Saturday, August 29, 2009

We Were Out There

This morning I started my run a lot later than usual. I couldn't get out of bed. It was Saturday, no kids to get to school, my day to sleep in. I almost didn't go. But I have a race coming up that I paid good money to run in, so I threw on my gear and headed out the door.

I walked to my starting place and as I waited for my running watch to acquire it's satellite signal, I questioned again if I really wanted to do this today. It was already hot, I had forgotten my gum, and I could feel the cottonmouth already setting in. My goal I was trying for wasn't coming as easy as I wanted and I didn't feel any closer to reaching it today. The GPS signal sounded from my watch, so I figured "what the heck" and I took off.

I passed my friend Margaret on my way to the trail and she asked how I was? "Sleepy" I replied. She responded back "But at least you're out on a Saturday." Yep, at least I was out there.

It didn't take long to be glad I had gone. It was comedy central on the trail this morning! There were the ladies pushing strollers whose mouths went 2 times faster than their legs. Or the guy dressed from head to toe in expensive Nike running gear- smoking a cigarette. And last, but certainly not least, the two young adults running with their healthy bottled water, KING SIZE TWIX BAR & TWINKIES! A little counterproductive, I think, but what do I know. Maybe that's the secret to great running!

I laughed.

Then Margaret's words popped in my head "at least they're out there." That's what mattered. We were all out there trying to do something good with the bodies we had been given.

Okay, so for some of us that was only partly true. But at least we were trying.

I don't know if it was this little thought that spurred me on through the heat and cottonmouth or the endorphins produced when I laughed, but I made my goal. I finally made it through 7 miles in 1hr. 2 min. & 28 seconds.

I was glad I was out there!

Me with Emma after running my last race the 4th of July "Freedom Run."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Place

It was one of those mornings.

The kind where your gears are all mixed up and somehow you’ve managed to get yourself stuck in reverse accomplishing very little. Nothing goes right. Everything is wrong. And no matter how hard you try to fix it you still end up like a mechanic trying to get a bolt off with a screwdriver.

Not the type of morning you want people showing up at your door. Especially, not your 10 year olds new fifth grade teacher. We were excited and felt very fortunate to have Ashton placed in Mr. Zimmerman’s Fifth Grade Class for the coming school year. He was spoken of very highly and the kids in my ward who had experienced him as a teacher loved him as well.

And there he was on my front porch.

I surveyed the scene.

Ashton’s hair hadn’t been combed. The neighbor kids had showed up early, thus preventing my kids from wanting to complete their jobs including the front room which now had either cereal or crackers crushed on the carpet. Some of the furniture had been moved to make forts and I can’t remember if I was still in my running clothes or just yesterday’s makeup. All I knew was that I was embarrassed.

The purpose of Mr. Z’s visit was to introduce himself, meet Ashton, and give us an envelope containing various forms to be filled out and an assignment to be completed before the first day of school.

Not wanting to do homework when it was still summer, Ashton eventually got around to working on the assignment which happened to be a scavenger hunt around Mr. Z’s class website. What a great way to learn. With each new quest on the scavenger hunt he was playing games and watching videos, all of an educational nature, and gaining more and more excitement for what Mr. Z’s actual class would be like.

One of the quests asked you to follow a link to a site named “Backroads Photography.“ This piqued my interest, so I took a seat next to Ashton at the computer. A grid of squares appeared on the screen and one by one the computer popped in photographs to fill the blanks.

They were AMAZING.

Incredible images gave life to simple objects and restored beauty to architecture of yesteryear.

The scavenger hunt simply asked for us to visit the site, view the photos, find a favorite, and tell why. Simple.
We scrolled down the page pointing out ones we liked or thought were “cool”, just enjoying the art before us. We came upon a particular print named “Farm Morning.”

I stopped.

Something inside me clicked and I declared, “That’s it. That’s my favorite.”

We finished scrolling through the rest of the images, many of which I really enjoyed looking at, but I always returned to “Farm Morning” as my favorite. My mother told me not to influence Ashton’s decision, so I left him to finish the hunt on his own.

In the weeks since then, I still visit the site, view the images there, and take in one in particular. It has become my new “happy place”. A place to go, even if it’s only visually, when I have one of those days where I am the mechanic with all the wrong tools.

But I haven’t finished the assignment. The hunt for me is incomplete. Why was “Farm Morning” my favorite was still unanswered?

That was a difficult question for me to answer.

I could give you a hundred reasons why I liked the other photographs. But that photograph, that one, single image….

It spoke to me.

And perhaps, that is why it is so hard to express why I like it the way I do.

It appeals to something more than just the eye.

Something deeper.

More private.

That was it. That was the reason for liking it.

Somehow the artist and his camera had captured an image that represents the people, places, experiences, and dreams that make up a patch in the fabric of who I am. A patch that mends the holes and rips that the wear and tear of everyday life leaves in the body of my fabric.

A patch for those days like the one when Mr. Z appeared on our porch.

A patch made with beauty, serenity, and contentment.


You may have noticed there are no pictures in this post, but I hope by now you are anxious to see some. So, I invite you to visit
to view “Farm Morning” and accept the quest to find your own favorite by viewing the galleries and prints offered there. And then please, leave me a comment telling me why.

Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I know that you are probably sick of hearing about Benjamin's birthday weekend, but please allow me one more?!?

I promise to try to make it worth your time.

The fad in our family right now is Pokemon. We have acquired items such as Pokemon cards, balls, posters, puzzles, games, and key chains over the last few months. Ashton and his friends started the fad this spring and what one boy has the others want also. And did you know you can't have too many of the darn things? You can fill a small shoe box to overflowing and you still need more! So undoubtedly, a tin pack of Pokemon cards was at the top of Ben's wish list this year.

I, being the good (or extremely stupid, you can decide) mother that I am, determined to fill the wish of my little boy. My only problem was that since I am the mother and have to take him everywhere I go, could not find a time to actually buy the tin of cards without him around. I knew where I was going to buy them, because they were the cheapest, but still acquiring the coveted gift still eluded me. So I did what every good mom the Dad and have him get them on his way home from work.

Ben was elated with his cards. And somewhere along with our partying it was asked that "Wasn't Ben glad Dad had bought those cards for him?"

And that is when it happened, Daddy became Ben's very best friend because he had PURCHASED him the Pokemon cards. He wanted to sleep by him, eat by him, do things for him, play games with him, you name it, Ben wanted to do it with Daddy.

By the next day I was still hearing about how wonderful it was that Daddy got him the cards, and I admit, I was getting a little bitter.

Richard had gone on a hike with Ashton and the Webelos, I was busy baking his birthday cake and getting everything & everybody ready to go to his party. Ben asked me again, for what seemed like the 12th time, when daddy was going to get home so they could have a Pokemon battle. I told him I didn't know, but I would have one with him.

He didn't want to play with me.
I wasn't Daddy.
I hadn't bought him the Pokemon cards.

I pushed down my urge to tell him he was an ungrateful little turd and went back to getting things ready to go. All the while, I was fuming!

I would have bought the cards, but because I was taking care of him I couldn't! But I had found out where to get them and found someone who could complete the task I couldn't! And now he was getting all the credit!

And that is when it started to happen. Everything started to go in what seemed like slow motion and the noises around me faded. I could feel thoughts starting to formulate in my mind and I paused briefly, so as not to miss it.

I had felt this feeling before.

The thoughts formulated into questions.

How does our Heavenly Father feel when he sees that we have a need arise that we can't conquer ourselves?

He knows how & where to help, so he sends us someone who can do what we can't.

And all too often, do we give them all the credit? Forgetting the source the help started from.

The bitterness fled.

It was replaced with a sweetness that only the spirit can give.

And I was grateful, despite my bitter & petty attitude and distracted mind that my Heavenly Father saw fit to let that sweet spirit give me a gift for Benjamin's birthday- a gentle lesson reminding me where true blessings really come from....and it's not Wal-Greens.

Five for # 5

I guess Benjamin had not had enough excitement through the course of his birthday weekend because he gave himself a belated birthday "gift" Sunday. It was the type of "gift" kids get all too frequently, you know the kind we all really could have done without receiving. But we all know that kids are greedy.

On Sunday evening, because of church being cancelled for all the little munchkins due to the dedication of the Oquirhh Mountain Temple, the kids were pretty restless. So they headed out in the backyard to play. I am not kidding when I tell you that not even 5 minutes later, Ashton and Dallin came running in screaming something about an EMERGENCY. Since this was the third “EMERGENCY” we had experienced that day and it wasn't coupled with any blood curdling screams, I didn’t take off running. In the backyard, I found Ben on the tramp holding up his foot with blood running down his leg.

Okay……this was an EMERGENCY!!!

I grabbed an old towel lying beside the tramp that had been discarded from a previous game and dabbed the blood away so I could see what we were dealing with.

It was not good.

There was a huge laceration extending horizontally across Ben’s big toe and onto the second one and it was definitely deep enough for stitches. I wound the towel around his foot tight enough to control the bleeding, scooped him up and headed for the house. I met Richard half way across the yard with the “this doesn’t look good” expression and within 10 minutes we were on our way to InstaCare.

Now I have been to InstaCare many times, but I guess I have never been there with Ben, because I am sure I would have remembered it. Have you ever been in the Dr.’s office or some other medical facility and you hear someone’s child screaming at the top of their lungs?

That night it was my child.

I have never heard, no, felt the intensity and power that came from that little body being held down yet cradled by his daddy’s arms. The strength that came from his mouth and lungs was overwhelming and nothing I have ever experienced with any of my children.

It was heartbreaking.

Even with my being a nurse and having medical training and knowledge that this was what was best for him, I was relieved when it was over. We left Instacare two hours after we had arrived with 5 stitches in Ben’s toe, one for every year he was old. What a way to finish off his birthday weekend.

But wait! That’s not the end of the story! You didn’t hear about the tetanus shot at the Dr.’s office the next day. Well, to make a long story short, just go up to paragraph 7 and start reading at the 2nd sentence again.

Same heartbreaking story.

Or I could just say, that I’m sure the staff at Orem Family Medicine will insert their ear plugs the next time they see Benjamin Parke coming through their doors.

The finished product.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Benjamin!

Benjamin turned the big #5 this year. He has been very excited about and anticipating this big mile stone in his life for a while now. Birthday # 5 has been looked forward to as a magical time for him. I’m not sure why. If anyone has insight into the 4 year old psyche and actually understands it, please, share your wisdom!

For the last year, I have continually heard “when I am 5 (fill in the blank)” and “Not until I’m 5.” But my favorite has been, “I can’t wait until I’m big and finally turn 5.” So when it came to planning a party for this momentous coming of age, I was really at a loss. We don’t do huge friend parties every year, but decided this would be a good year to do one for Ben. But when we talked to him about doing a party he said he didn’t want to do that. When asked what he did want to do, he told me he wanted a party with his cousins. Sounds easy enough, right? Not when you have about 50 +/- cousins, between mine and Richard’s families. Since my brother, who lives in Idaho and has 2 boys that my boys idolize, were going to be at my parent’s home this weekend we decided to go to West Point and do something with them.

The planning was coming together! I could start checking things off my list.

Who? Check.

Where? Check.

Now the big WHAT to do. Shouldn’t be too hard….

That’s what I thought.

Remember this activity has to be grand to measure up to magical number 5. All Mr. Ben wanted to do was go swimming.


Especially since Ashton’s Orthodontist, Dr. Thompson, was having a party for all of his patients
at the Lindon Aquatic Center Friday night which just happened to be Ben’s birthday!


The only hang up was that we still had to plan the cousin party he wanted. And all that Mr. Ben could think of doing with his cousins was going swimming!

Now I love to swim, or at least, I used to before I had to shave from head to toe before donning my swimsuit and then worrying about what might be jiggling or waving in the wind that wasn’t supposed to. Not to mention the stress of watching my kids so they don’t drown and the responsibility of keeping an eye on my nieces & nephews so they didn’t either. One night of free swimming (in the dark) I can handle, 2 days in a row…..No Thank You. So we tried to divert his attention with bowling, miniature golf, arcades, and even Lagoon (with Bounceback passes).


Didn’t work.

He still wanted to go “swim with the waves.”

After 2 weeks of limbo and 1 day left to the party, I finally told him that since we were already swimming on his birthday that he should pick something else and then he would get to do 2 fun things for his birthday!


You can really reason with a 4 year old!

But he couldn’t decide on what to do. So I chose miniature golf. It is something my kids have never done and I thought they would have fun.

What? FINALLY, check, check!

Today, the day of the party, we met Grandma Jeanne & Pop Marlin, 2 of my brother’s wives (Shaleece & Vicki) and their kids at Sparetime Family Entertainment center in Syracuse. I paid for all of the miniature golf and started to distribute the clubs and balls.

The birthday boy wouldn’t take his club.

Or his ball.

In fact, he wouldn’t even touch them. It was NOT what he wanted to do.

Grand Party to Celebrate BIG #5 and make birthday boy happy- a big, fat NEGATIVE!

Thanks to the persuasion of my good husband, Benjamin did golf. And, I believe, he DID like it. But on the way back home to Provo when asked if he had a happy birthday, he replied, “I guess. But I only liked the swimming.”

I guess the best things in life ARE free.

Happy Birthday Benjamin, know that mommy loves you and is so glad Heavenly Father sent you to be my boy.

Enjoy some pics from his special day, minus the swimming ones of course. :-)

Not wanting to be in the spotlight, Ben (in between cousins, Landon & Aubrie) closed his eyes the whole time we sang "Happy Birthday".
The cake. Boring, I know, but it is what he wanted. Yellow cake, chocolate frosting & a Pokemon on top!

Ben enjoyed playing this game at the arcade after golfing. You hit a button with a mallet and try to get as many balls in the dog's mouth as possible.
(I wish had one to take frustrations out on when I feel like beating my kids :)

The decor on the course was awesome! Can't say much for the course itself, but this bright & glow in the dark goblin warrior was a fav.

Richard and Ben trying to get the ball past the Ogre.

Many gifts of Pokemon paraphernalia made Ben a very happy boy.

A surprise and gag gift of pickle relish from his dad, kicked off the gift giving. You have to have some sense of humor to make it in this family.

A birthday lunch at Wendy's and a patient father who lets you decorate him with the toys from the kids meal, honestly, what more could you want?!?!

A gift of a PVC pipe and duct tape gun from our big neighborhood friend, Taylor.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Years too???

So you can't post Christmas pictures without posting New Years pictures, so indulge me please once again......
This year we decided to CeLeBrAtE New Years Eve by staying home and having our own little party with the kids. We ate tons of yummy food, played Disney's "Scene It," and watched, a Mr. Bean movie until the Ball dropped. Then we took our party outside by lighting sparklers and yelling "Happy New Year." It was a lot of fun just hanging out together to bring in 2009.
Playing Disney's "Scene It".
The spread; rolls, ham, turkey, cheese, veggie tray, cheese ball, crackers, chips, dip, cookies, salads, YUM!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Christmas in August!?!?!

No, No, the crazy store merchants haven't started putting up Christmas stuff yet, but I really expect some to start cropping up in about a month or so. So what's with Christmas in August? Let me tell you. I was reviewing all the things I need to catch up blogging about and I realized that I had not blogged ANYTHING about Christmas 2008! So before they start putting things out for Christmas 2009 please, indulge me, by allowing me to post Christmas pics in the middle of August!!! So for journaling/family history's sake here we go....

Pop Marlin & Grandma Jeanne (my parents) shared Christmas Eve Dinner, the reading of the Nativity story, and Christmas morning with us.
Pop Marlin even shared a Christmas message with us about a little girl and a Christmas dress.

Grandma Jeanne trying out the "Cuddle Wrap" (it is a blanket you can wear) we gave her.

Christmas Cuties in new church clothes.

Dallin's favorite gift, a vibrating football game. (I think that all the football players are now either missing or playing handicapped with missing appendages.)

Ben & Emma checking out his 2 favorite gifts- his own tent and a blowup "Lightning McQueen bed". (The tent poles were quite flimsy and after many fiberglass slivers & bandages of duct & electrical tape the tent went in the garbage about a month ago. The bed quickly developed a leak, *imagine that* and hasn't been used since.)

Emma's first dollhouse. I am hoping the older she gets, the more use it will get. But it has been used by the boys and still is in great shape. Gotta love Fisher Price!

Ashton's absolute favorite gift of his entire life, thus far, a pellet gun! Which I think he has been able to shoot a total of 2 days since Christmas. Poor guy, but living in a suburban area isn't really conducive to getting in a lot of target practice. (I don't think Chastina wants Ashton shooting out her kids eyes !)

Christmas Eve Jammies! This is one of our yearly traditions and the kids still get excited about opening a present on Christmas Eve even if they know it is going to be PJ's.

Emma trying out her new chair she got with a little help from Pop and Grandma Jeanne.

Christmas Morning, we normally, have a big breakfast and then head north to Richard's parents where we meet up with his siblings (he has 9 of them) and eat, watch the kids compare their goods from the Jolly Fat Man, and try not to fall asleep. But with the threat of a big snow storm this year we opted to stay put. Which turned out to be wonderful. We missed seeing the family, but the kids were able to really play with all of their toys and mom and dad were able to catch up on some sleep we missed from waiting too long for children to start dreaming of sugarplums the night before.

All in all, we had a very, merry, Christmas.
(I know you were dying to know. Well, now your suspense is over- 8 months later!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Making Our Voice Heard

A couple of months ago Richard and I started a Neighborhood/Community group called the "Freedom Forum". We meet on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of every month and discuss topics such as the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and the principles that our country was founded on. We educate each other, engage in discussions regarding current events and yes, we express some frustrations. I would like to invite anyone who is remotely interested to come join us and check the group out. Here is the link to the blog regarding the "Freedom Forum" & our meetings.

We have also put together a letter to send to all members of Congress (both in the House and Senate) along with a copy of the essay written by Ezra Taft Benson, when he was the Sec. of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, titled the "Proper Role of Government." Knowing that our letter with our 2 signatures on it would not make much of an impact in Washington, we set up a petition online where others who share our same view about the role government should play in our lives, could add their signature and give more "weight" to our letter & cause. We set our goal for 1000 signatures and got to work. We have sent e-mails, set up a Facebook Group, passed out fliers, and yesterday, Richard was given the opportunity to do an interview on a radio talk show out of Spokane, WA about our efforts and what the average citizen can do . Here is the link to the web cam & audio of the radio interview
He talks about what inspired him to get involved, the genesis of the group and the petition , and he just did an over all great job. I am really proud of him.

We have been doing the printing of the letter & essay a little at a time, due to the cost of printing, but we have the essays ready to go and are just waiting to accumulate signatures. So I am humbly asking that if you haven't signed onto the letter, that you read it & the essay and add your name if you feel the same way. Here is the link to a blog where you can read the letter, listen to or read the essay by Sec. Benson and find a link for you to add your signature along with ours Just a side note-the petition site asks for a donation, YOU DO NOT have to give a donation to add your name and the money does not go to our cause, but to the petition site for upkeep.

If you have added your name (which many of you have & I thank you), please just think of who (a spouse, sibling, parent, friend, etc.) you might share it with that might be interested in signing too. I am asking you to help me get the word out, anyway YOU know how.

I am sorry if this is such a heavy and serious post, but I feel like our country is in a perilous place right now & I appreciate you listening to me. I promise I will get back to writing "fluff" about the goings on in our family soon.