Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!!

We heard a bunch of sirens coming down our street on Sunday night and we were worried that one of our neighbors was having an emergency. Nope, it was Santa Claus paying the neighborhood a visit courtesy of the local volunteer fire department. They ventured out, snow, ice and all to wish us all a very Merry Christmas so we wanted to do the same...

(Sorry about the blurry pictures, but you get the idea!!)
Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a good night!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blizzard of 2009

Since living in Maryland, I have poked fun many times at the way this area handles snow. If there is even a threat of snow, they will cancel schools and pretty much the whole town shuts down. In the three winters that we have lived here, we have never seen it snow more than about 1-2 inches.
The Friday before the storm was to hit, people were going crazy with trying to buy toilet paper, milk, bread, etc. It was nice to know that with our food storage, we could have survived several months before needing to restock so we weren't one of the "crazies" out that night! Plus we still kind of doubted that the storm was going to be that bad...
Well, we were definitely wrong!! Saturday we got slammed with a huge amount of snow. At the end of the day, we had accumulated about 17 inches of snow at our house. It was very pretty, especially since we had no place to go (although being housebound for a couple of days wasn't the most fun for any of us!!)
Most of the streets are clear now. They did cancel church yesterday and school today (in typical Maryland fashion, but this time it was merited!!) Looks like we'll be having a white Christmas this year!!!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

Maya did her best in trying to maneuver through the mountain of snow in our backyard...

Our "official" measurement of the day's damage...

The "calm" after the storm.

Pretty crazy stuff!! It was kind of exciting while it happened, but it also reaffirmed the fact that I will never want to live in a place where this is a regular occurence!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed...

Abby loves crawling into Landon's crib to get him up from his naps in the afternoon.

They both love to laugh, jump and play together...

Or take a little nibble on the crib rails...

We sure do love these little monkeys!!!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Citi Kids Party

Jason's work had a little kid's Christmas party a couple of weeks ago. Abby had a great time meeting Frosty...

And getting a candy cane made out of balloons...

But the highlight of the day for Abby was getting to meet the Big Man himself. As soon as she saw Santa, she gave him a giant hug!! (Which as you can see, really delighted Mrs. Claus!)

I wasn't sure what Landon's reaction would be, but he just stared at them for a bit and probably figured it was just another one of his parents' crazy shenanigans.

Abby was sure to tell Santa exactly what she wanted for Christmas...pretend make-up, a cat and a bike. (She has since changed her mind about the bike though so we had to mail a letter to Santa so that he would know that she wanted some doll diapers instead of a bike this year.) I think Santa can make that happen!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tree Lighting in City Park

Last Friday night we went to the annual Tree Lighting in City Park. We've been every year that we've lived in Hagerstown and it has become a fun tradition for us. Last year we froze our heinys, but this year we were better prepared and the temperatures weren't quite as bitter.
We spent most of our time at the petting zoo area. The last time we went to one of these (July), Landon loved looking at the animals but would not come close to touching them. A few months later, and he decided that the sheep were okay to pet (he still didn't want anything to do with any of the bigger animals like the cow and alpacas.)

Abby was working hard to feed the sheep although they seemed to be more interested in eating the hay off the ground than from her little fingers.

Ahhhh, the beauty and splendor of City Park at Christmastime!!!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Wonderland

We had our first snowfall on Saturday. Abby was so excited to go out and build a snoman. She especially loved putting the carrot in place for his nose. (All we had were baby carrots so it was a little funny looking, but she thought it was perfect.)
We got even more snow last night although a lot of it has melted already. Snow definitely makes all the Christmas lights in town look even prettier and puts us all in the Christmas mood!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like...


We put up our Christmas tree and decorations last week and it really looks festive in our home now.

Abby and Landon both enjoyed putting the few ornaments we have on the tree and dancing around to the Christmas music we had playing.

It's been a week now and so far the tree is still in one piece and hasn't fallen over yet (despite numerous attempts by kung-fu children.) We call that a SUCCESS!!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Day!!!

No blog posts between Halloween and Thanksgiving, huh? What a slacker am I!!!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with my two sisters and their family. We hosted it this year and we all enjoyed some yummy food prepared mostly by Jason (he brined our turkey this year and it was fabulous.) We also enjoyed lots of talking and gym time (the women) and lots of football and Wii tournaments (the men). Of course all of us enjoyed stuffing our faces in the name of good Thanksgiving fun!! We even ventured out on Black Friday for about an hour (we didn't venture out until after noon and only hit one store, but still scored some pretty sweet deals!)
Here we are enjoying our main meal on Thursday afternoon (notice the three levels of tables...adults, big-kids, and little-kids respectively!)

Grandma Julie was very admant that we take some grandkid pictures. I think this was about as good as we got...

All six Cleveland grandchildren....Chloe (age 11), Paige (age 6), Abigail (age 3), Tyler (age 3), Coldon (age 1) and Landon (age 1).

On Friday night we celebrated an early Christmas since everyone would be spending Christmas day in separate places. All the kids loved getting a little taste of Christmas a month early!!!

The cousins all had such a great time playing with each other (most of the time at least!) There was some serious lack of sleep going on, since most of the cousins shared the same room, but it was pretty cute to listen to them sing and talk late into the night.

And of course there was lots of "cousin-lovin" going on too!!

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday as well. Now time to get ready for Christmas!!! (And hopefully there will be more blog posts between now and then!!)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Haunting

Happy Halloween...

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...from two little monsters!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Pics (2007-2009)

Reynolds Farm (October 2007)
Summers Farm (October 2008)

Reynolds Farm (October 2009)

Wow, how time flies!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Patch 2009

For playgroup on Thursday, we headed up to Pennsylvania and enjoyed a beautiful fall day at Reynolds Farm. We admired all of the many pumpkins and gourds...
And enjoyed a fun-filled hayride to the pumpkin patch...

Abby picked out her very own pumpkin...

Then we spent the rest of the morning playing on the slides, in the sandbox, watching the goats and running around in the corn maze.
Of course we couldn't leave without our traditional picture by the pumpkin growth chart...
We sure do enjoy some beautiful country out here!!! I sure do love this time of year!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cheese Boy

This is what happens when you leave a bag of cheese just a little too close to the edge of the table...

And if you know about my love for cheese, you'll understand how tragic this truly was!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baltimore Marathon -- October 10th, 2009

From all accounts, the Baltimore Marathon was a huge success. I had these huge knots in my stomach with worry about something going wrong (injuries, sickness, weather, etc.) and just the idea of running 26.2 miles was rather daunting. I had three main goals going into this race...
1. To run a consistent pace throughout,
2. To finish strong
3. To enjoy myself.
I knew that I had put in the time and training and was just hoping that everything would work out right when it came to race day.
We met up with my two sisters and their families on Friday afternoon and picked up our race packets before carbo-loading in Little Italy that night. Fortunately the kids slept well that night in the hotel and I slept about as well as could be expected!
The race began the next morning at 8 a.m. and I was thrilled with my final results. I finished with a time of 4:38 (my first marathon took me well over 5 hours) and that was even with rain, wind and some nasty hills to contend with from miles 16-20. Most importantly though, I had a much more enjoyable experience overall. I gave"high-fives", smiled, laughed, pumped fists and waved when given extra hollers from the crowd and really just tried to take the whole experience in. It's not everyday that you have thousands of people cheering you on in accomplishing something so incredibly difficult. And I was able to kick it into high gear in the final home stretch, passing about 8-10 people along the way.
Don't these marathoners look like they're having a grand old time?!?!?

My sister Lara sustained a pretty severe hamstring injury just a few weeks ago which prevented her from running the full marathon. She did her own modified "marathon" that morning though, doing 20 miles on the stationary bike at the gym and then joining in on the last 6.2 miles of the marathon. Although she was disappointed with not being able to run the entire distance, I was so proud that she would even attempt to do what she did. Most people would have just bagged the whole thing!!

Me nearing the finish line...

The end is in sight...

My cheering section right about mile 9...

Don't let all my positive talk and smiles fool you though. This race was TOUGH!!! There were many times I would just repeat again and again to myself, "Just keep moving..." I had a really difficult time at Mile 12. It was kind of a boring part of the course, I had no music to entertain or distract me, my legs were starting to burn and I wasn't even to the halfway point. Talk about discouraging!! I started to let some of these negative thoughts in which of course dragged me down even further. Finally a clear thought came into my mind that told me very distinctly..."Yeah, this is tough. It's supposed to be tough. You knew it would be tough. So stop thinking about it being so hard and just do it!!" I realized at that point that I had two choices, I could wallow in the agony that I was experiencing at that moment, or I could acknowledge that it was tough and keep moving through it. Fortunately I chose the latter and ended up accomplishing something great. (Kind of like life, don't you think?)

Was running this marathon hard? OH YEAH.

Was it painful? VERY MUCH SO.

Did I ever want to quit? PROBABLY MORE THAN A FEW TIMES

Did I ever wonder "what in the world am I doing out here?" OF COURSE

But was it great... thrilling... exciting... wonderful... challenging... momentous... something I will remember and be proud of for the rest of my life? MOST DEFINITELY

So the question remains...will I do it again?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baltimore Marathon...Been there, run that!!

Just a quick update...the Baltimore Marathon was an amazing experience. The hills, wind and rain were a bit treacherous, but I felt good, no injuries, and I cut almost an hour off of my PR from last time (amazing what not being pregnant can do!!) More details and pictures to come soon...

Friday, October 9, 2009

This is it...

After months and months of training, the starting line of the marathon is now less than 24 hours away!! We head down to Baltimore in a few hours to enjoy the race expo, do some carbo-loading, and have fun with family (I'm running with my two East coast sisters so it's kind of like a mini family reunion in a twisted sort of way!!) We'll stay at a hotel in downtown Baltimore tonight and be up bright and early tomorrow to prepare for an 8 a.m. (EST) start time. Wish me luck, condolences, empathy, sympathy, or whatever else your heart desires. Until next time...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Born Learning Festival

On Saturday morning, we took the kids to the "Born Learning" Festival in downtown Hagerstown. They had a lot of different games, activities, prizes, free books and a free lunch from Chick-Fil-A. One of the stations was a dress-up area where the kids could choose what they wanted to be when they grow up. They took their pictures wearing the different outfits and made them into magnets for them to take home. I thought they turned out pretty cute. It was a really fun little festival and we got a lot of great creative learning ideas from it.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy General Conference Weekend!

In preparation for General Conference, I have been helping Abby learn the names of the 12 Apostles and members of the First Presidency this last week. I found these cute "Apostle Cards" here and made up a few games with them to help make the memorizing more fun. I'm constantly amazed by what this little girl can do!!!