My plunge into the cycling world

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The Team-Libby’s in the middle. I would ride 100 miles for these girls.

So there I was, sitting with my group of girlfriends enjoying eggs benedict for brunch on the weekend. Libby looked at me and said, “you have to join my team.” I really like Libby. She could have told me to join her team to wrestle rabid wild boars and I would have said, yes! sign me up. “Little Red” she said, “We’re all doing it” she motioned to the rest of that gals at the table, all nodding their heads at me. “It’s the best” “So easy” “They have men driving the route begging to change your flat tire” “Diet Coke on tap” “Peanut butter sandwiched with Oreos at the rest stops” “no hills” My head was spinning…and I get to hang out with you girls too?! Sweet, I’m in! I thought I might be saved by not winning the lottery to get in, but Libby assured me that she’s really lucky and ALWAYS gets in. We did and now I’m committed.

Slow ha ha. why didn’t I think about the fact that I have never ridden a bike longer that 20 minutes my entire adult life. or the fact that I don’t even own a bike helmet. No, I didn’t stop and think I may not have time to train for a 100 mile bike race . Nope, I’m on LIbby’s team, The team, and I’m still very excited about the thought of doing a bike ride with my friends.

I’ve always been good at things I’ve tried. Roller skating, stilts…what have you… Road biking, sure, I can do that. Let’s try. Slower ha ha. This is kinda hard. Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Sometime in 2006 I went to a spinning class. After 60 minutes of the hardest workout my heart has ever managed. I fainted into the instructor’s arms while asking her some questions after class. Mortified after I woke up on the floor with her looking over me, I reassured her that, no, she didn’t have to call my mom to drive me home. I have not stepped into a spin class since. Well, until now. I’m killing it in the spin class. I totally pretend to crank up that resistance and pretend I know WTH she’s talking about when she asks “how my base building is going?” But, hey I get there, I sweat and I smile and I sing to the music only going “breathless” when she instructs us to. Five classes in and I’m an expert.

So I’m borrowing a road bike from my super cool sister-in-law. I’ve got the clips, the shoes, the gloves, and yes the helmet. I hop on the bike to ride to work. First time on a road bike EVER. First turn on a road bike EVER. *WHABAMM* I hit the pavement. Turned too sharp, too fast, not concentrating, gravel, I don’t know what happened except that the yard worker at the post office saw everything. But, I’m fine. A little road rash makes me feel young again and I saved my chin from stitches with my thumb that feels broken most days now. But I rode away unscathed. The adrenaline actually helped me up that darn hill to Huntsman. And I’ve successfully ridden to work 3 times since then without falling, so I’m getting my confidence back.

I live on Sunnyside Ave-one of the most popular biking routes in the city-my training ground. So far I’ve made it 30 minutes up. I am still learning how to ride and the downhill makes me so nervous I’m hear myself Lamaze breathing while I go. But hey, I’m on Libby’s Team and I’m super excited about that! I’ll keep you updated.

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How do I look? (Pre road bike)


Fullness Redefined

Last Fall, Brendan, Mr. Semi-rad, and I were emailing ideas back and forth about adventures that do not meet the definition you would find in Outside magazine. These were adventures that the Ueli Stecks of the world would never consider and your average Joe would think is a waste of time.  Things like a Grand Teton National Park road trip, 2 dudes, 1 Vespa. Or living on an inflatable island in the Great Salt lake for 3 days eating only egg salad sandwiches. Like I said. We were thinking outside the box. Of all the ideas discussed, one struck a chord. The Buffet of Buffets.

Every person that steps foot on the Strip has dreams of doing something BIG!  Some show up to spend thousands in a game of risk. Others arrive believing they are going to have a weekend full of sexual exploits. Some want to overpay to shoot automatic weapons and drive exotic cars. By far the most common dream that is fulfilled is the ability to be in public in the middle of the day, sipping on a beverage of choice from a 36 inch chalice. Mine was to Buffet it.
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Three things draw people to buffets in this country. The value, the quantity, and the variety. In just one place you can eat cupcakes and gelato first and finish with a salad and croissant. Or you can enjoy a feast of sushi, waffles, apple jacks and taquitos all on the same plate. The options are endless. The combinations are infinite. It is the blankest of canvases for the eater.  There is a place in this world where you can compound the greatness of a buffet and multiply the potential of human consumption and digestion.  It is in Vegas. Starting at $59.95 you can purchase a pass for the Buffet of Buffets.  5 all you can eat buffets, all within walking distance, for 24 hours. I do not consider myself a huge eater. In fact, I am not even a buffet connoisseur. But when it comes to getting my money’s worth, a buffet will not beat me.  The house will not win this bet.

Brendan and I meet at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning at the intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard. People exiting casinos are surprised that the sun is shining. The first person we see asks us “Have you guys been up all night?”  It is apparent that she has been. We enter the Flamingo hotel.  We pay our minimal fee for what we are about to consume. They give us our wrist bands and find us a table. We decide it is best to sit down and establish the ground rules. “What are we trying to accomplish here?” “What is our goal?” We spitball some ideas and agree that as with any adventure, we need to be flexible and willing to change our strategy as the day goes on. If we get stuck in our ways, we run the risk of failure and sucking the “fun” out of it.  We establish our objectives.
– 3 full plates of food and 1 dessert plate at each buffet.
– Time is on our side. No need to rush. We are here for the buffets so lets spend as much time as possible in buffets
– 1 Mulligan plate allowed if needed.
– We snap a photo of every plate before consuming.

And so we begin.

Flamingo – We were all smiles. Small talk, laughing at our surroundings, and enjoying the people watching. Feeling really good about the day and optimistic we will be able to accomplish our goals.

Harrahs – I think we sat at our table for 25 minutes before even looking at the food. We have a lot of similar thoughts on adventure and content and what makes life worth living. It was easy to get lost in conversation. But I think we kept talking just so we could stall the consumption of more food. On the second plate I find Brendan wandering back and forth in front of the food options trying to figure out what to fill his plate with. Again stalling. It felt good to just move and let the food in our already full bellies settle. We finish with ice cream and hit the streets for a few laps around the intersection to try and burn some calories.

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The Rio- Luckily the Rio is about a 3/4 mile walk away. At this point I was feeling maxed out. Doubting my abilities at less then half way through the challenge. We reach The Rio and feel slightly rejuvenated after our little walk.  I try to boost my energy with a large Coke. Why not add an additional 250 calories to this situation. I jump into prime rib here. I want to make sure I eat the classic buffet items at some point today. Cream pie and ice cream for dessert and we leave the Rio feeling absolutely wrecked.

Planet Hollywood – Realizing it was getting late in the day and our pace was slowing to a lethargic crawl, we go straight to the buffet.  While checking in I try to be friendly with Lynn, the lady running the register. “We are hurting. This is our 4th buffet of the day.”  She responds with bit of a scowl and says “Please don’t get sick here.” We did not heed her request.  Planet Hollywood became our crux, our summit push, the must make move on a class V rapid. And I bonked. I guess the opposite of bonk. I over consumed and under burned.  Two plates in I found myself face down on the table wishing the demon inside of my gut would crawl out and end my suffering.

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Paris – The final stretch. The pinnacle of our gluttony. I focused, kept my head down and powered forward. This was now business. We were long past pleasure. Finished it all off with a macaroon a high five. When it was all over I wanted to let everyone know what we had just accomplished. I just consumed 13,500 calories in one day. I spent 12+ hours in buffets. I set a goal and accomplished it.

As we sat watching the fountains of the Bellagio dance to the tunes of Frank Sinatra I envisioned a giant checkmark on my list of life accomplishments. Not because this is a bucket list item or that I have always wanted to eat way too much mediocre food. It was an accomplishment because it was an idea that became a plan, and then a reality. It happened. We did it.

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Army Birthday Party

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It was Emmett’s 5th Birthday and to celebrate we put together a simple and fun birthday party. The Army theme was super fun and available-camo is everywhere right now! I got some green face make-up on the Halloween aisle, put out our Army paraphernalia (vests, helmets, masks, grenades) and let the kids go to town.

Here’s our Basic Training Obstacle Course: Army crawl under rope, up and over the ladder, across the bridge, hop across the planks and target practice! We had a couple of tunnels to crawl through and boxes to jump over too.

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One activity the boys absolutely loved was flying Paper Airplanes. They each folded and decorated them with stickers and then we had throwing contests. They spent about 20 minutes tossing those things!

We also played “Army Tag” (freeze tag)

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IMG_4876Got these invitations at Target, along with the Duff’s Camouflage Cake Mix. The cake was yummy and looked super cool. I even used frosting from a jar, super easy! We had so much fun! Happy Birthday Emmett!!


My Grandpa Evan

He had the biggest heart, just bursting with love. When you spent time with him, even a moment, you were uplifted. He always had a smile and a witty greeting to offer. “Hi Grandpa. How ya doing?” I would ask.. “Great, but I’m going to get better!” or “If I was doing any better, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” He had these beautiful, blue smiling eyes. And a friendly, slightly off center smile.

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April 2009

 

These last few years he has been going downhill; hurting, fatigued, sometimes out of breath. But the last thing he ever wanted to talk about was himself and his problems. He and Grandma always asked about how I was and how Pitt was. They were completely interested in our lives, remembering details from previous conversations and sharing stories about other family members.

He could connect with children in amazing ways. Even just at the dinner table, he would catch their eye and make them laugh or help them find the hidden pack of M&Ms in his sock or quarter behind his ear. I remember when Emmett was 2, Granpda was visiting and all Emmett wanted to do was show him his toys. I tried to distract Emmett or excuse Grandpa from playing with him. But nothing would stop Grandpa from getting down on the ground, right on Emmett’s level to play. Grandpa hooped and hollered about this little ball and hammer ramp for 30 minutes with Emmett. It was unreal. Emmett was having a blast too! Grandpa loved his great-grandkids (30 of them) and wanted to see them all the time. How fortunate my cousins and I have been to have our kids build a true relationship with Grandpa Evan. They will miss him so much.

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April 2014 with great-grandsons Emmett, Cannon and Carter

His life was based around helping others. I was always amazed to hear, yet another story from someone about how Evan and Jean had changed their life. He lived close to the spirit and knew how to step into someone’s life at just the right time and in just the right way. Luckily, I was born into his life and I called him Grandpa from day one. But many have adopted him as their Grandpa too, and Grandma Jean right there by his side.

He loved to work, a trait perhaps lost on my generation (or at least me) But he always had a project going. When I was a kid, we grew up 10 blocks away from Grandpa and Grandma so many Saturday mornings they would have us over for breakfast. We would have sourdough pancakes. While Grandma was cooking, Grandpa would come in the door fresh off his morning jog. I can still picture his smile and awesome 80s jogging suit and Reeboks. He didn’t waste a moment worrying about himself, he jumped right in, greeting everyone and helping Grandma with the breakfast. After breakfast, he usually had some jobs to do in the yard. I remember pulling weeds and planting flowers, but mostly rolling down their grass hill and climbing on the trailer in the empty lot next door with Craig and Bryan. In 2006 Pitt and I moved into our house we planned to paint our house sage green, paint the windows, trim, doors and hang new shutters. We asked our families to help. The morning of the house painting, Grandpa was the first one here. He drove from Logan and knocked on our front door. I scrambled out of bed and opened the door to bright-eyed Evan, sitting on my porch, with his own paintbrushes in hand. “Rise and shine” could have been his life motto. I learned a lot in that moment, feeling a little foolish that I was still in my pajamas. He didn’t say a word about it though, just gave me a hug and asked me where he could start. It was so great to have him there. He pitched right in, painted all our shutters and kept everyone’s mood light and cheerful throughout the project. I think he loved it. He never wanted to miss a thing. After he got placed on Hospice care, he was sure to tell my mom that he didn’t plan to miss anything. “I’m going to everything,” he said. Including baby blessings far away, missionary farewells, Frozen birthday parties and Memorial Day in Portage. Those are days none of us will ever forget. He and Grandma’s presence is always special. 

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Blowing kisses to Emmett in the car as we drove away June 2014

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Meeting Hollis Oct 2013

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With Emmett at Chuck-a-rama

Now he is gone and I find myself lingering on those sweet memories. Even as I’m writing, more rise to the surface.

He had kidney failure and opted-out of dialysis. His end-of-life was quite predictable and progressive and he was able to say goodbye to many friends and family. Grandpa was supportive of all our endeavors, dutifully attending graduations year after year-he even went to the ones at Mountain Crest. So the least I could do was be there for him, when he finally let us know he needed help. 

I was fortunate enough to be with him almost until his last breath. He was surrounded by family, at one point 18 of us in the room with him, even my Emmett. He couldn’t talk but I could tell he wanted to. He wanted us to stay, he wanted to visit and tell us how much he loves us. Grandpa, we know you do. You told us all the time that you loved us, no matter what. Your love was and is always there. We know and we will never forget it. No one loved us better and we miss you already.


#Asawesomeasitcanbe

Do you ever think you have it figured it out? You have your routines. You have your standard trips you go on every year. You know what to expect and what you are getting into. That maybe it is not as special because you have done it before. Well sometimes you need a reminder to show you how special every moment can be. Don’t take for granted the moments that seem routine just because you are in your comfort zone.

Each year my kayaking buddies and I make the pilgrimage to what we consider the promised land. You see living in Utah and being a kayaker has it’s challenges. It is kind of like being a skier and living in Wisconsin. Not ideal.  We have sparse water, not many large rivers and the creeks that do run during run off teach you to not flip over or you will lose your face!  Luckily Utah is situated just south of what is known as the whitewater state, the land of water and wilderness, the great state of Idaho.  If you live in Utah and you paddle, you either spend a lot of time in Idaho or you spend a lot of time staring at dry creek beds thinking about Idaho.  For this reason we have the annual trip to the Payette drainage. 4 days of endless whitewater, hot springs, great camping, and very minimal phone reception.  Paradise for paddlers if you ask me.
We always go in June when water levels are great and temperatures are high. This year I offered to give my sweet wife a break from taking on the kids alone while I run off on another adventure. I set it up so I would drop off my 4 year old at my sisters house in Boise on the way up. He would stay and play with his cousins for a few days and I would pick him up on the way home.  Amazingly enough, it all worked out.  So on Wednesday night we loaded the truck with all our gear to keep us entertained in paradise for 4 days and we left Salt Lake City. 4 kayaks, 2 surfboards, 4 grown men and one 4 year old named Emmett.
A couple of hours into the journey we made a pit stop. We loaded up on some snacks and drinks, made sure Emmett used the facilities and jumped right back on the road. Up to this point I had been pumping Emmett up and trying to get him stoked for the long late night drive.  Telling him how he is on a “dudes road trip”.  Or how we are so cool because he is on his first kayak trip. Every song that came on the radio with a good beat, Emmett would bounce his head or play a little air guitar. I could tell he felt pride in being on a legit road trip. It was at this moment that 4 grown men were blown away by the simplicity and stoke of a little dude having a brand new experience.  One of the passengers looked over at Emmett and asked “How awesome is this Emmett?” Emmett keeps jamming to the tunes and replies from his car seat “As awesome as it can be.”
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All four of us sat there slightly dumb founded by the simplicity of the statement. Emmett was completely right.  What seemed routine to me because I had made that drive a billion times was as awesome as it could be.  It didn’t matter where we were really going. We were getting after it and not letting the days go to waste. We were chasing passions and finding time in our busy lives to do something that we hold precious. It was as awesome as it can be at that moment.
The trip went off without a hitch. Emmett had a great time in Boise. We paddled as much as we could in 4 days and we all returned home to families, jobs and our busy lives. But one thing was different this time. We all appreciated the moments a little more.  Thanks Emmett for sharing your 4 years of wisdom. Every high five after a rapid or smile after a soak in a hot spring or greeting each other in the morning after sleeping through a rainstorm, the question was posed “how is it going?” The reply is now always the same.  “As awesome as it can be”.

Where were you 10 years ago? #tbt

I’ve been reflecting lately on the events from March 2004, a memorable and life-changing time for me.  I was living in Orlando, working at Epcot, making $6 an hour and having the time of my life.  I had a quick break in nursing school between my RN  years and starting my last year to get my baccalaureate.  Naturally, I took an internship with Disney World…makes no sense, right, but I loved it. I finally had one semester to enjoy college, instead of being at clinicals 26 hours a week, studying pharmacology and writing nursing care plans. Nursing school was a whirlwind for sure. I don’t remember a lot, including my professor’s names (weird?) but I have a lot of flash memories, consoling a patient’s mother after a scary diagnosis, learning to monitor a newly implanted pacemaker with external wires, helping 3 women give birth on my own 20th birthday, drinking a lot of Instant Breakfast and Go-Gurt in the car, showing up in the classroom in Ogden not really knowing how I got there. I was so tired and it was really hard. It was 10 years ago that I took my nursing exam while I was in Florida.  A friend drove me to the testing center and I passed on my first try. I’ve been a nurse for 10 years!

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Do you like my Mission: Space uniform?

Flash forward 10 years to the present.  I was lucky enough to be at Disney again, sharing the magic with all the Grewes, sharing all my insider knowledge and navigating the park like a pro!

Then I spent last night nursing Emmett, my most important patient back to health during his current cough and fever.

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If you want more, here’s more…

I was meant to be a nurse. It has been the perfect job for me. I spent 2 years working at a nursing home. Those are cherished memories and it was a special place. In fact last Halloween we took the kids trick-or-treating there and I saw two residents I cared for. I was able to tell them Hi and got emotional in the process. I learned a lot about compassion and hard work during that time.I did a 6 month stint in Post-partum care, this was a lot of fun.  I now laugh at my 21-year-old, confident self teaching first-time moms how to breastfeed and care for their infant. Did they even listen to me? If they did, I don’t know why. I’m sure I knew nothing. I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot about myself as a new nurse. I spent another 2 years at The  Cache Valley Specialty Hospital. This is where my first full-time, insured job was. Three nights a week, 6 pm to 7 am. Some nights we had only one patient, some night was had a full house.  Being in my hometown, I had the opportunity to care for loved ones, neighbors and friends. Then I made the wonderful move to Huntsman Cancer Hospital. I’ve been at that great place for the last 7 years. I spent 4 years on the surgical floor. Wow! This was an eye opener. I can’t even explain all the crazy surgeries and patients I’ve had in that time. It is still the craziest, busiest job I’ve ever had and can’t believe some of the miracles and tragedies I’ve seen. If you want to work hard for your money, work there. It is unbelievable. Since I had kids, nursing has still treated me well. I have bounced around the hospital for a time, trying to find a schedule that worked for my family, and finally feel at home. For the last 18 months I’ve been working in the Acute Care Clinic-an instacare of sorts serving the Huntsman population. I love my job and the people I work with and care for.

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This is the only pic I can find from work (at least from the digital age.) I think this was Thanksgiving Day 2008. Best crew ever! Ryan, Me, Kim, Bryn, Mary, and Emily-and Mollie’s finger.

Also, 10 years ago I fell in love with my Pitt-the most important and best thing that ever happened to me.

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Marco Island 2004


What a woman! Noelle Pikus-Pace

The commercials have worked and I’m now a fan of Noelle Pikus-Pace. It’s amazing what marketing does. Although, she deserves it. You HAVE to watch this interview with her from last night on NBC.

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I think America is connecting with her because she is a mom, one of only  3 other US Olympic athletes. When she won the silver, she was screaming “We did it!” And jumped into the stands to enjoy the moment with her family. Pure emotion, pure Olympic moment. She has definitely made known that her family comes first. Probably why she stands out from the crowd. Among other family members, her 2 kids were there to see her win yesterday. What a cool moment to witness for them. Those kids eat and breathe the sport just like their mom…

“They’ve been all over the world as a quartet for her competitions. She’s not the only Olympic parent, but she is the only one who travels to every competition and training with her entire family.

Parenthood among Olympic athletes is not common, either. In fact, of the 230 athletes who will represent Team USA in Sochi, just 22 have children. Of those, only three are mothers.” From Deseret News 

She is a Mormon too! In her immediate post-performance interview, she said “To the youth out there, remember who you are and what you stand for.” Can’t get more YW leader than that. I loved it! Go USA!! I’ll watch for a Church News article that is sure to come and post it here. You can follow Noellepikuspace on Twitter.

 


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