Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Installment One

Our family, like most of you, have Christmas traditions.  We are so full of different traditions that I almost need to make NO PLANS whatsoever for the season.  It's all outlined nicely for us.

Our first installment involves Temple Square and it's legendary lights.  'dawg wanted to go with his daughter before he went back to SD, so last night, despite the freezing temp's, we went.

The minute we walked out on to the main street plaza, Sissy looked up and said, "Oh - look at that CASTLE!"

It really does look like a magical castle, especially with the lights and the *gasp-choke* snow.

I was glad we had the stroller, it made it much easier.  She rode, she walked, she ran, she rode some more.  We froze our butts off.  Good times had by all.

Where is Luka you ask? He works all day in the cold, we couldn't PAY him to willingly go out in it again.
Where is Tuffy you ask?  Work.  Besides he already saw them with his lovely little 'tana last weekend.  Traditions have a way of altering a little sometimes as people grow up.  And that's okay.  We roll with the flow.  Especially when Mommy has her happy pills.  But I digress.....

I will forever remember the one year we met up with my brother and his family to make this a family home evening affair.  Splenda and Hoser dropped us off and then they went to find parking.  Me, BFF-SIL, and six kids were huddled in the doorway of the visitor's center waiting for them.  It was crowded as usual, and then OUT LOUD, in his LOUDEST voice, 'dawg spots the menfolk headed towards us and SHOUTS OUT LOUD:


Yep. That's my boy!  I'm sure, if I had not been so embarrassed and actually lifted my head up, I would have laughed at how many of the missionaries were now circling ready to swoop upon our heathen clan.
(for the record - NO ONE had ever been drunk.  At temple square.  Ever.)

This year, thankfully, it was a quick loop around and everyone was satisfied.

"See the Temple Christmas lights" checked off our list!
(not sure why the raspberry - but there you have it)

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Marine Monday

*Today's post brought to you by a special contributor*

Well, being a guest writer on such an awesome blog is quite the set of shoes to fill. So, instead of trying to paint a general picture of what I think most can understand or relate to...I'll set my shoes down as I see them and you as the reader can fill them as you see them fitting.

"LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS!! Get the **** out of your racks! Get on-line right now! As you jump out of your sheets and try to find your flip flops to stand at the end of your rack (bunk bed) next to your rack mate, standing in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear to count off accountability for every recruit in the platoon, a Drill Instructor runs by and gets in your face for not getting on-line fast enough.

Drill Instructors: "Counttttttt!"
Drill Instructors: "OFF!!"
Recruits: "Snap!"

Left arms raised and we each put it back down counting off around the sqaud bay to make sure that all recruits are up and accounted for. As the Guide being the last to count off, yells, "Annnnd 85!" The platoon then yells, "Sir, the count on deck is 85 United States Marine Corps Recruits."

Drill Instructor:" Boot socks on the body right now!"

Your hurrying to put them on as he counts 20 seconds off and turns them into 10 seconds. Continuing to the next piece of clothing with a new countdown, your hoping that everyone in the platoon makes it in time because if they don't the platoon has to take them back off being counted down again, just to get them off in time to go back to the next piece of clothing to get dressed. Once your finally dressed and trying to sneak in adjustments to how you put your uniform on, the drill instructors then move to the rack you just slept in.

Drill Instructors: "Two sheets and a blanket online, RIGHT NOW!"
Once we all are online (standing at the end of your rack)
Drill Instructors: "One white sheet on the rack now!"

After finally getting the bed made with no wrinkles, and a 45 degree fold at every corner to make it look perfect. The platoon is rushed into the bathroom to shave and brush our teeth in 300 seconds. Bear in mind its a mess when there are 85 recruits in a bathroom with 12 mirrors and 12 sinks. Toothpaste and shaving cream go everywhere. The Drill Instructors are correcting recruits for being slow and not having the things they need to shave and brush their teeth. After you are rushed back out of the bathroom, the platoon gets back online to grab covers and one slick canteen to get outside and form up to march to chow.

There are 6 platoons in Mike company and each one with a set of 4 Drill Instructors. The Drill Instructors compete to be first at and in everything we do as a platoon and they compete just as hard or harder than pro athlete's. They expect nothing less than full speed and intensity at all times.

Once we get to the chow hall, its a hayday of corrections as we have to speed through the line to get our chow and sit down using all manners and proper gentlemen table ettiquette, we eat it to get out before the rest of the other platoons. Hopefully you are able to chew and taste the food so it helps you stay motivated to take on whatever the day brings. Chow is the only thing you have to look forward to because it feels good to eat and sit down.

We head back out to form up to march back to the house to change over into PT workout gear and we are counted down as we do this as well. We get the platoon all changed over with armband identification and set to get back outside to form up with the rest of the series of 3 platoons to march to the PT field. We hit the PT field and its non-stop intensity and 110% effort to increase run times, carry strength and full body exercises, with 12-18 Drill instructors all over the field. After about 3-4 hours of training, we re-hydrate and head back to the house.

Oh wait. On the way one of the recruits decides to gaff off a Drill Instructor, so the Senior Drill Instructor takes us all to the dirt to teach us corrective discipline.

"SIT UPS!"...

We hit each exercise as he shouts them out trying to go full speed to hope he will stop because the only way he stops us is if he feels we are putting out max effort. Of course, there are those recruits that just cant keep up so we keep going and going for roughly 20 minutes of full speed interchangable workouts until senior shouts

SDI: "Head up!"
Recruits: "Back Straight!!!!!!!!!"

Only once everyone has a straight back in the push up position, does senior decide that we can stop and go home.  We get formed up, march back home, to take a quick PT shower and change over back into cami's to march to afternoon chow. You are counted down with the platoon to get undressed naked with a towel around the waste and walk one continuous wagonwheel circle in and out of the 12 showers in the "rain room".  One shower hot, one cold, one hot, one cold ect. trying to get all the dirt and sweat off possible so you dont get blasted by the Drill instructors at chow, for being dirty and disgusting.

After we get out of the shower, the already pissed off Drill Instructors count you down to get back into the same clothes used for PT with all the sweat and sand, but this time since that one recruit messed up AGAIN, the drill instructors order the platoon to all throw their shirts in the middle of the squad bay and give us only 30 seconds to grab a shirt and put it on. Doesn't matter size, shape, smell...ect. You throw it on and finish getting dressed. After the platoon marches to afternoon chow, we speed through and eat again. Remember this time to give the greeting of the day, as, "Good afternoon sir." to all Drill Instructors and officers you come within 6 feet of, or you get destroyed or humiliated.

After that you rush outside to form up as a platoon and march back to the squad bay to grab rifles and get back out to the parade deck to practice Drill. (competitive marching) All movements are done on counts and have to be executed perfectly as a platoon or we fail and do it over and over. The recruits that have no coordination or rythm or discipline keep getting the platoon screwed over again and again.

Drill Instructor: "Wanna keep gaffing off?? Good. Run to the pole!...Get back....RUN TO THE POLE!.....GET BACK. Stop. RUN TO THE POLE!" The orders are continuous and non stop repetitive.

After drill we get back to the house to sit down in a circle together as Senior Drill Instructor educates us as to why we are now holding ourselves to a higher standard of living. Why we obey orders without asking why or when. Why people don't understand what we go through, but we valiently do it so that they may live how they choose to. Why we need to be gentlemen and extraordinary husbands and fathers. Why we base our lives around Honor, Courage and Commitment to God, The Marine Corps and ourselves. Why we wont be afraid to jump on a grenade if it means saving 2 of our fellow Marines. Why we kill effeciently and without fear. Why we love to fight and take the opportunity to defend our country and loved ones...the "Why's" go on and on. From every aspect of life, self growth, finances, ethics, family...ect.

Then its off to get online and have the other Drill Instructors hygiene us by the numbers again...shower, shave, brush the teeth and back into underwear for Basic Daily Routine where we get 5 minutes to pray and count off and inspected individually by a drill instructor to make sure we dont have any injuries that require medical attention. After that we throw a t-shirt on and hydrate and get ready to jump in the rack in time for taps to be played as the lights are shut off all over the depot and we go to sleep. Most of the time you don't sleep because you are trying to sneak in time to get things prepared for the next day or stay up late to read and write letters. During sleep time it is mandatory that a 4 man fire watch be on deck at all times. So at any given time if its your turn, you are forced to get up and spend an hour cleaning, and taking charge of the sqaud bay til lights. If you hold a leadership billet such as squad leader or guide...(Myself, I was 1st Squad Leader) it was also mandatory that you have at least one hour of fire watch everynight. 2 hours depending on how well the platoon did during the day and night before.

Now, what I have tried to do is explain a typical day at the beginning of Boot Camp. Bear in mind that EVERYTHING the Marine Corps does has a purpose and meaning behind it. No matter how obscure or eccentric the order or command or task. The subconcious learning and discipline becomes a 2nd nature growth that you dont realize til you look back on the beginning. Everything we did could at anytime be counted down, or corrected and we were assesed and evaluated over everything by each Drill Instructor. They were like fathers to us. With us 24/7 raising us to be the Marine and warriors that they are. To be a USMC Drill Instructor, you have to be in the top 10% of the entire Corps.

These men set aside their familes, lives and personal commitments to train us and develop the new Marine Corps. They have a passion like you'll never understand. They honor tradition, respect the fallen and understand what it takes to uphold that standards and expecations to be the best at all times. They INSTILL this in us. Especially for those who want it and are open and receptive to it. Such as myself. They provide the opportunity to change yourself, test yourself and prove to yourself that you can be something great. It was mine for the taking and I took it. I'll never look at things the same. Having to do 90 days of things similar to how I explained a typical day, was amazing, Each day bringing something new and challenging. Weapons, Mixed Martial Arts, conditioning and education of life and family. By the world's top 10% of men? Yeah. I want to be apart of that. I want to carry on that work. I want to improve and add my skills to it.

When you go through all of this with 85 other young men, you develop a bond of respect and admiration to each other. This is where the brotherhood comes into play. We, without question, will do anything for any one of us. We take pride in being so dependable, along with pride in EVERYTHING thing we do whether its asked of us or not. Its just how we work. Its is instilled into us.

With that being said,
Semper Fidelis.

Private First Class Catmull C.A.

Thanks to 'dawg for taking the time to write this up.  It's interesting to get a snapshot of a typical day at boot camp.  I, for one, am glad it's over, but so proud of him.

PS - I didn't alter his text at all.  Spelling, grammer - it's all his.
PSS - He has some pretty good stories that he couldn't include here, I might have to tap into those for future Monday posts
PSSS -  He leaves first thing tomorrow morning to go back to Camp Pendleon for MCT (Marine Combat Trainingg), 10 days went by pretty dang fast!

Sissy's early Christmas present

No one can ever say that little Miss Sissy is lacking from love.

Check out what her Mommy surprised her with last week -

Brody von Drake
Named in part after our own beloved Freakshow Kasey Von Drake.
Brody looks JUST like him as a puppy.  So cute!

Sissy LOVES him!

Jordan isn't all that thrilled but she is friendly and welcoming.  Stinking thing is making us just that much more puppy hungry.  And believe you me, I have been looking.  Checking KSL ads every day.....trying to find just the right one........

For now, we'll enjoy Brody when he comes to visit

Sunday, November 28, 2010

When a Hurricane and the Trailer Park collide

*because I have had a few requests for pictures*

Okay, we all know I don't REALLY live in a trailer park, just my decorating skills do.  I have the same decor year after year and the same items go in the same spots every time.  I have no imagination, nor creativity.
And really, I'm okay with it.  Usually getting all the Christmas decorations out is a chore that I do strictly out of tradition.  This year though, we had Sissy for a little while.  That certainly added a new twist.

And so I present - M'Cat's Christmas-y decorated home with the help of her Hurricane Sissy

Start with the wreath on the front door, but forget to take the picture the day you put it up and wait until it's snowing to leave the door wide open so you can get a shot.

Put something on the inside of the door, but nothing that is going to clang and make noise when the door opens and shuts - it just irritates everyone.

Put down the floor mat that Luka made in grade school.  And for sure don't fix the picture to be facing the right direction.  That would be too classy.

There is crap now strewn about the living room and Splenda has gone to Target for lights so move into the kitchen
Hang one of many Christmas-y themed dishtowels that will hang cleanly for about 30 mnutes  Afterwhich some dumbbutt will grab it to dry his hands and thus ruin the whole thing.

I do have a lovely banister, so let's wrap some garland and string some lights.  The best touch is leaving the cord dangling. 

Speaking of garland's, the mantle in the living room should have one as well, with lights and stockings hung with great care.
Don't spend the time to actually center the hanging socks.  By now, you're getting bored so just hurry up and get done.

And lookie - there is space at the bottom of the fireplace, because heaven knows we won't ACTUALLY be building a real fire there - it makes too much of a mess so, might as well throw some of the decor down there
The little wooden manger has some straw in it (from a gazillion years ago).  The Hurricane thought it would be great to dump it all out and place baby Jesus upside down.  No worries - sitch rectified and all is well in the manger.

Now, you've got two end tables - better do something with them
Exhibit A - my favorite is the new Marine Corp ornament.

Exhibit B - my favorite is the Candlebreeze that blows lovely Christmas smells through my home!

And of course the coffee table to display our incredible Nativity scenes
Now try not to be too jealous over my nativity scenes.
On your left is the cute little one I got with a purchase at Deseret Book either last year or the year before.
The one on the right came as a gift the first time TNT went to Cancun.  Straight from the flea market it is!
I love them both oddly, especially the one from the flea market.  Maybe because it's a reminder of a place that I love so much.  But my favorite thing is the ceramic in the middle.  Santa kneeling with his cap removed in front of the baby Jesus.  Love this one!

Now it's on to the center of the room and the main event.  The tree!  But before we reveal it, there are two side chairs that need a little somethng as well.
Throw a Santa pillow in the west chair

Some other sort of Christmas-y pillow in the east chair
and then turn your attention to the piece de resistance!

Once Splenda and I got the lights on, the Hurricane blew right in and began her work.  Of course, one must always decorate the tree in your undies.  Clothes add too much class
I love her intensity.  Hurricanes are NOT to be messed with - they have serious work to do

The final product?
(the skirt?  An old sheet - NO LIE!)

My favorite parts?
The special touches that only my Sis can leave behind
mulitple ornament stacked together.  She liked grouping things.

And really, where else can you find Mr Lizard placed in the tree with the other ornaments.

It was a long tough morning, putting this all together  Such decor.  Such fnesse.  Such detail!
Think I'll grab a mason jar and drink me some hot cocoa.

Welcome little miss Ella Ray

Tuesday we got word that Splenda's younger brother and his beautiful wife were at the hospital bringing a new member of the family into the world!

What a great Thanksgiving present no?  We gave them some time to settle and Friday we went to go visit. 

Love me holding a newborn!!

Isn't she beautiful?  They were wanting her awake so I was happy to unwrap her, play with her feet, and inspect every inch of her.  She is the sweetest!

No sleeping Ella....wake up and chat with Aunti M

And Mom in the background looks fantastic!  Tough birth, ended up c-section, but she came through like a champ!

Congrats Darrell and Cassandra!  Ella is beautiful and a welcome addition to the fam!

Thanksgiving 2010 - the obligatory post

I ran a 5k in the morning.

We met some family at Golden Corral.

I ate more than I should have.

We went to see the movie Tangled (muy excellente)

We played Imagineiff

I fell asleep.

*comments off - nothing to see or say here folks, move along*

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Fleet Feet 5k Turkey Trot 2010

You know we always do a 5k on Thanksgiving, in the morning before we go get our eatin on and this year would be no exception.  The question was, which one to choose?  Lisa found one in American Fork that with your entrance fee you actually got a hoodie rather than just a t-shirt.  Sold.
Makenzie, the other YW advisor I work with, was gung ho for one, and we wanted to get our girls involved as well.  The more the merrier and WAY more fun! 'dawg also wanted to run it, so several weeks ago, we all got registered.

Watching the weather reports became quite disconcerting though.  It was to be clear without showers of any kind, but the temps were at freezing or below.  And, we all know how I feel about cold weather running. I.Hate.It!

Thursday morning came early and all the YW and Mak met at my house.  I pulled out every one of my beanies, hoodies, leggings, gloves, and earmuffs I could find.  I already warned the girls to dress warm in layers, but I was going to have extra for them.

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil and set out the hot chocolate for something to warm us on the inside before we got going.

l-r  TC,CM,RK,BB,Me, Mak, 'dawg
A quick before picture, and then loaded a couple of cars and off we went.

We found our parking spots and then stood in line to get our packets with the hoodies, the bib numbers and whatever other swag they put in them  (lame this time) and tried to keep warm.  Start time was set for 8am but with the line of people still waiting to get their packets, we knew we were gonna be waiting to start.

We met up with  my Gym rats - Lisa, Kim, Kim and Kris and had some pre-race chatting. 
Kim, Kim, Lis and Me (Kris keeping his usual distance from us)

Lisa was sure to set my Young Women straight.  I love them.  I will be with them every step of the way the rest of their lives, but not in a race.  In a race, they were on their own.  So sad that it's true!

Finally at about 20 minutes after, the horn sounded and off we went.  I had already  lost sight of 'dawg since he had been maneuvering his way to the very start of the line (he's my son), so we kind of trotted until the crowd thinned out.  I settled into a nice little groove and decided the pace I had hit was going to be the pace of the race. 

It was most def COLD.  My lungs and muscles could feel it.  Tibia was feeling pretty good but about 10 minutes into it, my whole left leg ached.  Not where the stress fracture was but up higher where last year's fracture was and then the pain ran down all the way to my foot.  So weird.  And the bottoms of my feet have never recovered since the marathon.  They just feel bruised.  I felt discouraged that even with all the time I had taken off, wearing nothing but ugly crocs to cushion my legs and feet, and now 10 minutes into a good solid run, I hurt.  VERY discouraged.

Little self talk that included the fact that this was just a mere 5k and it wasn't going to cause any permanent damage.  I would finish and then maybe go hit my doc again and see what we can do.  Buckled down and kept the pace.  By now the crowd had thinned and just Mak was at my side, we chatted a little, watched for 'dawg ahead of us, and wondered how the girls were doing.  I knew they would all stay together so I wasn't worried about them.

With a hundred yards left, Mak kicked it into 5th gear and sprinted across, finished a fantastic    time.  I crossed at 28:37 and couldn't have been happier.  I let myself be okay with that time considering how much rest I have been doing and the shape my left leg was in.

Mak quickly headed the course backwards and I stationed myself at the finish line to get pics of the girls as they came across.  It was perfect for finding most of my friends!
K and B - more Gym rats

Lisa and Kris (Kris had already finished but ran back for his cute wife)

My cute Bird - she ran the whole thing and finished in 30 and some change - AWESOME!!

CM who got sick part way through and needed to walk.   She cut across the parking lot but was determined to cross the finish line!

Mak running in KM and TC

I love her smile!!

'dawg had finished WAY before any of us.  In fact, he was 28th overall, and 3rd in his age group.  This all on 3 hours of sleep and not even trying.  I asked him if he noticed his time as he crossed and he didn't even see the clock, he was just glad to be running without anyone screaming at him!

After some phone calls, a sick girl, some walking, we finally got them all rounded up.  Since Kris, 'dawg and myself all placed in our age groups, according to the posted results, we decided to stick around for the prizes.  They also did a drawing of random entrants and gave away a bunch of stuff.

We were amusing ourselves while we waited with the flavored oxygen bar

TC came home with a pumpkin pie. 

Mak came home with a smoothie blender. 

It took a while to go through all of this so we started to get REALLY cold.

And then the crappy thing.  When they got to our age groups, somehow I was no longer 3rd and 'dawg was no longer 3rd.  Wha???  How does that happen when you have no chip timing???  I approached the race director to ask about it and instead of being nice and apologetic about it, he was a jerk, tossed two pies to me and said that it shouldn't have happened and that he didn't have time to figure it out.

Oooookkaaayy........  um.  The pie wasn't the point you dirtbag.  The point was the right to say one had placed.  Not our fault that you were unorganized and screwed it up.  Whatever.  Most def won't be supporting them next time.

By this time we were frozen solid, later than we had told parents we would have their daughters home and so we literally ran to the cars, cranked the heaters and headed home.

Overall, the course was kind of lame since it was just 3.1 miles winding through some empty parking lots.  The swag that was donated and given away in the drawing was good,  but it took too long to get through and no place to keep people warm while waiting.  The prizes for age divisions were Turkeys for first and pies for second and third.  Not bad, except they were all pumpkin.  So, too bad if you don't like that kind.  And the swag was practically non-existent in the bags.
All that being said the hoodies are freaking awesome!  Great quality.  Perfect on sizing.  Warm fleece and the logo is super cute. Well done on that Fleet Foot, but next year, I'll keep my entrance fee closer to home and maybe a better cause.

The most important thing though? The friends I was with.  Granted I didn't get a chance to chat a whole lot with my gym rats, but my Young Women certainly impressed me.  Getting up early, running in the cold.  Sticking it out and finishing!  I am so proud of them!!  And 'dawg is just dang impressive.  Period.
(he had no idea I was watching him.  I zoomed in and caught him in the stance we find him in often)

Thanks girls for stepping up and taking on a hard challenge and finishing.
Thanks Mak for encouraging them and helping to make it happen.
Thanks gym rats for the fun we have EVERY TIME we run something.
Thanks 'dawg for making me proud yet again.