Monday, October 31, 2011

An Enterprising Halloween

I've never seen Brian as excited for work as he was today.
Men in skirts. Leis and flowers and tropical fish everywhere, mixed in with random Halloween paraphernalia. Hawaiian music in the background (not the real stuff - the modern reggae style).
And I'll humbly take substantial credit for it all because it was my idea. =) But Richard (far left) brought over half of the decor and came to the office with us Saturday and Sunday to decorate. So he gets much aloha. We're all crossing our fingers they win the branch costume contest! If not, at least they enjoyed a day without the dress code!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


My Dad flew in to visit yesterday afternoon. It was great to have him over for a little bit. My father is one of the bestest human beings on this planet. This photo was taken minutes after he arrived, and represents each child's immediate reaction to their Papa:
Brianna was THRILLED to see him, Bennett was cautious, and Courtney... sweet little Courtney.... she took awhile to warm up.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

We're a Classy Bunch

I was kindof dreading going to another reception  (we've received 7 wedding announcements in the last 2 months!).   Standing in a long lines, trying to keep the kids from destroying decorations, munching on finger foods, trying to keep the kids' fingers out of everyone else's finger foods...
But I was THRILLED to see a photobooth at this reception! They're a pretty trendy addition to receptions here in Utah lately  (and elsewhere? I don't know).  For some reason, there wasn't hardly anyone else taking advantage of it  (which makes me either think everyone else is weird, or I am. Obviously I care a lot).  So I didn't feel bad going back a few times. Brian stopped me after three rounds. I would've stayed all night.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Attention Spans

I wonder if there's a chart out there somewhere showing the relative increase in attention spans of babies/toddlers/preschoolers as they get older...
It's amazing to see my little baby-toddlers suddenly show an interest at story time. Just last month, they paid absolutely no attention to Barbara's fun stories/songs/crafts. But now they'll sit on the magic rug for a few minutes, do the little dances sometimes, and of course get very interested in the glue/crayon/crafty stuff. They wander around the store (the cutest toy store ever) and come back to the stories, wander around more, come back... and I'm actually starting to envision the day when they all enjoy the full activity together. Holding hands. With halos over their heads... (a mom can dream, right?!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dry Babies

Hiiiii Mommy!  Check out my new hiding spot!
Hey Sis. Whatcha doin?  That looks fun....
MOVE OVER! I'm jumping in!
Whaaat Mom?  This isn't safe and you're going to take us OUT? NOoOoOoo!  Resist, resist!
Na Nah na NAH naaa... you can't get us, we have a basketball weapon!  OUR DRYER! Whoohoo!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grapes don't grow in the grocery store

Produce hanging over the fence is free game, right? Or that is obviously just going to go to waste in some ungrateful person's yard, thereby making it my duty to rescue and give a good home to...

Ok so maybe it's stealing. But Robin Hood style, making it totally justified. :)

Really though, I love teaching my kids where food comes from. There's just something so wholesome about it. Someday, someday, someday.... we'll have our own big garden.

This morning, picking loads (about 16lbs!) of delicious dark sweet grapes with my kids this morning was rewarding for me and fun for them.

Bonus: now I have something to bring to the potluck at tonight's nickel auction, tomorrow's LLL workshop lunch potluck, and cousin Alli's birthday potluck. Because every event in Utah must incorporate food.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Just won a trip to Ghana. No big deal. Happens all the time.

So Friday night I was in my usual spot - in front of the computer, browsing through Utah race listings, trying to decide where to race in the morning. I don't know if other places are like this... maybe CA... but there are a RIDICULOUS number of races every single weekend in Utah. I love it, of course, but it just amazes me. Everyone and their dog throw a 5K for this or that cause. I honestly wish I could do them all, (well, the small ones - I stay away from the big races because I'm embarrassingly slow compared to college) because I absolutely love competing in fun runs. Best way to start a Saturday. But with so many options, I have to weigh out the pros and cons - entry fee, driving distance, charitable cause, race distance, family activities, prizes, start time.... it's very complicated, and I spend a ridiculous amount of time obsessing over my choices. Especially when it's a tough choice, like this weekend. I wanted to do the half marathon in Layton: short drive, long distance.... but they were charging $80!!! Ridiculous! Almost offensive. Who do they think they are?! No way I'd pay that. Especially with a 6:30am start time (ugh) and no prizes besides ribbons/trophies (LAMElameLAME - why do race directors waste their money on those?! I'd rather receive a banana. Or a gift certificate for lots of bananas.)  Then I thought I'd go do a 10K at Thanksgiving Point. It looked really fun. But that's a 40 minute drive. 80 minutes roundtrip. That's a lot of my day wasted and too much time away from kiddos.
And there were NO OTHER longer distances races. Just a dozen or so 5Ks within a 20 minute drive.
So I decided to go for the Barefoot 5K at Sugarhouse Park.
I really like that park - so big and pretty - and it's a short drive from me. Brian had to work, so I got a babysitter (well, traded with a friend who also has 3 kids and is brave enough to watch 6 on a Saturday morning). I wanted to call the race director and make sure it was ok to not run barefoot (I happen to like shoes), so when I checked out their site for contact info, I saw at the top in small print:  Male & Female winners win all-expense paid trip to Ghana in 2012!
And my jaw dropped a little.
A trip to Africa for winning a little 5K at my favorite park in Utah?!  Couldn't be right. So I went to the race's Facebook page  (all events of every kind should have a facebook page. Makes it so much easier/interactive/fun)  and found out that it was legit. The male and female winner would get to join the Humanitarian Aid Relief Team (HART) in their 2012 trip to Ghana to help build a remote medical facility, and compete in the Kukuom 5K there. 
But then I thought - there's no way I could win. A prize like this will bring out the serious runners - the ones who actually train - not just the weekend warriors like me. I don't wanna waste my time and money on a short race when I need to be doing longer races.
This is my jittery, anxiety-filled, butterfly-tummied 
pre-race face.
But I just felt like I should go. I know that sounds a little metaphysical, but I really did. I couldn't stop picturing myself in Ghana, even though I wasn't even sure it was logistically possible - I mean, I have 2 nursing baby-toddlers who still sometimes wake up at night - who's going to sign up for 9 days of that?! But I went to the race anyway. 

I donated a couple pairs of shoes to the stash headed to Africa.
 I felt like a wimp for not actually racing barefoot, but I did donate
 my racing shoes afterwards. Now I need to go buy new racing shoes
 for the first time in 4 years. Being an amateur is expensive. 
And I won.
Such a fluke. This rarely happens - a small race with a huge prize. But - pinch me - I found it!
So amazing. And strange.  
There's a little more the story of "winning".... I wasn't actually the first female to cross the finish line. I probably would've been, but I - along with the top 7 men - were led the wrong way by a volunteer at a water station. I was so bummed, cuz I was on a great pace (for me). They yelled at us to turn around after we'd gone about 1/3 mile off. I was crushed. And furious. And trying not to show it, cuz who likes a sore loser or winner?! So I almost caught up with Sara and Ayisha at the end, but not quite.  There was a very awkward period between the time we finished and the time they decided to give the prize to BOTH Sara and I (Ayisha wasn't eligible - she's from Ghana and helped organize the race). 

Why can't I dance like them? Oh yeah, because I'm white.
The Ghanian dancers and drummers put on a
really fun show pre- and post-race. 

Ayisha and her adorable son dancing at the post-race party.
Such an amazing girl - she treated me like we had been BFs forever -
 hugs and laughing and chatting it up.
And she danced with her little boy like no one was watching.
I wanna be more like her. 
Sara and I with our relics (masks). She's 20 and from SLC and is
obligated to be my new BF since we'll go to Africa together.
I'm actually so thrilled it ended up that way. Partly because I got a better workout from a slightly longer race and the adrenaline rush of trying to catch up.... but mostly because Sara will go too, so I'll have a friend besides the male winner! (I think his name was Peter. College kid.) 
When I got home I kinda freaked out - like - did that really happen?!  Did I dream it all up?  I don't wanna start telling people and feel like an idiot when I have to say, uh, nevermind about that Ghana thing.  Just made it up trying to get attention....
But then I received an email:

fromTim Collings 
dateSat, Oct 8, 2011 at 4:44 PM
subjectGoing to Africa...!!

Hey Speedy!
So glad you won!  Just think, you could have stayed home in your snuggie and watched Nacho Libre eating Cinnamon Toast crunch today...but instead you ran your guts out and now you get to go to Africa in November of 2012 with the HART Team:D 
I can promise it will be a life changing experience for you and something you will want to share with everyone you know.  It's had that impact on all of us who have been over. 
We will keep in touch over the next months and be sure to include you in HART activities between now and then.  You really should come to some of our upcoming preparations and get a taste for the good people that are involved in this cause.   I'll be sure to add you to the HART email list as well.
Congratulations once again, we are proud to have you on our team.
Tim Collings, HART Board Member and Barefoot Race Director
Accepting my prize. I always feel awkward in the spotlight.
And I'm sure it shows. 
 (stole this photo off the site - sorry!)
So it's for real! I'm really going to Africa! I bet he's right - it will be a life-changing experience. I really have no idea what to expect (except that I will for sure get my trash kicked by hundreds of Ghanians at the Kukuom 5K there). And I hope I get to be really involved in the humanitarian work. And maybe see the temple there.

My sweet African relic I won. It will be my Halloween costume.

I now have about 13 months to prepare my children to be ok without mommy for a little while! And Brian will get lots of QT with them :)  But it's only fair, because this trip will happen just 2 months after Brian's own Africa adventure (hiking Kilimanjaro).   
How crazy is all this?!   ahhhhhh!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Kashi Peanutty Dark Chocolate Granola Bars Review

So I know my blog isn't exactly one of those deal/review/giveaway/product-centered/tutorial-type blogs (you know what I mean, right?).
But today... it is!

Quick explanation....I belong to a national superawesomefabulous organization called Moms Meet. I get sent product samples from various health-conscious companies. Then I share them with my mom-friends and report back their thoughts.
I know.  It rocks. I'm a lucky duck.
I've received products from Boiron, Vegenaise, Stonyfield, Seventh Gen, Crunchmaster, Kashi, and I just found out Stevia's on the way next month!
My title was "Mom Ambassador", but I just got upgraded to "Mom Ambassador Blogger."  So now I get to blog about our sampling experiences, and I get even more cool free stuff in the mail  :)

Toooodaaayyyy (I just felt like singing that)...I'm going to tell ya about our Kashi sampling.
I was the excited recipient of this fabulous shipment:

 A sturdy reusable bag (yay! I bring those to Smiths to get more points), a box of TLC strawberry chewy granola bars, a recycled paper notebook with pen holder (makes me feel like an Oregon hippie), a mouse pad, a box of cereal (I generously and reluctantly gave away as a prize at our party), and SIXTY (60!) of their new Peanutty Dark Chocolate Granola bars. I had to restrain myself and my family members from digging into the stash immediately. We could've finished them off in less than a week, promise.

SO - what did I think of the bars?  I'm not one to go too in-depth and analyze every crumb...  I just reallyreally liked them. They were yummy. Very yummy. End of story.
My moms-group also loved them!  A few had some specific comments, which you get to SEE on the video I made!  I'm entering it in their contest  (*crossing fingers and toes!*)
Here's the link to the video on YouTube:  Watch it!

A few more of our thoughts:

  • natural ingredients,
  • good protein and fiber content,
  • chocolate tastes great,
  • no artificial ingredients, attractive packaging, kids love it (except for kids who have nut or texture fetishes)
    a tad pricey, 
  • bar kindof falls apart making a mess

My "Mom's Group" - aka, our Nickel Auction Group. Between 20-30 of us
 each month! The perfect opportunity to share product samples.

In short - I DEFINITELY would recommend  Kashi ® TLC ® Peanutty Chocolate Layered Granola Bars to everyone!

Kashi ® TLC ®  Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bars retail for $3.89. Find them
at most major grocery stores nationwide
Here's Kashi's website and their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quick Trip to Ferron

During Brian's "staycation" from work (kindof a joke - he doesn't have time to use all his vacation days, so he just took half a Friday afternoon off)  we journeyed out to planet Ferron, in the galaxy of Emery County.   Yee haw!
I got to see my first real HORSE RACE.  I kept wondering if the horses were having a good time. I mean, *I* enjoy racing... but I don't have to carry a small jockey on my back with a whip...    Speaking of me racing - in the family pic, top right (Courtney's being blocked by Brian's arm - sorry Court) I'm wearing my shirt from the Peach Days 10K I did that morning. It was fun and funny. Quirky little small-town fun run. No timer, and the course directions were something like, "just turn by the Williams' place, then go towards the reservoir, then come by Millie's farm til you get back here."   Very intense. I got a great workout though because I kept getting chased by farm dogs.

The Millsite Golf Course is Ferron's biggest attraction - can't you tell how lively it looks? :)  kidding - actually, it really is a beautiful golf course, and makes for THE BEST run. Seriously. On the greens themselves (my legs lovelovelove running on golf course greens) and all the miles of trails surrounding.  A distance runner's dream. Here, Grandpa is giving Brianna a tour of it. She was a tough critic, but was quite impressed with the actual reservoir.   

Maybe not the safest swing, but I think it's so cute! And pretty durable... I bet it's been there at least a couple decades....
Brian's country home.  Where having half-naked barefoot babies roaming around is perfectly acceptable.
I think this is so sweet. Brianna and her Grandpa McKell. He's a lovable guy and she enjoys hanging out with him.
Bathtime in the giant jacuzzi tub!  You're welcome, Bennett, for the protective photo editing. 
The swings at the park in Ferron. Look at Brian multitasking - eating his Peach Days free dinner while letting Brianna kick him (her favorite game).  He has skills.  Gma and Gpa also did their swing-pushing shift. Check out that stormy sky - we had a good one that night! Lots of lightening. Country storms are exciting!
The babies' encounter with ol' Tuck. They practiced making their WOOF sounds at him and did lots of shrieking and slapping and pulling on him.  Tuck really enjoyed all of that.  More of their encounter can be seen on our YouTube Channel.
Fuzzy picture, I know - but it's not possible to get anything less than a blurry action shot with these two kangaroos!  Oh, and my cruddy camera skills too. Nevermind that. 
Rusted springs on a 20 yr old trampoline.... we're all about safety! (there's a cute video of them jumping on our YouTube channel) 
After 2 nights and 3 days of sugarsugarsugar and playing hard and very little sleep, Brianna crashed on the way home. She was a little hungover the next couple days.