Friday, November 30, 2007

The Christmas Letter

It's that time of year: The annual writing of the Christmas letter. I love Christmas letters- all kinds. I heard once that there were three types of Christmas letters: the boring, the very braggy, and the occasional fun one. I love to get any kind at all. What I hate worse than anything, is a card with a signature. Well, that tells me that you still have me in your contacts list, that your still alive and that I'm worth 1 forever stamp to you. (I write this because I have no idea how much I really pay for postage anymore- is it 42 cents?) I'm sorry, that's not enough for me- Ok, 42 cents is enough for me, I'm talking about the signed Christmas cards, you jokers. I like the ones with a picture a little bit more, but that just brings up more questions really. So, my favorite are the kind of cards that come with letters. I try my best to make mine fun every year. I am not a fountain of excellently creative ideas, however; so this year I went on the web and looked up ideas. There isn't really a bounty of ideas out there for writing fun Christmas letters. I came up with an idea, as always, despite my stressing out about not coming up with anything every year. I think my most creative letter was the one where I imbedded a carol into the letter. It was "O Come all ye Faithful". Besides the words like "ye" that we don't use anymore being in the letter, I also highlighted and increased the font on those portions, but I believe some people still didn't get it. I would love to come up with something like that, again. It was like a little mystery inside a letter. I am not the clue master, though. Now's your turn. For all you techniguely challenged type, click on the orange thing at the bottom of this entry that says comments and you can write and tell me what are some of the funnest letters you have ever given or received.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

The Pilgrim had to have a vice on his head for the night

We had a nice Thanksgiving. Orginally we were suppose to have 3 families over to our home. One's step-mother died of cancer the Friday before and so they went out of town to attend the funeral and then stay with their family for Thanksgiving. The other family remembered that they had agreed to go somewhere else and decided they really needed to go with their first invitation. That left us with our newly married couple friends. It ended up being a quiet Thanksgiving.

Maxwell "helping" make rolls

Rolls ready to go for tomorrow

Rob finally did get a Turkey bowl going. Last year the Elder's quorum president tried, but him, Rob, and Scott were the only ones that showed up. Rob was very unimpressed with the ward after that and even more impressed with Scott. This year, with a lot of contraversy, they finally got it going. I was so glad to see that lots of people showed up and they played for close to 2 hours. I had worked the night before and after two hours of football, Rob and Scott were tired, also. So by the time we were done with the dinner, we just sat and watched a movie and then Scott and Jodi left and we went to bed. We aren't quite as energetic as they need, so they went over to a friend's home and stayed up until 1 am.

I tried something different with the pies this year, like I always do. I use frozen sweet cherries instead of tart cherries. It turned out really good. I also used a mixture of Pink Lady's and Granny Smith apples in the apple pie and Rob keeps asking me to make another apple pie. It did turn out really well. I use a pie shell recipe I got in Homemaking when I was first married and living in Shelley, Idaho. There were some really good things that came out of Homemaking- especially for a younger mothers. I think they should at least make an interest group that teaches stuff like that to new wives/mother's. I know a bunch who can't cook worth anything and their cleaning/organizing skills are really lacking. I could still use a class on stretching your budget. I know a lady who spends $200 a month on food for her entire family of 6. I never got that price out of her, because she refuses to talk about money, therefore; making it impossible for other's to learn from her thriftiness.

I made this book, that folds out and displays a tree. We put a leaf on the tree for every person with what they were thankful for every day from November 1st through Thanksgiving. I love that I can now fold it up and keep it forever and it got the kids thinking about what they were thankful for the whole month instead of just one day. I also had Sam and Robert make this boat out of clay and then we used it as a nut boat. They did such a good job on it and it gave them a couple hours of father/son time. I am trying to think of things like that to do for the Christmas season. I bought a gingerbread mold on e-bay and I am going to do gingerbread with my kids this year. I also want to do donuts like we did in my family. I just want things we can do together. Any suggestions of things you do would help me.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here. I made this display after I saw a Halloween display on a blog. I love the apothecary jars. I got them at Michael's with the 40% off coupons.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Marathon- She said

I have always been too much of a follower. One of the things I tend to follow in, is my big brother's shoes, so when he ran a marathon at the ripe old age of 18, I thought, I need to do that one day, too. Fast forward too many years and two marathon's run by my husband. Now my desire is a little stronger. Still not a burning flame, but certainly a flicker. Then I don't seem to loose those last 8 pounds from the last baby and I think to myself, "training for a marathon will definitely help me shed those unwanted pounds." I will fast forward to the end real quick and let you know that I haven't lost a single pound- I eat too well.

I decided to make it a goal for the year, when we did our yearly goals, which we do each year with our kids. I started looking for someone to train with. I am notorious for not sticking to something without someone pushing me. When I started running in Colorado, it was only my running partner and friend, Tammy, who got me off the couch most days. No one seemed to be interested, however; and so I quickly wrote in on our goal sheet that hangs on the fridge, that running a marathon would be a 5 year goal. One day we had the elder's quorum presidency over with their wives and I mentioned that I wanted to do this and had found a marathon that was run on a Saturday, but that I couldn't find anyone to run with. Jodi chimed right in and said she would be interested. I wasn't sure how interested she was until she sent me an e-mail saying that she had started looking at marathon type sights on the web. We started running together on Saturday's. Rob decided to make it a Saturday event and we had all kinds of people come out and join us. Most of them never came back. I don't know why- those Saturday's were amazing, both physically and socially. We had so much fun the first 10 miles of every run. We kicked a paper at mile 3 1/2 (each of us got a turn, but usually it was Jodi), we talked and laughed and made up rhymes, and we designated who got each of the honks from the cars. I think Scott and Dwyne got the most. After 10 miles it usually got a lot quieter and we just focused on running. Then we would stretch and drink and eat a little under the trees at the school. Then we would head to our house for a big pancake breakfast. At one time we had 17 people here for breakfast. It was so much fun. I would have never done this without the team. I knew a few people who were trying to do it on their own and finally when they got to the really big runs- 18 and 20, they gave up. Who can run that long with no one to joke with, no one to kick a paper with, no one to eat pancakes with afterwards. Eventually, the whole group signed up for the marathon. Rob was the last one and didn't sign up until September or October.
Rob told us that it helped if you have a "thing" that people recognize and can shout out to cheer you along the way, so we went and bought a team outfit (red- not Rob's first choice) and did iron-on's of card faces. One lady along the way, yelled out "go K's and Q's" I wonder if she ever got it!? The kids all had red shirts. Dwyne's wife and Jodi's husband did too. We put the suit on them that went with ours and then put their age. Dwyne's youngest is one, so he was the ace of spades. Jodi wore pajama pants because it was so cold. She wore them all the way until the last couple of miles. She got more yells than anyone. "Go pajama pants girl" they would yell. We decided we all needed to wear pajama pants next time!
We left for the marathon on Friday morning. We met up with the others and then went over to the marathon site. We walked to the start and then walked to the finish, just to see them both. It was nice, because when we were coming down the last stretch and I didn't think I could go anymore, I remembered the names of the streets and knew how close I was. Rob didn't want to see the whole course, because he said it would be too depressing. Afterwards, we headed for dinner, but on the way Dwyne and Sara's car blew up. We went to a home depot parking lot and tried to cool the car down. A very nice man came over and offered all kinds of help. He then began to interview everyone. He happened to be a radio jockie who was contributing to the coverage of the marathon the next day. What an amazing coincidence.
I have always been extremely nervous at any race, but the marathon was different. I was determined to enjoy ever minute of it. I had found a site that I read about one person's marathon experience and it had inspired me, when I was so nervous about being able to finish. It is here, if you want to read it. The day of the marathon, Rob had everything set out for us by the door. We woke up before our alarm went off and just sat and talked. Finally, the alarm went off with the song, (you want to) Make a Memory. We got dressed and met our friends outside the room. Scott, Jodi's husband, helped get our kids ready and to the 7 mile mark to cheer us on.
Rob had warned us about the start and so it wasn't frustrating to walk slowly to the starting line. It took us almost 5 minutes to get up to the start, after the gun was fired. That's why they give you those little chip things to wear on your shoe- to measure your real time which is different from the clock time. We stayed in a large group for quite a while- longer than I thought we would. We had trained to run 5 minutes and then walk 1 minute, but we had determined not to start this for the first few miles, because of the crowds. In the end we didn't start it until mile 4. It's funny that so many people seem against this idea of walking at all- like it's cheating or something. All I know is that we ran a really good time for first time marathoners and at one point someone said, "look their walking again." Jodi said, "it's all part of a system." Then another person said, "hey, that must be a pretty good system, if they get to walk and they are in front of us." His friend then said, "no, no, no, no" but, I didn't hear his explaination of why it was a bad thing. All I know is that we beat them!
Like I said, I was determined to enjoy the whole experience. I gave high fives to the little kids, I yelled back to the crowd, I pointed out cool looking stuff to the group. It was all fun and games until I hit around mile 14. At that point, my shouts back to the crowd were a very weak, "woohoo" (without an explanation point.) Just before mile 16 we hit a bridge, that must have been the really bad part- all those hills were nothing compared to the bridge. I think it was because it was so cold and the wind really blew hard while you were on it. I became very tired and just wanted off that bridge. As soon as we came off there was a perfect cheerleader. She yelled stuff like, "you're done with the bridge, now it's easy, just 10 more miles." and "It's not hot, it's not raining, it's a perfect day to run a marathon!" The people there cheering you on and the people who came out and set up stations for you and all the volunteers were amazing. At one point there was a family who set up their own water station. The kids had put out water on a little table and were now huddled under a blanket on their lawn. The parents kept going, filling up more water and handing them out. If that's not amazing enough, they had to clean up all the water cups afterwards that were littered all over their front lawn.
At mile 19, our family was there to cheer us on again. It was so nice to see them. I was so exhausted by this time. Right afterwards, we had to go up a long hill. Rob got a cramp in his thighs and had to stop. Jodi and I ran to mile 20 and then took a bathroom break so that the guys could catch up with us again. They caught up before we had gotten in the bathroom. Most of the marathoners, didn't wait for the toliets, they just pulled off to the side and went- even the girls. This was a little bit gross! Rob stayed with us until around mile 23. I don't know where Dwyne was at this point. He caught up with us around mile 24, but then said "see you at the finish" at mile 25. Jodi had a really bad pain in her foot and she said she just had to finish right away, so we sprinted off. I have never been that exhausted before in my life. Around mile 22, there was a little girl giving out chewie lifesavers. I had gotten a pack and I knew I needed to eat something to get my energy back up, but I didn't even have the energy to get it out and unwrap it, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I would have never finished in such a good time without Jodi pushing me. The last 4 miles people kept saying, "your almost done." I got so tired of hearing that. I wanted to yell back at them, "liar!" 4 miles seems like an eternity when you have already run 22.
The last leg was straight down a steep hill. I was so glad to see that finish line, but it seemed it never got any closer. I just kept going faster and faster and it didn't get any closer. When I finally crossed the finish line, my first thought of was how much I had wanted to finish holding the hand of my wonderful husband, but also at the same time, "I'm done!" At least I finished with Jodi, though. I went through, got my blanket, got my medal and then stopped and waited for my husband. Dwyne came next. I asked him if he had seen Rob and he said he was right behind him. Finally he came. I was so glad to see him and see us all finish within 4 hours and 26 minutes. Dwyne had a really bad cold with chills and everything. Rob had a stomach bug that he brought back from the Ukraine. The doctor adviced him not to run the marathon and gave him some antibiotics. He lost 6 pounds the week before the marathon. I was just so amazed by both of those guys. I don't think I would have ever run, let alone finished in such a good time.
What a wonderful experience. I guess sometimes it's not so bad to be a follower!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Traveling PJ's

Here is a very cute story about Pajama girl- Jodi, who ran with us. It is really a story of the PJ's. Rob knows exactly what Jodi's brother is going through, since after he went off to basic training and AIT, he says he never got all his stuff returned.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our Marathon

Here it is, finally. Ok, it took me two whole days to get it back on- a little lesson in don't delete something, before you have the new one uploaded.

A little note about the music. The Whitney Houston song is obvious, but the first one by Bon Jovi you might not understand. One of the people we trained with said that when he was training for a different marathon, the guy he ran with would bring a big boom box and play music as they ran. So, one day we decided to bring our little clock radio and put it on the bike with our support team- Scott. He wasn't very appreciative of our music choices and as soon as the song (you want to) Make a Memory played, it somehow stopped working. We heard the song several times early in the morning as we drove to the school parking lot where we started all our training runs. Then, the day of the marathon our alarm went off with that song, (you want to ) Make a Memory, playing. We were, of course, already awake, so we didn't exactly get woken up to the song, but it did become from then on out The Marathon Song! And making a memory is exactly what we did. The days and months of training and the final run of the marathon were an amazing experience both physically and socially. We will always remember it with fondness and are ready to do another one! Yes, amazingly enough, running a marathon is a lot like having a baby- you forget all about the pain and only remember the amazing feeling. Rob couldn't convince me that I would, at first, because that was pretty good pain and exhaustion, but it has happened. Marine Corp Marathon here we come!

P.S. For all you non running type, the nipple was bleeding after being rubbed by the shirt for 12 miles in the rain. That's why it is smart to tape those puppies up! There is also one more part you can't read, but I am not doing this uploading thing again, so it said, " a complete team, all in under 4 hours and 30 minutes, even the sick and hurt ones. That's amazing!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

technical difficulties

Sorry, guys, I changed the video to make it more readable and now I am having problems loading back up. Try back soon and hopefully I will have it figured out be then.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Soccer Mom's

Soccer season is done with- Yeah! We made it through another one without death or exhaustion setting in. Sam getting his award from Coach Dad
Both Emma's and Sam's/Rob's teams did well. Emma and Sam both missed their last games, because they came with us to the marathon. More to come on that.

The other day someone was saying something a little derogatory about just being a mom and running kids all over. I then had to go into a tirade, as this is one of my pet peeves. When did it become a bad thing to be a soccer mom? When did it become a bad thing to take a keen interest in your child's life and their future. When did it become a bad thing to support your child in what they loved and were good at, sometimes to the sacrifice of a few of things you enjoy? Then I ended by telling her that I was a soccer mom and was darn proud of it! In fact if I could, I would own a minivan. That was a suprise to a few people in the room. Let's face it though, I live near D.C. so the only reason I would need an SUV is to pollute the earth. I have 4 kids, who fight when they are next to each other and 2 carseats. I need some storage space, especially since we like to travel. I would love something that got good gas mileage, but that is out of the question with the other prerequisites. So I am down to just a few options- the best ,of which I know, is the minivan. What are your thoughts on soccer mom's? What are your pet peeves?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Marathon and books

I just finished the book "Amazing Grace". It is a biography of William Wilburforce. I had heard of him before, but didn't know what he was known for. I just associated him with a little man trying to move a mountain. He was one of the main people involved in stopping the slave trade. It was an amazing book- A little dry at times, like all biographies are, but I was so glad that I am involved in a book club that forces me to read this kind of stuff. I would never do it on my own. It is so humbling to see how many great men's shoulders we stand upon. I recommend the book- I haven't seen the movie, but it might be a good alternative to you less motivated lot- like me.
The Marathon is tomorrow and for any of you that are interested you can check out our progress along the route at this website. It has splits in real time (I believe.) Unfortunately, half or more of our team is not feeling well. Rob has been having a lot of stomach problems since he got back from the Ukraine. He went in and they gave him a Sulfa antibiotic. Now he is really dizzy and nauseated. I took his blood pressure yesterday, because I was afraid he may be getting septic, but it was normal. One of the other guys got sick about two days ago and says if he still feels this bad tonight, he won't be running. Wish us all luck. We have been training hard and really wanted to run as a team.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Feeling at Peace- sort of!

Friday we went to the cannery to buy a bunch of wheat and some other stuff. I have to tell you why. A few month ago my mother-in-law told me of a friend of a friend who said that in their conference they had one of the apostles who had opened the floor to question and answer period say to a question about why the bretheren didn't talk on food storage in the last conference "that the time of warning was over." This was a little scary, but I always wonder about those friend of a friend comments, so I kind of blew it off. About a week ago I had a very vivid dream in which a lady was showing me this time-line for the second coming (it was actually quite long.) I asked how she could know any of this, since no one knew when the Lord would be coming again. She said she had just made the timeline from the prophecies that had already been given. She said that the important thing that she wanted to tell me was that we had only 5 years of relatively good weather left, before we had 5 years of severe drought. I woke up very nervous and thinking that I had to get more water storage, but also more food, since a drought would affect food, also. I told the running group the next day. I was really freaked out! Still I didn't do much. Then Wednesday I got an e-mail message from Natalie C. from my last ward- I am still on their ward list to receive e-mails. She was sending out a message that because of drought conditions the price of wheat was going up a few cents and that it was expected to double in the next little while. Well that was enough for me. I don't have to be told 4 times! We headed up to Maryland on Friday and had a great time with the two little boys canning lots of food. Aren't they such helpers?
I did find out that we only got enough for an adult and maybe one child- but that's better than nothing! Now with a laundry room full of good food, I feel at peace- sort of!

Halloween Fun part two

I just had to show these pictures of our trunk-or-treating fun.

The Haul!

This was taken today after several days of good eating! And this is what all that sugar causes:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Fun

We forgot to carve our pumpkins until the day of Halloween, so after I picked the kids up from school we were rushing to get everything done. We carved 3 pumpkins and made a batch of spider cupcakes. Ok, the kids look like they are very industrious here, but after the photo-op they all scattered and Mom carved 3 pumpkins and made a batch of spider cupcakes.

Notice how well Maxwell is coloring a face for me to carve? He did such a good job. This is what they all ended up looking like.
I don't think they turned out too bad, considering- especially Max's. Of course they are nothing like these pumpkins. These are too cool!
After we carved our pumpkins and made our cupcakes, we headed to a friend's home, to trick-or-treat in her neighborhood. I felt like it would be nice to have another set of eyes out there, since Rob was gone. Look how nice they all look!
We had to take the head down from Max, because it kept falling over his eyes. He ran straight into a car once. At the very start of the night, Emma cut across a patch of grass and got clotheslined. There was a tree staked out and she caught the rope on her neck. It totally flipped her on her back and she hit her head on the bricks that lined the tree area. I thought for sure we were going to the ER, instead of trick-or-treating. Luckily, no skin was broken, but she has a nasty line on her neck. They ended up going for so long, that all my kids and some of the other families kids were tired. The Gardners just kept going, though. They are trick-or-treating fools. One guy opened his door and apologized for not knowing about Halloween. I think he was from India. We were just going to say, "no problem" and leave, but he said, "wait, wait" and brought us back a bunch of oranges and lemons. I wasn't above taking fruit. Give me fruit anytime! I forgot to take a picture of me. I was dressed up like a belly dancer. Tasha Brown asked where I got such a cute costum. When I told her I made it, she was amazed. For what? I used to belly dance- used to is definitely the operative word. Maybe again, one day.
Tonight, the YM in our ward are sponsoring a trunk-or-treat. Yeah, double candy! That's just what Mom needs- because you know who eats the majority of this, right?
How was your Halloween?