Friday, April 21, 2017

What I've been up to (instead of blogging)

1.  First things first, I suppose.  Two weeks ago, we told our kids we had some news.  

And then we showed them this video from 2015:



The kids were very, very excited.  As are we.  Bartholomew baby #11 is due October 15th and blood tests show it is a boy!  Since Benji follows six girls in a row and is 3.5 years younger than Cami, we are especially excited that he will have a little buddy.  The kid is the center of everything around here, everyone's favorite, and almost never has to share or wait.  This new little baby will be good for him. And, since I don't turn 40 until November, I get to have all my kids in my 20s and 30s.  ;)

Another little boy to spoil is just what we need.

I have felt more nausea than last time, unfortunately, especially in the afternoons and evenings. I've also dealt with pregnancy-induced allergies, which has meant I've been congested for months. I think the congestion is likely why the anti-nausea medicine Diclegis didn't work this time like it did during my last pregnancy. But I'm almost 15 weeks along now, and I'm happy to say the nausea is starting to subside and I'm feeling more energy.

2.  Triathloning. (I'm sure that's a word.)

I had several big goals for this year.  One is to try out triathlons. My friend Emily and I took a triathlon class at our local rec center. The class was every Saturday at 6 a.m. and the teacher sent out a training schedule for the week. The training was a mix of running, cycling, swimming, and weight training. I felt like I lost a bit of my running endurance during the class, since I went from running 3-5 miles 4 days a week to running only 2 or 3 days a week and usually not as many miles. But otherwise, overall, the experience was really, really fun and challenging. The schedule had us working out every day for 60 to 75 minutes, and since Emily and I both have large families, our workout time started at 5 a.m.

The best part about the training was finally learning how to swim!  Before the class started, I could barely make it a length of the pool when I did freestyle.  Now, I'm swimming the free for 20 minutes at a time without stopping, and I'm enjoying it.  Most of our Saturday classes were focused on swimming technique, though we also did some cycling, running, and weights on Saturdays.

We finished up the class with a triathlon at the rec center on April 1st.  750 yards in the pool, 12 miles on the spin bikes, and then a 5K.  It was good, but more of a "I'm glad I did it!" experience.

In contrast, on April 8th, I thoroughly enjoyed the Icebreaker Tri, even if it was pouring rain and freezing cold when we arrived. But with tons of other people doing it with me, the weather calming a bit, and the bike and run outside, it was really fun. The pool swim was a 300m, swimming to one end of the pool, going under the ropes and swimming back in the next lane, and so on. They started us every 2 or 3 seconds, and we were supposed to start based on how fast we thought we'd complete it. Emily and I started in the fourth group, but there were a lot of people ahead of us who were slower than us. It was kind of fun and challenging to swim up to two or three people blocking the lane in front of you and try to figure out how to get around them. I passed six or eight people. No one passed me. :) The time from the start to the transition area was about 8 minutes

After the swim, we ran outside to the transition area, where we unrolled our things and got dressed. Normally, I would have been fairly quick in the transition, just throwing on a T-shirt and some shoes and socks, but because of the weather, we had rolled our stuff up to stay dry, and I had to put on some pants and a jacket too. Emily, who'd started the swim after me, arrived while I was dressing and then I took off on my bike for the two-loop 12-mile bike ride. We'd been warned there were two hills right up front. The first one was steep and challenging, the second was quite long, steep, and pretty hard. I couldn't seem to shift my front gears any lower than second, so by the top, I was in 2 in front and 1 in the back and still barely able to pedal. Emily caught me on the hill and we rode together for the rest of the first loop. Then the second time around, she passed me on the hill and though I kept her in my sights, I wasn't able to catch up. She finished about a minute ahead of me. I really enjoyed the biking. It was my favorite. It was a bit drizzly, but I didn't feel cold. The second half of the loop had a lot of gradual downhill and that was even more fun.

Our final stage was the run. I was shocked when I got off my bike to realize I could hardly feel my legs. I guess it was colder than I realized. The gals running around me said they were numb too. It was the toughest bike-to-run transition I've had, but it was still good. I ran all but the steepest part of the last hill and finished the run feeling great.

Now that the triathlon is over, I'm planning on keeping up the weight training, the swimming, and the cycling, but I'm happy to take a break from running for a while.




3.  Piano Lessons.  (yes, for me!)

Starting in January, Lillian stayed after school as captain of the culinary team, which meant she wasn't home for her lesson time.  So I decided it was time to improve my mediocre skills. I play well enough to play some hymns and I've substituted a time or two in the Relief Society class at Church, but I realized that since I never play except when I'm asked to substitute at the last minute, I've been getting worse at it instead of better.  

I've been really consistent with practicing every weekday, and I'm proud to say I'm making a lot of progress and I'm enjoying the challenge and learning new skills.  

As a sidenote, at the first of the year, we started having all our kids 10 and older do their own laundry, and I figure the time I'm saving by folding less laundry is now spent practicing the piano.  The joys of having kids grow up!

4.  Duolingo lessons

In November, we had some friends from Brazil stay with us for a few weeks.  I was inspired watching my friend Cibele work so hard to learn English and decided to try to learn a bit of Portuguese while she was with us.  My husband speaks the language, thanks to a two-year mission for our Church there, and since the two of us want to serve a mission together after the kids are raised, I figure I will be a lot more useful if I can speak another language.  What started then lit a spark and I've decided to practice a little bit every day for a year and see how it goes.  I'm now going on a 160 day streak on the Duolingo app, and getting better little by little.


5.  Misc. Projects

We decided it was time to get our food storage inventoried and caught up to the size of our family (We Mormons like to be prepared). It's been way too long since we have done that.  We bought a ton of bins, oats, wheat, oil, beans and flour.  We're still watching for sales on a few minor items, but otherwise, we are caught up!

My computer hard drive died on me a month ago.  In trying to get my computer up and running, I ran a system restore, which wrote over my 3 T hard drive that was almost full of all of everything -- 20+ years of photos, videos, client work, documents, etc.  And this is why we back things up, folks . . . Thankfully, I've been dutifully paying my $80 a year for Carbonite to back up my computer files online, and though it's taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to get back that much data (it restores it in the background very slowly), it is about 30% back so far.  My husband knows an I.T. guy who built me a great new computer that is SO much faster than my old one, so that's another bonus.  But it took a month for me to have something working again and now, I'm trying to get caught up on editing the five photoshoots I had in that time as well as all our family pictures from that time.

I took 6 of the kids out to the Utah Geode beds to find geodes over spring break (Allison was at her grandparents, Lillian was working and Michael didn't want to go so he stayed home with Benji).  We came home with tons of ugly round stones as well as some we'd broken open to see the treasures inside. I took some of them to a local rock shop and they cut them open for us.



6.  Living Life

We've had a busy few months. My 2017 One-a-Day project hasn't been the best, but I've still taken more photos than I would otherwise, so it's serving a purpose.

My husband and I still have weekly lunch dates with one of our kids every Saturday.  It's been a great way to keep up with all of them and what they are up to.

Lillian (almost 18!) was really, really busy with the culinary team and now she's working at a local restaurant. Sometimes it feels like we never see her. I guess that's helping us get used to the reality of her leaving us for college (BYU, my alma mater!) in August. Her hard work has paid off and she's been a Sterling Scholar regional finalist and a National Merit Scholar.



Joey, 16, has been working as a lifeguard, going fishing, and even writing fishing articles
Joey adores his baby brother.  I find selfies like this on my phone all the time.
Michael, at almost 15, is our best and most consistent cook (each of our kids ages 12-18 cooks dinner one night a week), even if his entire repertoire consists of pizza, pasta, and lasagna.  He is excited to go to a writing camp this summer. He's quite imaginative and loves to create stories as well as read books by the dozens.



Allison, 12, spent spring break with her grandparents, learning to sew a quilt. She is always roller-blading and reading and is starting to train for a half marathon.  She turned my kitchen window into a plant nursery where she grew dozens of wildflowers she transplanted into our garden.  She loves to have me do fancy stuff to her hair and is a huge fan of the guinea pig Sarah got her for Christmas (and the one I was suckered into getting a month later because Gimli was "lonely").









Sarah, 12, has been very involved with her school's TSA club (Technology Student Association). They worked all year to prepare for state and did really well, qualifying her for nationals in Florida in June. She's been working very hard to earn her half of the money to go. She loves plants and devoured several plant catalogs this year, choosing just the right plants for our yard and garden with the budget I gave her.  Over spring break, she dug up and mulched all our garden boxes and planted some strawberries.  She's very excited about how the strawberry plants are thriving.
Sarah is the first to volunteer to be my photo assistant

Eliza, 10, loves to ride her bike alongside my husband when he goes for long runs. She, like most of my kids, is a reader.

Poor Benji was "dressed up" by these girls.  I blame Eliza.



Harmony, 8, is spunky and smart and loves art.  She also goes on long bike rides with my husband running.  Eliza and Harmony recently got to go on a business trip with their dad down to St. George, where they had french toast for breakfast every morning, rode bikes, and hiked a bit in Zion's.  She loves to read.


Katie, almost 7, is in first grade and is becoming a good reader. She also loves to ride her bike and is excited to be on the swim team this summer with Harmony and Eliza.


Cami is 5 now and informs me that she's not a "little girl" anymore. It's so strange to have 9 out of my 10 kids be older than 5.  At one point, I had 5 kids ages 5 and under, so I think part of me will always think of myself as a mom of lots of little ones, even though it's not quite true anymore. Cami is smart, fun, and always happy and excited about something.  She's a delight.


Benji will be 2 in July and is obsessed with trucks. He waves at them everywhere we go and loves to play with anything that has wheels on it. Since the weather has turned warm, he insists on going outside whenever he can. He doesn't say many words other than "hi," but since most of my kids didn't start talking until right around their second birthday, and then let loose with full sentences right away, we aren't too worried. He continues to be a mystery with eating. He will not touch bananas and refuses a lot of foods most of my babies loved, but he loves roasted potatoes, rice and beans, cereal, and eggs. 



My husband is working lots of hours right now and travels out of town twice a month for a couple of days. He also runs between 40 and 50 miles a week and follows a rigorous training program that has made him very fast. He claims to be slow and yet comes home with first place in his age group in race after race.   He's run a half marathon in under 1:35, a 5K in 19:21 (no one over the age of 30 was even close to beating him!), and a 10K in 40:18.  See, I told you he was fast. 


My husband has helped many of the kids become runners

We celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in just a few weeks and then it's into the crazy month of May and our very busy summer!







Friday, January 20, 2017

Worth a Look

Really Cool

* I LOVE this classical music mash-up:



Politics

A Primer for Understanding Conservatives  "For the conservative, no amount of institutions can ever make man right because man is inherently flawed. We can only hope to mitigate man’s negative impulses, and any attempt to mitigate one negative impulse has the possibility of encouraging another. So we have to ask of any law or program: Are the positives of this legislation going to outweigh any negatives it might introduce? Or, as Sowell puts it, “At what cost?” 


Hilarious:

Life Accordian According to Trump.  SO funny, no matter your political persuasion!

Inspiring

* Identical Twins, Separated at Birth and adopted by two different families, are reunited:




* At the first of last year, a new site launched called Book of Mormon Central.  It is intended to be central gathering place of all research on the Book of Mormon.  They have an excellent blog I've followed from the beginning called "KnoWhy," which gives you some knowledge about a particular subject followed by a "why" that it is important.  I've loved reading various articles.  Here's a great summary of the first month's articles.  One of my favorite articles was this one:  What Does the Virgin Mary Have to Do With the Tree of Life?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Favorite Landscapes from 2016

I recently wanted to print some of my landscapes for my walls and I started feeling a little sad because this year I felt as though I haven't really had as much time to take pictures as I've wanted.  It feels like forever since I've been out to watch a sunset, and I didn't get much of a chance to drive around this fall like I wanted.

But then I remembered our trip to Yellowstone this fall, some photos from California in January and December, and I realized that while I don't have a lot in quantity, I definitely have enough keepers to make a top ten list.  So I posted my top 25 favorites on Facebook and asked my friends to help me narrow it down to the top ten.

Top Ten Favorite Landscapes from 2016:


1. Sunset after a Christmas Day Snowfall



2.  The Earth Speaks, Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone



3. Misty Morning at Crystal Cove 




4. Phoenix in the Snow, Provo City Center Temple




5. The Mountains are Calling, Grand Tetons




6. Misty Dawn, Crystal Cove, California




7. Rich in Blossoms



8. Autumn Journey, Wyoming



9. Unruffled Yellowstone Geese




10. Through the Trees, Upper Yellowstone Falls



And the rest of my favorites

Beautiful Landscapes:

Upper Yellowstone Falls


Newport Coast Mists

Wyoming Fall

Meaningful Architecture:

Provo City Center Temple on the evening of its dedication:


Star Valley Wyoming Temple a week before its Open House (the trucks were there planting the last of the greenery)


A few peaceful blossoms:


 


Beautiful Wintery Days:







Calming Seascapes:








Flaming Earthscapes:















We live in a beautiful world.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to capture a few of its exhilarating vistas and share the wonders of God's creations through photography.

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