My Reasons

My Reasons

This Is Where It All Begins

This Is Where It All Begins

Saturday, June 24, 2017

winning vs. victory

Marathon morning arrived bright and early, 3:15am to be exact.  Of course, because of nerves, I fell asleep after midnight.  Not much sleep, but I expected that, and got a great sleep the night before.

I went through my normal running routine, getting all of my stuff together, double checking everything, saying a very heartfelt, grateful, nervous, and anxious prayer, taking my shakeology, and heading out the door.

I got on the bus at the Zermott Resort in Midway, and I was on my way to the starting line.  I sat by a girl that is trying to run one marathon in every state.  She was really nice, and cool.  This was her 21st marathon.  People are so amazing!

I really don't like being at starting lines alone, especially before big races.  It makes me kind of mellow, and my nerves can really get in my head, but this time I tried really hard to talk to people and just enjoy the moment.  We had a LONG wait by several fires.  The smoke was killing my eyes and my lungs, but the warmth was worth it.  Not sure how healthy it is to fill all of our lungs with smoke for 90 minutes before we all ran 26.2 miles, but at least we didn't shiver all of our energy out.  I'm a total pyro anyway, and fire gets me all happy and excited, so for me, it was great. I met some really cool people, and we talked and pumped each other up, and the time flew by. 

The running community is a very cool group of people.  I love runners and their fun energy, good positive attitudes, and their mostly crazy addiction to something that I love as well.  We all really feed off of each other's energy, and it helps a lot.

After quite a long wait, we finally lined up at the starting line. 

I had made a playlist on my phone, just for the marathon.  I had been adding songs on it for months, and I purposely chose an app. that could play offline, since most of our run would be in the mountains, out of wifi range.

I turned on my app, and to my horror, I had not downloaded the playlist!!!  We had no internet connection out in little Walsburg.  I seriously about lost it.  I ended up listening to the same two songs over and over again for the first 6 miles.  They were terrible, explicit rap songs, and I hated them, but if I hear myself breathing hard from running, my brain tells me I am tired, and I slow down.  I had to have music.   I was so incredibly grateful to hear my tunes start working at mile 6.  Hallelujah!

When the starting gun went off, I reminded myself that I was extremely prepared for this marathon.  More prepared mentally and physically than any marathon I have done in the past.  I knew I could PR if everything went smoothly, and it felt like things were going to be pretty good.  I was really excited!

I forced myself to start out at my normal pace.  It is so easy at the beginning of a race, to just take off.  All of the built up energy, caffeine, and tapered legs, makes you just want to blast out of there.  But, I paced myself, and just settled in for a long run and tried to enjoy the gorgeous scenery around me.

The first 7 miles were way more hilly than I expected.  I had to run on the side of the road in order to pass people.  That forced me to run lopsided, with one foot on the road and one foot off the road.  I had no idea that this little thing would be the reason for an epic disaster. IT bands and lopsided hilly roads do not mix.

At mile 7, we turned out of Walsburg and entered into Provo canyon, right into a very big hill.  I expected this hill, and knew it was coming.  I drive this canyon regularly, and the month leading up to the marathon, every time I drove it, I tried to memorize the course, so I would not be surprised by anything.

The hill was a killer, just like I expected, but I paced myself and made my way up it.  I noticed that my hip was acting up, but it wasn't anything that I hadn't felt before, and I knew I would be fine.

I finished that hill, and that's when my stomach went nuts on me!  I was taken by surprise by this, because I trained very hard on my nutrition, in order to avoid the  dreaded "gut bomb." Sure enough, my stomach was a wreck.  I ended up in the lovely Honey Bucket at the mile 8 aid station.

I ended up there again at mile 10.  Again at mile 12.  All three times, I unloaded everything that was in me, or so it seemed.  I kept thinking that surely that would be the end of it, only to have my stomach act up 1/2 mile later.  I quickly realized my mistake.  I had broken the golden rule of running, as far as nutrition.  NEVER do anything different on race day.  My mistake: shakeology that morning.  I normally have it as a recovery drink, but at 3:15 that morning, it seemed to me like the only thing my stomach could handle.  I was dead wrong. 

At mile 12, after I finished "unloading" again, I started running, and I felt the worst pain in the side of my knee that I have ever felt.  I had no idea what was going on.  I was also totally crashing, from a serious lack of nutrients and the beginnings of dehydration.  I panicked, and forced myself to refill my waterbottle with my nutrition supplement (tailwind) that I use, and I drank a ton of it.  I started trying to run again, and the sharp pain in my knee literally made me yell out when I tried to take a step.  I couldn't believe it.  I truly couldn't believe it.  I tried to stretch on the side of the road, and rub it out the best I could, and then I tried to run again.  Again, my knee felt like I was being stabbed right into it.  Each step was excruciating.

I thought that maybe I could just run it off, if I ran through it for a while.  I spent the next mile in horrible pain, and to make matters worse, my stomach acted up again, just a few minutes after I started trying to run.  I could tell things were bad, really bad.  I checked my time, and realized that up to this point, I was right on track to PR and have an amazing marathon time.  If I could just pull myself together, I could hopefully make up for some lost time, but I was really going to have to rally.

At mile 13, I had to go to the bathroom again.  I could not even run normally on my right leg at all.  My knee was screaming!!!  I tried to stretch it out again, and the volunteer medic at the aid station rubbed some icy hot into my knee.  I also forced myself to drink the rest of my water bottle.  I was completely dehydrated, and feeling like crap everywhere.

I texted Ben, and told him things were not good, and that I was struggling.  I then took a minute to try to pull myself together, and I started running.  My first step into my run was so incredibly painful that I immediately yelled out again.  The aid station medic came running and helped me sit down on a chair they had at the station.  He tried again to rub out my knee.  I this point I saw the 4 hour pacer and his group run by.  My PR time is under 4 hours.  I knew that I had lost my chance to PR, and I wasn't even close to being able to catch up in this condition.  My heart completely dropped, and I got really, really upset.  Being dehydrated, and undernourished (from 5 bathroom stops) and running 13 miles, my mind wasn't able to handle it, and I broke down.  I just started crying right there on that little stool at the aid station.  The medic wanted me to get in the car they have to take people down to the finish line, but in my heart I knew I needed to finish the race.

I got up off the stool, took some extremely painful steps back to the road and forced myself to start running the best I could.  I was crying and very upset and in loads of pain.  At that point, Ben drove up, with the kids in the car, and pulled into the middle lane.  I made my way over to him, and he got out of the car.  He just held me for a minute as I cried.  But seeing all of these little blonde haired, blue eyed babies of mine watching me, made me decide once again, that I would finish this race.  I was going to show my children that I can do hard things...we can do hard things.

I gained strength from seeing my family, and I started running once again.  I forced myself to run 25 excruciating, terrible, painful steps, and then I would walk/limp for a while until I could muster up enough courage to start running again.  Then, I would go another 25 steps, and walk again.  Of course, my stomach acted up again as well.

At mile 15, I was in the bathroom again.  Completely weak, drained, and baffled that I had anything left in me to lose at that point.  I got out of the bathroom, drank as much as I could, and started running again.  After those first few steps, I started crying again.  It hurt so badly, and I was so heart broken and devastated!  I had trained harder and smarted than ever before.  I was more than ready for this marathon.  I knew I was capable of crushing it, and here I was, at mile 15, where I should have still been feeling great, but instead, I was crying, dehydrated, limping, and in terrible shape in every way.

I ran/walked/limped my way for another while, where I again saw Ben and the kids.  It helped me so much to see them.  I would go to them, cry to Ben, build up some courage, and tell myself to make it another two miles to the next aid station.

This was by far the hardest mental game I have ever had to play while running.  I trained really hard this time around to be able to be mentally strong enough to continue running if I hit the wall around mile 21-22.  The wall is something that all marathoners dread, and it can shake up even the strongest of runners.  It is where you are completely depleted off all of your glycogen stores, and your body pretty much tells you that you are done.  It also messes with your head and your emotions.  There is a saying that there is the first half of the marathon, and then the last 6 miles.  It is SO true.  I trained and trained and trained to be able to handle those last 5-6 miles of torture.

Little did I know that I would have to use all of those mental games, all of that emotional toughness, and all of that physical pushing, for 12 miles!  It was like running through the wall for almost half a marathon. 

Around mile 23, I was barely hanging in there.  I was profusely sweating, from so much pain and so much distress for so long.  I felt like the running/walking dead.  I literally was worried that I was going to pass out, and it sounded like it would be so wonderful if I did.  I also watched as the 5 hour pacer and his group passed me by.  This was like a punch in the gut!  5 hours!  I had NEVER run a marathon this slow, or even close to it.  I was also still using every single bathroom at every single aid station (which were every two miles through the entire course). I had nothing left but sheer will power, and that was fading fast.

I only had 3 miles left, but it may have been 100 with the condition I was in.  I could see the finish line off in the distance, but it was like a mirage.  I would run a tiny bit, then look up, and it seemed like I was further away than I previously was.  I was in and out of crying, being devastated, dealing with horrible pain in my leg, and then scraping up whatever I had left, deep down inside, to make me keep going.

Pretty soon a 79 year old guy came shuffling past me.  This was his 115th marathon.  Yup 115!
He asked me how I was doing.  I just looked at him.  I was horrified that I was being passed by a 79 year old that was running slower than I normally walk.  He was so sweet to me though.  He offered me words of encouragement, told me to try to just run to the next tree, which was about 100 yards ahead, but may as well have been a mile away.  I tried to, but my leg would not let me.  He then offered me an otter pop, haha!  Where he got it, I have no idea.  I didn't take it, but I thanked him, and told him that I wanted to doing what he is doing when I am 79. He then shuffled past me and on toward the finish line.

Finally, I was at the very last .2 of the race.  This is where I have always kicked it in, and tried to run my hardest for one last push.  It always feels like I am sprinting it in, but I am usually so dead, that it is a slow jog.  Either way, it feels good to kick it in.
This time, I was ready to walk through it, I simply didn't have the energy to care. I was devastated, in loads of pain, frustrated, and tanked out of nutrients and hydration.

But then, out came Mary and William!!  They each took a hand and started running with me/pulling me.  I had nothing left, but they did, and I used it.  They helped me run through the finish line, and even with some sort of a smile on my face.

When I crossed the finish line, they put the medal around my neck.  Usually, this feels so amazing to me.  It is the coolest feeling in the world.  This time, I felt nothing at all.  I actually felt surprised that they gave me a medal.  I did not feel like I earned it at all.  It was a very foreign and weird feeling for me.  I was pretty confused, but almost too tired to care much about anything.

I went straight over to the medical tent and basically begged for painkillers of any kind.  I finally got some Advil, and some ice wrapped around my knee.  Mary was so sweet, and did not leave my side.  Ben tried to keep the other kids occupied while I kind of recovered.  I did not look at the time clock when I ran through the finish line, and I didn't want to.  I knew it would just frustrate me even more.
I was pretty pouty, and ticked off.  I wasn't in the mindset of being positive, proud, or relieved at all.  I was just sad and in a lot of pain and shock.  I was kind of numb.

I really just wanted to go home.  I didn't want to be around everything anymore.  I was just done.

This is not normal for me.  Usually after a marathon, my favorite part is to cheer on other runners coming in, talk to other finishers, congratulate people, and just bask in the awesomeness of it all, and the feeling of accomplishing my goals.

I honestly think I was just in shock physically and mentally.

I went to a few different medical tents getting different treatments on my knee, and then we headed home.

Even though I was very malnourished and dehydrated, I was not hungry at all the rest of the day.  I was just tired in every way.  I took it easy the rest of the day and tried to drink and rehydrate the best I could.

Ben and Brittany Light (my message therapist, and self-appointed running and nutrition coaches) stopped by and brought a sweet gift.  I had texted Brittany throughout the marathon, so she knew what had happened.  It helped to talk to them, vent to them, and have Brittany finally diagnose what had happened to my leg.  It was my IT band.  They are both avid runners.  They do ultra races, like 50 miles, 100 miles, and even 200 milers.  They told me about a few of their races that just went horribly wrong, even though they trained perfectly.  It really made me feel a lot better.

I also talked a lot to Ben, my Ben.  He listened as I talked my way through everything, mentally processing what had happened, over and over again.  He was so good to support me, tell me how amazing it was that I actually finished, and helped me to feel a sense of accomplishment that I hadn't felt when I finished.

I have good people in my life.

It has been two weeks since the marathon.  Now that I am hydrated, getting on top of my injury, and mentally normal, I can see that my IT band freaking out on me, was not any reflection on how well trained I was, and how well I really can run a marathon.  The timing of it was absolutely horrible, but I can't change that, I can only learn from it, and do what I can to prevent it from happening again.

By the time I hung my medal on my marathon wall in the garage, I looked over my other medals, and I was more proud of this one than any of the others.  I pushed deeper than I ever have before, I fought harder than I ever have before, I cried more than I ever have before, I felt pain like I have never felt running before, and I finished.  I basically ran a 13 mile wall.  I am extremely proud of that.  
I can now see that all of the training I did to be mentally and physically strong when the going got tough, was not in vain, in fact, it was the very thing that made it possible for me to finish a race like that, in the condition I was in.

I did nothing at all the week following the marathon.  My leg was in a lot of pain.  I was sore all over, but the rest of my body bounced back very quickly to my surprise and joy.  This week, I have done a lot of biking and elliptical.  I was thrilled to be able to do the elliptical with minimal pain to my IT band.
I now have to incorporate a ton of stretching, foam rolling, and at home physical therapy in order to strengthen my IT bands, and to try to prevent this from happening again.

By again, I mean the St. George marathon in October.  Yup, I am signed up to do this again.  Before this marathon, I was seriously second guessing doing another.  Now, I am so, so, so glad I am.

I am going to train the exact same, but also incorporate a lot of IT band exercises and strengthening.  I start training July 17th.  Until then, it is all about getting my leg completely healed, and mentally working through some anxiety and worry that I now have about running.

I had a friend message me something a few days after the race that meant so much to me. I have thought so much about it since then, and it helps me through when I start feeling bad about the marathon.
 She said "there is a  difference between a win and a victory. You can win without a victory and you can be victorious without a win . . While you didn't "win" this race by any traditional sense, you my friend most certainly came out victorious!!!! So proud of you!"

  I may not have won this marathon in my sense and my idea of winning for me, but this was the biggest victory I have ever achieved.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

4 days to marathon

So, my marathon is on Saturday.  It is Tuesday night. 4 days. 

This will be my 5th marathon, but in a way it feels like my first, because I have trained so completely differently than I ever have before.  I am also 5 years older and have had 2 babies since my last marathon.

Am I nervous, yes.  Terrified actually!

But, I am ready, and that feels really good.

The last 4 marathons I have done, I have run 6 days a week, built up to the long runs, and run and run and run. That's it.  No other body parts getting worked, just legs. 

This time around, with the help of a friend, Brittany, who happens to be a professional trainer for marathon and ultra marathon runners, my training has been drastically different.  She helped me set up a training plan this time around, and I have loved it.

Monday: 8 miles.  1st and last mile below marathon pace.  6 miles at or slightly above marathon pace. (pretty hard)

Tuesday: cross train. In my case, I push mow our entire line.  The mower is not self propelled.  It is an insane workout for upper and lower body.  I also do abs after mowing the lawn. (moderate)

Wednesday: Intervals.  6 sets of biceps with a 2 minute sprint between each one.  6 sets of triceps, with a 2 minutes sprint in between each one, 6 sets of abs, with a 2 minutes sprint between each set.
This amounts to about 90 minutes of pouring sweat, racing heart, and burning body.  The mileage ends up being about 5 1/2 miles of sprints.  This work out is no joke.  Several times I almost puke during it.  It is my favorite workout though, because I feel like a freaking rock star after completing it. (very hard)

Thursday: elliptical for 70 minutes at level 9 resistance.  Killer for the legs AND arms. (hard)

Friday: rest (easy)

Saturday: long run outside, anywhere from 12-21 miles depending on the week.  Anything under 14 miles has three 15 minute sessions of above tempo.  Killer....for real. (easy-very hard)

Along with this schedule, Brittany, my "coach" who is also a certified sports massage therapist, comes to my house every other Thursday and works on my legs for 60 minutes.

This is by far the most painful and miserable part of training.

She scrapes my muscles with her torture tools, until I have tears streaming down my cheeks.  The pain is unbelievable.  She stretches, scrapes and breaks down every muscle in the legs and glutes.  It is excruciating.  The scraping is the absolute worst. There aren't even words to describe the pain.


When it is over, and after a day of bruised legs, my legs feel amazing!  They feel soooo good.  I know that this is the reason I have not had an injury during this 12 week training program.  The massaging has helped me so much.  If I didn't realize how much it truly helped me, there is no way on the face of this planet that I would go through this every other week.

Most days, after she works on me, I literally get sick from being in so much pain for so long.  My body kind of shuts down.  I get a horrible headache, and I can't keep my eyes open.  It is exhausting.  I usually end up sleeping in spurts the rest of the afternoon, whenever I can get even the smallest amount of shut eye.  It is crazy.  But it works.

As far as the nutrition side of things, that has been completely different as well.  I have been on a very strict low carb diet for almost 10 months now, and I have kept that diet all through my training.

However, my body does have to have some sort of carb during the super long runs, or anything over 15 miles for me.  If I don't have any sort of carb in me, my muscles cramp up like nobody's business and my mind and will power turn to mush.

Brittany and her husband Ben (who is an ultra 200 mile race ultra runner), introduced me to a drink powder called Tailwind.  It has the exact number of carbs and calories in it that the body can burn while working out in 1 hour.  Any more than that, and you get stomach cramps, any less and you crash.

I drink a tailwind every hour during my long runs, and it has been wonderful!!!  No more gut bombs, no more cramping, and lots more physical and mental energy and power.  It has saved me, absolutely saved me.  I don't need anything else with it either, which is a huge bonus for me, because a lot of the other stuff has always made me so sick.

I have had to eat more carbs the day following my long runs, which I struggle with still.  My body just screams and screams for them, and I know I should refill my stores.

It is a really hard juggle lately though, with so many long runs, and so many carb cycles.

It sucks to GAIN 5 pounds when training for a marathon, but I guess it is a great thing, and is a sign of proper training and nutrition if you gain weight the month before the marathon.  At least that is what I am told. I will keep telling myself that over and over and over again.  Ugh.

So here I am tonight.  A week and a half ago, I completed my last long run.  It was 21 miles.  Brittany is coming over tomorrow for a "light" massage session.  She promised me that this one will be lighter so I am not bruised on the big day.

The main focus now is trying to keep my thoughts positive and my emotions rested as well as my muscles.  New concept for me, but makes sense.  My brain and emotions need to be in top shape to make it through those last 6 miles.

I have a 2 mile run Friday morning, go pick up my race packet Friday evening,  and then BAM, it's here.

Holy crap.

Breathe, just breath.

our birthday

As with every year around our Birthday, I give William the option of celebrating together on the same day, June 4th, or to have his own day, on June 3rd.

Of course, he loves the idea of having his Birthday one day sooner, so again, he choose June 3rd.  It actually worked out perfectly, because that was a Saturday, so we were able to do a party with all of his friends!

William has been so excited for his Birthday, and he has been begging for a motor scooter.  That is the only thing he wanted, and he REALLY wanted it.  Ben and I did a pretty good job of making sure he understood that it might not happen, even after we bought it.  :)  Makes it more exciting when it does happen...right??

Saturday morning, we all gave William good morning Birthday hugs and then we headed to Sundance to watch Ben do a bike race.  We went to the wrong finish line, so we missed seeing Ben come down the mountain, but we did catch up to him eventually.  He had a great race, and came in 2nd place!  He only missed 1st place by 1 second.  Pretty awesome!  He has been working really hard this season at endure racing as well as downhill.  Looks like it is paying off.

When we all got back home, William could wait no longer, so he finally got to open his present, a motor scooter! 

Soon after, all of his buddies came over for his party.  They played water kick ball, did a piƱata, played water games, ate donuts (William's choice for his cake this year), and had a great time! 

top: Stockton Page, Deakin Case, Sam Welch, Tyson Muhlestein, William, Ryker Anderson, Logan Weeks
Bottom: Sam, Luke, Hudson Riddle
 After the party was over, William played with his new toys, we ate pizza, and just hung out as a family celebrating William.
William is a great kid.  He is very snuggly and warm.  He gives awesome hugs, and he loves to cuddle and have his legs rubbed.  William is very athletic.  He is powerful and coordinated, and he is a smart athlete.  William has a very tender heart, and often tells me I am beautiful, that he loves me, and other sweet comments.  He loves to wrestle and play very rough.  He has a laugh that comes straight from the belly.  You can't help but laugh when he laughs.  He lost three teeth this past week, so his smile is adorable!
William just finished 1st grade in the dual immersion program with Mrs. Bingham and Blanca ??
He loves to read and is a smart kid.
We love William with all of our hearts.  He is a big part of our family, and his big smile with his twinkly eyes melts our hearts.

Happy Birthday William!

The following day, on our real Birthday, we gave William a huge balloon boquet with a bucket of his favorite treats under it.

I woke up to cute cards from Ben and all of the kids.  We went to church where lots of friends wished us a happy Birthday, and we came home to a steak dinner, with the best cake I have ever had in my life for dessert.

It was a great Birthday for us.  I love sharing such a special day with such a special person.
me: 35  William 7
Happy Birthday to us


In May, Mary and I went to Las Vegas, for her to compete in her last tumbling meet at Regionals.

Mary's spark for tumbling has slowly been fizzling, and it hasn't helped that her gym is in a new building that can't fit the right equipment and her coach just isn't in it anymore either and basically had just stopped caring much about Mary or anyone on the team really, aside from one girl.

It has been really hard for Mary and for several others on the team.  The season was a rough one, because they have not had the proper equipment to practice on, so the meets have been the only times they have been able to do their complete passes.  It just hasn't been good.

Mary had decided to do competitive cheerleading a few months prior to Regionals, but she decided to finish out the tumbling season the best she could and to try to end things well with Heber Handspringers.

I prayed and prayed and prayed for Mary to have a good experience at Regionals, and to be able to end her tumbling "career" on a good note, feeling positive and happy and good about everything.  I just wanted her to end with a good solid meet.

We all fasted for her the Sunday before, and Mary put in extra hours at the gym to get ready.

The day finally came, and we headed off to Vegas.  We had a good time together driving there.  She is a great buddy and friend and I love talking with her and hanging out with her.

We rolled in to Vegas right around dinner time.  We shared a room with Mary's teammate Whitley and her mom.  We met up with them, and with Mary's coaches and went to dinner.

We had a good time at dinner, but it was very obvious that everyone knew Mary was quitting, and they weren't about to be very welcoming or kind to her.  It was very, very frustrating and very sad as well.

The next morning was warm ups bright and early.  Mary said she felt great during warm ups, but Bev was hardly coaching her and was ignoring her.  It had Mary rattled.

Mary competed a few hours later on double mini.  She was one of the only ones to stay in bounds on her landings, and she looked great!  I was so proud of her!  She was really happy too!  Her scores didn't reflect her performance at all, and she missed the podium by one place.  Somehow Whitley went out of bounds on both of her passes, and she got the last spot on the podium, and pushed Mary out.  Mary was a really good sport and congratulated Whitley and held her chin up.  The kindness was not returned in any way.

Mary competed floor a few hours after that.  That competition was VERY close!  All of the girls looked great.  It was a very crazy moment when Mary was standing at the end of the floor waiting to do her final pass EVER as a power tumbler.  My heart was broken, and I was so sad, but I could tell for sure that she needs to move on to other things, and that this sport was no longer a good, positive, and fun thing for her.  It was so bitter sweet!

Mary did beautiful passes!  I was so happy for her, and she was thrilled!
Yet again, her scores did not show it, and she missed the podium.  Without even a hug, or a good job from her coach of 4 years, Mary and I walked out of her last tumbling meet. 
Mary was so gracious to all of the other tumblers she has grown to know and love.  She congratulated everyone, smiled at everyone, and was a wonderful sport.
Of course, she broke down and cried a lot in my arms, in the quiet of our hotel room.  My heart was just completely broken for her, and for how things were ending.  Not just her scores, but the treatment from her coach, her teammate, and the judges that were hanging out with them.  It just wasn't right.

I had a really big struggle for several weeks following regionals.  I felt like we had fasted and prayed for Mary to feel closure and to feel good at Regionals.  That is not how it ended at all.  I was so confused.

I still am, but I have accepted that God knows what is best for Mary, what lessons she needs to learn, and how much she can handle.

The next morning, I did a long run in the hotel gym, and then Mary and I went shopping for a while before heading home.

After we got home, the reality of being done with tumbling finally hit Mary as she was putting her leotard away, and realized that she didn't need it anymore.  She shed more tears on my bed next to me, and for a few days was re-thinking her decision to quit.  She was contemplating continuing on tumbling, just at a different gym.

In the end, she decided on cheer, and I cannot even begin to describe how it has all come together to well!

She made the highest level cheer team, along with three of her best friends and fellow tumblers!! (they also quit Heber Handspringers for the same reasons as Mary).

The cheerleading team just got three new coaches were are amazing!  They all have very competitive and impressive cheer backgrounds, and two of them were Nationally Ranked power tumblers as well.

Not only is this cheer team going to be amazing, but they also set up a separate advanced tumbling class that will meet once a week for two hours, and Mary was invited to it, along with just a few other girls.  The coach for it is one of the judges from Regionals and a World Class Power Tumbling coach!!!  Holy crap!  She is going to teach Mary double fulls, front tumbling, and loads of tumbling that is even more advanced than she already does!

Once Regionals was over, Mary went into full fledged cheerleading mode.  She has been constantly working on flying stunts, standing tucks, jumps, and front tumbling.  She is watching cheer competitions and cheer shows on youtube, and she has been so excited!  It has been so much fun watching her be so excited and into something again!

She had her first cheer practice, and tumbling practice today and loved it!  She is a flyer and she loves stunting.  She was able to stunt, tumble dance and do jumps. 

She told me that she loves the team aspect of it all, and her coaches are so kind, supportive and professional. 

She is going to have an absolute blast.

She will definitely miss tumbling, and I will for sure miss watching her do it, but I can tell that she is on to something that will definitely bring her a lot of fun and happiness, and will still push her athletic abilities very far.

soccer, soccer and more soccer

This spring soccer season, we had three kids in soccer.  Mary and Sam did club soccer, and William did rec.

It was absolutely crazy!

Mary and Sam travel with their teams, and each of them have two practices a week along with one or two games a week.  William had two games a week.

So, we had a total of 4 practices a week, and up to 6 games a week.  Add that in to tumbling, mutual, scouts, piano lessons, homework, choir, student council, and everyday life, and lets just say that our soccer season about drove me straight to the crazy house.  Good thing the kids had a great time though, and it is really fun to watch their games and see them progress in the sport.

  She was on a team that started out rough, and then got really great by the end.  Mary learned a lot, and grew a lot as a soccer player.  She had the same team as the year before, so it was nice for them to be able to play together again, and work more as a team.
Mary really enjoyed soccer, but she is just involved in way too much now, and had to start cutting things out.  She is going to be done with soccer, but I am glad she had a good experience.

  Sam's team definitely struggled as far as winning games, but wow, he had such a fun team!  Sam finally got a spark in him for soccer about half way through the season, and then he just took off.  He improved to much, and all the sudden has a soccer ball with him wherever he is, just practicing foot work and tricks.  It is awesome to see him so excited about the sport, and to see his drive turn into skill.  His team was full of great boys who played well, but also liked to just have a good time.

Last week Sam tried out again for next year, and we just got the email that he made the Gold team this year!  He moved up  a level!  We are sooooo excited for him, and he is thrilled!  I can't wait to see him continue to grow in the sport this next year.

William played rec soccer, so he just had two games a week for a month.  It is a very short season, but William had a great time.  He is an amazing defender.  Not much gets past him.  When he does get the ball, he gets so excited and he just laughs and laughs.  He had some awesome kicks at the goal, but unfortunately they didn't go in.  He definitely has talent for the sport, but is thinking about flag football or wrestling in the fall.  We will see....

penny b kitty cat

About a month ago, after Mary and I got back from Regionals in Vegas, we noticed that Penny was missing.  Her full name is Penny B. Kitty Cat (named by William).

It was weird that she was missing, but we figured she must have gone hunting in the near by fields and she would be home in the next day or so.

Two weeks later, we were getting extremely worried.  The kids were praying every night for her to return, I was checking the animal shelter, and we had notified all of our neighbors and friends.

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Three weeks into her missing, I started to lose hope.  We had a freak week of below freezing temperatures and even some snow.  It was not like Penny at all to leave the house, much less to be gone for three weeks.  The kids kept on praying and hoping though, and so did I.  Each night that Penny didn't return home, I prayed harder and harder.

It is amazing how much you realize you really care about something and love something when it is gone.  We have always loved Penny, especially William, but she really isn't around much, and we have just been so used to seeing her here and there.  She doesn't command much attention at all.

The next Sunday, about 3.5 weeks of Penny being missing, Tyson, Williams best friend, thought he saw Penny run under their back fence.

Their fence leads to a bunch of horse pastures.  Tyson is at our house a lot, and he has seen Penny a bunch of times, so we believed him, and we hopped in the car and zoomed over there. 

We searched all over Tyson's yard, and all over the acres and acres of pasture behind their fence with no luck.  We were late for church, and we were pretty discouraged, but we kept up hope.

After church, our whole family drove over to the houses behind Tyson's house, and we asked the people that own all of that land if they had seen Penny.

To our surprise, they had!!  The guy that lives there said he thought Penny was a stray pregnant cat (Penny is VERY fat), so he was leaving steak, bologna, and chicken out for her at night, and he was also checking his sheds for kittens each night.  Unfortunately, they hadn't seen Penny around for a few days at that point.

This was such a relief to us to know that Penny was at least alive.  We were just so confused with why she wasn't coming home.  The steak and bologna could have had something to do with it. :)

We gave that family our phone numbers and asked them to call us if they saw Penny again.

I was sure they would call that evening or the next day.


Three days later, I was getting William and Sam on the bus.  Luke had decided to walk to the bus stop with me, in his pajamas and his shoes.  He hardly ever wears shoes, or comes to the bus stop with me, but on this particular morning, he insisted on both.

Mary was also home that morning, so she stayed at the house with Molly.

Once Sam and William were on the bus, as I began walking home, I had a very distinct feeling that Penny was around, and that I needed to start looking.

At the same time, Mary and Molly came walking over to the bus stop.  Molly wanted to see me, so Mary brought her over.  Neither of them had shoes on, and Molly was in pee soaked pajamas. 


I knew that I needed to start looking for Penny though, so I told the kids we were just going to go look through Tyson's back yard.  Somehow, I just knew that we were going to find Penny, and I figured she would be there.

We looked and looked and looked.  No Penny.

So, I decided that we should jump the fence and look in the pasture behind it.  Easier said than done, especially with kids with no shoes on, and one kid soaked in pee.  We looked ridiculous. 

We ended up climbing three fences, two were electric, one was barb wire.  We walked through a stream, walked past horses, chickens, dogs and cats.  We walked through weeds, bushes, shrubs, crops and everything in between.  We just kept going, and calling for Penny as we went.

At one point, we ended up at the house that we had gone to on Sunday, with the people that had seen Penny.  I knocked on their door to see if we could start looking through all of their sheds, but the did not answer.  These people have loads of land, and tons of sheds.  They fix up cars, and they had car parts everywhere!  We would have to look for days and days in order to even come close to combing through their property.

It seemed completely impossible, but somehow, I just knew we were going to find Penny.  We weren't about to start going through these people's property without their permissions, so we just walked down a little road that leads to their sheds and started calling for Penny again.

I turned my head over to a shed, and for 1/2 a second I saw a cat poke her head out and back inside the shed door.

I knew it was Penny, and I couldn't believe it!!!!

I told the kids to stop calling for her, and to stand completely still.

Sure enough, a few seconds later, Penny poked her head out again.  It was definitely her.

I could tell she wanted to come to us, but she was terrified to come out of hiding.

I took a LONG time of slowly making my way toward her, and Penny coming out and then running back in.

Finally, I got close enough to scoop her up and...

She went ape psycho crazy!  She started screaming, scratching, biting, and completely freaking out.  It was all I could to do hang on to her and not get my eyeballs clawed out!

There was a latino man that had driven up a few minutes earlier to do some work, and I happened to glance his way.  He was frozen in place, jaw down, just starting at us.

I sure he though we were some homeless family stealing these people's cat so we could eat it. 

We were quite the sight!

Penny continued to go completely nuts, and I knew there was no way we would be able to walk back home the way we came.

I had no car...our car was broken, so I called Karli.

Thank heavens she was home.

She picked us up, and we got in the car, with Penny still going psycho.

We were all so shocked and excited and freaked out.

Once we got home, and in the house, Penny immediately stopped fighting.  She wandered around for a few minutes, and then jumped in my lap, hid her head in the crook of my arm, and that is where she stayed the rest of the day.

She was extremely mal nourished, and had lost a lot of weight.  She was filthy, and had burs and oil all over her.  She was terribly dehydrated, to the point where she was panting, and croaky.

It totally broke my heart.

She must have been in hiding most of the time, completely terrified of something, to the point of not getting much food or water, and not being able to get home.

She was gone for a total of 29 days!

It is a complete miracle that we found her. 

Soon after we got her home, the kids and I knelt down in prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for guiding us to Penny and for helping to bring her home.

I know for sure that the spirit was guiding me that day, and helping me to know to keep looking and to keep going, so I could be there at the right moment when Penny would poke her head out.

She has been home almost a week now.  She is eating a tiny bit, and drinking a lot.  She is still skinny, but much more clean, and she is getting more and more comfortable each day. The first few nights and days, she would not leave my sight.  She would cry if I went into a different room, and she slept, literally, on my face.

She will now venture around a the house a little more, but she still checks in on me about every 10 minutes.

I am so glad she is home, and that my kids were able to have a positive experience with the power of prayer.

Welcome home Penny. B. Kitty Cat!
just a few minutes after finding her.  I had to hold her like that to keep her from clawing my eyeballs out.

best friends re-united

pre conncections preschool

Luke just finished his last year of preschool.

The grade school here has an awesome preschool program, where the kids go 4 days a week for 3 hours.  They get to ride the bus, and when they are 4, they also begin learning Spanish.

Luke loved the first half of preschool, but once they started doing half of the class in Spanish, he got nervous that he couldn't understand and started REALLY not wanting to go.

He also decided that he wants to wear nothing but fleece pajamas all the time (even when it's 85 degrees outside), and the fact that he had to wear normal clothes to school, made it even worse to get him to go.

We spend the last half of the year with charts that he could put stickers on each day he went to school, and when the chart was full he got a prize.  I had to do charts, bribes, some days just letting him miss school, and pretty much a lot of begging and pleading for the past 6 months.

Getting him to the bus stop was torture, but once he was there, and once he went to school, he loved it and had a great time.  (insert eye roll)

the bus stop crew. I never got over how cute it was every day to see these little guys line up and walk to the bus every day.
This particular day was pajama day at school..Luke was beaming!
Kason Dix, Luke, Joey Goates

I am so proud of him for sticking it out.  He is a very bright little guy, and learned a ton this year!  I am so excited for him to enter into Kindergarten next year.

lukie turns 5

Luke had his 5th Birthday a few weeks ago.  It was so cute, because he completely understands Birthdays now, and he was so excited for his!

He helped me pick out the invitations for his party, write on the invitations, and he personally delivered them to all of his friends.  He is an awesome bike messenger!

A couple weeks before his Birthday, Luke told me that he wanted to try riding his bike without training wheels. I took the training wheels off his bike, and then I went inside to put the tools away.

When I came back outside, less than a minute later, Luke was zooming all over the cul-de-sac on his bike!  ha!  He just jumped on and went for it.  By the end of the week, he was up on the bike trails with Ben going over jumps and going around berms.   He is a very athletic little boy.

Luke invited all of his friends over for a party on his Birthday.  We had a paw patrol party again this year, but the weather was perfect, so it was an outside party.  YES!!!

They played a bunch of games out in the yard, and had a great time.

Luke wanted cupcakes for his Birthday cake, so we made cupcakes with Paw Patrol rings on top. 
you can't really see the cupcakes here, but you can see the rings and the frosting all over the kids' mouths!
Luke had a blast at his party, he grinned through the whole thing. It was adorable.
top: Kai Russell, Luke Phillips, Rowan Boone, Joey Goates
Middle: Kason Dix
Bottom: William, Luke, Molly, Boston Sweat

After the party, Luke and I got to work on his Police Station Lego set that he got from the family.  I love building Legos with Luke, because he gets so excited and he just giggles through the whole process.  He has had his eye on this police station for months, so he was REALLY excited to get to work on it.

Later in the evening he busted out his new bike and cruised all over on it.  He outgrew his other bike in about a day after riding it with no training wheels.  He loves his new bike.
Luke had a great day with friends and family and fun.  He is such an adorable little boy with his perfect boy face, his white blonde hair and his perfectly round blue eyes.  He also has the classic spatter of freckles across his nose, that complete the adorable factor.

Luke is a really good boy that just wants to play and have fun.  He is really kind and is great at sharing.  He has a huge imagination and is very curious. He insists on wearing pajamas every day, aside from when he is at school.  He is very coordinated and athletic, and he loves to go fast on his snow skis, his bike, and just in general.  He calls cigarettes "cigger nuts" and I die every time.  I don't have the heart to correct him because it is so cute!

He is still completely obsessed with police officers, and he is also still very mechanical and loves tools, fixing things, and Legos.

We love Lukie so much.

Happy 5th Birthday Luke!