Monday, April 30, 2012

Because It's Your Birthday...

Alrighty Mom, it's your special day and so I have every intention of spoiling you with even more pics of the grandbabies. Of course, this couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I have all sorts of random photos that I want to get recorded somehow, or the fact that I'm procrastinating the dishes, or the laundry, or the weeding, or... The point is, it's your day, so enjoy. :)

I recently came across these photos that the girls took with my camera while we were riding the Zion National Park shuttle last September. They definitely entertained themselves!

Our destination? A refreshing hike up the Narrows section of the Virgin River. Uncle Lance joined us for the expedition.
It's a good thing we were prepared to get wet!
Thanks to his chariot named Lance, Eli stayed mostly dry.
Brrr! Despite the hot day, the water was still frigid. Fortunately we warmed up on the way back.
A few weeks later, we found ourselves on the far side of Zion at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The sand was amazing!
Most of the quality time that our family spends together usually involves moving, be it hiking, biking, or even climbing. One of the best parts of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes is that it gave us a chance to simply be still.
Brooklyn and Talia close up...
...and as tiny dots on the dunes.
Eli played for a while...
...then took a rest on Dad.
Talia, traipsing through one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
And the whole family, just playing together.
What a magnificent day!
As a belated present, I hope we can show you in person someday, Mom. Happy Birthday once more!

Happy Birthday, NomiAnn!

Well Mom, Happy Birthday! It's hard to show enough appreciation for the woman who carried you around in her belly for nine months before enduring birth for you. Considering the absolutely rotten time I gave you during my grand entrance into this world (30+ hours of hard labor, followed by a traumatic forceps delivery), I'm grateful you allowed the doctor to resuscitate when I then stubbornly refused to breathe. Many others might have said good riddance!

I could write a lengthy diatribe recounting for the entire world how wonderful you are, but knowing how much you love being spotlighted, I'm hoping you'll like this gift better: pictures of your favorite grandkids. The photos are a rather random assortment, so be warned and enjoy.

One of the most wonderful things about NomiAnn is how generous she is with her time, coming to visit whenever her busy schedule will allow. During these visits, we often get so busy playing hard that I forget to grab the camera. Fortunately, I snapped a cute photo of NomiAnn baking with Talia Lily on St. Patrick's day.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn and Eli kept themselves entertained with NomiAnn's bright purple iPad. The purple is naturally in honor of Central High School where Mom coordinates the International Baccalaureate program. (Central recently received notification that their program has been officially authorized, so kudos!)
At last, our green meal is served. On the menu: broccoli soup, cucumber salad, artichokes, Irish soda bread, and lime sherbet cocktail.
Talia loved the artichokes, as you can see by the pile of leaves in front. She kept insisting on dipping them in her drink.
And then, she drank up all the artichoke soda water. Ewwwww!
Those who know Cathy Ann know that she is an amazing seamstress. I love how her creations live on from generation to generation. Here's Brooklyn in a pioneer dress Mom sewed for her nieces.
And here's Talia in a dress Mom made almost three decades ago for Aunt Callie. It's two sizes too small, but she still loves wearing it all the time. I love how this picture of Talia at our neighbor's Easter egg hunt really captures her energy.
Here's Talia on Easter, dressed a bit more serenely, but still every bit as spunky.
And here's Brooklyn, basking in the Easter glow. This was an important Sunday for Brooklyn since she was asked to sing a solo in sacrament meeting when the musical number fell ill. We talked for a long time about how the reason they asked her was not necessarily because she has the best voice, but rather because of her courage and willingness to help at a moment's notice. I think I was more nervous than Brooklyn, but in the end her song was lovely.
Some more photos of Brooklyn working on the Brownie Taste Test for her science fair project. The pumpkin brownies were fairly well-received.
The broccoli brownies? Not so much.
Talia Lily at soccer practice. The four and five year-olds are so cute scooting all over the field! We took a break from gymnastics for soccer season, but Talia seems to have developed her own cross between the sports. During her first game she must have turned nearly a dozen somersaults.
Outrunning the boys. As one of two girls on her team, Talia has to be quick.
Brooklyn's also playing soccer, so our family is being initiated into the world of organized sports. Both of the girls are doing well, but the schedule is wearing Mom out. Here's Brooklyn at Girl Scouts, pink-cheeked and still in soccer clothes after coming directly from practice. By the way, the Easter bunny stuck shin guards in the girls' Easter baskets. Clever.
Creative play time. If you don't have a violin...
...make one! Our self-proclaimed violin prodigee.
Heavens, Talia, that hair!!! So you may remember that Talia gave up thumb-sucking a year ago around Easter. Since that time she hasn't gone back. Unfortunately, she now trades off between her index finger and her pinky. Sigh. Why do we have so many fingers?
Crazy and unruly as that hair can be, it also has lovely moments of great beauty.
I think the same can be said of your darling grandchildren. Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Endorphins, Where Art Thou?

Red Mountain 30K. 18.6 miles in 2 hours and 39 minutes. 8:30 pace. Third place finish for women, eleventh place overall. Snazzy UltrAspire "hydration system" (aka water bottle) as a prize. By all measurable terms, I totally rocked this race.

And yet, as my feet pushed on for mile after mile, I couldn't stop thinking, "Endorphins, where art thou?" The course was gorgeous, the weather was lovely, I was flying, I should have been thrilled. And yet for all its glory, this race was extremely challenging for me. Physically, my legs were sore and my stomach slightly queazy. The hardest part, however, was the mental battle. With so few runners (only 34 in the 30K), we were spread out so sparsely along the course that it hardly felt like anyone else was running with me. Instead of having other runners close by to help push, inspire, and encourage, the most I could hope for was was to keep the guy ahead somewhere in view. As the road climbed on and on, I kept wondering, what's the purpose? I even stopped and walked for a bit, hoping another runner would catch me and push me to the end. It took nearly five minutes before the guy behind me finally caught up, at which point he promptly started walking as well. Oh endorphins, why didst thou forsake us?

Still, this race taught me some valuable lessons:

1) Training matters. While I may have managed to finish this race, last spring's marathon was much more rewarding and enjoyable because I'd put in the work beforehand.
2) Watch your step. While road racing may not be as technically demanding as trail running, you still need to stay alert. I had some close encounters with an expired cat, snake, and something else unidentifiable.
3) Don't start off too fast. Jason likes to call me a metronome because my pace is so consistent. When running, I pick a speed and generally stick with it no matter what. Well, shooting out of the gate, I pushed the tempo far too fast. But once established, I was stuck. Burn rubber or bust--and bust I did.
4) Ultra runners are hardly human. You see, if a mere mortal runs a 30K at the same time an ultra-runner is running a 50K that started 13 miles up the trail, they are likely to get passed. Shaun Martin came whizzing by when I still had 5 miles left to go, crushing the 50K in 3:15. He sailed past so quickly that he seemed an impossible blur--my eyes grew wide, my jaw dropped, and the most intelligent thing I could say was "Wow."

Guess I know who stole the endorphins.

Friday, April 20, 2012


So at 7:05 tomorrow morning, I'm scheduled to run the Red Mountain 30K. (That's 18.6411 miles, just in case you're wondering. And don't think that the .0011 doesn't count--after 18 miles, it certainly does.) I ought to be feeling excited, anxious, jittery, pumped---instead all I feel is Ugh.

18+ miles. Ugh. 5:15 am packet pick-up. Ugh. Ninety degree weather with a heat advisory. Ultra ugh.

I'm tired. Right now the thought of walking all the way upstairs to put on my jammies and brush my teeth is so exhausting that I'd rather stare at a computer screen. Droopy-eyelid Ugh.

I feel heavy. I eat when I'm stressed (and boy am I stressed), which leads to weight gain, which makes me feel depressed, so I eat more because then I feel better. Gotta love the cycle. Definitely-need-more-ice-cream Ugh.

I feel inadequately trained. While I've managed to complete my long runs, I've missed plenty of midweek training runs. When running the marathon last year, I could look back on my training schedule to give myself confidence. This time, not so much. Uh-oh Ugh.

And let's not forget the greasy restaurant pizza that I had for dinner. I think that would qualifies as a what-in-the-world were-you-thinking Ugh.

Oh dear. Wish me luck tomorrow. I'm going to need it. In the meantime, I think I'll grab a pillow and snuggle in right here on the downstairs floor....

Monday, April 16, 2012


Something extremely wonderful happened in my life last month, yet somehow I haven't been able to blog about it. After Jason got back from Puerto Rico, my parents came to watch the kids for a week while Jason and I went on a five-day "stay-cation." Instead of spending all the money on a second plane flight to San Juan, we rented a car locally and sampled some Southwestern splendor.

I feel so spoiled by the luxury of these precious days together that it seems almost prideful to blog about it. If someone else had a similar experience, I'm sure I'd be bitterly jealous. So how to record our lovely moments without boasting? A definite conundrum. Even more, this stay-cation is challenging to write about because, well, it was almost too lovely. After soaring for a week with my very best friend, the descent back to reality has felt pretty gritty. Imagine: a whole week of replenishment--hiking through Zion, biking in the Vermillion Cliffs, stargazing in Arches. Five full days without chauffeuring children, picking up messes, stressing over meals, or changing a diaper. Small wonder reality feels a bit depressing in comparison.

As nice as it was to "get away," perhaps I need to focus on finding greater happiness and fulfillment in the life's little moments. Ultimately, everyday life should be beautiful--something to embrace, not escape. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures. The trip wasn't quite as good as it looks--it was better. :)

We began by darting off to Kanab, Utah to try and get a permit for The Wave in the Coyote Buttes. I saw this natural wonder featured in National Geographic several months ago and thought, Hurrah! That's right in our back yard. (Not our picture, btw. If only!)
Unfortunately for us, the rest of the world must have thought it was pretty neat, too. BLM only allows twenty permits per day, ten of which are walk-in. At 9:00 am each morning, they hold a lottery where the lucky hikers will be chosen. Eleven, eleven, eleven, I chanted as the cage bingo machine rolled around. And wonder of wonder, it was chosen! Sadly, that was on the second day when Jason and I were group number 24. Ah well. At least we live close enough to try again. Many of the other "competitors" were international, and probably will not be so fortunate.

As we drove back to Zion National Park, the road looked rather foreboding.
Even so, Jason insisted that our stay-cation was much cooler than Puerto Rico. Hardy har har.
Really, it was neat to enjoy a bit of the winter we missed living in St. George.
And here's the first of many "point-n-pose" self-portraits. When Jason and I first started dating seriously, I remember thinking how awkward it is that God made us with noses that stick out. After all, where are they supposed to go when you kiss? After nearly nine years of marriage, I guess we've just gotten used to having them squished.
So, these point-n-shoot photos are admittedly obnxious, but they crack me up. After all, how close can you get in bike helmets? Anyway, I offer this picture as proof that we biked. A lot.
Plus, we got to see some pretty old tractors. Classic.
Back in Zion National Park, we bundled up to hike Angel's Landing, since that isn't a trek we dare attempt with small children. Only a short way up the path, we decided to turn back after learning that the trail was so icy we might plummet off the side. Definitely un-cool... Fortunately, all of the frozen plants really were.
We changed course and booked our way up to Observation Point. It's quite a climb, especially when you have limited time.
But the views were phenomenal!
Getting my honey back.
The trail led us through a marvelous little slot canyon where we meandered across a little stream. I'm sure it's refreshing in the heat of summer, but brrr!
As gorgeous as the trail was, we didn't linger at the top because clouds were quickly moving in. This is how the same section of trail looked on the way back.
Even so, I was delighted when the snow started to fall. The huge flakes floated so softly, creating a magical winter wonderland. While I hope we get the chance to hike Observation Point again someday, it's unlikely that the experience will ever be the same.
On the way down.
Mysteriously beautiful.
Yup, when it comes to Zion Canyon, I think God merits a solid A+. I'm so grateful to be able to share a piece.
That night we enjoyed a romantic dinner for two at the Spotted Dog, crashed a friend's cabin in Springdale, and left early the next morning to try the Wave lottery once more. When our number wasn't chosen, we crossed the border into Arizona, strapped on our helmets, and biked to the Wire Pass Trailhead where the Wave begins and hiked around a bit--until we reached the "Permit Required" section. Tantalizing...

But since the Wave was not to be, we hopped in the car and drove to Page. It's not often that I wish for a boat...that is until I reach Lake Powell. By this time we were bored with classic poses.
Hey, that's pretty cool.
Maybe I could do that!
My cheerleading alter-ego.
Nacho Libre reincarnate. Now that's groovy.
Of course, all of this jumping led to more leaping in less-advisable places. Jason really wanted to try this one again so that his feet would clear, but I thought it best to stick with solid ground.
Of course, my own feet perhaps should have been a bit more firmly planted. Here we are at Horseshoe bend.
It was safer than it looks...or at least so I claim.
At any rate, Jason certainly did not want to be shown up and joined me for the prime view.
Then it was time dinner at the Dam Grille, a redbox, and a comfy bed for our only night spent in a hotel.
And yes, in case you must know, those things dangling from my ears are 'smores. A gift from my darling. Love knows many forms.