddy and girl time with mama and (usually) played sweetly with your little sidekick, AKA Brax.

We could make a list forever-long of all the adventures and fun you've had in your sixth year of life. 

But what I want you to know is what an amazing gift from God you are to your daddy and me and everyone you meet. God blessed us beyond measure when He brought you into this world at 10:03 a.m. on August 13, 2009. You came right on your due date and you've been list-making, time-telling, and task-orienting ever since. 

When you wake up tomorrow morning, on Day #1 as a 7-year-old, I want you to grasp each day and make it memorable. I want that little light inside of your heart to spill over to everyone you meet, glowing for Jesus and making Him known in this dark world. I want your to use your determined and feisty spirit for His glory. I want your tender heart to remain steadfast - showing kindness and compassion to those you meet at school, at church, and in our community. 

Your daddy and I love you so much, baby girl. We're proud of the little lady you're growing into and pray that God continues working on your heart, that you live for His Kingdom while you're running, jumping, playing, learning, growing, and living here on earth. 

Happy Birthday Eve, Mackenzie Claire Conkling. You're (almost) SEVEN!

Love, Mama

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Conklings Do Vacation

Our summer included a whirlwind of t-ball, softball, camps, swimming lessons, swim team practices and meets, Dillon Nature Center classes, Vacation Bible School, and grad school for daddy. 

After all of that was said in done - and we knew without a doubt that daddy was in fact done with grad school - we hit the road the last week of July for to re-connect, re-energize, and refresh, just the four of us. 

We let the kidlets ultimately decide where we were going this summer. Due to the timing of vacation, we opted for a short trip - either Oklahoma City or Kansas City. We talked both of them up, as if we were making big-time presentation defenses to our 4 and 6 year old, and KC won out....despite going there last summer for vacay, too.

Our family decided to keep a few favorites from last year, but to venture out and try a few new adventures, too. 

Of course we took in Royals games at the K...and ultimately "had" to buy tickets to a second night after the Royals were blitzed our first night there. It was the first time our children had witnessed a loss while attending a game there...quite the opposite from when their parents were growing up and attending games. It was a game of firsts for Mackie and Brax - first time to see them lose and the first time a player acknowledged them. They got a kick out of catcher Savlador Perez (Salvy, as many of us lovingly call him) wave to them before the game. Nothing like seeing the joy and giggles of delighted kids to see a big-league player wave back!

We managed to witness a rare July win against the Angels the second night we were there, and the kidlets even learned how to keep the scorebook. (This lasted until about the 4th inning, when mama took over, and then in the craziness of the game, she forgot to keep up and realized she had missed the 6th and 7th inning plays midway through the 8th inning...whoops!). 

We also hit up Legoland again at Crown Center. Both of the kidlets absolutely loved this place last year - and so did we! We spent the morning building, playing, creating, and shopping for (two!) new Lego sets for Brax-man. Little man saved every single penny, quarter, and dollar between last vacation and this year and ended up having more than $70 to spend at his favorite store!

While at Crown Center, we made a lunch stop at Fritz's and the fountains. In our opinion (the parents speaking here), the food isn't that great, but you pay for the kidlet experience - and what an experience it is! There's nothing quite like seeing your kidlets don those cute little conductor hats, either.

New this year was a trip to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. We had hemmed and hawed the last few years about taking the kidlets to a water park. We knew Brax needed one more year (last year), so everyone was excited about spending a day in the water. It ended up going better than any of us expected - and we will be making a return trip! About an hour of the total time was spent actually riding the slides, and the rest of the time was spent between the two larger bodies of water - the rapid rivers in the inner tubes, and the wave pool/lazy river. The kidlets could have spent the entire day going around and around (and around and around), jumping the waves!

We also treated Mackie to an early birthday with a trip to the American Girl store. Caroline had her ears pierced, and Mackie used her piggy bank money to purchase an outfit and a "care kit," complete with a cast, crutches, bandages, ice packs, everything! (apparently Caroline fell and broke her leg and needed a cast while on vacay)

Jack thought the entire place was a racket; Brax loved tagging along with sister; and I smiled from ear to ear at the entertainment between daddy shaking his head, Brax bee-bopping all over the store, Mackie oohing and aahing, and Caroline "telling" Mackie that her ears hurt a bit from the piercings. (you can only imagine!)

We also enjoyed more "treats" than usual, such as 9 p.m. ice cream runs in the hotel dining room; swimming in the indoor hotel pool; iMovie time while mama and daddy worked out in the exercise room; jumping on the beds; eating breakfast/brunch at restaurants; and not having to take naps or have quiet time every day. 

I love, love, love our family get-aways...even if it's a few hours away to a city we already frequent throughout the year. There's nothing like a mini road trip away from the hustle and bustle (and normalcy) of life, just the four of us. 

Our Little Ballerina

(This post is way past goodness, the recital was in May!)

During Memorial Day weekend Mackie danced in her first recital as a dancer with ArtisTree. For years we had gone to the Fox to watch these beautiful ballerinas gracefully flutter across the stage at both their end-of-the-year recitals and at the Prairie Nutcracker. 

Now it was finally Mackie's turn to be a part of the dance family, as she was old enough to dance in the Kinderdance I class this year. It was a fantastic year of learning ballet basics, poise, and grace. I happened to dance for Miss Betsie's dance school way back when (called Studio 3100 at a different location) and knew that if or when Mackie was interested in dance, that she could only take from Miss Betsie's program, as it (in my opinion) has the best formal ballet instruction in town. 

Miss Molly was Mackie's teacher and it was the perfect introduction to a different experience for our little sports diva, who's used to running up and down a field or a court instead of staying still. Mackie received perfect attendance for her once-weekly classes and it brought tears to this mama's eyes to see her beautiful ballerina flutter across the stage for her big Maypole dance at the recital. She was all-smiles and so cute to watch along with her classmates!

Mackie already is looking forward to dancing in the Kinderdance II class when it begins in about a month....and it's another year of Prairie Nutcracker, so we'll see if she's interested in trying out for that production later this fall.