Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hooray for talented friends!!

I'm at Leaca's right now and Erika is visiting from Fairbanks... Leaca and I are gleaning from Erika's amazing digital scrapbooking talent. I had Erika use my blog as a "guinea pig" for teaching us about scrapbook papers and headers and other fun stuff. So I have a new look. Now I need to go home and play some more. Oh... and the pictures are taken by Leaca - my amazing photographer friend. I'll post soon and share more pictures. She is so talented!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Baby Steps Towards One of My Dreams


One spring term while I was in college at BYU (probably about 1995), I decided to stay in Provo instead of going home to work. I worked full time... and that was it!!! No homework, no research, no papers to write... just work and then LOTS of free time. I took this rare opportunity to start something I'd never done before: JOGGING. It was nothing serious, just a mile or two running circles around the track. Fast forward a year or two. I graduated and moved in with my grandmother in San Jose. Again, I worked full time in an early morning job that was over by 2 or 3 every afternoon. Add to this the fact that I was in a new city where I knew almost nobody and where grandma and I got along best if I wasn't around too much (don’t worry, I love my grandma!). Once again, I took up jogging - this time a little more seriously. I worked my way up to about 8 miles and learned to really love it. Now fast forward again. I moved to Long Beach, where I got my first teaching job. I forgot about my running and became very much addicted to my teaching. I ate, slept and drank teaching. I soon realized that I needed an outlet in order to avoid burnout after just one month! I picked up with my jogging again- especially enjoying the trail that cuts through the sand and takes one right along the beach for quite a stretch.

During some kind of goal setting unit that I was teaching in my 8th grade English class, I remember so clearly standing in front of my class and publicly setting the goal and making the commitment to run a marathon (at the time, I thought it would be that year sometime). I looked up some training programs and even went to a meeting for a marathon training club of some sort. Then… another one of my goals suddenly entered my life: JACOB. Once again, running got put on the back burner. Although I did go on short runs occasionally, my life basically consisted of teaching and spending time with my honey. Fast forward: we got married, enjoyed one year as blissful newlyweds and then got pregnant (it continued to be blissful!). Ammon was born. On his first birthday, we announced that I was pregnant again. Abraham was born. Jacob graduated from CSULB and decided that graduate school was a good idea. We moved to Idaho and I kind of became a single mom to two active little boys as Jacob crunched his way through an 18 month graduate program. I may have gone on a few occasional short runs, but they never amounted to much.

I had a cathartic experience one day when we went to downtown Coeur d’ Alene to watch the Iron Man Triathlon racers finish up their competition. I’m not sure what happened to me, but as I stood at the finish line and watched athlete after athlete complete the race and then collapse into family members’ arms or onto the floor (or even straight into a first aid tent for medical attention!), I started to cry. The tears turned into sobbing… and all the while I couldn’t explain to Jacob why I was crying. The only thing I could figure was that these people were doing something that I wanted to do SOOOO BADLY, yet here I was more than just a few pounds too heavy to run seriously and further from my dream than I’d ever been.

Fast forward again. We moved to Alaska and after giving birth to my baby girl Ziya, I decided to take up jogging again. I tried to go around the block and almost died. My lungs burned and my knees ached. I got frustrated and gave up quite easily. Then this past spring after losing a little bit of weight, I tried once again… this time with a bit more success. One friend dragged me along for a very hilly run. She gently but firmly encouraged me to run the whole route with her, not telling me until the end that we had run five miles of constant hills. I’d caught the bug again! My sister Elisa talked to me about running in the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon with her. I knew I couldn’t get myself ready for a marathon in time, but I looked up the event and decided to prepare myself for something that day. Although I can’t yet call myself an avid runner, I have enjoyed going on 2-5 mile runs either by myself or with Kristen, another one of my “budding runner” friends.

On June 7, my sweetie Jacob joined me in my first ever official race, the Kenai River Festival 5K. I was thrilled to be able to finish the race without any walking. Even this small race (170 participants, I think) did much to get me excited about running events.

This brings me to the present. Yesterday, June 21, Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, my good friends (even better friends now that we’ve experienced this together!) Kaarin and Angeline and I ran in the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon (Elisa ended up not being able to make the big trip). All day we told people that that we ran “in” the Mayor’s Marathon… which we really did! We just chose to run in the 5-Miler event! It was such a great experience. Angeline has already blogged the day with tons of pictures and a great description of our race. I sat down to do the same, and instead, all of this came out. I guess what it comes down to is that I feel like this has been a long time in coming (thus, the length of this post!). Some may be reading and thinking, “All this… and she only ran 5 miles???” I do kind of wish that we’d done the half marathon instead, but I am just so thrilled to have participated in such a big event without dying ;) I’m not going to commit myself to any marathons or anything like that for the time being (I’ve already learned that sometimes Heavenly Father puts more important things in my path), but an occasional “Hey, how’s the running going?” would be really great and encouraging! Angeline, Kaarin and I are already talking about a few more races this summer. We’re all reveling in a beautiful Alaskan summer when our present lives allow us to dedicate a little bit of time to this re-discovered love.
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Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm supposed to be working on some reports for the apartment owners... but my mind keeps wandering. I'm giving up. The reports can wait. I'm not doing a very good job on them anyway, because I keep switching screens and going to my friend's blog. My heart is so full right now. Our good friends, Jon and Stephanie, just lost their baby girl to drowning. I never got to meet her, but being as she was born just one day before our little Ziya, I feel some sort of connection to her.

I got the email earlier today and since then, I've been staring at my kids, giving them random kisses, stroking their hair and between little outbursts of tears, I've been saying lots of silent little prayers. I've also ignored my out of control messy computer desk, my horribly dirty kitchen floor and the unexplained black marks that I need to somehow get off the wall. I let Ziya nurse herself to sleep and instead of quickly putting her in her crib so I could get on to "important stuff", I stroked her hair and sang to her and just watched her sleep. I let Ammon use his soccer dirt filled hands to contort my eyes, cheeks and lips into funny looking faces so that he could get a hearty laugh. Then I did the same thing to him and had a hearty laugh for myself. I joked with Abraham about not being able to carry him because his 44 pounds are just too much for me. Then I flexed my muscles and swung him around and told him that I am super mom and will always be able to carry him because he is my little boy.

I'm the first to admit that I just might have a small case of OCD. The second I wake up (literally!), my brain starts to go through the list of things that I need to accomplish for the day. It often goes something like this: do the laundry, exercise, empty the dishwasher, do the darned reports for the apartment owners, clean that floor, switch out the wardrobes (we can, after all, wear short sleeves now!), bake bread, do the apartment building cleaning, mend the hole in my brown pants, clean the computer desk, pay some bills, make a healthy soup that I can freeze for lunches, post on my blog, etc., etc. I'm sure my list isn't too different than others'. Now though, I'm totally re-thinking my crazy list.

Somebody, somewhere (General Conference, maybe?) in recent months (I think) made a statement that I'm pretty sure was directed at moms. She said something about needing to live in the moment more and needing to focus more on the process of getting where we need to be instead of just hurrying up and getting there (that doesn't make any sense... but it was something like that just in more eloquent words). I remember thinking, "Yeah, right... I'm too busy to live like that!" I hate the fact that it takes the horrible heartache of Stephanie and Jon to make me want to change my list. I hope that when I wake up tomorrow morning, my list will sound more like this: make chocolate chip smiley faces on the pancakes, play frisbee and wiffle ball with Ammon and Abraham, sit on the floor and play with Ziya, hold Jacob's hand sometime during the day, work on Ammon's soccer dribbling with him, read a "long book" to Abraham, let Ziya wear some of my lip gloss, accept Jacob's invitation to go on a leisurely walk, order the new camera so we can take pictures of the kids (ours broke) and other urgent things like these.

I'm thankful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I'm thankful to know that Jon and Stephanie will in fact get to be with their little Camille once again. I'm thankful to know that my own temple sealing to Jacob also makes my little family eternal. I'm thankful for inspired leaders (even though I don't know who it was... anybody??? I should probably read the rest of the talk!) who teach me to live a more holy life. I'm thankful for the new sense of urgency that I feel tonight.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Our First Experience Clamming

Our friend Cameron said we had to experience clamming in Alaska. So we marked our calendar (a negative 5.6 tide day), rounded up some gear, packed a lunch and made the trek. Our party (and it was a party!) consisted of 6 adults, one teenager, two young boys and two little babies. Whew! All the preparations were made and we drove to Clam Gulch, just about 30 or 40 minutes from where we live. We all crammed into the Suburban and drove right onto the beach. After getting our hip waders or boots on (I have to add that Jacob looked like a genuine Alaskan sportsman wearing Cabelas chest waders!), gathering the shovels, buckets and clam guns (oops, we forgot to get gloves), we ventured towards the water. Cameron told us to look for "divots." O.K., so what does a divot look like? We searched and searched and finally started seeing some divots... only to find that these were actually formed by our own shovels dripping wet mud! We searched some more and then Abe made an incredible find - tiny little clam shells. Except that they were actually sunflower seed shells that Cameron was spitting out. At least Abe had fun following his trail! Ben and Kortney Nelson, our friends who went with us, split off from the group and harvested the first clam of the day. Once we kind of figured out what we were doing, we were able to find about 80 more... oh, I feel guilty for lying... it was actually about 8 more! The kids and babies got tired so we headed into shore for our yummy lunch... and that was our clamming experience. Fun times were had. I felt better looking down the beach and seeing that nobody else appeared to be having much luck either.

Later at night, we learned how to clean the clams; or rather, Jacob and Ben learned! Kortney and I made a great audience. Cameron cooked them in butter and garlic, they let off all their delicious juice and we were able to half fill Ziya's little cereal bowl! Ymmmmm... some fresh bread dipped into that little bowl with a few pieces placed on top... it really was delicious.

When I woke up today and saw how beautifully the sun was shining, I was ready to go out and try again for better luck! Except then I decided to bend down and tweak my back. So now I'm lying in bed unable to move... which is why I'm able to post this during normal day hours! Oh well, maybe next month when the tide is low again!

Monday, June 2, 2008

More Wildlife in Our "Yard"

This post must be sung to the melody of "Popcorn Popping"! (come on, humor me!)

I looked out the window, and what did I see?
A great big moose staring right at me!
She had two calves; they were oh, so cute,
So I grabbed my camera and went very mute.
They ran and played all along the bluff,
Mama looked at me as if to say "Enough!"
I love stuff just like this,
It fulfills my very wish,
To experience Alaska and to eat good fish!

O.K., so that last part is really lame, but it's late and I just can't think of any other "ish" rhymes! Enjoy the pictures and short video.

p.s. For those of you who have not experienced a summer in Alaska, we shot these pictures and video at 11:00 p.m... this gives you an idea of how light it is! It does finally get dark a little after midnight, but then the sun comes right back up by about 5 or 5:30 a.m.