Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

I RAN: I ran at least 560 miles this year. This included training and running my best ever half marathon, The Rock and Roll Denver, in 2 hours and 56 seconds.
I READ: I exceeded my Good Reads goal of 24 books by ONE book. My favorite reads of this year would be Cutting for Stone and The Forgotten Garden. I have a goal to read through the entire bible, as of today I have completed through 2 Samuel. I really thought it would be a whole lot more boring to read the Bible, but I am really enjoying it. It's surprising how helpful having read the first 5 books of the Bible has been when reading some New Testament passages...shedding new light on a lot of questions I have always had. Two books that really challenged me to think and grow were Blue Like Jazz and Heaven is For Real.
I (started) GROWING UP: I did a lot of self reflection and resoluting to grow up and get over some of my issues... I have a lot to do still, but it feels good to be opening my eyes to the possibility of embracing change for the better.
I BECAME A BIT CREATIVE: I made a jewelry art piece for my room, canned jam, and convinced my husband into letting me have his grandpas antique stove and used it as a entertainment stand.
I (almost) DIED: discovered the hard way that I am allergic to peaches and now have to cary an epi pen... this caused me some depression, and several dreams where I indulged in peaches, only to wake by trying to make myself puke them up.
I JOINED A GYM: joined Allison and hired a trainer for a few weeks of the summer, who pushed me to do some stuff that is harder than running 13 miles.
I TAUGHT: started my 9th year of teaching, taught a class on standard based grading at a district inservice, and embraced a lot of top down change with the best attitude I can muster... in truth my students are great and make it all worth while.
I GAVE: Anne and I continued to make our monthly meals for the homeless shelter, and this year we took on making gift bags for the ones that would be spending Christmas Eve at the shelter. (In truth ANNE organized it all). But it was great to be a part of assembling and delivering.
I PLAYED TENNIS: Finally Jolene and I signed up and played in the Taco Bell Tennis tournament (we've been talking the talk for a few years). We quickly found out that our 3 weeks of preparation was not enough to hang with the big dogs (old ladies who play every day) and win the whole thing, but we did pull out a few wins and didn't get eliminated immediately.

Madison finished 6th grade still loving school, and started (and continues) 7th grade the same way. She has a great group of friends and is very into the social thing (as evident by her 1400+ texts a month). She started taking bass guitar lessons and is now playing in the school Jazz Band. Madison also took a hunters safety course and earned her hunters safety card, though not in time to get a license this year. She had a Halloween party complete with a haunted house that I had to chaperone (thankfully for me it was cheesy), and at this party they set a goal of saving money to go to Hawaii for their senior trip. Madison got a new soccer coach, and the change in her attitude, confidence, and play is incredible; in fact the whole team did a 180 going from not winning but 2 games, to no losses. Madison also got her braces off, and WOW her smile is amazing! She turned 13, and continues to be a wonderful daughter, growing into a beautiful young woman.

Maddox had a year of milestones... he learned to ride a bike, lost his first tooth, graduated preschool and started Kindergarten. We had our first parent teacher conference, where Maddox sat like a perfect angel, and we were informed he is the model student always tries his best, works hard, is kind, and learning like a sponge. I am a bit embarrassed to say that we were surprise by this, and had been expecting to hear that he can't sit still, is a crazy rambunctious boy. He also started his first season of T-ball, and absolutely loved it. Maddox started his second season of wrestling and in the first tournament he got second place. We celebrated his 5th birthday with an ear infection that delayed our zoo trip by a day, but we still made it and he loved it. Maddox has a strong conscience, and is highly compassionate.

Brian continues to be an amazing dad and husband. He coached Maddox's T-ball team, and his expertise was evident in our teams superior skill and behavior on the field during practice and games. He is also coaching the Palisade Little Dogs Wrestling. He has been working with the older kids, as we have realized that Maddox receives wrestling instruciton better from someone who is not dad. He took Maddox on his first hunting trip, but Madison continues to be his lucky hunting charm and they got a really nice doe that added 80 lbs of burger, italian sausage, breakfast sausage, and steaks to our freezer. He got sick for Elk season, which bummed him out (and me... I love elk meat).

We Traveled:
We went on our first Caster Family vacation, driving 18 hours to Northern Idaho, 30 miles from the Canadian border; arriving in Priest Lake ID. This was a magical trip, while we were there my soul felt at home, and since we left my soul has longed to return. We also spent almost a week in Steamboat for a soccer tournament, since we travel so much for soccer, we try to make the trips mini vacations; and Steamboat was a nice little get away. We opted for camping out in the pop up at a KOA type campground, complete with a pool and games. I think we all had a great "camping" experience. Another soccer mini vacation was the annual trip to Vegas, the focus was strictly soccer... though we managed a drive down the strip for Maddox, and a dinner in Cesar's Palace. Brian and I took a weekend trip to Ouray, this may be my favorite "him and I" get away ever, complete with a beautiful hike. We also had a mini family retreat with my mom and Dan and all 4 of us kids... they rented a beautiful cabin between Ridgeway and Ouray, that was so massive all 17 of us slept and lived very comfortably. Dan had a great dinosaur dig activity for all the grand kids to participate in, and we enjoyed playing on the lake and campfires at night.

Major Random Events:
Nik and Megan got married in June, the wedding was beautiful, and my kids were perfect, Maddox got hooked on the mother son dance and couldn't wait to dance it again at Brian's cousin, Patricia's, wedding in July.
Brian's grandpa passed away, and we had a beautiful service that surprised me with its huge sentimental impact for me. This spurred a massive house cleaning/estate sale to get their house ready to be sold and Grandma moved into a retirement community.
My brother had his third little girl, Teegan.
My cousin Christa played tennis for the US team in the Special Olympics in Greece, and she came home with some medals too... like silver and bronze... I am so proud!
My aunt Pepper moved to GJ, to live with my grandma. This has been such a blessing for my mom to have her sister close, and between the two of them, my grandma is in good hands!

Here are some of my favorite images from 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Explosive Eighteen

Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have come to not expect much more than superficial entertainment from this series, and because of that I continue to enjoy them.

These books are always entertain, quick reads, where I find myself chuckling out loud. This one, of course, followed the typical story line of Stephanie stumbling into some major problem while still trying to apprehend some skips (unsuccessful as usual). Lula, who always makes me laugh, finds herself under a love potions spell. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of appearances of Morelli and Ranger. I keep hoping that someday Stephanie will wise up and choose Morelli for good, but until then I enjoy the struggle she continues through. I was also hoping that mysterious Hawaii trip would play a larger part of the story, but it took a back seat early on.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cherished Memories: Christmas Eve

After writing my last post I was flooded with amazing Christmas memories, reminding me how special this time of year is, and how full of love and family my childhood holidays actually were,

My most cherished memory of Christmas is spending Christmas Eve with my Grandma and Grandpa Barron; I don't remember a Christmas of my youth that this night was not shared with them. I loved gathering at her house (her house was the most magical place in the known universe to me). On one special year my cousins from Pennsylvania came out and I remember sneaking out to the backroom where the glow of the Christmas tree was just enough to illuminate the silhouette of some large enchanting castle... or play house... but in the morning it was an amazing puppet stage. There were also these scooter that I remember spending hours racing around on.

The most vivid memory of spending Christmas Eve with my favored grandparents, was awaiting with anticipation that moment when Grandpa would present Grandma with the annual night gown gift. The gowns were always so beautiful and silky, long and flowing, complete with matching robes. It was as if this gift embodied the love that surrounded and held this family together.

I remember the first year this gift did not appear. My grandpa had passed away in September 1998, a few short months later we were all gathered for our first Christmas without him. As we all unwrapped our gifts, there was the unspoken question buzzing in all of us... will the night gown gift miraculously appear? Had grandpa, knowing his passing was eminent, arranged for one last gown? There was no gown under the tree that year, and nary a one since. A piece of the magic that night held had slipped away.

In the passing of Christmas Eves from that year on, traditions have changed, new traditions have sprouted. I have a family all of my own and we are making our own Eves special. I can only hope that what we make of this night will be magical for my children, that they will find a tradition that embodies the love that surrounds and holds this family together.

Learned: How beautiful a memory of love and loss can be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Anxiety

I am pretty sure as a kid I loved the holidays, that time from Thanksgiving through New Years where we stuff our faces with ungodly amounts of food and sweets, stay up late, sleep in, and act like crazy people running around shopping centers throwing our money around. I am not quite sure when the tides changed from childhood wonder to adult distain. I don't think there is a defining moment, one singular incident, rather a gradual knot that twisted its way, binding my heart to beat "bahumbug".

Growing up in a generation where 50% of marriages end in divorce I was not alone in having split my time among several families throughout the Holiday season. Throw in step parents and their families, and it's a wonder that I could even waddle out of the last house on Thanksgiving. I remember one year consuming no less than 5 full thanksgiving meals. At every house there was always a favorite dish I had to partake in, and I remember feeling like I had to eat so as to not offend the host.

For Christmas we had a pretty good routine down. Christmas Eve was spent with Grandma and Grandpa Barron. The first few hours of Christmas morning were spent at home with my mom and Bill, in a flurry the paper would be off the gifts, the stalkings would be dumped out, we would just begin to play and it would be time to go to my dad's. Most of Christmas day would be spent with my dad and his family. There were quite a few years we drove up to Rifle to spend the day with our cousins sledding and traipsing in the snow. Christmas night often ended back at home or at Bills mom's home.

So what's the big deal? Reflecting on this I remember how much fun I had with all the cousins, how loved I felt by all the family. When did this change to dread? At some point, most likely those unbearable teen years, I was forced to continue in the routine and it all just became too much. I began to despise being yanked from one home to another.

And this has continued now that I am grown up with a family of my own. Every year for the past 12 years we have been pulled out of our home in the early hours of Christmas day to go somewhere and do something with someone else, and I felt I had no choice in the matter. I think that is key, choice...

Just yesterday I discovered the other deeply seeded cause to my holiday anxiety, gift giving. This has stressed me out every year, and I didn't know how to put words to it, so I just attributed it to not liking Christmas being commercialized. And maybe I don't like that, but it isn't the cause of all this anxiety, and it wasn't until I saw the same trait in my son that I could put words to it myself.

Brian and I always let the kids decide on a gift they would like to get each of us, and Maddox is finally old enough to make this decision with little to no guidance from us. When asked what he wanted to get Madison, Dad, and Mom, he started to panic and get frustrated and cranky, finally just throwing his hands into the air as if to say "I give up". At that precise moment realization was birthed in me... that's exactly how I feel... I get completely overwhelmed when it comes to picking gifts for my family and friends.

But why?

How can a material gift even begin to communicate how important a person is in your life and how much you appreciate them? It can't... but I want each and every gift to do just that, to be absolutely perfect, one that caters to the likes and interests of the person, one that is so special that the gift is no longer the physical item but literally how much thought was put behind it. It may come as a surprise to discover that I never seem to find that perfect gift, nothing is ever good enough, and that brings me great distress.

This year I have had much more difficulty in putting on the pretty face of a mom who loves the holidays, and have had a few complete freak outs. The guilt that comes with these is almost unbearable. I do not want my kids to come to hate the holidays because their mother is a complete wreck, so something has gotta give... I've gotta make a change.

Knowing and being able to put words to what causes my anxiety has already helped me. I think that I can let myself off the hook, and begin to see that no matter what the gift, it's just a little piece to let them know that they are an important part of my life.

As for my second issue: This year I was given the choice of what to do and where to go for Christmas. Knowing that I wasn't expected to parade all over town, hop from one house to another, made the thought of doing just that completely bearable. I was able to rationalize beyond myself and see that maybe I could do what I have come to hate, IF my kids enjoy it. But in the end I am getting what I have always wanted, Christmas at my own home, for the entire day. Maybe next year I can choose to go.

I know that untying the bahumbug knot, retraining my emotions and feelings, will be a process, and it is not likely to be easy. But it is time to let it go, it is time to appreciate, and truly celebrate Christmas.

Learned: Getting older is inevitable, but growing up is a choice; a choice to seize positive change, even when it hurts, even when it is difficult... change that sacrifices the selfish nature of youth for the altruistic embrace of maturity.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Heaven Is For Real

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and BackHeaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that even though I am a Christian, I typically trod a bit sceptically when it comes to peoples accounts of heaven. Call me jaded, call me gun shy; I don't lack in faith in God, just people. But as I read, some scepticism began to fall away and I was pulled in to a beautiful revelation of Heaven.

Through out the book my heart was captivated; as a parent I ached at the thought of going through what this family had gone through with their son. As a Christian I was intrigued at the completely child like clarity this boy described Heaven, and how each of the things he shared matched perfectly with what the Bible says about Heaven, from what Jesus wore, to who sat in the throne room of God, the absence of darkness, and the melding of time past, present, and future. Time and time again this young boy astonished me (as well as his parents) about his knowledge of Heaven and the people there. I loved that his parents were hungry to know everything about heaven, as many Christians are, but they were patient.

I didn't have to read this book to believe in Heaven, or reaffirm my faith in God, but sometimes it nice to read something that sits right with your spirit, and gives you just enough to keep going in a world that continues to drift further and further from God.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

The Red Tent

The Red TentThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I could either hate this book or like it depending on how I approach it. If I think of it from a biblical perspective I hated it, if I see it from a fictional story of life at that time I like it.

The part that I had a difficult time with was how the family of Jacob, son if Isaac and Rebecca, grandson of Abraham and Sarah, saw God as just another god, more powerful and foreboding than their other gods; and they kept idols and paid homage to these other gods. I guess this is true to the big picture of what happens in the bible...God rescues his people, they worship him, time passes, they forget His wonders, turn back to their old ways, fall into despair, and God rescues them again. So it really isn't that big of a stretch that the wives would have kept and worshiped the idols of their family.

If I see it as a complete work of fiction depicting life during that time, it is a wonderfully woven tapestry of the bonds between women, of coming of age, love, loss, and finding purpose and happiness. A story that celebrates the beauty of womanhood, and our ability to create and sustain life. I loved how the tale came full circle in the end bringing closure to the life of Dinah, daughter of Jacob.

I am not sure if I would recommend this book or not, but if you choose to read it, know that it is a work of historical fiction, where an author took many creative liberties to paint a picture of life during the time of the sons of Jacob.

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Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first book of this trilogy, and thought the second would be just as amazing. I was mistaken. I liked it all the way up to the final page... then a total let down that almost ruins the book. It's as if Condie just put in a thoughtless ending, reminiscent of my partially proficient students who write "and that's all I have to say about that" as the conclusion to their papers, to meet the publishers deadline.

Through the whole book you're in pursuit of these young lovers finally being reunited. There is adventure, mystery, suspense, and finally they find each other. Together perusing a rumored civilization with hopes of joining the rebellion. In this effort Cassia and Ky decide to separate, knowing they will meet up in a few day. Cassia reaches the rebellion first and is immediately sent away to her assigned mission. Ky makes his way just as she departs. And that's it... the end.

All this hard work to find each other and the rebellion, is met with a complete cop out... there is no emotion, no fighting the deployment, no cries of love lost, no final moments together proclaiming their everlasting love that knows no bounds of time or space, no speeches of "though we will be separated, we are fighting to ensure a future that can be spent together freely"... it just stopped.

There are great elements of foreshadowing... finding out that Xander joined with the rebellion early on in the first book, the cave of samples, Ky's lack of desire to join the rebellion, and Cassia's strong desire to join, will all make a great conclusion of this series... hopefully.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten GardenThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this mystery, though not your gory typical mystery. A young girl, Nell, is found guardian-less on the docs of an Australian harbor, when one of the workers takes her in. After no one comes to claim her the man and wife choose to raise her as their own. When she has come of age, the man who she has spent her life believing is her father, tells her the shattering truth, thus beginning the intriguing search for who she really is. But as life often thwarts our best efforts, Nell is unable to discover the truth, and the search is taken up by her kindred spirit granddaughter. This beautiful story spans 4 generations, 2 continents, and the vast ocean between them. All in search of "Past. Future. Family." and the truth held in Forgotten Garden.

My favorite quotes: "...How bright such memories seem when the life they catalogue is threatened!"

"Nell knew better than to let exhibits of hindsight into the court of self-blame."

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brooke's Terrible Horrible No Good Verry Bad Day

One of my favorite books as a kid was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I can’t really say why, maybe it was the repetitive nature of saying “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, or maybe it extends much deeper into my psyche, my predisposition towards negativity. I don’t know, but regardless this book has stuck with me. I quote it often when my students say “I’m just having a bad day”, telling them “some days are like that, even in Australia.”

So when I am having a bad day I often equate it to Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, (see) and yesterday was one of those days.

Brooke’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day…

I woke up with sleep in my eyes, and I’m sure a few more wrinkles; staring at the mirror my reflection told me to just hop back in bed, today was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I tried to find clothes to wear though my bloated belly would not tolerate restricting jeans, so instead I opted for my silky dress. I figured that if today was going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I might as well feel like I was wearing my pajamas.

Mother Nature gave me her gift, for which I was completely unprepared. I tried to make a cup of coffee, only to discover that I was also unprepared to brew. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Leaving my children with precise directions to be ready to go by 6:40, I headed to the store… to become prepared… and while I’m there I thought I’d treat myself to a lovely cup of jo… upon my ordering, I am told they are out of the white mocha that makes this coffee my delight! It was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Noticing that I still have time to get a coffee before the kids would be ready; I headed to another coffee store. While on rout, my husband called to inform me that today is the day for my son to bring snack to school. Why couldn’t I have known this while at the first store. It was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Fortunately I could go to the other grocery store and get the snack AND a coffee. But when I went in, the snack I wanted couldn’t be found. To make matters worse two jerks thought it would fun to make obnoxious comments in an attempt to hit on me. I had to settle for a less than superior snack. And because it was turning out to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I ordered a venti (that’s large) extra shot Americano WITH the white mocha.

Making my way back to get the kids, at least they were ready, we were not running too terribly late. I get a phone call, informing me that in fact I am a looser, and didn’t get an “invitation”. I drop Maddox off hand him his snack to which he refuses to take, because it is not his snack day. Now who do I believe my 5 year old, or my husband who never forgets a date. Upon further resistance, I throw the snack back in the car and leave my son at his grandma’s gate, open mouth crying, and drive away. Yep, it is definitely a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

The short drive to work is bombarded with phone calls from my crying son, and confused husband, which turns out to be more than I can handle. And the flood gates open, I begin to sob. Pulling into the lot, tears gushing, I try to hold them in but it’s the equivalent of damning Niagara Falls. It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Finally I drag myself across the freezing wasteland of a parking lot, soggy tissues in hand, and miraculously I make it before the bell rings. Plopping in front of my computer, I find an email that states I have used my overdraft protection, meaning there are insufficient funds in my bank account. I can hardly believe this, wasn’t it yesterday that I checked the account balance and had over $800 in there? I really should have stayed in bed; it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

The next email I read is from my mother, she is putting a special memory book together for my brother’s 30th birthday. She wants friends and family to write back to her memories, messages, and pictures that we have of him. Which makes me think back to my 30th birthday, where the only good part was being with my husband and dear friends Vycci and Danny, but the rest was a complete disappointment. Then I think that nobody put together a memory book for me, nobody told me how great I was on my 30th birthday, nobody collected great and funny stories about me and gave me a special book on my 30th birthday. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day 30 birthday and so was today.

I then get a phone call from Maddox’s teacher, stating that today is, in fact, NOT his snack day. Turns out my son was right, let the guilt flood in again…. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I, miraculously, make it through 4 middle school classes with minimal damage to their emotional and intellectual wellbeing. While driving home I begin to ponder what exactly I might have to contribute to my brother’s memory book, and came to the realization, that I have nothing to offer. I have plenty of stories of how much we fought, how much he annoyed me, how much I was mean to him, but who really wants to read about that in their super special memory book… I am faced with the reality on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, that I am indeed a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad sister!

After dragging myself on a run with Anne (where we only had to stop once because I was crying), I began to feel mildly better. It’s true that running is my therapy, pounding out my issues on the pavement, while inhaling fresh air and absorbing some natural vitamin D, helps me gain perspective, creates some distance between the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and the reality that some days are like that… even in Australia.

Learned: I am so glad that a run, the strong embrace of my husband, and a good nights sleep brings about a better morning, that I can look back at yesterday and be thankful that it is now over, that I have people who take me as I am, even on the bad day, and still love me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Would you believe me if I told you:

Maddox and Brian had just gotten back from trick or treating, I was busy catching up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while...When our conversations and candy counting were interrupted with a rapt at the door, not surprising as it is Halloween and we were expecting some ghouls and goblins to come a knocking.

I open it to find a neighborhood family, including an old school mate of Madison's. This family is... well... let's see... nicely put and hopefully PC too... different. Over the years we have supported fund raisers and engaged in very happy conversations with the girls. Tonight the girls had brought big brother and dad along their trick or treating trek; they were on their way home and had to stop by our house, but not for a treat... this time the trick was on us...

In addition to the saying of the season, we were politely asked if their dad could use our restroom. "What could be the harm?" I thought... as I allowed them into our home.

As we stood and entertained a conversation that lapsed well into the awkward duration to cover the obvious nature of business happening behind the closed door at the back of the hall, I couldn't help but think of all the harm actually occurring in my bathroom.

My friend and her daughter politely excused them selves from the stalemate happening in my water closet, and upon exit gave me the "Oh, man this really sucks to be you" look, while I returned it with a "BRING ME LYSOL" look.

Still we waited, sorting candy, talking about costumes, I even provided refreshments! (Not to sir squatter, but to the kids.) One after another each of the visiting children wandered down our hall to check on the status of dear ol dad... "I'll be out in a minute." "Just finishing up." "I'm almost done."

I could take it no longer! Just the thought of having to see this man face to face after... you know...that, I excused my self to the kitchen to clean up dinner figuring surely he would exit and I would evade the pleasantries of their good byes... but no... just as I finish the kitchen task and have nothing else to do... he emerges. Puts on his coat, thanks us for the use of our facilities, and they all leave...not in the scurried "hide your face I'm so embarrassed" fashion, but as if nothing out of the realm of normal had just occurred.

There we stand, stunned, not sure what to say, staring at each other. A game of Rock Paper Scissors to see who is laden with the task of lighting a candle and checking the state of our porcelain perch.

Thankfully my friend had understood the dire circumstances we were in and returned with the greatest gift:

Brian braves the unknown, complete with the hazmat work gloves and bathroom cleaner, shirt pulled up over his nose and mouth. As he opens the door and steps inside, he turns, eyes meeting mine, and I know that I will owe him eternally.

I am now faced with quite the quandary... If it was this bad for us... how much worse it must be for him, the bathroom borrower?

Learned? If you begin with the thought "what's the harm" probably isn't a good idea to continue.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Lost Tooth

Maddox lost his first tooth on October 20, 2011 by biting into an apple at school.

It's quite fitting that he is wearing his "Big Mouth" shirt. When I commented that to him he was amazed, "Mom! How did you know I would loose my tooth today?"

I picked him up from after school care and he met me at the door with the biggest smile. It only took a moment to realize that a tooth was gone. He was so excited about it, and we had a moment to squeal in excitement together, then I had to hold back tears! I was in SHOCK, I could not believe that he was at the age of loosing teeth, just another sign that my baby is growing up.

As soon as we got home he tucked his tooth under his pillow, already awaiting the visit from the Tooth Fairy.

Learned: I must face the facts, my baby is growing up. It's kinda hard to live in denial when a toothless grin lives with you.

Bridge of Heaven

Last weekend Brian and I had the opportunity to escape, just the two of us. So we thought we would try to get as close to heaven as possible and hike the Bridge of Heaven trail out of Ouray.

I love this small Colorado town, nestled at the base of the San Juan mountains, it has been dubbed "the Switzerland of the West" or "Little Switzerland. If Ouray is the miniature, less grand, version of Switzerland, I MUST travel there some day.

We headed out of town Friday night, stopping at a delicious Tai restaurant along the way. Once we got into Ouray we wound our way up the East side of the town. It wasn't long before the nice dirt road became a 4 wheel drive trail through the thicket of trees. We found a perfect pull off camp spot and set up camp in the back of the Sequoia. (Truthfully this was the part of our trip I was most excited about).

The next morning we headed the rest of the way to the trail head and began our ascent to Bridge of Heaven. It was really, cold; though the sun was coming up we were on the west side of a steep mountain and it was several hours before we finally broke into the sun. This first part of the hike was through a beautiful aspen grove, though all the leaves were on the ground, they were still the most vibrant yellow. A few hours later of switch back hiking we finally reached the summit... of that hill. This was a beautiful place to be, the saddle between peeks overlooking the quaint town of Ouray.

The second part of the hike was a bit more steep and at (obviously) a higher elevation, so our pace was just a bit slower. We found a comfortable spot just off the trail with a great view and had our lunch. The rest of the climb was climbing along a few ridges, but just before the summit we ran into snow.

Though we were prepared for almost everything, we were not equipped to hike through snow pack on face of a mountain. Though it was disappointing to have hiked that far, we thought it wiser to return with no injuries.

That afternoon we arrived in Ouray and treated our selves to our favorite Ouray treat....Key Lime milk shakes from Mouses Chocolates. I was still a little chilled and decided to warm up with an Americano... YUMM! We had some time before check in so we wandered along the main street for a while.

We stayed at the Beaumont Hotel. This hotel had sat vacant for over 30 years and was almost in ruins. The restoration took almost 5 years, and it looks amazing. For dinner that night we went to Bon Ton, an Italian restaurant, and devoured some delicious dishes! Dessert was called Black Nasty, and it was incredible, a thick chocolate moose pie with strawberry garnish and whipped cream.

We took our time getting going the next day, enjoying one last cup of coffee and the breathtaking jagged mountains and headed back to reality.

Learned: I have never been one to find the typical romantic gestures (flowers, chocolates....) all that romantic. For me, this weekend by far surpasses that romantic level.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed (Darcy & Rachel, #1)Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am really in shock that I picked this book. I knew that it was going to be an adulterous type book, and currently I have no patience for reading about affairs. I am really disturbed by societies nonchalant portrayal of dishonoring marriage and commitment. I blame this book choice on the excitement of getting my Nook and wanting to read something "right now!", and seeing that the movie was made... so there... a thoughtless pick.

What else I am surprised about is how conflicted I felt the whole time. I hated Darcy, but then felt so bad for her as more of her character came to light, as I started to see why she was the way she was. I also was conflicted by the main character, I felt bad for her, and was even thinking she was justified in having the affair, but at the same time pissed that she would do that.

The ending didn't help me at all either; I glad it ended the way it did, but at the same time here is another story that seems to justify, even empower the act of betrayal.

So, I didn't like the story (my fault for picking a topic I personally despise), but the author did a fantastic job of pulling me from one side of the argument to the other and back again.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Rocked The Rock and Roll Half Marathon

I have been running for years, and have yet to successfully complete a half marathon. My first, The Other Half in Moab UT, was a horrendous experience, though I did finish. The second, The Canyonlands Half also in Moab, I got injured during training and was unable to run the full distance and instead ran the 10K. After these two unsuccessful runs in Moab I vowed never to return until I had a few successful halves under my belt.

I am happy to announce that I have my first successful half marathon down in the books. This past Sunday, October 9th, Anne and I ran the Rock and Roll half marathon in Denver. The weekend ended up being a great laid back girls weekend since soccer got canceled, complete with great dinners and even a movie, making the success even sweeter!

The run started at 6:55, so we walked the 3 blocks to the race start through the dark frigged Denver morning.
I was feeling so jittery and nervous. As soon as our wave was started, we began weaving our way around the mass of people. This typically means you run faster than your normal pace. But once we were clear of the mass and had a little open running room our pace was still pretty quick! We kept looking at our Garmin 305 in disbelief at the 8:45 (and sometimes 8:30) pace we were keeping through the first 5 miles. We finally made ourselves slow down (9:20) when we got to miles 6-9 for fear of collapsing at the end.

As we turned the 9 mile marker, I saw the pacers for the 2 hour group, and got so excited! Finishing in 2 hours was within my grasp! (I had a secret personal goal of finishing in at least 2:05) Anne was not feeling the same surge of excitement and gave me the ok to forge ahead with the 2 hour pacers. As soon as I left Anne it was like the pacers picked up speed, and I didn't want to spend the last 4 miles in misery, or worse, completely gassed at mile 11. So I slowed to a 9 min/mile pace. From about mile 11 on the course is gradual to very downhill, I took advantage of this and picked up my pace, still amazed at how good I was feeling. At mile 12 I looked at my watch and realized that I could actually complete this thing in 2 hours or less if I picked up my pace again. As we rounded the final corner I literally gave it my all and crossed the finish line with an OFFICIAL time of 2:00:56! I'd say that is technically running a half marathon in two hours!

I was, and am still, so happy with my finish time (which is 18 minutes faster than my time at The Other Half)! 3 days later and I am still feeling the adrenaline rush of it... so much so that I want to sign up and do another race this weekend, or ASAP! But I am going to take a break for this week and then see how I feel before I make a commitment like that.

This was a really fun race to run, being it is the Rock and Roll series of marathons, there are all kinds of bands playing along the race course. I almost didn't bring my iPod, but am glad I did; you only hear the bands for the few seconds that you are running past. There were also a lot of people lining the course (especially later into the race). They had all kinds of funny and encouraging signs. Some of my favorite were:

"I bet this seemed like a good idea 6 months ago!"

"Chuck Norris never ran a race."

"Your feet are hurting because you are kicking so much 4$$."

There were also some motivating racers. At one point Anne and I passed a soldier dressed in full fatigues, boots, and completely packed backpack. It was pretty awe-inspiring to see him running with the extra 80 pounds and clunking boots. Later another male runner passed us and his shirt said "I survived Roe vs. Wade".

The race expo and the after race goodies were the best of any race I have ever been in... yes, even better than the BoulderBOULDER... though I didn't see free beer being handed out at the finish line... We scored so many different energy and protein bars, juices, and drinks, even CHOCOLATE!!

Learned: Sometimes the best training is rest; two weeks out from the race I found myself completely exhausted. I couldn't even get out of bed or walk across the room with out my legs burning as if I had just ran 13.1 miles. I heeded the advice of an old friend who knows her stuff and took 5 days off and loaded up on Brewers Yeast, Cod Liver Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, and red meat. She promised that if I took the time off I would be amazed at how strong and fast I was... She was right!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beautiful Smile

Just a little over 3 years ago Madison got braces. This month they finally came off, and the results are absolutely beautiful!

She has retainers now, and they make her talk with a major lisp, I am assuming it won't be long before she figures it out.

Learned: The passage of time is such a strange phenomenon; looking at the pictures of Madison from when she first got braces and comparing them to now, I can hardly believe it's the same girl. Seeing her every day, you don't notice the small changes, that have transformed her from this cute kid into a budding beauty of a teenager.
Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cutting for Stone was amazing. I am afraid any thing I write about it would fall far short of its splendor. This story revolves around the lives of twin boys born to an Indian nun and British doctor working together at a hospital in Ethiopia. Immediately following their births their mother dies and their father vanishes, yet these boys both grow to embody their own greatness. We see the power of love, the depths of betrayal, the true meaning of sacrifice, how interconnected our choices are. I will be reading this book again!

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Maddox the Kindergartner

Though school started (quite chaotically) for Madison and I last week, Maddox had a few extra days to anxiously await his school debut. Today his wait was over.

I was so happy that my principal arranged for someone to cover my classroom so I could take him to his first day of "real school". On our way, he told me that he was going to get good grades and not get sent to the Principal's office, I couldn't help but smile.

I could tell he was nervous, he was so quiet, his smile was held back, hands shoved in his pockets. We parked, and walked around the building (the way he would when grandma drops him off), found his classroom, and once I agreed to wait at the school until he made it into class he headed off to play on playground equipment with the mass of other children. He kept looking back over his shoulder to see if I was still waiting, giving me the thumbs up sign. Just as he reached the graveled play area he turned around and bolted back to me.

"Mom, I am just not ready to play yet, I need to give you another hug and kiss." So there we stood till the bell rang, holding hands and discussing his hopes (making friends) and fears (bullys). At the sound of the bell he grabbed his backpack and lined up outside his classroom door with the other kids. He kept waving me over to make sure I was coming in and would give him one more hug and kiss inside.

We made our way into the classroom, hunting for his name tag on the desks. He found it with out any trouble, sat down and grabbed a book from the center of the table to start reading, just like he knew what he was doing.

He had time for one more hug and mom's message of "you will be great," before he was ready to go it alone. As I walked out the door, with one last glance over my shoulder, I saw my baby sitting like such a big boy, completely ready for kindergarten.

My eyes remained dry, I remained strong... until I drove away alone.

I could hardly work today thinking of him at school, wondering if he was enjoying it, if he got on the right bus, if he had made friends.

As soon as I picked him up, I just had to know "How was your first day of school?" In the seconds, that lapsed like years, before his reply I held my breath. How he answered could easily set the tone for the next 12 years of school.

..."It was great mom!"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saying Good Bye

Today we said good bye to Brian's grandpa Bill. The memorial service was a beautiful closure for all of us, held at Carrie's, the Grand Mesa stunning as a backdrop.

The memories shared today were heart warming and eye moistening. My favorite... their first meeting...

Grandma's friend had been bugging her for a while about going on a blind date finally she agreed. Grandpa, of course showed up, but as the other girls date. As they all tried to pile into a 3 seater car, grandpa told grandma she could sit on his lap..."I told him I wasn't that kind of girl!" He was so taken with her that he showed up, unannounced, on her doorstep two days later, and the rest is history.

Carrie shared beautiful memories of her grandpa, "I met my grandpa on a hot summer day 37 years ago...I don't remember that meeting, but I remember him smelling of Kool cigarettes, and I remember his huge hands...The last time I saw my grandpa was a hot summer day." I loved her story of him being a prankster... On one of their summer visits she offered to buy him and grandma ice cream, and as they pulled out of the drive, he began inviting all the neighbors. When she said she didn't have enough money to pay for all of them, he told her she'd have to give up her ice cream in order to buy theirs... but when they got there he paid for them all, complete with an ornery chuckle.

Dillon shared about how wonderful it was to have grown up with his grandparents here, as they moved to this side of the mountain just after he was born. He shared how no movie night would be complete with out grandpa's glass of milk filled with popcorn, eaten with a spoon.

I had the privilege of reading for Amy {she didn't think she could get through it}, I didn't think I would have a problem reading her memories... memories of being pushed around on the floor mop in their used furniture store, memories of having to link arms and hold the old car door closed as they went around the corners. How her dad called her babies "little wheels" {because they are casters}. But I began to waver when I got to her sharing what a loving father he was, how he told her she was pretty, even when she wore glasses and had braces. Her closing line "I will miss you dad, and love you forever" got caught in my throat as I attempted to quench the sob that was rising.

Grandma Ruth did amazing today. I can't imagine having to say good bye to my husband and having to continue on with out him. She told Carrie, "No wife wants to see the love of her life for 62 years, suffer and live like that."

I think that's a good note to end on...

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Birthday Post...Thoughts on Growing Up

Celebrating my 32nd year happened with out much "pomp and circumstance", but I did not feel any less special or loved.

For the past few years, maybe since I have been running, I have celebrated my birthday with a difficult run, as a way to laugh in the face of age's ill effects, and this year was no different. Anne and I went on an 8 mile run in Palisade, the official kick start to our half marathon training. I absolutely love running in Palisade; through out the run we are surrounded by orchards, vineyards, quaint Victorian homes, and stunning mountains. It is so peaceful, an inspiring place to run.

After the run I headed to the gym with Allison, I posted about our work out earlier, but in short: I expected upper body, we did lower body, my legs cried...

Later that day Allison and I went out for pedicures and coffee, it was nice to be pampered a bit.

That evening Brian and I went out for sushi.(Allison watched Maddox, and Madison had soccer practice) Then he took me shopping for my present. I have been wanting some sort of e-reader for quite a while now, so we went to Best Buy where I could try them all out in one place. I ended up with the Nook, mainly because we have a B&N local, so I can go in there and get help if I need it. I didn't get the color because I really didn't want to be reading off of a back lit screen, just being on the computer for a bit makes my eyes cross.

Maddox kept asking when we were going to have my party, and when he found out we weren't having one he asked: "How are you going to get all your presents then?" He didn't like the answer that when you grow up partys and the barrage of gifts dwindle... he doesn't want to grow up now.

As 32 approached I became very reflective on what it meant to grow up, I mean I am now as old as my mom... you know that phenomenon when you become the age you remember your parents being when you were growing up... it's a weird place to be.

Now that I am an official grown up...{32 is the magic # i guess} I have come to some realizations.... the first and greatest.... is I really don't care what other people think any more. This is huge for me. My whole life I have cared what other people think, so much so that I don't think I really knew who I was, from the clothes I choose to wear, to the design styling of my home, or my opinions on politics, education, and religion; I am not sure if those reflect me or the me I created in hopes of being accepted. I have been so consumed being the friend, or daughter that I thought other people wanted me to be that I became lost in the mix somewhere.

Over the past few years I have been thinking and discussing this with my closest friends. I really thing that this stems from me HATING conflict, and I think that comes from fear of abandonment. I have thought that if I disagreed with someone, or argued with someone they would leave me, not be my friend anymore, not love me anymore.

For example on my 30th birthday we went to Ridgeway and Ouray with Vycci and Danny. One evening we were sitting have a nice talk when all of the sudden the conversation turned to a touchy topic. I completely withdrew from the conversation while B, Vycci, and Danny continued. The situation became so uncomfortable for me that, completely out of character, I spoke up and asked to change the subject saying I was uncomfortable with the arguing. All three of them looked at me a bit bewildered... "were not arguing, we are just having a conversation." It turns out that no one else felt the tension of the discussion except for me.

This moment has been pivotal for me; it helped me see that it is my own insecurity that brings tension to conversations. That everyone else {exaggeration I know} can have a conversation, even a disagreement, and it doesn't rock them emotionally into thinking their friendship or relationship is going to fall apart from it. In fact I have come to realize that having these touchy discussions, conversations about the deeper things or our beings {beliefs, persuasions, prejudices, culture} are what bring a relationship deeper, make it more meaningful.

I am no where near being comfortable with these situations, but I am at a place where I don't want to run from them. I am in a place where I feel I finally can embrace who I am, with out fear of rejection.

So who am I?
I am someone who longs to know God more, someone who can't imagine a life with out her husband and it scares her to death, someone whose heart feels as though it will burst with how much love and joy her children bring to her.

I am someone who needs friendships and time to cultivate them just as much as time spent alone.

I am someone who is competitive, creative, and thrives in academia, though I doubt the uniqueness of my perspective-what I have to offer.

I am someone full of emotion and feels them all with blazing intensity, it often skews my ability to be reasonable and think rationally.

I am someone who will give all of me, do everything in my power, give up anything, when called upon for help.

Learned? I am someone, who at 32, is finally coming into her own.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gym Day 7

I really need and want to post about our Idaho trip and my 32 birthday, but these posts take up a lot of time! Right now I MUST right down the work out Allison and I did, before I forget... I know it's boring stuff... but hope it will be useful to me later.

We did these 5 exercises 4 times each.

Plea Squat with vertical row (15 lbs)

Dead Lift, clean & Press, squat (I started with 10 lbs in each hand, but Janea made me increase it each time and on the last one made me use the 15 lbs.. sounds wimpy here but it was tough...again, that's why I hired her, she makes me do tough things.)

Lunges with Hammer curls (back lunge, front lung, static dips on each leg with 10 and 12 lbs.)

Tricep push ups with lat row (12 lbs)

ABS/Core:Pilates V-sit crunch and extension followed by Plank.

Learned: I am kinda sad to be finishing up with my trainer, two reasons: its means the end of summer vaca, AND I have to buck up and make myself do these really tough things.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gym Day 5&6

Day 5: Monday was a big day for me... I turned 32, and it was our first day back to reality after an amazing week in Northern Idaho {aka Heaven}, which also meant it was gym day AND the kick off to officially begin training for the half marathon in October. So after an 8 mile run I headed to the gym, I had been promised a day of upper body by our trainer, but she lied... you know how trainers are..."ok, do 12 reps", and at 12 they say "now give me 2 more." Or "only ten more seconds, go as hard as you can" and after 10 seconds they say "now back to normal for 10 more seconds". {I am really not complaining, the only reason to have a trainer is they will push you harder than you would yourself...} but today I was really looking forward to giving my legs a break and torturing my arms, chest, and back.

First circuit: (3 times)
Reverse lunges (with weights) off a step, same leg 16 reps then switch
Lateral Plyo jumps up and over the step, land into a squat.

Circuit 2: 3 times
Wall sit (1 min)
Calf raises (1 min)
Inner thigh (squeeze ball between knees 1 min)
Plyo Push up (push up head to head with partner clap opposite hands at peak of lift.

It seems like there was another circuit we did between these two but I just can't remember {old age}; do you remember Allison?

Day 6: Upper Body
First Circuit: (3 times)
Bench press (51 lb bar) 16 reps
T-bar (?? lbs) 16 reps - this one was working the back, you lay on stomach on this machine and grab a bar below you and pull it back, wrapping your shoulder blades around spine, then elbows up, and one final back squeeze.
1 min. Mountain Climbers

Second Circuit: Bosu Ball (3 times)
Stand on Bosu Hammer curl to overhead press to tricep dip/extension, and back down (12)
Bird dog: knees on Bosu, extend opposite leg and arm reach out and pinch up then tap hand and tow down (8,4,2 on each side)
Lateral Plyo Squat up and over bosu ball (1 min)

This was only yesterday but I may be forgetting something here to...

Learned? I only have 2 more sessions with the trainer {I have to go back to work} but I do think that I am getting stronger and firmer, Brian said he is starting to see some definition in my arms! Let's just hope I will keep up some basic weights after this is all over...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parenting is Tough

Today has been one of the most difficult days I have ever had as a parent, one of those that makes me go "God what were you thinking when you decided to give me kids."

First there is Maddox's stunt... Madison had just cleaned her room, and it was spotless, I checked. While Maddox was supposed to be resting in his room he apparently had better plans. . . he went into his sister's room and completely destroyed it. The strung all her clothes from the hamper across the floor, threw shoes out of the closet, pulled books off the shelves, unmade her bed, and cleared her night stand onto the floor. I was only later alerted to this when Madison went to her room and shrieked "Maddox! Did you do this to my room." His reply was a nonchalant shrug... reply was a bit more, shall we say colorful. In the end he cleaned it all up, and apologized. His only explanation for why. . . "Sister is always mean to me."
This is true, and while I originally thought he was being vindictive, I have come to think that he is just a 5 year old boy who loves his sister beyond words, and is extremely frustrated with how she treats him. He, being quite witty, chose the one thing that would get her in the most trouble. He knows that she has to have her room clean to go to a friends, and that she told both her dad and I that it was clean, so it would have been a double whammy! Not doing her chores AND lieing.

I have to say that Madison was pretty sweet about it all, I had called her in to tell her brother exactly what needed put where and she kept trying to go easy on him. When he had finished, and had given her is tearful, heartbreaking apology, she took him by the hand and they went to pray together and ask God to forgive him too. This about broke my heart.

My second episode came just a few short hours later... Madison and her buddy had worked hard all day getting Madison's required cores done, so she could go spend the night. When the mom came to pick them up, I was reminded that I needed her to come home by a certain time the next day. Madison's whole affect dropped into pouty teenager. {the first mistake} Then I found out the girls had been planning to go over and do chores and get paid and go shopping. The problem with this second part is quite complex... we don't pay for chores, they are a responsibility as a member of the family, AND I had just taken the dynamic duo shopping the night before. But the biggest issue was the part where their whole agenda was kept secretive, Madison knew I wouldn't be ok with it so she didn't bother to tell me.

Consequence... no sleep over. This was a particularly difficult consequence for me to dole out as it had the potential to cause some tension and conflict, after all Madison's punishment doesn't just impact her.

And because the sky opened up today and decided to dump a bunch of s*** on me, this one little decision to not be upfront has done just that... tension and conflict has sprouted up in my friendship with this mom {who is a really good friend}, taking hold and settling in my stomach, I feel like vomiting {I don't like conflict AT ALL}.

The really ironic thing about this is Allison just blogged this about parenting, how we all have different parenting styles, and we should have a little more trust in our fellow humans. And since I am a big girl now I will need to buck up and handle this conflict rationally, sans emotions. Because, while my friendships are so important to me, my husband's opinion and support for how we parent is the only opinion I need to value.

Learned: In the midst of all this I really only needed to know that I had done what B thought to be right, as soon as he said he supported it it made the rest bearable.

Cleaning Out the Camera

We took our nice Nikon camera to Steamboat with us, but after two pictures...

the battery died. In an effort to prevent a repeat of this in Idaho, I thought I'd better charge it up and see what treasures were stored away in its memory.

First I found some great pictures of a Desert Bighorn Sheep. We came upon this little guy on our way to hike Bangs Canyon early this summer. Our hike was great, and the kids splashed around in the creek that runs through the bottom of the canyon. Of course the camera got forgotten in the car for the hike, but at least they captured this guy.

Second were a few pictures of a bird that landed in our window. Madison was able to catch it and let it go outside. We were all really amazed that the bird didn't freak out or even flutter it's wings while she petted it and took it into her hands.

I also found some more pictures of Maddox's preschool graduation. I especially enjoyed seeing his funny faces, and the wide open mouths of the other kids singing their little hearts out.

Finally there were a few pics of Maddox's 5th birthday. These were of the impromptu cake he had on his birthday, when we were supposed to head to Denver for the zoo but he came down with an ear infection. We just couldn't go with out celebrating since we were home anyway.

Steamboat Mountain Tournament

When we found out we would be playing in a tournament in Steamboat, I was so happy. I love Steamboat, next to Telluride it is one of the most beautiful cities in Colorado. I could live there, but it is such a huge tourist town I don't think I could handle all the people.

Because it is a tourist town the hotel the team stayed at was almost $200/night... totaling almost $600 for the weekend. With our big family vacation coming up, we opted to take our pop-up and camp in a campground. This was perfect for us because Maddox could run around and play, and the weather was almost perfect... just a tincy bit hot in the afternoon, but the night was cool and crisp. The only downer was the amount of mosquitoes. Maddox and I got eaten alive!

I think if I lived there I would run every day... Anne and I took a morning run along the Yampa, and it was absolutely beautiful. I expected to be gasping for air because of the elevation, but it wasn't so bad...or we were compensating by running really slow! It was also quite communal; there were so many other people out running and biking on the trail, it was energizing to be amongst others of like running minds. The run also passes the botanical gardens which was amazingly luscious and bursting with color, heck I could have run laps through the gardens for an hour and been captivated by it's beauty the whole time.

Enough about my love affair with Steamboat, and on to the real reason for this post... the soccer tournament...

This last soccer season has been, well, trying... to say the least. But we have had new hope with a new coach coming on to the team. The little bit that we have watched at practice and from what Madison has said, that hope has been sustained. He is actually doing conditioning with the girls AND teaching them situational soccer, explaining how a drill they do in practice helps them in a game. I really didn't know what to expect coming into the tournament, and I am happy to say the difference this coach has made in just a few weeks is day and night! The whole team looked amazing! They played with a confidence and fire I haven't seen in over a year.

Madison's friend Tia, is our forward, and in the past year she hasn't scored but 1 or 2 goals; in this tournament she scored at lest 6 or 7 in the 5 games we played. Our middies and wings did an amazing job getting the ball up to her, and their defence was impenetrable (the one goal scored on us was a questionable penalty kick).

Game 1 vs Storm 2-0 WIN
Game 2 vs Castle Rock 2-0 WIN
Game 3 vs Broomfield U11 2-0 WIN
Game 4 Semifinals vs Broomfield U12 2-0 WIN
Game 5 Finals vs Rapid City Rage (SD state champs) 3-1 TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!

This weekend was also a big weekend for Madison, her confidence had been crushed by the previous coach, and she had gone from being the most aggressive defender and one of the best on the team to not starting. This was super frustrating for Brian and I (being we are both uber competitive) because we knew she was not playing to her potential. Madison, being the resilient young lady she is pulled herself up by the boot straps, got into a new pregame routine, and came out much improved. I am proud of her and am excited to see what this next season holds for her personal growth.

Learned: It's a bit early to be singing the new coach's praise, but I am amazed at the difference a coach can make... both for the team and for the individual.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gym Day 3 & 4

We just came back from a great weekend in Steamboat, but I don't have time to blog about it now... instead the bare bones of my work outs at the gym last week and today.

Day 3: Barf Bowl Work Out. Ok, so it's not really called that, and neither of us barfed, but we did our fair share of complaining. This work out gets it name from the bowl that strongly resembles most people's barf bowls at home, but instead of barf it is filled with exercises. For the first half of our work out we drew an exercise and had to replace them. for the second half Janea was nice and let us keep them out until the bowl was empty, so no matter what we had to do every exercise twice.

The barf bowl contained the following exercises:
15 berpies (we did this one twice)
10 plyo jumps forward and 10 backward (3 times)
25 tricep dips (FOUR times)
50 Squats (twice)
1 1/2 Min Plank
25 sissy squat/back lunge each leg
1.5 min plyo skipping
15 push ups
20 Supermans
15 plyo roll ups
20 bicep curls with resistance bands

Day 4: Tepadas and whole body... though we were told it was upper body...
5 min warm up on elliptical at medium resistance
12 squat & Lat rows (started at 40 lbs, then upped it 10 lbs each time, ending with 100 lbs) alternating with 12 shoulder press (12 lbs for entire time)
12 "Fanny Lifters" with 15 lb weight followed by 12 forward dips back leg on bench (SAME LEG) then switch legs. Repeat with 8 reps.

Then HELL... I mean tepadas (I don't know if that's how you spell it, but that's how it sounds) Basically these are 4 minutes of interval work outs. For each 30 second interval you go as hard as you can for 20 seconds with a 10 second recovery, repeat 8 times. We did our first tepada on the elliptical at high resistance. The second on the tread mill at an incline of 15.

We ended with 1 min of plank.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gym Day 2

Before we headed to the gym Allison told me that we were going to figure body fat %, and I was dreading being pinched with that embarrassing tool... but thankfully technology has come out with a gadget that you just hold and it sends waves through your body to measure your fat. I don't really want to share my weight and body fat with the whole world (or the 2 of you that actually read this), but I wasn't shocked by either, and was happy to find that my body fat % was on the lower end of the normal range.

Today's work out focused on upper body, but there was plenty of leg work involved too.
Warm up on the stair stepper/elliptical machine (5 min)
Bis and Tris - wide bis, tri pull downs 3 sets of 16 each {discovered I am a weakling}
Push ups- bosu ball, against a squat bar, and floor.
Plea squats with weights(3 sets of 15)
Frog Jumps (3 sets of 15)
Back lung with sissy squat (never coming to full standing position.)
Pull ups (wide and narrow)
180 Mountain climbers
3 plank sets for 90 seconds

Yesterday was a very active day for me, before the gym I went on a run. I changed up my typical run a bit. After a mile warm up I ran the next mile pushing my pace to 8:30, then for the 2 miles home I did intervals, where I sprinted for 30 seconds then recovered.

Later in the evening we went to play tennis under the lights. I was really looking forward to playing for a few hours but a huge storm rolled in, and while we are water resistant, we are not lightning resistant, so we called it a night.

Monday, July 11, 2011

1 Samuel

This first book of Samuel follows the people of Israel from the birth of Samuel, the fall of Saul, and the rise of David; through out this whole time the nation of Israel are battling with the Philistines.

The first chapter begins with anguish and heartbreak... Hannah was unable to have children and was continually ridiculed by the other wives. Finally she couldn't take it anymore and cried out to God for a child, vowing to give the child to God. When Hannah gave birth to a son she named him Samuel {which sounds like the Hebrew word for "asked of God" or "heard by God". I love the how names in Hebrew have so much meaning.

Chapters 2-7 tell the story of the rise of Samuel to becoming Israel's Judge. When he is old enough Samuel goes to work in the temple with Eli. Eli is warned that his sons are committing evil and dishonoring God, but he does nothing. So God calls out to Samuel 3 times one night; he keeps thinking that it is Eli calling out to him. Finally Eli says it is God, when he calls you again tell him your servant is listening. God tells Samuel that because of Eli's sins and the sins of his sons, no sacrifice will ever redeem them, and the sons will be killed on the same day. This was interesting to me, continual blaspheme and defiling of the temple permanently removed this family from god... How do I honor God, How do I treat His temple? This comes to pass during a battle with the Philistine army, Phineas and Hophini are killed and the Arc is taken. A 98 year old blind man ran all the way from the battle to Eli to tell him of the news. I of course thought this was pretty cool! He's 98 and blind and runs for quite a distance, I don't know how far, but it says he arrived later that day. While the Arc is in the possession of the Philistines, they continue to find their gods lieing face down in front of the Arc. The city is struck with a plague, so they decide to send the Arc back with a guilt offering. Samuel then becomes judge of Israel and drives out the Philistines.

Chapters 8-13 are when Saul becomes king, but because of his disobedience his reign as king will be short. In these chapters the people of God demand a king, which breaks Samuele's heart, God tells him "they are not rejecting you they are rejecting me, they no longer want Me as their King." Samuel is shown that Saul will be king, he is tall and handsome, and again from the least family from the least tribe. To prove he is king Saul is given signs and prophecies. Saul lead a massive army to free Israel from the Amorites and with a decided victory, there is no doubt that Saul is meant to be king. Later, while fighting the Philistines, the Israeli people scatter at the sight of the Philistine's huge army. Saul is supposed to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice, but does not and offers his own. Because of this disobedience Saul is told that his reign will end, and a man after God's own heart will rise to be Israel's king.

The rest of 1 Samuel is a bit confusing chronologically for me; it seemed like David met Saul twice, as well as Samuel died twice... David is chosen to be king by Samuel and goes and plays music and serves Saul. Then there is the story of the bravery of David facing Goliath. We all have heard this story, but what struck me reading it this time was that David was so outraged at the blasphemy coming from Goliath that he takes the challenge, knocking him out with a stone then cutting off his head. David goes to live with Saul (see he meets him twice). For the remainder of the book Saul waffles between loving David and wanting to kill him, and David running around the wilderness freeing Israel from oppression and hiding for his life. David is given 2 chances to kill Saul, but each time spares his life, and Saul repents for trying to kill David, but then resumes his jealousy and begins to hunt David again.

In the final battle of the book against the Philistines Saul and his remaining 3 sons are killed. Saul is fatally wounded and in order to keep from being captured and tortured by the Philistines he falls on his own sword.

It saddened me that King Saul was so overcome with jealousy for David that it really corrupted and consumed him. He was even confronted by David who told him, Who am I that a king spends all these resources on finding and killing one man... It makes me think about how much I let other people get to me. Maybe they are complete strangers that just do stupid stuff and it annoys me, or an acquaintance that drives me to speak judgemental and harsh, or a friend that wounds me deeply. The truth in all of this is that humans are just that, human, fallen, corrupt with sin, only redeemed by Jesus. Even though we are redeemed, we have to continually work to not indulge our sinful nature. Only in God can I place full confidence, knowing He will never let me down. Knowing this to be true doesn't make it any easier to act upon, after all our only experience is that of being human...

Celebrating Our Independence Day

We went pretty low key for our celebration this year. We headed to the fireworks show at the country club with our friends Jason and Summer. I don't think Maddox had seen an aerial fireworks display that he would remember. It was so fun hearing the oohs and aahs from both my kids as they exploded in space.

The next night, for the actual 4th, we had a BBQ with Jason and Summer at our house. Later my mom and Dan {it was also their 7th wedding anniversary}, Dan's daughter Kara and her family, and my aunts Pepper and Penny all came over and we had quite the ground display of fireworks. Everyone brought over a huge bundle of fireworks.

Maddox was given a sit-n-spin from our neighbors, and he is loving playing on it. He spent almost the entire morning of the 4th on the thing. He gave us a good bout of laughter while riding it. So I just had to include the video of it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Bit of Tennis with a Forever Friend

I have been blessed with some amazing friendships throughout my life. One of my longest standing friendships is with Jolene; we have been friends since we were in 6th grade... which is 20 years ago!

We always seem to have some crazy plan or idea... like the time we got creative making our own pencils: we took the soft leaded pencils and melted them into shapes, then danced around the back yard like pagans. I am sure my mom thought we were devil worshipers.

We played tennis in HS together, she was always a way better athlete than I, and had a much larger competitive appetite.

Our friendship has endured many storms; from arguing over the same boy to living hundreds of miles(and at times a half of a world) apart...

She moved back to town a few years ago and every summer since we have been all talk and no action about reliving the "glory days" -- playing doubles in the Taco Bell Open. This year we finally registered, which means we have been playing quite a bit of tennis- for us anyway. She convinced me to register us for the 3.5 division, then we ran into Fruita's coach who informed us that "there are some beasts in that division". Me always being the scardy cat, started to fret, while Jolene just laughed with her "bring it on" attitude.

Because most of our play has been against each other, we thought it wise to get in a few doubles matches before we actually go out and compete. Yesterday we played our old stomping ground's #2 doubles who will be seniors next year. It was a lot of fun playing on the same side of the ball, and it turns out we weren't too bad. We won the first set by the fuzz of the ball 6-6 with a tie breaker of 6-1. The second set we won quite decidedly 6-1... straigt sets!

The whole time we were playing it was like a time warp. That was us years ago, be it we were not quite so prim and proper as these two. The girls we played kept asking how long it has been since we have played seriously (not just hitting balls for fun)... it took us a minute to calculate...and when we did it was gut wrenching...14 years. I could hardly believe it has been that long.

We have plans to play doubles again before the tournament begins, and I have a bit of work to do (my first serves are horrendous... rarely going in), but it is so fun and nostalgic to be out on the courts with Jo.

Learned? A 14 year hiatus hasn't proved to wreak too much havoc on our tennis game, just hope we don't get slaughtered in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 1 With A Personal Trainer

Allison has convinced me to join her 2 days a week at the gym and work out with her and her trainer. Today was our first day, and I must say that I would rather run 10 miles than go to the gym. When I run it becomes almost meditative, I get into a rhythm and, though I am sweating and breathing hard, I am not maxed out. But I guess that's the whole purpose of going to a trainer, they push you more than you would push yourself.

Now for the boring stuff... so I can remember some different exercises to do on my own after my month is over.

5 min on this elliptical type machine at a resistance of 40, had to keep cal/hr above 800.

5 min on the stair mill doing speed intervals.

Circuit 1:
Bench berpies (1 min): hop up on a bench/step, hop off, bend down to put hands on bench kick legs back to plank, jump legs back beside bench stand up and jump onto bench..

Push-ups 1 min).

Squat and toss (1 min): squats with tossing a medicine ball with each upward thrust.

Plank hold (1 min)

Circuit 2:
2 min cardio of: Squats (no weights), frog jumps, forward lunges, scissors.

Weighted squats (1 min)

Medicine ball twists (1 min) stand back to back with A, and hand of the medicine ball twisting side to side.

Circuit 3:
Sit squats (1 min) squat to sit on bench and then stand up.

Plyo squats (1 min): squat and hover just above bench then jump up out of squat onto the bench.

Squats sequence: Drop it low squats, down three up one, up three down 1, down up half way down up half way hold.

We did each circut 3 times then moved onto core.

Core work:
Superman: lay on stomach engage back muscles lifting arms and legs off floor, bring arms back and then forward, and back down.

Swimmer: lay on stomach engage back muscles lifting arms and legs off floor and "swim" rapidly bring arms and legs up and down.

Abs: random abs involving crunches.

Learned: As much as I felt like a wimp today, I know this cross training will be good for me, even if I only go for a month.

Smokin' Seventeen

Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum, #17)Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think having a break from these books is the key to enjoying them more. In typical fashion Stephanie has found herself in the middle of trouble. This time a serial killer is leaving dead bodies addressed to her. She has 3 people threatening and attempting to kill her and 3 men lusting after her. Of the "easy skips" she is supposed to bring in one thinks he's a vampire, another is never clothed. On top of it all Stephanie has been cursed by Morelli's Italian grandma which is proving to reek havoc on her skin and sex life.

In typical fashion, I laughed out loud throughout the book... a great sinful indulgence.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so happy that I didn't know this book was written as letters between characters; I typically find that format disengaging and the characters shallow. This was not the case here. Instead I found myself not want to put the book down, falling deeper and deeper into Juliet's life and life on Guernsey Island. At time I burst out with laughter, while other times with tears.

The story takes place just after the end of the second world war depicting the German occupation of the Channel islands. This period of history has always been one that captures my interest. I have never read a book from this perspective, and I found it captivating as well. Someday I would like to visit the Channel islands.

I loved how literature was woven though out, and it tied all the characters together. I am not one that much enjoys classics, but this book made me want to read some.

Some favorite quotes:

"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books." How true this is, the more good books I read the less tolerant and patient I am with books that are just..ok.

"Did it ever give you pause, that men used to have a soul-not by hearsay alone, or as a figure of speech; but as truth they knew, and acted upon! Verily it was another world then...but yet it is a pity we have lost the tidings of our souls...we shall have have to go in search of them again, or worse in all ways shall befall us." Thomas Carlyle from Past and Present. This have given me pause and I have been chewing on it for quite a while. It seems to tie in with thoughts I have been pondering for quite a while- how society keeps pushing the envelope, trying to be more and more edgy. How we are disregarding the tidings of our souls, the whisper of our conscience, how worse seems to continue to befall.

"the writer assumes you know nothing about cookery and writes useful hints- 'when adding eggs break the shells first.'" I burst out laughing when I read this, imagining someone clueless enough to add eggs with out first removing them from the shell.

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