Friday, September 30, 2011

A week away

A last minute road trip.
A couple of states.
Friends, family.....and a whole lot of fun.

Currently I sit here in a funky little motel room while Sam naps and Aaron is at the pool with the kids.
In twelve hours I will be riding a bus to Central.
The start of my 26.2.

It is hotter than hot here in St George. It was 80 degrees when I went running at 9 this morning. It should be about 90 degrees when I cross the finish line tomorrow. Yowza.

I am excited. Strangely calm....maybe the nerves will kick in tomorrow. Maybe I'll just ride this high all the way through the marathon and avoid the nerves all together. Maybe I'll be a mess all night and all morning tomorrow. We'll see.

Either way, I feel about as ready for this as I've ever felt for anything. I suppose if I were chasing an illustrious goal I might worry more. I have a finish goal in mind, but I have a nice range of time that I'll be fine with. Maybe that's where the contentment comes from.

Fourteen hours till it's just me, my legs and the road.
(ok, and 7000 other runners, but who's counting?)
Can't wait!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Me and two stunning models

First I sincerely want to thank all of you who voted for me in the Hapari contest!  I was so floored by the support I received!

Second-OH. MY. LANDS!
I held on and made it through as one of the three finalists!!!

For a girl who (as is way too common) struggled with self confidence for so long, always hated this that or the other thing about her body and was entirely too conscious of her thighs, this was just a kick to even have the guts to put myself out there in a swimsuit for the world to see.

Thank heavens for running and the fact that it has made me not only no longer hate, but really appreciate my legs for how strong they are!  I look back at the first time I was called "Thunder Thighs" (eighth grade) and chuckle.  Who'd have thought it would eventually turn into me loving these powerful legs?!  Funny how life changes like that.

Thank goodness I am happy enough with myself that I didn't get my feelings hurt when I was called "a middle aged woman with a wrinkly stomach".  I guess she missed this.  (though I was wrinkly in the first postpartum pictures). And boy, I sure hope I live past my mid 60's.

The two other ladies I am up against are gorgeous.  I mean seriously beautiful.  Stunning.  And I am not exaggerating.  They are real models so when you Google them you can see their work, their profiles, their measurements.  I'm up against a girl with a 22 inch waist.  Um, hello!

So it's two stunning professionals........and me.  Ha!  It really is almost comical.  And when in life would it be me vs ladies that look like this ever again?  Yeah, never.  It really is kind of a rush!

The real big shocker in this whole thing is that Hapari changed up the ending.  Instead of choosing the winner themselves, they have opened it back up to popular vote!  Likes will determine who wins this whole thing!
I may have hyperventilated just a tad when I heard that.

The next step then was for each of the finalists to submit three more pictures.  I sent in three pictures that I had because I had been told that they didn't necessarily need to be swimsuit photos.  Hapari emailed me back to let me know that the other ladies sent in swimsuit photos.....and could I come up with some of those instead?  I needed more swimsuit pictures.
Bless my husband and a very generous front desk manager at a local hotel and a late night trip to borrow their pool for a backdrop.  Nothing like shooting at 10pm in a hotel pool.  I can honestly say I never thought that would be something I'd have to worry about.  It was fun.
Some of the pictures turned out fabulously too!

Among our favorites (not edited at all, so the light is a little funky) were:

We ended up sending these three:

Hapari picked the zebra print suit picture (which is one of their suits) and one of the pictures I had sent previously, so that each finalist has a profile picture and a swimsuit picture.  Check out Hapari's facebook page to see the final pictures.  And after you check it out you will see what I mean about the other two-STUNNING!

So there you have it.  The last hurrah.  If today is any indication, things are looking just a little tiny bit promising for me.  That excites me and completely terrifies me!  But oh, the Florida Keys in December? *sigh*  Can you imagine?


Preparedness Challenge-Day 3 and 4.....uh, and 5....

I should have thought ahead and prepped the posts for the rest of these day.
You know, be prepared.

This week has been crazy!  Seriously.  Capital C crazy.

But dang it, we were in this thing to compete so we hung on and finished the challenges.

Day 3-Evacuation.  Big fire started in the fields near our home (darn kids and their fireworks) and we need to evacuate.   10 minutes to grab everything you need and get out.  Oh, and cell phone lines are jammed because everyone is freaking out.
I was home with the three youngest when I read this, and we played it as real.  I was SO pleased with how quick and helpful Charli and Lincoln were!  Charli even made sure to get the dogs leashes on them and have them ready to go.  Lincoln helped me get supplies out and helped with Sam while I rounded up things.  I didn't actually take everything to the car that I would have taken, but went to each item, and made separate trips to the car as though I were doing so.  And as discussed many times in our house, after kids I went for the external hard drives.
There was a list to go over for suggested supplies and points were accumulated based on what you remembered to get, getting out in 10min, and few other things.  You can read over the list HERE if you'd like to see it.
My fail here?  We do not have 72hr kits for everyone.  We do have go-to things and I successfully got each of them, but no official kits for each person.
Also, I blew off the 5pts for playing the cell phone lines jammed (for 3hrs) part of it because Wednesday was the beginning of the crazy and an out of town friend was helping me through it all.  Totally worth forfeiting those 5 points!

Day 4-Your 2yr old wanders off (entirely too possible.  except she's 3 now.), and when you do locate her she has fallen and has a large gaping wound in her leg.  As a bonus, your 1yr old is choking on a grape and has turned purple.
Challenge 1-what do you do to locate your child?  Do your kids know what to do if lost?  We have actually seen this in play in this neighborhood more than once with a child wandering off or not coming home after school.  There are a billion children in our neighborhood so it happens.  The amazing networking here has kicked in immediately every time.  Between facebook, texting, emails, calling trees, and numerous neighbors jumping in and going door to door to help find children, our little corner of the world sure kicks into high gear quickly!  It truly is amazing!
Challenge 2- Can you treat your child with your first aid kit?  Do you have the necessary supplies and know what to do?  We've had entirely too much first aid practice in our family.  It is something Aaron emphasizes when the boys are doing scouting things and he always pulls the girls in on it too.  I am so impressed with all he has taught our kids!  And we have an EMT bag that is fully stocked, huge relief with our kids.
Challenge 3-Heimlich for babies. I have always been taught the method of laying baby face down and hitting (for lack of a better term coming to mind right now) baby on the back.  Aaron enlightened me on the next step if that doesn't work, which is basically Heimlich on the front-still laying downward, head below feet-and essentially mini-heimlich-ing baby with two fingers.  Good to know!
Bonus points for first aid kit items (another list on the website) and knowing Heimlich for adults.

Day 5-Show me the money!  Hungry relatives-also with the illness-got kicked out of their neighborhood, came to stay with you and ate all your fresh food.  Darn family.  And we're still quarantined!
Also youngest child needs tonsils out, someone else has been hospitalized with the illness and there is car trouble.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars in bills due asap!
Challenge 1-Make dinner using only food storage, no "fresh" ingredients.  We are great here!  We had a number of things to choose from, but Taylor is in charge of helping with dinner on Friday so he picked waffles.  And then he made everything all on his own.  I love my kids!  We did also have our veggies from the garden and everything in the deep freeze, but the boy wanted to keep things simple.  I'm good with that!
Challenge 2-Review finances.  How would you cover these expenses if they hit you right now?
We are way too acquainted with our finances.  Ugh.  We use our tax return each year to fuel unexpected expenses and do the best we can.  Sometimes the credit cards come into play because life keeps us stretched pretty thin, but we do the best we can.
10 points for food storage dinner, minus one point for each non-storage item used.
10points for discussing finances and discovering how to handle the above scenario.
and the 25 points for staying quarantined all week.

Oh-we also did our second fire drill this evening, the kids were awesome, and the dogs were taken out this time too.  Phew!

This was a fabulous learning experience for us!  It was really very reassuring for the most part!  It was nice to know that we are prepared enough to handle many things that could come our way!  We definitely found areas we could improve on as well, so we have ideas in mind of how to work on those things.
The competition in our neighborhood is fierce, it is impressive how on top of things people are here!  It will be interesting to see who takes the crown in this challenge.  I have a feeling there are people who will have gotten every possible point, and that the winners will be separated only by a few points.  What a great challenge this was!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Preparedness Challenge-Day 2

Today I was glad I waited till 830 to check the challenge.
And more glad that I had already gotten a yoga workout in!

Today's big challenge was a power outage. Big storm last night, power out till 6pm.
Part two was taking a family member to the dr because that flu that has everyone quarantined got worse, and on the way home the car broke down.

So for Challenge one-no power!  We could keep the fridge running, but turned off A/C, lights, computer, everything.  Nothing was available that could not run on alternate power!

Good news-we have a generator!  I totally could have played the generator card and gone on with life as normal.  But in keepin' it real, I would not run the generator for a one day outage.  That sucker likely wouldn't be coming out unless we had an extended outage that happened in the winter when we like to hover in the single digits during the day (which started in November last year-3* on Thanksgiving morning.  Awesome.) and plunge below zero at night.  Even then it would be used sparingly, as there are other tactics we would result to to stay warm before breaking that puppy out.
So instead of using the generator excuse, I traumatized my children every time they reached for a light switch by yelling "NOOOOOOO!  Do not use power!".  Yeah, they love me.   They were thrilled that they got to take a flashlight in the bathroom though since our bathrooms are interior and have no windows.   The big whammy today is that Tuesday is MY laundry day.  That pile of running clothes in my room is getting more rank by the minute.  Of course Charlotte also wet the bed last night.  That hasn't happened in months so of course it happened on a day when it had to sit till 6pm.  A load of towels had been started early this morning and then thrown in the dryer, which was stopped halfway through, so they sat damp in the dryer till 6pm.  I had to change my to-do list today because ironing and my sewing project couldn't be done.  I did finally attack the sock basket and match up about a hundred pairs of socks.  No, I am not exaggerating.

15 points for keeping power off all day, minus 2pts every time power is used.  We stayed in the clear for all 15 points!  yay!
5 bonus points for every cooked meal you have during the power outage, up to 2 meals.
Oh you best believe we cooked!  I love cooking with gas, and I love that we still have a stove when the power is out.  I lit the stove up with a match

(the kids loved it) for breakfast.  Yes my stove needs a deep cleaning.  And I should have taken a picture of my finished product because my brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal with almond butter stirred in and slivered almonds on top was fantabulous.

We went big with dinner instead of just throwing burgers on the grill.

Grilled chicken and diced peppers and onions.
Oh, and serve it over rice heated on the grill?  You betcha!

Leftover rice from last night heated up nicely.  I did cube the chicken and serve it all up together.

Super yummy meal!
I know I could have photoshopped out those stray pieces of rice.  I really didn't care that much.

In addition to the gas stove and the grill (extra propane tank on hand!), we have a camp stove and a good amount of fuel for that stored as well.  Oh-Dutch Ovens too!  And if we are quarantined at home, we'd have all day to cook something in them.  Which yes, means we have bags of charcoal on hand.

5 points for discussing with the family a plan of how to stay warm in the winter during an all day power outage.  My favorite part of this is that Dallin's first suggestion of how to stay warm in the winter was rubbing your hands together.  He figured he'd resort to that before wrapping up in blankets or putting on more clothes.  With a bald father the kids all know that a hat can play a big role in keeping warm!  And my favorite suggestion of how to stay warm (and yes, it was mine not a kid's) was to have a party!  People=body heat!  And yes, I'm serious.  It is nice to know that we have the generator (and appropriately wired furnace!) to run things if necessary.

5 points for an inventory of everything plugged in in the house.  We included the garage and I realized that the kids hadn't even thought of the fact that the garage door runs on electricity.

Challenge number two-trouble shoot the car!  What are 5 things you would check in a broken down car?  If it is winter, do you have blankets or snacks in your car?

10 points for telling someone the five things you would check to trouble shoot your car.
5 points for tools to fix a flat AND jumper cables in the car.
5 points if you have blankets and snacks/water in your car.

Feeling good about today's challenge.  Feeling better that in the winter I keep extra gloves and hats in the car in addition to the blankets that are there year round.  And on the days when I wear cute shoes instead of functional shoes, I also toss my snow boots in the car when heading out.  I hadn't started doing that till last year, I'm not sure why I had never thought of that.  Cute boots with four inch heels aren't practical if you need to get out of the car and do anything, or trek somewhere in the snow.
Happy for my granola bar stash in the car.  Happier that I ALWAYS have enough food to feed an army in my purse.  Hey, I get hungry.  In the car today was a water bottle plus Sam's sippy cup (I do need more water in there), fruit leathers, protein bar, and puffs.  That could have kept me fed for, gosh, easily like an hour and a half.  the kids have to fend for themselves.
Just kidding.

We do need to get another set of jumper cables for the other vehicle, and Aaron needs food/water that stays in his car regularly, even though there is often food/drink there when he is headed to work.
Ironically, on last month's grocery list was small plastic tubs for each car to house all of these things.  I condensed the list since Aaron valiantly volunteered to do the shopping for me, and I pulled those off the list because I have something specific in mind and didn't want to burden him with the chance of picking the wrong thing.  Yes, I'm that uptight, shocker I'm sure.  It is back on the list for next month so we can be more organized in the car.  And so is that second set of jumper cables.

Feeling good about the challenges so far, and more than anything else, feeling grateful that I have been taught to be prepared!  Grateful also for a husband who takes this seriously and helps keep us on track!

Are You Prepared?

This week our neighborhood is having a preparedness challenge.

I thought it might be fun to blog this little challenge and see how our family stacks up.  Just how prepared are we?  How prepared are you?

There is great push within the LDS religion to be self-sufficient, as we certainly can't care for others if we can't care for ourselves.  One of the things that we have been admonished to do for decades by our leaders is to have a reserve in order to sustain our families in time of need.   Whether it be a natural disaster, an unexpected job loss, a financial emergency....whatever the situation may be, we are taught to be prepared.  To lay up in store.  This has been a great blessing to our family on more than one occasion!

Having been presented with a situation years ago that left us without a paycheck for entirely too long and grasping to be able to pay our bills and feed our family, we learned to have at least a decent food storage and have worked to maintain that since that time.   We are working a piece at a time to have a more comprehensive supply if needed, including first aid, camping equipment, fuel, hygiene products....anything that we might need.  There are times when we feel very adequately supplied.  There are times when things are tight and we have unexpected expenses and we have turned to our supply to care for our family.

We try to keep our storage room stocked with the foods we use most often and rotate through them appropriately.  Sometimes peace of mind comes in the form of this view

The other side of the room holds all of our camping equipment, water storage and the bulk of our wheat, as well as a bit more canned goods.  Seem a little excessive?  Some might think so, but when you have 10 mouths to feed it is comforting to know that you can feed them for more than a week.  We also "shop" out of our storage room for regular meals.   Instead of meal planning for a week and a big trip to the grocery store, we use much of what we already have and make one big grocery shopping trip per month (Aaron gets paid once a month), with smaller occasional trips to the store for produce and perishables.

The challenge began yesterday.
Monday presented two scenarios, each with it's own challenge.
#1-outbreak of a serious illness, multiple cases in our neighborhood resulting in quarantine.
The challenge is to stay home!  Of course we all have to go to work and school and previously made appointments, etc, but otherwise, no shopping, no going out, nothing!  Minus 5 points for each item  if you have to go to the store!  Living off home and food storage for the week.
#2-your lovely wonderful adorable perfect would never do anything wrong child (ha!) stuck a fork in an outlet.
The challenge is a fire drill.  People in different rooms, checking different exits, having a plan!

There will be points awarded for different parts of each challenge.
So how are we doing?
Thankfully we are totally set with number one.  Ok, we will run out of milk this week, but that's ok, it's not the first time it happened, so oh well.  Otherwise, you'd best believe we aren't going to sacrifice 5 points for a stop at the store!  Let's just hope and pray that nothing goes terribly wrong this week, or that if it does, we truly are prepared to handle it.
We took inventory of our food and water storage and home supply storage.   We are in a good spot right now, which is always comforting.
Good news-we have almost 200 gal of water, plus our hot water heaters and cases of bottled water.  That makes me very happy!

With number two, we have had a fire escape plan in place for sometime.  Even better-when we asked the kids about meet up points and exits and alternate exits, everyone down to Lincoln (who is 4) knew the correct answers.  Since we have done the standard drill a number of times in the past, we thought we'd play a little differently this time.  We warned the kids that if they heard the smoke alarm at all this week, they were to put our plan into play.  Sad that we had to specify this, and that they should not just assume that it is the oven causing the smoke alarm to go off again.  Hmmm....not sure what that says about either my baking skills or my oven cleaning skills......ok, it's the oven cleaning skills.  I am a rockin' baker!
Anyway, we caught the kids off guard when Aaron set off the alarm.  I was thrilled with how quickly everyone made it out to exactly where they should be.  Poor Jacob is really not feeling well today and was down in his room resting when it happened-I called him and called him, yelling at him to "RUN!" and it took him a minute.  His excuse?  "I thought it was just going off again."  Whoops.
We'll be randomly re-practicing the fire drill throughout the week, with the location of the fire varying so that they have to use different exits, when kids are doing their own thing and (hopefully) not expecting it to see how they react.  We did learn that if we want to save the dogs we need to make sure we get them out with us.  We also had to discuss that the birds and frogs are not a priority, that we do NOT go back in the house to retrieve them since they couldn't leave the house on their own like the dogs.
We talked about what to do if there is a fire when Mom and Dad are gone.
We talked about what to do in a number of different cases where emergency situations happen.
It was a great learning experience for all of us I think.

Today we racked up 5pts for food storage inventory, 5pts for home inventory, 1pt for every 5gal of water (up to 15pts max-dang!  we could have rocked this one!), 10pts for fire drill.
There will be 25pts awarded for staying quarantined all week, and another 5pts possible for a second fire drill.  Then of course there is the minus 5pts if we have to purchase something at the store.  But we plan on avoiding that if at all possible!

I am excited (and let's be honest, a little scared) to see what the other challenges are this week!

Check it out at the Pyles of Preparation blog.  Challenges will be posted by 8:30am (Mtn Time) each day.  Though our little challenge is local, it would be great to see how prepared you are for the worst case scenario!


Monday, September 19, 2011

One last shot

I wasn't going to do it.
Bring it back up.
I was going to sit back and just keep my fingers crossed.

But heck, I'm going to do it.

I'm up for a model shoot for a local swimsuit company.  I know-that may sound crazy-I'm definitely not a Swimsuit Edition kind of gal.  This company is one that strives to create modest swimwear that is cute and comfortable.  They also happen to be my favorite place to shop for swim wear.  (Really!)
If you've been around for a while you saw me mention it HERE.  Since then the company has released a little more info on how the finalists, and eventually the winner, will be chosen.  The contest closes tomorrow, at which time the field will be narrowed down to three finalists.  Two will be chosen by the Hapari staff and owners, one finalist will be the "Fan Favorite"-the one with the most likes and comments.  As of right now I am holding on to that!  I am floored and flabbergasted, but holding on!

But as often happens in the final hour, things are heating up!
Which is where you come in.
If you feel like my picture-this picture:

 deserves a like and a comment, would you please go like Hapari on facebook and then like my photo?
I would LOVE the chance to be a part of the final three.  That would be awesome!
Take a look around and support some of the other amazing women who you might feel could represent a company whose mission is to present modest swimwear that is stylish and comfortable.  There are a host of amazingly beautiful women in this contest!  I do not envy the people who have to make that final decision!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Family Pictures

I love hate family pictures.

I love love LOVE the end result.  LOVE.

The getting ready part, coordinating clothing and schedules, keeping people clean once we are there, getting everyone cooperative, trying to avoid tears.....all that part I could do without.

But the bad makes the good that much better, right?

We have been blessed with a couple of friends that are amazing photographers, which makes the love part even better.  This Summer we had the lovely Carma Gray do our photographs.  She is our dear friend who was there at the hospital to capture Sam's incredible first moments.

Since I always have too much to say, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
(you can click on them to see them larger)

And I saved the best for last.

Yep, that's pretty accurate. 

And it seems appropriate after the family pictures to plug the Circle of Moms Top 25 Big Family Blogs opportunity again.  I had a couple of friends who were surprised to find out you can vote every day so I wanted to make sure everyone knew, you know, in case you love me enough to click HERE and then click the little thumbs up every day for the next two weeks.  That's it-just two little clicks!  (and hooray for voting that doesn't require joining anything or even leaving your email address!)

If you have some spare time check out the other fabulous blogs listed there-I have definitely found some new favorite reads.  There are some absolutely amazing families out there!  For sure check out Hands Full Mom, a new friend of mine who has also popped out 8 kids in less than twelve years, and was signed up to run St George Marathon as well in a couple of weeks, but had to pull out because she will be 20wks pregnant with number nine by then!  Don't worry though, she got a marathon in a few weeks ago at 15 weeks.  Awesome.