Monday, November 1, 2010

Yeah ST. George Marathon...

Did I ever say how much I love running? There are so many reasons (I will have to list those in some later post) but my absolute number one and number two are being able to chat with girlfriends and being able to "chat" with God. Crazy I know, but when I run I pray. Many times I am praying to just get through to the next mile or to be able to make it home around the bend but more often than not, I pray for guidance and for protection and for peace.

This year I was blessed (and I say blessed because the St. George Marathon is a draw with less than a 50% chance of getting in) with being able to get into the Marathon with 2 amazing gals -- Gina (the endorphin hill junkie) and Heidi (the true blue running guru). We braved the early morning 4:45 am runs 4 to 5 times per week in the snow and ice, the 50+ mile per hour winds, running on trails with wild animals (and one big huge honking can of BEAR spray) and lots and lots of crazy injuries (I had extensive blood clots, 2 vascular surgeries, quad strain and one posterior tibialis rupture) to prepare for the great event. During that time we also adopted Cami, the running gazelle, and then a whole group of drop-dead, gorgeous ladies (Becky, Rena, Sandy, Sydette, Amy, Annette) named the Running Divas. Shall I say torturous fun?

Race day October 2, 2010. My awesome, supportive Dad (knowing exactly what you need on race day because he has been there too) woke up to drive me to the race. We knelt in prayer together asking for strength, he gave me my all-time favorite quick neck rub and then soothed my nerves with some fatherly advice to not to overdo it and if I am in pain, just hitch a ride with the injured runner van (hey, that might be fun -- never done that before--he, he). Then phone calls from mom, one after the other, wanting so desperately to be present but having to work, wanting to make sure I was going to be safe and wanting to make sure that I knew she loved me.
4:45 am I boarded the bus to ride the long ride up the hill to the starting line. It was warmy-chilly waiting 1 1/2 hours for the starting gun to sound in the hills of Vernon just 26.2 miles away from the city. Piles and piles of runners were wrapped in silver blankets, laying around the fires rubbing Vaseline on lips, thighs and just about any place you didn't want to get chaffed. Pre-race excitement was so thick -- you could just feel it everywhere around you. More calls, more texts from Ian, Shannon, Karen, Mom, Annie, Dave, Annelise. Time to turn in the phone and line up.
Finally, side by side with Heidi and Gina, we heard the gun sound the start and started slowly making our way to the starting line. Heidi quickly pulled ahead (wanting to break 4 hours -- that's running under 9:10 pace for the entire marathon). Mile 2, Gina was feeling good and was making her move. I was all on my own. Immediately I started to pray (you see, just 2 weeks to the day, I ruptured my posterior tib tendon and wasn't even able to walk on my foot until Thursday before the race) and felt the strongest reassurance that I would make it to the end without pain. Mile by mile I prayed, just chatting with God, thanking Him for all my blessings and asking for direction. Occasionally I sparked up conversations with passersby (just when I started to get really tired) and was edified by each discussion -- giving me strength to continue. Ususally, I would listen to the downloaded general conference talks of years past -- this always gives me a little extra umph (even better than listening to rock music -- FUNNY). Counting down mile by mile.
Mile 8, Veyo hill, over 1.5 miles of uphill torture! Slow down. Take it easy. This is where more posterior tib injury would occur.
Mile 10, Awesome! Made it up the hill PAINFREE!!!!!!!! YIPPPEEEEEEE!
Mile 13, alright, 1/2 way there. Need a little pick me up -- time to listen to general conference.
Mile 18, oh YEAH! This is my longest training run and I am still feeling good. Still listening to conference, still praying.
Mile 18 1/2. Stopped talking then started listening. Over 1 1/2 miles of uninterrupted instruction from the Lord. Nothing more amazing, more clear, more calming than that!
Then at mile 20, as soon as I ended my prayer and was ready to hunker down for the last 10K, I heard my name being called out in desperation. It was Gina, hurt and downtrodden. She was unsure if she could make it. Here knee was ready to give way. So I stayed behind -- walking and running together for the last 10 K to the finish line.

Even with Gina by my side, I was getting really exhausted -- my legs were tightening, my strength was diminishing,the 90+ degree heat was zapping all my energy. Being too tired to talk out loud, Gina and I separated by a few yards. I knew I just had to focus on finishing. Keep on going. Keep on moving one foot in front of the other.

Mile 23 grabbed cups of Gatorade and water. So Thristy! Keep on running.

Mile 24 given two cold wet towels. So refreshing. Keep on praying.

Mile 25 keep on going, only 1.2 miles left. So tired. Wanna walk. Come on, I can do this. Keep on running.

Mile 25.2 "Jen,"I heard my name being called by a beautiful blond with a thick bouncy ponytail standing on the roadside. "Jen...." thinking to myself, Wow, that is cool that this beautiful girls is cheering for another gal running with my same name -- I will just pretend she is cheering for me. I kept on running.

Then again "Jen...." as that cute blond looked directly at me and waved fiercely and smiling wholeheartedly. I turned my head around to see if there was another gal running beside me waving back at her -- Nope, nobody but me.

Then again, even louder, I heard "Jen.... It's me Karen." Leaning forward, focusing in, I finally recognized that the beautiful blond was my amazing baby sister K. She quickly came over to me and started running beside me in her flip flops. "You're almost there.... You're going to make it.... You're so amazing, you can do this...." For a mile she gave me all I needed to keep going. Then when she could not run along side of me any longer, I sprinted with all my might, unable to feel my legs but knowing that they were propelling me forward, until I heard my Dad, Mike and Heidi yelling my name, cheering me to the finish. I MADE IT!!!!! I MADE IT!!!!! Nothing short of a miracle. I MADE IT!!!!!!! In the end, it was broken down little ol' me running it across the finish line with the most fabtabulous, awesomeist cheerleaders surrounding me with hugs and phone calls and texts and prayers, all congratulating me on this major accomplishment.

Now, I have run 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, and dozens of other races, but this one was special. I may not have run as fast as I would like or have had the best finish, but this race is one that I am most proud of finishing -- I know that my ability to finish was indeed a MIRACLE.
BTW -- like my crazy CEP pink compression socks -- only the BRAVE and the strong can wear these puppies (he, he). They are my favorite. Ya'll gotta try them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Please, let this be the answer to my prayers...

I wrote this post on 4/18/2009 and wanted to share it now

I feel inspired to share one of the hardest and deepest and most heart wrenching struggles of my life. I hope that those reading this will understand the sensitivity and sacredness of this subject to me. Yet, for some reason, I feel that I must share this with you.

Beginning over 8 1/2 years ago I started to notice that my sensitive, loving, secure and brilliant 16 month-old son was changing. A once talkative and without-fear boy stopped talking, starting being afraid to being alone (even for a minute) and stopped eating everything in sight (instead he gaged on almost all his food). The worry of the young mother was discounted due to inexperience and sense that I was "over-reacting." After years of worry and the encouragement of my family, I started to get testing for my little boy. First came speech, then came psychologist, then PT, then school based testing.

Year after year I was told, "Hunter is special.... We really cannot put our finger on what is going with him.... He may be autistic.... He may have a learning disability.... We do not have any answers for you.... Well, let's put him on this med and that med even though it might not make a difference.... Oh, so that medicine isn't' making a difference, let's double the dose and add another one.... Since that therapy didn't work, we will try this.... Now let's get EEG's, EKG's, x-rays, full IQ testing, etc., etc., etc" The list was never ending and I kept asking myself, "Is all this stuff hurting him even more?"

Wonderful friends introduced to me methods new to me -- organic foods, special private tutoring with instruction on visual stimulus and whole body learning, music therapy, sensory integration techniques and on and on. My parents counseled me and fasted for us and prayed for us and received inspiration to help us. Yet, I still felt like I needed more answers and I needed to be able to help my son MORE.

The school system in MI was excellent for Hunter (PT, OT, speech, resource room, social groups, hand-selected teachers) but at times I thought to myself, "Is all this extra time that he is taken out of class benefiting him and helping him become an independent, socially adept individual?" Each area helped Hunter in many ways but still, we were missing something.

Then we moved to AZ -- which has been both a blessing and a challenge. We live in a little bit of paradise where we can enjoy the fresh and clean outdoors. Hunter has an amazing 4th grade teacher that shares much of my same concerns and has adapted his in-class education to fit his learning. But, due to budget restraints and limited resources, many of the vital aspects of Hunter's education has been withdrawn. No PT, no OT, no social groups and only supervision speech. I keep being told that Hunter is a smart boy that is too smart for the resource room but is still struggling with basic written language. So, we decided to get help for him out of the classroom. Three days per week tutoring and then driving 3 hours each way for an hour appointment with trained specialists. Each tip took Hunter out of his much needed school routine and class instruction.

I find myself crying more often than not when it comes to knowing what to do for my little man. As a mom, isn't my sole responsibility in life to protect and strengthen and enhance my child? Will this most precious child of mine grow to be a high function adult? Will he get a great job and be able to provide for himself? Will he have good friends? Will he be able to serve a mission? Will he be happy? What can I do now to help his future? Yet, each place I turn leads to unanswered questions and dead ends.

So, I have been praying -- praying for years and years in fact. Sometimes I find myself kneeling by his bedside while he is sleeping praying for him with all my faith and all my love. As a pear up at him through my tears, I feel deeply that he is a special spirit that was sent to me to love and help. I feel blessed everyday to be his mom. Yet sometimes I feel that I am failing miserably. Do I have what it takes to fight this big battle for my son? Am I the right person to have such a special responsibility? I plead to the Lord for strength and understanding beyond my abilities.

Last night was another one of those nights. I prayed and prayed to find answers and to be lead to make the right choices for him and for my family. Then came an answer that I have received several times. "Continue to pray, read your scriptures, speak softly and take the time to research your options."

This morning, during the usual Saturday early morning grading and email checking, I felt inspired to stop what I was doing and search the web. I typed in the address bar a very specific search and as soon as I opened the link, my eyes were drawn to a little paragraph. Immediately I started to cry. At first I thought, "what in the WORLD are you crying about now?" But almost instantaneous I realized that I was following the prompting of the spirit and was researching (just as I was instructed in my prayer last night) and I was given specific direction. I know that this Holy guidance, given my obedience and continued faith, will help my son.

I love you Hunter McKay! Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.

Just try it...

maybe it's not the prettiest front flip off a wake and maybe he has never landed one but each time Ian wakeboards he always ends with a show. People ewe and ahh, kids clap and cheer and others laugh saying "what was that"?!? But at least he tries, gets a little closer to success and enjoys himself doing it.
In general I am definitely the OPPOSITE of Ian -- making sure I stick to solemn skiing because I know I won't fall and would never in a million years try a flip while I'm being pulled behind a ski boat at 33 mph. Yet, sometimes I think why don't I just try -- it's might be fun if I did. I probably will belly flop but would love the belly laughter from sheer disaster of the wipe out while being proud that I had the guts to do it.
In life, ofttimes I take the comfortable way out since it's easier, less risky, more popular, etc. but sometimes it need to take the leap of faith and just do it. Sing a little more, volunteer do to things out of my comfort zone, try a new task, talk to someone I normally wouldn't talk to, stand up for what is right, fill myself with full (not empty, time wasting) memories, and just laugh and pray my way through the failures.
Who wants to join me?

Its been a long, long time....

since I have written on my blog. So many things has gone by. Almost 6 full months of no updates, no writings of funny things my kids say, no pictures, no written memories.

As I prepared for my gospel doctrine lesson (my new calling) I was impressed to be more diligent in sharing my memories and my testimony. I have learned so much since I have been blessed with such a difficult and humbling calling -- I would be remiss to not post some of my feeling each week.

This week we talked about Jonah. Aw, the stubbornness and fear of Jonah (sounds a little like me sometimes). I can relate in his fear of going to unfamiliar territory to share the gospel to those not of his faith (in actuality, to a historically brutal and totally barbaric society). It has always been difficult to me to be a member missionary. Could it be that I fear offending and alienating those I speak to? Will they value the Book of Mormon or discard is as something worthless? Will they challenge my very existence and make a mockery of my testimony? It may be a combination of all. I am sure that Jonah also asked these similar questions and even dug deeper as he feared for his life.

Yet today, while studying, I realized that missionary work is equal to LOVE. Love of our family, love of the gospel, love of mankind and love of Jesus Christ. I expanded my definition to only only include proselyting with a name tag bearing "Sister Brimhall" but it also includes teaching my children the gospel, being kind to strangers, having families over for dinner, seeking friends outside our church, attending the temple, participating in humanitarian efforts, laughing with a patient, and bearing my simple testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ through posting on my blog so that maybe somewhere, sometime, someone may be touched by the Spirit that also touches me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

We are TOTALLY Before Braille...

Groupies. A few months ago we were lucky enough to be in town for the 10 year reunion concert of Before Braille (my Bro's band). It made me feel like a young 20 year-old again -- getting ready at 10 pm to go out for the night 'til at least 2 am. Now, after a "late night out" I plop down on my bed around 10ish, barely able to brush my teeth due to absolute fatigue. I remember heading out the the concerts with my big fat prego belly and could feel Hunter kick like crazy to the music. Now, I have a beautiful jelly roll that (as Bo would say) is fat and fluffy that flops around with the slightest movement. Boy-OBoy do times ever change.

This time Hunter, Harrison (Kadan crashed and we could not wake him) and I loaded into the Yukon (a definite mommy car) XL (extended length to hold even more kids) and drove to Tempe. When we arrived we were treated like celebrates -- free CDs, buttons, stickers and then snuck backstage to hang out in the "holding room." Can I just say -- "How Totally RAD!?!"

We had a wonderful time head bangin' to the music as Dave rocked out with the mic or guitar. I must admit that I have ALWAYS loved to watch Dave perform -- he is totally and completely crazy -- body slams, airborn splits, etc. etc. Tonight, 10 years later, the intensity was the same while he entertained us with our favorites like "Good Night Quite Noise" and "Proventel." Dave even dedicated "Good Night Quite Noise" to his 3 awesome nephews.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Okay, gotta post this one real quick...

So, we have been working on memorizing all the articles of faith since Addy was a toddler. Tonight I decided to give them a little incentive and since money definitely talks, I came up with a Disneyland fund. They can earn $1 for each article of faith and then save it when we go to Disneyland (sometime in the distant future).

Tonight, Kadan then Hunter then Addy passed off #2 like champs. Then it was Bo's turn. With tons of encouragement from the other kid-e-o's and lots of coaching she finally made it through with hand gestures, giving her beginning sounds to the words, etc. So, way she went (somewhat sheepishly and then ending with confidence):

"We believe that man will be punished (pounding her hand with her fist) for their own sins, not (waving her finger back and forth) for Adam's Transformers."

He, he, he!!! Gotta love it!

Feeling like the white rabbit on Alice in Wonderland...

I'm Late, I'm late, for a very important date!!!!

Time is just going too fast. Not enough time to accomplish even 1/2 of what I need to do in a day. With kids birthday's, projects, school, after school activities, training for the Ragnar, work, online work, church, friends, radio talk shows, house chores, skiing every moment we can, errands, Dr's visits, etc, etc, etc I am just falling way behind. Not even enough time to post how precious and wonderful Hunter and Addy are to me (since their birthdays' are in February). I will try to catch up after my large relay race this weekend (that is a story all in itself).

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Growing up WAY too fast...

Can't we just freeze them right where they are? All my lovely kids are at the perfect age -- still completely innocent, think their parents rock, enjoy the little things, have a 8 o'clock bedtime, can clean their messes, love family home evening, think the "s" word is stupid and the "f" word is fart, love Santa and the tooth fairy, can still be carried up the stairs to bed, want to spend every minute with their mom, ski for free, aren't afraid of saying what is on their mind, can wear the same outfit 3 days in a row and still want to wear it again, have toothless smiles, get discounts at Disneyland, sneak into bed with me at night to cuddle, want to be read bedtime stories, sing in high pitched voices, let me fix their hair, carpool for play dates, love learning, have a special relationship with Christ.
Seeing this picture of Addy makes me realize that these precious moments are fleeting. With every day she gets smarter and stronger and braver and confidenter (I know it's not a word but it makes for a great parallel listing of information -- wink). So, bring on the cuddling, the loving, the giggling, the messing, the hair brushing, the books, the singing, the playing, the whining, the dancing, the gaming, the carpooling, the needing to spend every second of the day with mom for confirmation that they are the most wonderful, crazy, loving stinkers that are mine -- all mine!!!

Love you!!!!!!!

Let it SNOW....

Three feet and counting! Yippee Ya-Hewey! I just love the snow. In my opinion, if it is going to be cold then there should be at least 2 feet of snowball packable, snowman making, igloo fort building, gloriously white snow on the ground (but not on the roads so I can at least get out to go shopping).

On Thursday, since there was no power and they had to cancel all of Ian's surgeries, Ian took the boys for a masculine weekend of fishing, hiking, hunting, etc. Little did they know that they would be evacuated from Roosevelt due to a flash flood and that all the roads to get back home would be closed due to rock slides, avalanches, etc. So, they are stuck in a little town of Pumkin Center (notice it is not pumpkin -- it is pumkin -- AZ hick at it's best) until at least Sunday afternoon if they are lucky and if they are unlucky, not until Tuesday. Hope you are having fun boys.

Us girls have hunkered down for a long, warm winter playtime. Addy, Bo and the neighbor girls (yeah for the Updikes moving into town and across the street) built a 6 foot fortress slide with a hidden tunnel that is "Girl Only" (well at least until the boys get home and take over). We've learned to make a fire in the fireplace, found all the flashlights in the house, charged the portable DVD Player and have the kerosene heater all put together just in case the power doesn't come back on for hours.

Yesterday I had to hire the big guns to plow me out of my drive so I could get to work. The simple plow on the front of the truck did not work (he actually got stuck in our driveway), so they brought in the beefy Caterpillar. Cute side note -- I told the boys about the Caterpillar digging me out and Kadan said, "No Way. A huge caterpillar is digging you out of the snow. Since it is so cold in Lakeside, I thought that they were in hibernation for the winter." LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the literal imagination from a child.

We are loving our "state of emergency" and cannot wait for the power to come back on at the Ski Resort and for the roads to be cleared so we can keep playing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A few more Pagosa Pictures....

this time with Bo in them too. Some funny Bo moments -- Brandy took Bo out to visit her brother during our little trip. From what Brandy tells us, she had them rolling the whole time. One such example was that she wanted a straw to drink her hot chocolate. When the reply was "Sorry Bo, we don't have any straws." She promptly said, "Well, you didn't even look." Then (I am sure fearing the famous Bo temper tantrums) she had all adults looking through the cabinets to check for the much wanted straws.

She also loved skiing -- up and down the magic carpet like a champ. Her favorite part -- hot chocolate and fishy crackers (always a much needed snack after a long day of skiing).
Hunter became Mr. 4-wheeler. He took to the bikes so quickly and is a champion rider. It always makes me happy when Hunter is able to find something that he can enjoy with little effort. Snow boarding at Wolf Creek was much more difficult than skiing at Sunrise -- with longer runs and thicker snow, he was definitely challenged on the slopes.

Kadan took to his air soft gun like no other -- setting up targets, shooting Ian (that was so FUNNY -- he even got a welt to prove it) and chasing Harrison. He also was partners in crime with Harrison in the only 4-wheeler incident of the trip -- laying the bike down since they took the corner too fast. We are proud to announce that there were no injuries. Tuckered after a few runs of boarding, Kadan, Hunter and I ate loads of junk food, drank gallons of hot chocolate and took silly pictures and videos of each other while we rested at the lodge. Harrison -- fly swatter extraordinaire (we had a huge fly infestation at the cabin -- total yuck). He rocked at boarding -- the only kid to keep up with Grandpa B. He was an amazing help the whole trip. I keep telling him that he is my 5th child.
Addy is fearless -- riding faster and faster on her bike, sledding down the largest hills, racing down the slopes (I couldn't even keep up) and venturing on to moguls (thanks to Ian). She is definitely in her element when she is in the snow.

Yummy, I just love....

this favorite American treat -- well, not really, but I do have a funny story about it.
A couple Sunday's ago Hunter announced that Kadan got a cool treat from his teacher. Just seconds later, Kadan bounded around the corner, lifted up his cylindrical treat wrapped in tin foil and announced,

"Look mom, I got a Nick Knock?"

"A what?" I snickered.

"A Nick Knock," Hunter and Kadan said in unison.

Almost unable to control my belly laughter enough to speak I said, "You mean a Ding Dong?"

We just laughed and laughed. Sharing the little story with some friends as we walked out to our car kept the laughter alive.

Kinda sad that my 10 year-old and 8 year-old boys don't have a clue what a Ding Dong is but love how it was introduced with this hilarious mess-up!