Sunday, March 18, 2012

Track Star

Atta girl.
Way to run.
Way to push.
You rock.
Afty at her school track & field day on Friday 3/9/12

Here she is, far left, running in the first heat of the Girls 5th Grade 50-yard dash

She was fast, and she finished in the top 3 of her heat, qualifying her for the finals

Only the speedy ones here.  These are the qualifiers from all three heats.

And they're off in the finals...

Afty pushed hard, but she didn't get the greatest start at the horn, and ended up finishing 5th overall.  I was a proud mama, though, watching her determination and desire to win.  She had been looking forward to this day for several weeks.

Each class had competitions amongst themselves to choose the two fastest boys and two fastest girls for their relay team.  Afton was the fastest girl in her class, so she was chosen to be a part of the team. They practiced almost every day for two weeks.  I haven't seen her this excited for something in a long time.  On the big day, she ran the first leg for her team.

Love this game face.  And I love this girl.  I was only there for the morning running events (she ran the cross country event too and finished 12th in the school), but then they spent the afternoon doing all the field events.  Of course, Afty wanted to participate in everything, and she did.  Long jump, hurdles, softball throw, etc.  She thinks she won the girls softball throw for distance, although the final awards weren't given out that day, so she'll have to wait and see.  But she loved the whole day and had a blast being in her element.  Outdoors, in the sun, with friends, working hard, going for the gold.  Love it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seeing Arizona

Over the past month or so, I have had the opportunity to see so much of our Arizona landscape that I rarely ever take the opportunity to do.  After racing in Sedona in early February then running the Ragnar a couple weeks ago from Wickenburg to Tonapah to Surprise to New River to Carefree to Fountain Hills to Scottsdale to Tempe, I was reminded that our beautiful state has a lot to offer.  And our kiddos haven't seen much of it!  And we are all Arizona natives, dang it.
So I picked up one of these beauties today.  It's the America the Beautiful Annual Pass and our family's ticket to exploring some amazing national parks and monuments.  

I am excited for Spring Break. We're busting out of the Brown family norm and doing something new.  We thought it would be a great opportunity to take our kids to some places they've never been and give them a dose of some good old Arizona culture.  We debated about going South or North, driving or taking a train, but the North via car won for this trip.  Next time it will be Kartchner Caverns and Tombstone.  And I still want to take the train from Williams to the South Rim.  Another time, though.

For this quick 3-day adventure, I've done my homework and made a list and mapped out what I hope to be a fun-filled trip across Northern Arizona.  I remember visiting a lot of these places in my 6th grade ELP trip and/or summer vacations with my grandparents.  So far, here's our plan:

  • Head out Thursday morning and visit Montezuma's Castle
  • Hike into Montezuma's Well and picnic there
  • Drive to the Grand Canyon and stay Thursday night at the South Rim (luckily I found us a room there so we won't be camping!)
  • Take a family friendly rim hike and explore the beauties of the canyon.  Get Barrett really pumped up to do the Rim2Rim with us in September (woot!  woot!).  Eat some Hagen Daaz. Take lots of pics.  Start to indoctrinate the kiddos that hiking is fun! Buy souveniers :)
  • Drive to Flagstaff on Friday afternoon and visit Sunset Crater National Monument and Waputki National Monuments
  • Tour the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Friday night and have some cool star gazing experiences with their giant telescopes
  • Spend Friday night in Flag
  • Drive through Williams, AZ on Saturday and check out some cool historical sites, lunch there OR go to Camp Verde and do the Out of Africa Park 
Yay for something new!  Yay for new memories and cool cultural experiences and good family time.  I am excited.  I hope the kids are too - hard to tell, since they have no reference point on this one and no idea what to expect.  They are used to the beach or snow or camping or cabin (all of which actually sound pretty fun right now too).  I think I am itching for a little vaca.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

All eyes on us

They watch us all the time.  Even when we don't notice, they are watching.  Learning.  Thinking.  Deciding how and what they want to "be".  Deciding if they want to be like us.  Or not.

I've always known that my living example to my children, whether good or bad, is more powerful than anything I will ever say.  I am grateful for such amazing kids and so thankful that the Big Man Upstairs had enough faith and trust in me to let me be their mom.  I pray every day - every single day - for help to be a good mother.  And I pray that as I am ever-so-human and make many mistakes along the way, that they will know I am trying, really really trying hard to be the best I can be.  For them.  For me.  For our family. 
It's seems like as of late, parenting has been on my mind so much.  As I've taken opportunities to counsel with my precious peeps about things going on in their lives, trials they are facing, emotions they are reconciling, I've asked myself if I'm doing this right.  Am I teaching them what they need to know to become a successful adult?  Am I helping them develop their faith?  Am I too tough on them? Or not tough enough?  Am I showing them how important it is to stay strong and healthy and fit?  Am I giving them enough opportunties to "choose" and exercise their agency and learn to responsible?

I was firm with the one about a grade that we both felt was unacceptable given her smarts and her gifts and her upbringing.  She knew it wasn't her best and so did I.  We talked a lot about expectations, abilities, and what is means to be our best.  I asked her how she felt about this whole situation, and although she quickly responded that she knew she hadn't been putting her forth her best, she said she didn't feel that bad considering how she was doing in comparison to some of her friends.

Oh no you didn't just say that.
Stop the show.

Bring out the soapbox because my "life is too short to be mediocre" lesson is about to begin. 

I reminded her that there are all kinds of average people out there - people who are content to just get by, content with doing the bare minimum.  In short, content with being mediocre.  We are not those kind of people.  Each of us is born with our own package of gifts and talents and just like the parable of the 10 talents, we are each commanded to work with what we've been given and make the most of them.  The fly on our wall has oft been blessed to hear my well rehearsed, but 100% sincere, speil about doing our best.  I tell my kids that if they work hard and bust their tails and the best they can bring home is a C, then I'd be as happy as I could be.  But they are not C students, and in fact, are not B students.  They are capable of excellence and have shown it over and again, so that is what we expect.  She got it.  I think they all get it and probably always have.  Sometimes we just need reminders.

Monday evening when I got home from work, the two youngest girls had both our yoga mats spread out in the family room and were mimicking Tony Horton and his crew as they worked through the P90X Stretch-X routine.  I couldn't help but smile.  They were so stinking cute.  How many times have they seen Ryan and I pull out those mats and plug in those DVD's over the years?  Apparently, Rowan wanted to "limber up" so she could perfect her splits, and Afton wanted to loosen up her muscles since she's been running a lot.  (BTW - Afton was the fastest in her class and is representing her class in the team relay race at this Friday's Track and Field Day.  She is sooooo excited!)  She's doing the softball throw and cross country event too and wants to be her best.  She wants to be fast.  Hmmmm...I wonder where she gets that?

I know they are watching.  Sometimes when the week seems too busy to steal away for 2 hours to the Big White House down on Main, I think about them.  They need to see me go always.  They need to know that I love that place and that it's important to me to be there every week. 

They watch us work.  They see us run.  They see us sweat and do hard things.  They see us date.  They know we love the Lord and that we think it's important to be kind, kind, kind.  They know that church attendance and softball practice are pretty much non-negotiable.  They know we don't tolerate whining and that anything short of 100% honesty isn't going to cut it in our family.  They know we love them beyond measure and that all their friends are welcome in our home. 

How do they know?

They see.  They watch.  They learn so fast. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reality Check

Sometimes we need a reality check.

Last night after the kiddos were tucked in bed and before I tucked myself, I sat alone for a few minutes at my kitchen counter indulging in a little late night graham cracker and milk treat.  As I casually flipped through my newest Women's Running magazine that just came in the mail, I came upon an editorial that struck a cord.  The guy had just finished running a marathon - a race for which he had seriously trained for months and in which he fully expected to hit a new PR and qualify for Boston.  However, he had an "off" day on the course and missed his qualifying time by 2 minutes.  Two minutes.  During the car ride home from the race, he went on and on about his dissapointment, what went wrong, the woes of not qualifying by such a small margin, etc., until finally his wife broke in after an hour and said, "You may only do this for one day and then you have to stop.  Your sister would give anything to be able to run, and you just did 26."  The man's sister suffered from a life changing illness the prior year and was no longer able to run - at all.

Today, part two of the reality check hit.  Today marks the one year annivesary of my sister in law, Lacey's, most unselfish act.  On her 29th birthday, March 1, 2011, she donated her kidney to her dad and saved his life.  I still cannot talk about it or think about it or read about without tearing up.  At the time, she was a single mother of three young children, her baby not even one year old, engaged to be married.  Only 29 years old.  A friend commented on her tribute Facebook post today:  "Nothing compares...the most unselfish act known to man.  I laugh when people talk about sacrifice...until we all start giving away body parts we can't even speak."

We watched a short little video clip from the LDS website on Monday night at the conclusion of my FHE lesson on the family.  It was titled, "What Matters Most."  All this gives me cause to reflect and make sure that I am focused on what matters most:  my health, my family, my conviction, my faith.

Truly, I am blessed beyond measure.  The luckiest girl I know...for sure.