Tuesday, December 27, 2011

gettin our craft on

Christmas for the Holmes girls:

The unidentifiable princess on the far right is actually a prince with Justin Bieber hair.   These little figures fit perfectly in the Tonka ambulance and helicopter, so these princesses are rescuing/being rescued left and right.

Christmas for the Otto boys (and each of our Primary kiddies):

This one is Carson's, and Everett got a slightly smaller and thus easier version as well.

Parks families- don't show your kids this because they will probably receive the same or similar thing next year. Our creativity only goes so far.

Every Sunday for our Primary class:

Beau draws these for most of our Primary lessons. These are just a few of my faves.

Instructions for those who care after the jump.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

outtakes from my camera

Stay, Jimmer. 

See? That's cute. 

Face off. 


Also, demonstrating my Wolverine-like characteristics while Allison tries to come up with an idea for an X Men themed picture.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

frequently asked thru hiking questions

How long are you hiking?
The trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt Katahdin in Maine, around 2,100 miles. Most thru hikers start in GA, but an increasing percentage of hikers are starting in Maine and heading south (southbonders, or SOBOs). I'll be starting in the beginning of April in Georgia and finish 5 to 6 months later in Maine.

How do you get food?
The trail travels near and literally through towns. It seems like most thru hikers these days buy food along the way, but some still use the mail drop method, where they send packages to post offices all along the trail and pick them up as they get there. This sounds like a huge hassle to me to package all that and plan when you'll need food. Lucky for me, I can also send word to Beau and let him know if I'm going to need something in particular and he can mail it ahead for me to pick up. Post offices in trail towns are accostomed to holding packages for thru hikers.

Wait, so Beau's not going with you? YOU'RE GOING ALONE??
Yikes, chill out. No, Beau is not going with me. He doesn't want to, and I don't blame him. Not many people think walking for 5 months straight sounds as fun as I do.  But I wouldn’t say that I’ll be alone. No, I’m not setting out with a partner like some people do, but considering a couple thousand people attempt this every year, I’m pretty sure I’ll meet some people I like and generally stick with.  While of course I’d like the support (and sharing pack weight!) of having my husband with me, I’m confident that we can do this.  We happen to live 45 minutes from the mid point of the trail- Harper’s Ferry.  This works out quite nicely that I’m never more than a day’s drive away, so Beau will be coming to visit any weekend he can.  My parents, who have a goal of section hiking the trail (they have completed 500 miles so far) will probably meet up with me at various times as well.

Is it safe?
An observation: This is a common question I get from people who are unfamiliar with the Appalachian Trail.  Anyone who is familiar with the AT does not really question safety (with the exception of my dear grandma- but you're allowed to do whatever you want when you're Gram).  I'm actually surprised and a little amused at the reactions I've gotten from some people in regards to this topic. I have concluded that I cannot convince anyone who thinks thru hiking is unsafe otherwise. I think I will be just as safe thru hiking as I would be going about business in NoVa.  I recently read Women and Thru Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which gave me some good guidelines to follow about personal safety.  If you’re really really concerned, shoot me an email and I am happy to explain the safety precautions I will be taking.  If it’s any consolation, my dad is not overly concerned, and he is the most practical person I know.

Where do you stay along the way?
There are 274 shelters on the Appalachian Trail.  Shelters are usually 3 sided structures that sleep anywhere from 4-20 people in addition to tent areas.  I believe most, if not all, have water sources.  Thru hikers also frequent hostels or hotels, depending on budget and schedule.

Do people get lost? How do you know where shelters, water and towns are?
Getting lost is pretty difficult. The trail is marked by white blazes (paint) on trees or rocks the whole way.  There are actually two different and popular guidebooks designed just for thru hikers.  They list distances to the nearest shelters and springs and towns.  They also list what amenities the town has- grocery stores, hotels, dentists, laundromats, restaurants, post offices, etc. Sometimes they even have numbers of locals who will provide rides or help thru hikers out.
2,100 miles... 5-6 months... How many miles a day is that? Are you doing anything to train?
This, of course, varies per person.  People come in with varying fitness levels, but after the first several weeks, most hikers are doing 20 mile days on average terrain, and I've read tons of blogs where they're doing 25+ miles per day on easy terrain.  Of course, thru hikers take "zero days" in town every so often to resupply, do laundry, rest, etc.  So an average schedule would be wake up early, walk a bunch, have some snacks, walk some more, stop at a shelter for the evening, make some dinner, go to bed.  As far as training, they say the best way to train for walking up and down mountains with a pack on your back is... walking up and down mountains with a pack on your back. On the job training.  Of course, I'm going to continue running, cycling, going to the gym, etc., so I'll probably be a little more ready on the first day than your average bear, but everyone will be pretty evened out after a little while.

What about going to church?
I hope to attend church as often as I can.  That may end up being only once a month, but my plan is to contact the bishop or Relief Society president when the trail is within reasonable distance to a chapel and see if anyone in the ward would be willing to pick me up and give me a ride.  Maybe I can even get a shower out of the deal, too...
This is something I thought a lot about when I was first contemplating this whole thru hiking business.  In my church, the Sabbath is a day for rest and worship.  I don't think that sitting in a shelter all day on Sundays is really honoring the Sabbath much, but I would like to try to make Sundays a little different.  One idea I had was to put conference talks on an ipod reserved for Sunday use or having a more focused scripture study time.

Why do you want to do this?
That is an excellent question to which I am still forming a response.  The easy answer is that it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I think it will be one the coolest experiences of my life.  The more reflective (yet still brief) answer, is that I like to prove to myself that I can do hard things.  Yes, I like running and cycling- but running for 13 miles? That’s kind of hard.  Cycling for 100 miles? That’s really hard. Completing a thru hike is my ultimate bucket list experience. 

This was fun! Any more questions I can address?

Monday, December 5, 2011

family- isn't it about time? and food? and running?

Sometimes my family is so cool that we do themed dinners.  Egg-stravaganza! Soup night! Tuber-tacular!

A few weeks ago we had the much anticipated BYU foods night.  The menu:
bread and honey butter :: Sugar and Spice in the Cougareat
pasta salad :: the Skyroom
(And Dallyn, mid-bite)
J Dawgs, including the sauce (recipe here)
Navajo Tacos :: L&T in the Cougareat
(I see a suspicious lack of lettuce on Daren's birthday plate....)
Smoothies :: Jamba Juice
mint brownies :: Sugar and Spice... and any BYU catered event

Mackenzie Trivia: I have worked at two of the above mentioned establishments.

Continuing on the topic of delicious food, Beau and I went to Colorado for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time with the whole Parks family.  Ellen is always a great hostess to everyone and we enjoyed spending time with family and continuing the tradition of the desirable White Elephant gift exchange.
This is a lot of cuteness (and pregnant ladies and mustaches) for one photo.
Beau is so photogenic. And/or Jocelyn is just a good photographer.

My sister in law Alyse's child in utero has a serious birth defect that will require the baby to have all sorts of therapy and open heart surgery and other scary things. Please check out their website to learn more about the situation and what you can do to help.

Back on the East Coast, we went on a little jaunt to North Carolina to participate in the Mistletoe Half Marathon.  I am super proud of my mom for doing her first half!  Page and Rick and I planned on doing this a while ago, and for weeks I kept trying to convince Mom to sign up. I received very negative responses. Then, on Thanksgiving day I called to say hello from Colorado and she reported she had done 10 miles that morning and signed up that weekend.

Unfortunately none of us actually ran together because we were all different paces... but we all came through with Mom as she finished.

I did not train very well for this race- a combination of poor planning, lack of daylight, and some random tendon pain.  However, I am pleased to report that I finished at 2:07- a couple minutes faster than my last half. Go figure.

And a little programming note... get ready for more frequent posting and an inundation of thru hiking talk. :)