Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tender Mercies and 18.6 Miles

TWO MONTHS AGO, I joined 11 other teammates and more than 2000 crazies in the Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay!  It is nearly 200 miles from Blaine, WA (on the Canadian/US border) to Langley on S. Whidbey Island and these 11 other women and I ran the whole way.  In two vans, we leap-frogged each other.  Runners 1-6 would run while runner 7-12 rested, then vice versa.  After Van 2 ran, Van 1 started over until each van’s runners had run 3 times.  This was a major challenge and accomplishment for me.  I’ve never counted myself much of a runner and all of a sudden, training for this race included regular 6 mile runs (3-4x week).  Occasionally, I ran an 8 or 10-miler as well and in the final preparation, I ran several times in a day to simulate the lack of rest between runs in the Ragnar Relay.  We ran three times in a period of about 24 hours with only about 3 hours of sleep in between runs.  While this would never have been my original idea of fun, I am so thankful to the women I ran with, particularly my van who was so supportive to me personally in my training and runs.  Thank you Robin, Megan, Angie, Bethany, Miryam, Shalise, Amy, Cami, DeAnne, Kimberly and Jenny!


Van 1 in reverse running order (I was runner 6).


The starting line!  Only 190 miles to go!!


Robin and her GAME face.  This girl is FAST!  All these people had no idea what was about to hit them.


Way to go, Megan!  She and I were among the novice runners and she did an excellent job!


One of Bethany’s legs in the race was extended by more than a mile.  She’s still smiling!


Helpful AND cute!  Love the running skirt, Ang!


Miryam was mad her legs weren’t longer.  This is a world I’m not altogether familiar with…Also, have to love Miryam because her eating is so pure that 8 M&M’s was enough to have her WIRED!  Pretty funny…


All the runners called them “kills” or “roadkills”—meaning, the number of people you passed while running.  Robin pulled up our team average SIGNIFICANTLY.  We would hear other teams say, “Where is that FAST girl?  She has to be coming soon!”


Exchange point!  They used a snap bracelet as the baton.  AWESOME.


This was after my second run at the major exchange before Deception Pass.  These are the ladies of my van all together—stinky, tired, and having a great time!

I felt blessed to have this experience.  The Lord knows I need challenges (not just trials!) in my life to keep it interesting and I felt this was presented just for me. 

My first run was through Bellingham and ended at Bellingham High School.  Nothing too exciting.  It felt like any other run through town.  However, the second and third runs were special.  My second run was at the very end of dusk and it was between two towns through farmland.  I passed a barn and knew immediately this barn had chickens.  I didn’t know my nose could tell the difference between manures, but apparently my childhood on “Chicken Patrol” stuck with me.  The run was very flat until the last 3/4 of a mile which had a steep hill, but I felt strong.  My pace was good and I finished running up that hill, arriving at a state park in the dark. 

After some pictures and well wishes to the rest of our team preparing to run through the night, we laid out sleeping bags on a tarp and slept SOLID…for three hours. Smile  At such time, we received a text that van 2 was on it’s second to last runner and we needed to get to our next exchange so we could begin again.

Saturday morning’s run was quite foggy.  I was feeling apprehensive about this run.  The entire length of the run before me had been foggy and cold and I was not excited about the prospect of running without being able to see ahead.  I felt anxious, but it was my turn, so I took the snap bracelet and took off.  The blessing?  Within about a mile and a half, the fog had burned off and it was a glorious day.  I was on Whidbey Island by this point and could see the water, sailboats, wildflowers and greenery.  That and the frequent hills were breathtaking! Smile It was a very hilly course, but I knew this was what I had prepared for.  This was my last run.  Why hold back?  I was determined that unless I had some major injury, I would not ever stop running.  I would never stop to walk.  I was conscious mostly of my own thoughts when in the back of my mind, I heard an indistinct, but unfamiliar screeching sound.  When I heard it again, my mind registered the sound as unusual, so I glanced around for the source.  And I stopped.  About 20 feet from me was a bald eagle, spreading its massive wingspan landing on a tree.  I gaped for about 5 seconds before it spread its wings again and took flight, but I was in so much awe of the majestic creature—one I wouldn’t even have seen in the fog.

My last run ended in a small town called Coupeville and I gave it everything I had.  By this time I’d already run 13 miles and had very little sleep, but with nothing to lose, I set a PR for myself in pace.  I ran my last run of 5.5 miles up and down many hills at a 8:58 pace.  This won’t win any races, but given the distance, exhaustion and hilly terrain, I felt very proud of my effort.

So, being in the best running shape of my life, I knew this was my chance and since then I’ve been training for a half marathon that Jonathan and I are running on Saturday.  13.1 miles, here I come!

Thank you, DeAnne, for this fabulous video and the one cool running picture of me perhaps ever taken.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bahama Mama

The first time Jonathan and I really decided we wanted to go to the Caribbean, it was because we were reading together the book by Elizabeth George Speare The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  Kit Tyler (heroine) moves from her native Barbados to Connecticut to escape an unwanted marriage and talks frequently of home throughout the book.  Jonathan and I decided we would one day have to go to Barbados.  Well, since then, we’ve talked to people who have been to Barbados and apparently the Barbados of the 17th century and the Barbados of today aren’t really the same place.  Still, barring that, we’ve hoped for 5 years or more that we would go to the Caribbean.  Two weeks ago, we had our chance.

Jonathan’s mama came up to watch Caleb and James and we took a 5-night cruise from Miami to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.  We LOVED it and got the sunburns to prove it.  Get a load of this water!

DSC02111DSC02124Parasailing in Half Moon Cay…It shocked me a bit, but once we got in the air, it was the most serene thing I’ve ever done.  It was silent and peaceful.DSC02123DSC02166Look at this unbelievable property in Nassau.  If you look close enough, you’ll see these villas have beach front property in the front yard AND in the back.  Nice.DSC02167DSC02171DSC02173DSC02175DSC02062Look how HAPPY we are! SmileDSC02063DSC02070DSC02073At the end of the pier.  This water is probably what?  15+ feet deep?  I’m from CALIFORNIA!  Are you kidding me?!  I half expected California kelp to beat me across the face in our snorkeling adventure (waterproof 35mm camera.  I’ll try to get those pics soon). 


We also made friends with our dinner group!  Thank you Jeremy, Kelsey, Jordan, Tiann, Andy and Katie for some good times!

We had a blast on the on-deck waterslide, laughed at the family friendly comedy shows, bust out one song in Karaoke, but more than anything we LOVED the water.  It was the PERFECT temperature.  It was cool and refreshing, but it took zero time to get used to.  You could walk in freely and never get a chill.  It was clean and amazing.  We LOVED it.  I could get used to swimming in the Caribbean every day. 

Hot island get-away?  Check.  Happy belated sixth anniversary, Jonathan!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Changing of the Guard

A wise friend wished me congratulations and condolences at receiving the word that this now belongs to me:DSC01670

The Relief Society is the world’s largest organization for women, and I have been asked to accept the position of president of our local chapter.  My Bishop (unpaid pastor/reverend) called me into his office almost a month ago to tell me he felt strongly that the Lord wanted me to be the new Relief Society president in our ward (congregation organized by geographical location).  He said he had had my name on his mind for two weeks and had been praying and pondering whether this was a position right for me.  I interpreted this to mean that Bishop had tried to get me out of it for two weeks before the Lord fully assured him that I’m it.  I appreciate his efforts Smile  I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve the women and their families.  My dear friend Jessica (who serves as RS president in her ward) told me it was a blessing to wake up every day knowing what you could do to serve the Lord and His people.  I believe that.  I also know I have two little children whose lives I cannot wildly interrupt just because I have this assignment.  After all, my first priority will always be to my own family.  I’m grateful, nervous, humbled and anxious to see what awaits.

Gardens and Kind Friends

When it comes to friends in my life, I have been a lucky girl.  Each time I move to a new place, I worry (why?!) that it will be lonely and I won’t have the close relationships I have had in places past.  I suppose it’s because whenever I’m going some place new, it means I’m leaving some place familiar where I already have such loving kind people around me and I can never quite convince myself I’ll be so lucky again. 

This latest move was no different.  I worried and hoped we would have friends especially since we’ve moved so far away from family, and I can’t say the smallest part of how I feel about my friends here.  I have been so blessed.

I was visiting teaching one such friend recently who asked me how I was and what I needed help with.  I told her that I was trying to clear out the many thousands of tiny lava rocks from my backyard flower bed so that I could turn the space into a vegetable garden.  It was taking HOURS AND HOURS and, because I didn’t have any proper tools for it, the work was just absurdly long.  I said this because it was on my mind—not because I expected her to do anything about it.  That weekend, I went to Oregon to visit some family and I came home to this:



This sweet friend had recruited her husband, another wonderful friend and all their tools to the cause of creating for me a beautiful garden space!  When I saw it, I cried.  I could not BELIEVE someone would do something like this.  Blessed? Yes, I think so.

Now, it’s taken me a few weeks to add to the glory of this space now, but after a pretty seriously failed attempt at starting my own garden from seeds, I purchased these plants at a local plant sale and looking forward to a summer of salsa canning!



This last one is “Caleb’s Garden.”  It’s got 8 strawberry plants in it.  Caleb could eat strawberries all day if I let him, and I’ve heard they can get a little unruly if you don’t keep them tamed, so I decided this handy little box would be a great place for “Caleb” to grow “his” strawberries.  The first green berries are starting to grow!! YAY!!

I’ve kept two children alive for 4 and almost 1 years (respectively).  Why can’t I keep plants alive?  Because they don’t cry?  That’s a pretty sorry truth, if it is.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ma ma ma ma ma

James loves me.  When I was at the gym the other day, Jonathan was changing James’ diaper when James looked up, saw Daddy and said, “Mama!”  Jonathan asked himself, “Did he really just say that?” when James said again, “MAMA!”  Jonathan told me this story, but I didn’t really believe him.  After all, I’ve never heard him say anything besides, “BA ba Ba BA BAAA!”  which he does with great vigor.  Well, yesterday morning, he bit his little finger trying to eat his breakfast.  His subsequent grimace was heartbreaking.  He looked for me, found me and said in a pouty voice, “Ma ma ma ma ma ma.”  Because Mamas fix it.  Yes, we do.  He hasn’t said Dada yet, but he has said Mama.  This is probably my only kid who will do that, so I gotta soak it up.  I love my baby boy!

Ragnar Relay

It’s craziness.  How did I get talked into this?  The power of peer pressure lives on, people.  Smile  My lovely co-teachers in our Joy School have decided to jump off a cliff and I signed up to do so as well.  July 22-23, I am running a total of 17 miles in 24 hours (yes, that includes through the night) in three legs of a 36-leg relay running from nearly the Canadian border to Whidbey Island near Seattle.  We each run three of the legs in a non-stop relay.  I know 5 of the other women fairly well and I’m sure that through a nearly sleepless/showerless night, I will get to know the others well.  Am I a runner, you ask?  No.  Have I ever run?  Technically yes, but does junior high school cross country when I almost always finished last and did 13 years ago really count?  Let the Move-Free joint supplements and the excessive gym sweating begin!  And wish me luck!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



My very own, very first daffodil.  Love. It.

Also, I told Caleb to look out for buds and explained that there were flowers inside that would be coming out soon.  He still looked confused, so I said, “It’s like when Baby James was in my tummy and my tummy got big, and then he came out.  Soon, these buds will open up and the flowers will come out.”  Now, Caleb looks forward to all the “baby flowers being born.”


Being a homeowner is everything we had hoped it would be.  We LOVE it.  We work on the house every week, it seems, to make it our own, but we don’t really even mind the work and take pride in it being ours.  We have made quite a lot of changes so far.  We have painted the guest room, kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, entry way, stairs, upstairs hall and Caleb’s room since moving in.  We still need to paint a downstairs hall and the master bed/bath.  We’ve replaced the garbage disposal, kitchen faucet and fixed the kitchen pipes so they don’t leak (where was the inspection guy on THIS?!).  We’ve cut down a hideous and dead tree that scraped against our family room window and pulled out the weedy front walkway plants and instead planted rosebushes.  We’ve acquired and refinished an ancient piano (deserving of its own post).  We’ve painted all the baseboards and trim in all the above mentioned rooms as well.  We’ve had the torsion springs in the garage door replaced and changed bulbs and batteries throughout the house and mowed and raked many hours. And with each little thing, the house is a little more ours.  It’s a little less the Melons’ house (names have been changed to protect the guilty of home neglect) and a little more ours with every time we actually take the outlet covers off to paint instead of paint the outlet covers to the wall (as the aforementioned owners may or may not have done).  Or actually deal with the tree shoots growing in the back yard rather than just mow over them.  GRRRR!  In any case, we love our house.  We love having a house.  We love getting to make it our own.  It’s lively, it’s different and we like it that way.  We have plenty of changes that still need made, but here are some ideas for you, of our house.  And don’t worry, I didn’t clean up just for the sake of photos.  You’re getting to see our house as it really is. SmileDSC00124BEFORE

This is what the “Melons” house looked like with its kooky rug and over the mantle paintings… not to mention wires poking up out of the floor…


Note: the sunflower yellow walls.  Previously, the walls were yellow, but the same way that lemonade is yellow—only just.  If you’re going to paint your walls yellow, paint them YELLOW!  We love the gold glow that fills this room when the light pours in. We plan to get a large family photo to go above the mantel this spring when the blossoms are out.  This is our family room—complete with children’s books and a laundry basket on the floor. Smile


These pictures were taken last September.  They include our furniture (pre-piano), but former paint and window hangings.  I was also in the middle of a sewing project.  Why was I compelled to take pictures at this time?  I have no idea.


This is what the space looks like today.  We LOVE the green in this room.  Delightful, sophisticated, soothing.


This is a before picture of the entryway/stairs.  Again, our furnishings—their paint.



Here it is with the gray and white trim rather than the original oak trim.  We will be adding a server to go underneath the huge poppies picture as an entry way console table soon.


And, what the heck, here is the piano—which is its own before and after picture.  The piano is the AFTER picture; the bench is the BEFORE picture.  I’ll give you a few close-ups of the bench so you can see where we came from.


This piano had 5 layers of old paint and stain that needed to be removed to get back to the original mahogany wood that it is.  At one point, this piano was baby blue.  Please do not ask me why someone would paint a piano baby blue.  My only answer would have to be excessive drug use.  It took a couple of months, several containers of CitriStrip, more than one package of steel wool, heaps and heaps of goop that came off the piano after using the CitriStrip, mineral spirits, a new stain and varnish, an electric sander and a LOT of elbow grease to take this piano form looking like the bench, to looking like this:


I love it and while it does still need to be tuned, I have actually written a song on it.  My first since I was 13-14 years old. You can expect another one when I’m 40. Smile  More about this later.

So, that’s life.  I spend it doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, feeding kiddos, playing trains, doing projects on the house, and all those other mommy-ing things we all do!