Thursday, September 27, 2007


As I've been preparing for this race, I have not been nervous at all, more like dreading the whole washing/packing ordeal for the 10 HOUR drive North! But today, finally, I am feeling relieved from the work, and the nerves are kicking in. WOW! There is a hill that has been appropriatly named the "Hill from (H-E-double hockey- sticks). It climbes 500+ feet in 1 1/2 miles, then slightly down, and then another 200 feet in 1/2 a mile! I get sweaty hands just thinking about it! At least, as you can see in this picture, there will be amazing surroundings and beauty to view all around me as I'm panting up the hills. And, at least it won't be 100 degrees.
I am really excited for this race. I'm so happy that Ryan is doing it with me (although I'll only see him for the first mile). It gives such a sense of accomplishment and conquering to know you've trained and completed something like this. Some day I will probably do the full 26 miles...we'll see how Sat. goes! So, we're off and we're reaedy! We'll be back Monday to let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


My family really enjoyed these festive cookies. They are more "bread-like" and not so "cake-like", and delicious with every bite!

1 c. pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
Nuts (optional)
Dissolve baking soda in milk; set aside. In large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg; stir. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda mixture. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

This soup recipe is one I got from of my all time favorites, (for Ryan and the kids too!). A bonus: it's super healthy!

Chicken Soup with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1/2 of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
4 c. Chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbs. lime juice (the secret, key ingredient :) )
1/4 c. cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can (14.5 oz. ) Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes (another key ingredient!)....these are not at every grocery store, so when you find them,
Top with totilla strips and avacado
*can sprinkle with red pepper flakes, yum!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finally Fall...

Now that the weather has changed from 103 degrees to a pleasant, crisp 65 degrees, we are anxious to move into our autumn mode. Like most people I know, the feeling of fall brings on the urge to snuggle, bake, eat delicious soups and enjoy time together doing more indoor things. Well, we love all of the above, but still like to play outside as much as possible! This tasty bowl of chicken soup is one of my new favorites and was the perfect meal to come in to after our new favorite fall event. Thanks to the recommendation of our friend Ali, we put a few drops of soap on the freshly-rained-on -trampoline for some slip-slidin' fun!

Of coarse, after playing in the cold, then eating hot soup, you gotta wash it down with these scrumptious pumpkin spice, chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk!

Oh, how I love the smell of rain and the feel of lounging in my comfy clothes, sipping hot chocolate. The kids get excited for the cooler weather and of coarse, Halloween, just around the corner! So many wonderful things to look forward to this time of year. Ahhh, it's finally fall!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Final Count Down...

Ryan and I officially have one week left until our half marathon race in Lake Tahoe! On Thursday we leave for a 10+ hour drive to Truckee and then spend all day Friday trying to acclimate to the change in elevation (hopefully that won't kill us on our run), then we race early Sat. morning! This is the first time we've done something like this together and I'm really excited. I'm proud of Ryan for doing this! He's really come a long way through all this training...he's gone from awesome to incredible! (too bad I used to beat him in our runs, now he smokes me!) I am looking forward to finishing this race and seeing what the outcome will be. I am also looking forward to seeing some friends and family there, even old friends from high school. Then, I'll be looking forward to taking a small "training break" for a little while, until I get the urge to enter another race. Here's to next Saturday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Series of Fortunate Events

You never really know what good fortune may come your way. This is a true Cinderella story. I, Ryan, wanted to take Kelly on a surprise date since it had been years since I did anything of the like. So Saturday night we headed off on a drive toward San Bernardino. Ya, there's not much out there. I told Kelly she could wear her cowboy hat and not feel out of place, and with the scenery of San Bernardino she figured we were going to a rodeo. Lo and behold as we drove to the mountains there's this huge pavilion that holds about 65,000 people and we parked. She finally figured out where we were when we walked up to will call and stood behind an old lady wearing a Rascal Flatts t-shirt. Who wears the bands' shirt to their own concert? 1984 what?

So, knowing my cool friend John (of Stars Align) I've personally associated with Joe Don Rooney of Rascal Flatts a few times and he hooked us up with some last minute tickets. Well, there are seats in the pavilion and behind those is the big ol lawn. We got lawn tickets. No complaints though, we were stoked to be there in the first place. After the opening act fortune #1 came our way. Two people mozied our way and asked us if we listened to K-FROG Country. I said "Why yes! its my #1 preset on my radio" and the (K-Frog radio) guy asked us if we wanted to enjoy the show from a closer seat. So we scored tickets to the middle of the seating area which was really cool.

Just then John called as the stage was transforming and said to find him. We did, gave hugs, and he pulls out an envelope with 2 tickets on the 3rd row. Fortune #2. He said that was going to be "home base" cause he pulled out the envelope again and gave us passes to go into the "pit" (the area between the cat-walk and front stage). Fortune #3. The show opened with lights and smoke and FIRE blasts and a whole lotta girlies screaming. We notice that the people up closer away from the lawn had a few more values in life. Anyway, the show rocked! Rascal Flatts was walking around us on three sides all night as we threw hands up for high fives. In fact, one of their encore songs was Life is A Highway and I found this video on You Tube.
It was really cool when Gary brought up a little girl on stage with him, but if you wait till the end, you will see some girl in an orange shirt rocking out on someone's shoulders... that's Kelly. Around 3:40 into it. It even ends on Kelly throwing a double-rocker into the air!! HA!! So funny. But you can see roughly where we were. So we went from the seatless lawn to the spikkity front. How much better could it get?

Fortune #4. The show ended and John grabbed us all by the hand and we cruised back stage. We hung out with the crew waiting for the Rascals to surface, and John, having magical human powers, walked us right past the guards and into the bus zone. These were no buses. These were million dollar homes on wheels. And they were next to the 12 semi trucks loading up the stage and show. We scoped around and ... oh, what's this? Oh, it's just Joe Don's private motorhome/bus that he and his lovely model wife live on while touring. So John, Kelly, and I went aboard. There was pizza there on his table so we helped ourselves. (If you're reading this Joe Don, John took the first piece then Henry gave me one so sorry, but thanks, I was starving). So we're in their tour bus eating their pizza after the show. John had music business to discuss and so Kelly and I took off for home. Fun night. Awesome. Wish I could do it again. Many thanks to Joe Don for the tickets and to John for the advancements.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Seismophobia, じしん, Call it What You Want

If there was an Earth-riders club I'd probably be a member of it. It doesn't seem that long ago when I woke up on Jan 17th around 3:30AM to a 6.7 earthquake in Northridge, CA. It was so jolting that I actually had nausia sickness, coupled with my nerves of course. I remember that night well. The foundation of our house even cracked and put a small step in our family room. You really begin to appreciate the powerful forces of the earth and how helpless we really are. After all, there really is nothing we can do to prepare for an earthquake, just the aftermath. Unlike fires, floods, hurricanes, we never know when it will hit or where, and when it does, you have to make best of the ride. I think we all have Seismophobia to some degree. I think our brains experience shock when in one second your walls start shaking and it sounds like a freight train is in the house.

Well, this is where the story gets good. It seems even yet not so long ago when I was awakened on Jan 17th near Kobe, Japan to the sound of rattling wndows and a very very large freight train inside my 4th floor apartment (of 8 floors). Wait, you ask... wasn't that the exact same day as the Northridge earthquake? Indeed. 1994 and 1995. I immediately knew what it was before pounding began. I knew immediately that this was no Northridge, I was in for a ride of my life, one in which I was sure was going to end it. A 7.2 quake hit Awajishima, barely off the coast of the mainland about 8 miles away from me. I took an elbow to check on my new green companion when it hit. It was so incredibly forceful, there was nothing you could do. If you managed to get up on your knees you'd be bounced back like a flopping fish out of water. After a useless struggle, I conformed and stared at the cieling awaiting my death. This was one of the few times in my life where I was absolutely sure I was going to die. Being at the complete mercy of a greater power is very humbling. As the quake rolled on and on I became even more certain of it.

Somehow I did survive. But there were 6500 people who didn't and tens of thousands who were now homeless. I saw smokestacks fall from my bedroom window and factories blow up in huge flames. Needless to say our missionary work was halted somewhat and we began a relief effort with the US Army supplying food, water, clothes, and sanitary needs. But for some, our effort entailed digging for remains and finding those who didn't make it. The crematories were beyond their capacity so the bodies were temporarily laid in the cultural hall at the church. One of my English students lost all three of their children and one of my companion friends shared his experiences of atempting to revive a few. These are hard memories to shake. Nonetheless there is something to learn by it.

Appreciating life is a whole lot easier when you know your days are numbered, whether by months or seconds. And as for earthquakes, well, here's the honest truth about it. If we ever get a quake strong enough to do such damage (and we probably will), you certianly won't be running down the halls to save your children. Think floppy fish. So you have to just ride it out and if possible, get away from glass or large heavy things that could fall on you or your kids. But they come so unexpectedly that there is no real defense. So ride it out, and even try to enjoy it. But to be honest, every shaker I get here takes me back to that day like I was flashbacking to Nam. However, I continue to survive. All I can say is ... bring it on.

(these photos are my own. wish I had my good camera for this, but I had to be descreet. Home owners were usually around wondering what to do so taking pictures of it felt really out of place. And don't ask how that mini truck got on top of the other one. This whole city block burned down.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I designated yesterday as "get prepared day". We already had 5 72-hour kits put together...but they were over a year old. The clothes were too small for the kids and the food certainly needed to be changed out. So, after many hours of emptying out the old, shopping for and packing up the new, they are all FINALLY finished! I can now sleep more peacefully at night.
I had no idea what was involved when putting together 3 days' worth of food and clothes for a family of 6!!! And that is just planning for the BARE essentials. With all the little earthquakes we've been having, I feel like I've been given fair warning to get my act together. Yea! it's done (until April, when we'll go through it all again! ).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I have seen large produce grown in many gardens, but I think THIS one takes the cake! Our zucchini plants had died and weren't producing any more (or so I thought) and so today I figured I would remove the hideous looking, brown plant from our front-yard-"garden". As I pulled the second one out by its gnarled roots, it felt oddly heavy. Sure enough, when I looked down, this beastly squash was hanging, and dragging on the ground! It's like child #5! It's hard to believe a vegetable of this proportion could "hide" under all those leaves, but it sure did! I think I'll seed it and freeze it for future use...we've now got a head start on our "year-supply".

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What a Ho-Down! (Updated Photos)

Our Beach House Vacation was WONDERFUL!! Good company ( all my brothers, their wives & kids, Mom and Dad, G'ma & G'pa and Aunt Chris), good weather, good food, and good times! We played in the water, played games, and had a good ol' fashioned cow boy ho-down! It was a blast...complete with stick horse races! The ten grandkids (and one on the way) loved to run and play and swim together. Uncle Rob won the "best babysitter" award for building a sandcastle with my kids while the girls all shopped in Ventura. In town, the thrift stores galore and boutiques everywhere made it easy to find treasures.

More Pictures Here
The last night at the beach house, we always do a theme night. This year, obviously, it was a cowboy theme. It was so fun! Mom made "Wanted" posters for all the grandkids and hung them all over the kitchen. It was a great way to send the summer out...and as always, we can't wait until NEXT year...a sweet Pirate theme awaits us. Most of all, we are thrilled that Mom and Dad could be there with us and that Dad's health allowed for good times to still be had! Thanks Mom and Dad for a wonderful 4 days in Ventura! We loved it!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Vacation Finale!

Tomorrow marks the day of leaving for our last vacation of summer '07. It's been a fun, busy summer, and school is already in session, but you can't seem to keep our family from one last party. This is actually the vacation we look forward to all summer...and we have to wait the longest to escape for this one last hoorah. So, Ventura Beach House...HERE WE COME! 4 glorious days of sand castle building, kite flying, wave dashing, game playing, hot tubbing, and food- glorious food! AND of coarse, the annual "girls' day" in down town Ventura; hitting every boutique and thrift store around. Ahhhh, how I wish I were there already...I guess I better start packing!