Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Boulder Growing Gardens

Josh and I had a great, yet chilly, day on the 1st grade field trip.  They planted seeds, worked in the garden, learned about bugs, and had the chance to visit a beehive.  When they were learning about bees, they were told that honey is essentially bee throw-up.  This, of course, grossed everyone out, and they all vowed never to eat honey again.  Josh thought about it for a bit and said, “Mom, I don’t want to eat plain bee throw up.  But, I love bee throw up in my cereal.”  (referring to honey nut chex)

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Bolder Boulder with my girl

IMG_3818I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Memorial Day is the best running day of the year in Boulder, CO.  And this year it was made even better because Halle ran her first 10k.  We had been training once or twice a week (plus soccer) for about 3 months.  She did the Run to the Rock 5k with her dad in April, and then we built up her mileage a little more so she could run BB10k.  Training was often tough—there were some tears, lots of talks about mental toughness, and giving it your all, but I am so glad we did it.  Halle was so proud of this big accomplishment, and race day was just perfect.  There is no better venue to run your first distance race.  All the bands, dancers, Doritos, slip and slides, gummy worms, etc….provide much needed distractions and made the miles fly by. 


Crossing the finish line together was a moment I’ll never forget.  Halle had the biggest grin and I was one proud mama! 

IMG_3794  IMG_3797  Nat and Michael and kids came out to visit and run with us.  Of course, Rusty caught a little stomach bug the day they arrived, and he passed it to Michael.  I think it’s safe to say it wasn’t his finest 10k, after not eating for 2 days, but he and Nat made it through and had fun.  We did a kid swap—Nat and Michael ran early and then Rusty dropped the kids at the stadium to them and then he started in a late wave.  The kids all had fun eating popsicles at the expo and watching the skydivers and the jets fly by.  It was pretty hot, and a long morning for them, but they did great.  IMG_3819Blake had to share his birthday with the Bolder Boulder, and he wasn’t too thrilled about it.  He woke up at 6am in excitement, only to be told he couldn’t open presents until after the race, and so he zonked out during the Memorial Day Program.  IMG_3811 Jen and I had the chance to totally geek out during the pro race.  Some of our American Favorites were running, and we stood at the fence and screamed out lungs out as Shalane Flanagan went whizzing by.  It was so fun to be so near all those world class athletes.  While we were waiting for the pros to make their way to the stadium we watched the final civilian racers cross the finish line.  We saw lots of old couples, and one very old man cross.  We promised each other that when we are 70 we will come back and walk the BB10k together and reminisce about the glory days :)
IMG_3804On this day I am always so proud to be an American and so grateful for those men and women and their families who sacrifice so much for the freedoms we enjoy.  God Bless America!
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Last day of school

The last day of school was filled with chic fli a breakfast, ice cream parties, sad goodbyes, and a scooter ride home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Last day of Preschool

Our little Blakie is off to kindergarten. Today was his last day of preschool and they all celebrated at a fun picnic. We have loved our time at Wee School and will miss Ryan, Renee and Joni. They are spectacular teachers. 
Blake and Kale have been such good little preschool buds and I am going to miss listening to their funny conversations in the car everyday. 
I feel so excited to begin this next stage of life with school age kids, and so sad and nostalgic at the same time. Here's to great memories and to new adventures!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Banks Family Cruise 2014

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I can’t even begin to describe how much fun we had on our cruise to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.  It was so fun to have those 11 grandkids together.  They ate up every minute of “cousin time” with the older ones loving the independence they had on the ship, and the little ones having a great time in kids club while us moms and dads soaked up the sun and enjoyed some kid-free dinners.  Heaven! The kids LOVED all the ice cream  Rusty did a great job describing the trip in his journal, so I won’t reinvent the wheel.  Excuse the grammatical errors and incomplete sentences. :) Take it away Rust:

Writing this from the airplane.  No, not the airplane back from the cruise unfortunately.  We got back Saturday afternoon and now it's Monday afternoon and I'm turned around on a plane, this time headed to the east coast.  Never a dull moment that's for sure :)
It was a pretty amazing week. We arrived Saturday afternoon and had a blast exploring the ship with the kids.  We were the first ones of our group on the ship and it was so exciting as each family member would get there. We had a big hallway practically to ourselves.  We were spoiled rotten with each couple having a balcony room and the kids sharing interior rooms right across the hall.

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day - I got lots of reading and some journaling done. We all hung out at the pools for most of the day. That evening we went to dinner without the kids (they went to kids club) which was definitely a good call.  The kids actually really liked kids club, so it was fun.  

Monday morning we woke up and worked out again. We went to a yoga class.  It was fun to do with family, but definitely not the best yoga class ever.  It was ANOTHER day at sea.  I was actually a little surprised that we got on the boat saturday at 12:30 and had another two full days at sea.  Tara took better notes on exactly what each day was.  The days at sea sort of blend together for me.  
One of the most interesting parts of the cruise was not being able to communicate with each other via phones and texting.  It made it tricky to find out where people were or to plan because nobody was in the same place at the same time and you actually spent a fair amount of time looking for each other.  It was a blow back to the 90's or early 2000's when not everybody had a cell phone and you just couldn't get in touch with anyone at anytime (how did we do that?). 

Monday night was the formal night.  It was fun to see everyone dressed up.  The cruise was the best for the kids, but especially Halle. She absolutely loved running around with her cousins and having independence to check herself in and out of kids club at will and decide what/when to eat, and all the other independent moves she got to make.
We landed in Puerto Vallarta Tuesday morning about 11:30.  19 of us walked off the ship into the craziness that is the port.  Immediately there were lots of people asking us for taxis.  We found a van that was a good price and for $20 he took us to the office of Los Veranos, which is the zipline company we had looked up online that we thought was fun.  Luckily the bus was ready to go as soon as we negotiated price.  The scenery on the ride up was beautiful - through the rain forest.  It reminded me of Costa Rica or the yucatan penninsula.  
We arrived at the base camp, they trained us on the use of pulley's and we were off.  Zip-lining from tree to tree until eventually you go across the entire valley that had a beautiful river running down the middle of it.  The guides were funny as you would expect - something like a river rafting group.  They jumped out of the trees and played "Jaguar" and scared me and Cory but probably Cory the worst.  The kids had a blast.  They would send them down in trains.  We went upside down.  Tons of fun.  It was awesome to see that Halle and Josh, were not even scared.  
Afterward there was the perfect little "beach" next to the river where Sharon had been watching the tiny ones (Blake, Kali, Carson, and Cohen) and they had been having a blast.  Complete with little boats and waterslide.  Sharon had ordered lunch and made themselves comfortable.  After, we all dived into the river and played with the kayaks and went down the waterslides.  Josh even went down the waterslide that had a 5 foot drop - and bellyflop!  Poor guy, I think he hurt his stomach pretty bad.      
We rode down the mountain.  Having a few minutes left on shore, Tara and I did not want to go back to the boat just yet so we got off at The Crystal Hotel with some of the other guests.  They walked us back to their beach and we watched the sunset and played in the surf.  Just our little 5 person family.  That was one of my favorite experiences of the trip.  I remember just loving them so much, feeling so lucky to be alive and to get to spend my life with that amazing family.  Crazy to believe that we were on the same beach that Tara and I spent our honeymoon.  We were just a few doors down from the Crown Paradise (we would run by the exact room where we stayed the next day).  That was a blast.  Afterwards we went back up to the Crystal to change and of course they had an amazing pool so Blake and Josh just HAD to jump in, to wash the sand off of course.  Then we wanted to find some real Mexican food so we walked across the street and had Huacheros and orange fantas - which were a kind of hard / soft taco.  Then we walked back and of course because the kids insisted that they each have their own Fanta they all had to go to the bathroom and we had to stop at the Mexican 7-11!  Went back and went to bed.  Tired!

Wednesday.  Went running with Tara and Kami at 6:30 on the beach.   We wanted to run along the sand but it was high tide so there was no "hard sand" and it made it really tough.  We ran right by where we stayed on our honeymoon.  We all got soaked at one point when we got pinned against a cement wall by an incoming wave.  On the way back I fell behind and Tara and Kami talked about life, the church, etc. I think it was really good.  
We met up with the family after breakfast and all walked to the beach.  We found a cool place by The Crystal where we had watched the sunset before.  The waves were POUNDING and the kids were getting slammed.  The water was really warm so if you swam out past the break it was really nice.  We played on the beach for hours.  Then I haggled for 2 paddleboards for 45 minutes.  It was hard!  Kept falling over - spent as much time in the water as I did up on the board. Tara did great and didn’t have any problem standing up. Then we switched with Lindsey and Cory and let them have a turn.  We walked back along the beach to the boat.  We had a couple minutes so we stopped at the flea market right there by the cruise ship. I went in search of food.  I found the guy who was feeding the workers and bought some tacos (or were they empanadas?) out of his black bag.  They were pretty good, not great.  Got back on the boat.  

Thursday: Woke up in Cabo!  This day was Brynn's birthday. It was a pain trying to get everyone off the boat.  We had to take "tenders" in, so it was hard organizing everybody.  Eventually we got off the boat and were swarmed by water taxis - they want to take you to Lovers Beach which is the tourist trap everyone goes to.  Instead I had read about Chilleno beach, so we took another huge van about 15 minutes and $50 to Chilleno beach. 

The beach was fantastic.  A semi-secluded beach that had big shade stations, perfect sized waves, blue water (the water in Puerto was too turbulent to be blue), and good snorkeling.  I ran up to the parking lot to get some masks.  I snorkeled the entire two hours.  My favorite thing was taking the kids out.  My favorite memory was holding Halle's hand while she snorkled for the first time, taking her out amongst the rocks into the deep.  At the end I saw an eel which was really cool.  I even took Blake out, he would hang on my back and when I would tell him he would poke his  eyes and mask into the water to look at the fish.  We had to be back on the ship by 3:30 - so we packed up and were supposed to meet Jose at 12:45.  He was supposed to come back and get us, he didn't.  Tara says it was because we were condescending, I'm not so sure.  Back in Cabo we shopped.  Tara was tired, and took Josh back to the ship.  I found some tacos.  Given we were dropped off in a completely different part of the marina, we were 15 minutes later than the supposed "last tender".  But luckily they were running behind.  Back on the boat it was the 2nd formal night.  It was also Brynn's birthday.  So this was the night where we had everyone come to the formal night with us.  It was a good time.  Everybody looked so sharp.  The kids were good for the most part, we had the big kids sitting on a table by themselves and the little kids by us.  The little kids are crazy!  We sang to Brynn.  Tara made the kids try escargot.  Some gagged.  Some said it wasn’t so bad. After was the Beatles show which was really good and clever.

Friday: Last full day at sea. I booked a massage for my mom and Tara and they had a great time.   We sent the kids to kids club for dinner and had one last adult night out.  This was my favorite meal - we toasted Phyllis and Willis, gave Alan and Sharon a cute picture of the grandkids that we had taken on formal night, and had a great time together.  Picked up the kids, put them to bed and tried to go to the "legends" show.  It was dumb, and Lindsey came and said that Josh had thrown up in bed.  Luckily it seemed to be just motion sickness because he was fine the next day.  

Saturday:  Had a quick breakfast as we landed in LA.  Said goodbye and waited in line to get off the ship. Sweet miss Halle had tears in her eyes at the thought of leaving her cousins and grandma and grandpa. We hung out on the peer for a little because we didn't want to be too early to the airport.  Got to the airport, checked some bags, and then had to keep Blake in check because he was a wild animal due to 7 days of limited supervision and discipline.  Eventually we told him and Halle to go look at the toy store, but they were in a back of a different store so it was really hard to find them. Tara and Josh boarded the plane while I ran around the airport looking for them.  After a bumpy plane ride home we landed and met Carlie at the airport (she came to visit while Danny in China) and then drove home.  Saturday evening it felt like the whole world was spinning.  We ate some soup and went to bed. We were all exhausted, but at the same time feeling rejuvenated and feeling so lucky to be part of such an amazing family.   

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ragnar Trail Zion


The M.O.M’s  had a crazy weekend competing in our 4th annual Ragnar.  This time we opted for something a little different.  An 8 person team running trails around Zion National Park. 

After driving and yapping all day long, we arrived late Wednesday night to our amazing cabin at Zion Mountain Lodge. Nat and I got to share a big king bed, and stayed up talking till 2 am.  Beautiful views awaited us when we looked out our giant picture window on Thurs morning.  cabin The weather was perfect, so we decided to hike Angel’s Landing.  It was such a fun adventure.  The last mile or so of the hike is over a ridge with steep cliffs on either side.  Holding onto the chain embedded in the mountain is the only way to safely cross to the other side.  I’m so glad we decided to do it.  The views from the top were so gorgeous and worth all the effort it took to get there. 

We all came off the mountain with a little sunburn.  Little did we know, this was the last sun we’d see for the entire weekend. 

We ate dinner at Blondie’s diner (Joanna had never had Utah “Scones” before, so we inducted her into the club)


angles landing That night we all crashed pretty early in anticipation of not sleeping Friday night during the race.  Our start time wasn’t until 1:30, so we took our time getting ready in the morning and heading over to Zion Ponderosa Ranch where the race was being held.  We were greeting by 100’s of tents set up in Ragnar Village.  We picked a prime location and set up our camp. setting up campSoon it was time for Joanna to start! Rain clouds were looming, and it was pretty cold but we were holding out hope that the storm would blow over, or be short lived.  We all tried to rush through our first legs in anticipation of the rain.  Everyone had a great first run, but none of us were really prepared for the rigors of trail running.  We are most definitely road runners and we all wished we had trained on some more technical trails.  Our ankles, calves, and pace took a beating.runners About 2:30 in the morning, just after Amy had started the 4.6 mile loop, it started to POUR.  The temperature plummeted and the trails immediately became a slick, muddy mess.  It took Amy about 1 1/2 hrs to get through her leg.  By this time the rain had turned to snow. Runners were limping into the exchange area tired, wet, and nervous about the deteriorating conditions.  It was near 4:30 am.  Pitch Black and snowing hard.  Natalie was our next runner and her leg was 8.2 miles. She was hearing runners coming in saying the run was taking 3+ hours.  Luckily she had the sense to call it quits.  She came back to the tent and we all decided we’d get a few hours of shut eye and resume running in the morning when it was light again. 
Photo Apr 29, 11 12 15 AM (1)We awoke at 6:30 am to the sound of screams from the other tent which was collapsing under the weight of snow. We poked our heads out and could not believe our eyes.  The entire camp was covered in snow, and it was still coming down.  Even more unbelievable was the fact that runners were still out there slogging through the mess.  No one was running.  Everyone was covered head to toe in mud.  Most were limping.  Some were crying.  Everyone was half frozen.  One look at them and we all called it quits.  We want to be tough, but it seemed a little silly to compromise our health in such a way.  We heard stories of torn ACLs, blown achillies, volunteers abandoning their posts, lost runners, and runners being taken to the hospital with hypothermia. Something finally knocked some sense into Ragnar and they called the race around 7:30 in the morning.   IMG_3565 The shuttles back to our cars were not scheduled to start until 9 am.  There was no way I was going to wait that long.  I headed out into the storm with the express purpose of finding someone who would take me to my car.  As luck would have it, there was someone backing out of one of the little on-site cabins.  I flagged them down and they graciously agreed to take me to my car.  On my way back up to the Ranch I saw two men running the 5 miles from the Ranch to the parking lot in shorts and ponchos.  I decided to pay the good deed forward and turned around and gave them a ride down to the parking lot.  IMG_3593(These are the trail markers about 30 min after it began to snow)

We packed up as quickly as we could and headed back to our toasty warm cabin. We really felt like we were watched over during this trip. We had just seen a big Hummer get stuck in the exact same place we had to cross to get out of the Village.  We said a quick prayer, and buzzed right through the mud like it was no big deal.  And that was only one of the countless times we felt watched over and protected. Thanks, God!Photo Apr 29, 11 09 02 AM As luck would have it, we had asked for an early check in, anticipating we’d be back to the cabins around 1pm after the race was over.  They were a little surprised when we showed up just before 9 am, but they gave us the keys anyway.  8 hot showers and 8 mugs of hot cocoa later we were all feeling much better. 

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, crafting, and watching the snow fall.  In our effort to get out of Ragnar Village ASAP, we had collapsed our tents and left them behind.  Later in the afternoon, after the snow stopped, we went back to pick them up.  And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we got there it started snowing again.  We all felt like pretty tough chicks as we dismantled the tents in the snow. 
cabin funThat evening we ventured out to Mt. Carmel for some Ho-made pie.  The sign alone was worth the drive.  And the pie did not disappoint. Ho’s make really great pie! (The story really goes that the original owners opened up shop during WWII and make their sign from a scrap of wood they found.  “Homemade” was too long to fit, so it was shortened to Ho-made. In the years since, the diner has embraced the term and all the funny souvenirs that inevitably followed)
IMG_3670 We had a great night playing games and talking.  Even after 4 days together we still had plenty to say.  I am so grateful for these amazing women.  They challenge me, encourage me, inspire me, uplift me, and embrace me for me. I feel lucky to call them my friends. DSC_0412Our drive home on Sunday was met with…..can you guess?  SNOW.  Vail Pass was closed, and we were all a little discouraged to be so close to home, but so far.  I called Rusty and he found us an alternate route home through Leadville as long as Eisenhower Tunnel stayed open.  Again, many prayers were offered that we could get through the tunnel.  We made it, and all breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into my driveway safe and sound.  DSCN4586

This was an adventure that will never be forgotten.  Friendships were  deepened and solidified, obstacles overcome and we had more fun that can be imagined. 


Blake’s 8 kids

Blake and I were headed to soccer the other day, and having a conversation about getting a dog.  It went something like this. 

Blake: “Mom, when are we getting a dog?” (an oft asked question)
Me: “Blake, when you have your own house, you can have as many pets as you want.  But right now we are not getting a dog.”
Blake: (pouting) “When I’m a Dad, I am going to let my kids make the choices.  If they want a dog, they can get a dog.”
Me: “That’s awesome!  You are going to be a great Dad.  How many kids do you want to have?”
Blake: (tapping the side of his face) “Hmmm….I think…..about 8!”
Me: “How cool!  I’m going to get to be a grandma to 8 cute little Blake babies? I will be so excited.”
Blake: “Yeah.  Will you tend them sometimes?  I think me and my wife will need a break.”

He also later told me that they would get a house car (RV) to go on vacations together.  And I was invited to come.