Monday, July 28, 2014


I hadn’t been on a school bus since my last fieldtrip while teaching in Arizona. It was cool Idaho morning with a slight breeze, with that smell in the air that reminded me of my first day of college. As we drove along the dirt roads of Oakley, passing adorable homes, barns, and acres of farmland, my stomach started to knot. This was it. This was the day I had been training for. This was the day I was set to accomplish my goal of running my first 10K. As we turned the final corner, my confidence sank. The described “hill” on the race map and by fellow runners on the bus was in fact a large, steep, rocky mountain. As we climbed, I could almost feel my lungs collapsing in, and my training along the beach in San Diego was going to do me no good compared to this thick, dry, mountain air.

There it was-- the starting line. As we anticipated the gun shoot to clear us to run, I sadly told myself, “There is no way. You have to walk this mountain. This race is now a 6.2 mile walk.” Seconds later, the gunshot went off and I was left in a trail of dust. I slowly began my up-hill climb with a few other participants. My watch quickly started beeping at me, alerting me that I was working above my heart rate level for so early in the race. I wanted to throw it off the side of the cliff. Of course I am working harder! I can hardly breathe, it’s hot, and I’m walking up a dirty and rocky mountain. I placed my hands on my hips as I slowly and defeatedly walked. After walking the slowest, hardest, and hottest mile, I looked up and saw it. There they were—Derek’s sweet aunt Tanette and sister Whitney. I thought, “Why aren’t they running ahead? They totally can and should!” They had turned around and were cheering, “You can do it! Come on!” It was right then I knew, I could get my confidence back. You see, they had run this race before. They knew the course; the rocky roads, the downward back switch, the long and straight flat road along a corn field.
From then on, the race became easier; I had a faster stride in my walks and runs because I had two people cheering and helping me along the way. We soon made it to the asphalt paved road and with ease, ran through town. When we turned the corner to the last straightaway to the finish line, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s run!” Soon enough, we heard cheering, clapping, and knew we were almost there. We were hot, tired, sore, and ready for our hot breakfast waiting for us in the park. Once we were closer, we saw all of our family at the finish line—they were waiting to welcome us across with congratulations. When we reached the line, we jumped for joy! We had done it! I had done it! The hugs, cheering, and love we got was so immense. These people had waited for us at this line. They knew we would make it. They cheered and yelled and hoorayed when we finished. They were proud.
This past Sunday, we had a lesson in church on trials. This scripture, in Doctrine & Covenants 100:12 reads, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.” Life, much like my race, is a journey. At times, we will have hills and mountains to climb. Other times, we might be easily coasting on the smoothly paved road. No matter where we are on our journey, there will always be those we look to when it starts to get hard. There will be those who may have had a similar experience before, or those who are just there for you, cheering you on with a smile and warm hug. The thing to remember is that finish line—we will always get there. We will get there through these people. We will get there through the confidence and determination we have in ourselves. We will get there through the help of our Savior, who will never leave us alone. When our trials come to the point of the finish line, we will look back on our journey; full of rocky mountains and hills, dusty and dirty roads, and the hot, hot sun and think “I did it. I made it. I crossed this finish line”. Oh what a feeling that is—when the race is over, and we are finishers.

Friday, July 25, 2014


This long weekend in Oakley was packed with more than I can even think to write about. From midnight Scrabble games, to slip n' slide baseball, early morning sunrise runs, and all the rodeo events in town, we kept busy while celebrating both a family reunion and the famous Oakley Pioneer Days Celebration. Between the 4 nights of rodeo events (including a demolition derby and gymkhana -- children's rodeo) we spent our days playing, eating, and enjoying time with family. We were lucky enough to finally find out the sex of Katie & Mark's baby, (it's a boy!) eat more cook shack hamburgers and fries then necessary, and watch the parade on Grandpa Smith's old gas station lot. On Saturday morning, my stamina and training were put to the test for my first 10K. I crossed the finish line to cheering family and Derek snapping away on the camera, and was so proud of myself! Although I couldn't walk without limping the next day, it was such an accomplishment.We finished the reunion and weekend out with a bang of spectacular fireworks and s'mores. This reunion goes down in the books as one of my favorites-- and a reminder of how much I love those muttin' bustin', rodeo riding, people in Idaho so much.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I think it's safe to say I am slightly obsessed with using mason jars in my everyday life. Pen and pencil caddy on my desk, a vase for fresh flowers, drinking from them at dinner parties, and for the first time, using them in a new favorite no bake treat for this past weekend. These mason jar berry cheesecakes are perfect for entertaining, which is exactly what I used them for. A festive summer dinner party was the books for Sunday night and these did not disappoint. With our A/C motor burning out on us, and my strict policy of not using the oven in the summer, I needed something quick and cool to whip up for our guests. These berry cheesecakes were the final product, and they were delicious. Served along side extra berries and almonds, these received high praise in both taste, and the cuteness factor. I mean, seriously, how do you not love something that comes in it's own little jar?

Monday, July 7, 2014


This year for the 4th of July, we spent time with our favorite things: family, friends, and food. Friday was a full beach day enjoying the awesome waves, building sand castles, and playing with our adorable cousins who were in town visiting. That night we feasted on classic BBQ favorites and munched s'mores while watching the fireworks. On Saturday we ventured out to a local favorite for carnitas tacos before heading over to Night Zoo to explore the animals at night. We had an almost empty zoo to ourselves and enjoyed the usual sleeping animals at dusk where they when more active. The koalas gave us a show and came down from their trees to play and pose for photos. It was a great weekend remembering the freedoms that we are lucky enough to have in this day and spending time together.