Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For Lack of a Topic

Since there doesn't seem to be any one thought floating about in my head waiting to be posted (rather, many thought snippets), I have decided to upload all of the recent photos from my camera to my computer and type whatever I feel like about them. Besides, a picture is worth a thousand words . . . so . . . here are several thousand words via photo.

1. First off, who needs real friends? Seeing your kids own little unprompted creations is the best thing. It always makes me smile and shake my head at the same time.
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2. Lately I keep looking at Abe and thinking how old he is getting. There is a certain age when kids are no longer just "little kids"-- when they reach a point that people are not quite as sure how to go about entertaining them, conversing with them, etc. because they don't know if they should be doing kid stuff with them or treating them more grown up. I think it is a little trickier for babysitters and aunts and uncles when kids aren't simply, "little" anymore. As I watch Abe going about his life these days -- asking me for permission to do things, helping me with things, etc. I feel so happy that I don't wonder those things about him -- that I know who he is and what he likes and what he's all about at this stage. I love that boy.
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3. Oh, well, and this is important. I have always thought long sweaters were flattering, and last Fall I kept wishing I had a good open fronted sweater to put on when the weather didn't quite call for a coat, but for some reason, I have never had a nice long sweater . . . and then, the other day, I bought TWO. Goldie took this picture of me trying on the first one. I look a bit as if I am feigning enthusiasm, but in my heart of hearts (what on earth does that mean -- I know Anatomy and there is nooo mini heart in your heart) . . . but, back to what I was saying, in my heart of hearts I was nothing but purely and completely enthusiastic about my sweaters (plus, they were on a great sale).
4. I walked in my room the other day to this:
I'm normally a flip flop kind of girl. Winters are rough for me because as much as I love the idea of shoes, I just don't seem to like to put them on. But, it was a Sunday so fancy shoes were the order of the day, and something about this little sight -- my obviously female shoes (much more obvious than flip flops) next to my husbands struck me and made me feel so happy that I have the man I love so well -- that, just like those shoes left lying there, our lives are so intermingled. It made me think of other little signs of his presence left about the house -- a cereal bowl on the counter, a razor on the edge of the sink. How empty and lonely my life would be if those things were ever to cease being left about (Mike, this is not to say that you should avoid cleaning up in the future -- signs that you have been cleaning are even more endearing).

5. Maybe that had something to do with why this sight made me pause and smile on the following day. It made me want to go around my house taking pictures of all of the things that would give someone a clue as to who we are and what we do. I kept looking at things all day as if I were a stranger peering in this home with the task of deducing all I could about its occupants.
6. The kids and I are very excited for tomorrow. It is Oct. 1st AND they have no school. The reason that is special is that I told them we would decorate for Halloween on Oct. 1st -- so how lucky that it ended up being a vacation day (plus the weather has obliged us by switching from 90 degrees two days ago, to a forecasted 52 degrees for tomorrow -- just to help us feel that the Fall and Winter holiday season is for real). Anyway, we snuck out one early decoration -- this candy bowl:
For some reason it reminded Goldie very much of the little lidded sample containers at Target and other stores, and she insisted on eating her allotted number of candy corns one at a time so she could keep coming back and pretending to get a store sample. She thought it was so much more enjoyable eating her treats when they seemed sample-ish.
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It reminded me of tearing bread into little pieces with my sisters when we were little in the hopes that it would somehow taste as delicious as the sacrament bread. I suppose that was a bit sacrilegious; be that as it may, it never did taste as good. Looking back now, it occurs to me that our wheat bread could never mimic the taste of that delectable and seldom-seen-in-our-home white bread that the deacons passed about -- no matter how small we tore the pieces.
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7. Lastly, I don't know how smart Penny thinks I am -- apparently not very. She is insanely full of mischief lately (drawing on walls and the like), and about ten times a day she looks at something, thinks twice about it, and then, rather than opting to not commit the infraction, she says, "Mom, Could you go away?" Sometimes it is so painfully obvious what she has planned. Like tonight when I warned her to quit turning on our bathtub water (as she recently flooded one bathroom with buckets of water on the floor). She turned the faucet off, looked at it longingly and then, "Mom, could you go away?" That girl.
Well, that is that. The end of my photo essay. If the pictures really did paint a thousand words, then I probably shouldn't have gone ahead and typed a thousand extra with each picture, but such is my nature. Good night.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Marathon Day

Well, Saturday was my marathon. The title of this post was supposed to be something like, "I am going to Boston!" or "I am the coolest runner ever, and I am going to Boston." In fact, I have to admit that I was feeling confident enough . . . maybe just cocky enough to be about 99% certain that was what the title of this post would be. My past two marathon times were qualifying times and I had no reason to doubt this one would be the same. This poor marathon didn't even get its fair shakes because I wasn't actually training for it and running it for its own self, it was all to qualify for Boston. And then . . . I didn't.

Before I give the run down (no pun intended) on this race, I should add that out of the four marathons I have ran, this was by far the most miserable and so this should not represent what a marathon is to those of you who may be considering doing one some day. I felt much better on my first three and had much better times on my last two. Whether it was the training troubles I had with my ankle, or the cold and slight stomach upset I'd had all week, whether it was the fact that I ran the first half much faster than I should have, or just a case of elements combining less than perfectly for a little old fashioned bad luck I can't be sure, but it was rough. It was miserable.

Clearly I didn't just up and run 26.2 miles with no preparation. For the last four months, I have run very consistently during the week and slowly increased mileage and endurance with long weekend runs, but there are a few reasons why the marathon itself still ends up being so tough. First, you always run faster on the actual race -- I don't know if it is just adrenaline or what, but what would be a fast training pace feels painfully slow during the race. Second, very few marathoners actually run 26 miles in training. The standard longest training run is around 20 miles. That might sound contrary to reason -- surely you'd want to have your endurance up to the full 26, right? Well, yes, but the problem is that as you reach those 20 mile type of distances you begin walking a fairly thin line -- increased endurance on the one hand, injury and inability to recuperate enough to keep increasing your running ability on the other hand. So, a 20 miler about three to four weeks before marathon day is usually the peek of your training -- you then taper off til the actual race so that hopefully your body will be recovered from those training runs in time to give it one last miserable push.

Anyway on to the marathon . . .Here I am at 4:00 am on race day. Incidentally, anything in the four o'clock hour still seems like night to me. 5:00 am is insanely early, but at least it's morning! I got to bed at about 10:30, was woken at midnight by a slew of high-schoolers loudly painting some homecoming stuff on the road outside our house. Woken again at 3:00 by Goldie (I don't recall why). Nerves wouldn't let me fall back to sleep and I was up at 4:00 so I could get ready and drive the 50 mins. to where I would wait in the dark in a long line with thousands of other marathoners to board one of the TONS of buses that would take us up the canyon to where our run would start at 7:00 am. (The lack of sleep wasn't that big of a deal though -- I don't think anyone plans on a great night of sleep the night before a marathon).

Oh here I am at 4:00 am showing off my temporary marathon logo tattoo and trying to look a little more pumped for what lies ahead (but mostly just succeeding in looking a little creepy).Our bus driver was the peppiest lady imaginable -- particularly for that insanely early hour. Maybe it was her personality . . . or maybe she was just happy that she would be driving (rather than running) from where she would be leaving us.

It was a bit lonely what with the dark and not knowing or recognizing any of the other 2000 some odd runners. My first two marathons I had sisters to giggle with while we waited to start, and even my marathon up in OR had a few girls that I knew from training a bit together. Here, I only recognized an old microbiology professor from college, and I should have told him I was one of his students and made a little small talk, but I was feeling too nervous for small talk.

At 6:45 am they told us to toss our numbered bags (with water bottles, sweatshirts, etc.) on the bus. So we left the bonfires (it was cold) and began lining up at the starting line. The gun went off for the wheelchair racers -- which meant five minutes to go for us. I kept my eyes on the steady stream of people frantically running down the hill from the port-a-potties and I wondered if they'd get to the start by the time the gun went off or if the race would wait for all of them before it started or if they didn't really care if they started the minute the gun went off anyway since their final time maybe didn't matter so much to them as the fact that they ran 26 miles.

I don't recall if they got there or not. The sun was coming up now, and I was looking around at the canyon and mountains and listening to the talk of runners. Then our gun went off. A cheer went up from all of us and we were on our way . . . sort of . . . when you are in the middle of 2000 people, it takes a bit to actually get going. It probably took me 30 seconds to even get across the starting line, and we were still pretty closely packed even at mile seven . . . which set me to wondering how on earth things would ever thin out enough to get into a smooth gait with the 20,000 runners at Boston (which I was still sure I would be going to at that point).

I felt great for the first miles. I was running about an eight minute pace and it felt just right. In the past, I have forced myself to go much slower than that for the first nine or ten miles -- just to make sure I'd have enough energy to see me through. I'd usually be chomping at the bit to really take off though and by mile ten I would. This time, since I was so set on a certain time, I felt nervous to do my first miles so slow -- thinking how much faster those middle miles would have to be to make up the difference -- so I started at about the pace I wanted my race to be. Which might have been fine, but then I did a dumb thing, I still took off at mile ten. I felt so good, and I just felt like I could go faster . . . and I could . . . for about six more miles. I got a bad side ache by mile 15 and by mile 16 was starting to think, "OK, I'm hurting . . . just keep this up to mile 20 . . . and then . . . well, I don't know what then . . . but maybe then you can just will yourself through the last six?"

At about mile 17 when the "just focus on getting to mile 20" was starting to seem much too difficult, I started hearing my name shouted. My eyes were a little blurry and I couldn't tell who was cheering for me, but as I got closer I saw this (notice how I used the paint program to scribble out my uber top secret last name from blog land):My sister Megan, my niece Ashley (the one who has tended for me during the past FOUR months of training runs), and my niece Karin were there. It was a total surprise and made me so happy. Things are a little emotional during the race -- there is some tie between our spirits and doing something that so forces them to conquer our bodies that is well . . . like I said, emotional. So, having them there to support me even though they must have woken very early to get up there made me start to cry . . . only for a minute though because I couldn't afford to start gasping for air!

That gave me an extra boost, but by mile 18 the side ache was still going nowhere and my body was really really hitting a wall like it never ever has before. I truly was starting to want to just quit, but I didn't want to disappoint them and I knew Mike and the kids would be waiting at the finish, so I kept going.By mile 21 I was pretty well over Boston and only wanting desperately to even finish. Every fiber of my being was screaming "QUIT!!" Seriously, it was like it was shouting in my head. I can't go back and pinpoint exactly what was wrong. My breathing was OK. My ankle was stiff and sore, but it wasn't just one single or even several pains or aches that you could name. I think I had just totally exhausted my bodies reserves and it felt like it was saying, "Alright, will yourself on if you want, but I'm no longer giving to this effort. I'm done."

I'd taken a Gu (carbo/energy gel things) earlier and I should have taken one again, but I didn't feel like my stomach could handle it, so I just kept up with water and Gatorade. I'd run through the other water stops, but at mile 23 I stopped to walk through. This was a mistake of course. The minute I stopped, the full weight of my muscle aches and ankle aches crashed on me. And I found myself pretty much unable to start again. I kept walking for about a half block wondering how long it would take me to finish if I walked the entire last three miles. Funny. At the start, miles fly by and three miles seems like nothing. At this point I couldn't even really fathom what it would take to make my body move through three more miles. But, some little spark made my awkward legs start moving again. And, for the next few minutes I felt -- OK. It didn't last long, but really, for a half mile maybe I felt like I could keep going. I truly felt and was sure that a little wind of prayers was blowing all around me. I kept thinking about that and wondering -- is it just that my family has been praying for me, or is someone really praying hard for me at this moment? I wasn't sure, but I was just happy that I could physically feel the buoyancy prayers were giving me. Once again, there is something spiritual about doing something so physical.

Later, it brought tears to my eyes to find out that at that very time, Ashley was panicking as they waited at mile 24 -- I wasn't there yet and she knew I should be to get the time I wanted. She and Megan and Karin got in the car and said a special prayer for me. Ashley also texted pretty much my whole family to tell them to pray. Also, unbeknownst to me again, I had another surprise group of cheerleaders waiting not far off and likely praying and willing me on as well. My sister-in-law Kimberly and her family also came quite a long distance at an early hour to support me. When I saw them I started to cry a little again. They were waiting at about mile 24 as well with Mike and the kids. It was so cool to me to so literally feel an awareness of the prayers and thoughts aimed at me. Really, I did, and it makes me cry again to think of it.So, honestly, I think it was Mike and my kids and Kimberly and her family and Megan and Ashley and Karin (as well as others' prayers) that allowed me to finish. It didn't take me to Boston. And that was OK. Every step of those last miles was nearly impossible. If I'd had it in me to give one more ounce of effort, I would have felt regret about not having given that effort and made the time I needed, but I crossed that finish line with literally nothing left. Cute little kids were along the last stretches holding out their hands for high fives, and I felt obligated to oblige little ones being so cute and encouraging, but even stretching out my arm to them was a massive effort. At mile 26 -- with only .2 measly miles to go -- when I should have been feeling like, "the end is in sight! You can do it!" I still really truly wanted to quit. That is how zapped I was. So I maybe could have run a smarter race and done better, but I definitely could not have given one ounce more to the effort than I did.

My final time was 3 hours and 44 minutes. Four minutes off what I needed to qualify for Boston. It isn't a bad time really. My overall pace still works out to be about 8 minutes and 33 seconds. Even at mile 20, with all the misery I was already feeling, I could have run super slow miles (for me) and made the time . . . I just couldn't run super SUPER slow miles (which, apparently I did). Judging from how slow those last six miles were and the fact that my average pace was still in the eight minute range . . . I must have run those miles between ten and eighteen very fast . . . very too fast. Oops?

Anyway, it is OK. It has felt great to push myself so hard for the last couple of months. It has meant so much to me to have my training runs made so easy by my sweet sweet Ashley -- to just be able to get out and do them with out having to juggle everything. And I have so much appreciated Mike who has had to get up with our little ones every Saturday for weeks and weeks because I was gone at the crack of dawn to get my long runs in before the Summer sun got too hot. It was great to see loved ones rooting for me (even though I would have preferred they had seen a more triumphant finish) and to see Ashley crying not because she was sad I didn't make it to Boston, but because she was so worried I was going to be too sad.

Some of the women of my family have had a little ongoing email discussion lately about the gift we have in a body. I don't know that all of you reading this share my same faith, but we believe that when Satan chose to rebel against our Father in Heaven, he was cast out -- he lost the chance to move forward in our eternal progression. He lost not only the chance to come here and be tested, but to gain a body. Somehow we needed these bodies to be able to fully continue progressing. They aren't perfect here, and won't be until they are resurrected, but my wise sister Amy reminded us of how lucky we are to have these bodies -- even with their aches and pains -- to feel the things they can feel, to push them and occasionally conquer their weaknesses. Satan, and those who followed him will never get to experience the things that we get to experience with these physical bodies, and at the moment I feel amazed at the range of experiences I've been able to have with this body in the last year or so -- from creating a little living baby, filling it kick inside me, nursing and snuggling him; to pushing my body from the three miles it could barely do after his birth to a point of being able to go out and run 26.2 long and exhausting miles through some of the prettiest scenery around.

So, it hurt, and the not doing as well/feeling as well as I have before was a disappointment, but really, amazing to even have had the experience. Saturday scared me enough that for most of the day I was sadly thinking how I would never dare to try that again, how I was too terrified of having another experience so hard . . . but our pain memory is a little short because already I am thinking how before too long I will need to prove to those darn marathons who's boss.

Now for a few last marathon pics:

My shoes honestly did get several compliments shouted at them during the race.How is it I look so smiley in these? That is not going to convince anyone I was dead at the end. Trust me, I was. All I could do was lie there on the wet soggy ground.

Oh, yes, and Megan's little Reed screaming his tiny little head off for me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Television

Last week I banned my kids from the TV, Wii, and computer for the week. Not because I'm such a good anti media mom so much as because they were making me crazy begging to watch TV, etc. the minute they got home from school, and, in a moment of frustration I announced something like, "That's it! No TV EVER again! . . . or at least for all of next week . . . except for on Monday . . . since it's a holiday . . . and maybe Friday night . . . but NO other time . . . except for Saturday morning."

Anyway, to be fair, Mike told them we would ban ourselves as well. I didn't think this was really fair (to be fair they should have probably banned me from checking email or reading books) because the TV we watch is hardly TV at all, and going with out it, for me, is like going with out a tax audit -- but I didn't tell the kids that (because, of course, they don't even know what a tax audit is).

In case you don't believe me, I will now type for you the very words that I just heard come from our TV (I am sitting here on the couch with my Mike. He is watching TV and I am typing). Anyway, here it is:

"The giant pumpkin has many enemies."

Now it will reach its dramatic conclusion where it will be discovered that the biggest pumpkin actually weighs 100 pounds less than the second biggest pumpkin. There will be much gasping -- looks of shock, disbelief and disappointment from some; and for others, looks of joyous surprise, hugs and cheers.

There Once was a Girl . . .

There once was a girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good
She was very very good
But when she was bad
She was horrid

This is the story of every minute of my little Penny's life lately. She is at one moment the most fun, enjoyable, delightful person one could imagine existing on this earth; and, at the next moment, a sobbing, yelling, ball of complete and unreasoning insanity.

She was horribly sick for nearly all of last week and when she came out of it . . . she brought with her a whole lot of . . . anger? Spice? Mean? I hope it is just that she is not feeling quite back to full wellness and can't quite cope with her tiny world of sippy cups and swings and books.

Luckily, even a few seconds of her happy self erases the memory of each prior tantrum from my mind. This clip is literally only about ten seconds long, but I love how she says "Pablo" (as in Pablo from Backyardigans -- the coolest kids' cartoon ever). She has Pablo and Uniqua situated in little toys "swimming." I also love that smile that she flashes me periodically through out the day.

video

P.S. Maybe that is still unpainted spackle on my walls, even though we've lived here for seven plus months, and maybe it isn't. Leave me alone.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Goldie's Artwork

For being only just recently turned five, my young Goldie is quite the artist.

Check out this dinosaur:
And this cool boy:And this somewhat questionably dressed mermaid (although anyone can see that she clealry has the physique to get away with it): And look at these two cute girls. Why, one has a headband! And the other is obviously having the time of her life skipping along -- with a purse and lollypop in tow. A doll and stuffed animal elephant tossed at her feet, a hat on her head, and all her cute matchyness.
I must admit though, that there is one extra detail I love about these girls. Their teeth. Wowzers.

Would You Rather . . .

When I was little, I was quite the philosophizer (if that is what you would call it). I often pondered interesting dilemmas. Generally they took on the form of an either/or question -- which I would then pose to the family. One that became most famous was, "Would you rather eat a pig (yes, the ENTIRE pig) or die?" To this day people in the family still debate the best answer to that difficult question (or at least still ask it of me in a mocking fashion every now and then).

I couldn't help it though. I wondered a lot about various miserable choices. Maybe it wasn't that I was a philosophizer (though there is something "which came first, the chicken or the egg"-ish about my pig verses death question). Maybe it was just another manifestation of the worrying nature which was acutely developed in me at a young age (my dad used to fear that I would never function in society with all my worries -- I guess panicking over things such as "what if on the morning of the resurrection I get resurrected and then can't find my mom and dad" weren't typical five year old worries?).

It turns out I function quite well in society (though one might point out that the only "society" I am very much in is the society of my five children). In fact, I don't even worry one bit about finding my parents in the resurrection (because clearly I will need to be finding Mike and my children).

Really, I don't think I am much of a worrier anymore, and I always remember that when I fear that one of my own kids will not be able to grow out of some similar nature.

BUT, the point of this was to copy the message my older brother Chris left for me last night:

"Nancy, two things: (1) would you rather have one eye in the middle of your forehead that has 20/20 vision, OR have two eyes in the normal places but be virtually blind? (2) Would you rather have your feet replaced by wheels (without brakes), OR have your hands replaced by hooks?"

One might think that this is just another example of my family mocking my complex thoughts. I prefer to see it as an example of the strong influence my early ponderings have had on the thoughts of my own siblings.

P.S. I love that my feet wheels would have to be "without brakes." Does that mean that if I chose that option I would have to agree not to install brakes later? Hmmm . . .

Friday, September 4, 2009

Our Old Mixer

Once, when I was little, my mom and I were making brownies or cookies (or some such) with our good old mixer. I can still see that white metal mixer. It is long gone now, but it lasted for years and years. At some point, as it aged, it began to give you a nice little electric shock if you put the beaters in or took them out while it was still plugged in -- or maybe it didn't matter if it was plugged in -- I don't remember. I just recall getting the startling zap every now and then. Plus, I don't know much about electrical conductivity (as you will soon see). It also began to overheat so that if you were holding onto the top arm as you mixed, before long it would get toasty hot and you'd have to let go.

Anyway, on that day long ago when I was mixing something with my mom, she suddenly warned me that I must NEVER put the plug of the mixer in my mouth. She then reinforced the importance of taking this precaution by telling me about a girl who had to be taken to the hospital with electrical burns all down her throat for putting just such a plug in her mouth.

The thing is, never, in my wildest and strangest thoughts, had it occurred to me that I might want to put the plug of our mixer (or any plug for that matter) in my mouth. Yet, now that I knew what could happen, I was seized with a terror that at any moment my self restraint might fail and I might feel utterly compelled to grab the plug and stick it in my mouth. I hoped I wouldn't. I didn't want to. But who knew whether or not I might become possessed with such a reckless and uncontrollable desire. It was there now -- a terrifying possibility.

Now that I think about it, I am not sure if putting a plug in your mouth would do anything. Would it? It seems like the plug would have to be plugged in for it to actually electrically burn you, and if it was plugged in, how could you put it in your mouth? But, as I said, I don't know anything about electrical conductivity (except of course that you can do something with a potato and some wires to turn on a light bulb -- but who doesn't know that). I don't want to try it out because I still remember the story of that poor girl rushing off to the hospital, but every now and then, when I warn my own children of some random danger, I find myself wondering if I have done nothing more than plant a dangerous idea in their little heads.

Why did I write about this? Well, I don't know.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Few Recent Pics, Etc.

Hey you, stop doing that.
Penny and Mike -- the only reason she agreed to let Jesse be in the stroller on our walk the other night.Somehow it has become tradition that Mike take the kids to school on their first day. I like it. The whole thing always makes me nervous and I like sending them off with dad. Plus, once he returns, he tells me all the little details that he knows only I would need to hear:

-- Daisy sat right down and started coloring -- with a yellow crayon -- she seemed to know the girl she was sitting by.

-- Goldie had a little name tag to put on but was trying to find a place to put it where it wouldn't cover the design on her shirt -- her teacher put it up high near her shoulder for her.

-- Etc. He's good at that.
Who are you trying to fool young lady? You won't be a school girl for a good three years yet.

But, no one can claim you don't use some cool words.

You yell in panic, "Pib up! Pib up!" when Jesse has spit up on the carpet.

You love "the finkle song" -- otherwise known as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

You often request a "feet" (a treat).

Oddly, you like nothing more than a nice piece of "bone-a-lee." That's right, some tasty bologne. Bologne kind of gives me the heebie jeebies, but we still have it in our fridge -- which is where you always find it.

Oh, and this little thing. Abe was so upset as we drove to school this morning because he forgot he didn't want school lunch today. I told him that was silly and he just needed to eat it even if it wasn't his favorite. His mopey shoulders must have won out though because I ended up bringing him his lunch box later. I even stopped on the way and got him a Twinkie and a little bag of chips. At the last minute I tossed this note in (written on a scrap piece of paper I found in my purse). I don't know why, but it made me happy that Abe saved it out of the garbage from his lunch box.
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