Saturday, January 30, 2010

The 10.8469k

(Me & Shari before the race)

We've known each other since kindergarten. We were in almost every class together throughout elementary school, went to the same junior high and high school. We grew up about a mile apart. Our big brothers were best friends. Then one day 18+ years ago, when her brother, Jeff, was still on his mission and my brother, Michael, was recently returned, Michael told me he was going on a date with her. His best friend's little sister. It didn't take long before I knew she was going to be my SIL. Michael was pretty much smitten from the get-go. And for good reason.

Today, Shari and I had a super fun morning together. We met out at Schnepf Farms and both ran the 10k together. Or rather the 10.8469k. I'll get to that in a minute. We both went solo. Coincidentally, both our husbands were supposed to be on scout overnights last weekend, but both of the outings were cancelled due to last week's crazy storms and were rescheduled for this weekend. So that meant no hubbies in town on race day. Which also meant no hubbies to accompany the kiddos at the race while we ran, which meant both our oldest girls stayed home to watch our peeps.

So while our kids were still sleeping in their warm beds, and while our husbands were out camping somewhere in the mountains in not so warm beds, Shari and I left our houses in the dark and headed south. Way south. I hadn't been out to Schnepf in years and forgot how crazy far away it is from our house in north Mesa.

It was super chilly this morning out in the grass fields and farm country. We didn't shed our jackets until minutes before the race. I kept my gloves on. After we hit the jons for the last time, we wished each other good luck, turned on our ipods, and took off running. We knew we weren't going to run together, so we made a plan to meet after the race.

This was Shari's first race ever and she did so great. She ran strong and hard and felt terrific. Last fall, she set a goal in her "I can do hard things" personal campaign to run a 10k. Keeping in mind she's never been a runner before, this was a perfect goal for her. 8 weeks of training. Doing something she hates. Something that's hard.

Sometimes we all need a little refining and a little push to help us become more than we presently are.

And today was a perfect day to run for a great cause. The race is named after a little girl named London who lost her battle to cancer. London's father is on the SWAT team with Michael, so Mike & Shari have gotten to know them over the years. London's mom talked today before the race, thanking everyone for their support in this great battle against cancer. Proceeds from this race went to benefit children's charities.

I thought the farm terrain was a little hard to run on, or maybe just different than what I'm used to running on. Most of the course was narrow dirt tractor roads through crop fields that were more like mud roads due to the recent rain, with large tractor tire treads creating dips and bumps. As in most races, the first mile was filled with lots of jockeying for position, weaving in and out of the pack trying to find your space on the packed course. I thought today was particularly challenging doing that weaving while also trying to avoid the potholes and find the best footing amid the mud. Some places had sand spread on the ground to help with the mud, which also makes for interesting running. Nevertheless, I really liked being in the "country" and enjoying the clean crisp air. Once we started running, the weather seemed absolutely perfect. The temp was somewhere in the low 50's. I love running in the cold!

Unfortunately, the courses were screwed up due to some last minute re-routing to avoid muddy paths, and a whole bunch of 10k runners were re-routed on the wrong path (part of the half marathon course I guess). The website for London's Run was updated this afternoon with a big apology about the confusion on the course. From the race results, it's clear to see that all the runners after number 26 got sent on the wrong path. There's almost a 5 minute gap between runner 26 and 27.

Right at about 4 miles into the race (I was so glad to have my new Garmin 310XT watch on with full GPS distance tracking - thanks for the great Christmas gift, Ryan), we came to a fork with no signage. Two volunteer race workers were posted at the fork, and were waving the runners on. They said go left for the half marathon, right for the 10k. So our pack turned right and kept running. I was immediately frustrated, though, because there was no water station in sight. The only water station was at the 2 mile mark. Had we turned left (which turned out to be the way we were supposed to go I guess) we would have had our water station.

We just kept running and running with no water. I am not so good without water. Call me H2O girl. I need it. When my Garmin beeped at me at 6 miles, I looked at my watch and knew that there was no way there was only .2 miles to go. The finish line wasn't even in sight. Sure enough, at 6.25 miles (after the race should have been over), I still couldn't see the finish line. My time was 52 minutes and change by then, and now I was a little disappointed. As with every race, you have great visions of running hard the last .2 and sprinting to the finish, but I had no idea where the finish was. Thankfully, the misrouting only took us an extra .54 miles.

It was funny listening to all the chatter after we crossed the finish line. All these runners were perplexed looking at their watches and their GPS mileage. A bunch of us compared the mileage on our Garmins and they all said 6.74 miles. So at least I wasn't crazy. We just got a bonus .8469 kilometers on this one! My chip time for the whole 10.8469k was 57:02, which translates to a 52:27 10k.

So I am pretty stoked. That's a personal best for me - a little over a minute faster than my best 10k to date! I placed 96 out of 615 runners. Cool beans. It was a beautiful Arizona winter day in Queen Creek and I was stoked to be a part of it. And I was extra happy to share this great day with Shari, who accomplished something great today.

Even though every race is exciting (at least it is to me), there's something pretty amazing about the first time you cross a finish line. There will never be another first! Way to go, Shari!

As Shari and I talked after the race, she told me she teared up at the start and again at the finish. I smiled because I knew exactly what she was feeling. I did the same thing last fall when I ran my first half marathon. It was so emotional for me - not the running itself, but the sense of accomplishment after finishing something hard that you've really worked for. It's a great feeling.

Post-race: 1-30-10 at London's Run

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post Script to LIVESTRONG blog

A good friend of mine came up to me at church on Sunday and said, "You know that the whole "LIVE STRONG" campaign that you blogged about is Lance Armstrong's Foundation slogan, right?" No idea. Just saw it on an awesome Nike shirt at the running store last year, loved it, had to have it, adopted it as my personal slogan for 2010. So we laughed and I said I'll have to add a follow up to my blog post.

So I googled it. Yep, Lance Armstrong, the famous Tour de France winning bicyclist, has a foundation benefiting cancer research and cancer survivors. LIVESTRONG is their motto. It's everywhere. Apparently he's the guy that started the yellow wristbands and came up with the killer tagline. Not some female marketing exec at Nike (although who's to say that his wife or his hired female marketing genious wasn't the one behind the slogan, eh?) Just kidding.

So I live in a bubble apparently and clearly do not follow cycling. But now I love the slogan even more knowing its roots and its plea for good cause. And part of the sales proceeds from my most favorite LIVESTRONG black t-shirt with the yellow NIKE swoosh went to benefit good things...

That's pretty cool considering how many people I know who are battling cancer right now or who have already fought the battle. The numbers are staggering. It seems like everywhere I turn, I learn of someone else who has cancer. We lost three family members to cancer last year. Ryan's dad is a recent survivor, and so is my Aunt Diane. But she lost one of her sisters to the battle not too many years ago. My Uncle Jim is fighting hard against his cancer and seems to be winning his battle too. Unfortunately, Ryan's best friend's father is not beating his, and neither is our next door neighbor's father. It's everywhere.

So go buy yourself a LIVESTRONG shirt or wrist band or something and make a small difference. Or make a big difference in the lives of your family by living strong every day and staying cancer free!

Angel vs. Devil

It's almost race time again. I'm checking one off the 2010 goal list: Run in at least 3 races this year. Setting goals keeps me focused. It helps me to shake off the devil sitting on my shoulder in the wee hours of the cold morning. You know that guy that whispers, "You don't really want to wake up now, do you? It's dark and cold outside and your bed is so warm and comfortable. Just turn off your alarm and go back to bed. No one will care. No one will know."
Does that guy visit any of you or does he save it all up for me?
Thankfully, with the goals written down, and discussed with family and friends, I have a little positive self-inflicted pressure to keep the momentum moving forward. The angel sitting on my other shoulder, dressed in warm jogging clothes, ear warmers, gloves, pink ipod, and my favorite Asics shoes has been winning out over that terrible devil. Mostly. She's the one telling me, "Just get up. It's not that bad. Who cares that it's pitch black outside and 45 degrees? Get dressed like me and let's give it a whirl!"
Running is so MIND OVER BODY.
I am just grateful that 1) I live in AZ and the winter weather is so mild compared to most other places in the country, and 2) that I only work part time so some days I do get to run after the sun comes up. Like yesterday. I did my 5 miles at 7:30 am, and even though I could see my breath in the chilly clear air, the sun was up and it was a glorious morning by all accounts. Clear, crisp, beautiful.
Saturday morning, 8:00 am, Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek will be home to London's Run for the fourth year in a row. Proceeds from the event will benefit children's charities. There's a half marathon, 10k, and 2 mile fun run. Something for everyone.
I am looking forward to running. My cousin, Dyan, and her husband Ryan are running the half. I'm just doing the 10k this time. I've been running consistently since my last races in November, but not tracking up the same kind of mileage as I was before. Typically, I've been tracking 4-6 miles each running day. In hindsight, I kind of wish I'd kept up my half marathon training routine and was ready to run another half on Saturday. But again, it's all about the goal. Without that goal set firmly in sight, I didn't push.
I just reconnected with an old friend of mine from our high school years. Stacey Skeen. We grew up in the same neighborhood together and worked at DQ together too. Well, we found each other on Facebook, and I was checking out her photos and profile page. She looks so amazing! She's 3 years younger than I am, has four kids, been married 14 years, and just ran her 9th marathon! Yes, 9th! And she qualified for the Boston Marathon again this year. And a week after her last marathon, she ran a half marathon in 1:35. Holy cow! That's some serious speed! So she's my new running icon. That's just amazing.
Saturday morning, my SIL Shari will be running the 10k too, and this is her first race ever. So exciting! I hope she does great!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gifts from the Heart

I scrapbooked this page last fall. My beautiful and very talented niece, Randi, took these pictures of my very beautiful and talented daughter, Barrett, sometime last year. I copied the pics from her blog. In fact, Randi took lots of pictures of my cute kids and made me the most precious book for Christmas. She did in on Shutterfly. It is hardbound with a lime green cover, and features one very sassy and breathtaking picture of Miss Rowan on the cover. Here it is.

My book sits prominently on the black armoire in the kitchen, and I smile every single day as I walk by it. So Rowan!

On Christmas day when I opened the most perfect gift, my eyes instantly teared up as I turned each page. I am always the one making the homemade stuff in our family. Typically, I've been the photographer, scrapbooker, movie maker, calendar creator, etc., and I love doing that. Gifts from the heart mean the world to me. When my kiddos make me a handmade card or color me a heartfelt picture, I cherish it.

Really, I don't think anyone has ever made anything as special as that book from my dear, sweet Randi. I love it! And I love that Randi is only 13 and has already developed such a love for photography. She's got a great eye and talent. We gave her a "Flip" for Christmas (one of those portable video cameras), and she's already making her own movies on iMovie. Oh,'re a girl after my own heart!

Here's the full body shot from that fun photo shoot. Courtesy of Miss Randi. My amazing SIL, Shari, rounded out the day of homemade gifts with a beautiful apron she sewed (I love aprons and wear them constantly in the kitchen as my family can attest), as well as a homemade cape for Easton. It is a black superhero cape sporting a big red "E" on the back. Captain Easton! So perfect for a kid living in the midst of three sisters.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hill I'm Climbing

My week just seemed to fly by. I know...what's new, right? But seriously, just FLEW! I haven't even felt like I've had a free moment to breathe let alone blog all week. In reality, I have had plenty of free moments...I've just chosen to do other things with them. Other things that have seemed more pressing I suppose.

I did steal a few hours on Tuesday to do some much anticipated reading while I was traveling to and from Park City on business. I started Sarah Palin's Going Rogue in early December and was loving it, but ended up putting in on hold over the busy holidays. I've been itching to pick it back up and learn more about that amazing woman. That's a whole post in and of itself. I'd like to say I'll be done with her autobiography this weekend, but I know I won't take the time to read it again until after I've tackled some of my "big rocks". I seem to view leisure reading as a reward for finding free time in my life, so it may be another week or more before I finish it off. I did get another 150 pages or so read on Tuesday and now think that Ms. Palin is even more amazing.

I think I'm sort of in a little funk too. I have a few big things weighing on my know...those monumental to-do's that seem to consume more than their fair share of your brain power. And until you feel like you've tackled them, it's hard to focus on much else? Ever feel that way? Well that's me right now. I wouldn't say overwhelmed, because I'm really not there yet. And I usually don't let myself feel overwhelmed. It's such a negative and all-consuming state of mind. One that often paralyzes you into inaction. Perhaps preoccupied or a little less in command might be a better way to describe it.

So amidst the typical busyness of daily life, motherhood, work, homemaking, church service, and all else that folds into our daily paths as women, I've been brainstorming and scheming and planning and tackling and maybe even worrying a little...

With a bunch of CPE renewal hours to finish up for my bi-annual CPA recertification coming due at month end, a 10k next Saturday, 1099's due for our subcontractors at month end, planning our Ward Adult Valentine's Party on Feb 13th, and the beginnings of planning our 20 year high school reunion, I'm trying to keep the scales in balance. And of course, there are all those other, smaller "to-do's" that are begging for my attention too. Things like helping Barrett plan and execute the creation of a scale model castle for her ELP class, finishing up a quilt I really want to finish that's sitting half done, catching up on office work, and working on closing out year end stuff in our financial life to name a few.

The next couple of weeks will be busy for sure. But we'll get through them, and hopefully have some good times to remember along the way. I still have much to be grateful for. The kids are all pretty much back in good health (hopefully no more pink eye around here for a long, long time). We've been blessed with incredible amounts of rain this week. I've somehow managed to keep my 2010 goals going strong, and really...I am so happy. It seems like we're working twice as hard for half as much as we were in the really good economic years, but we both have jobs and plenty of food on the table. And then some.

So no complaints. The hill I'm climbing might seem a little steeper than normal, but I'll make it up and over soon, and find my way to a more comfortable pace very soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Perfect Gift

Thanks to these wonderful kids of ours, I enjoyed a full day (and I mean a full day - 12 hours to be exact) of scrapbooking. The kids chipped in and signed me up for Scrapfest today for my 38th birthday present. For those of you unfamiliar with Scrapfest and all its glory, it's a 12 hour day (10:30 am - 10:30 pm) of open forum scrapbooking down at Scrapbooks, Etc. (my favorite store). We each have a table to work at and access to all of the machines and die cutters and fun new tools and such. Plus you can shop anytime you want during the class and add it to your tab, paying at the end with a 10% discount on the total. There's typically about 30 of us crazy women in a class, and I have grown to love my scrapbooking friends. There is a group of six of us that have all met over the past couple of years through this fun hobby of ours and we so look forward to getting together every so often to reconnect and spend a fun filled day together. All of us are moms and madly in love with our husbands. We all think we have the greatest families in the world. And we're probably all right.

Of course we scrapbook pictures of our terrific families and journal our memories for posterity sake, but it's so much more than that. We visit, laugh, eat, shop, laugh, laugh, laugh...Such a fun day. And I come home with so many pages done for my kids' books. Pages we have all come to love and cherish as we look through albums and remember...

My kids and sweet husband know that I rarely ever take the time to scrapbook at home (there's way too many other things that take priority in the home, so scrapbooking is always near the bottom of the list.) They also know it's one of the things I love to do. So signing me up for classes for birthdays, Christmas, anniversary, and other such holidays is always my favorite gift. The gift of time!


While I was away playing today, my kiddos spent the day with daddy, hanging out, having fun, playing with friends, and doing some good Saturday chores. (The house looks great, by the way. Thanks guys. And thanks, Ryan, for making that happen!) Coming home to a clean house made my super fun day of scrapbooking all the more enjoyable!

What a blessing it was to come home and see my sweet babes sleeping so soundly and perfectly. I snuck quietly into each bedroom, knelt over each one, gave each a soft kiss on the forehead, and whispered "I love you" in each of their ears. None of them budged. They're all out like a light. They'll never even know I came in.

But I'll know.
I'll always know how lucky I am to be a mom to these four amazing little souls. Truly, they are the loves of my life. Ryan and I couldn't really be any more blessed!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Two months ago today I ran in my big race. That same afternoon, Ryan and I dragged our kids to Runner's World on the way home from a family picnic so that Ryan could pick out some running shoes. He got the "itch" to start running after being at my race and thought it would be fun to do the Turkey Trot with me 12 days later. No prior training. It was only going to be 6.2 miles. He had plenty of time to train, right? Twelve whole days. How hard could it be? It turned out to be a little harder than he thought, but he ran the whole time and finished the race.

Post race, Ryan thought it would be a good idea to do a long strenuous hike with his buddies the day after black Friday, and then follow that up with tons of walking at the ASU vs. U of A football game (we'd had our tickets for a month and there was no backing out. We were both pumped for the game). A few days later at his weekly softball games, he felt some pretty bad pain in his knee. By the end of the night, he said he could hardly even make it to first base. It took him almost two months to get that knee recovered from the strain.

Too much, too fast.

He needed to work up to it.

The day we went shopping for Ryan's running shoes, the kids were all tired (and so was I), and none of them really wanted to be there. It took longer than we expected, and they were soooooo ready to leave by the time we finally left the store.

To kill the time while we waited, though, we walked around the store quite a bit, checking out all the displays, gadgets, and latest running finds. Unfortunately by then, my feet were so tired and legs so sore, that all I really wanted to do was sit down. Or sleep. Nevertheless, every few minutes, we'd get up and take a lap around the store, browsing here and there, trying to keep the peeps occupied. And every time I started to look around, I kept being drawn to one certain rack.

It was a rack on the far left hand side of the store in the women's section. Displayed prominently on the rack was Nike's new clothing line which sported a tag line I have come to love:

L I V E S T R O N G (followed by the Nike swoosh).

I went back over and over, checking out the shirts, and just knew that one of them needed to go home with me. I was in love with that mantra.

Live Strong.

How perfect. It's my new slogan. Did I mention that I bought the black t-shirt with the bright yellow "LIVESTRONG" and it's pretty much my most favorite shirt ever?

Over the past two months, I've had a number of opportunities to sport my new shirt. I was actually thinking about taking a picture of it for my post, but it's in the laundry since I just wore it to yoga Tuesday night. I was looking for it tonight to wear to volleyball, then remembered I needed to do some wash.

I've been thinking a lot about that slogan lately. Kudos to the Nike marketing woman (I'm assuming such brilliance came from a woman) who came up with the tag line.

For me, living strong is more than just running. It's more than working out. More than eating healthy. More than being fit. More than getting enough rest. It's all that and more. It's a lifestyle. It's an attitude, a commitment, a desire to be "well." Living strong is not dieting, but making general wise choices about nutrition. Living strong is taking opportunities to play, get your heart rate up, be physical, and enjoy the outdoors. Living strong is knowing your body and pushing it to do great things.

But living strong takes some practice. And sometimes it takes longer to get from zero to sixty than we'd like. We want it now. We think we can reach the high hurdles when we've just barely learned to jump. Like Ryan, sometimes if we take off too strong and try to do too much too fast, we'll burn out and pay the price.

I think that happens sometimes with our New Year's Resolutions. If you are like me (and so many others), we are beyond ambitious in our goals and expectations. We have great intentions to make huge changes in just about every area of our lives, and think we should be able to do it all in 12 days. It takes time. Just like I couldn't have run a half marathon without proper training, practice and dedication, I can't expect to meet my goals in other areas of life without equal long term diligence. It just won't happen.

I've also been thinking about my new mantra in another light. Even as perfect a slogan as it is for our physical well-being, I think "LIVESTRONG" is the ideal slogan for life in general. Live strong in the gospel. Live strong in your relationships. Live strong in your service to others. Live strong in your work. Live strong in your values. Live strong at school. Live strong with your family. Live strong with your spouse.

Man, what a better world we'd live in if we would all commit to LIVE STRONG.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Typical Tuesday and More

Today was busy. So busy. But that's just typical of Tuesdays at our house. Just to be sure we made the most of this day, we threw in parent teacher conferences, 2 sick kids, a computer installation at RMB, hair appointments and a Relief Society meeting into the typical Tuesday mix that is already jam packed.

You know, just to shake it up a bit.

The best parts, or I guess I should say "fun parts", of my day were my early morning run this morning in the wee, dark hours and my yoga class tonight at RS. Afty's guitar lesson was pretty good too. She's playing so well. It's really fun to sit in.

This morning it was cold and darker than normal - no moonlight, no stars, no sunrise yet. For the first time that I can remember, I actually felt a slight twinge of uncomfortableness running through my body as I worried about being alone in the darkness. It usually doesn't bother me since I stay inside my little gated community when it's so early and dark. I have always felt safe here. But as I ran around my first corner heading toward Kael, I found myself looking around more than normal, as if I was trying to scout out the bushes and cars parked along the road. Looking for something - anything that might be out of place. Anything that might cause me harm.

Then I had a distinct feeling - very clear and vivid - that I should turn off my ipod. I instantly obeyed the prompting and suddenly felt a huge peace come over me. With the music on, I not only was void of daylight, but also of my sense of hearing the sounds around me. Having my ears freed up to take in the sounds of my environment gave me simple comfort and the momentary flitters of apprehension flew away.

The run was good and I felt strong today. One of those days I could have kept running for a very long time. Unfortunately, I had to be back to help get the girls ready for school and let Ryan take first shift on the early morning ELP parent teacher conference. So I ran 4.5 and called it good.

And even though I am so tired and ready for a good night's sleep, I felt drawn to my iMac tonight. It was yearning for me to spend a little time with it in iPhoto, uploading and editing some recent prints. I'm so looking forward to my Scrapfest class this Saturday, and I always love going with some fresh new prints, even if I already have more than enough others to scrapbook (which I do). I'll never be caught up, but that's OK. I love bringing more pictures than I need so that I can go with my inspiration. Scrap whatever I feel like depending on my mood. Or have great pics to choose from in case I see someone else's layout that inspires me.

So here are just a handful of my recent pics (including the one at the top of the post), taken of my kiddos (unfortunately no Afty in this shoot) and niece, Randi, this past Sunday evening. I can't wait to pick up my prints from Costco tomorrow! I absolutely love the thrill of going through my photos fresh from the store. It's a rare day that I pull out of the parking lot without looking through every one of them first. I know, I'm a little crazy like that, but it's one of the things I love!

Friday, January 8, 2010

7 Homers on his 38th Birthday Eve!

He's still got it.  The guns.  The desire.  The gift.   Ryan has been playing Thursday night softball ever since I've known him and for years before that.  His team won the league championship last night (picture above).  They played their season ending tournament at Field of Dreams in Gilbert, and they took it all.  Four games:  7:00, 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00 pm.  He got home at midnight.  He was sore this morning after doing a p90x workout yesterday morning and then playing ball all night in the cold.  And even though we weren't there to cheer him on (too late and too cold for the kiddos), we were thrilled to hear about their big night.  When I woke up this morning to get the kids ready for school, his championship t-shirt was laying on the bathroom sink in full view.  Nice.

Even on the eve of his 38th birthday, he hit 7 home runs over the fence!  And had a great defense night to boot.  We are proud of our awesome dad and husband!  Go Ryan Go!

And Happy Birthday, too!  As of today, you can't really brag about being married to an older woman since we're both 38 now.  I hope your 3 days of glory was good.  I am excited to go out on the town tonight with the love of my life and spend a little one on one time together.  But before we go, I wanted to post a few pics of Ryan from this last year.

Snokeling off the Na Pali coast in Kauai, Hawaii June 2009.  We had such a wonderful vacation this past summer!  I so hope we do it again!

Ryan drinking coconut juice straight from the source in Hawaii.  He's never afraid to try new things, and I love that about him.

Barrett and Ryan share a sweet tooth, that's for sure.  Here they are on July 4th in Mexico, enjoying their caramel apples at the family BBQ.  Oh, how we miss Mexico.  Can't wait to go back!

I love this picture of Ryan and Easton at Father & Son's last spring.  It was their first ever father and son campout with the ward.  Easton and Ryan both had a blast and are really looking forward to this year's trip.

And here's our Scoutmaster hiking out of Fossil Springs this past August.  Ryan and the boys in the troop did a backpacking overnight and loved it!

We all love you, Ryan, and hope that 2010 brings you many blessings and many more great memories.  Thanks for being so awesome!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I had an email conversation with a very good friend of mine yesterday about our kids, their education, our school system, and our dreams. Admittedly, I haven’t really thought outside the box that much when it comes to education. I was a product of the public school system, and I think I turned out OK. Reflecting back to my formative years, I think I had a good overall experience, learned quite a bit, studied hard, got good grades, earned a scholarship and went on to get my fully-paid-for degree at a state university. I starting interviewing for my first real career job during my senior year at ASU, and had my job offers lined up before I graduated. Launch career mode and I’ve never really looked back.

Nothing too out of the box about it.

And even though I dealt with the all the normal stresses of teenage life and was subject to the influences of the world through my years in the public schools, I am still glad I went through it. Sure, I wish I would have made some different choices and bypassed some “leaning opportunities” that came via consequences of poor choices. But who wouldn’t say that? I’d be shocked if any of us now functioning, basically-on-the-right-track parents could look back to our youth and say with sincerity that they would have done it all the same. I think we all wish we’d made some different choices here and there.

But even with all that, I loved high school. (I probably could have done without junior high, but I pretty much think that’s a globally accepted view with 20+ years of hindsight.) I loved going to football games, school dances, seminary, student council, orchestra, being on the softball and volleyball teams, going out for lunch with a carload of girlfriends, dating, social life, and yes…school. I have a lot of fun memories about growing up. All of that – the good and the bad - at least in some way was part of the “coming of age” process that made me who I am today.

So when Ryan and I started our family years ago, I guess I really always thought that my kiddos would follow a similar track. Even though our children are still quite young, we have always stressed the importance of doing well in school. Study hard. Get your homework done before you play.

Do your best!
Do your best!
Do your best!

They’ve all listened to my stories about working hard in school and how it all paid off in the end. Even my 9 year old knows all about scholarships and is working hard to get one. They don’t talk about college as in “if” I go, but “when” I go and “where” I’ll go. The expectation and bar has been set high, and I’m OK with that. OK because all I can really ask and hope for is that they do their best, and if their best is outstanding, then so be it. That’s their bar. They are reaching it. God blessed them with great minds. They can do anything they put their minds to.

Now…with all that being said, I have to admit that my perspective was broadened and my “ in-the-box” thinking was challenged a bit as I listened to the perspective of my dear friend. She’s setting a new bar with her family and challenging the status quo. She’s helping her kids reach their “best” in ways I’d never even contemplated. They are learning and thriving and undoubtedly, will be successful in their endeavors. Those kids come from a great home with amazing parents and are destined for greatness.

The world today is so different than when I was in school, and that wasn’t even that long ago. It was just 20 years ago that I graduated from high school, which in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that long ago at all. With public displays of homosexuality being generally accepted as “normal” on many high school campuses today, rampant drug use, widespread pornography, tattoos and body piercings abounding, foul language, and all other sorts of indecency that is part of today’s socially accepted pop culture, it made me really start to wonder.

Wonder if my kids will have what it takes to withstand the temptations of the world as they make their way through their teenage years.

Wonder if we are teaching them enough.

Wonder if we are bearing enough testimony of gospel truths.

Wonder if they’ll find good friends to help keep them on the straight and narrow.

Wonder if the educational “track” we are on is the best one for our children.

Wonder if my “best” as a parent will be enough to help them become their best.

So as I contemplated all these things as I drove to the temple this morning in the dark, quiet hours, and then sat in that beautiful room at the end of my session, I offered one of the most earnest prayers I can remember offering in quite a long time. It wasn’t long or complex. But the tears flowed as I poured out my heart in gratitude for our children and asked for help as I strive to be my best for them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Top 10 Most Memorable Events: 2009

Making lists.

Re-capping the past year.

We all do it. Even if it’s just in our minds.

The TV networks run a year end special featuring their “Best” and “Worst” pics of the year. The magazines staring you in the face at the grocery store checkout boast titles like “2009 in Review” or “Year’s 10 Most Beautiful People” or whatever.

Barbara Walter’s show featuring her pick of “The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009” stirred up a little controversy on the talk radio waves this year too. Her vote for Most Interesting was Michelle Obama, but her list included others like Lady Gaga, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Brett Favre, Jenny Sanford, Kate Gosselin, Adam Lambert, Tyler Perry, and Michael Jackson’s 3 children. As I thought about some of the reasons or perhaps more specifically, the events, that catapulted these people into the 2009 spotlight, it gave me pause. In today’s pop culture society, the experiences, events, successes, adversities or personality characteristics that make someone “interesting” and worthy of such public acclaim are quite often out of synch with the virtues and teachings I am striving to instill in my children and incorporate in my life. Still, I thought it was appropriate that her show’s descriptive caption is “Fascinating” rather than “Best.” Truly, her picks have each had a memorable year in the public spotlight, whether that be for good or bad.

And since we just ended a full decade, not just a year, the recaps at the end of 2009 were even more significant as the media threw out their votes for the last 10 years’ most significant events, trends, people, and music in politics, pop culture, entertainment and “life.”

Even though I do very little TV watching or magazine reading myself, I still see and hear it on my commutes to and from work, on the internet, at the stores, in the salon, and just through the chit chat of life.

So I was thinking about my life, and what I would put on my “Top 10” or “Best of 2009” list. What was most memorable about this past year in my home, my life, my small sphere of influence? I decided to make my own list for 2009.

I decided to call it “Kelli’s 10 Most Memorable Events: 2009.”

Although a few events clearly stand out in my mind, it was harder than I thought to choose ten significant happenings across all areas of my life, for good or for bad…So much happened last year, but much of it seemed like just the day to day of life. Looking through the window of perspective as I sit here today, this is my list. Final answer.

1) Running my first ever half marathon on 11/14/09. 13.1 miles in 1:57:30. What a tremendous experience that was to train for and complete this race.

2) Our last minute vacation to Kauai, Hawaii with Ryan and the Ellingsons. One week with no kids in a tropical paradise with great friends with first class accommodations!

3) The passing of my Uncle Mick, who died of brain cancer on 7/29/09, just 8 short months after being diagnosed.

4) Promontory’s emergence from Chapter 11 Bankruptcy on 4/28/09. (Promontory is the project owned by Pivotal Group, my employer, that I have been managing since 2001. After a very long 2 years of attempted restructuring, failed negotiations and more drama than I care to re-live, the project is out of BK and healthier than ever. And I still have a job!)

5) Spending the 4th of July in Rocky Point, Mexico, with our family and great friends.

6) Running in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day with Ryan, Barrett, Afton, and so many cousins and family members.

7) Bishop Uncle Jim’s diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma cancer in August 2009. Our prayers and fasting were taken to new heights, and the spirituality and chemistry in our ward family have been forever strengthened through Jim’s trial. We are thrilled that his most recent pet scan showed the cancer to be gone, but continue to pray that over the next 4 months as he endures more painful chemo, that it will forever stay away.

8) Buying, fixing, and selling our Standage house with our partners. It had been over 2 years since we’d done any new real estate deals, so this was a refreshing experience in the midst of the significantly depressed economy.

9) Barrett turning 11 years old in October! We now have an official babysitter in the house, which has made weekly dating of my devilishly handsome husband so much more do-able.

10) Ryan’s new church calling as Ward Scoutmaster and my new church calling as Ward Activities Director. Both have had such an impact on the busyness of our lives this past year.

So there you have it. What is your “Top 10” list for 2009? Did you write it down yet?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I've heard it a hundred times.

Write it down. Write it down. Write it down.

A goal not written down is just a wish.

So I'm writing them down this year. 2010 is going to be a terrific year. It's already off to a great start. It's only January 3rd and we've already accomplished a few big projects around our house. I blogged about the pantry makeover. Tonight we went to Home Depot and bought a shelving system for Barrett's closet. Ryan and I installed it at 9:00 tonight and Barrett started reorganizing her room. She finally dropped off after midnight.

I've got 2 days of running under my belt (Rowan rode her bike along with me for the full 4.5 miles yesterday), 2 days of scripture reading done, both our garages cleaned out (thanks to Ryan), and I took a great photography class on lighting Saturday afternoon from Amy Fraughton. It was awesome! I can't wait to do silhouettes of my kids!

(I took this picture yesterday in my photography class!) far so good. 2010 is starting off strong.

Here are my ambitious personal goals for 2010. But what the heck? If you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

So I'm thinking I can and that's a great start. Here are my top 10, not necessarily all in order.

1) Read my scriptures every day.
2) Go to the temple every week.
3) Keep running & training at least 3 days/week.
4) Compete in at least 3 races (my first one is January 30th - London's Run).
5) Train for the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. We're going in September!
6) Improve my photography by taking classes and doing more shoots. (I got a new lens and Photoshop CS4 for Christmas! I am so thrilled!)
7) Read more. With my kids. On my own. Always keep a book going.
8) Date my husband every week.
9) Stay caught up on my home office work.
10) Accept the "10 in 2010" challenge. (I'll post about that this week).

And there's more...all the financial stuff and such...but these are my personal ones. So I'll post about progress as the year moves along. Good books I am reading, the races I'll run, fun times with my husband, and of course pictures all along the way to document the lives of our beautiful children and the memories we are creating together. We have a great life and I never want to forget...

The Pantry Makeover

OK, so I may be a little over the edge...I'm now taking pictures of my pantry.  And I didn't even try to crop out the Oreos or the Christmas tin full of popcorn!

I am just so thrilled that I had to document my joy with photos!  Ryan and I spent New Year's Day afternoon organizing our kitchen pantry using our new food storage rotation shelves.  They've been sitting in our garage for 3 or 4 months just begging to be put together.  Thankfully, my incredible husband decided that rather than move the shelving boxes yet again when he put the Christmas lights away, it would be better to just put them together.  So instead of spending the afternoon playing with my new Photoshop or sewing or reading Sarah Palin's Going Rogue or doing one of the 10 things I was hoping to do during this holiday break week, I cleaned my pantry.  

But, I couldn't be happier with the end result (unless someone else would have come over and did it for us!)  It look longer than I thought to clean the whole pantry out and reorganize it all - pretty much all afternoon - but the results made me smile.  I've caught myself a couple of times just standing in front of my wide open pantry doors admiring the beauty...

So I am sharing the joy with all my blog reading peeps.  How great is it that all my cans are date organized, my beans, chilis, jalepenos, olives, and enchilada cans are all grouped, my Italian food is all grouped, and all my baking and sweet stuff is in one orderly place?    Don't answer that...I already know it's amazing.  Especially for me. And long overdue!  One of the really great things about having a huge pantry is that you can fit so much stuff in it.  But that's also one of the bad things.   So much space quickly got filled with an unorganized mess and no great system for rotating the food.  I am happy to say that those days are behind me!  Hopefully, we'll have less waste too since I can easily see what all I have on hand.  Now I just need to tackle my food storage room again and get that a little perked up.  

One funny story I have to share.  Last night we went out to dinner with Mike & Shari and my parents to celebrate our upcoming birthdays (Ryan and I are both turning 38 this week).  As we all sat down to eat and were talking about what we'd done that day, I told my family about our pantry makeover.  Then I told them about my kids' reaction.  Afton and Rowan seemed impressed with the new look, and Easton was just thrilled because he got to help with it all.  Barrett came downstairs and checked out the progress.  I asked, "So what do you think?"  She looked, smiled, and said, "I like it.  It looks good."  


Then, "Mom, have you seen Aunt Shari's pantry?"

I knew where this was going.

Me:  "Yes, it's amazing."

Barrett:  "Her whole pantry is totally neat and organized and just perfect.  All the containers are labeled with these perfect letters, and it's just so simple and clean."

Me:  "Yes, I know.  She's awesome."

Barrett:  "Mom, do you think maybe we could get those labels like Aunt Shari?  You could just turn our containers around so you wouldn't have to buy all new ones?"  

I smiled and said, "Maybe someday, but for now, I am just thrilled that we're all organized."

Shari is my pantry hero, just so you know.  When I grow up, I want my pantry to look like hers!  Until then, I am happy as a clam with my newly made-over pantry at 2047 N. Hall.  Happy New Year to me!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lights & DQ Swirls

One of the things on my December "to do" list was take the family to see the beautiful temple lights. We planned it for Family Night on the first Monday of December, but it ended up raining all that afternoon and night. Then we thought about the following week, but something else came up, and before we knew it, Christmas was only 4 days away. So we finally made it on December 21st, the last Monday before Christmas.

That was a big mistake! Apparently, just about every other family in the valley had the same idea. The temple grounds were packed like I've never seen them before. Wall to wall people just inching their way down the paths, weaving in and out among bundled up moms and dads pushing kids in strollers while trying to keep an eye on their walking little ones. It was crazy! One of my kids said, "There's more people here than at Disneyland!" I smiled and said, "You might be right!"

So...even though it wasn't exactly ideal conditions from a crowd perspective, we still got to see the amazing lights, and we spent the night together as a family. I love that! Of course, what FHE would be complete without treats, right? So we capped off the night with a little DQ action. No, not the DQ by the temple because that, too, was insanely busy. Instead we drove a couple of miles to the next closest one and indulged in chocolate shakes and peanut buster parfaits and Oreo blizzards. Oh, and one large order of fries for good measure. Afton watched as the worker made the swirl on a sundae she was preparing, and asked me if my swirls used to look like that.

Oh, those were the good old days. I worked at DQ from the ripe young age of 13 (the end of 7th grade) until the first month of my freshman year at ASU. Five and a half years! Yes, I think I started working illegally, but I sure felt like hot stuff having a real job in the seventh grade. I am pretty sure that no other kids had good paying minimum wage jobs like me! They were all babysitting or throwing papers for cash at that age.

Our kids have heard all my DQ stories of old and believe that I was the master of the DQ swirl. (Maybe because I've told them that so many times!) They were duly impressed a few years back when we ate at the buffet at Amazing Jakes where they have a soft serve machine in the dessert section.

It was just like riding a bike.

My auto pilot kicked in and I made a perfect three tier sundae, complete with the ultimate DQ swirl and all. The girls marveled at the creation and each asked for one of their own.

They've heard all about the zillions of blizzards I whipped up, the super fun nights that my cousin Julie and I had working the Drive Thru, the Friday night shifts after the Toro football games when pretty much the whole campus showed up for food, the perpetual stripe of ice cream across my bosom from the blizzard machine, and how I hated the smell of ice cream after a couple of years. Yes, ice cream has a smell believe it or not!

I've also told my kids about how DQ was my springboard into the "real" work world. It was my first job, my first chance to really have independence and bigger responsibilities in life, my first opportunity to manage my time in any real meaningful way. I shuffled school, violin, student council, year around high school sports, social life, church activities, and work all my growing up years. I worked year around - usually 3-4 days/week during the school year (1-2 days during the week and 2 days on the weekend), and then a little more during the summer months. That job, working at the family DQ, taught me so much about managing money and time and priorities. I am grateful that my Grandpa Harry, and Uncles Dale and Jim had the foresight to start that business. It gave all of us Goodman kids a great opportunity to work. That, coupled with the chores we always had growing up and the great work examples of our parents, helped us learn the value of hard work.

And you know what? I've been working ever since. Ever since May 1985. I know the world is a little different now, but I sure hope that our kids find a good opportunity to start working at a young age, too. For them, it might be working at RMB Properties (actually, they already do a little work there cleaning the office and metering envelopes and such). And they are getting some good work experience doing yard work with their grandpas. Whatever it is, I want them to all have jobs growing up. I think today's kids would be so much better off if they had to work a little for the things most have come to expect as basic necessities.

Oh...that was a long digression for sure...Back to the temple lights. Here is our family together in front of the Mesa Temple. A kind stranger walking by saw me trying to gather the peeps together for a shot and offered to take our picture.

My favorite part about the annual temple lights is actually the nativity set up on the southeast part of the temple grounds, just up from the reflection pool. I love looking at the humble setting where our Savior was born. I've often thought what it must have been like to give birth to a baby in a stable over 2000 years ago. Just knowing what all the aftermath of the birth is like - all the mess and all the care that the nurses typically give. Had I been born in Biblical times, or even in a third world country today for that matter, my birthing experiences would have been nothing like they turned out to be. Mary was a remarkable chosen woman for sure.

I am the luckiest mom and wife in the world. I love these guys more than anything!