In like a Lion

March always seems like the longest month. It's a full 31 days after the shortest month of the year. Somewhere in that looooong stretch we managed to make it through.

Speech meetings, Student Led Conferences, poem recitations, book reports, Dr. Seuss Day, field trips to Peter Piper Pizza and the Zoo, Youth Conference, birthday parties, softball. . . all that stuff in the first 2 weeks and not one picture.

The only pictures I have from the first two weeks are of us making cookies. Because honestly, if anything sums up my life, it's making and eating cookies. On any given week you can guarantee this occurred in my house.We had 4 extra kids for a weekend and I got a glimpse into the fun of early morning seminary and the appetites of teen age boys. I can't believe how fast we went through everything -- milk, eggs, bread. . . toilet paper.The girls even made Luke a train sugar cookie. And don't worry -- a haircut for Luke was also on the list of things we did in the first few weeks of March.

The next two weeks of March were Spring Break! I had visions of long lazy days with lots of cuddling and crafts. The kids, however, did not. They wanted to be entertained. NOW!

So we jammed packed the days. Playdates, the park, crafts. . . whatever I could think of. One day Ellie and her friends ran a Day Camp to learn babysitting skills. They all determined that being in charge of a group of kids is harder than they imagined. Ellie said the hardest part was "when the kids wouldn't listen to you." I somehow felt validated as a mom.

One of the activities they planned was to sell lemonade to raise money for Japan. It was very spur of the moment, but they had the best time mixing the lemonade, making signs and talking to all of the customers.

We also made a trip to the Zoo with friends. This is probably not a big deal to most, but I HATE the Zoo. The last time I went to the Zoo I was 9 months pregnant with Sadie and went only as a last resort since that stinker would not come. So over 4 years ago. I hate how much it costs and schlepping the kids all over to squint in *hopes* we see an animal. This year we lucked out -- Karen got us all in for free and almost all of the animals were up and entertaining.
The bad side -- it was freakishly hot. Around noon we were looking for a place to eat lunch when we passed the Komodo Dragon exhibit. Nate was dying to see a real life dragon, but when we stopped the girls informed us that they were "dying" and "literally going to pass out." There may have been some eye rolling going on too. Hooray for pre-teen girls! When we finally found a shady spot it was close to the water features and we ended up with a lot of soaking wet (and half naked) kids.

I'm not a big St. Patrick's Day fan, so usually we pretty much ignore it other than wearing green. But this year for entertainment's sake I turned all the toilet water green, made the milk in their cereal turn green and even made rainbow pancakes for dinner.

There was also a sleepover where the girls played their favorite game: Serious Business
I have no idea how to play the game except it seems you say, "Serious business. . ." at the beginning of every sentence and it involves a headlamp, but the girls love it.

The second week of break was marked by the visit of my most amazing sister, who came to entertain us while Dustin in Philly for the first of 3 straight weeks of traveling. It was so nice to have her company!!The nights were a lot shorter when I had someone to talk to and she always manages to entertain my kids. It was a blur:

painting pictures for Livy's room
(this is Nate's)

Midnight Runs to Sonic
I believe this is Nate telling us about how he almost DIED from rolling the window UP on himself when his head was hanging out the window.

making doll houses shopping
Build-A-Bear -- Livy is modeling the new Hello Kitty slippersthe park
sleep overs where Nate ans Sadie cuddle Lola so she couldn't sleep
BYU basketball
lots and lots of games (pictionary, Guess Who, Charades, Boo. . .)
photo scavenger hunt
even more baking. . . especially for our Bake Sale.
The kids had so much fun with their lemonade stand, they decided to to do a Bake Sale the next week to earn even more money. In the end, they earned over $200 to donate for relief for the people of Japan. I am so proud of them!

We also filled the March nights with GNOs, birthday parties for friends, hanging out with old neighbors, and lots of basketball watching. I may have been too invested in March Madness this year, but we can save that for another post. Along with my culinary adventures. See how I leave you hanging with *such* great cliff hangers. To be continued. . .


Ragnar 2011-- Up and Running

*** Disclaimer: This post was written by my sister after copious amounts of begging from me to just do it for me. While hilarity is guaranteed, truthfulness is not. *** Back to the blog:

Ragnar 2011: I put a year by it, so that must mean I plan on doing it again. If I only planned on doing it once, it would say Ragnar. Period. But it was so much fun, I'm already jazzed up for the next one.

If you haven't heard of a Ragnar, let me point you to the website for more details: Ragnar Del Sol. If you havem SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH! It was basically a 200 mile relay race with 350 teams of 12 runners. Each runner runs 3 legs which are predetermined and listed with length and difficulty and you assign your runners from there. The first 6 runners are in van 1 and you rotate out with the next six runner after everyone has run one leg. I was runner 3, which meant 21 miles total. Our team had a lot of newbie runners, so they opted for the shorter legs putting them in van 2 and leaving me with a nice big empty van (well, Dustin had agreed to do it too, so I had a van of two). True to our team name, Commitment Issues, we had a hard time getting a full van of 6, but finally with less than a month to go, we had a committed six willing to run 110 of the miles. I should mention that what Van 2 lacked in experience they MORE than made up for with enthusiasm and team spirit. They were the drive behind the whole thing and without them it never would have happened.

Thursday night I was running around in full panic mode. 6 sleeping bags, 6 pillows, 6 reflective vests, my clothes, food for everyone, switching out the vans, stuff for all the kids, Ellie's concert straight to dropping them all off with friends. When I got to Karen's I literally started crying from all the anxiety and stress. I didn't want to leave my kids. I didn't want to run this at all. Why did I think this would be fun??

Finally I pried myself away so we could take off to the airport (which was a disaster because NASCAR was also this weekend) to pick up the only 4 runners friends we could talk into this (from NY, PA and TX) and proceeded to get a dinner of champions: Burger King. Because that is exactly what you want to eat before you're going to be stuck in the car with people for 36 hours. When finally reached Wickenburg and settled in for a total of 4 hours of sleep before we had to run and then... my sister took over my blog as I threatened to cut her baby's fingers off for touching my TV. She's a little hazy on the details because let's face it, she tuned in and out of the story several times, AND I've given her the liberty to make up any and all details so here you go:

At 4:30 the next morning we found out that we WERE THE NEXT CONTESTANTS ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT. But seriously, that was Brad's ring tone, and yes, it was the most annoying ever. I took it upon myself to be the perky one, does that surprise you? I gave everyone a good foot rub and a stretch out, we loaded ourselves into our stylin' mom van and hit the road.

Stop One: The Safety Briefing.

As you can see, Team Commitment Issues takes safety very seriously. In between hearing horror stories of head ons with semis and Brad feeling the need to rock a stylin 3-6 months size shark/dinosaur hoody we tuned out on safety and in on straight up fun.

Don't we look excited?
Before you wonder for the ten millionth time, IS DUSTIN HALF GIANT, the answer is, YES!

At 6:30, Brad, runner numero uno ran first for 8 miles UPHILL, Casey was #2 and then ME. This is the face that greeted me as my first seven miles was about to begin:
Well, that face and an anonymous runner about to be flattened like a pancake. Apparently we weren't the only ones who felt a certain way about a certain mandatory safety briefing.

And if you're wondering what the number one thing on my mind was at that exact moment: pooping. It should have been on how I was going to entertain myself for seven straight miles with nothing to stare at but the luscious brownery of deathly desert earth. But no. I was going through all my old pooping haunts on my regular runs. The gas station on the corner, an abandoned field, friend's houses. You get the point. It was a pretty boring run, I'll be honest, especially when you've got a one track mind on the porcelain god.

But I DID end up passing a man who informed me pre-run that I *might* possibly be able to pass him by the end... a hot minute later.

Don't you wish you had my arms? Ragnar 2012 will be done in the wheel-barrow position.

Then Sarah, then Dustin, whose music mishap did NOT send him into a deep enough depression to make him even half desperate for a radio disney-fied IPod, courtesy of yours truly.

Dustin took us into the exchange to switch off with Van 2 who greeted us with chocolate chip cookies (guess who ate them all) and oreo truffles. I *heart* van 2. They were all showered and clean and still excited for the run ahead of them. We were tired and stinky and desperate for icees.

We hit up Cracker Barrell where I ate food that weighed more than my youngest two children combined. And lots of water, to pad the fall. No seriously, I replaced my entire blood supply with water. Ice water. And a chicken sandwich.

Next we hit up Lifetime Fitness to work out. No point missing out on a routine and a creepy naked gym shower. Oh and a eucalyptus steam bath. Please note, that THIS, as opposed to the rest of the story *did* indeed happen (only we didn't work out, we stretched out).

And then we went all hobo and slept on the front lawn of a random high school until the exchange. In the middle of the night I woke up to find a cougar standing over me. And by that I mean my husband, Dustin Robin Rogers, BYU fan, extraordinaire.

After a seven hour window of opportunity for an early evening meal, we started our second leg energy free and in a frantic panic to get to Subway. We dropped Brad off for his first run with the promise of a hearty foot long by the end of it. Well, thanks to lax immigration laws, language barriers and the hazards of the food service industry we wound up late at the exchange, the clock ticking away time.

After that we all committed ourselves once again to Team Commitment Issues, kicking it into high gear. And that was before my night run became a high adventure nightmare.

We live in the suburbs, of a desert. On a clear day in Arizona you can see 600 miles, because there are no hills. Okay, that was clearly a lie. You *could* see 600 miles if it weren't for the mass exodus of people that have made their way to Arizona and populated it greatly. So to prepare for my climb through the mountains I did stairs: in a well lit, expensive parking garage in a Beverly Hills-esque mega mall. But in the pitch black, I took an off roading acid trip run into a whole new world of magical terrain. Sand, dirt, mud, sprouting wings and running straight on top of a lake, you name it, I did it. Wild Cat Spotting Total for the run: 6 coyotes, 1 cougar and a werewolf. He looked a great deal like Jacob to be honest. And at the end I felt like this:

But our van kept chugging along. And by chugging I mean speeding, quickly and without pause. The chair people of the race even nicknamed us team lightening for our relentless speed and dedication to all things Ragnar. Even if on the inside we felt like this:

And by the time our van finished we headed to the community center for some zzz's. D. Robin Rogers brought an air mattress for added comfort but when I met the glares of running demons being awaken from their exhausted slumber at the sheer volume of an echoing air tank I pretended not to know him.

By the time we hit our third run we were ready to be showered, done and have a medal around our necks. So we decided to absolutely kill our expected times. 7.7 miles in under an hour for me thankyouverymuch.
And that's the anti-climactic ending to the adventure that was Ragnar Del Sol 2011.

And of course, one last shout out to my wonderful sister who literally blogged this for me with a poem she wrote me the evening before, in less than ten minutes, please note the line about me almost dying, it is highlighted in bold for your pleasure:

You’ve trained and trained, you’re fit and trim
But now it’s time to sink or swim
That pun, in this case, just made no sense
For running is the talent with which you are blessed

...So off to Ragnar my sister does go
It’s going to be hard and might even blow
But conquer it she will for she is a beast
Her reward will be glory and a calorie counting-less feast

Maddy you are, the world’s greatest inspiration
To go on this journey without the slightest hesitation
Climbing mountains and dodging the fastest of cars
Filling your car with oranges, knives and granola bars

In the middle of the night you’ll be strutting your stuff
While I’m sleeping like a baby you might huff and puff
But a runner’s high like absolutely no other
Who knows, by the end, you might shout, “LET”S DO ANOTHER.”

I think you are crazy, but seriously the best
The perfect big sister who aces every test
You make us all proud with your energy and heart
Now go off on your journey and do your part.



For Girl's Camp they have asked the leaders to preform a 3-5 minute "talent." Now, I don't think I'm talent-less, but pretty much all of my talents do not lend themselves to a 3 minute demonstration on stage. I really dislike the whole idea of forcing people to fit their talents into a performance.

When I was in HS my Principal asked me where I was going to college, I said BYU. He didn't believe me because he didn't think I was Mormon. When I insisted that I was, he said, "But, you don't sing." There are so many fantastic talents that don't involve singing, dancing, music, acting. . . and sometimes it feels like if you can't do something along those lines, you must not be talented. So in honor of all the others out there who don't fit the "Mormon Musical" mold, I give you a list of some of my most amazing talents:

1. Super Hearing -- I can probably hearing you chomping on your cereal right now. And I'm probably annoyed. Nothing can drive me crazier than my dad eating a banana. And poor Dustin cannot fall asleep before me at night, because if he so much as *breathes* loudly I will kick him for waking me up. I know each time my kids go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and I know when they are sneaking food out of the pantry. They think I'm some sort of psychic genius, but it's my crazy ability to hear every single noise.

2. Super Sweet Tooth -- I have never met a dessert I didn't like. I can inhale a dozen cookies in less than 5 minutes. Especially if they are warm and I have a mug of milk. I remember someone offering me *a* cookie once and being totally confused. Did normal people only eat *one* cookie? Because I wanted 5! Luckily, I'm pretty good at making treats, so I can make myself something and gobble up half of it without anyone knowing how much I ate. Then I will force the other half on my friends or children. My kids actually turn down sweets because they are so prevalent at our house.

3. Super Speed -- I can accomplish 8 tasks in a single bound. When I decide to do something, it gets done, and it gets done ahead of schedule. I even eat fast. It does mean that I'm usually waiting on other people a lot, which just gives me *more* time to get stuff down. And then I sit around and wonder why everyone I know is so slow (mostly my husband).

4. Super Bossy -- There are million things I want to do and I probably want you to do them with me. I will then convince you that running dozens of miles each Saturday, dressing up in 1920'a garb, or driving all over the East Valley with nothing but random clues is the best idea ever. (see don't I look convincing??)
Then at some point I will come up with another brilliant/fun/super awesome idea and decide that I don't want to be in charge of it, so *you* should do it. And you will because I made it sound so glamorous. I will then remember how bossy I am and start interfering until I have pretty much taken all control back.

And so I ask you -- which of these talents should I share on the stage at Girls Camp?