Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Little Scare

As a mom, there's not much scarier than the emotion that runs through you when you've lost one of your kids. I've had only a couple of those moments in my 11 years of motherhood, both of which have etched lasting scary memories in my brain and soul. Tonight, I almost had another one. Ryan was gone at scouts, and I was busy trying to catch up on a bunch of stuff around the house in preparation for being in Park City tomorrow. Getting costumes ready for Easton's preschool Halloween party tomorrow, rotating the laundry, washing the dishes, signing homework, tidying up, encouraging the peeps to get their teeth brushed and up to bed. You know the drill. Finally, I broke free of the routine and helped Easton with his pearly whites, knelt by his bed while he prayed, patted his back, and tucked him in for the night. Such a sweet boy. As I shut his door, I headed for round 2: the girls' room. Afty was in the bathroom brushing her teeth, but Rowan was nowhere in sight. No one knew where she was.

When was the last time I'd seen her???

It had to have been at least 15 or 20 minutes ago.

But I thought I saw her go into her room???

I searched all the rooms in the house, and still - no Rowan. I called her name, and soon all the kids joined the search. Just then, Ryan came home. He started looking in all the places I had just looked. Under the beds, in our closet, behind the couches, under the pool table - the usual hiding spots.

Still, no Rowan. I was starting to panic, but kept telling myself, "She has to be here somewhere. Where could she possibly be hiding?"

Then Afton, with her brilliant 8-year old mind, told us to find Rowan's box, and we'd probably find her. I ignored that suggestion because I had no idea what box she was talking about and was really starting to wonder where Rowan could be.

The house isn't that big.

All the doors are locked.

But Afton repeated her idea again 3 times, and finally, it clicked.

Ah yes. The box.

Today at Lily's house, Corinne carved windows and doors into appliance boxes for the girls, then let the girls color them. Rowan hadn't let it that Home Depot box out of her site all evening. Funny how a box can bring so much joy.

Yes, here it is. This is the one.

And lo and behold, when I opened the door to this most supreme fort of creative wonder, what did I find?

One Rowan Sue Brown.

Curled up in ball with her pillow and blanket. Completely asleep.

At first, I thought she might be goofing around and just hiding from us.
Nope. Totally zonked out. Snoring almost. Too funny. But such a relief to know that she was safe and sound in our house...I can hardly bear the thought of losing one of them. I'm pretty sure there could be nothing worse.

(P.S. Her older sisters wanted me to leave her there all night...I couldn't do it. She's now tucked safe and sound in her cozy bed.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

100 Random Things I Love no particular order:
  1. Graham crackers and milk before bed.
  2. Cinnamon/Pumpkin candles
  3. Picking up my pictures
  4. Playing Clue
  5. Sour jelly bellies
  6. Cherry Pie
  7. Laying out on a raft
  8. Shopping by myself
  9. Reading on the beach
  10. Hot tamales
  11. Sitting by the fire
  12. my iMac
  13. Curling my eyelashes
  14. Cool mornings
  15. Looking at Christmas lights
  16. "I Know that My Redeemer Lives"
  17. My SLR camera
  18. Afton's laugh
  19. Ryan's morning fruit shakes
  20. Filet mignon, medium
  21. Raspberry Lemonade
  22. Walking my girls to the bus stop
  23. Scrapbooking
  24. Rainbow watermelon suckers
  25. Pedicures
  26. Freshly highlighted hair
  27. Vacuum lines
  28. Pay day
  29. Pink grapefruit with sugar
  30. 80's music
  31. Making cards
  32. Clean bathroom
  33. Friday mornings
  34. Luca's in Rocky Point
  35. Rainy days
  36. Spicy chili
  37. Cinnamon rolls
  38. High heels
  39. Curled hair
  40. Manicured lawn
  41. Happy kids
  42. Double dates
  43. Watching bubbles
  44. New Year's Day
  45. 14 days of Valentine's
  46. My green chili pork burros
  47. Red Robin fries
  48. Black comfy pants
  49. Volleyball
  50. Editing pictures
  51. Blogging
  52. Chocolate milkshakes
  53. Full tank of gas
  54. Fresh fruit
  55. Looking through scrapbooks
  56. Finished laundry
  57. Snow
  58. Ryan's arm around me
  59. Sharp scissors
  60. Taking pictures
  61. Christmas party
  62. Corn on the cob
  63. Time at the cabin
  64. Fresh & Easy
  65. Bean burro, enchilada style
  66. 8 hours of sleep
  67. Sewing 
  68. Chips & salsa
  69. Chinese food with Ryan
  70. Going to Diamondbacks games
  71. Lunch with Ann & Jackie
  72. One on one time with my kids
  73. iPhone
  74. New makeup
  75. Flip flops
  76. Dressing up
  77. Family vacations
  78. Super fast roller coasters
  79. Magic Mountain
  80. Krispy Kremes
  81. Temple dates
  82. Lemon Meringue pies
  83. My ultra comfortable bed
  84. 4 pillows
  85. Running shoes
  86. The gospel
  87. Leftover turkey
  88. Decorating the tree
  89. Picnics at the zoo
  90. Fun jewelry
  91. Easton's fresh hair cuts
  92. My scrapbook room
  93. Breakfast burritos
  94. Sunday afternoons
  95. Michael's smile
  96. Tanned legs
  97. Jacuzzi dates
  98. Dill pickles
  99. A set table
  100. Clean sheets

Sunday, October 25, 2009

At Last: The Beach Pictures

I already blogged about our fantabulous vacation, but I never posted the pics.  Here are some of my favorites from our great week in Carlsbad.  Fall break....I love it!

Barrett, Randi & Afton:  The Beach Babes

Barrett & Jayme at the park on their birthday:  10/13/09

Even though Easton wouldn't look up, I wanted to include this picture to document how chilly we were at the beach those first two days.   The kids were the only ones brave enough to get in the water.  All of us stayed bundled up!

Ahhh...the freedom to be a kid!

Grandma Cindy brought the bubbles again for the kids, which were a big hit.  Afty was having a great time with hers.

And so was Easton.

All pride aside, I decided to post this pic anyway.  Crazy beach hair at it's finest!  I'm so happy to be married to this guy...the love of my life.

My mom was posing for me as I worked on my new camera settings.  I loved this pic!  And I love that smile!

The kids dug a huge tunnel, human size, and Barrett made her way through.

And so did Michael.  Look at that grin...that's the best!

Rowan - our beach beauty!

Grady just looks too cute in this picture.  

Shari's brother, David, drove down from San Clemente to spend a beach day with us.  It was so good catching up with him.  It's been forever!

Easy E

Afty and Ryan had a good game of paddle ball going on.  

Tallin caught me sneaking a pic with my telephoto lense and instantly broke into that shy guy grin.  I love this guy.  Such a terrific nephew!

Easton had a blast just playing in the sand.

Randi, Barrett, Mattie and Macy:  taking a break to look through the mag.

Beth & Dan's boys, Cade & Corbin (aka Mayhem & Destruction)

Even Bryant enjoyed playing in the sand.

Easton & Rowan played well together in the beach.

Mike enjoyed the extra grande waves this trip, courtesy of the tsunami that hit a couple of weeks ago.

Lainey was getting so frustrated trying to play paddle ball with Morgan.  Every time the volley stopped, she looked like she was about to break into tears.  This picture captured the emotion so well.

Are these guys so adorable or what?  Trey & Rowan are just the best of friends.  

Thanks for being such a great friend to Rowan, Trey!  You are one handsome devil!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It comes in 3's

What a good day!  I am feeling richly blessed and incredibly thankful for so many things, but especially for my body and my health.   My mind is full tonight.  Full of thoughts.  Full of gratitude.  Full of reflection.  Where to start...

In my running life, Saturdays are affectionately referred to as my "long days."  Today was my longest yet.  12 miles.  1 hour, 47 minutes, 55 seconds.   And today was the first day ever that I ran with an iPod.  Strange, I know, since just about everyone in the running world seems to run to music these days.  But I have always loved the silence on the run.  

Time to think. 
Time to reflect.  
Time to free my mind of the world.

But last Saturday as I ran 11, I have to admit that my mind started focusing more on just getting down this street, or just making it to that sign, and the passage of miles was my primary focus.  No longer did I think of life things, kids, to-do's, etc.  Just running.  And it seemed like it took forever.  So this week, I told Barrett that I was thinking of running to music.  She gladly lent me her iPod Nano, and even whipped up a "Mom's Running Mix" for my playlist.  She did a great job.  It kept me rockin the whole run!  Thanks, Barrett.

But anyway, I digress.  While I was on my run, at about mile 8, I rounded the corner just south of the Royal Palms golf course, passing the active senior living complex adjacent to the course.  As I ran by, I saw a very overweight man, maybe in his early 60's or so, sitting on his patio in his dirtied wife beater tank and shorts, smoking smoking smoking away.  I winced as his smoke invaded my air and I sucked in a whiff of the nasty smoke.   The irony struck me vividly as I pressed on, running in strong cadence with lungs full of air, heart rate steady at 150, energized to tread through my final 4 miles.  Oh, how thankful I was to have this body...

Not 2 minutes later, I rounded another corner, heading south on one of the streets just west of MacArthur.  Another older man, this one very fit and well dressed, was doing his best to get down his driveway into his car on crutches.  His left pant leg was cut off at the thigh revealing his missing left leg.  Perhaps a war injury.  Maybe a car accident.  At any rate, the irony again hit me hard as I ran by, powered by my two strong legs.   This time, my eyes teared up and I so wished that that man could feel what I was feeling just then - that runner's "high" that you read about.  Like some force that propels from within the desire to just keep running.  It's like I was on auto pilot.   It was so real and so powerful.  Again, I was immensely grateful for my health.

Then tonight at our adult session of stake conference I had the third very real affirmation that I am so blessed.    As if I didn't know.  The conference was so amazing.  Such great talks.  Such a strong spirit.  Oh, it was just what I needed to hear.  During the rest hymn, we stood and sang.  Two rows in front of us was a young man, probably in his late 20's or early 30's, who was sitting in a wheel chair.  As the hymn started, the other man who apparently accompanied him to the conference, grabbed the arm of his friend, lifting him out of his wheelchair so that he, too, could stand and worship in song.   As he shakily rose to his feet, the man's left arm flared wildly as if he were trying to grasp for an anchor.  Clearly, his weak legs were not accustomed to standing much.  As I watched the friend buoy him up during the song, the emotion swept through me something fierce.  I am even crying again now as I type this remembering how I felt a couple of hours ago.  I couldn't even get through the song.  I think the emotion was a mix of gratitude for the life I have, compassion for the man enduring such a trial, and appreciation for the service his friend was rendering him.  

3 times in one day.  

3 lighting bolts reminding me to be grateful.  

3 opportunities to remember how lucky I am to be strong and healthy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sea Life Aquarium - Very Cool!

Right next to Legoland in Carlsbad, California, is a new place called Sea Life Aquarium.   Last week while we were at the beach, we took off early one morning and ended up there.  It turned out to be a very cool experience.

Rowan and Easton thought it was awesome being "in" the fish tank.

Like most little boys, Easton loves the legos.  We really should take him to Legoland sometime.  I bet he'd be in heaven.  It's funny that in all the years we've been going to Carlsbad for vacation, we've never been.  Maybe someday.

Nice shell, Afty.

Linda was the one who actually found this place as she was looking into Legoland.  We were actually headed to Knott's Berry Farm for the day.  But as we pulled into my parent's hotel to print our discount tickets, I called Knott's to listen to the driving directions and was met with the friendly recorded greeting saying that Knott's was closed for the day due to inclement weather.  Total bummer!  Thank goodness we didn't drive all the way there and then find out the bad news.  But in the end, it worked out just great.  We enjoyed the aquarium, then the sun broke through and the rest of the day was outstanding.  We were on the beach by 12:30 and loved every second of it.

Afty was posing with the jellies just for fun.  These always remind me of Nemo - the part when Marlin forges through the hundreds of jelly fish to save Dory.  Crush tells him, "You've got serious thrill issues, dude."

Our little man looks a little happy to be here, eh?

Barrett & the star fish

Afton wasn't super excited to touch them, but she relented and gave me the one finger touch, just for photo history sake.

This room in the aquarium was soooo cool.  The picture hardly does it justice.  Fish, fish, fish.  Everywhere.  It was dark, so Rowan looks like she's glowing a bit with the camera flash.

And here we are at the end of the tour.  The six Brown peeps, happy to have seen some amazing sea creatures.  My favorite was the shark and manta ray exhibit.  It was incredible.  Check out this little clip.  So so cool!

The Course

I got an email from the "Run From the Sun" race coordinator saying that the course had changed. So I just pulled up the site and found the new course map. This is what I'm going to be running 23 days from now. We start in the HoHoKam stadium, make two loops around Mesa, mostly on canals, then end up by crossing home plate inside the stadium. This is quite a bit different from the course they previously published, but a lot less mileage along main roads which is very good from a traffic perspective. An no giant hill to climb! Previously, we were running up the Horne to Stapley hill on McKellips. Yipee! Maybe I should try this loop once in my training over the next 3 weeks and get a feel for the course. I'm excited. 13.2 miles, baby!

(double click to enlarge the image)

Course Description:
-Exit Stadium and enter canal on Center Street
-Turn South (right) on Stapley and exit canal
-Take Stapley to Main Street
-Turn West (right) on Main
-Go North on Center Street and enter canal again
-Repeat the loop
-Enter into stadium and finish crossing home plate

Tired, but Good

Tired, so tired. Yet still I go, go, go. Right now I want to stop, stop, stop, and find a place to lay my head. I think it all started on Saturday with a very long run and full day of busyness “de-beaching” the Brown house. Then a good date night, late Saturday night and early Sunday morning rise for church. Sunday afternoon, one of my most favorite times, went by far too fast, and before I knew it, I’d missed my window of opportunity to sneak in a nap. Sunday night dinner at Grandma Cheri’s was super delicious and fun to spend time with family. Again, not enough sleep on Sunday night, which turned into a very early Monday morning with my jogging feet canvassing the asphalt in the wee hours of the day.

Monday whizzed by with a crazy busy catch-up day at work after a week of vaca, a terrific FHE with the family, late night computer work, bed, up again Tuesday for more running. 6 miles, followed by a never-sit-down-except-for-the-car-ride kind of day. Errand city with Easy E, finished the beach laundry (oh glory day!), parent teacher conferences, guitar lessons, spaghetti dinner, kids run through the wash, rinse & dry cycle, and off to the U2 concert, which by the way, took us almost 2 hours to get to. Seriously, it was the most insane traffic ever! We were basically bumper to bumper on the 202 from Dobson in Mesa to 43rd Ave.

We finally made it to the parking lot of U of P Stadium at 99th Ave & Bethany Home at 7:55, just in time to catch the last 2 songs of the Black Eyed Peas, who opened up for U2. The concert was definitely good (and packed and loud), but I wished we were sitting down lower in the $$ seats. I guess I need to admit that, on select occasions such as this, I am OK with forking out a little extra cash when it comes to a good concert and being up front. Thank goodness for the jumbo-trans. And it was long! U2 didn’t come on until just after 9:00 and they played until 11:25. Triple encore. A couple of world hunger pleas, and finally, they finished. We had taken Barrett & Afton with us (Ryan wanted them to experience U2 at an early age) and they were pretty dang tired by the end. But I’m glad they went too. What a cool thing to be able to say you saw U2 at ages 11 and 8!

I think my favorite song of the night was the acoustic performance of “Caught in the Moment.” I love it when they go old school and lose some of the noise. I love hearing every note of the guitar and being able to understand the lyrics with clarity, absent the drums, keyboard, and bass guitar. And The Edge – man he has a great voice! No doubt he’s an outstanding guitar man, but this was one of the first times I’ve really ever noticed how great he sings backup. Bono obviously has the center stage when it comes to vocals, but his whole band sings well. I’m glad that we got to be there with Morgan & Jessie too. Good times. Good memories. Tack another ticket stub on the wall of fame. What a good night!

So it was 12:30 when we finally got home and picked up the two sleeping little ones from my mom’s, then to bed by 1:00 am. It was one of those “You’ve got to be kidding me” moments when the 6:00 am alarm jolted me out my practically comatose state. I was thinking, “There’s no way I even slept for 5 minutes!” although I knew I hadn’t moved a muscle in the last 5 hours. You know that feeling?? Thankfully, Wednesday is a rest day on the training schedule, so my Asics stayed comfortably perched on my shoe shelf for the day. Until last night, that is, when I got home from work and tied them on again to go play 2 hours of volleyball. What a fun time! The women in our stake just started volleyball again this week, so we’re playing Wednesday nights from 8-10 for the next month. I love it! My bed was a sight for sore eyes last night. So glad I caught up a little on the sleep with close to 7 hours. But I ran again early this morning and I’m still feeling sleep deprived now at lunchtime. Thankfully, I know it’s nothing a good nap and an 8-hour sleep night won’t fix. Not sure how I could possibly finagle a nap over the next few days, but bedtime will hopefully come early tonight…

Still, life is good. So, so, good. As Beth would say, I’m not complaining, I’m reporting. So grateful to have this body, this strong heart and lungs, these powerful legs that keep moving me forward. What a gift to have health!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Beach

So what is it about the beach that I love so much? Hmmm…I know it’s not :

Being on my feet for what seems like a year the day before we leave, trekking up and down stairs, all around the house and garage, from laundry room to bedrooms, to linen closets to kitchen, all in preparation for the glorious week ahead.

Packing up the trailer with clothes, bedding, cots, beach towels, shower towels, food, dishes, chairs, boogie boards, sand toys, firewood, and snacks for 6.

Driving for 7+ hours with the kids and gear packed to hilt in the suburban.

Pitching the giant family tent while trying to keep a solid eye on the peeps who have now found boundless freedom outside the car and are running loose amid the camp. It’s finally getting a little easier now that our youngest is four. With babies, that was always a real treat :)

Setting up the trusty 16 x 20 awning we bought at Park & Swap some 12 years ago.

Rolling out the sandy indoor/outdoor carpet (affectionately known to all seasoned beach campers as “beach grass”) with the goal of covering the entire surface of the dirt campsite in some effort to maintain a little cleanliness and sanity over a week of camping.

Doing my business in the not-so-tidy state park restrooms several times a day.

Reminding my young ones constantly to “not touch anything” as they do their business in the same glorious place.

Waiting in line to take a shower.

Hoping the 50-cents-for-3-minute shower tokens actually produce a warm stream of water while I keep my flip flops firmly secured to my feet in order to avoid catching a foot disease.

Draining and re-stocking the ice chest daily to keep our food for the week safe to eat.

Un-doing all of this at the end of the week. Departure day is not my favorite day :)

Doing 22 loads of laundry and “de-beaching” upon our return.

Nope, it’s none of those things. Shocking, I know. Although really, I have gotten so used to all that part that I’ve long since accepted it as part of the “experience.” And somehow I still love to go. As I type this it sounds a little strange.

But what I do love is:

Watching our kids have the time of their lives, playing outside day in and day out.

Taking lots and lots of pictures (one of my favorite things to do).

Spending good quality time with cousins, immediate and extended family, and great friends. This trip was one of the largest gatherings of related peeps ever. I stopped counting once the kid count topped 50. Seriously, too much fun.

Killer morning jogs while breathing in cool, ocean air.

Big, delicious outdoor-cooked breakfasts of French toast, pancakes & bacon, & breakfast burritos.

Sleeping with the sound of ocean waves crashing just below the bluff.

Sandcastles, paddle ball, boogie boarding, scooters, bikes, bubbles, snacks…

Soaking up the sun and sand (although we got robbed on the sun the first 2 days of our trip).

Reading good books. I finished “Parenting with Love and Logic” on this trip and loved it!

Sitting around the camp fire each night, visiting and catching up with family and friends.

Roasting marshmallows.

No laptop, no email.

Juanita’s: 3 rolled tacos with cheese and guacamole.

Need I say more?

Pictures to follow in the next post...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dory: My Inspiration

I've watched Finding Nemo more times than I can count. I still cry at the opening scene when the shark eats all the fish eggs, save one. It's one of our family favorites. One of the lines that always sticks in my mind is when Dory is swimming through the ocean with Marlin, Nemo's dad, on the hunt for missing Nemo. Dory suffers from short term memory loss and plays a total airhead character in the movie (that's not the inspiring part). As she swims, she sings this catchy little tune:

"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming..."

Are you singing it to yourself now?

Well...almost every time I'm out on a long run, I find myself singing that same little tune in my head, just slightly modified.

"Just keep running. Just keep running. Just keep running, running, running..."

That was me Saturday morning. Just keep running. Just keep running....I ran 11 miles! 1 hour, 38 minutes, 53 seconds to be exact. I am getting pretty excited for the race. 27 days from now. Yahoooo.

Too Much Fun

This is too funny.  Easton on the Tea Cups.  Push the play button and watch the G-force take over.  I was cracking up.  (For some reason, the video quality isn't great when I imported into Blogger, but you still get the idea.)

4 1/2 hours at Amazing Jakes.  Yes, really.  But we had such a blast (including me).  Barrett invited a few friends from school and church to join our family for a night out at Amazing Jakes to celebrate her 11th birthday.   We celebrated a few days early (on October 9th) since we were in Cali last week during her real birthday.  Here are some fun pictures from the party.

Karynn, Katie W., Katie A., Afton, Barrett, Miley & Rowan:  The party girls!

Most of the girls scaled the rock wall.  Rowan remembered how fun it was from her sports camp this summer at Freestone Rec Center.  She's awesome!

We're so glad that both sets of grandparents were able to join us for a little dinner and partying.  Here's Easton and Barrett with Grandpa Bob and Grandma Cheri.

Grandma Cindy braved a few rides, including the crazy fast roller coaster and the Go Carts.  She's a pretty good driver I must say.  I can't believe this picture even turned out.  I was in the car in front of her, and I just lifted up my camera and shot.  So funny.

Ryan was going old school with the video games.  Centepede, Ms. Pac Man, Race Cars.  (I think he was having as much fun as the kids!)

Rowan and I did a lot of rides together, including the roller coaster.  Yes, this is a self portrait mid-ride on the coaster.   Can you tell?

Of course, the little ones rode the carousel and loved it.  Forever a classic.

There is this Frog Hopper ride that Easton must have ridden at least 20 times.  Maybe more. He just kept getting back in line, over and over and over...  He told me he did it "one hundred and thousand times."  I even went a few times and enjoyed the tickle in my tummy with the 10 foot free fall.  

Easton and Rowan couldn't reach the foot pedals on the race car games, but they still thought they were playing.  That's really all that matters, right?

Ryan taught Easton the fine art of air hockey (one of my favorites). Rowan and I played too, until she got her finger slammed by the disc and proclaimed the "game over" amid her screams.  I guess I should have told her to keep her fingers off the table.  Ooops.  Someday, in our dream home with the full basement dedicated to family fun, we hope to have an air hockey table.  Too much fun.

Rowan even talked Grandpa Steve into going on the coaster with her.  Unfortunately, I wasn't there to witness it or get it on film.  But here's a cute shot of Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Steve with our birthday girl.

Barrett and lifelong friend, Katie.  Katie lives on the street just south of my parent's house.  We have known their family for 20+ years and just love them.

Aren't these girls just adorable?  Such fun personalities and such spunk.  I love it!

Miley and Barrett.  Barrett just became friends with Miley this year in Miss Kritzmier's 5th grade class, but so far, the friendship seems to be blooming well.  She is so funny and such a doll.

In case you couldn't tell, we had the best time.  Barrett loved it!  Happy Birthday to our 11-year old beauty!