Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Enoy Life!

Battleship Texas

Happy Birthday Grandma B!

Grandma Barbara came to visit for her birthday. What fun we had celebrating! It's so fun to see how excited kids get over birthdays. Sophia delighted in making and decorating a cake as a surprise for Grandma B's birthday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

The power of thinking without thinking... This book is an interesting look at the positive and negative power of first impressions.

How interesting that I would read this book at a time when I am trying to work though and redirect the way in which I make decisions.
The first part of this book focuses on the quality and reliability of our first impressions. It details studies describing how extra, unnecessary information clouds our ability to decide because we confuse ourselves. So often I feel like I need to have concrete reasons for doing or acting. When in reality the extra information that I research or ponder may do me a disservice. Thinking in a spiritual sense, how often do we second guess ourselves after having a spiritual prompting? While this author didn't address the spiritual aspect, with the belief background that I have, I can see how the Lord may use our first impressions to lead and guide us. We just have to learn to trust those first impressions and not over think things.

The book also spends quite a bit of time describing how and when first impressions or more specifically, jumping to conclusions can be a negative thing. I haven't spent as much time pondering this part of the book. But I felt like in areas in which we are expert, we can trust our first impressions. For me that says, I can trust myself to pick a shirt I am going to like, or to receive revelation for what to do in a certain situation with one of my children.
While this book wasn't a page turner, it was an interesting read, and has given me much to think about.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

***Caution... Spoilers Ahead...

I've felt down all day... I couldn't figure out why... I went running this morning... My house is relatively clean... Porter had a fairly good attitude this morning... I got enough sleep last night...

Then my mind drifted back to the book I finished last night.

Oh yeah, that's why I feel down... Last night I was Liesel. Last night I sobbed as I lost everything near and dear to me... Everything... Yet some how I managed to pick myself up and continue to live... to find joy and happiness in life... I must have... But the thought of it brought more tears...

I'm still processing my journey through life as a German during WWII. Life as a child who kept having precious things taken from her, and who had to continue on. The narrator, death, isn't scary or morbid. He's simply telling Liesel's story.

He often tells the end of the story before the beginning, because the end isn't what's important. It's the small details of everyday life that we are to remember and study and live. It's the journey not the destination.

Liesel's papa was such an example of quite, humble, exactness in following his own moral compass. I love how death describes him in the end... his soul was so light because he'd given so much of it away in service to others.

So many of the acts of compassion in this book were small, not done with fanfare, met with scorn by some, not noticed by others, but I am certain the acts earned the doers a place in heaven.

Liesel who built such a strong friendship with Rudy, never to have told him how much she loved him. But I hope, I think he knew. What a beautiful, pure relationship. What heartache to think of the uncompleted finish.

Rudy, whose fate was set in motion like a cascade of domino's. One choice leading to another choice. One might argue that it would have been better the other way. But this way he died with his moral compass intact as well. I like to think he would not have fared well as one of Hitler's chosen. He would not have been happy or content. We can think about the domino effect of our choices. It killed Rudy, it saved Papa, for a while.

Speaking of moral compasses, there is a whole discussion awaiting the concept of right and wrong that surfaces from this book.

Liesel's mama, who had such a strange way of showing her love. But she did love.

Max, the Jew in hiding. The mayor's wife. Such interesting, likable characters. So much death and dying. How much sorrow must one heart be asked to bear?

The power of words. One of the themes in the book is literature. It plays a central role in Liesel's life and development. As she learns to read, shares the gift with others, steals more literature, receives books as gifts, and eventually writes her own story.

The power of words is explored in the good they share and the destruction they can wreck.

I think the author has a gift for words. He also has such a unique style. I enjoyed the change. So often you think you need a lot of words to accurately describe the situation. I felt like this author was so selective in his choice of words. It's not a wordy book, but the story is artfully and accurately depicted with the right words, such a subtle, beautiful use of language. I suppose you could say quality, not quantity. The characters don't always say aloud the words you want them to say, they think them, and they show them. And I hope their meaning is received.

Reading this book opened my eyes again, to the blessed life I live. I did some food storage grocery shopping in the midst of this, and felt a little disgust as I observed the excess in which I live, and all that is available to me. I don't have to wait in line for my small ration of flour to feed my family.

This book is a must read. A beautiful snap shop of the beauty and brutality of humanity. While there is much that is ugly in this book, there is an inspiring, subtle beauty and compassion of the human spirit that rises above that ugliness.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2008 Year In Review

A Review of our 2009 Highlights...

* Work... In July Doug started working as an in-house attorney for Baker Hughes, an oil and gas company. When people ask me if he likes his new job, I always respond with... I do. He works 8 to 5, billable hours are a think of the past, and the health insurance is a great improvement over his last firm.

School... My cute kiddos are growing up. Porter started first grade and Sophia started pre-school.

Church... Doug and I both serve in Primary. Our old Bishop moved, so Doug was released from his calling, and has since been serving in nursery and cub scouts. Preston has been delighted to have his daddy close, and now Porter is enjoying his dad as now Doug teaches the CTR 8 class.

Sports... I kept up with my running, Doug played softball many Friday nights, Porter was on in baseball, and Sophia was in ballet. Preston chases after balls and tries to keep up with his brother and his sister.

Family... My brother Mark got married, and two of my sister-in-laws Erin and Debbie gave me new nieces!

I feel like this year I've begun to feel even more settled. I feel the roots spreading, it's a good feeling. I feel as though I am ever learning, taking one step forward, and two steps back as I try to become the person I want to be. But I love the start of a new year, with renewed energy and the hope that this year can be even better than the last.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

rockin out

Santa put these in our kid's stockings... They are a worthwhile investment... My favorite part? No, it's not that they motivate my kids to brush for over a minute... it's watching Sophia jam out the entire time she's brushing her teeth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

the contraband...

Shortly after Halloween my kids left their candy stashes in the middle of the living room... They disappeared, only to be missed about three weeks later...

As the kids were trying to figure out where on earth their candy could be, I jokingly said... "Hmmm, wasn't that about the time the tooth fairy visited our home? I heard the tooth fairy doesn't like candy very much."

My kids had found their culprit.

The tooth fairy stole their candy! They're still talking about it. Although Sophia refers to her as the fairy god mother... as in, "why did that fairy god-mother have to take my candy?"

The tooth fairy visited us again last night (Porter lost his second front tooth, and has a huge gaping hole to prove it... I love it! He pulled it out at school so he could get a special tooth necklace to hold the tooth), and Porter made sure his meager Christmas candy stash was tucked safely away.

I think it's funny, and I think the tooth fairy had every right to take their candy. I mean, they didn't need all of that sugar in their systems or on their teeth. Doug doesn't agree, he's morally and ethically opposed to what the tooth fairy did.

What do you think?

Monday, January 12, 2009

True Love

To prove my undying love for Angela, I did the unthinkable. I agreed to go to Body Flow with her at Gold's gym.

How many guys can say they would do that for their sweetheart? Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that Body Flow is... well... weird. At least for guys. I came to this conclusion as I made some flamingo pose on one leg while stretching for the ceiling. There were about 30 women and 3 guys. Fortunately my sensitive wife had us go back in the opposite corner from the other three girls that we knew who conveniently showed up the one time I agreed to go. By the way, this was immediately after my first Body Pump class, which was quite a workout. Therefore, as I attempted to graciously flow like the wind, I discovered I couldn't even raise my hands above my head without them shaking. I love you Angela!! (but next time I'll prove my love at Baskin Robbins)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Four years ago we got a new vacuum, it was supposed to last us forever... it is officially dead.

Why not fix it? We have, several times. Grrrr.

Perhaps if we didn't have to unplug it to turn it off, we might consider pouring more money into it to fix the problems with the hose. But alas, we are going to cut our losses and search for another one.

Have you recently shopped for a vacuum? If you have, you know that there are endless choices out there. It's overwhelming. I just want a good, solid, durable, vacuum... Any suggestions?

My floor desperately needs cleaning, so we don't have much time!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

new years resolution #1

I recently read an article about being happy by Gretchen Rubin in Real Simple... One of her points spoke so strongly to me. It addressed a problem I have always had. Seeing it described so clearly in black and white has given me a lot to ponder. and I quote...

"Don't insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers.

Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they're satisfied.

Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can't make a decision until they've examined every option.

Satisificers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they're often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough."

Serious food for thought here... I am, without a doubt, a maximizer. I know that I have, and have always had issues in the decision making department. I mean, the only reason I majored in English? I couldn't decide what to switch to... so I never switched, and graduated still wondering what it is I really wanted to major in...

When I buy clothes, they usually sit in my closet for a couple of weeks while I decide if I really like them. Sometimes I just want to make sure there's nothing out there that I like more... talk about a waste of time and energy... The problem extends way past clothes, I never want to buy anything, or chose anything, without knowing all of my options before hand. It is smart to be a wise consumer, but I'm sure I take it to the extreme.

Decorating my house??? a joke. My bay window problem? I remember last year I thought to myself, as soon as the Christmas tree comes down I have to get curtains. Ummm... the Christmas tree just came down again a year later, and still no new curtains. I have the money to buy them still sitting in my decorating budget... but I just don't know (read-can't decide) what to put there...

Naming my children? Still am not happy with #3's name and periodically try to convince Doug that we should change his name. (Although I do have a name to change to).

I know... I have issues. When it comes to analyzing a problem, I am great. I can tell you the pros and the cons from every angle... But when it comes to making a decision... I'm just not so great at it.

I feel like I've make progress in the last couple of years. I force myself to move quickly through the grocery store. No lingering over which flavor of ice cream to buy. Doug has certainly helped rein me in, a voice of reason... But I know I can drive him crazy. And I know I have a long way to go. I think that's why this quote resonated with me.

Number one, it tells me, I'm not alone. If it make it in this lady's top ten ways to be happy that tells me that other people have this problem too, a lot of other people. There is strength in validation. This quote also says to me, it doesn't have to be this way... you can change. There is another mindset you can adapt. You don't have to live with this insanity! Now I just have to decide where to begin in my reconditioning.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Boston Qualifier

I got up early the morning of January 1 to run the Kingwood Marathon.

The peer pressure of three other friends training lured me into this slightly insane undertaking

During the last few months we have trained together. Most mornings awakening between 4 and 5 am to run, do speed work, do Body Pump, or to do a long run. After a few scary fatigue related driving close calls, I realized I couldn't go to bed late and get up so early, so I made a big effort to go to bed between 9 and 9:30 most nights. Which wasn't hard, because I was collapsing by that time of day. I put other things like keeping up with Book Club on the back burner too, because I only have so much energy and time

For a long time my goal has been to break 4 hours in the marathon. But upon contemplating the work involved in training for a marathon period, I decided if I was going to do another one, I wanted to do it so I could qualify for Boston. Not a small undertaking, considering my best marathon time was 4:10.

But I did it!!! I took 34 minutes off my best marathon time and I qualified for Boston with a time of 3 hours and 36 minutes and 34 seconds (my age group, 18-34 has to run a time faster than 3:40 to qualify.)

Hallelujah, because I never want to run a marathon that fast again. I will go to Boston and run slow. But my body is screaming today. Not only do I have the normal sore muscles, but my knee and hip are telling me that they can not take the intense pounding ever again.
I placed 4th for women. Now it was a small race, it was capped at 400, but since I'll probably never place that high again, it's worth mentioning for the record books.
The course was absolutely beautiful, on the green belt trails. The weather was perfect. It was four loops, which I actually enjoyed because I liked knowing where I was in relation to the finish. It was easy for Doug and the kids to watch, because they could stay in one place, with a conveniently located playground.

At the finish, with our huge finishers medal. It was the 10th anniversary of the race, so they wanted to do something special, and since everything is bigger in Texas, they made extra large finisher medals. So funny.
My beautiful, inspirational, fast team. Everyone did so great. Everyone ran their absolute hardest. It was such a great experience to train and run together. I've never had such an enjoyable training. And don't we look cute? Seriously, one of my favorite parts of this whole thing was putting together matching outfits!

At the finish, my cute kiddos and hubby brought my flowers.

En route

My cheering squad and biggest fans!

Preston's 18 mo. Stats

Weight: 28 pounds 6 ounces (40th percentile)

Height: 32 inches (40th percentile)

Head: 19 (50th percentile)