Saturday, December 31, 2011

A tradition carrying to the 2nd generation

Growing up, every Christmas Eve Rusty and his brothers would go skiing with his Dad while his Mom stayed home, wrapped presents, prepared Christmas Eve dinner, and got everything ready for Christmas morning.  After we were married, we carried on this tradition a couple of times, but all our tiny kids made it hard to go, so we disbanded the tradition.  But, now that the kids are getting older we can carry this tradition to the next generation.  We took Halle, Josh, Bridger, and Bode skiing at Sundance on Christmas Eve.  The kids were so cute, and they are excited to make it a tradition of their own!  Bridger and Bode, who’d been a few times before, were great skiiers, and by the end of the day Halle could hold her own as well.  Josh just liked to bomb down the mountain as fast as he could with Mom or Dad trailing behind him to catch him when he got too wobbly.  It was so much fun, but my back was KILLING by the end of the day :) 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

California International Marathon


16 weeks of hard training led to this day.  I have run in the snow, the rain, and the heat.  I have run about every inch of my town, and the three surrounding towns.  I have done countless laps around the middle school track on speedwork days, I have done tempo runs, I have done long runs, I have swam and biked on cross training days, and I was READY.  Waking up at 5 in the morning to run in the 15-25 degree Colorado weather was getting really old.  So, I was very happy when race day finally arrived. 

I’m still running with Redline Running Club, and 3 of my dear friends came on this journey with me (Or rather, they dragged me with them kicking and screaming—j/k).  Jen, Amber, Alison and I, along with our coach Doug (who is much too fast for us) decided to try the “Run Less, Run Faster” marathon plan.  Basically, you only run 3 days/week, but each run has a very specific purpose, and a very specific pace.  We had speedwork days, tempo days, and long run days.  I really liked this plan for two reasons—One, I get bored just running everyday, and I love to cross train so 3 running days was perfect.  Two, I loved the challenge of always having a goal pace each and every run.  This plan was tough, but I’d totally do it again. 

We decided to run CIM because it’s a flat/downhill course, and it was in California, so we could get a break from the Colorado cold.  We flew to San Francisco on Saturday morning (It was snowing hard in Denver when we left),  and went to pick up our rental car.  We walked past this old grandma car, and Jen said, “This is our car.”  Amber and I just laughed because we knew she was kidding.  She was not kidding.  Meet Lucille: 

She actually was a pretty good car—lots of room to stretch out :) We drove to Sacramento, checked into our hotel and then met up with Alison and Doug at the Expo.  Expos  are so fun!  So many things to look at, and so many ways to spend Rusty’s hard earned money.  We all got fun, sparkly headbands, and from then on we referred to ourselves as the “Sparkle Band Girls.” 

Then it was off to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  In keeping with our grandma theme, we went to dinner at 4:30.  The food was great, as usual, and we even got interviewed by the local news station.  My moment of TV glory shows me enthusiastically slurping spaghetti. (I’m at 43 seconds).  And my coach Doug even got a sound bite!

Again, keeping with our Grandma theme, we were in bed by 8pm.  We were staying in the official race hotel, and, then next morning a chorus of alarms went off at exactly 4am.  It was pretty funny to hear the alarms echoing through the whole hotel.  We were on the busses by about 5:30am headed to the start line.  I think the bus ride was one of the highlights of the trip.  We were so giggly and excited and everyone around us was laughing at all our wacky stories. 

It was FREEZING at the start line.  Just in case you wondered, 40 degrees is still cold.  Even if you are used to running in 20 degrees.  Amber, Jen and I had raided Goodwill earlier in the week for some sweet pre-race warm up clothes, but we were still pretty cold. We all had on shorts and short sleeves to race.  And we all wished we had worn warmer clothes.  Or at least had gloves.  By about mile 3 my hands were numb. 

We found our pace group, and waited for the horn to signal the start of the race—when it did, the crowd surged forward.  The first two miles were a lot of dodging in and out of crowds, trying to find a steady pace.  Due to my over-excitement, and over-hydration, I had to pee by mile 3.  I made a quick stop to the port-a potties, and then caught  back up to Jen and Alison in a 1/2 mile or so.  The next few miles flew by right on pace.  About mile 8 I had to pee again!  Are you kidding me?  I was determined to make it to at least 13 miles before stopping again.  This course had lots of rolling hills, which were kinda fun.  No hill was so huge that it drained your energy, and the downhills made it easy to stay on pace.  We made it to 13.1 miles feeling strong.  At about 14 miles, Jen said she wasn’t feeling great, and that her hip was hurting pretty bad.  She pressed on for about another mile, and then had to slow down a bit.  I made my second and last port-a-potty stop at mile 15.  It was harder to get back on pace after that stop.  I turned on my tunes and set my sights for the 20 mile mark.  My goal for the race was to stay “on pace” for 20 miles (8:23/mile—which would be a 3:40 finish time), and then just FINISH the darn thing with whatever I had left. I hoped to come in no slower than a 3:45.   I was able to keep pace until 20, and then every mile got a little slower, and a little slower.  20-23 were the hardest miles for me.  My body was TIRED, and I knew I still had a long way to go.  At mile 23 I sucked down a gu and turned on my 5k mentality.  I was able to pick up the pace a bit and the crowds started getting thicker and thicker and I could feed off their energy a little bit.  I swear the last .2 miles were the LONGEST of the race, but finally the finish line came into view.  I have never been so happy to see those blue timing mats in my life.  I hadn’t looked at my garmin for awhile, and I was thrilled when I reached down to stop my watch to see 3:45:03.  PERFECT!!! 
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As soon as I stopped it felt like my body went into shock.  I just wandered around with a glazed look in my eyes until I found my friends.  We were all anxious to leave, so we grabbed our stuff and headed to the shuttle.  We needed to cross the street, and we got to the curb of the sidewalk, and I just stood there staring at the 5 inch drop.  My legs would not go.  Everyone turned around to wait for me and I said, “That curb is insurmountable.  I cannot do it.”  That totally cracked everyone up, and Jen lifted me down to the street. 

Jen had hurt her hip during the race, and I was already sore, so the two of us were pretty slow.  Alison and Amber caught the free shuttle back to the hotel, but we were left behind, so we just snagged a taxi.  The hotel was so awesome—runners didn’t have to check out until 2, so we had time to get in the hot tub and shower before heading to San Francisco. 

When we got to our hotel there was a basket of treats waiting for us with a sweet little note from our families.  We were so happy!  

Our hotel in SF was right by Union Square, so we headed out to do some window shopping and we grabbed dinner at the fanciest mall food court I have ever seen. 

We crashed that night, and I woke up in the morning more sore that I thought possible. I could barely walk.  And SF is a very hilly city.  It was painful.  We ate breakfast at the Cable Car CafĂ©, and I couldn’t decide between the breakfast sandwich and these amazing crepes, so I got both!  That’s the benefit of running a marathon…..EATING!

Jen’s aunt Kim was kind enough to be our chauffer for the day, and she took us down to Fisherman’s warf where we browsed the interesting shops, saw the sea lions, and ate clam chowder and lobster bisque in sourdough bread bowls.  YUM.  We also saw some scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and visited Ghirardelli Square where we all had yummy ice cream. 

That evening, even though I was totally stuffed with food, Jen and I ventured to Chinatown and ate some really yummy spring rolls, pot stickers, and kung pao chicken.  It was so fun to spend the day with Amber and Jen, and I don’t think we ever stopped talking, even for 5 seconds. 

Tuesday it was time for our little adventure to end, and we packed up and headed to the airport.  It was an amazing journey from beginning to end.  One I know I won’t ever forget!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Great to be 8

 The family at the baptism_picnik Halle and Mom

  While Rusty and I like to think our family totally adores us, and they all want to drive/fly to Colorado just because they love us, the reason everyone came out for Thanksgiving was to attend Miss Halle’s baptism on Nov 26th.  I’ve had a sneaky suspicion that she was the favorite every since her Grandmas laid eyes on her 8 years ago.

  I just couldn’t imagine a more perfect day. Halle was so nervous the day before her baptism, and we sat down and had a long talk about how if she was prepared, she didn’t need to be afraid.  We talked about how the Holy Ghost would bring her peace and testify to her that she was making the right decision.  I just love my tenderhearted little girl.  After our talk she seemed to feel much better.  She woke up the next morning and said, “My stomach is in knots.  But the good kind of knots!” 

DSC_0089 We headed to the church.  It was so wonderful to be surrounded by all our family and friends.  I couldn’t believe how many people came out to support Halle and Riley.  The love in the room was overwhelming!  Riley’s grandma gave a sweet talk on baptism, and then Nat, Carlie, Halle, Riley, Emma, and I sang “Daughter of a King.” My Mom played the piano for us.  Beautiful song for some beautiful girls.  photo (16)

Next up was the baptisms.  Halle and I walked to the changing room and quickly slipped on the white jumper.  Both Grandpa Banks and Grandpa Cornell were witnesses to her baptism.  I stood at the stairs of the font and watched her walk down into the warm water and meet her Dad.  He was so tender and sweet with her.  He offered the baptismal prayer, and then submerged her in the water.  She came up beaming and gave Rusty a huge hug.  Then Blake hollered, “Good job Dad!”  That made everyone chuckle.   Riley was up next, and she was just as sweet as could be.  Back in the changing room the girls teeth were chattering because they were so cold.  Despite the cold, they were all giggles and smiles.  We quickly got them dried off and back into their beautiful dresses.  Halle and Riley on their special day

  Sharon gave the cutest talk on the Holy Ghost that I have ever heard.  She had a box full of fun props to help the girls understand the different rolls the Holy Ghost can play in our lives.  There was a flashlight because he testifies of truth and light.  There was a compass because he can guide and direct our choices.  There was a “Beware” sign because he can warn of danger, and there was a nice soft blanket because he is the Comforter.  She gave all the props to Halle afterward, and that blanket hasn’t left her side since.   

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Halle with Grandma and Grandpa Banks. She's wearing the special necklace they gave her at her baptismHalle with Grandma and Grandpa Cornell

Next up were the confirmations.  In her circle was her Dad, the Bishop, Grandpa Cornell, Grandpa Banks, Fred Yates, David Wilsted, and Brandon Bohn.  She is a lucky girl to have such wonderful men in her life!  A few months before her baptism, after she’d attended the baptism of a few of her friends, I asked her what her favorite part of the service had been.  She said, “After the confirmation when the Dad’s give their daughters big huge hugs.”  So sweet.  And Rusty was instructed that the hug be epic:)  Rusty offered a beautiful prayer, through the power of the priesthood, and confirmed Halle a member of the church.  She is such a sweet and amazing girl, and I know our Heavenly Father has a special plan for her.  After the blessing, the hug did not disappoint.  I think I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life. 

The epic post-confirmation hug

Halle and Grandpa Cornell Halle and Grandpa Banks

I didn’t throw her a birthday party this year, opting instead for a fun luncheon after the baptism.  We had so much fun planning the food and making decorations together. We had a “sweet” theme, and so we had jars full of candy, dum dum trees, caramel and chocolate covered pretzels, and sugar cookies decorated like lollipops.  And that’s only the sweet treats.  We also had meat and cheese trays, rolls, salads, and fruit.  I think it turned out pretty darn cute. AND, I’m sooooo glad we had family there to help.  Because I may have gone a teeny tiny bit overboard.  Which is so unlike me;)

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So many friends came to celebrate with us, and Halle was spoiled rotten with lots of fun gifts, and many beautiful cards I know she will keep forever. 
Halle and Berlynn Halle and Jenna

I think the only word to describe this day is JOY.  Pure, simple, magnificent JOY.  It rivals the day she was born.  Halle, we are so proud of your decision to be baptized and make covenants with your Heavenly Father.  We know he will bless you and bring happiness and peace to your life as you keep the covenants you made today.  WE LOVE YOU!

One more special story:  When my Mom arrived earlier in the week, she gave Halle a little white doll dress so her doll could match her baptism dress.  The dress was made out of the same material as the skirts my bridesmaids wore at my wedding.  I think I should steal that dress away and keep it as an heirloom. 

Grandma Cornell made Julie the doll a baptism dress out of the same material as my bridesmaid's skirts.  What a special little dress!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Visions of Sugar Plumbs danced in our heads

Our yearly tradition 
Sugar Plumb Fairies, that is.  Halle and I were so excited to share our yearly tradition of attending the Nutcracker with all the girls in our family this year.  The men and the boys all went to Dave and Busters.  The Nutcracker did not disappoint, and we all had a magical time!DSC_0085 girls off to the Nutcracker DSC_0082

Beautiful Thanksgiving

We had such a beautiful Thanksgiving this year.  Beautiful weather, beautiful food, and beautiful family.  It was our biggest Thanksgiving yet-We had 17 people at our Thanksgiving table :)

The day started with the Annual Turkey Day 5k over in the Anthem neighborhood.  This year Rusty, Nat, Michael, Mom, Dad, and I all ran.  The kids also did the Bumpkin Pumpkin 1/2 mile dash.  They just love this race and look forward to it all year.  I ran my fastest 5k to date (21:41), and due to our babysitter getting stuck in race traffic, Rusty started a little late, but had 250 kills.  Not a bad day on the race course. Michael and my Dad were also lightening fast.  Mom and the pregnant Natalie put in very solid performances.  The only disappointment of the day was that they ran out of kids t-shirts.  Halle was so sad—it broke my heart.  She ran her little heart out, and wanted that t-shirt as her badge of honor. 

We went home and cooked the day away.  What a feast we had!  It was close to 70 degrees, so we sent up the tables outside and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine while we ate. 

IMG_6072(Halle setting the table—don’t judge me for using paper products at Thanksgiving—I don’t even have close to 17 place settings)


The kids table.  Jack wouldn't eat any Thanksgiving dinner

(The kids table.  Jack was here too, but he refused to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  Silly boy!)

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My mom came out a few days early, and over the course of two days we baked 7 pies.  All from scratch.  They were delicious, and the first bite made it worth all the hours of work we put in.  Josh did not agree.  When it came time for pie, he chose instead to have an old, stale piece of Halloween candy.  I don’t know how I could have given birth to a person who doesn’t like pie :)7 pies!!  All homemade.  Crust and everything! Josh chose an old, stale piece of Halloween candy instead of pie

And now a few more pictures:

Landon was in Colorado for 24 hours of thanksgiving fun before he had to go back to work 
Landon was in Denver for all of 24 hours.  Then he had to fly home to get back to work.  But, we are sure glad he came for the day. 
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