Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break 2014

I'm finally blogging about our amazing spring break vacation we had last week.  A lesser blogger might break up this post into more reasonable (or at least readable) chunks, but not me.  I'm going to power straight through to the end with such singlemindedness that only the most dedicated reader will be able to endure all the way to the end. 

Single mindedness?  Who am I kidding.  I'm going to take 17,000 tangents along the way.

Singlemindedness - totally not a word.  Single minded, or single mindedness, but never all in one word.  I'm sticking with it anyway.

We started our adventure on a beautiful Friday morning at 4:45.  Vaughn, just like his father before him, wanted to start early and get a good bulk of the trip out of the way before the kids woke up.  Again, just like his father before him, he said we would leave at 5, only to truly leave at 4:45 because "if you're not five minutes early, you're late" and obviously even earlier is better.  (Who am I kidding, I'm just as, if not more, prompt than Vaughn.  Together we are awkwardly early to almost every single event.)

For having two kids, a dog, and someone whose name I won't mention with a surprisingly small bladder (maybe I'll tell you, when I get back from the bathroom) we made relatively short work of the 870 mile drive with relatively few stops and some surprisingly fun rest areas.  

One might be temped to think that with an entire mini van for a family of four we would have plenty of room to stretch out and relax, and perhaps for a regular family of four that would be the case.  However, add a cyclist into the mix and things change.

Upon arrival at our destination we were nervous about being in a big city and decided to lay traps for any unsuspecting barefooted bandits.

I'm sure the original occupants will be finding hidden traps for weeks to come.

The next morning, Saturday, found the gentleman in the company of his companions.

And the Lady with her childhood friend celebrating her expected increase.

They were duly impressed with the beautiful way the lady has matured over the years.

Our ginger headed companion had one site he could not wait to see, so the next evening, despite the massive amounts of men in black exiting the premises in search of a bite to eat, we headed to the anxiously awaited location.  (Priesthood session was just getting out.)

The gentleman and lady were granted access to some "front row" seats for the headlining event to watch our favorite choir member perform.  (Hi Mom!)

We were situated in a position to see and be seen by all the great ones, including a former presidential candidate and his family.

I don't think his hair ever looks less than perfect.

One of the assembly thought that walking a mile each way to the meeting in these shoes wouldn't be a big deal.  In order to not tarnish their reputation I will refrain from mentioning who.

The other was kind enough to not mention the stupidity of such a thought and kindly offered his arm frequently as the lady, who can walk perfectly respectfully in the aforementioned shoes under less extreme conditions, realized that the pavement conditions of Salt Lake City are not pristine upon closer inspection.

We were then pleased to be introduced to a new member of the party, Mr. Jack.

He seemed to be an amiable sort of fellow, and we find him to be a tolerable addition.  (Who are we kidding, he's one of the most adorable things we've ever seen!)

The gentleman and lady were then pleased to take their posterity to the place where their union began almost 11 years ago.

However an over abundance of car rides and meetings left the children far from impressed.

The lady used the local facilities to improve her mind and figure.

And partook of the much anticipated meals by the local cook, Cafe Rio.

We returned to the square on a less crowded day to more fully partake of the offerings.

We were able to listen to a recital by a talented and renown organist.

The lady found it quite entertaining, and the children found it quite loud.

On another day we traveled down south to relive memories of the collage days.  While we were there we took an invigorating hike up a mountain.  Y?  Because we delight in torturing the young ones.

On the way back home we were able to enjoy the museum of Ancient Life. 

We spent more time on the square touring more beloved locations.

And the lady's fingers itched as she beheld many a tempting musical instrument.  But alas, the proprietors were never swayed by her pleadings at any of the many locations.

However, at one museum we were able to find the fiddle of an ancestor carried across the plains with the pioneers. (Isaac Morley, found at the Church History Museum, no despite the similarities in name he is not mentioned in A Christmas Carol)

We tried to convince the young masters to adopt a transportation method for our return home.

The lady patiently waited for her charges to finish their activities.

Another day we journeyed north to show Master Tyler the grave of his namesake. 

And the lady was able to watch her dear mother rehearse with her choir for her upcoming Easter concert.

As we left town a week later, again at 4:45 AM (even though we planned on 5), the lady and young masters were overcome with exhaustion and slept the majority of the way home making the return trip even easier and quicker than the previous one.

Congratulations if you made it to the end of this ridiculous post with various styles of writing.  For any of you who have ever thought to yourselves that I should write a book (which is actually no one), I'm sure this post reinforces all the reasons it would be a complete disaster.

In all honesty, this was by far one of the best vacations we've ever taken.  The kids were amazing, the places were moving, the time together was priceless.  It would be difficult to put words to the amount of incredible and special experiences we had, which is why the post is mostly pictures.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

OnlineShoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Review recently sent me a pair of the new New Balance Fresh Foam 980 Shoes.  If you've read my blog for longer than a minute you've probably realized that I'm a total shoe fanatic.  I love shoes of all kinds so I absolutely adore reviewing running shoes. 

The first thing I noticed out of the box was that they looked good.  Mine are what's listed on the website as the blue/orange color wave, although I would argue the "orange" is certainly pink.  

I also noticed that in lieu of the arch post they opted for a solid sole, as so many neutral shoes have been moving to over the past year or so.  I really love it.  I have a few other shoes with that type of sole and I have noticed how quiet and smooth that type of sole is so I was thrilled to see it.  

I took them out on a few short runs.  

Since I normally favor a different brand of shoes it took me awhile to get used to having a completely different fit on my feet.  I don't know if it's because I'm totally in love with my regular running shoes, or if it was just different to get used to, but I couldn't ever get the laces to fit just right in a run.  The toe box is a little narrow for me and the heel was a little loose, and would create a few hot spots.  

I am a mid/forefoot striker and the roll through was really fantastic.  I felt the shoes just encouraging me to toe off again and get some fast footspeed.  

The word "foam" in the name make me think that these shoes would be softer than they ended up being.  I would equate it to the memory foam pillows we have, they are not necessarily "soft", but supportive.  

After a few runs I realized that I kept reaching for my old favorites over these shoes.  They were fun to try, but they will not become a new regular in my running. 

However, what did surprise me is that once I took them out of my running cycle and they were okay to wear around (It's totally just a mental switch, but does anyone else do this?  I'm fanatic about keeping my running and regular shoes separate) I found that I was reaching for them almost every day, not to run in, but to wear around.  

Some of the things that bothered me when running, the tighter toes and loose heel, didn't bother me at all while walking and I appreciated how supportive they are.  On our vacation to Utah last week I wore them nearly every day as we walked miles and miles (I averaged around 5 miles a day walking).  I even wore them hiking up a mountain.

So although I didn't like them for running, I have loved wearing them daily.  I even have a few pairs of my favorite running shoes that have retired to my casual shoes list and I am choosing the Fresh Foam 980's over them.  

Everyone's feet and running stride are different, so what works for me is not nearly as important as what works for you.  The bottom line:  this is a quality shoe that I find myself reaching for over and over again..

Monday, April 7, 2014

Giveaway results!

I am so sorry it's taken me so long to get the giveaway results posted! 

Tink is the winner! Shoot me an email and I'll let you know how to claim your race entry!! 

We are currently visiting Utah and my laptop for some reason now hates connecting to the internet. Since posting from my phone is lame I'll just let you know that we are having a blast and I can't wait to fill you in on all the amazing stuff we've been up to! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Reebok Spartan Race Giveaway!

Let's face it.  I'm kind of a race wuss.  I mean, I've done a lot of races, and a bunch of different distances, but they've all been relatively tame.  Most of them have been on the road, with only a few short forays into cross country.  They've all been reasonable distances, I've never ventured into the ultra or the super fast sprints.  And I've never done a hard core mud or obstacle run.

Have you heard of the Spartan Races?

They sound pretty flippin' hard core.  They have them all over, including one right here in Washington on August 2nd.  

Each even has a different level.  For example the Washington one is a sprint, or the most basic level, and the one in Utah on June 28th is a beast, or the hardest level.  

That means they have races out there for (relatively) chicken people like me, or super hard core people like some of you.

One of you has the opportunity to be a lucky duck and get a free entry into any US 2014 Spartan Race!  That's pretty awesome!  You can pick the race that works best for you!

To enter:
Each bullet is one entry, leave a separate comment for each entry.  

Giveaway ends Thursday at midnight PDT.

Don't like your chances in the giveaway?  Click here for a code that will get you 15% off any Spartan Race! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Track is Back!

What a great day!  The sun was shining, it was warm outside, it was phenomenal.  The fantastic weather made me brave enough to go to the track for the first time in about two months.  

I met up with running buddies Terra, Heather, and Martinho for a speed workout.  While we were warming up there were some young high school looking boys doing 20 meter sprints.  After our warm up I asked if we could race them, and the looked at me funny, but agreed.  I told them that if any of them got beat by a girl they had to tweet it out.  We did a couple different kinds of football drill sprints, and they beat me in all of them, but only by half a stride or so.  I put out a respectable showing.  Then we did a straight out 20 meter sprint.  2 of them beat me without question, one of them I tied with, and one of them I beat.  It was good fun. I asked them how old they were and they said they were all 19-20, and I told them I thought they were high school kids, they said that was okay because they thought we were too.  

Is it strange that I'm more motivated to get in shape to beat them then I am to run a race?  

I could tell that it's been awhile since I've done at true speed workout, I've lost a lot of speed in my turnover.  Nevertheless, when I was done playing we got to the real workout.  Terra had 10x400m on the docket, I had no workout plans so I was just going to tag along with her.  However, after doing 5 20 meter full out sprints, and considering it's my first week back in months, I was holding myself to just 5.  

I wasn't wearing my garmin, so I have no idea what the times were, but I felt really great.  It was amazing to be on the track again with my friends like old times.  I loved it.

Just before bedtime we were all playing with Legos, when we sent the kids off to bed Vaughn and I just kept right on playing.

Can you tell who built what? 

I'm not the most creative builder, I only know how to build houses.  But it's a beautiful lake house with a dock and a boat and friends on the dock!

Good times. 


I'm just throwing it out there, because I'm getting desperate, if any of you live in the greater Seattle area and are a high level musician I need a few more chairs filled for the Ensign Symphony & Chorus concert in May.  Specifically: Violin, harp, contrabassoon (or contrabass clarinet), French Horn, tuba, percussion, bass clarinet. Seriously, if you play this and would be willing to play with us I need you.  I will even make you a treat.  E-mail me (click on the contact me tab).  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Suicide: My story of my father's death

This post is a companion piece to a post my sister did on her blog a week or so ago.  I loved hearing her view of the story, and it helped me understand so many things about her.  The 5 year age gap between us makes a big difference when you are a child so we have very different memories of the event so I decided to share my memories. Click here to read her post.  This post is very personal to me, and because of that discusses a lot of my spiritual beliefs.  Click here to find out more about what I believe, or to clarify anything I say that you might not understand.

When I was 9 years old my father committed suicide.  He struggled with depression, and my mom suspects bi-polar disorder, but there was never any diagnosis on that.  He knew he struggled with depression, but he refused to get any help.  Remember this was over 20 years ago. (What?  How am I this old?)  Mental illnesses hadn't yet reached the point where they were openly discussed or widely understood or accepted.  Yes, he was proud, and I imagine he was also ashamed of his weakness, as so many of us are.

I have many good memories of my father, even looking back I don't really remember anything dramatic or different in the months leading up to his death.  He was a good father, and I knew he loved me.

The evening before he died I remember him coming into my room and kissing me goodnight.  Again, I don't remember anything different from other evenings.  I've tried to think if there was a note of finality in his voice, or an extra bit of wisdom that he gave me (I may read too many novels.), but I don't remember anything unusual.

The next morning my Mom woke all four of us up at the usual time.  As usual we got our bowls of cereal and she read the scriptures to us as we ate.  After she finished she closed the book and told us that our father had died the night before.  I remember her saying that he was found hung and that there were no other footprints.  I remember she talked about how his brain wasn't working right and so he didn't understand what he was doing.  I remember my older brother crying, I remember my mom's voice breaking as she talked to us, but I didn't cry, I just felt shock.  She told us that we didn't have to go to school that day, but for some reason I still wanted to.

The fact that I wanted to go to school is interesting to me.  I find it very telling of my personality.  The storm was brewing but I still want life to go on as usual.  I've done this more times than I can count.

As I went back down to my room to get ready for school I remember feeling a little guilty that I hadn't cried over my father's death.  I tried to make myself cry, but as strange as it sounds I didn't feel that sad.  I said a prayer and told Heavenly Father that I felt bad for not feeling sad.  I remember feeling very peaceful, I remember feeling a lot of comfort, and I remember the feeling that my relationship with my father had changed, but he would still be with me, he was still my father, and he still loved me no matter what.

Going to school wasn't the best idea, I broke down crying in the middle of class because a boy asked me why I was here when my father had just died (poor kid, probably the first time a girl had done that to him, probably wasn't the last).  My regular teacher wasn't even there, I had a substitute, poor woman.  Everyone was very kind, caring and sensitive, but I'm sure no one really knew what to do with me.  I chose not to go to school the next day, not because I didn't want to, but because I was making everyone feel uncomfortable around me so it wasn't "normal" like I wanted it to be.

The days between his death and funeral are a blur.  I don't remember the viewing at all.  I do remember a whole lot of family coming around, which was awesome because I have an awesome family.  I remember my aunt bought my sister and me matching dresses with white tights.  I remember my mom told me it was okay to touch him if I wanted to, and I didn't.  (I still haven't ever touched a dead body.)  Mostly I just remember that I wanted to play with my all cousins and she just kept telling me to stay by her.

Now, as a mother I understand that instinct.  When something bad happens I just need my children near me. I need the comfort of their innocent souls.  I need the generous love that radiates from them.  Children have peaceful spirits.

After the funeral I don't remember really grieving.  Maybe that's a sign there was more amiss than I sensed because I didn't notice a major difference not having a father, or maybe that's a sign that angels were around us holding us up.  Really my life went on similar to the way it had before (although I'm sure my Mom would not agree) and that impression I had in my closet the very first morning held true.  My relationship with my father had changed, but he was still there for me when I needed him.  I have felt his presence in my life many times, I've felt his comfort when I needed it, I've felt his fatherly pride when I accomplished something but most of all I've felt his assurance of his love for me whenever I would seek that feeling.

I found the hardest part I had about having a father who was dead, especially one who killed himself, was the reactions I got from people.  It was hard to convince people that I was okay even though he had died in such a dramatic fashion.  I had a lot of people spend a lot of time comforting me, not because I really needed comfort, but because they needed to comfort me.  I almost felt guilty for being okay.  I remember thinking "People just don't get it, I know where he is, and I know who is caring for him.  I know he's not sick anymore, why are they sad about that?"  I know, without a doubt, I was wrapped in bubble wrap this entire time.  I was protected, cared for, and loved.

My father taking his own life changed my life drastically, but  because of his mental state he was no longer in a position to understand the impact of what he was doing.  I am so sorry he didn't realize how much he was cared for and loved, I am sorry he didn't understand how important he was to us.  I would never choose that for him, but I am grateful that I was spared the effects of living with a depressed father and instead was blessed with a guardian angel who with a healthy mind could watch over his children in ways he was limited in doing with his mortal body.

I believe all things happen for a reason.  Sometimes that reason is I chose to do something stupid and now I have to live with the consequences, but other times I don't get to choose the difficulty, but there is a lesson in there that I really need to learn.  The best thing I can do to honor my father is to learn from him, both in life and in death.

The biggest lesson that I learned is that just because someone makes a choice to do something that has a great impact on my life doesn't mean the choice had anything to do with me.  I know it sounds simple, but it is a skill and understanding that I needed at that time to prepare me for things that were going to happen later.  Some of those things have already happened, and there is probably more to come, but learning that lesson has been vital to me.

I have learned that pretending a problem doesn't exist won't make it go away.  Sometimes I think if I don't acknowledge something no one else will notice.  But if I ignore my dishes and pretend they aren't dirty that doesn't hide the fact that everyone who comes into my house can see that they are dirty and the kitchen is a mess, even if I try to tell them otherwise.

I have learned that even when horrible things happen in your life you don't have to let your life be ruled by one singular incident.  I have never been able to blame my problems, current or past, on my father because they weren't his fault.  They were and are my choices and my consequences.

Only after my sister posted on her blog about her experiences did I think about one thing that she doesn't remember (the girl was only 4) but really stands out in my mind, how there was only one set of footprints.  It reminded me of a poem that was really popular when I was a teenager, but I hadn't thought much about in years until a week or two ago when someone else brought it up.  I love when all the things are presented to me like that and I just have to connect the dots to understand something very important.  The poem is called Footprints in the Sand.

I truly believe that the Lord was there with my father that night.  It seems strange that he would be there for an act that many people believe would send him straight to hell.  I have to admit there was a time I worried about my father's salvation because of it, but God is a merciful God, and I know that he understands the mental state my father was in and he forgives him for it.  My father's mortal body had limitations, and because of those limitations he didn't have full accountability for his actions and I believe he is not punished for what was outside of his abilities.  I believe that God sent His Son to be with my father.  To comfort him in those last moments, and to be there for him the second he passed from this life.  There was only one sent of footprints because The Savior was carrying him through his last trial.  My father was not able to comprehend that he was there, but he wasn't alone.

Thank you Dad for all the lessons you've taught me, I hope to keep learning from you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Henry's Birthday!

I don't know how it's possible, but my sweet Henry turned six this week.  We spoiled that kid with gazillions of presents. 

We had chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, a favorite around here.

And we spent the evening building, playing and laughing.

I can't believe how fast time flies.  I just want to preserve moments like these and keep them in my heart forever.