Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Anyone Can Run A (Stupid) Mile!

Yesterday I returned home to find a card addressed to me.  I did not recognize the address.  When I opened it, I found:

Studies have shown that a very small percentage of the world's population can run 13.1 miles.
(We're so proud to know one of them!)

This wonderful card came from my friend's mother.  She is a fabulous person, and her assertion that anyone can run a mile has become a mantra for me while I'm running.  I think she's a nut, because NOT anyone can run a mile.  But if she says so, I probably can.  :)

Monday, September 23, 2013


I am the Primary chorister in our ward.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this calling.  It's seriously the dream calling, which I didn't appreciate when I had it 25 years ago, so I thought I'd never again get to do it.  And then I got called and I just wanted to turn cartwheels all the way home.

We only have about 30 children in our Primary.  It's small, and if any family is gone, we feel the hurt in our numbers.  The good news is that I know all 30 of those wonderful young people, and no kidding, I just adore them.  I don't think their parents could possible love them any more than I do (maybe as much, but not more).

After our opening exercises, Brother C and I go to nursery for singing time in there.  They are just babies, mostly, but after just two months they are already beginning to open up to me.  They already ADORE Brother C, who loves them back and who takes the lead during nursery.  After nursery we go back to Primary for the last couple of minutes of Sharing Time.

Yesterday Sister A finished Sharing Time and said, "Okay, let's get ready for singing time!"  About three little voices all said, "Yay!"  Annie said, "It's just so fun!"

First of all, the children can't have any more fun than I am having.  Going to Primary is not a job--it's play time!  I love the children.  I love the music.  We play games.  We talk about the gospel.  We feel the spirit of the Lord.

Secondly, every person ought to have the kind of support in their callings that I get in mine.  Not only does the Primary presidency love me, but the kids call out, "Yay!" when I get there.

What if we all gave a shout when someone performed their calling?

It should happen to everyone at least once, I think.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Channeling. Or Something.

On my dad's side of the family, I am the oldest grandchild.  Until I was nearly 4 1/2, I was the only granddaughter.  To say I was loved and spoiled by my grandma would be a huge understatement.  She adored me her whole life, and I loved her, too.

Grandma was a fabulous person.  She could make a feast out of leftovers.  She was an amazing musician, playing piano by ear beginning when she was just 3 years old.  She loved Lawrence Welk.  She loved Rose Milk (which was a hand lotion advertised during the Lawrence Welk show).  She always kept Jergen's and Rose Milk at the sink in the kitchen and in the bathroom.  Anyone could use the Jergen's, but the Rose Milk was hers alone.  She smelled like roses.

Grandpa had built a little playhouse for my aunt (who is just 6 years my senior), and only the girls were allowed to play in there.  My cousin and I spent HOURS at a time in that little playhouse.  Grandma would come to the door multiple times while we were playing.  One time she's have fresh lipstick on and her purse over her arm.  She was the Avon lady, and she'd come sit on the "couch" (a bench seat from a car) and rub lotion into our hands or apply lipstick or eye shadow to our faces.  One time she'd put on her apron (truthfully, she probably already had it on) and bring us lunch to eat at the little table.  One time she'd just be Grandma, coming over to visit her "ladies."

My grandma got cancer when I was just a young girl.  It seemed like she was sick and old for a very long time.  She was only 73 when she died in 1996.  I was sad to lose my sweet grandma, but I was glad she wasn't sick and weak any more.

My grandma had her temple recommend renewed just a week or two before she died.  She was unable to attend the temple, but it was important to have her recommend.  I think of her each time I renew my recommend.

My grandma was the world's greatest penpal.  She literally had hundreds of pen friends, back in the days before email.  She was my penpal, too.  Starting when I was a little girl (maybe 7 or 8 years old), we exchanged letters.  Hers were always filled with the happenings of the day:  she hung the laundry, she had her hair done, she went visiting teaching, she played the piano at a funeral, etc., etc.  It was fun to get her letters because you felt like you had been standing right there in her kitchen for the day.  Grandma kept writing clear till she died.  The last letters and cards I received were illegible, but they meant the world to me because I knew she was thinking of me.

Grandma took a walk every day.  When I was little she'd walk around the block.  When her health started to decline, she'd walk to the corner and back.  After a while, it was to the end of the driveway and back.  At the end, she walked to the back door and back.  I admire the fact that she never stopped living until she died, even though it would have been easy to curl up in bed.  She took a walk every day.

Grandma was the tidiest woman you'll ever meet, almost to a fault.  She was also very thrifty.  Grandma's whole body shook when she laughed.  She loved her children and grandchildren.  I inherited my hairy arms through my dad from my grandma (I hated that as a kid.  Now I don't really care.).  She'd invite me to come sit on her lap till I was about 12 years old.  Grandma loved to read, and she passed that to my dad, and he (and Mom) passed it on to me.  Grandma could sing alto and tenor.

I was pregnant with Landon when Grandma died.  Our children don't really remember her, and the memories Briana has are of a scary old lady.  That makes me sad, but it's understandable.

When Grandma had been gone for 6 or 8 months, I sat down at the piano one day to play.  That day I could feel my grandma all around me, and honestly, I could miss a note if I tried.  I hadn't played that well in AGES, and I've never played that well since.  It was a beautiful and sacred moment in time to sit privately with my grandma and the music.  While there have been times when I wouldn't be surprised to learn she was there, I've never felt her presence that strongly since then.

Until the past few days.  Nothing really extraordinary is happening, but I just feel her here with me every once in a while throughout the day.  It's a lovely, loving feeling.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feeling Gratitude Among the Burdens

Life right now is good for me and my family.  I stress out fairly easily these days, and I have to talk my way through the stress because usually it's just stress, not crisis.  Gratitude helps me to put my life into perspective and to remember just how good I have it.

This has been an extraordinary week for me in that many of the people I love have faced TERRIBLY difficult challenges that I cannot even begin to imagine surviving.  In every circumstance I have felt completely at a loss.  What can I do?  What can I even say?

My dear friend Dave buried a grandchild last week.  That 4-year-old was born when I worked with Dave.  I've never met that little guy, but his baby picture stole my heart.  I knew that his mother (Dave's daughter) has had some struggles.  My heart aches for her, and my heart aches for Dave and his wife.  They not only had to bury a cherished grandson but they have to SOMEHOW help their daughter survive.  How do you even do that?

I learned last week that another of my sweet 2LL friends has a granddaughter--whose mother has also had many struggles--who has been fighting for her life for nearly 5 months.  I finally got to speak with him today, and he was tender and emotional about the baby and about their sweet daughter.

Another friend is going through a heart-breaking divorce.  Another has an incredibly ill child.  Another learned that her cancer is back.

I've tried to do what I could for these people I love.  Words of love on FB, phone calls, emails.  Movie nights and more phone calls.  Hugs and cards and tears. Prayers and more prayers and more and more prayers. And other than that, I can't do anything.  It is heart-breaking and gut-wrenching and sad and worrisome.

And through it all, I can't get over how incredibly blessed I am.  Right. This. Minute.

The rain is glorious, as is the sky (whether blue or gray).  Our home is safe.  My body is healthy.   Our dog loves us.  Our kids are happy.  We have good employment.  The gospel is beautiful and true.  Children laugh.  I have a lipstick I love; also a necklace and a skirt.  The list could go on and on and on.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013: The Year of AwesoME. Part 1

A long time ago, Briana and I went to Wasatch Running to get some good shoes.  There was a van there that had a bumper sticker on it that said Determined Enough to Run a Half; Not Stupid Enough to Run a Full.  At that time, I decided that "someday" I was going to run a half marathon.

Running has taken a serious back burner since I started in school, but I decided there was no more putting it off.  That half marathon was to happen THIS YEAR.  So in January I signed up for the Big Cottonwood Half and I had Spencer make me a training schedule.  I have not been 100% faithful in my running, but I've been fairly consistent.  Three weeks ago I did a 10-mile run around our neighborhood, and no kidding, it was awful.  I was miserable, I had to walk the last 1.5 miles home, and my knees and feet were killing me.  That was such a downer, and I haven't been running since.  But there was no way I was going to have worked for 8 months and not do that half.  My goal in the beginning was to be able to run the entire distance.  My goal this month turned into "Do the distance."

Today was the big day!  I was feeling trepidation and nervousness.  I was sure the thing was going to take me around 3.5 hours, because we use the term "run" very loosely to describe what I do, plus my training had taken this serious dip.

Spencer and I went to the expo last night to pick up our shirt and race bib.  We went to Fazoli's for some carb loading.  We came home and got all of our stuff together:  my pink jacket, a rain coat, my running clothes, ShotBlocks and Clif Bars, knee braces, phone, headphones, headband, armband--check, check, and check.

We went to bed, and I slept HARD.  The alarm went off (Bruno Mars, "When I Was Your Man"), and at first I thought, "I don't wanna go to work!"  Then I realized this was race day, so even though it was still the middle of the night (3:30 a.m.), I got up.  We got all ready for the day (at least physically, because I was really nervous) and left.  We parked at Cottonwood High School, then got onto a bus, which took us up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the large parking area near Donut Falls.  When we drove around the S-curve, I knew where we were in the canyon.  It felt like it took FOREVER to get to our drop-off, and I thought, "Holy crap!  What have I gotten myself into?  I have to get to the bottom of this!"

We hung out there for about an hour and a half till gun time.  The forecast was for rain.  Luckily, there was no rain, but it was cold.  Still, not as cold as I expected.  I didn't want to take off my coats and long-sleeved shirts and gloves and solar blanket, but I also didn't want to have something around my waist for the entire waist; so I stripped (don't worry, I wouldn't do THAT to anyone), and off we went.

Spencer stayed with me for the first mile.  At that point we caught up to the 3-hour pace group, and he asked if I wanted to stay with them.  I told him I thought I would and to have a good race, so he took off.  I talked to the pacers for a minute, but they were going so slowly that it would have hurt my legs to stay with them, so I went out ahead.  I took 3 potty stops, I think, during the race.  I alternated Gatorade and water at each stop.  I took a Gu when they gave them out.  And I just coasted.  I wasn't trying to run fast, but I was amazed that I was actually passing people (that didn't happen at Ragnar!).  I caught up with the 2:45 pace group, but again, it would have hurt to slow to that pace, so I passed them, too.

My friend from work, Steve, had run his first half earlier this year.  He had encouraged me to make it as fun as I could by talking to people, so I tried.  I mean, partially you get into a zone, and I didn't want to visit, you know?  But sometimes things just came up, and it was fun.

Can you believe it?  I just said it was fun!

Well, I stopped at bathrooms, but then I'd get right back into the run.  I ran till about 10 miles.  After that my legs were pretty dang tired.  But there was this woman who I passed, then she passed me, then I passed her, etc. several times during the race.  We were right together at Mile 12, and I said to her, "My friend's mother says that anyone can run a mile."  She said, "Yes, especially since you've already done twelve miles."  So I ran.  Then I started walking.  She ran past me, looked at me, moved her head to the side, and said, "Let's go."  So we went together.  Then she started walking.  So I walked ahead of her a bit, till she decided to run again.  I kept looking back at her.  When she ran up to me, I said, "Let's do this."  So we ran the last probably about .5 mile.  She gave me a high five when we got onto 1300 E., and we stayed together as we ran into the school parking lot and crossed the finish line together.  She stopped me while we were in the runners' area and thanked me for keeping her going.  Ha!  What a laugh!  She's the one who kept me going.  Her name was Lori, and she said, "See you next year."  I said, "I don't know."  She said, "Yes, you will!  I'll see you next year!"

Y'all, my chip time was 2:35:10, which gave me an average pace of about 11:30 per mile.  For someone who is going FAST if she's going at a 12:00 per mile pace (I TOLD you we use the term "running" loosely), I was so thrilled with my performance.  Best of all, though I'm sore, I'm not dead or injured.

My other two goals for this Year of AwesoME are to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, which we are scheduled to do next month; and to graduate.  I'm totally going to get this done, and completing today's race as well as I did really helped my confidence.  Yay!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The phone doesn't ring till I'm headed to the bathroom.

My boss doesn't look for me till I'm at the copier.

You can color VERY lightly with a red crayon, and it's still red, not pink.

I can skip breakfast and not think a thing about it.  Except on fast Sunday.

Large-bubble bubble wrap is not as fun to pop as small-bubble bubble wrap.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Love Affair

Have I told you the "slut" story?

Pam was a friend who had lots of nice jewelry.  One day her daughter-in-law told her she was a jewelry slut.  It was funny because I could not in a million years picture myself even USING the word "slut" around my mother-in-law.

The conversation then turned to the fact that everyone is a slut of one kind or another.  Jen is a bag slut. Mom is an office supply slut.  I am a book slut.  Ash is a shoe slut.  Bri is a movie slut.

OK, now that you know one kind of slut I am, I would like to tell you that I am a binder clip slut.  I LOVE binder clips.  No kidding, I think they are fabulous.  They hold everything tightly together, but they're so tight that nothing extra can slip into the pile.  There are binder clips of all sizes and colors.  If you go to Target or Walmart or other office supply places you can find the CUTEST little binder clips in all colors, styles, and sizes.  I think they are adorable.

Entheos was a brand-new school the year our children started there.  The school was still gathering desks, boards, chairs, office machinery, etc.  ATK (formerly Hercules) had several abandoned office buildings, and they offered Entheos all of the "stuff" they wanted from one of those buildings.  So a group of parents, teachers, and administrators went to this abandoned building to salvage whiteboards, tables, chairs, and so forth.  I was in that group.  Well, the building was abandoned years ago, but it was not empty.  There were papers lying around in piles or on desks or in boxes.  And everywhere--EVERYWHERE--there were binder clips of all sizes on the floors.  I am not even exaggerating when I tell you that I wished I had a garbage bag so I could gather and keep all those paper clips.  I know!  Nasty, right!?  Because those binder clips had been living with mice and other critters--not to mention the dirt and dust--for YEARS.  Still, it took every ounce of self-control I had not to gather up binder clips and bring them home.

At work our office supply carries three sizes of binder clips:  small, medium, and large.  I go through a lot of the small clips.

Or I DID, until Shari bought some MINI binder clips.  First of all they are ADORABLE.  There is red, blue, green, yellow, black, and white.  They are so cute!  I like to keep the red clips around because my boss is a Utes fan.  Secondly, they are the PERFECT size.  They're larger than a large paper clip (I like paper clips, too, but not as much as binder clips) and smaller than a small binder clip, so they fit those stacks of paper that are just in-between.  Which is a lot of different piles of paper!  I'm telling you, the mini binder clips are the PERFECT binder clip size.

A few months ago I was made the managing administrator over the p-card system.  That sounds important, but all it means is that I have to make sure there are receipts for each expenditure and click on a  box in the online accounting system.  All those receipts?  You guessed it:  they come clipped together with mini binder clips.  I usually put the receipts for a given expense report into an envelope because it's easier to file that way.  That means I remove the binder clips.  I have a small container in my desk organizer that holds mini binder clips.  Only I get them from others faster than I use them or give them away.

The good news is that Shari keeps containers in the shared cupboard on our floor.  If you have surplus, you can put it in the cupboard; if you need more of something, you can get it from the cupboard (you should have seen the TUBS of paper clips and binder slips that were in the cupboard when everyone moved onto the floor!  I could have played for HOURS.).  So I can take my extraneous mini binder clips to the cupboard.

Only, guys?  I have the hardest time doing it!  I don't want to give them up.  They're completely superfluous and they make my drawer not want to shut.  But I can't let them go.  It's ridiculous, really.  Then, when it's time to take them to the cupboard, I have to make the decision which of my children  binder clips I should keep and which I should place in the adoption cupboard.

It's a dilemma, I'm tellin' ya!

It's also completely irrational and probably certifiable.  I figure I might as well just own it.  That's why you know now:  My name is Aundrea, and I am a binder clip slut.