Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 3: Clouds

Progressing through my cloud watching day:

Do you see what I see?  Or don't the case may be?  Clouds.  North, South, East, West....nope, nada, zip, zilch. 

Afternoon yielded some results off to the west of my back porch....

Evening, coincidentally, resulted in a trip up the side of the mountain for a target shooting activity.  So not only did I get shots of clouds...but also a sunset and a great view of the valley all in one.  (Unfortunately I only had my cell phone camera with me...) 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day 2: What I Wore

Shuffled through all sorts of thoughts this morning as to which direction I wanted to take today's photo assignment.  What I wore....  Literally?  As in what I wore today?  Memories of the past as in...what I wore on my wedding, prom, some other sort of special day?  One specific item of clothing like perhaps a favorite pair of shoes or a special piece of jewelry?

What I ended up with was a lesson in how to take a picture from a reflection.  Took me awhile to get the settings and angles just right.

So here is "what I wore" today reflected in my bedroom mirror.

Believe it or not, every single item I'm wearing today...from the earrings and bracelets, to the shirt, skinny jeans (jeggings) and shoes...all came from Target.  Totally didn't plan that but I could be a walking Target ad!  Well, other than the fact that only the jeggings are new...everything else I've had for a few years.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 1: Self Portrait

I think I'm going to try this.  I'm not sure why it appeals to me.  Or what I really want to accomplish by doing it.  To learn more about my DSLR camera?  To look at things differently?  An automatic blogging idea per day for 30 days?  I don't know...maybe bits and pieces of all three.  It just struck me as a fun idea.  The 30 days worth of photography "assignments" aren't anything earth shattering and profound but that's probably for the best anyhow.
So we'll see how it goes....
(I reserve the right to quit mid-way if it's turning out very boring...for me as the photographer but equally important, for you who read about it!)       

DAY 1:  self portrait

I know people do it all the time.  Hold the camera out in front of them and snap a pic.  I had a hard time with it.  Maybe because my camera is bigger than your average point and shoot.  Plus....I hated, hated, hated most of the pictures that I got.  Oh my.  It worried me a little.  I'd feel like I had a normal expression on my face, snap the picture, and then be horrified when I'd look to see how it turned out.  If that is my normal expression...then does that mean I always look that awful?
Here are the two that turned out the best: 

A self portrait of me.
38 year old mother of 4 and wife of 1.
Daughter, sister, aunt, friend, neighbor.
Taxi driver, tutor, nurse, maid, landscaper, interior designer, chef, personal shopper, fashion consultant, hair dresser, counselor.
Musician, historian, book worm, runner, biker, food connoisseur, social butterfly, blogger, traveler.
But most importantly....Daughter of God. 

"It's been a good night."

Forgive me, Lori, for stealing your blog post word for word....but I'm just never going to be able to describe our wonderful evening as eloquently and passionately as you did.

It's been a good night.

"I know it’s been a good night because of many reasons. I’m sitting here with heated Indian leftovers at my elbow and a happy glow in my heart. The glow in my belly grows as I continue to consume the Tika Masala, but my heart is so happy because I know such amazing people. The Musketeers rode again tonight, and our fantastic four has grown to a comfortable five and it was amazing to be here and be happy together. We realized that it had been six months since the last time we combined, and that is much, much, MUCH too long between gatherings with these women. My assignment to myself is to get onto Facebook this very night and ask them all when we can do it again as soon as possible…and how many of your friends do you feel that way about? Only gone for an hour and I want to see them again.
There were tears of sadness and joy. There were lots of hugs to spare. We laughed so much that I’m glad there is no worldwide quota where my laughter would have stolen giggles from some pour soul in Korea because they would be sad for a long time to make up for me. We heard shocking stories of divorce (curse online gaming yet again), upcoming hysterectomy surgery (no way are we, any of us, old enough for such procedures), and several moments of, “not sure what will happen next with my life”. Surprisingly, every negative event ended with the smiling faith that Heaven’s path will be interesting once I see it more clearly, or even that there were so many miracles through it all that I can’t deny this is where I need to be even if I am not happy about why the miracles came about.
The negative events were far and away surpassed by the laughing though. All the do-you-remember-so-and-so?’s, and my-kids-do-that-too!, and guess-what-I-found-out? The backup plan of movies and popcorn never came close to surfacing. The babies played so well…after territories were mapped and the hair-pulling stopped…and even that was hilarious…sad baby faces are so cute. There was so much to catch up on that poor Hannah got shot down in her attempt at directing us all in the “Stop Talking Game.” Happy child at least took comfort in the fact that she won. Throw in slices of a decadent pie, and it was quite a heavenly evening.
None of us thought to pull out a camera…stupid house of the cobbler and her kids with no shoes. Literally cannot count the number of picture taking devices under this roof and none of us paused to say, “Cheese!” I wouldn’t have shown the best of the bunch in print by any means, but I pony up to the fact that a photo is a moment captured, and these nights with my ladies are worth capturing…grey hairs, chorister arms, and moms thighs notwithstanding. How I love them all. …the ladies…not my thighs.
We talked about the genesis of our group name, and so I had to go hit Wikipedia and find out why it’s so fitting. The regular dictionary definition of “a soldier armed with a musket” just didn’t cut it. And I quote:

The Musketeers of the Guard were a junior unit of company strength of the military branch of the Royal Household or Maison du Roi. They were created in 1622 when Louis XIII furnished a company of light cavalry with muskets. Musketeers fought in battle both on foot and on horseback. As a junior unit in the Royal Guard, the Musketeers were not closely linked to the royal family. Traditional bodyguard duties were in fact performed by the Garde du Corps and the Gardes suisses. Because of its junior status, the Musketeers were open to the lower classes of French nobility or younger sons from noble families whose oldest son served in the more prestigious units. The Musketeers soon gained a reputation for boisterousness and fighting spirit because the only way for social and career advancement was excelling at their task as mounted light horsemen.
Their high esprit de corps and can-do attitude gained them royal favour and they became a popular fixture at court and in Paris.
The Musketeers were among the most popular of the military companies of the Ancient Regime. This popularity was due to the lower entrance requirements. The senior guard units were in effect closed to all but the most senior and wealthy of French nobles, so for the vast majority of French nobles (many of whom lived in genteel poverty), service in the Musketeers was the only way to join a cavalry unit in the Royal Household and perhaps catch the King’s eye.

So there you have it. We aren’t prestigious or privileged but we’re versatile and hard-working. We make the best of our situations and put up a pretty impressive fake-it-till-you-make-it show for the world at large when we need to. And we all believe without a doubt that we WILL make it in the end…whether that means catching the eye of the king or surviving another week of carpool…We believe collectively in each other, and we root for our sister-friends. Together we are stronger.
To Sarah, Kami, Chellie, and now Heather, I tip my ostrich feather plumed hat to you all in respect, love, and gratitude! All for one and one for all!
…now get out your calendars and let’s do it again!"

Monday, September 26, 2011


Some random shots of random goings on around here....

Came outside one day to find this angel on our driveway.  Julianne drew it with chalk one afternoon while keeping Lilian entertained.!!

 The Friday before Labor Day we were surprised and delighted to find a bunch of hot air balloons flying over our neighborhood.  They were practically skimming the rooftops, they were so low.  This one, apparently, was having some problems and landed in the field right behind our house.  Try as they might, they couldn't get up and floating again and eventually they pushed it onto its side to deflate it.  It amazed me how quickly they got it all put away. 

 Our last summer day spent at Cherry Hill was a marathon one with a grand total of 8 hours swimming, splashing, floating and sliding.  A new record for us!  We came home sunburned and exhausted but still smiling.  This picture of Lilian was taken about a half hour before we packed up our things....

 Casey, Rebekah, Patricia and Brianna....
This is Rebekah's group of "besties."  Patricia is from Brazil and talked the other girls, and a fair share of boys, into joining her in some sort of traditional Brazillian dance that her parents were hosting.  The girls spent hours working on their dresses.

 This is a common sight at our house....Julianne and her friends engaged in a "homework party."  Probably a common site in more homes than just ours.

What's different about homework parties at our house is this:
 At out house, usually "Dr. Who" is invited.  Slowly but surely they are working their way through the whole "Dr. Who" universe...Weeping Angels, the Empty Child, Daleks and all.

*Our favorite quotes from the Matt Smith "Dr. Who" seasons.  (Shhh....Julianne's friends haven't got there yet...they're still obsessed with David Tennent.)

Doctor:  "Dr. Song, you've got that face on again."
River Song:  "What face?"
Doctor:  "The 'he's hot when he's clever face.'"
River Song:  "This is my normal face!"
Doctor:  "Yes it is..."   
River Song:  "Oh shut up."

Oh, oh!!  And also...
Doctor:  "I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed!  What's the point in having you all??"

(Throw in a British accent and Matt Smith's funny facial expressions and I guarantee you'll giggle for days...) 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: Autumn

A few of my favorite Autumn pictures:

Niagara Falls, New York  October 2006.  This is actually the American Falls to the side of the majestic Niagara Falls...but the trees were so beautiful just beyond the water, the contrast so interesting against the dark, storm filled clouds. 

Also New York in October 2006, but this time Palmyra at the Joseph Smith Farm.

 The Heber Valley Train ride last October 2010.

Today is the first day of Autumn and I couldn't be more pleased.  Autumn is my favorite season and here are a few reasons why:

*Crisp, cool temperatures
*The "smell of Fall"...what is that exactly?
*The leaves turning colors
*The crunching sound the leaves make when you step on them
*BYU football
*General Conference
*Marie Callendars pie sale
*Paradise Bakery's gingerbread cookies
*Hot chocolate
*Pumpkin patches
*Autumn decor
*The anticipation of the upcoming holidays...Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Despite what the calendar may say, however, I don't really start thinking Autumn till October.  Here in Utah we tend to have decidedly un-Autumn like warm temperatures through September.  It makes me irrationally grumpy if I'm in full on Autumn mode.  So I don't pull out the decor or put away the flip flops until October is firmly established.  Case in point...I went swimming this afternoon at a neighbors house and then got a pedicure resulting in pink toenails with cute little flowers on them.  Not very autumn like.
So though I still have a couple of weeks before I really revel in Autumn, this date on the calendar does make me excited.  It means it's close!!! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

BYU vs. Utah....

 ....aka The Holy War
It's a great rivalry.  I look forward to it every year.
Despite the fact that I hold a bachelors degree from the University of Utah and am proud to do so, when it comes to football, I bleed blue.  (Family tradition.  Try as I might, I can't switch's just too ingrained in me.)

This year we were invited to watch the game with some friends down the street.  A BBQ first and then some serious football.

We were split pretty evenly between Ute red and Cougar blue which made it all the more fun.  Those representing the red cheering section ended up with much more to cheer about than the blue, unfortunately, so I was very glad to be watching the game amongst friends rather than by myself where, I'm sure, I would've been much more depressed.
Fumble, fumble, fumble, fumble, interception and oh, did I mention fumble?
Final score: Utah 54  BYU 10.
(My poor little emotionally devastated they must have been.)     
I am, by far, the most passionate about BYU football in my little family.  Truth be told, though my husband and children would consider themselves, when pressed,  "for BYU"...they don't really care all that much.  Brandon looked at me like I was just a little bit nuts when I insisted he wear a blue shirt to the rivalry party. "Football is not my sport, Mom" he said.  "Do it for me, please." I replied.  Too involved in the game, I didn't realize he had left at the beginning of the 3rd quarter.  So I was surprised when a bit later he made a grand entrance designed to get my attention, a sly grin on his face.  Along with the grin, he was wearing  red, red, RED!  Face paint and everything.  Trying to get a rise out of me.  Little stinker.  :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011


A crash followed by a scream made me drop what I was doing and run down the hall.  Lilian came out of her room with blood running down the side of her face.  So as to not freak her out, I didn't comment on the blood, just picked her up and rushed her to the bathroom.  She put her hand up to her face and when it came away bloody she gasped, "Mom!  I have bleed!!"

I set her on the counter and and grabbed a kleenex.  I know head wounds bleed a lot so I figured this wasn't going to be as big as it looked.  I was surprised, however, to find a gash next to her eye that, though not huge,  might require stitches.  Although whimpering, Lilian was more interested in the gash than hurt by it.  She applied pressure with a wet washcloth while I called Bryan to ask his opinion.  While still unsure as to whether the wound was serious enough for stitches, two things decided us on heading to the Insta Care.  It was on her face.  She's a girl.  (Take a look at Brandon's forehead next time you see him...he has a tiny scar from a fall that had his head meeting the concrete steps.  Professional opinion was sought from a U of U medical student neighbor and the two of us decided together that it was probably 50/50 if we took him in as to whether they would throw a couple of stitches in or slap a bandaid on it and send us home.  But Brandon was a boy and little scars add character, right?)

Bleeding mostly stopped, Lilian and I made the 15 minute trip to the Insta Care.  Rather than being nervous, Lilian found the whole thing quite the adventure.  They layed her on a triage bed and covered her with a warming blanket.  (They claim it was chilly in there...I was fine.)  While the numbing medicine took affect, we read stories that I had hastily shoved in my purse thinking ahead to a potential wait.  The stories were punctuated with giggles.  Lilian was practically giddy.

  The doctor came in and declared that yes, the gash required "string."  They explained every step of the prep to Lilian seeing as she was very calm and quite interested in the whole procedure.  The doctor had me hold Lilian's hands...just in case she started wiggling while he was sewing.  She didn't really need it, she was as still as could be.  I think she realized the seriousness of what they were doing.  But it gave me a front and center view of the stitches going in.  I was fascinated and grossed out all at the same time.  Interestingly enough, it turns my stomach more thinking about it NOW, than when I actually watched it happen.  The doctor and I discussed the big rivalry game while he stitched.  With no bowl games or championships on the line, without a whole season behind both teams, would this game be as big of a deal as it has been in past years?  It was quite the debate.  Especially since he roots for the U and I root for the Y.

 Different loyalties notwithstanding, the doctor put in four nice and neat little stitches next to Lilian's eye and declared it good.  The nurse gave Lilian her choice of bandaid colors....and also loaded her up with stickers and a sucker for being such a brave little girl.  She really was!  I was so impressed with my girl!  After a quick stop at Target for Tinkerbell bandaids, we headed home...Lilian super excited to share her "boo boo review" with her very sympathetic siblings and father.    

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday House!

While driving on the freeway this morning (destination: Target) I was thinking about Lilian.  I had just buckled her into her carpool and sent her off to preschool.  She'd fought me on it.  Not about going to preschool, necessarily, because she is hugely enjoying being back with Miss Cindy.  No, it was the timing she was upset about.  She'd been playing with Sophie making "pies" in Jake's backyard sandbox...and, obviously, having a glorious time.

So, thoughts about Lilian.  Specifically how many little friends she has within a few yards of our front door.  I thought about her growing up with not only Sophie and Jake but also Charlie, Ashton, Sam, Tanner, Jaya, Julianna...the list goes on and on.  And I smiled as I wondered if she'd date or even marry any of these boys she daily plays with.  I thought about Brandon, Julianne and Rebekah and the good groups of friends they consistently surround themselves with.  Also about the friends Bryan and I have made...the wonderful associations that I hope will continue for years to come seeing as this is where we plan to stay permanently.

And I found myself overcome with a feeling of rightness.  That my family was thriving and that this was where we are meant to be.

I cried.

Because, interestingly enough, this was not the first time I'd felt this exact same feeling.  The last time was a little over four years ago.  We had put money down on this house, were excitedly watching it near completion.  But our excitement was dampened by the sudden free fall of the housing market.  Concern and worry set in as we realized our old house would very likely not sell before the completion of our new one.  Would we be able to work the financing without selling our original house?  Loving the area, we started looking at other houses that were for sale within the same neighborhood and others nearby.  Pulling out of our deal with Symphony Homes became more than just a bluff to get them to come down on their became a very likely reality.  Houses that had been previously lived in were not only much cheaper but also already had landscaping completed.  There were a couple in particular that Bryan really quite liked on the other side of the neighborhood.  So a decision had to be made.  I started praying....praying hard, as to what to do.

One day, coincidentally enough, I was driving down the freeway (destination: Target) while chatting with my friend Chellie on my cell phone.  I was explaining my dilemma to her.  And as I talked through it, all of the sudden I KNEW.  I'm sure Chellie wondered when I stopped mid-sentence and went completely silent.  But just like that, I was struck with a feeling of rightness about this house.  Tears trickled down my cheeks as I explored the thoughts running through my head.  I knew it was an answer to my prayers.  We needed to be HERE.  Not somewhere else in the neighborhood but HERE...and I was sure as sure could be that it had something to do with the neighbors and church ward.

So today when that same feeling came back to me again about the rightness of being where we are supposed to be, it was a glorious confirmation of that original answer.  And it was made all the more sweet because today is our Happy Birthday House Day.  Four years ago today we took ownership of this house and moved in, making it a home sweet home.  And sweet it has been.      

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My memories of September 11, 2001

"Turn on the TV, Sarah!" my mother-in-law said when I picked up the phone.  "America is under attack!!"
Up to that point, it had been a quiet and rather normal sort of Tuesday morning.  The TV was on...but broadcasting Sesame Street for Rebekah who was eating her breakfast before heading off to Kindergarten.   

My mother-in-law hadn't given me any details.  Just panicked instructions to change the channel and do it quick.  Our country under attack?  Surely she was exaggerating.

Under protest from Rebekah, I changed the channel.  Video coverage of mass amounts of smoke and flame coming out of the twin towers greeted me...with newscasters reporting in shocked and shaky voices of the airplanes that had crashed into each.  A terrorist attack.  The likes of which hadn't been seen on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.

 I watched in horror as reports trickled in.  Horror turned to despair and tears as reports came in of another kamikaze style plane crash at the Pentagon.  I was glued to the TV as I absentmindedly went through the motions of getting Rebekah dressed and ready for school.  But I stopped, frozen to the spot and then practically falling to the floor in an ungraceful lump when the first tower collapsed.  Plumes of smoke and debris barreling down streets like some otherworldly monster.  People screaming, running, crying....all on live TV.  I could not believe what I was seeing.

As soon as I could trust my legs again, I stood and went upstairs to wake Bryan.  Up late the night before regardless, I decided he needed to know what was going on.  Through my tears I explained the chaotic tragedy unfolding in NYC and Washington D.C.  He couldn't wrap his brain around it.
"What do you mean the World Trade Tower fell?  It's gone?  How can it just be GONE???" 

I flipped on the TV in our room so he could see for himself.  Bryan's business trips to NYC had taken him inside the Twin Towers on more than one occasion.  He had taught classes in those buildings...knew people that worked inside those buildings...those same buildings that were now devastated, one on fire, another completely gone.  It was no wonder that he was having a hard time reconciling his brain with what his eyes were seeing.

 Rebekah was late to school.  I tore myself away from the TV coverage long enough to hurry her to the car, where I immediately switched on the radio.  Young as Rebekah was, she didn't really understand what was going on other than noticing her parents were acting a bit distracted.  She happily hopped out of the car and ran inside the school building as I flipped a u-turn and headed back home.  I reluctantly turned off the car as I prepared to make a mad dash back from the garage to the family room TV...anxious not to miss any of the news that was coming fast and furious by that point.  Sprinting as fast as I could, nevertheless as I tore open the garage door I was greeted with Bryan screaming from upstairs, "IT'S FALLING!!!  THE SECOND TOWER IS FALLING!!!"

Bryan cancelled his class he was supposed to teach that day.  I have no memory of how I took care of my three young children.  It must have been through a haze.  Bryan and I spent the next few hours huddled together, glued to the T.V.  Grief, despair and tears combined with a sense of it all being somewhat unreal.  In our cozy little house in suburban Utah, we didn't feel the immediate magnitude like those on the East Coast did.  And yet, somehow, during the rest of that day and the days and weeks and months that followed, we DID feel a sense of oneness.  We may not have been New Yorkers or D.C.-ites...but we were all countrymen, Americans.  We all grieved.  We all hoped.  We all prayed.  We all experienced 9/11...maybe not to the same degree but, still.  My way of life was not changed like many in NYC.  But because we were all Americans, 9/11 happened to all of us.  We were all changed to some extent.  Flags flew continuously for weeks and weeks.  Messages on billboards and on freeway overpasses.  I had never been so proud to be an American.

 Ten years have gone by.  The sheer magnitude of what happened that day still has the ability to take my breath away and leave me tearful and speechless.  As my children have grown older and reached a level that they could understand, I have showed them the footage and explained what happened, how and why.  But life goes on.  September 11th, in many ways, has become a day like any other.  We get up, we go to school, we have work and PTA meetings and gymnastics workouts and homework.  And yet, in the ways that matter most, 9/11 won't ever be just any normal day.  Despite the regular activities that continue....we will never forget.

Excerpts from Pres. Bush's speech the evening of September 11, 2001:
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil -- the very worst of human nature -- and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.
This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Monday, September 12, 2011


How to describe LOTOJA?

I could give you the official stats:  206 miles, 3 states, 1 day from Logan, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I could show you the course and elevation maps:

I could give you the rundown of our neighborhood group...who biked the whole thing, who biked it in a relay, which person had which leg, etc.
(Dinner at Hamiltons in Logan on Friday night.  Carb's important!)

But other than giving you context, none of that really describes the heart of LOTOJA.  On my team, "NOW Girls 1" (there was also a NOW Girls 2) I biked leg 4.  34 miles from Afton to Alpine, Wyoming.  34 miles...yeah, I can do that any day of the week here at home, and have.  Why would I spend a whole weekend and a great deal of coin to do it in LOTOJA?  Because it's not just about the biking.  It's so much more than that.  The feeling of the day, the emotion, the passion, the shared camaraderie, the bonding, the atmosphere of something like this is hard to describe.

*I saw men bouncing back and forth between slightly panicked desperation and giddy exhilaration as they achieved a HUGE goal.
*I saw two bikers, one with his hand on the other's back literally pushing him over the finish line.
*I saw a biker stopped on the side of the road, all alone, his feet out of his clips and flat on the ground, his whole body hunched over his handlebars with his head in hands less than 10 miles away from the finish line trying desperately to find it in himself, mentally and physically to finish the race.
*I got to be support "pit crew" for my teammate Ann as she stopped for 10 seconds between legs 1 and 2 so I could supply her with a new water bottle and stuff some snacks/"fuel" in her back jersey pockets and then watch her zip off again so she could catch back up with the pack she had been drafting with.
*Driving past the bikers on the "King of the Mountain" hill at Salt River Pass on our way to the next exchange we found ourselves passing a few guys from our neighborhood.  Cheering them on, one hollered out, "I need water!!!"  We were not his support.  But we found a place to pull over a little bit ahead, frantically filled a water bottle and then I ran across the street just in time to hand it off to him...without him even slowing he could make it to the top of the toughest hill in the entire course. 
*I got to be a part a team, each of us with an equally important leg to ride in getting us to that finish line.  Supporting each other, cheering each other on, sympathizing with head winds, gasping at close calls and laughing at funny experiences.

 (I rode into a head wind most of the way.  Despite that, somehow I averaged a higher mph speed which resulted in a faster finish time than I expected.  I jumped into drafting lines occasionally but spent the majority of the leg on my own.  And though I was being passed regularly by strong, fast, competitive bikers I was still so incredibly pleased with how well I did.)

 (A combination of both NOW Girls relay teams.  Emilie, Casey, Jenny, Me, Monica.  We're missing Ann and Brooke who had gone back to check on their husbands who were still out riding, and Sue who had already left with her husband for the restaurant.)

Through it all we tried to keep tabs on the other people riding from our group.  Concern, worry, happiness and pride all combined as the reports would trickle in.  And as we all shared a big meal at the end of the day, I got to be a part of that collective group of rag tag bikers.  Each of us with our own stories and experiences to share.  Things that had gone well, things that had not.  All of us looking a little worse for the wear but with looks of fierce pride on our faces that we had done a big thing and done it together.

 That's LOTOJA, my friends.  And it was an incredible weekend.

 (In Logan at the packet pick-up/starting line Friday night.)

 (A big peloton coming into feed zone 3 in Montpelier.)

(Brooke, Jenny, Monica and me.) 

 (Leg 4 between Montpelier and Afton.  See Brooke and Jenny, our tough, strong, happy NOW Girls climbing that canyon??)

(At Feed Zone 6....passing the baton, or the timing chip as the case may be, to Emilie and Casey)

(Brandi, Macie, Me, Brooke
Blessedly, we had booked hotel rooms in Jackson Hole.  Last year we drove as far as Bear Lake to stay in a family cabin there, continuing our drive home the next morning.  It was exhausting!  This year, we were able to drop our weary bodies to bed in a hotel just up the street.  A leisurely breakfast the next morning and then a little exploring around Teton Village were both remarkably relaxing after the rush and hurry of the day before.  It was the perfect way to end our fun weekend before heading back home.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My LOTOJA "tattoo"

I just got back from biking LOTOJA this weekend.
LOTOJA being LOgan TO JAckson.
206 miles, 3 states, 1 day.  Or so their motto goes.
And no, I did not insanely attempt to do the whole thing myself.  Although we had a good 11-12 guys from our neighborhood do exactly that, I joined a relay team and rode leg 4 which consisted of 34 miles from Afton to Alpine, Wyoming.  More details and pictures to come later but I'll just leave you with this before heading off to bed....

At packet pick up last year, along with receiving LOTOJA swag, signing numerous waviers and picking up my timing chip they also stamped my leg.  Another way to keep track of official riders vs. those who may try to jump in and ride without having registered and paid.  (This is a very popular race...people come from all over the country to ride.  They even have to hold a lottery for official spots in the race, so many people want in.)  I thought my LOTOJA tattoo-looking stamp was very cool and was looking forward to getting another one this year. 

Except this year instead of a leg stamp they slapped on a wrist band and then stamped it.  I have to admit, I was rather disappointed.  Ah well....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to Pre-School

Today was Lilian's first day back to preschool.

{Imagine me doing the Happy Dance...} 

She is with the same preschool that she went to last year which means she is very familiar with the teacher, the room, the rules and the schedule....even many of the same kids.  The only thing that is different is the time.  Instead of preschool first thing in the morning, it is in the afternoon now that she is in the 4 year old class.  Luckily for me, she had ballet this morning which took her mind off of how impatient she was to see Miss Cindy again.

She is thrilled to be back.

And I am thrilled to have 2 hours of sanity time 3 afternoons a week! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Temple to Temple Steeplechase


"It's a 5 mile run."  Katie told me.
5 miles...hmm.  While maybe an easy distance for Katie, 5 miles would be pushing it for me.  I'd run 5 miles a few times before...but it was pretty much the tip top of my running range at that point.
"It's called the Temple to Temple Steeplechase.  It starts at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and ends at the Jordan River Temple," she said.  "Doesn't that sound like fun?"
I had to admit that it did.  What a neat idea...running from one steeple to another.  Oh, and the fact that the route was pretty much all downhill.  So I agreed.
(This picture was taken just after we had signed in at 6:30 AM.  Notice the Oquirrh Mountain Temple all lit up and the newly forming sunrise?  Pretty.)

I really liked the message from the event organizer....
"The idea of the Temple to Temple Steeplechase was conceived on my morning runs as I watched the progression of the building of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in 2009. My favorite running route quickly became the five mile distance between this new Temple and the Jordan River Temple. I could see a metaphor for life as I related the highlights and obstacles of my daily runs to my journey through life. For me, the temples became a symbol of heaven, where I lived before starting my mortal sojourn, and where I will return when it is finished. I noticed dead ends and gutters along the way, a reminder of pitfalls I must avoid. I also saw majestic views of the sun rising to fill the world with light and warmth, testifying of Jesus Christ, the light and life of the world."

(Heading over to the starting line in front of the temple.  It's amazing what 25 minutes can do in regards to daylight, eh?)

Though most organized runs/races are attached to a charity of some kind, I especially liked this one.  The profits from the entry fees for this run were to go to the Temple Patron Fund...a fund designed to help people in remote and impoverished locales make it to the temple, even if normally financial woes would make it impossible. 
(At the Jordan River Temple finish line)

It was a pretty good run.  Easier for Katie than for me, of course.  But she stayed with me the whole time even though my pace is slower than hers.  We found ourselves unexpectedly running with some friends from my old Magna neighborhood.  Another highlight....crossing the finish line amidst cheers from Bonnie and her daughter Melissa, friends who live nearby and came specifically to root for us.  

Up next....biking LOTOJA this weekend.  I have leg 4...a 34 mile route from Afton to Alpine, Wyoming.  Wish me luck!