Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'm excited for the new year!  What is in store for us all in 2011?  I certainly don't know but I look forward to finding out.  As my computer cat and I think toward January, I know that he is very happy to be here at all!  You see, in July, Daytona was hit by a car and left in a driveway in Sgt. Bluff, IA.  Paw Prints got a call about an injured cat and of course, Beth (my Paw Prints partner) said to take him to the vet.  Several hundred dollars and a surgery later, Daytona was nicely recovering.  I was in Yellowstone on vacation with my family at the time, but was aware of the situation.  When I got back, I went to the vet to take him home for recovery instead of leaving him there.  He stayed in a kennel for a few days, then was very timid and wouldn't even come upstairs for weeks.  Slowly and surely, his leg gained strength and he was soon bounding around with my other three cats.  He's currently "up for adoption", but I like to think that he's already my cat.  He follows me around the house, loves to purr on my lap as we do computer tasks, and he plays well with the others.


Daytona

I appreciate the person calling Beth about him.  I appreciate the vet who repaired his broken leg.  I appreciate my husband for letting me bring him home and letting him still be here.  He's basically part of the family and I really do love him! One little blessing for me, one huge blessing for Daytona.  That leads me to my next venture of the winter/spring.....RUNNING FOR A PAWS.

I'm on Week 1 of my marathon training program.  I started on Monday the 27th and have 18 weeks ahead of me.  It will all come to a head on May 1st in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I'm hoping to run the marathon of a lifetime and also raise money for Paw Prints along the way.  It's a lot to take on, but Sioux City is so much better off having Paw Prints here.  It's the ONLY place in the area in in most of the entire tri-states where you can bring a cat or call about a stray cat and know that if we can help with it, it will never be euthanized.  It's a safe haven for cats where they can just be cats~ no kennels (unless in time out or behavior training).  We can only take in so many cats and we have to have funds to do so.  So my passions come together and I will do my best at raising my goal and running my goal time.  While I hesitate to disclose my goal running time, I will be happy to disclose my fundraising goal.... $5,000.  It's really not that much considering that $100,000 was raised in December alone for toys for kids.  Anyway, if you're reading this, I hope you can be a part of this goal.  Join me in making Sioux City a standout for the way they treat cats.... join me in Running for a Paws!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Running for a Paws II coming in January!

I will be back in January.  I've got a new fundraiser, new goals, and another marathon to train for. This time it's serious.
I ran the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon in October.  I trained relatively hard and was very happy with my race results.  I found my zone and beat my goal time by just over 30 seconds.  Boy, was I happy.  As you can see from my picture, I was hurting at the end, but I had the goal in mind and didn't want to look back and be disappointed or regret not trying harder.  My time was 1 hr 44 min 27 sec.  That's about an 8 minute mile pace.  I was very happy about it!
So I'm taking the next few weeks off blogging, not as if I've really been doing a great job at that anyway.  I need some down time.  I'm jogging about 5 miles max so I can heal and run for fun again.  I got very burned out at the end of this training session.  Right after Christmas, I'll be back at it.  I have lots of ideas, lots of goals, lots of ambition and drive.  We'll see if we can make this Running for a Paws the best ever!

Near the finish at the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Race for Hope...and other things

I really have missed blogging.  I am in the middle of so many projects now that I seem to let the blog time slip by.  Ok, really, I've been reading lots of books lately.  I used to be an avid reader, but with kids and projects that are never fully completed, it always seemed easier to pick up a magazine.  Now that we bought another car to replace the old one that needed a lot of work, the magazines (or mazagine as Ryan calls them) are no longer.  I will have to find a way to NOT get sucked into buying them off the shelf though...maybe bring a strip of leather and bite on it during checkout time?
Today is my son's 8th birthday.  I'm so proud to be his mom and I love the person he is and will become.  What a lucky person I am to have him in my life!
I ran the Race for Hope, a fundraiser for specific things for the June E Nylen Cancer Center here in Sioux City. The race started at 8:30 and because of the nice rain on the roof, I stayed in bed until 7:30.  I got up and checked the radar to see if it should be ending and it looked like it would be relatively clear by race time.  Wrong.  Right before the thing started, and it starts late EVERY year, it poured on us poor souls.  It was cold, puddley (not sure if that's a word but it's appropriate right here) and a mess.  The trail is a really nice fine gravel and perfect when it's dry.  It had a lot of puddles in areas, especially the beginning.  I dodged the puddles as much as I could and my feet stayed dry until the last two miles of the 9.3 mile course.  I felt great throughout the entire run, and was very proud of my 1 hr, 15 minute finish.  And in those conditions!  I assume I ran better due to the cold 43 degrees than anything, but speedwork that I've been doing sure didn't hurt.
Dirty Shoes after the Race for Hope

I took this picture because I felt very humbled by the race experience. As I was driving there, in the pouring rain, I thought that I could just turn back home if it was raining at start time.  Then, as I was walking towards the start line and bathrooms, this thought came to my head "This has GOT to be easier than chemo".  It was decided.  I was going to run this race regardless.  So I did.
We got our countertops tiled last week. Andy took the sink out on Wednesday and he put it back in Sunday.  This has to be one of the reasons why paper products were invented: home improvement projects that take a lot longer than what you though.  Granted, the tile guy worked his rear off, but it's still not the way we think it should look.  Andy has to finish the backsplash too.  The reason I mentioned this is because of the paper that my shoes are sitting on in the above picture.  He put protective paper on the wood floors, thank goodness. 
That brings me to our new car.  It was a hard decision to spend too much on a car.  But with the current one being 12 years old, we knew we could be in for a boatload of repair costs.  Plus, we don't trust the thing, nor do we trust most repair shops.  Yes, there are a few we trust, but when one tells us that there's no leak when we can clearly see the remnants of it on our driveway, we have a good reason not to trust them. So we went to the Billion Auto thing at the event center and ended up doing something we said we wouldn't.  For the first time ever though, we think we actually got a good deal.  One of the best parts is that the new car gets 20 mpg in city driving.  I about flipped when I filled up this morning and it took just under 10 gallons.  WHAT???!!!  Granted, it wasn't empty, but still. I'm used to a Ford Explorer V8 that is doing well at 17 mpg, and that's a lot of highway miles, and I can't fill up for less than $40.  The second best thing is that we got a free trip to Vegas. Here we go again!  And no shows, no tours, no nothing this time, only fun!
Ok, I guess that's it for the catching up.  The 1/2 marathon is coming closer so I will be putting in 2 hour long runs on the weekends. It's really too much to handle at 5am, actually 4:45am.  By 1pm, I'm totally beat.
Off to play legos with the birthday boy and have some fun with their friends after school (mine got out early today).

Monday, August 30, 2010

A new race to train for

After taking several months to heal my leg injury and to not worry about training for any running event, I am now "in training" for the Des Moines 1/2 marathon.  It came about rather strangely and I have to give my friend Rachel all the credit.  She has been running this spring and summer and entered her first race in early August.  I went to run the race so she had someone to be there in the beginning since she hadn't done it before.  Although I've run in dozens of races, it can be nerveracking for me, so I totally understood why she wanted someone there. 
Honestly, I dreaded going to that race.  I didn't want to get up early, I didn't want to be tired, I didn't want to compete and see all these other really fast runners in great shape, I didn't want to at all.....until I got there.  My competitiveness returned from vacation that I never realized it took.  When I got home, I was all energized about racing again, which is the last thing I expected myself to feel like! It didn't hurt that I got first in my age group and 8th overall (ok there were only 50 runners!!).  I decided (with Andy's help of course) to train for and run the race in Des Moines.  Talk about a change of attitude.  The 5k I ran with Rachel went well and I felt good about it.  It's a pretty boring course, but it's flat and there's not very many competitors.  If you want to feel good about your times, I always suggest running in the Pioneer Days 5k!  And speaking of running well, I have to give kudos to Rachel for beating her time goal by 3 minutes!  She rocked it!
I'm still in good shape from torturing myself with the marathon at the end of May, so I picked up the training pretty easily.  I've already had two 90 minute runs and have impressed myself with the speedwork.  I ran hills last week (if anyone here in town is familiar with 33rd St, that's my hill) and before that, I went to the track to run 400's.  I did 8 of them that morning and averaged 1.5 minutes per lap.  Not too shabby.  The goal of this 1/2 marathon is to prove to myself that I can run it in the time I would need to qualify for the Boston full marathon which is 1 hr 52 minutes.  Considering the bad races I've had this year, I certainly expect this to be a challenge, but I'm up for it.  I realized that I have to push myself past the uncomfortable zone and get over the discomfort.  Quit being a pansy and just DO IT!  As usual, we shall see!  And I don't know why I have to have a goal for this.  Why can't I just go out and run and have fun like I used to do? 
As for any other news, I believe Paw Prints is still going to close.  It's really hard to see it happen, but I honestly don't know how we can continue....it's heartbreaking really.
My foster cat, Daytona, is such a sweetheart and I would LOVE to keep him.  It can't happen but I guess I'll just have to keep him until we find the perfect new owner for him!
Well, I'm sure it won't be weeks upon weeks before I write again.  I hope not anyway. Enjoy the 700 mph wind and heat today!

Daytona thinking about his life...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Paw Prints closing

Noodle- currently available for adoption!
Isn't it interesting that it's been EXACTLY a month since my last post?  Complete coincidence for sure!

Changes. Sometimes change is good, sometimes it’s even better. But when this change will come, it’s going to be a sad ending to a great thing. Paw Prints is going to close their cat adoption center. There are a lot of reasons why, but I just don’t feel it necessary to explain the main one, mainly because it isn’t about me. Let’s just say that we suffer from a lack of funding and volunteers….good, reliable volunteers. We need dozens of them and we just don’t have them. We do have some great ones though: Leah, Rachael, Mary, Sharon to name just a few. But it’s not enough. Same as the funding. We do have funds, but it just isn’t enough. So we are going to now concentrate on getting grants to continue our population control issue.


Did you know that a female cat can produce over 4,000 kittens in her lifetime? No, that doesn’t mean she will give birth to that many, but would include her kittens, her kitten’s kitten’s, and so on and so forth. So spaying and neutering is our goal to prevent the thousands of euthanasias per year in Siouxland.

Paw Prints has been the subject of very negative and bad talk from other agencies in the area. These other places go so far as to bash what we do to vets that we use. I just don’t understand. Since when is it bad that we’re taking in homeless cats, getting them vaccinated and fixed a bad thing? We certainly don’t understand where the negativity comes from and we just carry on with it. But it could be so different. Wouldn’t it be nice if when the Humane Society is low on cats, they call Animal Control, who always has a surplus of cats, and take some from them to prevent them from being euthanized? Currently, they ship cats in from Sioux Falls instead of getting them from their own city. Isn’t it called Siouxland Humane Society???? I guess Sioux Falls is close enough. I guess.....

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could send people to each other’s adoption centers if they had a certain cat that we didn’t offer? It will never happen. Ever. And it doesn’t make any sense. These other agencies work so hard to keep to themselves and to put everyone else down. They don’t get the main focus, which really should be the health and welfare of the animals. The cats of Sioux City will pay the ultimate price for the things that go on and I hate that.  I hate that I can’t change people, knock some sense into them.

I wish I could win the lottery. A huge portion of the winnings would be put into a fund and we could provide a very nice adoption center with cleaning staff. We could spay and neuter any cat that we could and we could make a bigger difference faster. I wish a lot of things, but I really wish we could find a way to get people to care more. More people to put in a few hundred bucks, more people to come in once a week to clean. But they aren’t there regularly. So we face turning cats away, which has been done the last few weeks. We face knowing that they may face the ultimate when they get sent somewhere…animal control, humane society, a ditch. It’s a hard decision, but I know that some decisions have to be made.


So if anyone reading this would like to adopt a cat or kitten, now is the time to do it. Once we run out of cats, we will close our doors and concentrate on spaying and neutering and getting more grant money to work with.

Oh, I have more I could bluther on and on about, so I shall save that for another day. I guess I'll start a-singing.  CH-CH-CH-CHANGES....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We're home!

Yellowstone Lake with smoke and fog
We left Western Yellowstone on Tuesday morning around 7:30 after packing up our tent.  We thought we would end up and camp one more night in Rapid City, but after consideration, we decided to go for it and try to get home.  At 1:30 am, we drove into Bell Ct.  Ryan had fallen asleep about an hour before we got home and Tyler was still awake since he had been watching a movie, Short Circuit.  When we got them back into their beds, they fell fast asleep and stayed asleep until 9:45 this morning, a record for both.  Since we hadn't told anyone we were going to drive all the way back so as not to worry family, I tricked my mom into coming down and "checking on something" for me.  She called me a little shit and then we spent the next hour chatting about the trip.  She needed to head to Omaha to pick up my sister, so we figured we'd have plenty of time to catch up and view the 500+ pictures we took!
I am so thankful for the great weather we had and the good fortune of a safe, loving driver, a well built Ford Explorer, and an all-round great family week.  I think my favorite part was the experience of camping in different places and experiencing these beautiful places as an adult.
Andy's favorite part was the beauty of the mountains and views of lakes, mountains, valleys, and different terrain.
Tyler loved the cave and Ryan loved being with family.  That was an "awwww" moment.  Really, I am very blessed to be able to do these things and I'm honestly grateful that we didn't have enough money to stay in a hotel.  Well, we have enough money but that's not what we can spend it on anyway.  We would have never thought to camp, especially in Yellowstone.  And the fact that we went to Vegas in June prompted me to think of taking the boys all the way to the Rockies.  Strange how one event leads to another!
Today has been filled with laundry, organizing, uploading pictures to make an album, and the boys playing with their friends FINALLY!
Tomorrow will be back to work, back to getting up early to jog, humidity (there's relatively no humidity where we were), and housework.  The best thing about living in a tent is that it's very easy to clean!
That's all for now.  I'll have more this weekend!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 6 - Sunday and Monday morning...

The answer to the last question of my senses overwhelmed by campfires, pine trees, and starts is YES. What a great night we had! We weren’t able to get Monday night at the same park so we’re now off to the west side of the park, where we’ll hopefully be able to get on wifi and upload my last five days.


Yesterday’s adventures were only beginning when we entered the park. Just as we got into the park, we saw tons of cars parked along a non-pullover area, which means there’s an animal to see and photograph. It was a moose and her baby!! Of course, I got as many pics as possible and thought it was as neat as can be. Yeah, we finally saw AND took pictures of all the animals we wanted to! We went immediately to our campground to set up our tent and what do you know, Bismark the Buffalo was right by our tent site. We knew he was close since when we checked in, they told us there was a buffalo roaming around the camp area. I was surprised, to say the least, that they would be roaming around the people and tents. When we talked to the lady at checkin, I asked about how often they see bears and she was very nonchalant when she said, “Oh we haven’t seen one in a week or so” like it had been FOREVER. I just said OK and we went on our merry way, making sure we followed the bear rules. We dumped the firewood out and went ahead and set up our tent, which was difficult since it was very windy. I was already questioning our decision to camp there. The boys ate their lunch in the truck while Andy and I set the tent up, watching Bismark get closer and closer. He just grazed, then took time for a dust bath, and had a good ole’ Bismark time.

Then we were on our way to the mud volcano. That was actually pretty unimpressive, because we ended up seeing the Dragon’s Mouth Spring first. It sounded like what you would imagine a dragon sounding like when he was blowing fire. I got a video, which unfortunately only sounds like the water lapping at the sides of the little pond. The concept of the Dragon’s Mouth Spring is a cave where gas is bubbling up and causing the waves and as the waves go back into the cave, it traps the gas and then the gas escapes when the waves to back out, sounding like dragon’s breath. Very cool. The mud volcano was similar to mud pots, just an area of bubbling mud. Neat, but again, after the other thing, pretty uneventful.

Around this time, we saw that there was a HUGE plume of smoke coming from the forest. Ok, NOT a good thing. It was quite impressive how it grew so fast and high into the atmosphere. It looked fairly close to our camping area but we thought that we would hear something if it got dangerous.

After about an hour walking around the dragon and mud volcano area, we headed to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. There were several pretty points along the way to the main one, so we stopped several times and got some amazing pictures of the canyon. The Yellowstone River goes through the canyon and it’s an amazing emerald color. The falls are about 310 feet and you can hear the roar of them from several thousand feet away. I thought it was neat that Andy and I got to see two Grand Canyon’s in a matter of months!

We ended up at the Canyon Village and had a yummy root beer float made with Old Faithful Root Beer. It didn’t stand a chance between the four of us!

We started our way back to the campsite, thinking it wouldn’t take long. Wrong. There was a huge traffic backup, so I’m thinking an accident, bear, or something like that. It took a good 30 minutes to get to where Bismark’s friends were meandering along the road like they owned it. It was pretty funny to see. What are we going to do, honk? I think not. I think they wanted us to be sure that THEY were in charge! It’s funny that when we first got into the park, we were sooo excited to see buffalo and by the second day, it’s no big deal. Oh, another buffalo, whupdeedo.

We saw helicopters taking water and dumping it on the forest fire, one of which filled up it’s bucket very near us in the Yellowstone Lake. It was neat to see, but sad to think about the beautiful forest being burned, especially since so much of it has already been burned in the last 22 years. The worse fire got over 50% of the park in 1988 and can see the regrowth of the trees. Some areas look like they aren’t growing anything at this point. Very sad to see, especially since a lot of it was caused by people being careless with fire.

We went through another storm, no hail this time, and got back to a damp tent. Only a few small areas on two sleeping bags got wet, so we got them out to dry. The sun came out and the wind was gone, so we were pretty happy about that. We all walked to the little store close to our camp area and to the lake where we could play in the sand a little and get our hands wet. Boy, was it cold!!!

We got a good campfire going after dusk and asked the neighboring campers if they wanted to join us for roasted marshmallows since they didn’t have a fire going. They came over when the fire died down and we had a very nice visit with them. They are from Wisconsin and had been traveling from the Tetons and through both loops of Yellowstone. They were going to head back home, which takes them a LOT longer than it takes us! They had two teenage boys and one 3 year old boy and were fun to talk to. I just don’t have any idea how they packed all their stuff into a minivan with a small luggage carrier.

Oh, we just passed a tiny little pond with lilly pads and frogs, cute!

The night went well, wasn’t windy nor did it seem exceptionally cold. I got warm so took off my extra socks and gloves. The boys slept well too. The only problem is that Andy and I both had our ears wide open and kept thinking that we heard wild animals. Who knows if we actually heard anything, but we both thought there was a wild dog in there somewhere! You can hear EVERYTHING in a campsite so that’s been an interesting adjustment when you’re used to a very quiet house.

We went to see Old Faithful again (that’s THREE times for me and Tyler) while we waited for the only building in the area with wifi to be cleared from the fire alarm.

We’re looking forward to our next adventure tonite. We have plenty of fire wood and marshmallows, so I think we’re set!

More pictures to come soon.....after we find the cord to upload them....

Day 4 (Saturday)

Today’s drive started with Ryan digging for gold in his nose. I don’t think he’s struck actual gold, but he sure is trying. We’ve offered to give him my dad’s little shovel from the professional group “The Shovelers”, which is an real looking tiny metal shovel. I think he’d use it and damage himself, so it’s remained a joke, although he has seen the actual tiny little shovel. We started out from Cody around 8:30am and headed to Yellowstone. It was a beautiful drive. Ryan and Tyler were taking pictures of each other and me. We didn’t stop along the way since we were eager to get there. We had originally planned to camp at Bridge Bay in Yellowstone but didn’t cancel nor bring our stuff to camp, so we stopped there first. Because I really wanted to camp for “real” and the smell of pine was intoxicating for me and reminded me of all the Minnesota fun times I had as a kid and all the camping trips I had, I had really wanted to camp where it was real, not in the middle of town as it was in Cody and Rapid City. I don’t know if it was Andy’s idea or mine, but we were both game for giving camping in Yellowstone a whirl. Our tent doesn’t insulate well against breezes or rain and the temps will get down in the 40’s, but we brought enough stuff that I think we’ll be ok. The worst thing that can happen is that we sleep in our Explorer. Which brings me to bears. After we changed our camping reservations for Sunday night, we went on towards Old Faithful. A bunch of cars were pulled over on a non-pullover area so I asked the guy with a camera what was out there. BEARS! I saw a real, wild bear! Andy saw two of them and we both thought that one was pretty young, maybe even a cub. We saw bears! That was cool.


Once we got to Old Faithful after a very long drive, we made some sandwiches for lunch and got some Diet Coke, and enjoyed our lunch while we watched the geyser steam. In the distance, we saw another one, Grand Geyser, spew. It was pretty far away, but made quite the show. Old Faithful started sputtering about 15 minutes before it actually started We loved watching the eruption! The boys both took pictures and I got some good ones. It’s interesting how quiet geysers are. Ryan thought it was going to explode, but really, it’s just water erupting, nothing much more. I was disappointed that many people started to leave as soon as the highest parts were done, but it went on for another few minutes. People! You came all this way, it’s not like it takes all day for the thing to erupt! Wait a few minutes and just enjoy the view!! So we sure did!

One thing I have to note is that a huge portion of the park was burned in a forest fire in 1988. You could still see the burned trees, but in many areas, the pines were filling in nicely. It’s very sad to see acres upon hundreds of acres of burned trees.

We then walked on the boardwalks around the area of Old Faithful, which is part of the Upper Geyser Basin. There are geysers and hot springs all over the place! It’s so neat, fascinating how you can just be walking along in the forest and all of a sudden, there’s a pool of bubbling water! All over the area, you can see the most beautiful blue pools of steaming water and mini volcanoes where you get hit with a pocket of warm, humid, sulfur air. We learned that there are things called “bacteria mats” that go along with the springs. Of course I wanted to touch everything there, but I knew better. Once we were done with that walk and got our souvenirs at the gift shop, it was just at the time where Old Faithful was going to erupt again. Tyler and I ran to see it while Andy and little hot Ryan went back to the car. It was great timing since it started erupting just as we walked up. Old Faithful twice in one day!!! It was awesome. Thanks for being such a trooper and running with me, Tyler.

While driving along towards the paint pots, which are cooler than cool, you can see areas where it’s steaming. I guess it’s because we never EVER see that at home, so it’s more interesting, but I certainly don’t remember this as a kid. Driving along in a meadow basically in the forest and you see areas of steaming ground. Cool, very cool.

The paint pots look like boiling mud, which I think is one of the neatest geothermal activities past geysers and hot springs. It’s really air being released in a mud made by the lack of water, but I could have watched those things for a few hours. It’s like the tiny pools of hot springs that appear to be boiling but is really air being released into the water. It looks like boiling water, so I just sort of want to believe that it is boiling water.

I think I got about a hundred pictures of these things too. Maybe 150…I think that’ll do.

Now we are driving back to Canyon Village and get some grub (see, I’m a camper, I say “grub”…does it count when we buy it???). Speaking of campers, I’ve never seen so many RV’s and campers, EVER. That’d be a nice way to travel. We’ve been very lucky with our nice weather and friendly people.

I have been telling Andy for a very long time, probably five or so years, that I would love to get in a shallow river and just play. I did this so many times as a kid and thought the boys would have the best time. So, while I was spacing out, Andy found a spot and pulled over on the Firehole River in Yellowstone. It was PERFECT, the best stop along the way. We got out and I put my foot in, expecting it to be absolutely freezing since there’s still a little snow on the higher areas. It was at first, but probably because my feet were so hot. It was warm! So we got in and walked around scoping out rocks, throwing some, and had a good time. Ryan ended up getting completely wet and Tyler got mostly wet. We skipped rocks, dug with our feet, and splashed. Thanks for that stop, Andy! Now if we could just find somewhere like that on our side of the park where we will be staying. Ahhh, it couldn’t get a whole lot better.





After our very fun and spontaneous stop to play in the river, we were stopped in road construction. Boy, THAT’s fun when the worker guy comes and says that it’s going to be another 20 minutes and your kid says, “Man, I REALLY have to pee”. He waited, thank goodness but he sure did make a beeline to the bathroom when we got to our destination, almost 40 minutes later! We drove along in a meadowy area and ended up seeing tons of buffalo. They are so neat! One group of not-so-intelligent people were walking up to the group of three buffalo while two of the buffalo were just munching on grass and the other was walking towards the morons. What don’t you understand about the sign “WILDLIFE DANGEROUS! DO NOT APPROACH” and the bright yellow paper you get when you enter the part that clearly states “WARNING, MANY VISITORS HAVE BEEN GORED BY BUFFALO. These animals may appear tame but are wild, unpredictable, and dangerous.” DUH! I was watching like I was going to see a horrible car accident, but the buffalo decided the string bean people would be no match so he went along and started munching on the grass with his friends. Along that stretch of road, we saw buffalo just lounging and some in groups, but there weren’t more than just a few together at a time. It reminded us of a book the boys have, called “Underwear”. A grumpy buffalo, Bismarck, was just grumpy and wouldn’t laugh and have fun like his friends, Orpho the Orangutan, Egor the Egret, and Zachary the Zebra, who really enjoyed going to underwear festivals and even wore ALL their underwear at once. Bismarck was SO grumpy, the bugs even left, so he was left all alone. They challenged Bismarck to say “underwear” ten times without laughing. Bismarck tried but ended up in a pile of laughs, began to enjoy life, and even, GASP!, wore underwear. The bugs came back and all was good. It’s a cute book, really.

After we drove through the buffalo, we stopped at Canyon Village when it began to POUR. We saw extremely heavy rain, hail, and lightning. Thankfully, we didn’t have a tent put up in the area and we could sit and be dry in the truck. Ryan was NOT happy at the storm for sure.

We picked up some dinner and headed back to Cody. Along the way we saw some park rangers and people stopped at a really pretty point along Yellowstone Lake. Then Tyler yelled, “BEAR!”. What??!!! So I told Andy to stop so I could see another one. I got out with my camera and watched the park ranger push people away from a certain area and back to the parking lot. I couldn’t see the bear at that point, but after talking to a girl there who was excited to get an Iowa plate on her list, the bear emerged a little closer than what I thought it was. So I got some good pictures, let Ryan see it, and we went on our way. BEARS!! When you have a vehicle at your disposal and are fairly far away from them, it’s all good. I do enjoy a good thrill though and that’s about all the thrill I want when it comes to bears.

We got back to a dry campsite and a nice cool night. One other camper who looked like a very nice gentleman (I really mean redneck) was light off fireworks. One tipped and blew up close to another camper so at least the “Hey, knock it off!” worked. No more fireworks. I can’t imagine that lighting them in a very dry area filled with people was the best thing to do, hence, the rule of “No fireworks in city limits.” Seemed like a no brainer to me. The boys finally got their s’mores and we all crashed around 10-10:30. What a day!! And so much more coming our way, too. I love this trip.

Day 3, Part 2 (Friday)

Day 3, part 2 started out with driving through Sturgis and Sundance, just to say we did. Sturgis is a neat little town and there sure weren’t many bikers there yet. We’ve seen so many bikers along the way and in the Rapid City area, dressed in many different things, many with a lot of leather. And tattoos.

We then headed to Devil’s Tower. About 13 miles away from it, it emerged on the horizon as a smokestack looking thing. The boys thought it was cool already. It’s funny how these huge things look so tiny from a distance. Once we got into Devil’s Tower Monument Park, we wound around and ended up just below it. I told Tyler to turn around and take a look and once he did, he again said, “WHOA, that’s cool.” We walked around a little bit and could have walked around the entire monument, but little Ryan couldn’t take the warmth and kept asking when we were going back. That was our cue to not go any further and just head back to the car and get going. We had several more hours of driving to go. I did learn from a park ranger there that Ponderosa Pines smell like candy. And boy do they! I had to give it a sniff.

After several potty stops and one gas stop right before we started climbing to just be sure, we finally made it to the Bighorn Mountains. Again, we saw them emerge from about 30 miles away and the kids thought it was really cool to see snow on top! Then they went back to their movie watching.

I did a little white knuckling it and pushed the imaginary passenger brake several times as we were taking the switchbacks to get up the first mountain. Andy did such a great job driving through the areas he’d never driven before and I’m very thankful he’s a calm driver. I did accidentally say “Hey, look at that!” then immediately took it back so he wouldn’t look and we would plummet to our fiery deaths on the cliffs below. We did see a moose on our way through and I REALLY wanted a picture, but it wasn’t in a good place to stop (i.e. going downhill at about 50 with someone on our tail and no pullover). We didn’t go on the scenic pullovers until I saw one with something different. I didn’t know what it was until we got in, but it looked interesting. It was Shell Falls. Wow. It was absolutely beautiful. We walked around it a little bit, which was a nice break from the long ride. The falls had actually been in a different location and had moved due to erosion, which I think is fascinating.

I do have to note that the boys have not been behaving on this trip. They were fighting pretty badly at home and after threatening them with taking all their toys away and actually taking some, they have been a little better. They are best buds, then worst enemies, best buds, enemies all day long. My patience wore thin on the sudden bursts of anger and the taunting they do to each other to get the other one either mad or in trouble, or both. Their mother doesn’t have any tolerance for this and we both get so tired of them getting angry and either stomping off or just saying “Well, then I’m not playing” then having the other one say “He just said he would NEVER play with me”. It could go on for centuries all the stories I’ve heard them complain to me about. So because of their rotten behavior in the car, they’ve had their s’mores taken away this entire trip so far. Each day they start fresh and each day they’ve been threatened to knock it off or there’d be a consequence. Well, it’s obviously not working since there’s been no s’mores. Maybe tonight….but by the looks of Ryan’s sleepy eyes already this morning, I don’t think it’s a huge possibility. We did give them both cameras so they could take their own pictures, thanks for the idea from Beth. That’s another consequence if the fighting gets out of control. It’s a mystery to me but others with grown boys of their own tell me it could go on forever. What?!

When we got to our campsite, we found out how false advertising works. The campsite really looked nothing like the pictures on the website. I’ve never seen so many campers crammed so close together and the huge “gift shop” wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either. Our bathrooms were port-a-jons, which I do have to say is better than 1) an outhouse or 2) finding my own “bathroom”. The teepee that we reserved was right next to about 200 teens in tents and a highway, so we picked out a tent site that was close to the river and NOT near the highway, down a VERY steep slope in a valley. It’s very quiet and you can see so many stars. Camping isn’t camping when you hear semi’s driving by….We are lucky enough to get real showers in the mornings, so I guess our version of camping is a little softer than what others do. But that’s fine with me! The guy running the campsite said that at dusk, we’d see deer coming down near our spot. When we came back from getting Ryan his camera and more tent stakes, guess what we saw? A very pretty deer with fuzzy antlers. Nature!!!

We went to Kmart to get Ryan a camera since Tyler had one and sharing was an issue. No biggie, Ryan can have one! We also needed some metal tent stakes since the ones we had were bigger plastic ones and the soil at Ponderosa Campground was as hard as a rock. The metal ones worked great. Thanks to civilized camping!

We’re off to Yellowstone today to see Old Faithful and maybe some mud pots. We’ll see what the day holds for us, but I know we won’t be driving 400+ miles! Yippee!!!! I’ll be free to drink Diet Coke without worrying we’d have to stop 563 times in 100 miles so I can go.

The sunset in Cody was amazing. Purples and pinks with white…very pretty.

Goodness, here come the cameras. It will be interesting to see the trip from their perspective!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 3, Part 1


This is a sign we saw in the Badlands.....

We are heading to Cody, WY, this morning. We loved Lake Park Campground! Great shaded campsites, a bathroom RIGHT next door, quiet, an owner who comes and talks to us. I do appologize for my son clogging the toilet though.... We'll see you on our way back through towards home.


We made a few adjustments to our plans, but that's what we wanted...no concrete plans, just wing it. We're very excited to see what nature has to offer...see something new, have an adventure.


It's funny, we woke up this morning and it had been sunny for a while. We waited and waiting, then looked at the clocks...WHAT???! It's 5:55??? Strange. It's a good feeling. Much better than finding that it's 9 am and you have a huge drive ahead and need to pack up a house worth of things into an SUV. Ahhhh, Andy the engineer at his best! I am so happy that he's driving too. I am wary of the hills and curves and other people flying by us (going the other way) and he just drives. I can navigate and he gets us where we need to go....a good partnership!


Well, boys are playing in the car already. They're "driving" and catching bad guys. We just took the trash out and I guess a bunch of the bad guys were thrown out with the trash. At least the good guys are with us!


Ryan did have a funny comment this morning. "Steamin' hot chips are really hot, and so am I". not sure where he was going with that one, but we chuckled. Steamin' hot chips are jalepeno potato chips. His friend got some without knowing what kind they were and came running up to me "These chips are steamin' hot!!!". Now jalepeno chips are called steamin' hot chips.


Well, hope to have an update tonite on the Bighorn Mtns and our travels across Wyoming! And that bird from yeseterday is sure singin' me a tune this morning! Love it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 2









Pictures are in reverse order of course, but the first one is of us going off to see the Wizard at Storybook Island. The next is the inside of the train car. I love the windows!!! It was built in 1913 and looks what I assume is about the same, except paint and seat covers. The next is during the train ride. You can see the steam engine. And the last is the broken column at the cave. It broke recently then the bottom part sank because it was so heavy. Cool.

Day two of our advenure began with me waking up to a beautiful sunny morning and an unidentified bird singing a pretty song. What a great way to wake up!! I woke up to this bird and the feeling that I need to go for a jog and enjoy the pretty morning, which doubles as therapy. I got ready without waking the boys up and jogged for about 45 minutes around the lake here and next to a very nice golf course. My legs were tired from walking yesterday and the hill jogging the past few days. It was so pretty and I didn't want to stop, but thought I needed to get back to camp.

We got cold last night and we all woke up several times, but after getting more blankets, we were fine. It got me really concerned about sleeping in Yellowstone, so Andy and I have figured that we will probably NOT do that, and just keep camping outside the park where it's not as high of elevation so not as cold. I am enjoying the camping so far although I do realize that it's day TWO of seven. We have a long way to go!! I just wish I could bring this weather with us to Cody and Yellowstone...a dry 80-85 during the day, clear, and nicely cooled off at night. And I guess if pigs flew they wouldn't land on their butts every time they tried to fly either.

Today's events began with of course, the nice run, and we took off to Rushmore Caves outside a little town called Keystone. It was pretty much all tourist attractions there but was a cute town. None of us have been in a cave before, so it was a neat experience for all of us. Ryan was done about 3/4 the way through but remained patient the rest of the way. Tyler loved looking at all the rocks and crevices the water had made. Seeing the stalagtites was so neat...many were broken off from all the non-guided touring done in the 1960's time where people felt it necessary to break them off and take home. We went into a "Big Room" (which is what they called it, how imaginitive), where there was the biggest stalatite pretty much anywhere. It was a broken column actually, but was amazing. I guess it was about 10 tons but was the size of my two little boys put together. It made me wonder about all the people who had discovered these caves and the gumption it took to dig into the ground and explore INTO the mountain. It's just not my style, but I admire and appreciate the people who do that for the rest of us to enjoy.

Right after the cave experience, we went to get tickets for the 1880 Train. It's a steam engine that takes us from the town of Hill City to Keystone and back. I've never ridden a train before and have always wanted to, so this was a great time. The sound of a steam engine whistle is so romantic to me, so the fact that we had to cross the highway about 17 times EACH WAY was perfectly fine! We did meet up with the same truck several times and I realized that people do like to wave to trains. Of course we waved back. The train about rocked me to sleep and the boys fought their sleep very hard but they livened up after we were done. We got a really cool train car that was built in 1913. I loved the stain glass on the top part of the windows. It creaked and creaked as we clicked along and it made me wonder who had ridded the car before and more importantly, what were they wearing? How do they survive in those wool outfits and hoop skirts? Or was this the time of the shorter wear of the 20's? The whole entire concept of a steam engine amazes me...I don't understand how burning coal and boiling water to create steam can pull this huge engine up a 6% grade. It's like physics, you can explain it all you want, but I'm never gonna really get it!

The last event of the day was taking the kids to Storybook Park. Oh goodness, this place was amazing...AND FREE! They had little houses, slides, swings, sets for about any kids book you could imagine. They ran and ran for about an hour. My favorite thing was seeing Pooh Bear's tree. Well, I liked the Cat in the Hat's house too, with the kids (Sally and I) peeping out the window for their mom.

After that, it was just after 5 pm and was time to get the grill started for dinner. The boys decided to argue and pick at each other for the next hour, so we took their s'mores away AGAIN for the night. They weren't happy about that and Tyler sang a sad song (cried in the tent) for ten minutes after I made the decision that yes, consequences do apply during vacation, especially when they tease/hit each other right in front of us. It's obvious that we ARE spending enough time with them, so who knows why they are doing this so badly right now. All I know is that it'd better not last forever or I'm gonna...we'll, I don't know what I'll do, but I sure won't like it!

As for the people that we've seen here, we've seen plates from 38 states and four provinces of Canada. Pretty cool! And we're not even to Yellowstone yet! I think we may drive through Sturgis just to say we did and have "been" there, and we are thinking of going to Devil's Tower. Because of the adjusted plans of NOT camping in Yellowstone, I think we should just drive and see it.
Well, it's time to get some very dirty kids cleaned off and to bed. I never knew that pea gravel on our tent site could be the main entertainment for them, but they're having a ball with it. It's making them very dirty, but who cares???!!!
I would like to mention that as most of you know, I am a partner of Siouxland Paw Prints Rescue. Vacation never stops the cat rescue business so yes, I'm checking my emails and checking in with Beth as to the adoptions and things going on. She told me that we saved yet another victim of a car and he had surgery on his leg today. I am asking anyone and everyone that if you feel inclined, Paw Prints would love to have assistance with the $350 vet bill with this cat. We have already received some donations for him, but this is a heafty, although discounted price to pay for one cat. His name is Daytona (after a car who hit him) and he's already neutered and declawed. He is a pretty tuxedo color and just hit the lottery when the person who found him injured in their driveway called us at Paw Prints. Donations are tax deductible and can be made to us at Siouxland Animal Hospital or sent to Beth or me (made out to Paw Prints of course) and sent to 2025 Bell Ct, Sioux City, IA 51104. We appreciate every single cent we get.

Thanks for the plug...we are not able to get things published in the Journal for things like this so I'm using my blog....

Anyway, I look forward to our Bighorn adventures tomorrow. What will the kids say when they see BIG mountains???? What will they do when they see the teepee we will be sleeping in?? We shall see, we shall see!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 1







7:30 am today, we left Sioux City. On Time!!! We packed up our entire house, minus our cats, and went on our way towards Rapid City, SD. We observed some interesting things along the way while enjoying each other and the fact that this is really our first "real" family vacation. Andy lost his voice in the night, although it sounded rough last night. This morning it sounded like he tried to smoke about a thousand stogies. So not a whole lot of conversation with him, but we could still talk some. It was 80 degrees when we left and the windows in the house were dripping with humidity. We were happy to head out of town for sure! By 8:30, it was already 85, but cooled down once we hit the cold front coming through.


*On our way to Sioux Falls, we encountered the worst UHaul driver EVER. She was driving in the fast lane and would consistantly go into the right/slow lane. Andy was not positive that passing her on the right would be safe for us, so we stayed behind her and watched her almost crash into several other vehicles, of course while making fun of her. Thank goodness we turned onto I90 and she didn't!


*Another strange thing we saw was, gasp!, an open weigh station! You just don't see that very often.

*Is the corn palace in Mitchell worth all the hubbub? We didn't feel any need to stop and see it.

*When we turned onto I90 in Sioux Falls, the signs for Wall Drug, 200 miles away, began. Was that worth the hubbub? It began to be very clear to me that they had absolutely everything so we must just check it out. So we were reminded of the different things they had about every mile from Sioux Falls on. Yes, Wall Drug did have everything you could imagine we found out after going through the Badlands Loop. It was interesting. I enjoy those touristy things once in a while, but they really all do sell the same thing.

*We saw a lot of bikers on their way to Sturgis. It's neat to see and the kids really enjoy motorcycles. We think we're going to swing through Sturgis just to see it when we leave here on our way to Cody.

*A funny sign that we saw, too late for a picture but would have been worth the stop for a picture, was for Dick's auto service near Mitchell, SD. "We can toe 24 hours a day". Really? You can "toe".

*Ryan mentioned that his leg was sore. "It's a dino-sore, Mom" he said. Classic Ryan.

*He also had me take a picture of him on a tiny little mound of dirt in the Badlands. He said it was the ant's badlands. Pretty clever again, isn't he?

*A funny sign we saw right before the Badlands was "Gas now or gas can later." I guess that means to fill up. So we did!

We got into Rapid City in very good time, even after spending a good 90 minutes in the Badlands, so we decided to head to "The Big Heads", or as adults call it, Mt. Rushmore. I think the boys were pretty worn out, but they enjoyed taking the small hiking trail around the park area. I enjoyed seeing this as an adult, since the last time I'd been there was probably when I was about 13. I do remember it clearly, but it's different as an adult. Also, I saw the Badlands when I was on the same trip as a 13 year old. I remember them being VAST. When I saw them this time, they were beautiful, but it wasn't as huge as I remember. I could see plains and the hills/valleys/crevices didn't seem so all-encompassing. Tyler's reaction when we walked over the hill to see the Badlands was "WHOA". But I think that they just wanted to throw rocks over the hill. Andy's reaction was that it was very different: you come over the edge to a completely new world. Nice way to put it, my very-good-driver-of-the-day-although-you-don't-have-a-voice.
So tomorrow, we're going to ride the 1880 Train and hang around the campsite, see Storybook Island, visit the Dinosaur Park, or do absolutely nothing except grill some food and have s'mores. That's all we're out for, a good time. We've been successful so far! I've had people tell me to put the stupid computer away, but this is a good way for me to record things as I see them when they're fresh. I could write on and on, but I do know that SOME people are going to read it, which I appreciate! I have a feeling that the "good" part of our trip hasn't even begun. It's going to get more and more interesting. The boys are running around having a blast together tonite, Andy and I are going over the possible tour things to do tomorrow, OH, visiting a cave may be one....that intrigues me to no end....but we're going to just hang out and be together. No agenda except get to the train on time.

Ok, here's a few of the top ten cowboy commandments:
1) Just one God

2) Honor yer ma and pa

3) No foolin around with another fellow's gal

4) Don't take what ain't yers

5) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff

Monday, July 12, 2010

Are we CraZy????



Our trip to Las Vegas spurred an idea to drive past our original destination of Rapid City and head to Yellowstone.
One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is to walk around and be a part of the crowd. This picture was taken in the original heart of Vegas, close to the Golden Nugget. It's called Fremont Street. Looking forward to going back...may have to be an every two year thing!
Well, this next week should be an interesting one! On Wednesday, my two kids and husband and I are leaving our four cats alone at home and driving to Rapid City. By the following Wednesday, we will have hopefully made it to Yellowstone National Park and then back home safely via Cody and Rapid City again.

My kids, who are 7 and 4, do not always get along well. Some days, I can get five minutes out of them and some days they can be best buds the entire day. Lately, it's been closer to the five minute one. So how do I solve that???? Put them in a car together for eight days in a row! We'll see how THAT works. We do have a DVD player in the SUV and lots and lots of movies to play.
We have books, toys, coloring books, crayons, markers, and games. Then after a while, we'll have scenery. We may be crazy, but I think we'll be ok in that department. We'd better be anyway.
Andy can't read in the car without getting nauseated, so he will be doing most of the driving. Which leads me to my next concern....Andy driving in the mountains. Ok, given his great track record we should be fine. But just yesterday, on our way to drop something off at our friend's house, he missed the turn to their neighborhood because we were talking about something. What happens when there's MOUNTAINS to look at and curvy roads with no room for error? Should the boys and I refrain from saying "look at that!" or I just sit with the boys in back and whisper to them so he doesn't get distracted, drive off the curve, and we plummet into a gorge twelve billion feet below? What do we do? No, really, I trust Andy and his driving, but just think that maybe I need to pay attention to what HE is doing and be a very good passenger: NO pointing across his face, NO sudden outbursts "WATCH OUT!!!!", "OMG, LOOK AT THAT STEEP SLOPE WE'RE 12 INCHES FROM!", "STEP ON IT, THERE'S A BEAR FOLLOWING US", or things like that. I should probably also not offer him a snack during the mountain switchbacks either. And if I drive, which I plan to some, I should probaby not drive in the mountains because, knowing my "love" of heights, I would use the lane closest to the mountain and furthest from the drop whether it's the correct lane or not. That could lead us into another notebook of issues, so I think I'll just let Andy drive most of the time. I also wouldn't want to have to pull over and let him barf from reading the map in a moving vehicle. And I don't want to be reading the map WHILE driving either.
Besides being a little nervous about the cold nights while camping, yes CAMPING in Yellowstone, I am very confident we will figure this trip out. We had originally planned to take the kids to see the "big heads" at Mt. Rushmore only. Then as Andy and I flew over the mountains on our way to Las Vegas, I got the crazy idea (Andy can now verify that the five scariest words that I can say are: "Honey, I have an idea!") to just keep driving and take them to Yellowstone and the REAL mountains. So he took a few extra days off, we figured out our agenda, and figured the only way we could make it happen is to camp because of the high price of hotels. One night in a hotel is about as much as the seven days of camping, so we're pretty happy about that. We don't really have an agenda except for where we are going to spend each night. We are bringing plenty of bedding, clothes, and some food. We'll have to get some while we're there to grill and I know we'll eat at restaurants while there. We plan to be very laid back, see the sights, and just be together.

We've had a lot of feedback from others and have been told how fun it will be and that we'll create some wonderful and priceless memories. I hope it will be good! That is why I am going to blog every day with our adventures or misadventures, however the chips may play out. If I can't get wifi, I will post two or three days in one day.

Anyway, just check it out Wednesday night, probably late, or Thursday morning. I'm hoping to provide some entertainment, and maybe even spur ideas of your own for vacation fun!
Yeeeee Haaawwwww!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lots of little things

1) I obviously took some time off blogging. Needed a rest and really didn't have that much interesting stuff to talk about.
2) Keeping busy with the kids, going to Vegas with hubby last week, summer's going too fast.
3) Excited that our summer is turning into an adventure. Next week, we are leaving Sioux City and heading out west. I am hoping to blog every day and will post when I can. Some of our campsites have Wifi, so can post when we get to those.
4) I'm afraid of bears.

**Event at Siouxland Paw Prints Rescue on Saturday, July 10th, 10am to 3pm. There's going to be cars, bikes, food, stuff to buy, and a lot of fun. Come join us, see our available kitties and our adoption center.

Friday, June 4, 2010

One more marathon down!


I decided to keep my marathoning sort of quiet this time, thankfully. I did tell a few people, but this time I didn't have any expectations because of the forecast. It was supposed to be hot, and boy, the forecast was right! It was just under 70 when the Stillwater Marathon started on May 30th and it quickly got up to over 80. It didn't get much over 80, but when you're running in the sun, it's humid, and it's over 70, it's extremely difficult for me to run, let alone run well.

Stillwater is a beautiful town so I thought the marathon would be scenic as they advertised, with lots of crowd support. If you count running on country roads, black aspault most of the time to be exact, in the middle of nowhere, as scenic, then this is the marathon for you. But it was a far cry from the fun that Lincoln was. Sioux City was more interesting than this one. There's only so long I want to look at a vacant road or trail along a golf course with people telling me that it's all downhill for the next few miles, only to find a nice big hill coming as I turn the corner. JERK!

Anyway, the heat got to me as soon as I turned at mile 6 and we started running with the small breeze. As I said before, I do not appreciate running in warm weather, I don't like it, and I don't feel well when I do it. So after mile 7, I ended up walking some, mostly to prevent me from barfing up the Powerade I had just drank. Considering I was keeping a good pace, about 8:15 per mile for the first 7 miles, I was satisfied, but I knew I couldn't keep up any pace near that. Little did I know that I would end up running a 11 minute mile pace marathon, which did seem like a marathon to me! Almost five hours after starting the race, I crossed the finish line along the St. Croix River in Stillwater, not far from where we started. I belive my time was 4 hours 47 minutes from crossing the start line. It was a hard effort, probably the most difficult run I've ever completed as I walked and drank and walked more and drank more and jogged in between. I've never seen so many other runners walking so I didn't feel so wimpy! Anyway, I am considering another marathon, but think I'm going to hang up my long distance shoes for now (that being anything over 14 miles!) and work on some speed races. Maybe I'll see how fast I can run a 5k without throwing up~can I get it to 22 minutes???? We'll see! It's all fun and I do look forward to the next race...maybe I'll even drag my wonderful supporting hubby along with me!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer's getting closer!

After spending so many hours at Paw Prints this week, much to the sacrifice of the cleanliness of my house, I appreciate what goes into keeping the adoption center so well organized and clean. Thanks to Beth and Leah plus the others who come in on their days. You both amaze me at your passion and ability to put them above yourself!
I spent several hours there today and got to meet the new family for Puma. She's a great little cat who came to us just about a week ago. She's so social and playful so I'm glad that this family picked her. There's been some things going on with the kittens at the adoption center. We don't know what is happening to them, but we've lost a lot of them recently. It's so hard to come to terms with it, so the best way that I can deal with it is to pray for them and then forget that it happens. I do break down into tears to relieve the pressure, plus it makes me feel better to mourn for these little babies who deserved so much more.
As for running, I'm very bitter about it now. I need to get over this and just get back to running. I haven't actually been running that much as I've done the bike and elliptical to help my shin splint or whatever it is to heal. It seems to be working and plan to run every day this week. I just hope and pray that it's going to stay better!
I've got so much personally going on that I need the running for my therapy. It makes me feel better for the most part, although when I ran on Friday morning, I was so mad about having to run at the track, I cut my workout short. I just couldn't run 12 more times around the track or I'd have to admit myself into the looney bin. I decided that going home was a better option. I did work out some stuff while running so glad I went, plus I got to watch the sun rise.
Well, more later!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Here we go again

Well, I decided that the next marathon would be four weeks or after, so I took the last so many weeks from my original training program and started there. So I ran 20 miles at the gym yesterday. Yes, 200 microlaps at the gym. It was too cold and windy for me to go outside as the cold makes my lungs mad at me. I hate wind too. So I got energized up on Friday night and got up early Saturday. I finished the 20 miles with a little walking, gatorade, and a lot of off and on leg pain. I finished though and have been icing it and will take a week off from running. That is not to say I won't be doing other exercise. It's totally amazing that I could basically easily complete this 20 miles while struggling last weekend. No, I wasn't running at near the pace, but still. Feeding the body is so important.
Anyway, it was a good run, my legs are NOT sore today at all minus the injury area, so I'm very confident that I can at least finish the next marathon quest in a good time. I have no desires to kill myself to qualify for Boston, as my balloon is deflated. Maybe I will get the urge to try really hard again, but at this point, I want to, have to finish my next marathon. It's amazing what this training has done. I am a very strong runner now more than ever, again, minus the injury. I would love to get my short race speed up after I'm done with this, sleep in a little more, and enjoy the running instead of worrying about the next training run. Yes, it's all self inflicted, but it's rather fun to watch yourself transform. Not on the outside mind you as I think I look exactly the same, no weight loss, nothing, but underneath, my muscles are runnin' strong!
Well, my living room looks like a movie theater, so my boys and I are going to enjoy an afternoon of Monsters vs. Aliens with our bowls of popcorn and Sierra Mist.
Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, whether you have living or non-living children, or furry children, or naughty children, or even if you don't like children. If you are a caretaker, you are a mother. Thank you to all the moms out there for all you do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The aftermath

It has been an emotional week. I have all sorts of feelings from the letdown of the "marathon" weekend. So many people knew what I was going to attempt to do, so I had to explain to a lot of people that just because you have a mustang in the garage doesn't mean it can run without fuel. That's the way I felt about the supposed marathon I was to run last Sunday. I'm getting over it, I have a plan of action, but I'm just not going to share it with many people so I don't have to explain what happened if something else happens this time. I have gotten all support from people that I did the right thing. I don't question that as I have run before when I didn't have the energy and it totally soaked me and I ended up throwing up, and that was ONLY 17 miles. So I knew better. But as one friend said, the problem that I had was an easily fixed one. Something that I can remedy easily for the next time. That's both the good news and the bad news. It was as dumb and simple as not eating correctly the day before while all along, I thought that I was doing the right thing. Big ole' buzzer comin' my way! Anyway, I realize what I did wrong and will try, try again. I do have a plan, just not willing to share the exact details. I hope to come back and tell everyone that I did it... I either qualified for Boston or I at least ran a good race ALL THE WAY THROUGH. As another put it, you have good days, you have bad days, go with the flow, learn from them and move on. And as I've said in a few other posts, I'm going to keep on keepin' on. I'm pissy that I have another 20 miler to do on Saturday. I thought I was done with these. Nope. Need to get these muscles back into distance. With the injury and everything else, I need to suck it up and go for it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Today


The Lincoln Marathon, 8,000 strong; it's an AWESOME atmosphere, one of the best races I've been to for crowd support and drink stations.
Well, today is not how I wanted it to be. Instead of finishing the Lincoln Marathon in 3 hrs and 45 minutes, I finished the 1/2 marathon in 1 hour and 58 minutes. I don't know nor understand what happened. I have trained for 18 weeks and am strong enough to successfully complete my goal. The stars aligned and the conditions were right, although it was a little warm for me. I knew at about mile 4 that something was just wrong. My injury was feeling good, my legs were strong, breathing was just as it should except for a cough every few hundred feet. I could deal with it. BUT when your body runs out of gas that early, there's no way you can replenish what you have lost nor what you are about to expend. I did my carb loading, I rested, I did was I was supposed to do. I got up at 2:30 the night before and ate more carbs. I drank enough then didn't drink much two hours before (so I wouldn't be running to the port-a-potties during the race). It was all good. But even before I started running, I told my husband that I just didn't feel full. I felt hungry. I ate more than a linebacker should, I ate constantly the past day, plus lots of carbs the two days before that. I got lots of sleep. But my body didn't show up. I simply couldn't finish the full marathon without compromising my health, let alone qualify for Boston. I decided that I needed to finish the 1/2 marathon and get home. I didn't want to end up passed out because I had no fuel left, which is how I thought it could very well end up. I didn't want to hurt my leg further (I'm icing it as I type this~yes, it hurts but was fine while running). I didn't want to get to mile 22 and not qualify AND hurt something. So I stopped at 13.1 miles . I NEVER thought I would do that. Never in a zillion years. But my body told me that I needed to stop. Rarely do I ever listen to anyone (just ask my husband), but I had a feeling that today wasn't going to be it. I knew around mile 4 that I wasn't going to be able to keep it up. I did until about mile 9 and then decided to just finish the frickin' 1/2 and be done.

I'm mad, sad, depressed, ANGRY, and lots of other feelings. Disappointed is probably the biggest one, mostly in myself, but some for myself. I was really hoping to celebrate today, or to at least finish the full marathon in good accord. I knew at the time, stopping half way was the right thing to do. Rarely do I ever "give up" or take the short way, but something told me to just stop. So I listened. I wonder now if I could have just walked it out for a mile, finished in good 4 1/2 hours or something. I need to stop that, but I am a very competitive person, so I have to wonder. But my motherly voice to myself tells me I did the right thing. It's just a marathon, there's lots more. Boston has been there for a billion years, it will be there in two more.


So my question is: What do I do now? I have my Storm Lake, Marathon to Marathon all planned out. With the wonderful crowds and atmosphere at Lincoln, do I want to compete on a road through corn fields virtually by myself in June when it's even warmer? I know that I can finish in the time I want, the question is if I can finish in that time ON A RACE DAY. That's a big question. I guess I don't know if I want to be this disappointed right now, plus the conditions will not even be close to today's. It really doesn't matter, as I tried. I tried today, I failed to perform today. I'm upset, sad, disappointed, weepy. The funny thing is that I ran 13.1 miles today and I feel like I walked around the block. I'm not really tired. Besides the injury, I'm not even sore! I didn't even need a nap. It's like a sick joke. I was ready to run 26.2. Sigh, one can never tell, nor control what happens with everything in your life. Some of us are slow learners.
I have a dream, a passion that burns inside me. I am a runner. I am proud that I tried, I'm proud that I could make the decision to stop. I'm just proud that I could attach to a dream and come pretty darned close to making it come true. I did the work, it didn't pan out. Deep breath. Life will go on, I will keep running. Who knows, some day I may get there. Maybe not. But as for me, I'm just going to keep on, keepin' on.
Some people have told me that they have wanted to comment on my posts. This thing is picky and doesn't like getting comments without getting a hair sample, or so it seems, so please just email me at: kellikerk@cableone.net and I will post them here.
I can't forget to thank my mom and dad for watching my kids while I went to Lincoln. I thank my sister and friends who have given me so many words of love and support. But most of all, thank you to my wonderful husband, who has inspired me to be a better person. Thank you for taking care of the boys so many times when I was running, napping, eating. Thank you for your confidence and kindness. Thank you for supporting me trying again, whether it be in Marathon or this fall. I love that you love your crazy wife. I love you. Thank you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

One more day

Nerves. I cannot believe that the marathon is almost here. It's been 18 weeks and here we go. My goal is to finish within 3 hrs 45 min. I'm actually almost hoping to just finish, considering the shin splint I have. I haven't run much at all the past two weeks so here's to rest, stretching, icing, and shin compression sleeves! I'm looking forward to the atmosphere of a running event, especially one this large. I know there are 8000 marathon runners and who knows how many 1/2 marathon runners. That's an awesome number! Then we will finish on the 50 yard line at the Nebraska Cornhuskers football stadium. I told everyone I would convert to a Nebraska fan if I qualify. I got "the eye" from a few Hawk fans and my hubby, but if I do qualify, I would have good feelings from that field. I couldn't NOT convert! It's not like I would choose Nebraska over Iowa or anything, or even Iowa State, I would just choose Nebraska over the likes of Oklahoma and all those other Big 12 teams (except for State). Anyway, here's also to barfing on the big "N" at the end, to converting to the Big Red, and having fun while at it. WIsh me luck. I will post sometime on Sunday. I think. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Roller coaster ride

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride. I would prefer a real one to this, but I get what I get! I have three days until the Lincoln Marathon. I really honestly have no idea if I will be able to complete this race. When I was feeling leg pain a few weeks ago, I had no idea it would turn out to be a very severe shin splint. It's one of those that's absolutely terrible when running, but you can walk around just fine. It's like a sick joke that my leg was pulling on me. I took all last week off from running. I went to the gym on Friday and did the elliptical with no problems. I was in a good mood until about noon, when I got a really bad sore throat. Two days later, I could still barely breathe and didn't care about the leg! Anyway, my cold is better, lots better, and I ran two miles fast this morning. It felt great! It's a few hours later, and it's a tad sore, so I'm taking very good care. I have two more days off, then another slow two miler. Then we head to Lincoln Saturday afternoon!
Anyway, it's been interesting to say the least. I have been very depressed about not being able to run, and now I'm so nervous about actually being able to do it, my stomach is already going crazy!
As for the kitties, I have a foster kitty who will head to a farm in a few weeks. She is soo sweet, so if anyone is reading this and wants a spayed and vaccinated inside cat at little or no cost, PLEASE EMAIL ME!! Her name is Kim and she's a doll.
My kittens went to the adoption center on Monday. They have settled in well and one was preadopted on Monday afternoon by a new Morningside College Graduate. Four more!
We have so many more available there, so come check them out!
More later....of course, by Sunday evening. I could be celebrating or rehabilitating...we shall see! I do thank all my friends and family who have prayed for my leg to heal fast. I still need those prayers of support, so keep 'em coming! I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon and put this 18 week training chapter behind me, once and for all. (At leat I think it will be behind me.) I want to take the summer off and just have fun with my friends and the kids. I want to camp at Mt. Rushmore and along the Missouri. Please, dear Lord, let me qualify!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two Weeks

Two weeks. It's been sixteen weeks since I started my 18 week advanced marathon training program. It was the week between Christmas and New Years. A lot has changed in those 16 weeks. Some of it has been good, some of it not so good, but that's life. But....two weeks. Within two weeks, fourteen days, I will know if one of my dreams that I never knew I had will come true. In fourteen days I will know if I can accomplish something that I never thought I could. In fourteen days I will be running my heart out for 26.2 miles. I truly believe that I can accomplish my time goal. The questions remaining are things out of my control. I have done the training, the rest is up to nature. God only knows, God only knows.
One thing that has me unnerved and I hesitate to bring it up is that my leg hurts. It started hurting during my "hell" week last week and it hasn't really gotten better with reduced mileage. I took a few more days off this week as to hopefully help whatever it was to heal. It's not really working, so I'm going to just keep on keepin' on. We'll see what happens. I've read the books and I am doing the right thing. I won't risk my entire running life for this event. But it hasn't gotten to that point yet and I hope I won't have to make that decision. I am prepared to make it if it gets there.
I have had a lot of people tell me that I'm crazy. I take it that it's a good crazy. I hope that my boys will someday understand what it is that their mom is doing. Right now, they just know that I'm gone a lot in the morning and tired a lot in the afternoons because of running. They know that I talk a lot about it. I think they like to watch me finish, and maybe some day, I can watch them finish, probably from wwwaaaaayyyyy behind them. I hope they will learn from me. I hope they will see me persevere and work hard and try and try and try. I hope they will see me succeed. And I hope they are filled with a sense that they can do anything as long as they set their minds and do the work, however hard, sweaty, and tiring. Whatever that thing is they want, whether it's a career, a sport, a girl, a nice yard, I just hope they can look at their parents and see us work to get what we want, stop when we have or need to, but see themselves as "doers" and not just "dreamers". I say they can do their dream...live it...be it.
I hope my friends and family can see what I have done and maybe look at themselves differently. Maybe they can try something unusual or extreme. Well, it's not like what I'm doing is really that unusual.....I just don't personally know many people who run marathons. I would like to, but I just don't. I hope other moms can step outside of their families and do something for themselves, whatever it may be, if there's something they want to do. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a volunteer. I am also I runner. It's a huge part of my life, it's my out, my therapy. I wouldn't be me if I couldn't run. I don't view it as being selfish to run. I view it as a necessity for my well-being, my health, my sanity. So if there's something that YOU want to accomplish.....I say, GO FOR IT. Of course, be sure it's the right time, but GO FOR IT. Well, it's probably never the right time, but be sure it's an ok time. Then do it. Just do it.
As for me, I just want to run fast in two weeks. I don't know if it will happen this time, but I sure hope it will. I will give it my all, for my family, my friends, and mostly, for myself.
A good friend wrote me today, "Heaven bound but I'd love to run through Boston on the way!". I shall revise that to be, "Heaven bound but I'd really really really really really love to run through Boston on the way!". That pretty much sums up how I feel. And I appreciate friends like her who have supported me along the way, whether it's the marathon or as a mom. It's friends like her that make life so much more interesting and lovely. Thank you!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A long week!

After 55 miles of running from Monday through Saturday, my dogs are tired. Dog tired! I did a brisk run on Friday, a 10 miler in 1 hour 21 minutes. Saturday was my last 20 mile prep run and was very happy with completing it in 2 hours and 55 minutes. That's an average of 8:48 per mile. Not too shabby when my goal is 8:29. We'll see in three weeks if I'll be weeping or shouting for joy!
The kittens I'm fostering are growing and changing every day! They are so cute and I suspect are trying to use the litter box. One was drinking from the water dish. He or she was not having the easiest time as I think some of the water was going up it's nose. They are very social and I will be posting pictures of them this week. They are a unique color, black with white thrown in. Two look like they dipped their tails in white paint. I really enjoy having them but I know they will have to go to the adoption center soon. I'll love on them while they're here, for sure!
I think there were a few adoptions over the weekend. Sammi, the very vocal and loving kitty wasn't there when I dropped off some stuff for Beth. All she wanted was for someone to pet her, so hopefully that someone came and found her.
Well, time to get some steak grilled. I was hoping to have some last night, but pasta was it, so steak is it tonite!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The cats.....

I have so many stories to tell about the cats. One is that three weeks ago, Lady and her three kittens went to another foster and I got Jazzmine and her five kittens, all of which are black. I have watched them grow (at some points, they were gaining 1 ounce per day!) and change. They are social since I go in their room all the time and talk to them, but their mother has other plans with me. I think if I didn't feed her, she would rather shred me and make bedding out of me. We'll see what happens after the kittens go to the store for adoption. She's a beautiful cat and a great mother so I hope she'll be able to be indoors.

The kittens I had before are at the adoption center. They are so big! Their personalities haven't changed much. The gray one and black one with white feet are very playful and social. The little black one who got sick while she was here is a quiet one who likes to observe. My little boy is a cat person, and he made her a little bed out of a cat toy and his coat. Two little sweethearts!

So many cats have been adopted and surrendered then adopted and more surrenders and adoptions. I can't tell you how many sob stories that Beth hears, some of which are true, some are not. Some people tell you that the cats are vetted and "I'll run and get the records for you", never to be seen again. Mysterious that they no longer answer phone calls either. We are here to help the cats so we can put up with this, but unfortunately, rules come about when people abuse trust. No more surrenders of "vetted cats" unless the records come with. No more lying!




The biggest story that I have is of Wonder- pictured above. He is on our website (http://www.siouxlandpawprints.com/) under "Cat Tails". He came on Friday, March 26th. He was a 1 year old pure white male kitty who had a congenital defect which made his eyes very small so he was blind. The woman who found him said she was driving to work one day in January, so there was a lot of snow on the ground. The lump of snow she saw didn't look quite right, so she stopped and saw this kitty laying on the ground. She took him in, took him in for a vet check and rabies shot, and kept him for two months in an extra room. She said he would come and lay on her and purrrr up a storm. I got to witness the purring, but I didn't have a place to let him come out and get comfortable since I have the loud kids and other curious cats. I didn't want to upset him. I contacted Animal Lifeline of Iowa in Des Moines, a no-kill shelter for special needs cats and dogs. They accepted him and had room for him! I made a trip for me and my two kids to drop off Wonder, see my friend Sonia, and visit my 95 year old grandmother. It was just meant to happen! I had such high hopes for this guy and knew that this shelter was the perfect place for him!
I went on Thursday, April 1st and dropped him off at their vet for a once-over. Come to find out when I checked on him Monday, he had an upper respiratory infection, which is pretty normal for cats under stress and exposed to the elements, so they medicated him to get him better. No biggie, right? Well, I just got word today that he had an uncommon form of demedex/mite which is on the skin, plus he injested it. He also had roundworms, which are treatable. Because of the type of lime/sulfer dip used for mite treatment that may not even work, coupled with the fact that he had the respiratory infection that could get very bad with the dip treatment, they decided the most humane thing to do was to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge. Let me just say that this shelter goes above and beyond anyone else I've ever known to save an animal, so when they decide to do that, it's absolute last resort. Check out their website and look at the stories and you will be amazed! (http://www.animal-lifeline.com/) Some cats have been there for years. I am confident that I did the right thing, they did the right thing, but my heart hurts for this guy because he should have never been out in the elements in the first place. He should have been indoors and cared for in a special way. He was a special cat to me the six days I had him here. I don't know if I've felt that way about a cat that fast so today is a sad day for me. I had a very different outcome worked out in my head. Animal Lifeline is having him cremated and will be returned to the shelter. This isn't what anyone expected or wanted, but it's best for him. That last thing anyone wanted was for him to have to suffer with the treatments.

I give a shout out to them and all they do.

As for my other cats, I have three personal cats left besides the foster mom with babies. I took Sunkist and Oliver to the adoption center. I feel like I am betraying them since they felt that my home was their home. I know they will find a good and loving home together. They are coming out more and are socializing well with the other cats.

Well, when you raise your glass of water, milk, pop, whatever at dinner tonight, please say a little thanks to God for bringing Wonder home. He finally got peace.

This is about the running....

There are going to be two new blogs, one about running, and one about the cats! This is about running....
The Lincoln Marathon is quickly closing in. Almost two weeks ago, I had my 2nd 20 mile long run. I ran it outside on my hilly course so I could get my leg muscles used to doing hills again. I knew it would be a good workout. I guess I underestimated how your body gets used to running without hills as it had been since November when I had been out on my normal course. The gym and treadmill are obviously flat. I was supposed to run this 20 miler in about 9.5 minutes per mile and I just couldn't keep that pace. I totally blame the hills, but as I'm learning, it's a lot about what you put in the tank that keeps you going! I wasn't worried about it because it sure was a good workout and my legs are getting their "hill" memory back!
I have had a problem with my attitude in the past few weeks too. I would say that in running, whether it be speed or distance, a large portion of it is mental. You can't have a good race if you're not mentally fit or physically fit. Let's say that I was pretty burned out last week, so I used the excuse of going out of town to take a few days off! The week was pretty slow as far as running was concerned so I felt it really wouldn't effect my total marathon preparedness. I also decided to run the Spring Thaw 10 mile race this past Saturday, and it just didn't go well. I would say that I was mentally there until my gas tank went on "E" after about mile 3. I knew I was in trouble but felt ok so kept going. I was going at about 8 minute miles or slightly less on average since the first mile was 7.5 min mile pace. After mile 5, I had to actually stop since it felt like someone was stabbing my gut with a very sharp knife. I had not eaten enough the night before (sorry portobello, you're not cutting the mustard as a pre-race dinner) and the morning of. I didn't think it would be a big deal...boy, was I wrong! And by the way, stir fry isn't a good choice either unless at least half is noodles or rice. Yup, learned the hard way on that one too. I was hoping to run the 10 miles in just over 80 minutes but I trucked in at just under 90 minutes. Not shabby at all, although there were SO MANY fast runners out that day! Wow! I gotta hand it to the one who ran at 6-7 min mile pace. I saw her pass when I wasn't even at mile 6...way to go and I wish I could run like that! I was just so upset that day because I knew what I COULD do, which was a lot better than what I actually did do. I even cried.

I am a very competitive person, so I decided on Monday afternoon that I couldn't let a bad run spoil the marathon prep. Tuesday's running schedule had a 10 miler on it, but there was rain in the forecast, so I ran my 10 miler Monday outside on the hills and lo and behold, ran it in less than 9 minute mile. I was so happy and came in to tell my hubby "THAT's how a 10 mile run should go!". The past two days have been 4 and 5 miles on the treadmill and tomorrow starts back with the speedwork that I haven't done in two weeks. I will go to the track so I can get accurate distance times. They're sort of fun when it's light out....run 800 meters at 3.5 minutes, then walk 200 meters. Yes, I said fun. Then Friday will be a 10 mile run at race pace so I will do that at the track too to get accurate mile splits. Saturday is my last 20 mile prep run before the marathon. Nerves are starting.
I'm working on my iPod playlist for the marathon too. I get in such a grumpy mood when it comes to music so I'm shortening my normal running playlist and repeating several of my kick butt songs. I got a good one from a commercial and some from the Genius thing on iTunes. I'll report back after Saturday's run.....just no injuries is all I can really ask for!