Monday, June 30, 2014

From Your Home to Ours

Life chez les Wheelers is not boring.  But I'll be honest.  Sometimes I think this blog is boring.  I have so many ideas roaming my brain that beg to be released in written form, be they deep thoughts, crazy dreams, or just silly anecdotes.  I crave quiet moments to sit and think and compose, but let's be honest---they rarely come.  Times and seasons, folks, times and seasons.  Let's just hope that by the time I get to a season in my life when I really do have a bit more time for reflection, I still have a few thoughts worth sharing.

In the meantime, I'll try to find more contentment in keeping up with the Wheeler travelogue.  I abandoned photo albums long ago, so these posts double as our family history.  I don't know if future generations will care much, but I do know that the current generation of Wheeler munchkins loves to peruse the blog books, as evidenced by how often I find them perched on the back of the toilet.  Hopefully these pictures will help them remember the lovely family vacation we recently took to see Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles in Hyde Park, Utah.

The weather in Utah was positively gorgeous the entire time we were there.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being back in the mountains!
Here's Grandma Susie with Eli at the Logan tabernacle, following a lovely concert by Utah State's Fry Street String Quartet.  They were amazing!

Brooklyn smiles broadly as Annika Mae waves "hi" (her very favorite word.)

Sisterly love--what a special bond!

Brooklyn, Grandma Susie, and Annie Mae walking the campus of Utah State where we visited the geology museum.

Lemon custard from Aggie Ice Cream---the perfect finale to a lovely afternoon!
You may have noticed that Talia was absent from all the previous pictures--the poor girl was home sick with a high fever and nausea.  When she vomited late that evening, we all doubted whether or not she'd be able to join us for the next day's festivities.  At Talia's request, her Grandpa gave her a special blessing.  The next morning she woke up healthy, happy, and ready for a day of fun at Lagoon.  We were all able to get in at a deeply discounted rate, thanks to Grandpa Charles' hard work on the city council.

Talia and Eli enjoy the bumper cars.
Eli rides a shark.  Annika also rode in a shark of her own--once was definitely enough for her.
My personal favorite, Rattlesnake Rapids.  Grandma Susie, NomiAnn, Eli, Brooklyn, and Talia are all in this raft.  They look kind of nervous about what's coming up ahead...
Oh no!  The kids are getting drenched.

Soaring above the park on the ski lift.  With no seatbelts securing us, I certainly held on tightly to my babe!
Twirly swings are best reserved for youthful tummies.

Annika Mae and Brooklyn gazing at the animals from aboard the train.

Talia and Kara smile for a photo as well.

Thanks, Grandma Susie, for the lovely day.  It was amazing!
The next day we built more special memories when Aunt Connie came down to visit with Grandma and Grandpa Hansen.  Here we are picnicking at Lions Park.
Isn't Grandpa Hansen's walking stick great?
Aunt Connie, the expert photo bomber.  :)

NomiAnn catches a nap on the grass.

Great-Grandpa Hansen shows off his smile and bright blue eyes.
Susie, now we know the source of your delightful grin.
All too soon it grew late and was time to say farewell, but not before a few final photos.
Jason's plane arrived just in time to have dinner with his grandparents before they needed to get back on the road to Idaho.

It's a good thing that our children are excellent car travelers, because we certainly spent plenty of time in vehicles.  Besides driving to Logan and Lagoon, we dragged them down to Provo for the marathon. Here we are stopping for a picnic lunch at Kays Creek near Layton, Utah.
We serendipitously found this spot after I suddenly decided that I needed food--and right away!  It was the perfect travel pause.

Brooklyn loves to hold Annie Mae, although she doesn't much enjoy feeding her.  NomiAnn often takes over that job.
Talia heads off exploring.
Ah, mountains!!!

Our final destination was a lovely basement "hotel" in Mapleton, Utah that was perfect for our entire crew.  In addition to a couple large bedrooms, there was an enormous shared living space, kitchen, and extra mattresses.  Oh, and let's not forget the awesome toys!

Instead of crashing early the night before the marathon, Jason stayed up late building this impressive K'Nex roller coaster with his Dad.  They pretended to be doing it for Eli, but it soon became clear that the big boys were having the most fun playing.  So adorable!
Talia loved this play kitchen nook.
Meanwhile, Annika thought the built-in trampoline was fantastic.
After the marathon we followed a large portion of the race route back to the town of Midway, Utah where Jason peeked in on a house he designed for Mike and Di Glenn.  I couldn't believe how long it took us to travel the 26 miles in a car, let alone by foot.  No wonder our legs hurt!
Even in its unfinished state, the home is already beautiful inside.
Speaking of "new" homes, shortly after our return to Nebraska, some special visitors all came to see ours.  (Or is it an old new home?)

Surprise!  It's Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles with Uncle Justin and Aunt Brianna.  This time they did the driving, all the way from Phoenix, Arizona to Cincinnati, Ohio where Dr. Justin is starting a new job.  Justin and Brianna just purchased a new home too!  (Click on the blurb to the right if you happen to know of a new baby to go along with it.)

Here's Eli giving Charles a a hug at his favorite place: right in front of the train "Big Boy."

"Big Boy" certainly is an impressive steam engine!

Eli's been captivated by it ever since the first time we visited.  He had so many questions, including wanting to understand how in the world they hauled it up to the top of the hill where it overlooks Omaha and the Missouri river.  At Eli's request, we visit "Big Boy" almost weekly.  He even prays that Big Boy will be safe when it hails, and has asked if we can come clean the train sometime.  If only he were equally concerned about the state of his room!
Grandpa Charles seemed as intrigued by the plants as the train.  We hope that someday we can visit the neighboring botanical gardens together.

Talia, Brooklyn, and a sleepy Annika Mae.
A tender moment.  This picture makes me want to smile and sigh because they just grow up so darn fast.
Brianna and her Wheeler nieces--so happy together.
More Omaha fun--playing on the giant slides at Gene Leahy Park. 
Grandma Susie discovered the hard way (literally) that waxed paper makes you go really fast.  Definitely airborne, her flight was great, but the landing a bit rough.  Hopefully the bruises have disappeared!
Aunt Brianna and the munchkin train.

Talia and speed is a thrilling combination!

 Last stop before Grandpa Charles's flight home: the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.  If you ever want to be in two places at the same time, come straddle the black line separating Nebraska from Iowa!

Justin and Brianna, thank you so much for spending a few days with us at this exciting juncture of your lives, and Grandpa Charles and Grandma Susie, it's always lovely to see you, whether at your house or ours.  We're already looking forward to the time we can see you again.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Marathon Days

I don't know how it is at your house, but life at our house is a crazy rat race. To make our schedules work this week, I've had to rely on my mother to babysit daily during Spanish camp, assume my role as a Spanish camp volunteer so that I could take Annika to the ENT, shuttle the kids to swim lessons, bring Eli to meet his new preschool teacher, put the kids to bed while I helped out at church (meanwhile Papa K and Jason were at the College World Series), plus help drive us back from Utah on Monday. Whew! How did we ever manage without family close by?

Given this exhausting pace, it's no wonder I end most days feeling like I've run a marathon. Last Saturday, however, Jason and I literally ran 26.2 miles in the Utah Valley Marathon.  It was long.  It was hard.  And it was GREAT.

Here we are shortly before our 6:00 am start.  We had to load the buses at 3:45, so if we look kind of sleepy, you can understand why.

I promise we don't try to be all matchy-matchy.  These snuggly fleece sweatshirts just happen to be both of our favorites, and we invariably end up choosing the same gear.  There were lots of bonfires to help keep the runners warm, but the alpine air was still chilly.

Fast forward four hours and here we all are, approaching the finish line near the Provo Tabernacle.

Jason had finished his race 25 minutes earlier, but still helped me through the final stretch.  It was so delightful to run through the chute with my family by my side.
An awful lot happened in the space between those two photos.  There were moments of elation, like the first seven miles where I couldn't wipe the silly grin off my face or slow down my legs because it just felt so GOOD to run.  There were moments of serenity and contentment as I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Provo Canyon.  And there were moments of deeply intense inner turmoil and struggle as I battled through the final six miles, trudging on despite all the pain and fatigue.  As hard as it was to keep going physically, it was equally challenging to persevere mentally, particularly as runners all around me slowed to a walk.  Just about the only thing that kept me moving was the knowledge that my children were waiting for me.  After all their love and support during training, I didn't want to disappoint them by walking on the job, so I kept on fighting.

Proudly ringing the PR bell.
After what seemed like an eternity, triumph!  I astonished myself by finishing the race in 3 hours and 49 minutes, cutting nearly thirteen minutes off my previous marathon finish for a new Personal Record.  Who knew my short little legs could go so quick?

Jason smiles widely after a terrific finish.

This amazing man ran the course in a mind-boggling 3 hours and 25 minutes.  It may not have been his fastest time ever (hard to achieve when you've run so many marathons), but he finished strong and had FUN, cheering on the crowds as much as they cheered him.  Jason, we're so proud of you! 

If you want the splits, you'll have to read the fine print.  For me, racing is much more about the process and experience as opposed to any specific finish time.  Even so, it's nice to keep track, even if just for bragging rights since I may never run that fast again.

8:46 overall pace, 8:28 for the first 13.1; mile splits of 7:49 (squee!), 8:03, 8:13, 8:12, 8:20, 8:24, 8:39, 8:45, 9:21 (big hill here), 7:56 (cruising back down), 9:07, 8:17, 8:34, 8:51, 8:57, 9:13, 9:09, 9:00, 8:44, 9:04, 8:50, 9:00, 9:04, 9:25, 10:08 (including a long pause at the water station for a stern mental you-got-this pep talk), 10:23 (don't forget that includes the last .2--my legs certainly didn't!)

Here's my number one supporter!
Gosh golly gee, I'll do anything for a kiss!

So for a woman my age to qualify for the Boston Marathon, she would need to finish the course in 3:40.  While I may not have qualified, I'm positively elated (and stupefied) that I came within ten minutes of that lofty goal.  Here's what I think I did right:

1)  I trained.
2)  I trained.
3)  I trained.  Call it consistent, call it compulsive, but I never missed a run.  Sure, I swapped days occasionally and got creative with my running locations, such as when I ran during lunch in Cheyenne during our car ride out to Utah.  At the end of each week, however, I made sure that I'd gone the whole distance.

At least at this moment, I really don't see myself ever trying to beat my marathon record.  However looking back, there are a few things that I suppose could go better, should I ever want to improve my time.

1)  Eat healthy foods.  I discipline myself to run--why can't I discipline myself to cut down on sugar?
2)  Don't race with a virus.  The week before the marathon, each of our kids came down with a strange fever/nausea.  It wasn't until my "runner's tummy" lasted for two days after the race that I figured out that my pre-race stomach queezies were probably the first symptoms of a bug instead of nerves.
3)  Wear all parts of my shoes. 
Notice anything missing?  I didn't...
A couple days before the race, my shoes got soaked during a trip to Lagoon.  After returning home, Susie very kindly removed the inserts to help them dry.  It never occurred to me that anyone would willing touch my stinky running shoes, so I failed to make sure they were inside before packing them up.  I ran the entire race without even noticing they were gone!  Pretty funny, huh. 

Even though it's not advisable to race in new shoes, I had to get a new pair ten days before the marathon because my cheapies were falling to pieces (sigh).  I was initially feeling rather disgruntled that my new racers gave me blisters; now I'm hopeful that they will be fine as long as I wear the shoe in its entirety.
Believe it or not, this never hurt. Wish I could say the same for my quads!
And a few more photos:

The family at the finish line.
The kids' medals are from their 1K Fun run.
Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles join the photo.

A proud mother-daughter moment with NomiAnn and Kara.

Talia and Brooklyn, cutest girls on the block.

Eli, Kara, and Talia relaxing at the finish line.

Happy Daddy.

Proud kids.

Many thanks to everyone for all of your support in helping us through these marathon days, both big and small.  You all deserve a medal!