Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Our friends the Esplins got a cabin at Sundance for a quick weekend away before school started and they invited us and the Davis' to come up for dinner Thursday night.  The kids loved exploring all the nooks and crannies and we loved hanging out chatting together.

The boys loved the porch swing, and each needed to take a turn sitting with me on it.  Lindsey, Kristine, and I were talking about our kids and thoughts with each of them starting the new school year.  I brought up how shy and reserved Max is in public (you'd never know that at home, in his own environment), and how I was worried Spanish immersion may not be the best fit if he had a hard time communicating even in English, and Max looked up at me and said, "That's just a rule of life, you know."  "What's a rule of life?" "You know, some people are just shy."  So there's your Maxism for the day.

The Esplins went to a night musical at Sundance and we all headed home--after a very competitive game of foosball!

That weekend we decided to head down to Brian Head/Cedar Breaks National Forest to catch the Perseid Meteor shower.  The Coal Hollow fire in the mountain range southeast of us had been filling the valley with smoke for about 2-3 weeks, so it was really nice to get out of the smoky air and see blue skies again.  The first night we went out to a viewing area in Cedar Breaks, snuggled up, and looked up.  The boys promptly fell asleep--it was pretty late--and while we only saw one or two meteors, we breathed fresh air, saw millions and millions of starts, saw the milky way, and sat in beautiful silence for a while.  It was such a soul-filling night.

We were initially just going for an overnight stay Friday-Saturday, but last minute decided to extend our stay for the whole weekend.  The only place that had an available room to stay in was in Duck Creek, on the other side of Cedar Breaks park.  So on Saturday we got to drive through the park and see some beautiful scenery on our way to Duck Creek.  As we were rounding the corner leaving the hotel in Brian Head, we passed an ATV rental place.  All the boys looked longingly at the ATVs, and then looked at me.  So this is the one time mama was cool...when I said, "Fine, let's rent one and go for a ride."  We rented it for two hours, and went on the 2-hour recommended excursion drive on a trail that we realized (after we started riding up the trail) we could have driven for free--it wasn't an ATV-exclusive trail, just a dirt road.  Although, riding in the ATV was open and we had fresh air blowing on us, so no one got car sick.

Like I said, Cool Mama.  The ATV we rented was pretty much a glorified golf cart, and went about as fast as a golf cart, haha.

We got out about halfway up the trail for a little hike through the Twisted Tree Forest.  These were some of the oldest trees in North America, pretty cool.  We hiked just to the top of a little hill, the scenery was really interesting, the old twisted trees, the red rock and white rock, pine trees.  Pace thought it was pretty cool that he could stand "in the desert and the forest" at the same time.

We got to the top of the viewpoint, got some fun pictures, and then the weather changed and a storm moved in, getting really chilly.  It stayed rainy, cold, and stormy the rest of the day.

After the ATV ride we drove back to the overlook point we went to the night before to go stargazing. Amazing what we were right next to, and had no idea the night before--we were really glad we went back to the overlook because it was such a beautiful scene.  And the permanent lightning sign made me laugh.

From there we drove up to Brian Head Peak, right in the middle of the thunderstorm, and ran to the little hut at the peak.  As we were driving down the road, lightning struck the peak, so we made good timing, I guess!

Then we drove around to the park ranger station, AKA Point Supreme, for some more great views, and to learn a little more about the rock formations, the hoodoos.

Once we got to Duck Creek, we found a little mini ranger station, and they had a map of a ton of things to do within 15 miles.  We went to Mammoth Caves first, and explored the lava tube a bit.

Sunday morning we decided to explore Cascade Falls Trail before checking out and finding a church to go to on the drive home.   This was a beautiful drive to the trailhead, and a beautiful hike.  The Cascade Falls was really a trickle, not "falls", but the hike was worth it--a view of the whole valley, hoodoos, and even Zion in the distance.  We drove home, finding a ward outside of Cedar City to stop in for church, and had a picnic lunch.  It was such a beautiful weekend, and a fun little getaway.  We are definitely going to try and make this an annual thing.


Another Sunday afternoon we decided to explore Santaquin Canyon, and found an absolutely beautiful trail to explore.  Pace loved all the tree trunks to cross the water, and kept trying to convince me to cross, too.  Max and I were just fine where we were, with our feet on the ground!  Although Max did step in a section that he thought was grass/ground, and it ended up being sludgy water and mud.  He was pretty upset, but David reassured him that it was cool to get dirty on a hike.

On the drive home David spotted a tarantula in the middle of the road!  We hopped out to get a closer look, and another family driving down the canyon stopped to check it out, too.  He was pretty big, and not very interested in being played with...

Pace had his two front teeth pulled!  Both were incredibly loose, but his upper left permanent tooth was pushing through the gum above the baby tooth.  The dentist said if it didn't come out on its own within a week, the baby tooth would have to be pulled to make room.  And that adult tooth was growing in so fast!  Within just a week so much more of the adult tooth had grown in, and so we scheduled an appointment.  While Pace was in the chair, the dentist gave us a two-for-one deal, and pulled out his other front tooth, too, since it was so loose and the x-rays showed the other adult tooth really close to growing in, too. It took a couple days for Pace to get used to talking with a gap.

Our friend is a blacksmith and makes amazing creations.  Bishka wanted a railing to get to her apartment, and Dan delivered.  He made installation look like a cinch! 

The boys are finally into board games, which has been really fun.  We've gotten some old classics--Survive, Pathfinder, Enchanted Forest, Monopoly Jr., and a couple new ones, including a family dinner time Q+A game, with some fun dinner games thrown in for good measure.  It's made dinner time really entertaining, and led to some really good discussions.  Example: One question was about keeping secrets, and what would you do if a friend asked you to not tell anyone else.  That led to a discussion about real friends vs. not real friends, threats, appropriate vs. inappropriate secrets, the role of parents/adults with secrets, etc., etc.  

School started! I still can't get over school starting in the middle of August, but here it is.  The boys are now both in dual immersion, and go to school all day, leaving for school at 7:55, and getting home at 3:45.  They are doing well so far, and both really enjoy the dual immersion program.  Two teachers collaborate, so the kids have half day in English and half in Spanish.  The kids get rearranged between the two classes each year, but they are with the main overall group, so 1st-6th grade they'll be with the same set of 60 kids, and have the same familiar faces and friends all through elementary school.  I really like that concept, and I'm excited for them to have this experience through school.

The boys first week of school was my last week of school!  

I celebrated the successful completion of each class by getting myself a pig with wings. First, they make me smile. Second, a flying pig represents the impossible is happening. Getting myself a flying pig kept me motivated, made me feel like I’d achieved something, and helped me feel successful. Going to grad school is something I never considered myself smart enough for, or good enough to do, for lots of different reasons. 
It took me 10 years to finish my BS; I didn’t start college right away, and I did life things in between semesters. I dropped out after my second college semester when my chemistry professor told me I had “global issues”. I think he meant I had a lot of gaps in my knowledge that would have helped in understanding the subject, but at the time it completely stripped me of any self-esteem and confidence I had and I dropped out, believing I wasn’t smart enough for higher education. 
This was a really hard 18 months in an accelerated program, and I learned a lot—a lot about my limits, but also a lot about what I am capable of. There were plenty of times I looked at myself and asked, “What are you doing...??!!” Especially every time we introduced ourselves to the class and everyone was a working professional with a 5-word job title, and I was like,”I’m a stay at home mom and I volunteer teach health and nutrition in my son’s kindergarten class...👋🏻”. Life had to shift in lots of ways, and I had to learn how to adjust, redefine, and let go of some things. 
The one thing I knew I had to keep up was running. There were definitely days/weeks where I felt too inundated with school and had to let go of a run, but there were other days/weeks where I knew if I didn’t run, more than just my training would suffer. I ran three big events while in school, which means I ran even more miles in training. And I needed every one of those miles. 
A lot of the lessons I’ve learned with running apply to life:

• You need a support team, and David is my tailored-to-me supporter
• Run when you can, hike when you can’t, just don’t stop
• Hard is you getting stronger
• Running is all about maintenance
• There’s always another event to train for
And my two favorite:
• Run the mile you are in
• The first step towards getting somewhere is deciding to not stay where you are

So this phase is done, completed with honors and a 4.0 gpa, and we’ll move on to the next phase. But I know I’m moving on different, changed. And with lots of flying pigs at my side.
(*side note: for our capstone class we had to create a health promotion project to fill an unmet need (this took the place of a true thesis). Most people created something they could implement at their workplace, but I got to be a little creative since I didn’t have an occupation...
The school I went to was starting to look at changing their curriculum to be more CHES focused (a national certification for health educators). I am CHES certified and have been working on their advisory board to get things rolling toward the curriculum changes. 
My capstone project was creating a CHES prep elective course undergrad and graduate students can take in preparation for sitting for this exam. My curriculum is currently being reviewed/evaluated, and needs to go through a pilot test, and if all goes well, will be phased in Fall 2019 as an official course in SFU’s school of health sciences! And...hopefully I’ll be hired as the instructor...)

And then time to celebrate!  We booked a cruise way back in February or March, as soon as David got his vacation schedule, looking ahead at when we could squeeze in a family celebratory cruise.  We did a Catalina Island/Ensenda cruise, and it was really fun to have a family vacation, relax and read, unplug, and be on the ocean.  Although the boys were done by the end of the second day, haha.  

Day 1: We boarded and were told to go eat lunch while the rooms were getting finalized and our luggage was getting sorted; we weren't going to launch until 5 or 6 that evening.  So we ate and then played mini golf up on the top deck until our room was ready.

The room was a lot bigger than I was expecting, and the window was large enough for the boys to sit in the sill and watch the ocean every morning.

Lots of shenanigans, ocean watching, and elevator rides...

Day 2: We embarked at Catalina Island (I thought it was funny we took a "whole night" to get there--L.A. has day ferry rides over to the island...) and spent a few hours looking around.  We decided the best way to get around would be to rent a golf cart.  Eddie wanted to check out the island's botanical gardens, and I wanted to get a trail run in--and found a loop on my trail app!  So we drove up to the gardens, and they spent and hour looking around the gardens while I took to the hills.  It was a great morning exploring--and, true to Femme Fatraile trial runners, I ran into another trail runner and we became fast friends as we did the loop together.  If I'm ever in Philadelphia, I'll look Maren up so we can go for a run, haha!

After the gardens/trail, we did a glass-bottom boat tour to feed/watch the fish.  We wished we had packed swim suits so we could get in the water in the little beach, but we didn't know how much time we'd have after those two excursions.  We had to be back on the boat by 3:45, so we really didn't have too much time to run around on the island. 

After the glass-bottomed boat, we grabbed some lunch and walked around Main Street while Bob and Eddie headed back to the boat for an afternoon siesta.  It was a cute little main street, lots of shops, and a beautiful day to explore.

Day 3: We woke up the next morning in Ensenada, ready to explore!  We ended up doing an excursion to La Bufadora--the water spout.  We had some time to kill before the excursion, so we checked out a map of the city, found the cultural center right across the street from the dock, and decided to walk over there to explore a bit.  We crossed a pretty bridge, got a great view of the boat docked at the port, found a little outdoor market, and the beautiful rooms in the cultural center.  Our excursion to La Bufana was an hour or so bus ride, then we walked down a little alley full of vendors, checked out the water spout, bought some yummy pan and fruit sorbets, and headed back to the boat. On the way back to the boat, the tour bus took us to the cultural center and outdoor market we'd walked to earlier that morning!  Ha!

It was so crowded we didn't realize Eddie wasn't with us for this picture until it was too late..

The little road tot he Bufadora was packed with street vendors selling everything from ice cream and breads to clothing, shoes, etc. etc.  We ended up getting some treats--amazing fresh fruit ice cream, and blackberry and guava sweet breads.

We spent a lot of time just sitting on the boat...I wish we'd have gone right to the destination, the sitting the boat part was hard, and more than one of us got a little boat crazy.  There was little track on the very top deck, I think 11 loop s was 1 mile...pretty tiny.  It was hard to keep count, haha.  And my watch picked up on the boat moving, not just me, so I was logging sub-5-minute miles...oops!  That's going to change my strava times...    

Here are the adventures for the month:
We tackled the Pfeifferhorn...had I known where we were going, I may not have so readily agreed, haha!  It was quite the climb, and there was more than one spot on the trail where I had to remind myself to just breathe.

That's where we were heading--Yikes!  Jen was already halfway there when we got this photo.  

At the top:

Here's the gnome's POV of the journey:

David and I joined another couple of friends to take Mt. Timpanogos.  This was my first time up Timp, and it was a very long hike...We set our alarms for 1:15am so we could meet our friends at the trailhead at 3am.  There were a few time on this hike, too, where I thought for sure I needed to write my last will and testament, haha.  It was cold and windy at the top!

This is the shack at the top.  David told me to smile, and I dug real deep to muster this up...that was all I could do!  It was pretty nerve-racking being so high...

Silhouettes of our friends--they had to book it back down to get back in time for their sitter.  We took our time going down, and stopped for breakfast on the way home.

The Coal Hollow fire took off in August, and it made running outside near impossible for 2-3 weeks with so much smoke in the valley.  This was one relatively clear day, so I hit the river trail instead of going to the gym.  Then the next weekend we went out to Deer Creek Reservoir to do an out and back.  Still pretty smoky, but not as bad as where we live.

Finally got some rain, which helped put out the fires, and I got some mid-week trail runs in, which was fun.  This one was out to the hot pots and back.

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