Sunday, April 24, 2011

At Least There Was A Chocolate Bunny (or 3)!

I'm not sure what I expected this Easter to be. I was hoping it would touch me in some way I can't even explain. This probably doesn't happen to anyone else, and I know it's my own fault for letting myself get sucked up but the distractions of real life, but lately I've been feeling a little bit spiritually drained. Don't get me wrong, my faith is as strong as ever, but I find I've been craving one of those overwhelming spiritual experiences. Something that would be both cleansing and cathartic. Conference was wonderful, but it didn't happen then. A visit to the temple with my husband last week didn't do it. So I've just been moving forward, hoping something would trigger that experience. Typically Easter in general does that for me. I feel so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my Savior I live close to the edge of that kind of overwhelming spiritual catharsis. Alas today was not that day. I'm still waiting for that experience. Maybe this week during a quiet scripture study or prayer alone. Maybe not. We'll see. It just wasn't today. It just seemed like any other Sunday albeit with new clothes and lots of candy. Don't think it was a bad Easter day. I mean afterall when there are chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps before breakfast, how bad can a day actually be?

Gideon (yes, those are his Christmas pj's) found his basket around 7:30 this morning. Actually the first thing he went after was something that caught his eye in Parker's basket. But I got him steered toward the right one pretty quickly. He was excited to find lots of fun stuff.

And then he noticed the eggs. He only saw one or two of them at first, but we gave him a few subtle hints and he eventually found all 18 the Easter bunny had hidden. Of course, he got very upset when I started cracking eggs and using them for our traditional breakfast of goldenrod. Naturally he didn't even touch his breakfast because by that time he'd had several peeps lots of bites of chocolate bunny and a few jelly beans. It was probably mean to take him to church & unleash him on the nursery leaders with that much of a sugar high, but we had to deal with him for the rest of the day so I don't feel too bad. That was only the break we got.

Parker doesn't really care too much. As long as she has something colorful enough to play with/chew on, she's really content.

If I were as talented or as ambitious as my mother or some of my sisters, I'd make my kids' Easter clothes. Or at least coordinate our look as a family. But I really feel like I'm doing well just to get new Easter things for both of them and myself. I did manage to pull that off, but as you'll see, we're really not coordinated. Oh well, I think we look cute anyway. Of course there's no picture of all of us together because one or the other always had to be behind the camera.

After surviving church with a very hyper boy, we went to Nana & Grandpa's house. Turns out the Easter bunny had visited there too. We spent the afternoon visiting with them and eating a delicious Easter dinner prepared by Nana herself.

The upside to the sugar high is that Gideon got no nap, but he was sound asleep by 7:30pm. So at least we had a nice quiet evening. I hope everyone else had an equally sucessful Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

When is 7.5 miles harder than a Marathon?

Today was a first for me. I ran my first ever trail race. To say that I was ill prepared would be the understatment of the year. I knew I wasn't ready going in, I mean I don't even own trail shoes, but somehow I thought having lived on the buttes for so many years and hiking them I'd be okay. Boy was I wrong! When I got there I realized I was out of my element in my old worn-down road running shoes & windbreaker. Some of these people looked like hard core trail runners. (And as I found out, some of them were. There was even at least one runner from the La Sportiva National Mountain Running team among us today.) I noticed a few differences between this and a lot of road races I'd done. First everyone seemed to know each other. They were all trading stories about past races and chatting like a big group of friends. Second there were no iPods. Seriously at a road race at least half the field will have ear buds in and no one had one out here. I had slipped mine discreetly into an inside pocket in my jacket, but I was determined to go as long as possible without plugging in the tunes. As we were milling around the parking lot waiting for the start I started talking to a few of the others. One guy told me I was brave to make this my first trail run. He's run it the last three years and said, "This course is no joke. It will chew you up and spit you out." I figured he was exaggerating. He wasn't. At the very last minute I decided to ditch my hand held water bottle. I had planned on taking it, but then the race director explained the course directions and said there would be 2 water stops. I figured that two water stops for 7.5 miles would be more than enough. That was my second mistake.

The course is daunting. I put a map below but I don't know how well you can see it. For those who don't know, the buttes are dormant volcanos. So this race is insane. It's basically 12 kilometers of climbing & descending and climbing lava rock again & again while dodging sagebrush, boulders and wildlife. There are even parts of the course that are more like rock climbing. You're literally climbing up a cliff so running isn't even a possibility. Anyway you start by running straight up the butte. There are switchbacks, but don't let that lull you into thinking it's going to be an easy back and forth. You're still scrambling straight up the side of a volcano. Once you get to the rim, you drop down into the crater and run across the floor, then it's back up the other side and you run the south rim of the thing. Then you head back down into the crater and run the floor again only to come up on the north side and run that rim. But you only make it halfway before you desced on the north side and run down under the "R" (I'll explain that later) and then you turn around and come all the way back up to the rim where you finish running it and finally hit the path back down to the parking lot and the finish line.

When we started I felt strong. The weather was perfect mid-30's and lots of sunshine, just a little breeze. But within a quarter mile my calves and quads and glutes were on fire. I'd been passed by just about everyone I thought and when I turned around I found myself dead last. I was upset at first, but finally decided just to let go of it and enjoy myself as much as possible. We were less than half a mile in when I looked up and saw that probably 3/4 of the field was walking. It was that painful! I will admit that I walked more during this race than I did in the marathon. And frankly, I worked harder during this race. I mean sure I sore and worn out toward the last six miles or so of the marathon, but in this race I was breathing hard and feeling burn within the first mile. And I wasn't even running! I decided about halfway up to break out the tunes. I just didn't know what else was going to power me the rest of the way up. Since I was in the back anyway and no one could see me I plugged in and kept pushing on.

Okay this is not the best picture of me, but this is up on the south rim and I was talking to the volunteer who was shooting pictures.

Anyway the start doesn't look as tough as it really is, but you're climbing a pretty steep grade from the first step.

This is about a quarter of the way up.

And way down there is the parking lot and the start line. This is about halfway up.

Again a little further up.

And finally up to the rim where you can see down into the crater and through to the other side.

This was the descent into the crather. Don't be fooled, it was a lot steeper than it looks. And then a wolf ran across the path directly in front of me. That was kind of cool.

From the floor of the crater.

LOTS of Sagebrush and lava rock! Some people think it's beautiful, but I think I've seen too much of it.

And up to the south rim. In the distance on the other butte you can see mom & daddy's house.

And yes, this is part of the path. See what I mean about part of it being rock climbing.

It's kind of like an alien planet up here. And while the terrain isn't as steep there's still a lot of lava rock to dodge and it's a little breezier. But the pay off is that you get to have a real "I'm King Of the World" experience because you literally do feel like you're standing on the top of the world.

Looking down across the crater to the other side. My second drop down into the crater was tough. My legs were like jello. You might think that running downhill should be easy, but every runner knows it can totally trash your quads. And my were already quivering pretty badly. It was scary knowing I still had two more steep descents before the race was over.

Hey daddy, see how high the water is already? And we've got tons of snowpack still, so they're really worried about flooding this year again.

At this point I'd just made it up and out of the crater for the second time and was now on the north end of the rim. I was completely alone in my running and decided to unplug because somehow Nickleback and Breaking Benjamin just didn't seem to fit the terrain. I ran the rest of the course with just myself and I was surprised at what popped into my head. At one point I was humming the theme song from "The Man from Snowy River" and at another I was mentally planning where I'd hide Easter eggs. It was all very random.

This is the beginning of the descent down under the "R". I passed a couple of race volunteers who were on their way up. They told me to turn around at the green gate. I figured there'd be other volunteers or markings. But once I got to the "R" I didn't see anyway so I just kept running. It felt fast and out of control because it was quite steep with lots of loose gravel. And my legs were really shaky by now.

There was only a little snow left in a few areas, so that was good at least. By this point it had warmed up to almost 40 so I was seriously wanting to ditch my jacket.

And we finally get to the "R" It was painted there for Rick's College in Rexburg. This butte looks out over onto the town. However Rick's was changed to BYU-Idaho 10 years ago. But yet we still have an "R".

By this point I was wishing I'd brought my handheld bottle. I'd already passed both water stations and I was really feeling feeling tired and thirsty. This is also where I managed to add an extra mile or so to my run. You see I was looking for a green gate. Only I kept running and running and running and there wasn't a green gate. Finally I realized there were no shoe prints on this part of the trail and there hadn't been for a long time. I hadn't even seen a course marker in ages. So I turned around and went back. Sure enough a volunteer met me on the way back up saying that he'd erroneously told me to look for a green gate when it was actually a brown gate. (Which I'd passed through a good half mile earlier.) It's okay though, I was already last so what's an extra mile?

Finally back up on top and the trail got rocky and steep again. I wouldn't recommend this race to anyone with a fear of heights. At some places along the rim you're running along the edge and it's pretty far up. I love heights I think they're exhilarating, but I know some people who would be quite nervous up there.

Finally I spot the finish. (It's the dark patch way down by the road.) I was still a couple of miles away, but it wasn't so bad from this point on. The trail down was tough though. It's so steep it's really hard to keep from falling. Not to mention my legs were already feeling like jello. But I powered it in. By the time I got to the finish the race director had heard about my extra mileage and apologized profusely. He offered to refund my entrance fee, but I told him not to worry about it because I got to run it and that's what I paid for.

All in all it was a good race. And despite finishing last and adding extra mileage I felt great. It was a lot of work and I'm going to be super sore tomorrow but that's why they make ice & ibuprophen. And the best part of the experience was after the race. The race director and several of his staff were lamenting the fact that we just had to run on the north butte because the south one is privately owned, but they've always dreamed of doing a twin buttes run. I made their year I think when I told them I could make it happen with one phone call. (It's nice to know people.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Well that only took 10 Years!

True Story: After a decade together (9 years of that as man & wife) Travis and I finally have "our" song. It's funny because there just never was a song that seemed to fit us. We have different taste in music and just never seemed to find the right one. But the first time I heard "Are you Gonna Kiss Me or Not" by Thompson Square I was floored and I just started laughing because it was pretty much telling our history. Anyway it just fits us so perfectly. I'm sure at some other stage of life other songs will become "ours" but for now it's fun to have "a song." Even if that is kind of a silly juvenile thing.

So here's a little history for you, Trav & I went on our first date in February of 1999. He took me snowmobiling all day in Island Park up to West Yellowstone. I always say that he chose that particular activity so he didn't have to speak to me at all. Anyway with or without conversation it went well enough that he asked me out again. For the next two months we went out at least twice a week, in addition to having lunch together nearly everyday. After about six weeks he still hadn't kissed me and I thought I'd made it pretty clear that I liked him. Having never been shy I decided to ask him. So one night when he walked me to the door I turned to him and asked, "Are you EVER going to kiss me?" He got very embarrassed, he mumbled what I thought sounded like "Yes" and then before I could even catch my breath he FINALLY kissed me for the first time.

Honestly at the time I had no idea I was kissing my future husband. I left a couple of weeks later for my mission so it was another year and half before I even saw him again. But within six months of coming home we were officially a couple and a year after that we were married. And the rest, as they say, is history. There are many other quirky stories from the adventure that has been our life together but for now, here's a link to the video if you're interested in hearing "our song."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Christening of My New Carpet

The carpet is in and we've finally dug out from underneath the rubble that was our house. The kids' rooms got done on Thursday, the upstairs on Friday and he came back in Saturday to finish the stairs. We're very pleased so far with the carpet we chose and with the job he did installing it. (Plug, if anyone in the area needs carpet I have an awesome carpet guy!) Anyway it took us longer to put the house back together than it did to tear the thing apart because we actually took the time to go through things and we ended up doing some deep spring cleaning. It's a very cathartic experience to get rid of unecessary stuff just cluttering up your house. Anyway, here's Parker's room. We've got white curtain rods and pink curtains to hang and then of course the ceiling fan, which will make it a little bit more feminine. Gid-the-kid's room is exactly the same, just with carpet.
We chose a sandy color for the downstairs.
And something with just a touch more brown for the upstairs.
Our room is the only one that got a major rearrangement overhaul mainly because we FINALLY got rid of the massive water bed frame Travis swore when we got married he'd never part with. I couldn't be happier! Finally you can walk through our room and it's arranged in a way that makes sense. One of these years I'll own matching bedroom furniture (that's the dream anyway) but for now my in-laws were kind enough to loan us an extra bed frame they had downstairs. It works! All I need now is a bed skirt!

And today the carpet got christened. 4 days. We've had carpet in the bedrooms for exactly 4 days. And today the new carpet smell is offically gone and replaced by....
Baby Powder!
So for the last while I've kept the powder, wipes, diaper rash cream, etc down low because honestly Gideon hasn't messed with that stuff in ages. Today I had the boys and late this afternoon I was downstairs rocking Princess P (who was super fussy today for some reason) trying to get her to take a nap. I heard the boys running around in the bedrooms, giggling. They play great together so I didn't think anything of it. I heard them shut a bedroom door, but honestly I was so caught up in my baby girl it didn't even trigger a red flag. Until I went upstairs and found Gavin with the baby powder and Gideon with the Desitin. Apparently they were coating poor Isaac (and each other) in whatever they could get their hands on.
Gavin somehow ended up cleaner than the rest. I'm not going to say he was the ringleader because I don't think there was an innocent party in the bunch, but he did somehow escape the fate of his brother.
I stuck Isaac in the bath and changed the other boys' clothes while Parker screamed from her seat downstairs.

And then Travis got stuck with job of having to vacuum the whole mess up. It was harder than you might think because with every pass of the vacuum a cloud of dust went up and the boys were running around dragging it everywhere.

I'd be upset, but I'm too fried to worry about it at the moment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Projects, projects & more projects!

It's been a big job, trying to keep Travis busy over the last few weeks. He's been laid off, been back to work, been laid off again, back to work again and now he's off again. We're all very tired of the on again, off again dance. Something more steady would definitelly be nice. He's put in resumes a lot of places and actually has an interview tomorrow morning, so fingers crossed things might work out. In the meantime, we've been doing some projects around the house. First there's the swing set Gideon got for his birthday. It hasn't exactly been warm, but at least all the snow melted (until today anyway.) It took 3 days and daddy and grandpa had a lot of help from one very excited munchkin, but it's finally up. And everyday so far we've had to bundle up and go play!

"I'm flying!" He told me, "Look, mommy! I have wings! I'm flying!"

Other projects include new light fixtures for the hallways and ceiling fans for both kids' rooms. And a new toilet in the master bathroom. None of that has been finished yet, but hopefully over the next couple of weeks.

Right now though, everything else has been put on hold while we get new carpet. Those who have been to my house might remember that when we bought the house, the only room with carpet is the family room downstairs. One of the things I loved about the house were the beatiful wood floors. I love wood floors in general. Well wood, tile, all sorts of bare floors. I just feel like they're so elegant and much cleaner actually. And I think if I lived in a more mild climate, I'd keep the wood floors exactly as they are.

But it's soooooooooo cold here. And when the wind blows it seems like my house is always chilly. Plus it's so noisy. And my 3 year old doesn't walk anywhere. So all day long I hear clomping steps as he runs through the house. So we finally broke down and bought carpet for the bedrooms and hallways. (I'm keeping the living room wood though because I do like the wood floors so much.)

It happened so fast my head is spinning. We made the decision over the weekend. On Saturday actually. So that afternoon we called he guy who laid my parents' carpet last fall. He came out and gave us a bid and took measurements on Monday morning. We went out that afternoon, found carpet we like (on clearance even) and bought it. Since it was in stock, they had it ready the next day and the installer said he could come out and do it this week. So we spent Tuesday and yesterday basically tearing our house apart. And the carpet is being installed as I type this.

In the meantime though, we've got 4 bedrooms worth of stuff crammed into the living room, family room & dining room. I've only seen that show "Hoarders" once because it literally made me physically ill. I got sick just watching it. But right now my house kind of looks like it belongs on that show. So we're kind of picking through the rubble, just trying to survive. Fortunately, the carpet should be completely done by tomorrow evening so we can start piecing everything back together. And I guess the plus side is that it's really motivated our spring cleaning. We're sorting through and making a lot of trips to the D.I. I'll be sure and post pictures whent it's all done. In the meantime, try not to mistake the photos below for aftermath photos from Japan. Sadly this is actually my house.