Saturday, November 15, 2014

The bike race

(written by Mike)

Living in the midwest, I was exposed to a phenomenon called "Gravel Grinding".  My guess is that it's the midwesterners answer to the lack of mountains and therefore true "mountain biking".  The more I dug into the subject, the more fascinated I became.  Races that I had never heard of, The Dirty Kanza, Gravel Words, and The Almanzo 100 were so popular.  Each had their own distinctness and unique challenge.  I decided the Almanzo 100 was the one I wanted to try.  Mainly because it takes place in southern Minnesota and it gave me an excuse to go back to the state that I really grew to love!  

Registration was simple.  Mail in a postcard with your name on it, and check to see if you made it in.  As I registered, I asked my friend back in Utah, Scott Rice, to join me.  Not really expecting him to take me seriously, I was totally surprised when he said he was in!  

The day prior to race day, Scott and I drove the 4 or so hours to Austin, MN where we would stay the night.  The next day we lined up with over 1,000 other racers.  The race, which was actually closer to 103 miles, took us through some of the most beautiful terrain in the midwest.  Rolling hills, small towns with little white churches, beautiful valleys with trout streams meandering through the middle, and did I mention hills?  This part of Minnesota is incredibly hilly!  Total elevation gained over the 100 miles was close to 8,000 feet!  Ouch!  Riding next to horses, tractors, and all things rural, it was breathtaking.  

This race left a mark on me.  I often found myself a little melancholic as I rode.  For some reason, I knew I would soon be leaving this part of the world.  At the time, I didn't know we would be moving back to Utah, but something was telling me, "Enjoy this, for you won't be here much longer".  I will miss the midwest, and this race really incapsulated many of the things I enjoyed about my time there.  The scenery, the wholesomeness, the simplicity, and the people.  What a blessing!  

I've already told Scott that we will be making another trip back to do this race again!


While Max was at soccer practice one evening, the girls and I hung out at the playground.  We have lots of fun memories of this park - from church picnics, to playing at the playground, to watching countless soccer games.

Preschool Graduation

She loved every minute of it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The girls

There's always a point in my pregnancy where I'm filled with mixed emotions.  I realize that my time is short with the family "as is" and start to worry that I won't be able to capture moments with the kiddos like I had before. 

Here's some pics I snapped of the girls - trying to capture those "moments."

This girl LOVES SOCCER.  She smiles the whole time.  

 Max took this one (I think!?), but Tayler loved looking at herself through my sunglasses.  I love having this pic of her sitting on my lap with my growing belly.
 These two, after moving into their room together, turned the soon to be baby's room into their reading spot.  They'd pass books back and forth.  Books are probably Tayler's favorite thing.  I love that Alexis has the patience to sit and look at the same ones over and over with her.
 Sisters playing dominos.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


The weather all spring had been pretty wild.  So many big storms, and we had been pounded with some insane amounts of rain (6+ inches in a storm).  It was mothers day, and we were sitting in our family room when Max looked out the window.  It was late afternoon, and his eyes become huge.  

"Mom, LOOK at those clouds!"  They looked like little marshmallows lined up next to one another, were moving at a good pace, and seemed to cover the entire sky.

He ran to get one of his books, turned to the page, and said, "LOOK!  Those clouds are exactly like this picture, and this book says those clouds come before a major storm."

Then he started to get a little panicky, so I downplayed the whole thing.

Sure enough, a couple hours later, the storm rolled in.  Then the sirens turned on, so we all headed down to the basement.  Mike stayed upstairs (as he often did), to check the weather on TV, and to watch the storm from the windows.

About 5 minutes later he came downstairs and had this look on his face.  A little different look than usual.  The kind of look that you don't really like to see.  

So, I checked the weather on my phone, and sure enough, there was a hook of a tornado on the map, and it was headed directly at us.  

Mike later told me how the sky had turned completely green, and it was raining so hard, you couldn't even see the playset from our windows.  He said he felt the windows shifting, and knew we'd better all stay in the basement.

Did we end up in the tornado?  

An F1 made it's way through our town.  It missed us by about a 1/2 mile.  It destroyed SO MANY trees, a couple people completely lost their homes, and the damage from rooftops, fences, playlets, etc. was more than you could count.

While I can't describe the feeling of being in a tornado, I can tell you, the feeling of being "close enough."  The noise in unbelievable.  The wind coupled with debris makes you feel like you might not recognize things when you get back up.  The rain was so intense and so strong.

When we came up, we snapped a few pics (although they really don't do justice to it all).  Our home was actually protected by our neighbors behind us (they sat higher, and shielded a lot of the wind from our home).  Because of that, our playset was one of the few left standing and our roof/siding was intact.  We didn't know it then, but that turned out to be a huge blessing to not have to worry about that + selling a home just a few weeks later!

The backyard was a lake:

 Our chairs had been tucked into the table.  Essentially they were locked.  But the swirling circular winds lifted and threw the chair out onto the yard.  Again, so blessed it went that direction and not into our house.
 Just up the road, where the path of the tornado went.  I couldn't drive up further, but a beautiful farm home had been ripped up.
 So many trees uprooted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Campout and Girls night

 Mike and Max had their annual father/son campout.  Max was on cloud 9 to get to spend "guy" time.  They went with some good friends, and from what I heard, had a blast getting dirty and eating lots of junk food.

 Meanwhile, the girls and I enjoyed a girls night.  Dinner, movie and painting toenails.  They were perfectly pleased, and I loved that simple things are so enjoyable.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Big Girl Bed

Tayler had completely boycotted her crib, and any form of her crib for a couple months.  Once she figured out how to climb out of it, she was done.  So we took off the front, she still hated it.  So we took the crib apart and put just the crib mattress on the floor.  She wanted nothing to do with it.  Where did she sleep?

On the floor.  Next to the door.  Every night.  Easily, for two months.

In May, we realized it was time to get her an actual bed.  And since we knew the girls would be sharing a room when the baby came, we figured we'd get that rolling too.

Man, these two were so excited to be together.

Tayler was so excited to be in her bed!  She couldn't wait to sleep in it.  Until evening came.

Then she went and slept by the door.

Habits are hard to break.  Even for 2 year olds.

As an update, she sleeps in her bed every night now.  Just took us moving, living in limbo for a couple months and then moving the bed to a completely new house, before she decided it was more comfortable than the floor!

 Snapped this one time when she did actually sleep in her bed - so she could see how comfy she looked!