Friday, November 30, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things

There is so much that I love about living here. Sure, it's a desert that turns into a raving inferno in the summer, but we can easily get over that with dawn to dusk swimming. I've included a list of a few of my favorite things about our home...

* Our cul-de-sac is awesome. At any given time there is a handful off kids (mostly boys) and dogs playing out on the street. Bikes, scooters, baseball, basketball, trampolines, frisbees, you name it and it's probably out there somewhere. I love it when a neighbor kid walks in the door and feels comfortable enough to stick around and play- even if my kids aren't there!

* Our park. Summerlin is covered in fun, close parks for us to choose from. One of my fav's is the park that is in our neighborhood. During the spring and fall months we walk there atleast once a day. This usually includes a parade of kids from the neighborhood joining us.

* Red Rock. We live close to the beautiful Red Rock Park amd Mountains. It's so close that either Darren or I are biking or running there. We have great friends who share in this addiction to this beautiful area and it's fun to get a group of people together for a hike with the kiddos. These pictures are of us playing there over Veteran's weekend. I strapped Keaton to my back and the boys walked along with friends. Good thing we had some men folk with us- there were some seriously hard places on this hike! We ended up back in the mountain in an area where the kids could run around and scramble on the rocks, play in soft sand, hide in was a great day.

*We are smack in the middle of Utah and Southern California- our two favorite places to visit.

* The people here are awesome. Our kids are growing up with good kids and Darren and I are lucky to have great friends who are like family to us. Included is a picture of the boys bowling with their friends- the Francis', Fellows, Mainors, and Threshers.

* Darren has three siblings that live close. Our kids are some of the younger grand-kids on the Bryan side. Our boys love this because it means that they get to play with older cousins.

...these are just a few of my favorite things about our home!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

St. George Marathon.

I promise that the purpose of my blog is not to focus on me, me, me. I just have to include a few stories about my races and then I'll move on to the more important and interesting things that the Bryan family does.
Another goal of mine was to do a marathon. I got my chance this year in the St. George Marathon that was on Oct. 6th. I was so excited to train for this race since I was ready to be a runner after spending so much time biking in the summer. I laced up my shoes for 4 weeks and got ready for the big 26.2 mile jaunt.
It was fun going into this race because I didn't have any expectations for myself. I just was out to run and get myself to the finish line. My good friends, Emily and Jana were on the road with me and that makes for a good time. We met early in the morning and rode the bus together. It's a little nerve racking doing the marathon backwards in the bus because it feels like forever...and that's not a good sign if you are going to turn around and do the same route by foot. Once we were to the start line the great atmosphere and the process of keeping warm and getting ready quickly took over our nerves. We positioned ourselves up front and then figured that we'd settle into our pace group later. I started running with the 3:20 pacer but figured that I'd drop back as the race went on. I truthfully enjoyed starting the race in the dark and watching the sun come up. Before I knew it we were hitting small towns and there were actually people there (bundled up) cheering us on! It's fun to hear the bands as you run past small crowds. It's also fun to read all the signs that people have put up along the way. I felt so great up until about mile 16. Then I started feeling one of my knees ache. This is where I saw Darren and Justin for the first time. I handed off my jacket but didn't stop because the momentum was definately in my favor at that point. I stopped for a second at mile 17 to get Icy Hot rubbed on my knee. The support throughout the race is awesome. There was fuel at all odd numbered miles that included vaseline, water, gatorade, fruit, Icy Hot, etc. They even rubbed the Icy Hot on for me! I was quickly on my way and the Icy Hot was really helping the knee ache. It was also at mile 17 that I realized that I had passed the 3:20 pacer. I was definately exceeding the pace I thought I would maintain but it felt good so I went with it. Why not?! At mile 20 a girl I had been running near most of the way started talking to me. That made the next few miles go by fast until I met up with Justin, who was so good to run me in. It's such a nice distraction! I was definately feeling tired at this point but my pace, according to J-Dog, wasn't slowing. I finished my first marathon with a time of 3:16:48. I got a quick massage on my calves and then joined Darren, Jill, Justin, Mark, Katie, Jackson, and Bowen at the finish line. We all enjoyed some complimentary snacks at the park.
I have to say that I was soo, soo, soo sore the next few days. I seriously almost didn't have range of motion in my legs! This is scarey to admit, but I loved it! I love feeling sore after a good hard workout. It's a "good sore"- if there is such thing. As I thought about this strange personality trait of mine I decided that the thing I love most about biking and running is the "high" I get after completing something hard. I hope to get this feeling again in April 2008 as I do the Boston Marathon.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Warning: the following blog is long and winded for anyone who is not familiar with the LOTOJA cycling race. It is probably even a bit too much for someone who is familiar with the race. Once again, this is my journal and I'm writing so that I can look back on this year's race and remember everything that made it awesome.
Our cycling team is so great. It's not common that such a large group of people can get together and have so much in common. The LOTOJA race happens to be one of the more memorable things we do together. We start the weekend by meeting in Logan and setting up camp in our favorite Best Western. A large part of us go to dinner at the Olive Garden where we carb load and try to not be too freaked out about what we are going to actually do the next day. Darren and I spent some time at David and Tami's house getting my musette bags ready and getting my bike all geared up. It was much easier this year without a baby to attend to. We actually got in bed on time and I slept well. I woke up the next morning in a giddy mood. I just couldn't wait until the race started- my nerves always settle the second I start to pedal. All women categories were grouped together this year and we started at the end of the licensed riders at 7:24 am. I was happy to start with my girls- Tiff, Cori, Heather, and Erica.
The race started out pretty chilly and the pace was mellow. We had the USCF officials breathing down our necks all the way to Preston. In fact, one power-hungry official actually stopped our group in the middle of the road! She caused one girl to break her finger and several others to have mechanical issues. I made it to Preston feeling good and even better when I made all exchanges (disposed of vest and got fresh water bottles) with ease. I was worried about how I'd do in the feed zones so it was a confidence boost to have the first one go so smoothly.
We started towards Montpelier with quite a large group still in tact. I was looking forward to finishing this leg because this is where I literally froze in 2005. The pace was nice as we started up Strawberry. I remember wondering what the strengths were of my fellow women riders. Who was going to be a strong climber? Descender? Endurance? About 60 miles into the race and about 4 miles from the top of Strawberry I realized that it was just me and the Hammer girl (she was sponsored by Hammer) climbing together. The rest of the group had fallen off and were not in sight behind us. I asked Hammer if she thought it was a good idea for us to leave the group so early. After all, could we really stay away from them with only two of us and so many of them with 140 miles to go? She gave me some good motivational advice: yes. We were far enough ahead already and it would require them to go 5+ mph faster in order to catch us. That's harder than it sounds and it would tire them out in the process. So I went with it. She turned out to be a bit stronger that me in the final mile of the climb and I ended up decending Strawberry and going to Montpelier alone. I wondered what the best strategy would be- but I figured that waiting for another girl was out of the question. They'd have to catch me. I arrived into Montpelier as the second girl to go through and Darren told me that Hammer was only about 3 minutes ahead. I could tell that he was surprised and excited to see me riding so close to the front of the women. To tell the truth, so was I! But I think that this is when I started to realize that I was really enjoying this race.
I left Montpelier and started towards Geneva. The road construction was crazy and I am still amazed that I didn't have any tire problems through some of the rough patches. I was starting up the mountain when I heard a familiar voice "baaa, baaa" (inside joke that I will not expose here!). It was my side-kick, Tiff. I had told her before the race that I'd just like to ride with her for some of the race. Even just part of it would be nice because I didn't get to enjoy that in previous years. Plus, I knew that she had that race dialed in and if I could stick with her than I was doing something right. She's amazing. We yo-yoed up the next two mountain passes but stayed together on the flats in between. That girl has some serious determination. Just when I thought I was climbing hard up Salt River she rides by me and says "let's go". One of my favorite memories of the race is getting to the top of Salt River together and feeling strong as we started to pick up the pace on the down side. To me that was what it was about- riding with my good friend and going hard. We saw some friends at the top and tossed our arm warmers to them. It's so great to do that course and see so many friendly, familiar people along the way. We have such a sweetness group.
Star Valley was tough for me. It is flat- not one of my strengths- and there was a head wind. The further we got without having anymore women catch us the more exciting it became. Of course, we still had Hammer out ahead of us. But it was encouraging as we went along to pass bunches of men! As we approached Afton, Darren met me in a spot closer than we had designated but the musette pass-off was smooth. Once Tiff and I regrouped I realized why the pass-off felt so good- Darren had forgotten to include new water bottles. I didn't get to nervous, though, because I figured that I'd tell him when he passed us in the car. Luckily, I didn't have to wait that long, though, because a good friend and fellow rider happened upon us and had a nice cold bottle for me! Good thing I didn't have to wait for Darren, too, because he ended up locking the keys in the car in Afton and having to wait for a lock smith to open the rental. He had been timing our pace and he said that he had planned to break the window if the lock smith didn't show up by a certain time because he didn't want to miss me in Alpine. He got teased for commiting so many "rookie" support crew mistakes.
Tiff and I knew we were getting closer to Hammer after we left Afton because her support car kept passing us. Sure enough, we merged about 10 miles out of Afton. She was a little surprised and hesitant to work with us. But there is power in numbers and she eventually mellowed out (a bit). We arrived into Alpine, exchanged fuel, and regrouped just as we turned up Snake Canyon. It was beautiful and difficult at the same time. This is when I started to feel myself getting tired. Not enough to discourage me at the time, but looking back I realize that this is where my riding felt less smooth and more difficult. With about 25 miles to go I didn't have the strength to contribute to the group that now consisted of me, Tiff, and Hammer. So, I watched Tiff and Hammer ride of and I finished the race solo. Not that this is a bad thing- just harder.
I remember turning at the light in Jackson to head toward Teton Village. I have done this intersection many times before in a car and I've wondered what it would be like to get that far and be so close to conquering the LOTOJA beast. It had especially been on my mind since the 2005 race that I didn't get to finish. I felt empowered because nothing was going to stop me from this accomplishment. I zig-zagged along until the final turn toward the finish line. With almost 200 miles behind me and about 7 miles still to go (an eternity at this point), I spent that time wondering why I wasn't bursting into tears. I don't think I had the energy to give to emotion. I remember two women sitting in lawn chairs on the side of the road with an encouraging sign. Random, I know, but it goes to show that strangers can make a positive impression in your mind. I've heard about people using the word sureal to describe a situation. Aside from having my children I don't know that I had felt this way about something until the finish line. I was completing something that I've wanted to do for years. And to make it sweeter, I did well. I ended up finishing 7 minutes behind Tiff and Hammer. I took 3rd over all the women and 2nd in the CAT 4 category.
I was greeting at the end by friends and my hubby. I shared a hug with Tiff- still not being as emotional as I had thought I would. In fact, the whole finish line didn't go as planned. After being off the bike for no more than 10 minutes I started feeling sick. Darren and I had to go straight to the hotel (with several stops along the way) so that I could be sick in comfort. I couldn't even dress myself after a quick bath. I just laid in bed and made trip after trip after trip to the bathroom. I missed the Red Burro party at the Four Seasons. I couldn't even eat anything. So much for devouring anything I wanted to after such a long day in the saddle. I guess I can say that I gave it my all that day- physically, emotionally, mentally. More than I realized, I think. I was able to get out of bed the next morning and make it to the awards program.
The program was awesome, as usual. The race coordinators are great people. It's especially enjoyable because Red Burro's do so well and recieve a lot of awards. I enjoyed my place on the podium next to my girls, Tiff and Erica.
The rest of the week is always fun as we all enjoy Jackson, the Snake River Lodge, and handing out together. I left Jackson feeling like a more confident person. Not because I had placed in the race, but more so because I had accomplished something that I had been dreaming of doing. I felt strengthened by everyone around me. I felt closer to my friends for training with me and for conquering this beast with me. I felt especially grateful for Darren because without his support all summer and during the race there is no way this would have happened. He took care of the boys on Saturday mornings when I went on long rides, he traveled with me for other races and rides, he is the voice I remember most throughout the race as he'd drive by and encourage me. He is blessed with a great personality that makes him so fun and easy to be around. Basically he balances me out when I get anxious and overwhelmed with things. I'm so glad we share this hobby! My only regret is that my Mom and Dad weren't there to experience this race along side me. They were busy taking care of Keaton while Darren's parents watched Blakers and Ethan. As you can see, it takes a group of people to make life run smoothly. I'm a lucky gal.
*Side note: I want to record what I used to fuel so I can use this information in future races. I drank plain water. I used perpetuem in a flask (two scoops) per 1.5 hours, gel (very little- maybe 4 doses), pbj (once at mile 80ish), part of a banana(at mile 120ish), part of a bar, electrolyte pills (4 every couple of hours) and advil (two doses of 600 mg). I also tried to drink some diluted mountain dew the last 15 miles. It didn't taste as good as I was told it would. Looking at this list of food it is no wonder that I got sick!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

i think i can, i think i can...

My buddy can walk! He takes after his mother as far as the walking timeline goes. Actually he was faster than me- he walked 1 day before his 16 month mark. I'm talking about independent walking. He has been holding onto my finger for months. He still likes to do this and lead me around the neighborhood looking at dogs, the bunny, and keeping up with the kids. It's funny to watch him try to pick up the pace when we are chasing him. Just thinking about it makes me smile.
Keaton is such a verbal boy. He is always jibber-jabbering. Now he includes real words. I've noticed that a lot of his words begin with "b". Bird, ball, balloon, Blake (his own version "Bae"), blankie, book. It's funny to see him mimic things that I say repeatedly to him. For example- if I'm calling one of the older boys by name he will put his hand up to his mouth (as if it will make him louder) and say something with similar voice fluctuation. If we are looking for something he'll say "eeeee go?" like "where did it go?". His most frequent sign language phrase is "more candy". Uh-oh! One of my most favorite things he does is right before bed. Darren or I sing him the first verse of I am a Child of God and then say a prayer with him. He is quiet during the whole prayer until the end when he chimes in with him own amen.
He likes to play with balls and small cars. His favorite game right now is Silly Six Pins. He does well trying to keep up with his older brothers. He learns from watching them. In fact, the other day he joined them in playing with the rocket outside. He walked over and picked up a rocket, put it on the launch stick, pumped the handle, and then attempted to pull the string to send the rocket up. Not bad for a guy who just learned how to toddle!


Darren, Ethan, and Blake met up with some friends at the Nellis Air Force Base 60th Anniversary Air Show. The show was on Nov. 10th and the great LV weather was shining! The boys got to not only watch the air craft but they also got to explore some, too. The famous Thunderbirds also presented a great air show for the crowd. Notice what Blakers is wearing. He calls the tank and shorts his "cold clothes" (because he is cold in them in the winter). He will dress himself this way all winter long. Usually I can talk him out of it when it is cold. But, lucky for Blakers, Vegas has great weather this time of year!

Darren and the boys.

Blake and his friend, Henry.

Ethan, Ethan, and Ethan. My Ethan is, of course, the one on the left. He has two friends that share his name. They are fun boys and we love hanging out with their families. In fact, all three families that were there together have only boys! It's awesome!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

All Growed Up...

In retrospect, the morning after Halloween was going way too smoothly. You don't appreciate this until something not-so-smooth happens. I was in charge of carpooling 5 extra kiddos plus my own. We got to the school and all the kids were walking onto the playground except Ethan, who was busy getting a good long guzzle of water from a water bottle. Even though the bell hand rung, he continued to drink. I took the water bottle out of his mouth in attempt to hurry him a bit and as I did this it smacked his already very loose tooth. (See "side note" post.) Since his tooth was already sensitive he was immediately holding his mouth. Of course, things got much more emotional with the sight of blood. After rinsing his mouth and using a tissue we got it cleaned up enough for me to point out that he had to let me pull it or it wouldn't stop bleeding. Up until now he kept telling me "maybe tomorrow". Keep in mind that we are now late for school and we are still sitting in the school parking lot. He finally let me "try one time" (I told him that if it wasn't out after one try then we would leave it alone). It came out- or almost fell out on its own- and his expression went from terror (seriously) to jumping up and down and laughing. I walked him into the school and the whole way in he stopped every student, parent, teacher and told them about the tooth. He went into his class all smiles and was honored to get a sticker and put his name on the classroom tooth-losing poster. My point to this story is this: he is growing up. He is getting big teeth, riding bigger bikes, playing sports, watching kid movies (not to be confused with "baby movies" like past Disney favorites), taking piano lessons, reading chapter books... In hopes of freezing moments in time, I am going to try to make periodic lists of my children's favorite things. Following is a list of questions from mom with answers from Ethan.

Favorite Color: red
Fav Sport to play: basketball
Fav thing to do with the family: FHE (that's my boy!)
Fav thing to do outside: play basketball
Fav movie: the Sandlot
Fav food: pizza
Fav snack: ice cream and home-made banana pie
Fav thing to do at school: lunch time (that's dad's boy)
Fav subject: humanities
FAv holiday: Christmas

I'm so glad that Ethan still wants mom to stay close to him. He tells me that he is nervous about going on a mission and getting married and being a "parent" because both things will require him to leave the nest. I assure him that he can stay with us for as long as he wants, even when he is a parent! He is such a sweet boy- I love him so much.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The More the Merrier!

As you can see, Darren and I (and a few others) have been living a double life. By day- loving parents of three boys, by night- loving parents of 30+ offspring.

Along with our good friends, the Slade's, we went to the Leaver Halloween party dressed as a polygamist family. Looking back over our costumes of choice I have decided that Darren and I have a trend going. We choose the costumes that most humiliate us. In 2004 we were white trash, 2005 saloon girl and cowboy, 2006 Nacho Libre and nun girlfriend (picture Darren in a blue and red jumpsuit and cape with no shirt on- picture of that coming soon). But, let's not forget who always wins a costume prize! This year the prize we won happened to be the best Creepiest Costume award. But, hey, who's complaining? Before I get a ton of calls wondering who I go to for my hair-do I will just tell you that it is easy with a little hair product and a good pick. Do polygamists believe in hairspray?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Side Note...

For my own memory, I have to include this side note to the "New Duds" post. If you click on the picture of all three boys together you get a great view. It looks like Blake is crying (he isn't...but I showed him this picture a minute ago and he said that he was crying because the chicken had kicked him). Also, look closely at Ethan's snaggle tooth. His top front tooth is seriously hanging on by a thread (he lost the other one weeks ago). Here's a side note to this side note- he lost that tooth the next morning. But that's another post...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

New Duds

I felt very safe this year during the Halloween festivities. Who wouldn't with Megatron karate chopping and throwing flames at the enemy while Jeff Gordon was ready to race to my side if needed?! Plus, who would every hurt a sweet, fluffy chicken or a puppy dog?

This year everyone's costume selection was a perfect match for their personality.

Ethan chose to be a race car driver. He is your typical competitive 6-year-old especially when it comes to Blake being involved. Ethan is always the one who challenges everyone to a race home from the park. He always includes the rule that there can be no passing. Interestingly, he throws that rule out after he has already started racing and has a 20 foot head start!
Blakers chose to be the transformer "Megatron". This isn't a very far diversion from past years being power rangers. But this is definately his personality. I know you can all see him in his little costume with his skinny legs and arms throwing out some serious karate chops. It doesn't end there as he throws fire from his palms and makes some hissing/growling noises that are, thruthfully, a bit frightening.

There is a softer side to the Bryan's. I'm relishing the chance to choose what Keaton wears for Halloween while he will still let me. It was a toss up- should I go with the dog since he loves them or should I go with the chicken because it is so adorable and funny? Keaton was a good sport and didn't fight either costume even when the hoods were on. If you look closely at the dog costume you may wonder if that dog is foaming at the mouth- no, he is just enjoying the holiday candy tradition.

Our boys really add the spice to our lives that we love!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Boo-thday

The Bryan's love Halloween. Although we love the summer because of all the fun swimming, we are usually ready for a change and Fall in our city is awesome! It marks the beginning of a memorable time of year because we see the cooler weather creep in and this is a recipe for lots of outside fun. The boys ride their bikes, play basketball, play soccer, and run around with their friends. It is also the time of year when we get to begin having lots of fun at all of the great parks that we live by. We usually end up at one park or another once a day (sometimes twice!).

The Bryan family Halloween traditions include decorating the walkway with blinking eyes in the vines and on the windows, a collage of jack-o-lanterns, a spooky (and annoying) ghost, a scary mummy, and a big spider web. We all look forward to heralding in the holiday with a trip to the pumpkin patch where the kids can't get enough of the giant side, train, swings, and trampolines. Basically they look right past the actual pumpkins. I bet they'd even have a hard time recalling whether there were even any pumpkins involved. The neighborhood usually plays a fun game of "boo" which means you may find a goodie on your doorstep with instructions to "boo" someone else so the game keeps going and going. Carving pumpkins is always a good time. This year we decorated our pumpkins instead of carving them. Ethan did one with a birthday theme and Blake chose a baseball player. I included pictures above. Ethan's pumpkin won first prize in the first grade category for the elementary school's carving contest. He was so excited. I was at the school that day helping at the first grade carnival. I got to be there to hear his name announced and to take his picture with his friend Avery (she got 3rd place). We like to enjoy Oct. 31 with friends so this year we hosted a chili dinner and then we all (7 families) went out trick-or-treating together. The kids love it because they have a ton of fun with their friends. The adults love it because the kids love it! (Isn't that how it all works?) I think that we will make this a tradition. Halloween is a great beginning of a fun time of year...Santa is coming around the corner!