Sunday, December 21, 2008

Til' We Meet Again

Our sweet father and grandfather David passed away on Thursday, Dec. 18th.I've never known someone who has had a bigger impact on our life than our Captain Fun, David. He is James' best friend and Aidan's biggest hero. His fun-natured spirit and optimism is so contagious and it is so easy to gravitate toward him. I can see why Heavenly Father needs him. But it's hard not to be selfish and want him here with us. I'm still speaking in the present tense because it doesn't seem real. Here are a few precious memories of him with his two grandsons. I hope through this pictures the boys (at least Aidan) can remember how extraordinary their grandpa was and that he LOVED them with all of his heart.

Here's a few of our precious memories:

Aidan placed his (black) cowboy hat right next to PapaDad's.

Ethan has been learning how to say "PapaDad".

Aidan's last trip to Colorado with PapaDad.

Uncle Brian came into town last April.
Feeding Ethan a bottle, when Ethan was a baby.
Dave put Aidan on a horse as soon as he could walk.
This was last year, Dave wanted to help Aidan paint a Christmas tree for us (Mom & Dad).

It was wonderful having PapaDad (and Gramms, and Jolynn) go trick-o-treating with us this Halloween.
Aidan & "PapaDad" were attached at the hip...wherever PapaDad was, Aidan was close behind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Anniversary Babe!

This is 2 days late, but our internet was down on Monday. I tried to load a wedding pic, but my scanner's not cooperating!

Happy Anniversary, J! I can't believe it's been SEVEN years!!! The years have flown by. It's seems like only yesterday when were married the day after finals! We thought that was, our anniversary falls right smack in the middle of law school finals; in fact, you had a final the morning of our anniversary. Thanks for sacrificing a few hours from your civ pro studying to take me out! I am so lucky to be married to such an amazing person. I would have such a colorless life without your random spontaneity and constant dry humor. We'll be able to fully celebrate when we are at the cabin in 9 DAYS!!! I can't wait to hit the slopes (um, literally...on my bum) with you. Maybe someday I can figure out that carving business that you have perfected. Happy A, babe!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In Memory of Elder Wirthlin

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away Monday night. I feel like I have a relationship with the First Presidency and the 12 Apostles through their words of encouragement and counsel. Their messages all seem to be directed to me personally, which I know they are. Just as when President Hinckley died, it is so bittersweet to know that Elder Wirthlin is no longer with us here but will be greeted by the Savior and family on the other side of the veil. I was really touched by his talk given at the October session of General Conference. I had to work that Saturday, so I went back to read the talks given that day. The title of his talk drew me in and I'm so glad that I read it! I wanted to share some of my favorite parts of his talk.
Come What May, and Love It
"There may be some who think that General Authorities rarely experience pain, suffering, or distress. If only that were true. While every man and woman on this stand today has experienced an abundant measure of joy, each also has drunk deeply from the cup of disappointment, sorrow, and loss. The Lord in His wisdom does not shield anyone from grief or sadness.
"For me, the Lord has opened the windows of heaven and showered blessings upon my family beyond my ability to express. Yet like everyone else, I have had times in my life when it seemed that the heaviness of my heart might be greater than I could bear. During those times I think back to those tender days of my youth when great sorrows came at the losing end of a football game.
"How little I knew then of what awaited me in later years. But whenever my steps led through seasons of sadness and sorrow, my mother’s words often came back to me: “Come what may, and love it.
"How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life."
How true is that? Our reactions and attitude toward the adversity we face in life can actually affect our success and happiness in life. Life is soooo unfair. There are things that we go through personally that make us think, "Heavenly Father, what did I do wrong to deserve this???" But I love what Elder Wirthlin points out:
"Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training. These experiences...stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others."
Plus, he adds that the Savior understands our suffering and grief because of the great suffering he went through.
I love it that he points out that "the Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude."
I'm so glad that Elder Wirthlin was able to share this message before meeting his wife on the other side. We ALL face adversity in many different shapes and forms. It is necessary that we face sorrow, grief, and despair so that we can recognize the happiness, joy, and triumph in our lives. On the Lord's timetable, we will understand and see the blessings from our adversities. You will be missed Elder Wirthlin!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't mess with a Law student's Laptop

Law school is so stressful in general. A few weeks ago James had to take his laptop to the computer lab at school to get it checked out before finals. You see, they take their finals on their laptops. After leaving the lab, James went back to work and turned his computer on. Well, his computer ended up crashing. FANTASTIC! Everyone had told James to back up all of his notes...but it was a brand spanking new computer, why would he need to back everything up? Besides, he already has too much to do! So he did not back up any of his information. Well, the lab couldn't bring back any of his info. Great. We took the laptop back to Best Buy, and they too could not find all of his notes for the entire semester. So after this experience, we can completely understand the feelings of the law student in this article...please read! It's great!

James has less than a month left of the first semester at OCU! I'm so excited to get my husband back for a short time. All we have to do is make it through finals. Good luck honey!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Get my kicks on Route 66

For some reason, I did it again. I ran my 2nd half marathon. The Tulsa Route 66 Marathon was this past weekend. James & I went down Saturday night, stayed in an awesome Marriott hotel, then I raced while he cheered me on the next morning.
I'm writing a detailed account of my experience with my 2nd half marathon. Please feel free to skip the details...I'm mostly writing them for my own record, so I can look back and compare future races to this one. This was definitely a different experience compared to my first half marathon. I've never felt more prepared for anything than I did this race. I had no idea what obstacles I might have to overcome. I was soooooo excited to start running to see what I could accomplish. TRAINING: I had slowly worked up my mileage (just as I did last time) but I ran quite a bit more. I usually ran a max of 20 miles per week last spring but this time around I would run up to 27 miles per week. Most of my training was outdoors (as compared to treadmill training in the cold pre-spring training). I'd run around 6:30am, before James left for school. On days that James had to get to school early I would put the kids in the jogging stroller around 9am and run the Lake Hefner trails. That was a new experience. It's a lot harder to run while pushing my two children. But over time, it got easier. I had worked up to running 6 miles while pushing the jogger!!! Of course, I would include an occasional kickboxing, boot camp, or toning class and run a few miles after the class. The last long run we did was 12 miles. We even tapered nicely that last week. I drank tons of water the whole week before the race, planned my pre-race meals, etc. Every "t" was crossed, every "i" was dotted, I was as prepared as I could possibly be.
One major difference between the OKC 1/2 and this one was that I trained with a partner. I've never ever ran with anyone else. I was always afraid that I would hold them back because I've always been such a slow runner. But I didn't realize how fun it would be to chat with someone as I was running. When I told her I was training for the Tulsa 1/2 marathon, Gretchen was totally on board. She awesomely worked around my work schedule. We did almost every run together. Our long runs were cake because we would talk the entire time...they run would just fly by. I was so excited to be able to run 10 miles and feel like I could easily run more. That was a first!!!
Race Day
I was PUMPED!!! I woke up at 6 am with major butterflies, but I knew that I couldn't be anymore ready to finish a race. Saturday was WINDY & COLD. But Sunday highs were supposed to be in the 60s and not as windy (like 10mph instead of 20 like Sat.). And surely by 9am it would start to warm up. It was chilly...the guys were wearing heavy coats and we had to jog around a bit to warm up. I was really worried about having to pee during the race, so we started looking for port-a-potties. Oh boy, I think everyone that was racing that day (all 1,633 of them) were in line. So we devised a plan (SEE THE FOLLOWING VIDEO):
Our Ladies' Room Renovation
The funny thing was that(aside from the fact that there was a huge gap right where I squatted, so everyone standing in line for the port-a-potties could most likely see my bum) a group of gals came up and asked if they could use our carefully designed ladies' room. It was awesome. The husbands started cheering us on as we left the facilities. So, now that we were relieved...we made our way to the starting line.
Let the race begin!!!

I love the way Tulsa does their marathon. The actual marathoners started at 7am, and then the 1/2 marathon began at 9am (got to sleep in!!!). That cut the crowd down significantly. We made our way as close to the front as we could...that would not have been possible had the crowd included marathoners. As we began, we were only 20-30 seconds behind guntime (as compared to 10 MINUTES in the OKC marathon). James couldn't quite figure out where we were in this video but it gives you a good idea how many people participated.
Miles 1-2
The first 2 miles were wonderful. I had great music playing on my IPOD, the cold breeze felt amazing, and our pace felt great. Let me back up, we had a certain average pace in mind for this race. We did not want to go too much faster or slower than that pace. So we set our GPS watches so that they'd alarm if our pace was 30 sec. faster or slower than that goal pace (if that makes sense). So, we wanted to maintain a 8:30 min/mile pace; the watch would alarm if we went faster than 8:15 or slower than 8:45. This ended up being a big mistake. It's hard to keep our pace within that 30 second window...the stupid alarm was CONSTANTLY going off. Our pace was pretty fast at first (like 7:30ish) but it felt GOOD. It didn't feel like we were sprinting, we were just running at a comfortable pace. Everytime we heard the alarm, we just smiled, not even thinking about slowing down. Our gloves and long-sleeved shirts came off after 1 1/2 miles. The first 2 miles were probably one of the big highlights of this run for me. It felt AMAZING.
Mile 3 1/2

Marcy (Gretchen's mom--in the yellow coat above) and the husbands cheered us on at 3 1/2 miles. Our pace was evening out to be a perfect 8:30 min/mile pace. We had just had the first water station. I grabbed the first cup I saw and started drinking before I realized it was Gatorade. Ugghhh! Don't get me wrong, I like Gatorade, but NOT during a run. I want clear, crisp, clean H2O. Something that actually quenches my thirst. For some reason, the first water station seemed to throw me off. My breathing was all messed up, my pace slowed, and after we passed the station, that is when we saw our families.
As soon as we passed our cheerleaders, I started feeling a bit of a stitch in my left side. Uh-oh. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a side stitch during a run. This was bad news. I ignored it and it seemed to go away. But then about a mile later, it came back with a force. It went from an annoying stitch to a full blown cramp. This is when I started grunting as I exhaled. Gretchen turned and asked if I was okay. I couldn't talk. I just shook my head "no." With her cross-country background, she always has good tidbits of advice. She said to inhale twice, then breath out with a force. It worked. In a few minutes the cramp lessened back to an annoying stitch.
The course looped the first 3 1/2 miles, then went straight down a highway and back up to make 7 1/2 miles. This is when our cheerleaders met up with us again.
Close to 8 miles

The last time the families saw us we were all smiles, this time they could tell we were tired. Although I had a smile on my face, they could see past that. I was hurting.

The left sided cramp was now accompanied by a right side stitch. What is going on??? This race was supposed to be cake, and here I am struggling to run a distance I've run many times before. I had a good morale boost when my darling husband began running next to me (see the video below). He handed me an opened package of Gu (orange is really good, by the way), and a mini pop-top bottle of agua. He asked how I was doing. All I could say was "Cramp" "Cramp in side" "Hurting." I did manage a "Thank you" and "I love you."

The Hills are Alive

(This is a down hill section of the race. I wish we could have gotten a picture of one of the main hills!)
So really, the course was flat the first 8 miles...then the fun began. Once we got past the straight highway that paralleled the Arkansas River, we started going through neighborhoods. The one thing I heard about this course was "It's pretty hilly toward the end. Especially one particular hill." I took that to be a challenge, but now it seemed to be my worst enemy. As I'm struggling to keep running with my left cramp and my right stitch, we begin the first incline. Gretchen said "Don't look up, just look at your feet." I did as coach told me. This is when I felt those muscles I used when training with the jogging stroller. It actually felt pretty good. My leg muscles ached so bad that it distracted me from my abdominal cramping! The downhills were amazing!!! I felt like I was flying again. It was wonderful, feeling GOOD again as I ran. I thought it was just going to be small rolling hills from then on out because someone had informed me that there was only one large hill. Um, I'm not sure how she could have forgotten about this next hill. I blurted an obscenity as I looked ahead(I'm already breaking the sabbath, I was just adding to my list of things to repent about later). I then see some men that had passed us that were now walking. I had to tell myself that this is a mental game. When seeing others walk, it automatically makes me think, "This is too difficult, I need to walk as well. Especially with this side cramp." But some stubborn side of me screamed "RUN!" "DON'T STOP!" Then I saw a wonderful crowd of people cheering us on. At the top of the hill, there was a band rockin' out. It was just what I needed. We continued on our way. But so did the stupid side cramp. By this time, we were at about mile 10. I knew I'd see my sweet husband soon. I had to put my poker face back on.
Mile 10--Agony

This was as good as it got. A wave. No fake smile. Just a wave. I couldn't do anything else.

Off we went to battle 2 more miles of hilly terrain.
The End is Near
I had memorized the elevation chart of this course before the race. I knew that the last mile was flat and down hill. That should be a great time to pick up the pace and finish strong. I had nothing left. I had used most of my reserves. At this point, I kept telling myself that if I stopped running and started walking that the agony would continue for a longer period of time. "Keep running and the misery will end sooner." Gretchen's pace would begin to increase, I would drop back a foot. Then, something inside me pushed me forward to run beside her. I started to watch her feet. "Left, right, left right." I then mimicked her pace "Left, right, left, right." There was a couple ahead of us wearing fluorescent yellow. Coach Gretchen said, "Keep your eye on the girl in yellow." That's what I did. I didn't let the girl in yellow out of my sight. I seemed to have multiple personality disorder at this point because my head is screaming a hundred different commands at me: "STOP!" "KEEP GOING!" "Inhale twice, exhale strong" "The side stitch is the perfect excuse to quit" "Left, right, left, right." "WALK!" "Don't lose the girl in yellow."
I wanted to tell Gretchen to go on ahead of me, but I had no extra breath to utter a single word. At one point, I looked up to find my fluorescent yellow focal point to see that she was just a few yards ahead (instead of a few 100 ft as she was before). She was slowing down, we were speeding up! We had 1/2 a mile to go. "I've done so many 1/2 miles before, I can make it." But this half mile was different. I was in total excruciating pain. I had now had a side cramp for close to 10 miles straight. I had also rubbed a blister on my right arch (with shoes I've worn on every run with no problems for the past 8 months), which was not even an issue at all in comparison to the cramping. I would have been in tears if I had any energy left to cry. But then I could hear the overhead speaker. I could hear the crowd at the finish line. The end was near! I couldn't WAIT to see that finish line. I started thinking to myself, with each step, "one forty-nine" (that was my dream goal time 1 hr 49 min). The last 1/4 mile, Gretchen said "This is it." I motioned for her to go ahead. She had this look about a true athlete. Although tired, she was so focused on her goal. She lowered her head, picked up the pace, and SPRINTED to the finish line. As I kept my pace, I could see the finish line. But I knew I wasn't doing well because there were 2 blurry finish lines ahead of me. I was actually seeing double! I heard overhead the announcement that "Gretchen Bowman" had just crossed the finished line. I was so excited for her. Then, there it was! The chip mat! I stepped across it only to discover that it was 1 of 2 mats. I trudged on (I'm really curious what I looked like at that very moment! ha!) to the actual finish line. There it was! I did it! I did it! I ran 'til the end! A blurry version of Gretchen was ahead of me. She asked if I was okay. NO, I was not. I practically fainted on her. If she wasn't standing at that very spot, I would have been on the ground. As she caught me, a medic came to my rescue. He lead me to a chair. My heart was racing, my head was pounding, my respirations were rapid & labored and not slowing down. But all I could do was SMILE. I've never had an experience where I could be in such excruciating pain but be extremely exhilirated at the same exact time. This must be what natural childbirth is like (though birth is so much worse, of course). I wouldn't know because I had easy labors and great working epidurals with both children.
As I sat in the chair, I watched as half marathoners and marathoners crossed the finish line. They had such triumphant expressions on their faces. I even saw fluorescent yellow man cross. I didn't even notice that I had passed him!!! (By the way, Gretchen sprinted ahead at the end to beat the early 20-something girl in yellow) I gulped 2 bottles of water and 1 gatorade as my breathing slowed. The nurse then moved me to the tent because the beating sun was making me nauseous. I then gulped another bottle of water and was working on my next gatorade when James came to the rescue. It was so good to see him. I was crying. I had to keep telling them that I was okay, they were tears of joy!!! My body language would not have been defined as a description of "joy."
Oh yeah, where's my metal?
After 30 minutes (and a first class trip to the line, woohoo!) of "recovery" I got up. Gretchen then informed me that I had not walked far enough past the finish line to get my chip clipped off and receive my metal. I totally forgot all of that was waiting for me! I excitedly perched my foot up on the bar for the volunteer to cut off my chip. Then, with wobbly legs and a huge grin, I got my metal.
This was not the experience I had 7 months ago. My first half marathon, I never hit a wall, I enjoyed my surroundings, and felt an INCREDIBLE since of accomplishment as I crossed the finish line with my final time being an astounding 1 hr and 56 minutes. Less than 2 hours!!! I had accomplished all of my goals and then some. This time, I felt incredibly prepared, had a great running partner, and an agonizing journey. But I'm not writing about all of the negative aspects of my experience to talk myself out of running. No, that's not what I took from this at all. I can think of times in my life when I have quit. For one reason or the other, I have made an excuse and gone a different path. I had many opportunities to quit in this race. But I continued to endure. I don't know why this race was so painful, when I've been comfortably running for the past year. But although I had a rough time, I ENDURED! I am so proud of myself. Not just for completing 13.1 miles in a race. But for doing it under poor circumstances beyond my control. And by doing so, I shaved 6 minutes off my best 1/2 marathon time, I got 15th place in my age group (out of 147), and hopefully the next race won't be so agonizing!!!

James took this picture of us walking the 2 miles back to the truck after the race.
Thank you, James, for supporting me in my early morning runs and my OCD behavior about the race. Thank you for joining me this weekend in Tulsa to watch me suffer doing something I am really starting to love. I love you so much.

Swim Lessons

AJ's been taking swim lessons again recently. He's in a class of 5 boys. Bonnie (teacher) is getting them used to swimming without their float belts. Aidan swims really well with a little assistance from the belt or a noodle. But once you take them away, his treading needs a bit of work. I'm so proud of him, he's been a trooper and really likes to swim. I'm hoping he can learn to swim without any flotation device by next summer.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Trick O' Treat!

Halloween night, the Kuykendalls' were gracious enough to let us into Oak Tree to go trick or treating in a safe, gated off neighborhood. It was so warm! The boys were in great moods! And so many houses handed out huge candy bars! Score!

My James and the James mini-me, AJ (aka Batman).

We had a blast with the Bowmans' (Brooks stayed home with Nana because of his hurt leg...he ended up having surgery 2 days later), Grams & Grandad, Heidi & her fam, and Jo Hollingsworth. We went around dusk, so that we had a bit of time with sunlight and enough time in the dark for the boys to have the whole t-o-t experience.

AJ & Yadon RAN house to house, rang the doorbell like 5 times, then attempted to go INTO each house. I didn't realize the mixed signals trick or treating try to keep your kids safe by telling them to not talk to strangers or take candy from strangers, don't go into strangers homes, then turn around and let them go house to house to get candy from complete strangers.
That must be confusing for 3 yr olds.

It was fun to see T.O. He was a cute 3 Horn. Ethan was also one of the big boys. Again, he would NOT let go of his treat bag or the pirate sword.
But both of those items weighed him down so that he could not run as fast as the big boys.

Trick Or Treat!!!

Best Costume!!!

We went to a FUN halloween par-tay this year. The 1L group got together at Paul & Amanda's to celebrate. Only one problemo...costumes were mandatory. Ugghhhhh!!! Stuarts, at least these Stuarts, don't dress up. It's in our instruction manual. We must be party poopers. We'll go to Halloween parties...but in street clothes. But now that we are stressfully getting through our first year of law school, we needed a little comic relief. We went to this great costume shop and had a blast trying on costumes. I liked the idea of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, with the heavy eyeliner for me and the roman helmet for J. But what really sealed the deal was when James donned the sexy-rexy breast plate. Oh my, that was it for me! I didn't realize the attention the breastplate nipples would receive. We had so much fun dressing up! I can't believe we haven't done it in the past. We even won BEST COSTUME!!! Not bad for costume virgins.
The hosts...Paul & Amanda were Jane Austin characters (Darcy and Elizabeth...I think).
Amanda is so amazing; she made BOTH costumes in their entirety.
They should have won best costume...but there's some rule that the hosts can't compete.
Of course, there had to be a Bella & Edward (aka Chelsea & ).
Way to support Steph Meyer, Chelsea!
Lindy & Holt were Idaho State Penetentiary Inmates
(There's an inside joke to this one, I won't share...)

Dan was "Wonder Boy" & Leisel dressed up as "Dan".
It was impressive how many mannerisms of Dan's that Leisel mimicked.

Willow & Andrew had great makeup! Nobody recognized them.
It was funny how many people took double and triple takes before realizing WHO they were.

Monday, November 3, 2008

School Halloween Party

At school, they had a Halloween pizza party. They ate pizza and got to go trick or treating.
Aidan got to show off his Batman. He was so excited.
These are some shots before leaving for school.