Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh What Do You Do...

in the Summertime, when all the world is green? Do you play by the stream...

Actually, it's a creek - Pine Creek to be exact - and yes, we played and played in it this year. With all the summer rains, the creek was flowing hard. I've long held the contention that kids really only need a few things in life to keep them happily occupied for hours: water, dirt, and sunshine. At the cabin, this theory is not only often tested but always proves to be right.

Riley caught a dead something in the creek. Not sure what - it sort of looked like a soggy carcass of some sort.

Oh ya, how does the rest of the song go?

Oh what do you do in the summertime,
when all the world is green?
Do you play by a stream

or lazily dream...

on the banks as the clouds go by?
Is that what you do?
So do I.

We had some good rain while we were at the cabin, including a magnificent thunder and lightning storm - one of the best I've seen in years. We sat out on the large front porch of the cabin with Grandpa Steve and Grandpa Reid and watched the incredible downpour. Grandpa Steve taught the kids how to count after they saw the lightning hit and wait for the thunder to see how many miles away it was. They had so much fun doing that. I have no idea how accurate that method really is...seems way over simplified to me...but it's what we learn when we're kids and always seems to stick with us. Watching an afternoon thunderstorm from the cabin front porch is one of my most vivid cabin memories from my youth. Funny, I know, with all the zillion things to do up there. But watching mother nature in her finest hour from 6500 feet up in the middle of the majestic mountains as the sheets of rain pound the earth and the cracks of thunder echo off the cliffs, making your heart race leaves something of an impact in the mind of a child...I still love watching those spectacular storms...

We played on the swings...

We dug in the dirt...

We searched for worms,

...and made new collections...

We played lots of Gin,
accessories the newly refurbished fort with bench stools
and did a little "rain proofing."

Although we didn't get any pictures of all the other stuff we did, we played lots of games (Clue, Monopoly, Battleship, Ticket to Ride, tons of cards), ate lots of food, including way too many of Grandma Cindy's phenomenal homemade cinnamon rolls, I ran lots of miles in the high altitude, Ryan mountain biked & hiked, we helped Grandpa Reid get the septic system issues fixed, I sewed a quilt, all the girls made cute yo yo's for hair clips, we watched Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, enjoyed time with family, and had a summer trip to remember.

I love, love, love our summer trips to the cabin. I can't wait to go back.

(Pictures taken 7/31/10 - 8/3/10: Pine, AZ)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Weekend

Ryan took his scout troop up to Woods Canyon Lake
for an overnight this past Friday & Saturday.
They're working on their fishing merit badge.

Ryan is not a fisher.
Good thing his assistant scoutmaster & quorum advisor are.
They had all the gear, and most of the boys caught fish.
They were out on the lake in canoes and kayacks.
Ryan kept busy de-tangling lines, helping them cast,
but he didn't catch any himself.
I'm sure the troop is anxiously awaiting the fish fry
at this Wednesday's mutual activity. Oh, yum...

While he was away with the fish and the boys and the
foil dinners and the campfires,
our numbers were down by three. Right after
we got Ryan
out the door on Friday afternoon, I loaded up
the peeps and drove Afty & Rowan over to their
cousins' house for their much anticipated sleep over.

I almost didn't let Rowan go.
I had such an internal struggle after the week we had,
but decided rather than "punish" her
(and simulateneously
disappoint her cousin who had been looking
forward to their slumber party all week long),
I could maybe turn the whole awful week into
some kind of learning experience. I wasn't sure how, though.
I talked to my mom about it earlier in the day while the
girls were at school. She gave me her best advice
under the circumstances:
"Good luck."

Well, we had a really good, long talk when she came home.
We set some new parameters. We talked about the big picture,
well as much as you can really do that with a six year old.
We came up with a plan. We offered some apologies.
She committed to try harder, be better, be kinder. Me too.

We even designated a new "thinking chair" for those times when the temptation to catapult her body into a flailing tantrum are just too much to resist. In theory, she agreed to go there without coersion should the moment strike.

It's been 2 1/2 days since that talk, and she hasn't visited the thinking chair yet. There was brief mention of it Sunday morning as we waited in the driveway before church and she almost couldn't hold back, but her mood abruptly did a 180.

I think we might have actually had a pivotal moment together in our unceasing battle of the wills. We went two whole days, not only not butting heads, but actually enjoying each other. She accompanied me to the grocery store on Saturday evening, just she and I. As we loaded up our groceries, I complimented her on her pleasant behavior. It was such a breath of fresh air.
She's pretty much been amazing since that talk. long can this last??

I don't know, but I'm eatin' it up and milking it for all it's worth. Tonight's FHE might be the real test.

Since we were down to three on Friday night, Barrett & I rented"The Last Song" from Blockbuster and had a movie night in my bed. We saw it together in the theatres when it first came out. I cried almost as hard the second time. Barrett's a little less sentimental than me. She didn't shed a tear, but we laughed and drooled over Will together. Easton sacked out early,
so it was just the two of us.

Really, I was the backup plan since her real plans fell through with a grounded friend. But that was OK - I think we both enjoyed spending the evening together.

After my 5 mile run early Saturday morning, the rest of the day was really all about the kids. Drop offs, pick ups, swimming, play time. We managed to get the house pretty clean too.
I killed off 3 of my big "hot spots." You know, those places that are clutter magnets and never seem to go away. When Ry got home, he asked, "So what was the occasion for cleaning
the laundry room?"

He noticed. I conquered the heaping mail pile and already too tall stack of bring home papers from schools that had amassed on my kitchen counter. I also de-cluttered two upstairs hot spots.
I had great visions of knocking out the whole house that day, having a paper-free office desk,
all the D.I. baskets unloaded, bagged and on their way to a new home, all the overflowing dresser drawers freed from the too short jeans and too tight shirts and the mis-matched socks.
Oh, the dreams I had.

Not sure why I dream like that. I know better. Maybe a better word than dream is aspire. I aspire to complete.

But the hot spots, dishes, laundry and bathrooms was all I could tackle in one day. I had the energy to do more, but I was in kid concierge mode and the day flew by.

Saturday night was date night, and a good one at that. We ate Mexican, saw the movie "Salt", which I loved. Angelina Jolie is one tough chic.

Sunday was fabulous as most Sundays are. A double farwell in our ward, followed by a great Sunday school lesson. We played some games together after church, I tried my hand at a new delicacy from my Hershey dessert cookbook, and took it with us over to Mike & Shari's for some supreme Italian food and great company. We visited about the Grand Canyon -Mike has done the hike a few times, so he dished out some pointers and made me even more excited to go. I hope they go next year too. I think they might.

We ended the night with some scriptures & prayer. Easton sacked out on the floor after two verses, and Rowan wasn't too far behind. With 2 down and 2 to go, Ryan suggested a re-match of Ticket to Ride.

We should've just gone to bed,
but we're all so competitive.
We gave in.
One final game before bed,
even though bedtime had passed.
We were rebels.
Afton & I tied (seriously, how crazy is that!)
You know what that means?
Another rematch tonight.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Summer Sleepover

(Karyn, Barrett, Katy & Riley)

We did it again.
The annual summer sleepover,
on the second to the last weekend
of summer vacation.

After last summer's Nacho Night,
I was persuaded to commit to a repeat
for Summer 2010.
The girls didn't let me forget it either.

But I was pleasantly surprised.
No drama-rama.
No fights.
No hurt feelings.
All the peeps were out by midnight.
No next morning crabbiness.
Just a bunch of beautiful girls
(and one stray brother along for the ride)
having a night to remember.

We started off the night with a pool party. Ryan BBQ'd some burgers & dogs, and all the kids swam and played hard. Easton didn't care at all that he was surrounded by cute girls. He's pretty much used to that livin' in the Brown House with three older sisters. We were sad that a couple of the cousins couldn't be there since they were beachin' it in Cali, but I'm sure they were having a blast too. (Sidenote: Afton & Rowan got to have a cousin sleepover with Avery & Lainey at their house this past weekend to make up for them missing the party. Thanks, Jessie. They had a blast.)

Of course, the girls did a craft. This year, we kept it pretty simple, but they all loved it.
Each girl decorated her own backpack keychain with ribbons and tule galore. They were super excited about showing them off on their packs on Day 1. According to Barrett, the girls got lots of comments at school as Barrett and her two amigos walked side by side through campus with blinged up high top keychains dangling from their new packs. The pictures don't really do them justice.

After the crafts, the girls opted for more swimming - late night style - in the dark - and then came back inside for ice cream sundae mania. Too much chocolate syrup and caramel and whipped cream and M&M's for me... They were creations that would have made Mr. DQ proud.

I didn't get any photos of the moon light nail salon, but all the girls did each other's nails too, somewhere in the 10:00 pm hour. Oh ya...they ate more snacks and watched a movie too. Sometime around 11:30-ish, I wished them all a good night and retreated to my room. I came back out at midnight, and heard nothing but the TV on entertaining a group of wiped out, slumbering girls. AAhhhh....

(Barrett, Riley & Karyn)

After our pancake & bacon breakfast on Saturday, the girls each picked out their own facial mask packets and indulged with a little spa session, complete with eye cucumbers and all. So fun and so funny...

Sidney, Afton & Lily

What a terrific party! The girls are already scheming for next summer's shindig and persuading me to commit now (since they know I'm not a sleepover fan.) I have to admit, though, this was one fantastic group of little girls, and even I had fun watching their fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


We started the night with good intentions. Really, when do you ever not start out with good intentions? Nobody wakes up and says, “Today I’m going to have a terrible day. Today I’m going to lose my patience. Today I’m going to say things I’ll regret.”

Nope, it doesn’t work that way, but somehow our best intentions sometimes morph into a reality at the other end of the spectrum.

Going a full day without butting horns with my certain trial child would be a miracle. I pray for those miracles every day. Last night, the phrase “piece of work” actually escaped under my whispered breath as the child walked away and the other one smiled in complete agreement. P.O.W. Yes, that was the only kind way to describe her, and hardly kind at that. I know we’re all born with our own unique set of gifts and trials and quirky personality traits and flaws and potential and wonder. I get that. But sometimes I struggle with the package. It’s stronger than I’ve seen in most anyone I know, and truthfully, it’s a little scary. I feel inept at times, challenged much of the time, and perplexed too often.

This followed by more frustrations about instrument practicing. Turn the TV off. Please get in the shower. Are your clothes ready for tomorrow? Stop doing that to your sister. There’s no need to talk to me like that. That couch is not a toy. Please be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind….

Fast forward an hour…

At the end of one of the most restless family scripture reading sessions I can remember – again, a night laced with good intentions - I had used all my love and logic tricks and was at a loss. I could have sworn the kids were on speed, but I know better. It was attention deficit super duper hyperactivity disorder to the max in the upstairs loft of the Brown house. Ants in their pants. The kind of chaos you’d laugh about on America’s Funniest Home Videos. There was intentional tripping, blatant disrespect, sassiness, whining, fatigue, teasing, back talk, threatenings, crossing over the imaginary lines…I told Ryan that I was reminded of Elder Bednar’s classic conference talk about perseverance and consistency. "He's breathing my air!"

I’ve been known to occasionally do a reenactment of a particularly funny tantrum, just so they can see how ridiculous it looks. I almost caved last night and took the stage. But then I thought better of it. It was too funny and I wasn’t sure I could do it justice.

After the third “tuck” of a certain child who couldn’t stay in bed (so not normal), and after providing some much needed counseling to a tearful child who felt incredibly unpopular at school that day, I finally made it back to my room. As the late night finally came to an end, I wished, for many reasons, that I could have do-overs.

Do-overs. Remember those? How do you earn a do-over anyway? I guess you finally shut your lids, wake up with puffy eyes, roll to your knees, and pray even harder for the miracles, for the forgiveness, for the patience, and for the determination to be better. Then you strap on your shoes and let the asphalt absorb your stride as the miles help clear the mind.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My First Website

Just for my history sake - in case some day I switch careers and become a professional website designer (not likely) - August 9, 2010 marked the live debut of my very first ever website.

Here it is: the
Mountain View High School Class of 1990 website.

I'm pretty excited about it. I hope it serves it's purpose. I hope lots of Toro 1990 Alumni come to visit it. I hope our reunion is a success.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Flat Iron

Sometimes it's better to start the story from the top.

I love this Nike shirt by the way: "The Only Way to Finish is to Start." What a great saying.

In preparation for the big hike next month, Ryan & I had been planning on making the hike up Flatiron for several weeks, but we had some conflicts the last couple of weekends. Finally, the stars aligned and we did it. It was a great hike (or should I say great climb) - so different from what I was expecting. I thought we'd be mostly on trails and switchbacks. I had no idea we were scaling a mountain. Ryan has hiked this mountain a few times before, but I was a newbee.

Does it look far away? Does it look high? It's only about 2.5 miles from where I was standing, but it is pretty much straight up. Almost 3000 feet up. Just for perspective, that's about halfway up the grand canyon - a pretty decent climb.

Here's the skinny on Flatiron, per (published in a good write up a couple of years ago):

"Imagine hiking two Camelback Mountains in a row.

Believe it or not, that would be easier than hiking to the Flatiron, a prominent rock outcrop overlooking the western flanks of the Superstition Wilderness.

The ridiculously steep route up Siphon Draw gains nearly 2,800 feet in 2.8 miles, stressing thighs, burning lungs and sending heart rates into the red zone.

It's one of the best hikes in Arizona."

We left the kids fast asleep with Barrett in charge of the slumber at 5:15 am, and were making our first steps up the trail at 6:00am on the nose. Surprisingly, the weather was incredibly pleasant for a mid-August day, mostly because the sun hadn't reared its head over the mountains yet which meant we were blessed with shade all the way up and about a third of the way down. The breeze was nice too. It didn't get really warm until about the last thirty minutes of the hike (despite what the gallon of sweat soaking through on my shirt might tell you.)

This part is called "slippery rock" and is the point where many hikers apparently turn around. Or so I read. Whatever. Why would you even make this journey if you weren't planning to shoot for the top? Anyway, it was indeed a steep, slippery slope to climb. Ryan and I both commented that it was a good thing it wasn't wet. I have no idea how you'd scale that thing wet.

This was pretty typical of the hike. Lots of hand over hand and straight up stuff.

The whole hike is 5.8 miles round trip. It took us 2 hours to get up, and 1:45 to get down. We stayed up top and enjoyed the incredible views for about 30 minutes, ate some fruit and granola bars, changed my socks, listened to the sound of peace on the the mountain top, took a few pics, joked about things we could do up there that no one would ever see or hear...It was a good morning for sure.

And here we are at the tip top of Flatiron. Pretty cool view. Super cool company if I do say so myself. Some fellow hikers arrived at the top just a few minutes behind us, so we took each other's pictures. Love this one. It looks like we're on top of the world. Not quite, but 3000 feet up isn't too shabby.

The hike up was the cardio workout. The hike down was the quad workout. It was fun busting out our new day packs that we bought each other for our early anniversary presents (Happy 14th Anniversary, Babe. I have a separate post to follow about that too...) I also broke in my new Solomon hiking shoes this trip. They worked great. No blisters.

We saw this guy on our way down the mountain. Some hikers from Denver told us that it was a collared lizard and pretty rare to find. They are lizard gurus (or so they say), so we thought we should take a pic. Of course, this was the only pic our kids really cared about.

I think our next long hike will be on the 28th. Not sure yet where it will be, but we probably only have 2 more practice hikes before the real deal. Oh, and lots of miles on the asphalt. We're sort of dual-track training for the Rim2Rim in September and the Shun the Sun Half Marathon in early November. Good times.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's all about the shoes

The shoes tell it all.
It's back to school time.
Clearly, Vans are the bomb this year.
Last year they were all wearing Converse.

Rowan & Lily at the bus stop - both getting ready to start first grade. We're sad that Miss Lily isn't in Rowan's class this year, but thankfully, being cousins and all and living just around the corner, they'll still get to hang together all the time.

My little man is officially a school kid...kinda hard to believe. Half-day kindergarten at Hermosa Vista. He's a Skyhawk and wears a sky blue school spirit shirt on Fridays. We're used to red, white and blue at Hale. My girls are Hale Heros. Since I'm a couple days overdue in posting these pics, we now have three days of school under our belt. I have to say that today was the hardest day for me yet. Yes, the fact that the bus never showed up on day 1 was disheartening...but we dealt with that. (By the way, I'm driving him to school now and he takes the bus home.) But this morning when Ryan and I dropped him off at school, I almost cried. We got there about 10 minutes before the first bell so that he could have time to play a bit if he wanted before lining up on the "yellow circle" where his class meets to walk in. But after he laid his new backpack down on the sidewalk, he looked around so confused and sad. He asked me if I saw any of the other kids in his class on the playground. Sadly, with a new school and a new kindergartner on the third day of school on a playground packed with kids and no sisters around for support, I had no idea who any of them were.

He couldn't figure out what to do. He started for the busy playground twice, then came back. He thought about just waiting in his class line, but that didn't look too appealing with only two kids waiting there. I knew that he wanted to play, but I think he was just intimidated about jumping into that jungle with no one he knew. I tried encouraging him to go play, but he just stood there silently, looking around, then plopped right down on the sidewalk with his hands on his cheeks across from his yellow dot and waited. With a small frown and furrowed brows. He looked too sad and lonely. I wanted to stay with him. So did Ryan. We were trying to get off to the temple, though, and I knew that today was just one of many days that I'd be leaving my little man on the yellow dot to face his kindergarten world. So I gave him a hug and started off.

Thankfully, just as I said that, my cousin Dyan came up with her little guy, Jay, who is in Easton's class. He was the lifesaver. After a little coaxing, Easton got up with Jay and waited in line with the one face he knew in the crowd. I knew that once that bell rang and his fantastic teacher led him into class, that he would be fantastic and love his day. And that's exactly what happened. When I met him at the bus stop after school today, he was all bounce and smiles. Without prompting (since I've asked so many questions about day one and day two), he told me all about day 3. "I had recess, ate snacks, colored one picture...and I got to pick this (showing me a Buzz Lightyear lolipop thing) from the treasure chest! Probably next Friday we get to do that again. And that was all I did." Hmmm...not a bad report from the four-year old. I was happier than ever having him with me all afternoon. Just like last year. Just he and I. I love those times.

My cute girls (plus our neighbor friend, Riley, who's like a fourth daughter) waiting at the bus stop. They were so good to indulge me for a few quick snaps of the camera.

Is it me, or does Rowan look extra smart sporting her glasses? I'm still getting used to seeing her in them. It's such a change. But she seems to be loving them more and more and is keeping them on pretty much all day now. I guess they must be working...good thing. Rowan is our social butterfly - always trying to arrange play dates and make sure her schedule is packed with fun. She came home on day 1 with the phone number of a new friend, Taylor. She's already got quite a little posse of friends from her early learner kindergarten and kindergarten years. But hey, you can never have too many friends, right? Rowan's also excited that our new friends, the Hughletts, who just moved in about a month or so ago, have a little girl Rowan's age in her class. Her name is Brooklyn and we love her to death. She's a doll and so is her mom, Lisa. They moved here from Michigan and bought a house in Harris Park not too far from our house. I've already made a new friend too!

My sweet Afton. A fourth grader, sporting her "yay 4 Saturdays" shirt on the first day of school. I like it. It seems so Afton. She has Mr. Dominguez this year, her first "man teacher." Although she was pretty upset when she got her teacher assignment earlier this summer (she did not get the teacher she was hoping for), after day 3, she seems super happy with it all. She says he's really nice and even lets them eat snacks while he talks. Amazing in the world of a fourth grader. Plus her best bud, Lily, is in her class again this year, which always helps. I hope her teacher challenges her enough this year. Afton is so dang smart. She's a straight A student across the board and has literally been breezing through every grade so far.

OK, she's growing up too fast. Look at her! Miss Barrett Ally, almost twelve, now the head of the school as a sixth grader. She's on top of her world and lovin' life. She's became a voracious reader this year, which I love, and no doubt will be a little fashionista as she grows up. She's already got the fashion bug itch, and has "i wanna be a teenager" written all over her face. Thankfully, she's as sweet as they come. We've gotten pretty close this past year, closer than we've ever been before, really, and I'm loving that. I love that she and I are great friends and I hope that she will always treat me like that. Come junior high, I guess time will tell...but for now, she's such a gem.

My sweet kids...good luck this year. Be kind. Make friends. Study hard. Have a blast!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marathon Tuesday

Yesterday felt like a kid marathon day. It just kept going and going and going and...kinda like the Energizer Bunny.

I guess that's to be expected on the day before school starts. Still, I was spent. I'm quite sure that staying up too late a couple nights in a row working on our Mountain View Class of 1990 website and then the stadium trainings had something to do with my fatigue. Maybe the heat a little. Whatever the reason or myriad of reasons, I was tuckered out last night.

The Brown Family's Tuesday, August 10th included all of this good stuff and more:
  • Early morning workout with Ryan up at Mountain View. We ran at the track and did tons of stadiums - getting ready for the big hike next month.
  • Meet the teacher day up at Hale for the girls. Three new teachers, three new classsrooms, three new school t-shirts, one big lunch check and one big PTO donation. Hooray! (NOTE: We did meet the teacher at Hermosa Vista Elementary on Monday night for Easton. He's starting half day kindergarten there today. We ran into a zillion people we knew there and everyone kept asking us if we were transferring. No, it's just Easton. The girls are staying at Hale. But we loved his new school and are so excited for him. Oh, and we did Meet the Teacher at Field Elementary after that Monday night for Barrett's ELP class. Same teacher for ELP as she had last year, but a new theme. This year they are studying the Stock Market. I'm pretty stoked about that.) We've met lots of teachers!
  • Home for quick laundry rotation and potty break.
  • Dentist appointments at 11:30 in Gilbert for all the kiddos. Knock on wood, but they all still have perfect teeth. No cavities. No problems. Barrett is still waiting for 3 baby teeth to come out so they can get moving with her braces. Maybe one more year. Afton has five loose teeth and Rowan, much to her dismay, is starting first grade with all 20 of her baby teeth and none even close to loose. Easton's are perfect.
  • Errands.
  • Lunch and shopping at Sam's Club with the crew. It's amazing how much lunch you get for five people at Sam's Club for $13. Seriously. Kinda helps with the sting of the final bill when you check out from shopping and wonder if you'll ever leave with a bill under $200.
  • Home for about 30 minutes for grocery drop off, email checking, and more laundry rotation and showers for all the kids (so they could have freshly washed hair for Jayme).
  • Hair cuts for all the kids at Tantrum at 3:30.
  • Walmart trip (for the last minute school supplies that we didn't anticipate). Big mistake. Walmart was insane. Half of Mesa was doing the same thing we were. It took 25 minutes to check out. No lie. I was so done with people by the time we came home. Thankfully I love my people and they were all pretty good considering the day we had. But Easton was super done too.
  • Finally, home for good and ready to dive into dinner prep at 5:45.
  • Kids turned our living room floor into school supply heaven while I prepped food. With supply lists in hand, and Barrett in charge of the chaos, the four of them divy'd up the crayons and pencils and glue sticks and scissors and binders and notebooks and hand sanitizer and tissues and filled their backpacks with first day of school treasures. I could hear the craziness from the kitchen. I only elected to intervene a couple of times when I thought World War 3 might break out about whose package of pencil lead was whose.
  • Dinner - all vegitarian. A mish mash of quick and easy favorites: corn on the cob, baked potatoes, salad, fruit, bread (that we picked up at Walmart). My kids wanted to know where the chicken or the chops were. None tonight. We're going meatless today. Barrett kept asking what the entre was. I told her it was the baked potatoe and she smiled. But they all devoured it. Easton told me I make the best dinner ever. He's so good to me.
  • More laundry, the final checking of the packs to make sure the lists were fulfilled. I realized today that I forgot the white pillowcase for Easton's painting smock and Afton's dry erase marker. They'll live without for a day or two I'm sure. Hopefully they don't bust out any paints in kindergarten today though. I liked the shirt Easton picked out and would love for it to come home paint-free.
  • Baths again to wash off the stray hairs, then father's blessings from Ryan for each of the kids. That was my favorite part of the day. I cried in each one. They have such a good daddy.
  • Prayers and tucking. Only 40 minutes behind schedule. Not too bad for getting back into the routine.
  • Time with Barrett (my night owl) helping her tweeze her eyebrows back into perfect shape for Day 1 after being neglected for a couple of weeks. And I did the requisite checking to make sure all the outfits layed out on the ledge actually matched and all the shoes had socks to go with them.
  • 10:00 - finally done with the day. I'm pretty sure I was out when my head hit the pillow.

Final note: when we were at Walmart, we ran into a couple of friends from the neighborhood, Gail McClure (Easton's preschool teacher from last year) and Connie Shelly (my good friend and our ward Relief Society president). Gail and Connie are best friends. As we laughed and visited with them for a few minutes, they commented that they were having some serious nostalgia watching me trek through Walmart with a full brood of kids in tow on the day before school started. All of their kids are grown now. They reminded me to cherish these days because they are gone before you know it.

So true. I can hardly believe that my little man is in school already. He was just born, wasn't he?

Friday, August 6, 2010


According to the gurus on running, you shouldn't run more than 300-400 miles in your shoes, depending on your weight and the terrain you typically run on. Wearing worn-out shoes is the #1 cause of running injuries and muscle fatigue.

I just crunched some numbers, and I'm way overdue. Like, 300 miles overdue actually. I skipped a whole pair. I've been alternating back and forth between a couple of pairs, but both are so worn down.

Maybe that's partly why I've haven't been feeling the love on the asphalt so much lately. I kind of just chalked it up to the heat. But maybe it's been a combo of both.

And I think I need to reload my iPod with some fresh tunes. That might help bring back the love.

So today at lunch, I finally made it over to one of my favorite places. Runners Den. I love that place. It's over in Phoenix on 16th Street and Maryland, not too far from my office.

I made a new friend at the store, too. Well, sort of. Not like I'll ever see him again until I go back next time, but he was really nice. He's a small, thin man - totally looks like a runner - and he made me laugh a ton. He treated me like the runner I want to become instead of the runner I am. When he asked when I bought my last pair, I told him I wasn't 100% sure (probably about 10 months ago?) and asked him to look it up in my file.

Yes, I have a file.

Actually, everyone who buys shoes there has a file. It's not like I'm special.

He said, "So it was before your marathon in January, right?" He smiled.

Me: "Um...I didn't run a marathon in January, but yes, it was before then."

His name is Craig. He's 56 and he's definitely on my Hero List. He's running the St. George marathon next month and this will be his 200th marathon! No, that wasn't a typo. Seriously....200 marathons in one lifetime. And he's still going!!! He says he wants to be running marathons when he's 82. Every single Saturday, he does a long run. And by long, I mean 15-20 miles. Craziness. He runs 7-8 marathons a year.

I can't even imagine. I've never heard of someone who has so many miles under his belt.

As he was fitting me for my shoes, he asked me if I was in a running group, because "you should find a group to run with if you're going to be ready for your marathon this January." Again, treating me like the runner I aspire to be. He gave me a couple of suggestions on how to find a running group. He's been running with his group for 24 years. Apparently there's a whole bunch of insane marathoners out there who have logged a zillion plus miles.

I told him that my husband was running the next half marathon with me in November. I'm really excited about that. I'm not sure that Ryan's all that excited about it yet, but I know it will be a great experience for him. Having that goal out there is so motivating. My Runner's Den friend said that after 36 years of marriage, his wife isn't a runner yet. He's still convinced that someday she'll start.

So I'm all pumped up about my cool new shoes and excited to start breaking them in tomorrow morning. I was a little pokey on my run this morning so it's time for some Saturday speed redemption. And truth be told, my wheels were spinning the whole drive back to my office. 26.2. Could I do it? Do I want to do it? Should I do it?

Yes, I think I could, should, will. In 2011. My 40th year.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reflections on Writing

It's been one year since I started blogging and I have about 170 posts to show for it. Not bad...

I was thinking the other day about the whole blogging thing and how this evolution of technology over the past five years or so has made such a difference in the record- keeping of our generation. Sure, journals and scrolls and brass plates and stones have been around since the beginning of time to provide a means for our ancestors (and us) to document our lives. Well, not so much the plates, scrolls and stones for me. Just the journal. I have random spiral notebooks all over the place with notes and thoughts written down as the moments roll. I think I got that from my Grandma Sue. She was the queen of journaling on any little piece of anything she could find. When she passed away three years ago, her writings were found everywhere, all over the house, tucked inside books, in drawers, in dressers, on the backs of envelopes. She was always writing. I miss her.

We spent four days in Pine this past week, enjoying the beautiful cabin that she and my grandpa built about 45 years ago. My grandpa was there with us and shared some of his life stories with us as he often does when we take time to sit and relax. What a great trip that was for our family. One of the most memorable ones, I think. Why? I don't know really. But the bonds were strong and I came home loving my brood more than ever.

I've been keeping my main journal on my laptop for about 13 years now. I've transferred it from CD to CD with each new machine, but still it has lived electronically for the longest time.

But with the blog, my journaling and documentation of the comings and goings and experiences of my whole family is so much more consistent and vivid. I'm writing my personal history, one day at a time. And I find that I have the impetus to write more often while the moments are fresh and my memories are sharp. As I think back about my journal writing days of yore, I realize that never before have I written so much. 170 times in one year. That works out to almost every other day on average. What's more, I have pictures documenting the journey. Reminders of the joys and the funnies and the growing experiences and the progress of our clan...

Still, I wish that I could find (or make) the time to write every day. Surely, there is something of merit or something worth remembering or learning from in every day of our lives. Even something small. Something one of my kids said. Something I felt impressed about or frustrated with or enamored by. Something I read that made an impact, something I heard that struck a note. Something I felt that left me changed. Something that I might want to remember again someday...

It's been too long since I've scanned any of my scrapbook layouts to post. I'm so behind on scanning. Actually, behind on way too many things, but somehow keeping afloat amidst the craziness we call life. I love going back through those albums I've worked on over the years. My kids love it too. Sure, it's fun to see the pictures and the pretty page embellishments and the evolution of my scrapbooking techniques. But mostly, I love to read the journaling. I love to write on my scrapbook pages and share the feelings of my heart. There are so many letters (or at least long paragraphs) written to my precious children in those pages. All kinds of thoughts and dreams. Some lamenting, lots of praise. And mostly, just love. Someday I hope they cherish those thoughts shared by a young mother doing her best to raise a brood of four with the help of one very awesome husband and the rest of our village.