Thursday, December 31, 2015

December fun

We did more cookies as a family.  We made heart cookies and shepherd's staff cookies to go along with symbols of Christmas.  We read part of book, "A Christ-Centered Christmas" - it's becoming a tradition to read the book as a family.  

The story that gets to me every time is one called, "The Widow's Mite" by Elaine S. McKay in the chapter on Mary.  It's about a poor widow, with 8 children, who wonders what she can give her children for Christmas.  They had nothing under the tree (that they cut down themselves).  All they had for Christmas was some oranges and nuts that someone had given to them.  On Christmas morning, the mother said, "Today, because it's Christmas Day, we're going to do something special.  We are going to take gifts to a family who is poor."  She went on to talk about the people in the world who had so little, and since they had so much, they should share.  They went through their things and each found something they could give - hair ribbon, book, some clothes, and the mother made some apple pie.  When everything was ready, one of the little boys asked why they were doing that when they didn't even have enough for them.  She told him that what they had was enough.  They were keeping the precious things, like their testimonies of the Gospel, the house built by her father, their love for one another, hope for good things to come.  They delivered their little baskets of things and felt peace as they climbed back in their cold beds that night.

What the widow did not know that night was how successful her children would be - a US congressman, a US federal judge, 2 mission presidents and a Visitor's Center director, 3 sons serve as bishops and one as a stake president, all 4 girls called as Relief Society presidents and one as Mission Mother, all sons fulfilled missions and served in the armed services.  
"She could not visualize the twelve college degrees, the scholarships, trophies, and awards that would accumulate.  Nor could she know for sure that each would marry in the temple.  She could not foresee the shared planning, pennies, and prayers that would cause it all to happen...She little knew that in twenty-seven years she would be named Utah's Mother of the Year." 

We read that story and also talked about how Mary pondered in her heart about that first Christmas night.  We talked about what the birth of the Savior means to us.

Here are some of the goodies we gave away this Christmas - the cookies were for a cookie exchange and the homemade JOY ornament was also for an exchange.  I forgot to take a picture of the school teacher candy jars and other treats we gave to friends.  The rice krispie treat trees looked cuter on Pinterest - we laughed about how they looked more like a volcano!

Some of us got to go ice skating (for our ward party) - it was the first experience on the ice for the boys.  I have been ice skating before, but it has been a while.  I didn't do too bad - never fell down.  They have these things now to help on the ice.  They remind me of the walkers that old people use, so it was funny to see them out there pushing around with those.  The boys spent a lot of time on their bums, but they did get a little better by the end.  They loved being pushed around by their friends!

Savannah had some cute outfits for our cooler weather this month... Gotta love the tights and flip-flops!

And here's a random collage of Weston - he finally lost his first tooth.  Nathan helped it along when they bumped heads.  Weston did NOT want the tooth fairy to take his tooth though.  When he lost his tooth, we asked where it was - he said he swallowed it... The tooth fairy is NOT getting that tooth!

ornaments, trees, candy canes, and polar express

Here's what we did for pre-school the rest of the year:

What a yummy mess!

Candy cane-shaped peppermint brownies, hot chocolate, and peppermint scented play dough

We watched Polar Express, did pizza bagels, and made egg carton bells.  The kids also went home with a ticket ornament and a Christmas present.  

My favorite books were the ones we own - "Mortimer's Christmas Manger" and "Bear Stays up for Christmas", both by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The last couple days of November, we put up the Christmas tree, went to a gingerbread house making party hosted by friends, had a lesson on service, and put together hand print trees to send to the missionaries serving from our church ward.  The primary kids wrote on the hand prints, and then I put them all together, folded them up, and mailed them out.  Our family night lesson on service was fun, because when it came time for treats, I had them feed each other their ice cream.  It was a hoot!  Weston didn't want to be fed, but he eventually started feeding Savannah his own ice cream.

We pulled out "Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales" and started watching those too.  Weston's favorite part is when Linus says to Sally, "I am not your sweet baboo!"  We like calling Weston our sweet baboo just so he will say the phrase - over and over again.

Thanksgiving 2015

I ran a 5K on Thanksgiving morning - I still felt pretty worn out from the marathon, but it was good to get out there and run again.  The kids did a quick little race too.  

We had our meal in the evening, with one other friend and her two kids.  The boys helped make paper weave placemats and turkey juice box covers.  Some of them decided to do indians instead of turkeys though.  Made the traditional meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, and stuffing.  We had razzleberry pie and a variety of mini pies for dessert.  

This was pre-Thanksgiving weekend.  Nathan and Jared got long underwear for their backpacking trip.  I've never seen anyone so excited about long underwear.  Pretty silly!  Owen really wanted some too.  

Owen also wanted to go backpacking, but he wasn't quite old enough.  Here he is sitting in Alex's backpack.  

Alex took Nathan and Jared backpacking for the first time over Thanksgiving weekend.  They did one night overnight.  It was pretty cold too.  Not far from where they camped, it got below freezing.  The dog went too.  She was the one that was cold at night, not having a sleeping bag to curl up in.  

They did 14 miles roundtrip!  Way to go boys!  I'm glad it was them and not me... ha ha. 

1,000th post and 26.2 miles!

This happens to be my 1,000th post - I started this blog in 2007, which also happens to be when I first thought about running a marathon.  

I decided back in 2007 that I wanted to do a marathon - 8 years later I finally did it! I had to keep starting from scratch because of 3 pregnancies in those 8 years. I worked my way up to a half marathon in 2011 and 2014. I kept having some knee problems - the 3-4 month training programs weren't cutting it for me. I decided to do a much slower training program - spread out over a year. I also realized I needed to run at a slower pace than I'm used to for the shorter distances. And I changed a few things in my diet that were supposedly inflammatory. It worked! I didn't have problems with my knees this year, and I was on track to run a local marathon the first Saturday in November. Much to my dismay they cancelled it just 3 weeks before. I wasn't about to give up and waste all my training, so I looked for another one. It had to be about the same time, not a trail or hilly run, not on a Sunday, and not at a much different elevation. I was pretty limited in choices, but I was able to find "Beat the Blerch" marathon at the last minute, just a week later in Sacramento.

The whole family loaded up and traveled to Sacramento on November 13th, where we stayed in a motel (Alex and the kids hung out at the motel most of the morning). The race was Saturday morning on the 14th. The weather was perfect - 45-60 degrees. It was chilly at the beginning, but warmed up a bit, and I never had any issues with heat. The first half was right on my target pace - 10 minute mile pace, but I slowed down in the 2nd half. Leg cramps in the last 4-5 miles set me back a little bit. By about the 22nd mile, I had to just keep trying to make it to the next half mile or mile, walk for a minute, and then keep going. By those last few miles, it was a mental and physical battle. I pictured my dad in my mind telling me not to give up, to keep going. Just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and I finished! My goal was to finish in 4 hours and 20 minutes, but finished in 4:41:17. I was happy with it though. I got a little emotional at the end, thinking about finally completing a goal that I had for a while. (and not really knowing if I could finish a marathon). After 746.5 miles of training since January this year, I was finally able to complete 26.2 miles. Slow and steady finishes the race!

So, "What's a blerch?" you might be asking. I was wondering that too. This website explains in detail what it is - basically it is the lazy part of your mind that tells you to NOT to get out and run, but to stay on the couch and eat cake. It's the opposition that keeps you from completing your goals. By getting out there and running, you "beat the blerch." (The blerch is the fat white blob with wings.) The guy that created the blerch races used to be overweight. He then started running and eventually ran an ultra-marathon (50 miles). His races have people in blerch costumes wandering around and cake at the aid stations. They actually had cake at all the aid stations during the race (I never ate any, for fear of puking it up). They also had couches at most of the stations, tempting you to stop and rest. The aid stations were disappointing, with cake, purple juice, and whole wheat sandwiches - all bad for runners. But they did have electrolyte drinks as well, and ONE station had bananas. I've never been so excited to see bananas! I relied on them in my training runs, and my understanding was they would have them for the race. I didn't carry them with me, so I was getting really worried when I kept passing stations without them. Then, about the 15th mile, they had bananas. Luckily I took some extra with me for later, because they didn't have any more later on. I tried a bite of cake at the end of the race, but by then my stomach was all out of whack and I didn't feel like eating anything until later in the evening.

I am grateful for Alex and the kids supporting me in my training and being there at the finish line. I know they sacrificed time and activities so I could train this year. The boys didn't end up doing soccer this fall - I think it was a blessing for me to be able to complete my training runs. Everyone ended up sacrificing a little bit on my behalf. (And I also had friends earlier in the year who watched the kids so I could get my running in when Alex was gone.) I'm thankful for supportive people in my goals.

I now have a lovely "Beat the Blerch" medal and shirt to remember my marathon...

And this is what happened to my toes... black toenails and a huge blister.  

The blister is gone, but my toes are still black.  Long distance runners don't have pretty feet!

Big girl Savannah

This was the day that Savannah got her new doll for being potty-trained!  She was very excited for her new doll to love, but I was more excited than her, because this marks the end of a season.  After changing diapers for nearly 12 years, we are finally done!  Although I wouldn't consider her a baby, this was the last of the baby things left to give up.  No more babies in our house - just a bunch of baby dolls!   

We attempted to potty train her back in August, but she didn't really catch on.  I decided not to push it and let it go for a while.  She really liked wearing big girl panties, but she couldn't figure out the concept of peeing in the potty.  She was very independent about changing when she was wet or dirty.  She knew when she needed to change.  There were a few times when I didn't know she had made a mess somewhere.  It was Weston who alerted me to the puddle or mess on the floor... She had already taken it upon herself to get dry underwear on.  I got tired of cleaning up messes, so we went back to diapers.  

Then, near the beginning of November, she decided to wear panties again one day.  I let her wear them, not thinking about potty-training.  But she just seemed to get it.  She decided to use the potty and only had a couple of accidents.  And just like that, she was potty-trained.  I didn't have to put much effort in at all the second time around.  

She was earlier than any of the boys - most of them were 3 1/2.  Jared was the only one who potty-trained right at 3 years.  I guess it may be true that girls potty-train earlier than boys.    

Sunday, December 27, 2015

November pre-school

Here is what we did for fun in November:

Tissue paper suns for the window and glue & paint paper plate moons. They didn't like the sun oranges, but ate the strawberries and cheese & tortilla moons.  

They used star cookies cutters in paint, and then put glitter on them before the paint dried.  You can't tell from the picture, but they turned out nice and sparkly.  We had one big glittery mess at the end of this project.  

They did paint and shaving cream planets.  Our friend really got into it, whereas Weston and Savannah wanted to stay clean.  

The rocket launchers were a fun idea from Pinterest, but they didn't actually work that well.  It was fun to make blue toast though, by first painting blue colored milk on the bread.  They kept asking for blue milk later in the week.  

We did a little indoor camping.  I talked Alex into setting up a tent in the living room.  It was fun to play and read books in there. "A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee" was a fun book to read.  

They also liked doing s'mores and hot chocolate.  Savannah tried the chocolate marshmallows on a straw, but most of the kids didn't really like them.  They were cute though!  Check out what a preschooler's s'more looks like... I let them spread melted chocolate on a graham cracker.  Then I gave them a graham cracker with a melted marshmallow to sandwich on their chocolate.  What a mess!  They look messy, but they tasted yummy - I ate a couple of them!

They did handprint paint campfires.  It was hard to talk Weston into getting his hands dirty, but Savannah got into the project.  We had a little hotdog and watermelon picnic outside and also put together some trail mix.  

We had fun with fall leaves.  They did some painted fall trees and also some wreaths with real leaves. "Fletcher and the Falling Leaves" was a cute book about a fox that tries to put back the fallen leaves on the tree.

And we did Thanksgiving and turkeys, of course.  The favorite activities were eating popcorn from turkey cups and playing find the turkey.  We hid the paper bag turkeys around the house, and they had to search for them.  The hide and seek always seems to be fun, although they can't seem to get the concept that you're not supposed to show where you hid it!  Weston would go stand in the area where he hid the turkey, with a big grin on his face.  Savannah would run straight to it, pointing and yelling, "There it is!"  

"This First Thanksgiving Day" book was good for them to hear, but they loved the books "Turkey Trouble" and "T'was the Night Before Thanksgiving".  In "Turkey Trouble", the turkey realizes he is in trouble as Thanksgiving Day comes and tries to disguise himself as several different animals.

(It's much more fun to search for turkeys in a messy house... I realized I was giving a tour of our mess!  It's not always this bad.  Oh well.  Keeping it real.  I'm not trying to win any awards for having a clean house.  I wanted to capture the kids playing the game, because they were so cute.)  

Halloween festivities

After we picked out some little pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, we had to carve them.  The kids helped scoop out the guts.  Weston put his fist in and shook it upside down to try to get the seeds out. 

I hosted a Halloween lunch party for Weston and Savannah and several other moms and little kids.  I made pumpkin scented playdough for the kids to play with, homemade bubbles (which a couple of the kids ingested...), and taped a big piece on paper on the floor for coloring.  Everyone brought festive food.  I only made the mummy dogs and pumpkin sugar cookies.  I think everyone had a fun time, although we were packed in - lots of little bodies in a small space.  

And here are the costumes from this year... I made the cloaks.  Jared and Nathan were rangers from the book "Ranger's Apprentice".  Owen was Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Weston was a "baddie" cowboy, and Savannah was Cinderella.  I put a little bit of make-up on Savannah, which she loved - she looked so pretty.  

We had fun at our friends annual Halloween party.  They always do a great job.  This year's theme was "Fear Factor", so I made some disgusting looking maggot cupcakes.  They actually looked much more gross after they had been sitting for a while.  The fondant got wet looking and "slimy".  I couldn't eat any of the leftovers the next day.  

The deli meat head was really cool.  They also had some kind of disgusting looking thing floating in the dry ice drink.

They had several fear factor stations for the kids to pass off.  One of the best ones was the one below where they had to eat different things.  They had real crickets!  I even ate one of them.  Savannah ate one too and seemed to like it.  She actually wanted more of everything.  Most of it was just candy of course.  

Here are some of the other stations they had - sticking your hand in different boxes of gooey things, searching through "poopy diapers" (chocolate), witch hat toss, and an "abominable snowman challenge" (holding your arm in ice water for as long as possible).  Nathan had just done that and was exclaiming, "It's COLD!!"

We had a great time!  The kids had this fear factor party, trunk-or-treat, and traditional trick-or-treating all on Halloween.  "Cinderella" was so worn out after the first party that she fell asleep on the couch.