Sunday, November 07, 2010

I feel so lucky

I feel so lucky because in October we got a visit from my Grandpa, Aunt, and Uncle who all live in California! They came to visit my mom and dad in Billings. They all took a few days to visit Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower and we happen to be right on the way! They stopped on the way down and we ate lunch and visited. Then on their way home we ate lunch together again. My Grandpa, Aunt, and Uncle then started their long drive home that day. My parents stayed because they would be watching the kids for a few days while I went to Kansas to run the marathon and while Tom had to work.
I kinda felt "special" because I have 5 other siblings and of course much more extended family.... but I got to have a visit from my awesome extended family. Guess it pays to live by a few national monuments!
All of the photos below are courtesy of Evan. He snapped a few photos while they were getting ready to leave. Evan and Carter call my Grandpa "Grandpa Grapes" which is supposed to be "Grandpa Great"!
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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Kansas City Marathon & Sister's Trip

The weekend of Oct. 16, I ran my first marathon! Every year we try and plan a sister's trip. This year we planned it in Kansas City, KS, where Jenny lives, and decided to run a marathon the same weekend. This was Susan's second marathon. Our brother in law decided to run the half marathon too. Jenny has a beautiful 3 month old so we'll make her run with us next time :)

Training began on June 7! That is 4.5 months of training. It's funny that when you are training it's seems to drag on forever, then when you finish it all seems like a blur! I'm still in shock that we trained through the summer and somehow never had a really hot day to run on. I'm thankful for the cooler summer this year! My only complaint for training in Gillette is the WIND.... ok and no shade. The day I ran my 20 mile run (the longest training run), it was cold and 25mph winds! I won't forget that one for awhile.
But I was blessed with very few problems during training. No blisters, no chafing, and no injuries!
Despite most of my good luck during training, I did end up getting sick the last month. I got a NASTY chest cold. Definitely the worst cold I've ever had. I think I missed 3 of my Saturday long runs. Yeah I was pretty stressed about it. But, I kept reminding myself that it was good to get it over with BEFORE race day. You'd also be surprised at how well your body maintains your fitness level, even after being sick for a few weeks. I listened to my body and rested when I needed to, but also got RIGHT back out there as quickly as I could. Susan also got sick, pretty much the week of the marathon. But she powered through and was still able to run a great race! On to the race.....

We flew into Kansas on Thursday the 14th. (By the way, my parents came and watched the kids for two days because Tom did not have vacation time - so THANK YOU to them for making it possible for me to go!) Friday we went to the Race Expo to pick up our race packets, with our bib numbers and timing chips. The girls did a little shopping that day too. (We squeezed in the "Sister's Weekend" events where we could. Shopping and eating out! I'm so glad we got to spend time with Jenny, Chris, and the boys! Love my sisters!)
We spent the night getting our clothes and gear ready for the next morning. Gotta make sure you don't forget anything! We went to bed early and woke up bright and early the next morning. Then we headed for the starting line.
Surprisingly I wasn't very nervous, not really sure why. We decided to start with a pace group (a runner or group of runners who run a certain pace during the race, to help you finish by a certain time) and try and finish under 4 hrs. and 30 min.
This marathon is well known for it's hilly course. We had tried to train for this, but still weren't quite sure what to expect. But, yep, there are lots of hills! Oh, and I can't forget to mention it ended up being 80 degrees for the high that day! Susan and I ran with Chris up to mile 6. Jenny and the boys were there waiting for us. It's also where the half marathon and marathon course branch off from each other.
I felt really great and even picked up the pace around mile 9. Susan and I stayed together until around mile 10. I kept going strong until about mile 16. Then it got REALLY hard. My feet hurt and I thought I had blisters on them (I didn't). My hips ached like nothing you've ever felt before! I felt fine when it came to feeling tired... I just HURT! But, I knew to expect that.... it's all part of the experience! So, on I trudged. We saw Jenny, Chris, and the boys again at mile 20. It really occupied my mind, waiting to see them! It actually helped. After that I walked a lot. I tried so hard to run when I could. There were even down hill parts of the course. Your body couldn't even feel it... it still felt like a flat road. Somehow, I ran/walked the last 6 miles, it was all a blur! I just remember that I realized there was no way I was finishing in 4 hrs. and 30 min. But I didn't care, I just wanted to finish!!! And I did! I finished the race in 5 hrs. and 5 minutes. Whew I was so glad to be done! It was such a challenge, but such a great experience!
I've thought a lot about people you meet, who have run marathons. Now I realize what they've gone through. You truly cannot understand, until you do it. You don't appreciate the hard work and dedication they've put into it. Yeah, you think they are crazy and know they run a LOT. But, you don't know the mental toughness they have endured. I would say it's 60% mental and 40% physical. I'm proud of myself for sticking with it... finishing the training and finishing the race! It was no easy feat, that's for sure. I think some people wonder,"If it's so tough and grueling, why do people do it, let alone more than once?" You can't even describe the great feeling of accomplishment after you finish a long run and especially a race. You feel like you can conquer the world. You feel like you can do ANYTHING! You've pushed yourself past your limits and you feel GREAT when you are done. I feel like it's all about challenging yourself and accomplishing something that most people can't or don't do. Will I do another one? Probably. In a few years. The competitive part of me wants to get a better time! Next year = sprint triathlon! :)

Fall 2010 - A new school year!

At the end of August, Evan and Jordyn started school for the year. Evan is attending a pre-school provided by the local school district. It's a really great program to get the kids ready for Kindergarten and it's free! He absolutely LOVES going every day. I can already tell he is learning a lot too. I took pictures of him in his class, on the first day of school, BUT I can't seem to find them anywhere now! I hope they turn up some day, but for now, these will have to do! They were taken by my dad when they were here to visit for a few days.

We thought the picture below was funny because it looks like they are praying! Carter and I get to spend three hours together while Jordyn and Evan are at school. We run errands or I do things around the house and he gets to play computer games without being bothered by anyone! I think we both like our three hours together :)

Jordyn started 2nd grade this year. As most of you know, she spends the majority of her time in a special needs class room. She had switched teachers from last year and was back with her teacher, Mrs. Watt, whom she had the first year we moved here. Sadly, Mrs. Watt passed away suddenly from natural causes, about a month into the school year. I think everyone was very shocked and obviously very sad. I thought a lot about the kids... did they know and understand that she was gone? She was a great lady and taught MANY years for this school, all of which were with special needs kids.
Jordyn had a new aide this year, Mr. Johnson. Early in the year, Mrs. Watt told me that Jordyn seemed to really like him. Well, he just told me yesterday that he is going to be the new teacher! I think he will do just great!
PS: Just have to say again how FANTASTIC Jordyn's bus drivers are! They are so great with all the kids. The drivers that bring Jordyn home always let Carter ride the ramp up and then give him a piece of gum every day. We love them.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Glendo Reservoir

The last weekend in July, we planned a weekend trip to Glendo Reservoir. It's just a few hours south of Gillette. We teamed up with Travis & Linda, Krystal, and Dallas & Katie (our friends & neighbors of Travis and Linda) to rent a pontoon boat. We stayed in some cute little cabins right at the marina, for two nights. I think this was pretty much our only "big" trip this summer!

The view from our cabins. It happened to be a PERFECT weekend when it came to weather. Nice and HOT!

Jordyn relaxing on the porch.

We played lots of Corn Hole (bean bag toss game if you've never heard of it!). Those guys are all TOO good at it.

Dallas and Katie's dog Sunny. Our boys were obsessed with making her fetch stuff.

Out on the lake! There is lots of flooding this year so you could see lots of trees sticking out of the water.

Krystal (with her dog Charlie), Sumner (Dallas and Katie's daughter), and Carter.

Sunny, Evan, Dallas, and "little" Dallas.

Krystal, Carter, Evan, Linda, and Cole.

Me and Carter

Carter and Sunny.

There is a small canyon we took the boat through. Very pretty.
Tom & Evan, Dallas, Travis, Linda, and Katie.

Dallas and Jordyn. Looks like they are having a great time. I LOVED the pontoon boat because it's spacious enough to just bring Jordyn on in her wheelchair! How nice is that? And it wasn't too fast, which is great for Jordyn and all the kids we had with us!
We split the meals up for the weekend. One night Dallas made Cherry Cobbler for dessert, in a dutch oven. It was awesome! He even fed some to Jordyn and she gobbled it down... she loved it.

We found a perfect sandy beach and played there some of the day. Carter loved playing in the sand. He's still a little scared of the water unless someone holds him the whole time.

Evan loved the water. He kept saying,"I'm swimming!" It really was just the waves pushing him to the shore.

Cole and Clay on the tubes. Sadly the boat wasn't quite fast enough to pull tubes. Well, it probably was, but the tubes were too flimsy to use for tubing. Trust me.... we tried. Wish I had pictures of that, it was funny.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Visit from the New Mexico crew!

OK! Finally found the motivation to catch up on my blog...

Tom's mom (Ninny as we call her) is from New Mexico and much of her family still lives there. During the week of July 19-24 a bunch of the family came up from New Mexico to visit! I actually have not met all of Ninny's family so this was the first time I was meeting many of the family members. I think it has been at least 5 or so years since Tom has seen some of them too.
The number one reason for the visit was to watch Nalynn (Tom's 2nd cousin) compete in the National High School Rodeo Finals taking place here in Gillette! We were all really proud of her and excited to watch her compete. She competed in barrels and poles. She did extremely well and placed 2nd overall in Barrel Racing. She also was awarded Rookie of the Year. She is only a freshman in high school! Isn't that awesome!?

Here is a great picture of the crew, below. We weren't in this photo because I think it was the morning I was running my half marathon!

Back row starting at the left, we have Jerry, Blazin, and Nelda Rae. Then we have Clay, Cole, Ninny, Linda, and Travis. Front row, we have Ike, Whitley, Denim, Ace, and Darlin.
This wasn't everyone that came, there are a few people missing.

During the time that people weren't watching Nalynn compete, we would hang out and eat at Travis and Linda's house. Here is Chae, Tom, and Ace (Tom's cousin) talking.

Here I am holding Ace and Timber's daughter Darlin. Isn't she precious?!

Jordyn enjoying all the chaos!

All the family visiting made for a lot of little kids running around! But, they did great playing with each other. This is Blazen, Evan, Denim, Clay, and Ike on the trampoline.

Whitley (Tom's 2nd cousin) being a good sport and organizing a game for the younger kids.

Nelda Rae (Tom's Aunt) playing with Darlin.

Ninny and Nacona (Tom's cousin).

More of the guys: Wil (Nacona's husband), Jerry (Nelda Rae's husband), and Travis.

I threw this one in. I stole ALL of these pictures off Timber's blog! haha Crazy that I never snapped any pics while everyone was here. And I noticed she wasn't in any of the pics I used so... here is Ace and Timber! Ace, Nelda Rae and Jerry came to Billings when Tom and I got married. I was meeting everyone else for the first time. What a great family Ninny has. Everyone was so nice, fun, and great to visit with. Can't wait to travel to New Mexico some time and meet the rest of the fam!
Until next time....

Monday, August 09, 2010

Jordyn’s New Bike!

Check out Jordyn’s hot new wheels! She loves her new bike.

Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon

On July 24, I ran the Spearfish Canyon Half Marathon. It worked out perfectly because my marathon training schedule had me running around 13 miles that day. So, what the heck, might as well make it a little more interesting! 

I woke up at 4:30 am that day to get there in time! It’s about 1.5 hrs. to get there from Gillette. Tom and the kids even tagged along. I’m so glad they came! Spearfish is a really cute town and in a beautiful area.

Everyone rode buses up to the top of Spearfish Canyon to the starting line. Well, I may have got there a little late and they were one bus short. So, a bunch of us had to hitch rides in people’s cars. Lucky me, I rode up with the race director!

Perfect weather. About 55 degrees at the start and lots of shade. I felt awesome most of the way. Starting getting sore around mile 10 because of the slightly downhill grade. Let me tell you, besides the soreness in my calves, that downhill running was HEAVEN! I finished in 1 hour 53 min. Wooo! WAY faster than I was planning!

Tom kept the kids entertained while I ran and they met me at the finish line. They thought I was cool because I got a medal. Now they keep playing with it around the house and Carter says, “You won mom, you won!” I really want to find a kid’s race for them to do!

After the race, we went to a fish hatchery. Pretty cool place. The kids were obsessed with feeding the fish and makin them go crazy. They loved it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The beginning of Jordyn's Make-A-Wish Adventures!

We got a phone call from the Make-a-Wish organization in June. (if you don't already know, we are heading to Disney World in December for Jordyn's Make-a-Wish!) The Gillette Thunder Speedway had called them and wanted to sponsor a child's wish. They were excited to find out that there was a local child they could sponsor...Jordyn! So, we got invited to the races the night of the fundraiser. They put us in a sky box which was perfect for Jordyn. I honestly know Jordyn loved the noise! We would open the door to the sky box and Jordyn would smile and laugh when she heard the craziness. But it was nice to keep her in there so she didn't hear TOO much noise!

The cousins all sat out in front of the sky box.... they loved the races! Carter, Clay, Evan, and Cole. (Jordyn in the background!)

Takes a minute to get used to the noise!

Perect night for a race. One of the coal mines is what you see in the distant background.

Ninny and Jordyn enjoying the race!

Tom, Travis, and Jason (friend).

A crash! He was ok.

At intermission they had the race car drivers come into the audience and collect donations, in helmets, for Jordyn's wish. Sorry, kinda blurry!

They also spoke with us, or I should say Tom :), over a loud speaker. He just told a little about Jordyn and that we were going to Disney World. He did a good job. Some of the crowd could see us but most of them couldn't or weren't paying attention to where we were. As you can see, I'm hiding in the background because there was NO way I was going to do the talking! haha Tom said I still owe him big time for making him do that!
They also did a little "catch up" with the child they sponsored last year. I'm not positive, but she may have had cancer. She chose to get a puppy!

The girls!

Jordyn had a great time! We were so excited to go and so blessed to have been chosen by the Speedway. They also auctioned off an awesome grill to include in the fundraising efforts for Jordyn.

So, the excitement doesn't stop there! Just a few days after finding out she was chosen to be sponsored by the Gillette Speedway, we got another call from Make-a-Wish. They had been contacted by the Wally Byam Caravan Club AKA the Airstream RV Association. They were having their annual international rally in Gillette for one week. They always choose a child from the local community and fund raise to help them with medical expenses. So, they also had contacted Make-a-Wish and were excited to hear that Jordyn was a local Make-a-Wish child.

We got in contact with them and they began their medical fundraiser for Jordyn. Their rally was literally starting two days after we went to the Speedway fundraiser! They asked us if we could come to one of the nightly events so they could introduce us and everyone could meet Jordyn. We went Wednesday night and it was a band concert and choir made up of the rally participants. Everyone was so nice! Jordyn got a stuffed animal right when we got there (and they sent some home for the boys) and they seated us right in the front. They introduced us right at the beginning and we stood so everyone could see Jordyn.

Another reason they were so excited to choose Jordyn was because the president of the rally
had lost his daughter to a seizure disorder. Another couple had a granddaughter who had recently had surgery to stop her seizures. So you can imagine when they found out that Jordyn had seizures, it was close to their hearts, and they wanted to help. We got to chat with those I mentioned about their kids/grand kids too.

The night we went was also the night they "revealed" where next years rally would be (Duquion, IL). A few rally members did a skit and let me tell you..... it was hilarious! Just because the members might be a bit older doesn't mean they aren't just as SPUNKY as when they were young! Check out the pic. below of a lady in a wheelchair with a whip and someone dressed as a horse pulling her for the skit! LOL

Me, Jordyn, and Linda Amy. She was in charge of fundraising efforts for Jordyn. Loved her!

Awww, look how cute Jordyn looks on a jar!

Had to get a pic. by one of the Airstream trailers! What a great night. We could not be any more grateful for everything they did. I'm still in shock at everything that happened to us in just one week! I kept thinking,"Nothing like this ever happens to us!" I can't wait wait to put the money to good use. Who knows the possibilities we could pursue now. And who knows, maybe one day we will be "Airstreamers" and we can go the rallies! :)