Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Books caught up on the blog? Check.

You know what that means-- if it's summer and I've gotten caught up on my reading list, I'm probably on my way out of town. If you'd like a brief itinerary, here goes:

Thursday-- fly to Utah, hitch a ride up to Logan to hook up with the MOFIA Mommas
Friday-- run in the morning, run in the evening
Saturday-- run before dawn, run to the finish line, hang out with the MOFIA in Midway
Sunday-- hang out with my in-laws
Monday-- fly home (already?)
Tuesday-- laundry and serious packing
Wednesday-- leave for 2 1/2 weeks

I'll spare you the lengthy itinerary, but let's just say it involves more than 3000 miles in the car (in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma) and trips to at least five zoos. It should be grueling. It always sounds like such a good idea in the planning stages, but when it actually comes time to take the trip, I feel like I'd rather stay home and let Noggin babysit the kids all summer while I hide out in my bedroom and read. So if I'm not around much, you can imagine me in my van somewhere in America's Heartland, threating any child who fights with her siblings with a custom-made seat on the roof rack, with a bungee cord for a seatbelt and all the bugs she can eat for dinner.

Book #41: Interpreter of Maladies

Title: Interpreter of Maladies
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri's first series of short stories about Indians in America (and, in one instance, Americans in India).

That's right-- I've read two books of short stories in the last few weeks, and I'm not even sick of them yet! Once again, I found myself totally drawn in by Lahiri's characters. I read the first half of the book (four unrelated short stories) during a very, very long stay at the Firestone shop. Despite the two old guys talking about gas prices and a rerun of Nashville Star blaring on CMT, I found it easy to focus on the stories. If you love contemporary American literature and you haven't read Intepreter of Maladies yet, just read it. I don't know why I waited so long.

Book #40: Bound on Earth

Title: Bound on Earth
Author: Angela Hallstrom

A series of vignettes and short stories about three generations of an LDS family in Salt Lake City, which, when taken together highlight the LDS views about the eternal nature of families.

I tend to put books in two categories-- easy reads and books I learn from. Rarely do I find a book that I can put in both categories. Bound on Earth is a refreshing exception. I read it in about a day (it's only about 200 pages), yet several weeks later, I still find myself thinking about the characters and the struggles they face. In contrast to much of current LDS fiction, Hallstrom presents "real" flawed characters, who ultimately find that their family ties that hold them together eternally also bring them both the most joy (and pain) while here on Earth.

Book #39: The Goose Girl

Title: The Goose Girl
Author: Shannon Hale

En route to meet and marry a prince in a neighboring kingdom, Princess Ani finds life in danger after her lady-in-waiting assumes her identity. Ani adapts by hiding out as a common "Goose Girl" and learns lessons that will prove invaluable once she resumes her rightful position.

I'm not usually a great fan of YA literature, but I loved The Goose Girl. It's interesting, because the first time I ever heard of Shannon Hale was when someone else was telling me how much they hated Austenland, so I didn't have very high hopes for her YA literature. I was very pleasantly surprised. The Goose Girl is just the kind of book I want Annie to read in five years. It doesn't, in any way, talk down to its audience. For once, I felt that a YA book satisfied my craving for both a well-crafted story and beautiful language.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So very Martha

My wedding came at the end of a busy week. During the week previous, Eddie took the MCAT, I finished student teaching, we both had finals, I graduated from college. By the time we got to Park City on our wedding night, we were so tired we could hardly see straight. We had a three-day honeymoon, and I think we left the room once, not (just) because we were getting all wild and crazy, but because we were exhausted.

Since that overscheduled week, it seems like every time we have a big event in our lives, I'm so tired from all of the preparation, that I can hardly enjoy the event. We've always lived far from our families, so every birth, every blessing, every graduation has meant lots of out-of-town family coming to stay with us.

Bryce is getting baptized this weekend. Eddie has yet another graduation. Starting tomorrow, our family will pour in. As a result, I spent all day cleaning. I clean my house regularly, but today I spent four hours just in the kitchen. Before my in-laws arrive tomorrow, I still have a bunch of bedrooms and a garage to clean. Why do I do it? I don't really know. My in-laws don't care (my mom is coming too, and she sorta does), but I just can't help myself. I feel like I can't let them in the house if I have a dusty laundry room or my pantry isn't perfectly organized.

So tomorrow night they'll arrive, eager to see the grandkids and excited to spend the next week with us. By that time, I'm sure I'll be so tired from all of the feverish cleaning that I'll be staring at the walls and murmuring "uh-huh" at what I hope will be appropriate intervals.

I've decided that Martha probably wasn't annoyed just because Mary was listening to Jesus instead of helping out with the dinner. Martha was probably cranky because she'd spent days getting ready for Jesus to arrive and she was tired.

Meterologically speaking...

I studied in London during my senior year at BYU. Before I left, I heard a lot about how dreary and murky the skies in London would be. One of my fondest memories of the semester is from an afternoon when we saw a matinee (Two Gentlemen of Verona, if I remember correctly) at the Globe Theatre. After it ended, our group walked up a flight of stairs, taking us from river-level to a bridge crossing the Thames. When we got up to the bridge, the whole sky was awash in peaches and pinks and purples. Our program director, David Taylor, was a design professor, and I remember him musing over whether it was a baroque sky or a rococo sky. I felt that all it was missing was a woman on a swing (a la Fragonard) or a bunch of cherubs. Regardless, it felt like a perfect sky and a perfect day.

Since that time, the perfect sky hasn't often coincided with the perfect day. When we lived in Minnesota, it was usually cloudy or snowy in the winters. There were times when a whole month would pass and we'd never see the sun. At the time, our family/play room was in the basement, and I often felt like winters were just four or five months of gray. But sometimes, I'd wake up in the morning and be surprised to find that the sun had won the battle of the clouds, at least for a few hours. It was those sunny winter days, more than even the months of perfect Minnesota summer days, that I think of when I think back on our time in Rochester. There was usually snow on the ground, and the combination of the white, white snow and the bright sun made the whole world look like it was encrusted in diamonds. Of course, if you tried to actually go outside and enjoy the sunshine during the Minnesota winter, you'd soon learn the error of your ways. Any true Minnesotan knows that the only time the sun shines in the winter, the thermometer is guaranteed to register below zero. Above zero and it's always cloudy.

One of the things I love best about living in Texas is the clouds in the summer. The first week we lived here, I couldn't stop looking at them. They're impossibly puffy and white, and since it's so flat here the sky is huge, so the clouds seem to go on forever. For most of the year, we just have regular clouds, but a few weeks ago, I noticed that the summer clouds were back. Now, when I'm driving the kids to camp or making a run to the grocery store, the clouds keep me company. But I've noticed that the days that the clouds are the puffiest, the whitest, the most beautiful are also the days that it's the hottest, the stickiest and the most insufferable.

There are a lot of things I love about living in Texas-- the clouds are one of them. But the thing I love most? Air conditioning.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Maybe summer ain't so bad...

Bryce: at camp
Annie: at camp
Isaac: sacked out on the couch after swimming lessons and an hour of walking around the museum
Maren: sleeping peacefully in her crib

Love my kids, but an unexpected hour of silence is pretty darn nice.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Thanks to MomsHomeRun for tagging me to do this running meme!

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago

Ten years ago I didn't run. Eddie and I were just about to leave Provo, and we took nightly walks around the BYU campus. That's one of the things I miss the most about our pre-kids existence. But if we were still walking together each night, I doubt I would have become a runner. Although I ran a little bit in college and a little bit both before and after I had Bryce, I didn't start running regularly until after Annie was born.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

Worst: Definitely the marathon/mono combination. Just all around not so smart.

Best: Probably a toss-up between qualifying for Boston at the Country Music Marathon and smoking two really cocky guys about 500 feet from the finish line of a 5K I ran when I was 30 weeks pregnant with Maren.

3. Why do you run?

I need somewhere to channel my competitive energy and motherhood isn't the place for it.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

One of the best is also the worst-- to take time to heal when you're injured. It just about kills me to take time off, but it's bad to run through an injury too.

The FIRST program is also great advice for marathon prep. I know, I've said it so many times they should be paying me by now, but it's true.

Oh, and the girl in me had a hard time allowing myself to ditch my friends at races. Finally someone told me that it was ok to push myself and just run the best I could and catch up with my friends at the finish line. I think that finally freed me from the 10-minute mile mindset.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I hate tomatoes. Sorry, that's the best I can do. I'm such an open book and blog so many places that I don't think there's much about me that's secret anymore.

Runners I'm tagging:
and my little brother

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

16 days, and counting....

Sixteen days until the Wasatch Back. I'm back from my week off of running, and feeling great so far. I did 5 miles on Monday (with a timed 5K in the middle for my next installment of the FIRST training) and 7 miles this morning. So far, so good on the foot thing. I got some new insoles for my Brooks Axioms and they seem to be doing the trick. Apparently I need regular stability shoes instead of "light" stability shoes.

I sent this email into the Wasatch Back organizers last week when I was on my break. It's all about our WB team and the community of runners I've found through the internet, so I figured that my blog was as good a place as any to post it:

Last month, I crossed the finish line of the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, feeling both exhausted and elated. My time, 3:27, was a personal best by 28 minutes, qualifying me for the Boston Marathon. In a daze, I made my way through the finisher’s chute, eager for water, carbohydrates, and my cell phone. I made the obligatory first phone call to my husband, at home in Houston. He was excited for me, in his non-runner sort of way. Then I made the call I was waiting for, to one of my running partners, Julie, who I knew was eagerly waiting by the phone in Boise.

Calling Julie at the finish line was just an extension of what I do after all of my runs; I check in with my running buddies. But I don’t walk down the street to their houses to catch up over a glass of orange juice or even call them on the telephone (the marathon was a rare exception) so we can talk about fartleks and hills and upcoming race strategy. Instead, I flip on the computer, log on to my favorite message board, and find out who’s kicking butt and who is getting her butt kicked, so I can congratulate and cheer on as necessary.

By the time I sat down at the computer a couple of hours after finishing the marathon, Julie had gotten the word out. I logged on to find dozens of pats on the back from my running buddies.

We didn’t start out as running buddies. We were just a bunch of Mormon moms, who turned to a message board as a way to make friends, share information, and relieve the tedium of long days at home with our toddlers. When I joined the board back in 2003, I had just run my first half-marathon, but I was mainly a recreational jogger. I ran with friends for the social aspect, but I wasn’t out to improve times… and I certainly never thought I wanted to run a marathon. Then I hooked up with Sheree, who came back to Utah from Chicago euphoric about her first marathon experience. Melodee, living in Omaha at the time, kept us posted as she ran Air Force and Country Music and balanced her running with several pregnancies. I was in awe of these women. I wanted to be like them, not only as runners, but as moms and as women.

Over the years, we became more than just casual acquaintances over the internet—we became friends. The lifelong kind. Emily’s husband coined a name for us—the MOFia. It stands for something cheesy (“my online friends”), but I prefer to think of it as the kindler, gentler version of the mafia, because while we’re all good Mormon moms at heart, I’d be willing to take out someone’s kneecaps for any of the girls on my team.

Last summer, the girls from the message board all got together in Midway, Utah for our first ever Girls Weekend Out. Although we had been virtual running buddies for at least four years, I had never actually gone on a run with any of the MOFIA Mommas. So on Saturday morning, we got up bright and early and went for a run. It felt so natural, my pace falling in synch with Deanna and Catherine and Melodee and Rebecca, that I knew it wouldn’t be the last time we’d run together.

A few months later, Melodee came up with the idea of having us run as a team for the Wasatch Back. We had a pretty good core group of runners, but between pregnancies and injuries and other commitments, not enough to field a team. So we turned to the other members of our board, and pretty soon Kristin and Julie and Cara, who had never considered themselves runners, were getting fitted for shoes and relying on each other for support as they did the Couch to 5K program. Jenn H, now our team’s trainer, experienced the disappointment of being sidelined by an injury. Marinda and Sarah and Jenn O and Malinda all learned to dig in deep and run harder and faster than they ever had before. Deanna, who had a baby in February, was happy when her daughter arrived two weeks early, because that meant she’d have more time for training.

We were originally just a bunch of moms, who used our shared beliefs to find friendship on the internet. Now we’ve seen the strength that is within us, and we’ll be using that inner strength as we run from Logan to Park City. We might not be the best runners in the world, but I already know from five years of experience that we’re great cheerleaders. We won’t falter because there are 130 other members of the message board who are counting on us. Not to mention our husbands and children. The kids are the reason we, as women, found each other, and they’re really the reason why we get out and run each day. As our team vans say—“If you had 57 kids, you’d run too.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cloth diapers: the good, the bad and the stinky

In the last installment of the saga of Maren's bottom, she had the diaper rash from hades. She cried every time we changed her diaper, and you would too if your bottom was so raw that it bled. We had spent a ton of money on expensive bum pastes, expensive antifungal creams, and expensive tubes of antibiotic ointments.

The good:
* NO MORE DIAPER RASH. That is, in and of itself, a good enough reason to do it.
* We paid about $95 for the seven diapers we have, and I'm sure that we've already saved money, even supplementing with the pricey unbleached disposables, when considering that a big tube of triple paste is $10, a tube of antifungal cream is another $7, and a teeny tiny tube of bactroban sets us backc $10.
* She does look dang cute in the cloth diapers. There's something about an exaggerated little bum on a baby that is totally adorable ("I like big butts and I cannot lie...")

The bad:
* Maren looks so darn cute in the cloth diapers that she often ends up wearing only a diaper. The downside? The cloth diapers are MUCH easier to take off than the disposables (or else she's just getting smarter) so she's constantly taking the diaper off.
* She wants her diaper changed as soon as she pees. Maybe that's why she doesn't get a diaper rash anymore (I used to wait to change her until there was a noticeable odor or droop to the drawers). We probably change her an average of 7 times a day now, as opposed to 4 or 5 when she wore regular disposables.
* Luvs (our old preferred brand) advertise themselves as the diapers that "hold like the Hoover Dam." The cloth diapers, well, not so much. She wakes up with a wet bed a lot of mornings. Lyn loaned me some absorbent pads to fit in the diaper, and they've improved the situation, but I'm weaning her off the nighttime drink. I'd just put her in one of those expensive brown disposables for bed, but they're really not any better.
* While the rash on her bottom is gone, sometimes it's replaced by chafing on the upper thighs where the velcro rubs if it's not placed exactly right.
* I feel like I'm always doing laundry, especially since the diapers need to run twice. With seven diapers, I end up doing a load just about every other day. If diaper-washing falls on regular laundry day, I do a rinse of just the diapers, then toss in my whites for the second run-through. Otherwise, I just do the diapers by themselves, whichc seems like a waste of water and hot air.

The stinky:
* We found a step-on bathroom-sized garbage can for our laundry room to work as a diaper pail. But our laundry room sort of stinks a lot of the time. The smell isn't nearly as bad as it was before we got the diaper pail, though.
* I haven't found where to buy any lavender or tea tree oil, and I've heard that those can really help with the smell. Today I used a towel at the gym that I had dried with the diapers, and it smelled, well, like a wet diaper.
* I need to do some research on stripping, because I think mine need it.
* I think I have given my husband one more excuse for not doing laundry.

The bottom line (get it?):
They're kind of a pain and definitely odiferous, but I think we'll be sticking with cloth.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


It's been eight days since I last ran.

In that time, I took five spinning classes, rowed 10,000 meters, swam 3000 yards.

I think my foot is better.

It better be better.

I'm hungry.

Hungry for the road.

Even if it's hot and sweaty.

Tomorrow morning, the coiled spring will be released, and off like a shot, the jogging stroller and I will be free again.