Thursday, October 9, 2014

St George Marathon 2015 - Time with friends is as good as the runner's high


This year marked my 5th year running St George and I absolutely LOVE it!  A sentimental favorite since it was my first ever marathon that you can read about here.  I know the course well now, I know what to expect and how to train.

This season has been weird.  Ever since running Boston (which you can read about here), I just can't get the mojo back.  I've already described it during my Big Cottonwood recap here, but I thought maybe things would be different for this one.  I was excited to race, I was excited to be in St George, I was excited to be with my friends.  I haven't done any speedwork training so a sub 4 was not realistic.  Instead, I decided that a sub 4:15 would be awesome but more importantly, I wanted to find the "high".  The "mojo".  The "I run because I love it" feelings.

Alex and I left SLC about 4 on Thursday and headed down south.  A quick meet up with Darrell and Marissa and then getting a good night's sleep.

Friday morning Alex and I went out for a quick 20 minute "shake out the legs" run which felt good.  I felt confident.  No niggling pain.  Cardio felt good.  I figured I would shoot for the best come race morning.

The expo is one of the funnest parts of St George marathon for me.  I LOVE people watching, interacting with our customers that come and say hi, and meeting new people.  Since I knew that there would be no BQ or sub 4 in my plan for the next day, I decided I wanted to capture as many friends as I could.  I wanted to make it FUN again!

Rob

Bill & Tracy

Jody & Josh

Erica

Susie & Glenn

Enrique

Adrian - a new customer and first time marathoner!

Kandi, Wan and Janae

I left the expo about 3 and headed over to Doug's office.  He very KINDLY agreed to be on the course at about halfway through with some more Ucan for me.  I had it all prepared and just dropped it off to him.  Seriously, I have the best friends ever!

After the Ucan drop off, I hit the grocery store, found my maple bar and some bottled water, then headed to Pier 49 and picked up my pre-race dinner.
Doesn't that look so good?  It's been my go-to meal now for all 5 years I've run and it's never let me down! 

After a phone call home to the Splenda Daddy and some dinking around on my laptop, I turned it all off and went to sleep.  All by 8pm. I know right?!?!  Love going to bed that early.  The downside was, out of habit I flipped the lock on the hotel door and poor Alex was locked out when she tried to get in later that night.  No biggie, woke up, let her in, and back to sleep.

This year, I decided to forgo getting on the early bus.  I never win the stinking raffles anyway and instead I wanted to ride with friends and then meet more at the start line.

It was cold at the start!  Like brrrrr cold.  Which is okay since we know it's gonna be wicked hot a little later on.  I was grateful for the space blanket, and for meeting up with more friends.

There is a fun running group on Facebook that I belong to called Run4Fun.  We usually draw a 4 on our calf or shoulder so we can identify each other during races.  Thanks Kimberly for your perfect 4 on my calf
Nothing makes the start line better than being with friends and having fun!
Paul & Molly (seriously my bro and sis from another mother)

A bunch of Run 4Funner's.  We did a flash mob of Thriller.  Really wishing I would have had the foresight to have someone video us.  Hysterical, in that most of didn't really know how to do the dance and instead just tried to follow Molly and Kimberly  Such fun times!

By then it was time to get in line for the porta potties, and then line up with a pacer.  Enrique and I got in between the 4:10 and the 4:15 pacers, sang the National Anthem and then we were shuffling our way to the start line and the timing pad.

Started in a nice comfortable pace.  Leaving the bathrobe on was a good idea since it kept my legs warm and I knew that I could dump it quickly and I didn't care if I didn't get it back.  Lot's of weaving around people, and finding open space on the road but overall. my pace was staying fairly even and I felt good.

At mile 5, I decided to use the restroom (bladder full from Monster and Ucan) and while I waited in line, I got my metronome going.  When I headed back out, I had lost Enrique but now was feeling fantastic with an excellent pace going.  I swear to you, that steady cadence in my ear is, yes boring, but does such a good job of making me keep my foot turnover quick.  Even when I stop and walk through water breaks, I could easily get right back on cadence.

The sun was up, it was getting warm, I had long ditched my bathrobe, long sleeve T and gloves.  Veyo hill was done and over and I was enjoying the scenery.  Seriously, love this course.  It's so pretty!  And since almost everyone I know runs it, I am constantly running (literally) into a friend!

(photo cred goes to Kandi and I love the photobomber in the back)


Doug had told me he would be at about mile 15 (the last place spectators could be and not get stuck there), so as I neared I began to watch for him.  
Be still my heart, there are these cute little red headed boys holding signs and cheering!!

I wish I had a pic of those cute little boys!  Doug handed me my blessed cold bottle of Ucan, wished me well, and off again I went!

Again, settling into the steady cadence and nice pace.  I honestly felt great!  I made sure to drink the Ucan without sucking air and just waited until the next aid station and tossed the bottle.

Mile 20 is when it all fell apart.  Somewhere between that mile marker and mile 21, but gut went south.  Cramping, pain and gosh dang I need a porta potty!  
Jumped into the first one I could get to and spent 3 or 4 minutes trying to convince my guts that they needed to stay put and not dump everywhere.

As I stepped back out on to the course, I noticed how much time I had lost and figured my sub 4:15 was gone.  I felt deflated and discouraged.  Enough that I whipped the ear piece out and turned off the metronome.  Instead of posting a personal PR for this course, I was going to be lucky if I finished based on the anger my gut was giving me AGAIN.

'Twas the story until about mile 23.  In and out of porta potties and feeling like crap.  And then, as suddenly as it came upon me, it was gone.  Not completely, but I found that I could run pretty steadily and was wishing for my metronome again.  Huh.  Weird.  Okay, so alrighty then, goals back on.  

I look at my watch and figure I can't pull the sub 4:15, I had lost too much time for that, but dang it, I was gonna run as hard and strong as I could and just see how close I could come.

The last couple of miles through town are always a crap shoot.  Some years I feel great and some years I want to die.  This year was good.  There's the little kids with the popsicles, and here's the people with the cold, wet towel, now here's the last turn and the finish is in sight!

I stayed steady and gave as much push as I could at the finish and ended with:

A minute off my PR for this course, but you know what?  Considering I spent so much time in the crapper, I'm okay with it!  

I walked through the runner's finish area, got my medal, found the coke tent and then some shade to sit down and call Splenda.  I wasn't feeling good again and didn't trust my legs to take my another step without some stretching and rest.

After chatting with a few friends, I made my way over to the WRC Grand Slam tent, plopped myself in the shade and basked in all the glory stories of everyone who came by

Adrian


Ron and Cole


Monte, London, Carl, Jenn, Wan and Adrian

Vince & Kathy

My girl Brenda - amazing!  She was on crutches just 5 weeks ago!

Ellen and Brenda

Adam - one of my favorite Slam customers!

I walked away for a minute and came back to find more love from friends - thanks Kandi!

I can never say it enough - I have the BEST friends!

We packed up and loaded the slam tent, Alex and I got some frozen custard and then hit the road.  I was thankful that she would drive.  I laid back my seat, relaxed and we listened to conference.  
Okay, so maybe Alex listened to conference and I took a nap.

Lot's of time to think this one over.  I feel good about my time.  I feel good about my performance.  Not what I wanted but certainly not my worst.  The runner's high is still eluding me, but what made this year so special was all the friendships that I enjoyed during the weekend.  Runner's make good people and I am blessed far more than I deserve with so many good friends in my life.

I decided that I would take a break this winter and cut back on the running.  Maybe three days a week and incorporate more yoga, weightlifting and spinning.  In fact, I have the Tour de Tuscon coming up next month that I reeeeeally need to get ready for.  I'm hoping that by mixing it up a bit and cutting back, I'll find the love.

At least that was my plan until the Runner's Series opened and yep - register I did!  
I guess I could have worse vices right?

Thanks STG Marathon RD's for another fantastic experience.  Thanks to all my friends who made a point to say hi, take a pic, give encouragement, and cheer me on.  I am indeed a very blessed girl.

xoxo  
mCat

PS - I'm riding the Tour de Tuscon for the JDRF and am needing to raise funds.  If you feel so inclined to toss a buck or two towards my goal, I would GREATLY appreciate it! Link is here













Thursday, September 25, 2014

Big Cottonwood Marathon 2014 - the time I became a Ucan believer but lost my runner's high


I know, I know....... so late with my usual post-race wrap up.  Been busy yo.

So the Big Cottonwood Marathon was a couple of Saturday's ago and as usual, I loved it!

The first year, I participated as a pacer/sweeper, you can read about it here

The second year, I freaking QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!  You can read about it here

This year was a plan to pace my friend to HER Boston Qualifying time.  Turns out, she didn't need me at all - girl rocked.  All.On.Her.Own.

Training had been sporadic leading up to race day.  I don't have any kind of excuse other than I've lost my mojo.  My heart hasn't been in it.  Running feels like a chore instead of a blessed relief.  I dread it instead of love it.  But I digress...we'll address that later.

Race day arrived, I ate my oatmeal, grabbed my pre-packed stuff and headed out the door.  On Facebook several of us had arranged to meet at spot to be able to ride the bus together and start the day off fun!
(I love these people!)


In addition to my traditional Monster and doughnut (no maple bar sadly), I had a blender bottle full of this stuff:

My new favorite nutrition product.  I tried it on a long run earlier and found fantastic results, so I decided to go with it for today.  I find that I can drink a serving of this stuff and literally need nothing for several hours.  It's built with starches that keep one's blood sugar stable instead of spiking and dropping necessitating more fuel.  It's loaded with enough calories to carry me for awhile.  I mixed up two bottles of it the night before and as I left the neighborhood, I dropped one off at my friends house who was going to volunteer at an aid station so she would have it for me about half way through.

We loaded the bus and enjoyed some chatter on the way up the canyon.  Once at the start line/waiting area, it was friggin cold!  I kept my warm clothes and space blanket on as long as possible.  There was word that there were some problems busing runners  so we were going to be getting a late start.  I was okay with that, but others began expressing concern for the heat that we'd get later.


After a final potty break, Kandi, Enrique and I lined up with the 4 hour pacer, sang the Star Spangled Banner and then off we went!  The first loop around the ski resort was slightly uphill and I have to say I liked that.  Nice way to settle into a groove before allowing oneself to start off screaming down the canyon.
My plan was to stay with the 4 hour pacer so that we'd hold back enough in the canyon to have some left in the tank for the out and back (which I knew was going to be brutal) and then the final three into the finish.

I knew Kandi had a different plan and as I watched her slowly slip away from me, I realized that she totally didn't need me.  She didn't need a pacer!  She had the training in place, the mileage, she just needed to go run her race.  I wasn't going to be able to hold her pace and still have anything left in the tank, so I let her go on and hoped that she would be okay.
(the only time we were ever really together - go Kandi!)


I settled in with the 3:55 pacers for awhile, enjoying chatting and catching up with running friend Holly until the bottom of the canyon.  Then I took advantage of another bathroom break.


(yes I am next to the old man - he's kinda my hero)


From this point on, I had lost the pacers so I headed into the out and back with determination.  I had run it before.  I knew it could end up being a death march, and my plan was to just do the best I could.  I was no longer needed as a pacer, so rather than push myself, I rearranged the plan in my head and turned this into a long, training run in preparation for St George.  Amazing what it does when you remove all pressures.  I started to enjoy it!
(that out and back was brutal)


I liked watching the leaders pass me on the other side of the street as they were heading back out.  I tried to watch for as many people as I could recognize and tried to cheer them on.  The turn around point was at mile 18.5 and I was ready for Brenda and my next bottle of Ucan!

As I approached the aid station, I saw her, hollered at her and next thing I knew she was at my side, with my bottle in hand and asking if I needed anything.  Can I just tell you what a boost it is to have a cheerleader there with goodies for ya?  Holy smokes!  Exactly what I needed.  I had been carrying a packet of Gu, just in case, but now that I had the second bottle of Ucan, I knew I wouldn't need it.  I tossed it to B and headed on my way sipping down the sweet nectar of endurance gods.


Not gonna lie, the back out was hard.  That stretch of 7 miles is exposed with no shade.  It was getting hot, and part of it is not particularly pretty.  It's rough 7 miles.  I discovered two more friends up ahead, Jenn and Paul so I gradually sped up to reach them.  We chatted for awhile and stayed together until we made the turn and the final three or so miles.

Now the course takes another steep downhill.  So basically, you've killed your quads the entire canyon, then marched the brutal 7 out and back and now have to rely on those fatigued quads to hold you down the hill some more.  Yeah, they were ticked.  Nice to know that other runners were feeling the same thing.  I even saw someone running backwards in an effort to spare the pain.

This part of the course while downhill, was still a bit hard.  Exposed.  No shade, cars on the left side of you with exhaust spewing and sadly some of those drivers were irritated at the road closures and ensuring traffic snarls and felt it necessary to take it out on us runners.  Really?  Flipping me the bird or yelling out the window is gonna make your car move faster?  Not.  It just makes me think you're an asshat.  Whatev's.  I had more on my mind than some disgruntled drivers.

My longest run going into this event was 18.5 miles.  Not what I would usually want under my belt.  I knew going into the race that I was undertrained and underprepared.  Thankfully, I hadn't come up on Kandi, so I could only assume she was still killing it and was going to reach her goal.  That left me with my own head.  No music.  No metronome.  Just me and my head.  I counted for awhile and attempted to keep the right cadence.  I talked to other runners along the way.  Chatted with Galen and Angie for a few minutes, and just tried to enjoy the run.

At about mile 23, the sideache hit.  I have no idea where it came from, nor do I deal with it very often - if ever.  I slowed down and walked.  I tried slowing down my breathing, raising my arms, doing whatever I thought would help.  As I was working through it, a familiar voice came alongside me "Hey there hot stuff"  Oh my gosh there is Mindi!!  She's smiling huge knowing that she is about to crush her PR.  I picked up running with her for a few minutes but that made the sideache worse.  I congratulated her, and told her to keep going as I slowed back to a walk and tried to get the sideache under control.

For the remaining mile I alternated walking fast and running.  Looking at my Garmin, there was no qualifying time for me which was totally okay and certainly not a PR, but I would finish respectfully and that's all that mattered.  Especially since I had turned it into a long training run rather than a race with serious expectations.  The only thing I cared about then was whether or not Kandi had BQ'd.

I crossed the finish.  Looked at my garmin and stopped it.  Took a water bottle and cold wet cloth and then kept moving around while looking for friends.  It didn't take long for me to find running buddy after running buddy and I was THRILLED with all their stories of triumph!  PR's here, BQ's there!  Everyone seemed to have reached the goal they had set out and honestly, it was the greatest feeling!




I FINALLY found Kandi and learned that not only had she qualified for Boston but she CRUSHED her time by giving herself an 11 minute cush.  I couldn't have been happier for her.  And the icing on the cake?  She did it completely on her own.  Her race.  Her BQ.  Her own personal victory not shared with anyone but herself.  LOVE IT!
(I'm so incredibly proud of this lady!)


I retrieved my drop bag, picked up my results card and wandered a little bit to keep the legs moving and to keep chatting with friends and hearing of their successes.  Kandi and I met up again at a massage station for a quick pic opportunity.

I finally called Splenda Daddy and talked to him as I made my way back to my car.  I was hot, tired and sore.  He was kind, congratulatory, and supportive.  Our usual post race modus operandi :)  And one that I have come to rely on and appreciate.

As I made the drive home, I evaluated how I was feeling.  Legs in good shape, no niggling of an injury, just fatigue that should be expected.  No bonking during the run - thanks Ucan.  Decent and respectable time.  So where was my runner's high?  Where is the usual, "I can do anything" feeling that comes after a marathon?  Instead I was......meh.

I've been thinking about it for several days now and have no reasonable explanation for my lack of excitement and thrill, other than perhaps I am getting a little burned out.  Perhaps I spent all of the last part of the season training so hard while chasing that BQ, and then Boston was so freaking amazing that now, I just can't replicate those feelings and I'm left with burnout.  I'm not sure.

The event itself was top notch as always.  The RD's really do a fantastic job.  The glitches with the buses were due to last minute cancellations of drivers and there was nothing the RD could do, so I hope people will understand and cut him some slack.  The course was hard.  In fact, so hard that I feel like they have made it an HONEST qualifying course.  I don't know if I could qualify again on that course, it's that hard.  Kudos to them, I hope they ignore the whiners that want it changed back to last year.  All three years have been hard, but this year was by far the hardest.  Keep it honest boys.

Congratulations to all my friends who performed so well and reached their personal goals!  I am so happy for all of them and hope that they are still basking in those feelings of supreme accomplishment - it truly is a high.

As for me, I'll go into St George in about 10 days with the plan of running my best and seeing how it plays out.  My heart isn't it like it should be.  I think after 10/5, I'm gonna take a little break, incorporate more cross training and decrease the running a little bit so I can bring back the drive.  The love.  The mojo.  See if I can find my runner's high again.  I'm sure it's around here somewhere...

Thanks Big Cottonwood for yet another great year, and Ucan?  I.am.a.believer.

oxoxox
m




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spiritual Sunday - The redeeming power of friendship


I recently found out that a long time friend has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  Like everyone else seems to do when they get that kind of news, my mind turned to her family, our common friends and shared memories.

I first met Heidi and Jeff 26 years ago when we moved into our home.  They were among the first neighbors to introduce themselves and welcome us to the area.  Our neighborhood at the time was full of young families just like us.  We seemed to fit in except for the "active in the church" angle.

I had made it pretty clear that I wanted nothing to do with the church, but to my surprise, people stayed our friends.  It didn't matter to them what our religious affiliation was going to be, they just wanted to be our friends.  We were invited to neighbohood get together's, Splenda started playing church ball with Jeff, Heidi would bring treats and we began a great relationship.

Over time, as our interest in the church kicked back up, Heidi and Jeff were right there.  They made sure that we never sat alone in meetings.  Jeff even went to Gospel Principles class with me so I wouldn't be with strangers. When we took our first Temple Prep course, Jeff and Heidi hosted it in their home on Sunday evenings.  I don't remember what they did with their children, but they rearranged their own busy lives to make the experiences meaningful for us.  Beautiful spiritual memories were had there in their living room.  They were a huge part of our day when our family was finally sealed in the temple.  They had been through every step of the process with us.

As life goes, change happens.  Jeff and Heidi sold their home, moved further south and gradually we began to lose touch.  Of course, we'd see one another at special things like weddings, missionary coming's/going's, funeral's..... but as is usually the case, you move on while never forgetting the good that those friends brought into your life.

Once I heard of Heidi's diagnosis, my mind turned to all the things we had experienced together those many years ago.  Our children were still somewhat little when they moved so we missed much of the critical years with our kids.  I wondered......did Heidi and Jeff have any idea what their friendship meant to Splenda Daddy and I?  What it has meant to our family?  Our children?  And now our children's children?

The impact of fellowship.  I'm sure that when we moved in, and Jeff and Heidi befriended us, they had no idea just what the next quarter of a century would bring to our little family.  They just saw us as fellow young parents muddling our way through like they were.  However, their efforts to follow the Savior, reach out and love their neighbors has proven to provide the foundation of strength for a family that has seen it's share of rough times.

They couldn't have possibly known that we would struggle with rebellious teenagers, unplanned pregnancies, suicide, end up part of the USMC family and gained a couple of girls from the ward as beloved daughter-in-law's.  They couldn't have even dreamed of the challenges, heartache or struggles we would come to know.

Nope. None of that was in their minds when they decided to invite us to that Elder's Quorum shindig.  And then the next event, and the next, and the next.  When they introduced us to other's in the ward who adopted the same approach of love and friendship.

And yet.  Here it is 26 years later and I'm thinking back on all of it and wondering, do they know the impact their simple acts of discipleship have meant to an entire family?  Jesus Christ commands us to "Love one Another".  He doesn't put caveats on that commandment.  Such as:  Love one another unless they don't go to the same church as you, believe the same religion, parent their children like you, hold the same political belief's.  

It's simply to love one another.

Amazing what can happen to a family when someone embraces them and loves them back into the gospel.  No matter what horrible challenges they are faced with, struggles that are fought, or heartache presented - the anchor the gospel gives them is enough to hold them steady while they weather the storm.  Incredible to think that the simple act of friendship from Jeff and Heidi to Splenda and mCat could have such positive lasting results.  Our children were raised in the gospel and each of them are strong in their belief's.  Our grandchildren are being taught the ways of Christ and each family is valiant in their own way.

What if Jeff and Heidi had never knocked on our door?  What if they would have thought "Meh, they are over on the other street - someone else's problem."  What if they didn't act like a disciple of Jesus Christ and reach out?

My family's outcome could have been much different.  I could be telling a much stranger story right now.  One with less of a happy ending (not that there is an ending but you get the point).

Because Heidi and Jeff were Christlike.  Because they looked past our flaws.  Because they cared enough to love us and invest their time and efforts into us........ we have a beautiful family legacy that I pray will continue for eternity.

So Heidi,  I am so sad for your sickness and pain,  but I want you to know that your's and Jeff's righteous efforts have blessed our family beyond words.  I can never thank you adequately for being brave enough to reach out to us and then to keep reaching the arm of friendship every step of the way as we worked our way back to the gospel.  You didn't give up when other's would have.  You stayed by our side even when we didn't choose the temple after that first round of classes.  And the next.  You made it clear you were our friends regardless of what we chose to do.  That love and fellowship from you is not forgotten.  It's forged deep in my heart and will be forever.  There are generations of my family that will thank you for your example and dedication.

My thoughts and prayers are with Heidi, Jeff and their kids as they face this difficult chapter in life.  If I could make it go away, I would.  Instead, I can only honor her example and be the best disciple of Jesus Christ that I can.  Reaching out, fellowshipping, and being a friend to all.  

I hope I can do it even half as good as Heidi.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Heaven is real.....

It's been a weird and emotional week.  Lot's of sad and depressing things in the news, drama on facebook, commotion around the world and people suffering.  I find when it's to be a little too much for me, I go to my happy place to feel safe, secure and comforted.

And by happy place, we all know I mean my nest.

And by my nest, we all know my bed.

Today is no exception.  This time however I need more than just my blankies and my puppies.  I want my family.  I want every son, daughter, and grandgirl right here in my nest with me.

Ain't gonna happen today.

BUT - it did happen last weekend at the cabin!  Seriously, the best weekend of my life!  Splenda Daddy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with our entire posterity!  Bonus:  At the very site of our honeymoon!  Yeah, go ahead and giggle.....

My happiness through pictures in no particular order.....
Just a tiny piece of heaven in the woods

Games

Horseshoes

I've taught them to pack food well

Cool evenings on the deck

Cousin's games

Sitting out on the deck in the heat of the day watching the Sandlot all piled around a laptop


Chloee loved feeding the squirrels, Jack loved chasing them

No hunting allowed.  Can ya tell?

Puzzle fun with Mind's, Chlo and Luke


The happiest seven year old in all the land!

Throwin shoes like a boss



The view up the creek from the perfect sitting rock


It's a bit of a climb down to the water, but so worth it


Karalee ran the Hobble Creek Half Saturday morning (that's her bling around her neck) but they came right back for the rest of the weekend

One should always eat Frosted Flakes with the appropriate safety gear



Addy and Aunt Leelee


The boys had a plan to surprise the girls down at the water and instead got lost and had an adventure of their own


No cell service at the cabin.  We were all "unplugged" from the world.

Mindy and I went on a great run Friday morning

Yeah, she's faster than me

A beautiful doe, right off the driveway

You can't turn around without having a spectacular view

My favorite place for a run!



30 years of happiness with my Splenda!

More games

Splenda Daddy and I had to come down to Park City Friday afternoon to work the Park City Marathon Expo.  I think he looks pretty natural there behind some WRC product.  He can tell you what socks are anti-blister!

Saturday morning we were at the finish line of the Park City Marathon to swag out our Grand Slammers.  This is some random dude that made me laugh with his shirt.

We came back to the cabin to a greeting sign - courtesy of Mindy!!


Selfie with my bff

Jace loved the water


Jordan wants to be near me so badly that she attempted three times to get on the rock and hurt herself in the process.  I've never met a more loyal companion dog.





We started a rock throwing/water splashing contest.  Chloee kept trading teams to whoever was winning :)

She loves her Aunt Mindy


Addy loved the cabin too



Zoey sprawled out enjoying an afternoon nap

Addy creates her own Uno game


My world right there

The view from my position laying on the couch and out the front windows.  Beautiful.

Selfie with Zoey

It went something like this:
Chloee: "Hey Mindy, wanna do this puzzle with me?"
Mindy ends up doing puzzle because Chloee is bored after a minute.
Mindy = great puzzle finisher

A nice nap on the couch.  I'm the dog whisperer.....

More Addy fun and games





Last morning there and even though she's putting out some food for the squirrels, she's not happy that we have to leave.


Still not happy

Even with the cool skull the boys found

Even Jack's sad to leave

Like really sad.  "Can't we stay just one more day?"

Me and my love after a perfect weekend.

Good bye cabin......until next time.

It really was perfect.  For the first time in our family's life, we were all together in one spot for several days.   Everyone happy, getting along, no bickering (like when they were little), great gospel discussions, life talks, laughing harder than we've ever laughed before, and in general being together and realizing just how much we love each other and how grateful we are to be a family.

As we pulled out of the canyon after locking up, I started to cry as I thought about the amazing blessing we had just been given.  I turned to Splenda Daddy and said, "You know, I could die right now and be perfectly happy"

It was THAT great of a weekend.  

I have the best family.  I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.  I know such happiness is not going to last and we are sure to have some struggles thrown our way (such is the way of life) - but for those 4 days, it was exactly the way I picture heaven to be like.

And it.was.AWESOME.