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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Back to Running

Towards the end of last summer, Ron and I joined USA Fit again, with the goal of training and completing another long race.

Callie joined the program as well and we all decided to participate in the Waco Half Marathon as our final race, inviting Ron's daughter-in-law, Jaylynn, to meet us in Waco.  As the season progressed, our dedication wavered and by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, we began skipping more and more training runs.  By then, we knew that another baby D was on the way, so Callie had also quit training, but we were all determined to at least walk the race.

This past weekend was the big race.  Early on, Callie and I decided to run it in honor of Chris Barrett, Jana's beloved former pastor, who had received a bone marrow transplant was continuing to "fight the good fight."
While running the Half Marathon was out of the question for Callie, she signed up to walk the 10K along with her close friend, Natalie, who lives in Waco.
Jordan came, as well, and took care of the little boys while we raced.  (great practice for him)

Sunday morning, we gathered at the start line, partly excited and partly terrified.  As we read over the race website in the weeks prior, we discovered that it was known for its hills--something we had not really trained for adequately.  

The weather was beautiful, however, and the first half of the race went well, with Jaylynn (who had trained much better than us) zooming past us in the first mile.  Ron and I stayed together for the entire race.
Somewhere around mile 7.5 however, we started to see what they meant when they mentioned the hills.
Fortunately, about that same time, the course took us through the zoo---a really great distraction.  We even stopped to look at the animals and take pictures of a few.
This guy was not amused by the runners passing by.
Unbeknown to us, mile 11.5 held a little surprise for us.  Jacob's Ladder.
This set of stairs leading to the top of a cliff was no joke at all!   They offered pickles at the bottom (for cramps) and beer at the top (for the carbs), along with the promise of a special award for completing the challenge.   (Ron and I didn't really even know there was another option, but apparently, we could have opted for a straight run along the river instead).
Given our lack of preparedness, our race goal was not at all lofty---we hoped to finish in less than 3 hours.  However, he last couple of miles were really tough and we spent a good bit of the last mile walking and giving ourselves a pep-talk.
But, we did it!  We finished the race in 2 hours, 57  minutes!   It was fun to run across the bridge and to see family there cheering us on and to do it together!
We received amazing medals that were handmade by a local firefighter, who was also a marrow donor.
And the award for Jacob's Ladder?   I hand-forged ladder to hang from the bottom of the medal!
The Miracle Match Marathon definitely earned it's title of "The Toughest In Texas, No Bull", but it was so worth it.  It was a beautiful course and benefitted such a great cause.  Now, if we can keep it up until the end of February, when we head to New Orleans for one more race.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Getting A Little Messy Lately

Lately, I've been getting a little messy.  I've been bitten by the Art Journaling bug and find myself spending early mornings surrounded by pencils, pens, brushes and paints.  After a year of thinking about it, I finally delved in during Advent and loved every minute of it.  After teaching a one-time class at church with Callie, we both began in earnest on our own, often sharing pictures back and forth via texts.  We used the wonderful Advent Art Journal by The Handcrafted Story.
For the most part, it was a daily practice for me, but even when I missed, I was able to catch up without getting too far behind.  Although there were days when my creations were not quite what I had pictured in my mind, in the end, they looked pretty great as a group and really helped to focus my mind on the story of Christmas.
At the beginning of January, I switched to using a hymnal to do my personal faith journaling.
I have continued to use 15-20 minutes each morning to flip through the pages until a hymn sparks an image or thought for me.
It has become a time I look forward to for the creativity and reflection I discover in the process.

Some days, I just practice hand lettering---with some days being more successful than others.  :-)
Again, some pages are more creative than others, but, in every case, I find myself more in touch with the words of the song and the feelings expressed through them.
Recently, I began adding washi tape tabs to the pages.
Callie and I even have a new class beginning in a couple of weeks to help us (and others) journey through the Lenten season together.
I'm learning as I go and one way I've chosen to do that is to join the Get Messy group over here.  (By the way, it is not too late to become a messian yourself)  I'm hoping to learn lots of new techniques, learn to be okay with imperfections and maybe even get a little messier in the process (Sorry, Ron,  we might never eat at the dining table again).   The first "season" of Get Messy began yesterday and the theme is:  Happy.  For my first pages, I made a title page and then reflected on a quote that was provided, using colors that just make me happy. 
Everyone is an artist.   If we allow ourselves to explore that part of ourselves and to cultivate and savor what we find, it can be such a rich world and a wonderful way to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.  For me, having some sort of creative outlet is as essential to me as BREATHing -- not only does it help me de-stress, but it lets me express myself when words escape me. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcome 2016

It seems like just a year or so ago that we were all looking forward to the year 2000, wondering what new and exciting adventures were coming and some even worried that the world would not even exist after that.  Here were are, sixteen years later, wondering some of the same things.  The world has changed a lot since then, and so have I.

Several years ago, I gave up making New Year Resolutions and instead began focusing on a single word for the entire year.  Instead of resolving to "not do __ anymore", I now invite a word into my life throughout the year in various ways.  This year, I have chosen the word BREATHE.
I try to choose words that are broad and can be used in a variety of ways in my life and I think BREATHE fits that criteria quite nicely.  I want to focused on the literal meaning of BREATHE in my exercise and running.  It seems like breathing is the hardest part of running for me.  If I could get my breath patterns down, I would be able to run easier.
In situations that are challenging, at work and personally, I sometimes react rather than slowing down to think about my words.  This year, I want to be more intentional about changing that behavior.
I want to to take the time to BREATHE more before I respond.

2016 promises to be full of changes for me again, as I will be retiring from work at some point during the year.  BREATHE takes on yet another meaning for me when I consider what it means in that regard.

And finally, I want to invite more time in my life to BREATHE and reflect on God's word through a 52 Week Project of my own--one of Faith journaling.   I am beginning the year using a hymnal, but plan to switch to a journaling Bible at some point.  While I might do it more often, I plan to complete at least one page per week.
So there you have it--my One Little Word for 2016.  While I won't be participating in Ali Edwards' class this year (I have been a dropout the last two years), I will be using some of the same exercises on my own and might document some of my progress on here, as well.
What about you?  Have you chosen a word for the year.  If so, please share it in the comments below.

If you'd like to take a look at my previous years' words, you can click below:
2015 - Home
2014 - Grow
2013 - Beginning
2012 - Open
2011 - Purpose
2010 - Risk

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Well, I've done it again-gone an entire month without a post.  It is not for lack of things to post about. In fact, it is just the opposite.  There has been so much going on that I haven't been able to keep up. As we enter the new year, I want to try to slow down a bit in some areas of my life and focus on things I enjoy the most (like posting on this blog).

As in years before, I would like to continue taking a photo a day---it has been a great way to document my year and to take notice of the little things in my life.  This year, however, I may not post an original Instagram challenge each and every month.  Instead, I may join a few other challenges that are already developed online, such as at The Idea Room or Katrina Kennedy's CY365. I'll keep you informed about what I'm choosing to do so that you can join me as well, but for now, here is a new Instagram challenge for the month of January 2016.

If you haven't already done so, come on over to Instagram and follow me by clicking on the icon to the right or here.  You can participate as often or as little as you like, and feel free to interpret each prompt however you'd like.  Just take a photo a day and post it on Instagram, tagged with the designated hashtag.  From time to time, be sure to click on the hashtag to see what others have posted and follow a new friend, if you like.  For these challenges, I only use my iPhone camera, so the focus is generally on the theme and not technique, but you can use whatever works for you.

Have fun with it and leave me a comment below if you are new to the challenge or have any questions.  (hint: Open this page on your mobile device and click/save the image to your photos so that you always have it handy).

Monday, November 30, 2015

December Instagram Challenge

Wow!  It has been a month since I last posted!   I was on such a roll with the Blogtember challenge, and then life just got so busy.  I'm hoping to do better in the next few weeks, but until I can sit still long enough to edit pictures and compose a post or tow, I'll leave you with another Instagram challenge for December.

Back in July, when Valine and I went to the Rayne crop, one of our main projects was to complete the base pages for our December Daily scrapbooks.  Last year, I completed my pages in the fall, but it was a bit of a stretch this year to think of tinsel and trees when it was 95+ degrees outdoors, but I am so glad that we did it while we had the time.   As busy as this fall has been, I never would have had the time to put it together otherwise.

Rather than following the usual format that Ali Edwards typically uses, this year, we decided to use up our stash of supplies and to center our books around the alphabet:  The ABC's of Christmas.
I wanted to keep it simple, with the ultimate goal of adding one picture per day, plus a bit of journaling.  Here is a peek inside:
 I included some extra pages in the back, as well, as an envelope to collect keepsakes, if I want them.
Therefore, the photo prompts for this month will follow this same theme.   Obviously, there are more than 26 days in December, so there are a few other prompts for those days.  Have fun with it and let's see how many different ways to interpret each letter we can find!  Don't forget to use the hashtag #ABCsOfChristmas2015!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

November Instagram Challenge

Today is the last day of November and it is time to post the next Instagram challenge. Ron and I are on the road today--braving the very nasty weather to enjoy lunch and a little shopping with Dan, down in Cheneyville. November's challenge was created entirely on my phone, during our travel, so here's hoping that it all gets posted correctly on the blog.

For those of you that might be new to my blog and to the challenge, here's how it works. I post a set of prompts for the month and you join in taking a photo a day, inspired by the prompts. If you get busy and skip a day, no problem. If you want to switch things around, no problem. Do whatever works for you. The only rule is to tag it with the given hashtag so that we can all enjoy the pictures and be inspired by your creativity. This month's hashtag is: #ThankfulForThis2015. As you might guess, I am going to use this as an opportunity to remember how very lucky I am and to give thanks for the things that I snap pictures of.

If you need any more information, shoot me an email. Hope that you'll click the Instagram icon to the right to follow along as I record my days.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Operation Halloween Costumes 2015

I have offered to make Halloween costumes for each of the grandchildren for the last couple of years---well, since I've HAD grandchildren.   The kids get to choose whatever they want, and so far, I've been able to come up work up a costume that they have been happy with.  The first year, Adellelyn requested a black cat costume and Michael wanted to be Spiderman.  It would have been a lot easier and definitely cheaper to just buy one, but in the end, they were so pleased with how they turned out.  (I didn't make the Blue Man costume)
Last year, the requests were a bit more difficult.  I probably spent way too much money and time on the costumes to transform  them into Art and Boo from Monsters University, but it was so worth it when I saw how much they loved them.
Plus, there were two new grand babies added to our family.  Archer already had an elephant costume provided by his other grandmother, but I sewed a penguin costume for baby D.
This year, there is another new grand baby so I knew I'd need a little extra time! After several changes in requests, Adellelyn settled on being Mavis, the vampire girl from the movie Transylvania.  Here was my inspiration photo.
I purchased some net sleeves and red/black striped tights and was all prepared to sew together a black dress, when I happened upon one on the clearance rack at Target.  She had seen a headpiece that she really wanted, so I picked that up at Big Lot's and only had to sew a vampire cape.  I forgot to take any pictures during the process, but they sent me this one yesterday, after the package arrived--(her mama will kill me when she realizes I posted with the messy living room showing, but hey, that's life with kids)!
At first, Michael wanted to wear his Art costume again, but a couple of weeks ago he changed his mind.  His request:   a brown dog that covers everything except his face.  Done!

After a visit to New England, Jaylynn requested a Crab Costume for Archer.   I had to think about how exactly to make that one, but in the end, it turned out pretty cute.   The "shell" straps on like a backpack.  
Baby B's parents decided that he would be the perfect "garden gnome", and I couldn't agree more!   The inspiration photo even looks a little like him!  
I can't wait to see him in the costume!
Callie and Jordan requested a Minion costume for Baby D.   I looked all over town for a yellow shirt with no luck at all.   So, yesterday, he and I made a trip to Joann's and bought a yard of fabric to make our own (plus some puppy dog fabric that caught his attention---I mean, how could I not??).  
I drafted a pattern while Baby D worked on a picture of his own.  
The shirt came together quickly and easily and looked pretty good.  I found overalls at Old Navy and only needed a cap.  Here is the inspiration picture for this costume.

I downloaded a pattern and cut out a cap, but could tell after the first few seams that it was not going to fit, so I turned to plan B.   Using a different pattern, I stitched the hat together and added a black band to mimic the goggles band.  
Fortunately, I held off on sewing the lenses to the hat on until I tried it on him this afternoon.   While it might have fit him fine, he HATED it!  (they are just laying on there there in the above photo)  When I attempted to try it on him to check the fit, not only would he not keep it on his head, he wouldn't come near it when it was laying on his couch!  

Enter plan C:   construct a hood instead of a hat and stitch it to the neckline of the shirt.  So far, he has tolerated the hood on his new rain jacket fairly well, so perhaps he would like this better than a hat.  
As I finished up this last costume, it occurred to me that the Baby B and Baby D don't have Trick or Treat bags.  It is too late to get one to baby B (next year!), but I put together a quick one this evening for baby D.
Things have been crazy busy the last week or so, but, I think they are all ready for Halloween now!  I would love to have a photo for them all together in their costumes--maybe next year!

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