Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Women Want

My sensitive husband drew the following picture for me during Primary on Sunday:

Wow! I kissed him on the spot. Nothing sexier than a man scrubbing the toilet. Talk about understanding what women really want.

The help in the bathroom is particularly appreciated since I've been busy cleaning up the kitchen...

Guess the kids aren't the only ones who make messes!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quatre, Quatro, Vier--Yup, Talia's Four!

Celebrating with homemade birthday pretzels. Yum!

Cannibalism Wheeler-style. Here we all are, eating "Talia."

Our lucky Tally Wally Doodle got to stretch out her birthday celebration for three days. On Saturday morning we went hiking as a family in a gorgeous little canyon near Zion National Park.

There were all sorts of fun nooks and crannies to explore. Here's Talia going in...

...and Brooklyn coming out!

The rock formations were stunning,..

the girls enjoyed some extra bonding time with Dad,..

...and best of all, there were lollipops to sweeten the trip. Candy is Talia's absolute favorite thing in the world right now. If you ask her what her favorite food is, she'll most likely tell you, "Sugar."

The only downside is that Talia tripped over her feet in the parking lot on the way back, tearing up her hands and knees pretty good. We were so busy doctoring these cuts that we didn't even notice that she'd scraped her face until we got home. I'm afraid that our beautiful princess looked more like a battered princess at her party in the afternoon.

Still, there was plenty of sugar in the castle cake to boost her mood. Talia and I had lots of fun decorating this cake together.

Last year I kind of over-programmed the girls' birthday parties. This year I tried to keep things simpler--cake, ice cream, a few presents, a couple of games, and plenty of time to play. Here we have Brooklyn coaching Talia: will she pin the tail on the donkey?

No, she'll plant a kiss on the Frog Prince! As part of this year's laissez faire party planning, I turned the game creation over to the girls. Brooklyn must have written "Kiss me" on her poster at least a dozen times.

Princess Aby gets blind-folded while Princess Zoe stands by and watches intently.

All the royalty had a chance to dress-up.

However, Prince Jason looked particularly stunning in his glass slippers.

Happy Birthday, Talia!

Darling Talia, you are energetic, perceptive, intelligent, passionate, and beautiful, both inside and out. You are remarkably generous, setting a great example for us all in your willingness to share. I've learned so much from you over these past four years--thanks for sharing your light and love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Snow Canyon Half Marathon 2010

A belated update--Jason and I successfully navigated the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday. (Sorry to be slow with the pictures, but I got my hands on the last two books in the Hunger Games series--gotta have priorities, ya know.)

We were really fortunate to have Grandpa Charles and Grandma Susie come to watch our kids so that Jason and I could enjoy the race together. It felt like a date as we held hands during the bus ride up to the drop-off point--except for the worrisome realization that we'd somehow have to run all 13 miles back.

As for the actual race, we got off to a bit of a late start, literally, due to a shortage of porta-potties at the starting line. But hey, some things just can't wait. Despite being at the back of the pack, the first miles were my favorite as Jason and I ran together. Such a great view (and the mountains were nice, too.) :) After about four miles, we separated with a kiss at the mouth of Snow Canyon so that we could each settle into our own groove. The race excitement and downhill slope tempted me to run much faster than I could sustain, so I put on my headphones and some easy listening to get into the "zone" and find a maintainable pace. Meanwhile, Jason shot off to the front.

The best surprise was waiting on the other side of the canyon--the cutest cheering squad ever. :) Race or no, I had to stop and give these blonde cuties a squeeze.

Brooklyn joined me as a running partner for a nice stretch.

It was then up to me to push through the final miles. Miles 8 through 12 were great--the weather was perfect, I was well-hydrated, and the course was familiar. The last mile, on the other hand, was tough. The shortage of training definitely caught up with me. Thanks to Jason, however, I kept pushing through. Here's the hero, finishing his own race in just under 1:45 (a fabulous time, especially when you remember he ran the first four miles slowly with me.)

After pausing to catch his breath, Jason then turned around, walked back, and reran the final stretch with me. This demonstration of love would be heartwarming under any circumstance, but it was particularly remarkable since he was suffering from a horrible leg cramp. Thanks, PB.

The very last lap around the track was up to me alone. It was torturous. If it looks like I hurt, the truth was worse.

Fortunately, all pain was forgotten as I crossed the finish line. Between the endorphin high and yummy assortment of treats, I found myself pondering a full marathon in just minutes.

The next morning, however, reality set back in. Jason and I both suffered a case of majorly sore legs. We were hilariously pathetic to watch as we winced, moaned, and groaned each time we tackled the stairs. (I finally decided to follow Eli's example by going down the stairs backwards since it was less painful that way.) Subsequently, a new family rule ensued--no more running marathons without training.

Thankfully, our legs have recovered, and the Snow Canyon Half Marathon is a fabulous memory. My hope is that it will become an annual tradition. Thanks to gravity's help on a downhill course, my final time was faster than I anticipated--2:00:20. Perhaps with a little more training and a little less chatting with the girls, I could actually break the two hour mark. And perhaps, just perhaps, this positive race has whet my appetite enough to tackle the full beast of a marathon.

Daily Chuckles

Laugh #1

Grandpa Charles: Eli, you'd better sit down or else you'll fall and get hurt.
Talia: Yeah, and then we'd have to call Uncle Justin.


Laugh #2
Background: The next in the family to fall prey to a nasty stomach bug, Eli has just lost his lunch.
Talia (calling upstairs): Mom, Eli throwed up on the carpet!
(Mom comes down to inspect the damage and sighs as she starts to clean up.)
Talia: We need Daddy.


Laugh #3
Background: Following a remark that Dad will live one hundred more years, Brooklyn and Jason are having a deep conversation about average life expectancies. Eager to inform his daughter, Jason starts to google the longest recorded life span on his Palm Pre.
Brooklyn: Daddy, does your phone know everything?


In this season of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the great men in my life who solve our medical woes, clean up the messiest messes, and know the answer to to just about everything (or at least where to find it.) Most of all, I'm grateful for adorable kids who keep us constantly chuckling.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Reclaiming My Life

This evening I got an unexpected update via my Mom about the whereabouts of a good high school friend. We haven't made contact in years, so it was fun to discover that we've lead somewhat parallel lives. For example:

He is married, so am I.
He went on to pursue an advanced degree, as did I.
He has four kids, we have three (notable, since he's neither LDS nor Catholic.)
His eldest is attending a Spanish kindergarten, as is ours.
His wife is primarily a stay-at-home-Mom, just like myself.
In the evenings, his wife works as the editor of a well-known science magazine.

And me? I run the PTA Mileage Club.

For the past month, this volunteer commitment has monopolized my life, commandeered my spare time, sapped my energy, and infiltrated my dreams. It has robbed my children of their naptimes, playtimes, and storytimes. And don't even ask about the state of my house...

But enough is enough. At long last, I am reclaiming my life.

It's really not my intent to dis the PTA nor parental involvement at school. Both are valuable and important. In fact, I still believe that a Mileage Club is a splendid idea, increasing students' physical and emotional health by promoting movement and activity.

What I have learned, however, is to be much more scrutinizing before making commitments. When a volunteer was needed to take over the Mileage Club, it was so easy to jump in with an "I'll do it!" Little did I realize that it would require my physical presence at school every day, with two young children in tow. I should have paid attention to the fact that Mileage Club overlaps with both lunchtime and naptime, leaving aforementioned children particularly hungry and tired. I should have noted that Mileage Club requires recruiting lots of extra help--a job that's tough to accomplish when you 1) absolutely hate asking for favors and 2) don't know anyone in the area. Heck, I should have noticed that Mileage Club doesn't even involve kindergartners, meaning that despite the many hours spent at school, my own daughter felt quite forgotten and neglected.

Don't get me wrong. I still long to volunteer in meaningful ways. I just hope to be more discerning about the ways in which I commit my limited time, talents, and resources. There's a season for everything; in retrospect, this probably wasn't the best time to run a Mileage Club.

Fortunately, Mileage Club is now officially over, and I am officially reclaiming my life. After a difficult past month, I feel the need to trigger my physical and emotional "restart" button. What better way to accomplish this than by clocking some miles of my own?

So, despite an alarming lack of training and a profound absence of good judgment, I've decided to run the Snow Canyon Half Marathon on Saturday. Fortunately, the course is all downhill, the scenery should be breathtaking, and my hubby will be running with me. I'm hoping these positive factors will somehow compensate for my inactivity over the past three weeks.

At the very least, this Half Marathon will represent a new beginning. I'm looking forward to a fresh start (and a life where I am defined by more than a PTA Mileage Club.)

To remember the positive, however, here are some photos of Dixie Sun Elementary's Mileage Club Finale. As a school, we originally hoped to walk enough miles to stretch from St. George to the Statue of Liberty. In the end, we fell short of Manhattan, New York but had plenty of miles to reach Manhattan, Kansas.

I never dreamed I'd catch my daughter's principal wearing our shower curtain...

An honorary lap around the track with Liberty himself.

I was very impressed by Mr. Porter's great attitude, seizing the opportunity to teach about freedom right before election day.

For those coming to America, that first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty symbolized hope, opportunity and a fresh start. Here's to new beginnings!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

This post's for the grandfolks, so please forgive the excessive photo roll. I just couldn't get enough of this harvest princess.

NomiAnn fashioned Talia's luxurious costume from the flower girl dress worn by Brooklyn at Aunt Callie's wedding. The cape is made from the same fabric as the bridesmaid dresses, including the accent fabric adorning the hat. With Aunt Callie and Uncle Adam far away in New Zealand, this princess costume was the perfect way to remember them this Halloween.

Here are Talia and her classmates at their "Time for Tots" Halloween party, held at the Community Arts Center.

Talia with her preschool teacher, Ms. Barbie (no, it's not a stage name.)

And here is our other beautiful princess, sparkling pink at her kindergarten class party. Her spidery teacher, Ms. Barranco, is from Spain.

There's no better way to start the Dixie Sun Halloween parade than with the Dixie Sun herself.

Eli enjoyed clowning around.

And here are a few more pictures of our princesses at our church Trunk or Treat and Chili cook-off. (Sadly, the girls boycotted the cone hats, but I still think they're beautiful.)

Eli transformed into a cow, although I personally thought the costume was better suited for me because he's still nursing. Since I couldn't quite squeeze into his spots, I simply became Quaint.

And last but not least, we finally carved our pumpkins this evening. (Better late than never!) The girls created and cut their own designs while Eli cheered from the floor.

While we've had our share of fun these past weeks (in a particularly chaotic sort of way), now that November has arrived I confess that I'm relieved October is over.

Hope you all had a very happy Halloween!