Monday, May 18, 2015

Cycling Season is Here!

Cycling season proper is fully upon us (we don't count our 200 miles in April, those were preseason miles)! Despite a cool and wet spring, we are committed to getting in our foundation miles and are ramping up to the Huntsman 140 and Bike MS (150).

Steve's worked especially hard this year - I'm so proud of my biking man! Our season proper started with the Front Runner Century, a metric century (100 km) in Salt Lake. After last year's experience, I opted to hang out and watch the kids this year while Steve finished his first major organized ride.

Yes, he emerged with a finisher medal. And, yes, it was bigger than mine last year.

We continued our season's training with a ride up Provo Canyon and up and over the Alpine Loop.

It almost killed me.

Man do I need to train more.

And, no, Steve did not have this euphoric grin on his face the whole ride - I'm pretty sure he was mugging for the camera.

We made it! 3200 feet up up up!

And this weekend I'm proud to announce that we completed our first full century of the season and Steve's first 100 mile day! Go Team Morningstar!

The Gran Fondo Salt Lake was not an easy course, and Saturday was not an easy day to ride. The day was windy and rainy and the course did a reasonable amount of climbing (2500 feet) but we stayed strong and did not wuss out. We earned those finisher medals!

And as an added bonus, when you're basically the last ones on the course, they send you home with a full case of Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches! That's all the finisher prize we could ever need.

Although we wore our hard-earned medals around all day, the kids seemed unimpressed by our victory. But if you want to prove that you're big stuff to your kids, just bring home 125 ice cream sandwiches and tell them it was your finisher award.

Instant respect.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Perfection - Dirt, Rocks, and a Whole Lotta Nothing

As previously described, our April was pretty hectic. So when given the choice of how to spend Mother's Day weekend, the decision was easy - I wanted to be out in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception, a book, my family, and plenty of rocks for that family to climb. The choice was easy - we were headed to Goblin Valley State Park!

Goblin Valley is surrounded by miles and miles of basically nothing - BLM land in the San Rafael Swell. It's great - you just follow one of the nameless dirt roads until you find a place you like, let the dog and children roam free, and set up camp! And the bonus is that if you decide to romp in the BLM lands that surround the state park there are plenty of hoodoos for kids to climb and explore while the adults sit. Ah, marvelous sitting. I've missed just sitting.

If you like dirt, rocks, and a whole lotta nothing, it's paradise.

Ben's unicycling skills allowed him to explore the dirt roads around our campsite
Hoodoos provide endless climbing opportunities, and our children have endless climbing energy
We did also save a little energy for some card games
My perfect view
Heading into Goblin Valley for some more romping
Sasha manages to make even goblins look sweet
Last stop - Little Wild Horse Canyon
The perfect hike to finish out our Mother's Day weekend
Did I mention endless energy for climbing?

Our Mother's Day weekend was a total success - plenty of sitting, great weather, fun hikes, and all surrounded by my very favorite people. I am one blessed mama for sure - on Mother's Day and every day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Reflections on Hogar de Amor - Sam

I think that my favorite thing about mexico was interacting with the kids. Pretty much everybody on the team it will say the same thing, but that doesn’t make it untrue. The kids are just so fun and resilient. They could fall down and scrape their knees and still get right back up. You just don’t see that in american children. That was my favorite thing about Mexico by far.

Of course, there is something to be learned from their attitude in that example. If these tiny kids can get up after a fall like that, well, lets say I could not, especially at their ages. I think I learned that I need to be stronger at times like that, be they big or small.

My Mom asked me if I thought that they don’t cry because they think that nobody’s coming to help them, but I don’t think that’s true. I think that they just know not to worry about the small things and save the crying for the big stuff.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Reflections on Hogar de Amor - Ben

What's special about Mexico to me is being there with the kids. I've been for three years and each year I've come back to see the kids again and help with things around their house, like painting and cleaning. The kids are so kind and they want to share what little they have. It feels like visiting a lot of friends I haven't seen in a year.

I would like to learn how to make the best of everything I have even if the everything is nothing.

Reflections on Hogar de Amor - Jamie

Last month we had the joy and pleasure of our third annual trip to the Hogar de Amor orphanage in Colima, Mexico.  You can read all about the trip on our team blog,

Here are my reflections from this year's trip.

Hogar de Amor is a lot of things to me. It's a place I get to serve alongside my kids and my mom. It's a place I get to bring my church family and introduce them to the amazing joys of serving. It's a place where I am reminded of how very much I have to be grateful for. It's a place full of friends who mean a whole darn lot to me. It's a place of grace. It's a place that's doing institutional care right.

I have 2 kids by birth and 2 by adoption, so I've spent more than my fair share of time in orphanages (although nowhere near as long as my girls!). There is no substitute for a permanent home and a loving family, but if anything could come close, it's Hogar de Amor.

Grupo Amor (the church that runs Hogar de Amor) is committed to doing the very best they can for the kids in their care. These kids have food to eat and clothes to wear. They have houseparents and community who truly love them and are committed to them for the long haul. They have excellent education and are supported all the way through university. They have Jesus at every turn.

Somebody asked the very good question before this year's trip: If these kids have it so good, why don't we go to a really destitute place, a place where they really need us? My answer is two-fold:
  1. The kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor, though better off than many, still sure do appreciate extra hands, extra supplies, and a few hours when they don't have to serve as parent to 12-30 small children. Let's not romanticize things too much here; life is not easy at the hogar.
  2. This is a chance for us to support a group who is trying to do things right. Hogar de Amor is a movement out of the community striving to care for its own. They are committed to best practices in orphan care. And by supporting them, we help them to spread and care for more kids following the same healthy model.
Hogar de Amor is not a perfect place - but it is a good place. And it is sheer joy to me that I get to be a small part of this very good place.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Adventures in Dublin

Ok, I admit it, April was a whirlwind. Between our amazing mission trip to Mexico and work trips to Seattle, Dublin, and Seattle again I was home a whopping 12 days. All month. Not ok.

Dublin was a whole lot of work, but I also managed to get out of the office for a couple of days and see some of the countryside.

Here's what I learned about Ireland this trip:
  1. The weather is amazing. Sunny and gorgous
  2. The Euro is affordable
  3. Riding in the passenger seat while your never-been-to-Europe coworker drives on the left-hand side of the road from the right-hand side of the car is terrifying. But we survived with nary a scratch to the rental car
So, yes, the luck of the Irish was with me throughout the trip!

Here are some of my favorite shots from Dublin and surrounds:

This is Powerscourt Waterfall - the tallest waterfall in the English Isles. Apparently living in Utah kind of spoils you for waterfalls and "heights" because, although very nice, I certainly wouldn't say the falls were a €5 per person tourist destination.

The Cliffs of Moher were amazing

Obligatory castle tour
St. Stephen's Green
St. Patrick's Cathedral

View from my room :)
Irish candy for mom
Irish candy for the babies - all were pleased!


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