Popcorn on the Christmas Tree

Categories: Family, Folks, Happy Things

Picture it: Christmas 1977.

It’s my parents’ first Christmas. They have decorated their tree with origami ornaments they made from wrapping paper and are trying to string popcorn to wrap around it. It isn’t working well. The popcorn keeps cracking and breaking. Apparently you’re supposed to use soft, stale popcorn when you string it but they didn’t know this. My mom goes into the kitchen to get yet another bowl. While she’s gone, my dad, in frustration, just chucks the popcorn on the tree.

And we’ve been throwing the popcorn on the tree ever since.

Small children and dogs clear the bottom branches by Christmas. What they don’t eat we just shake off the tree when we take it down, sweep it up, and throw it outside for the birds.

Here are our children putting the finishing touches on our tree this year. What didn’t make it onto the tree was picked up and eaten in short order.

A Hebrew Alphabet Quiet Book

Categories: Books, Quilting/Sewing/Knitting/Crafting

Probably some time in 2011 or so I got it in my head that it would be fun to make Brett a quiet book for the Hebrew Alphabet and started working out the ideas for it. Around 2014 or so I actually started buying materials for it but didn’t make much progress on the actual sewing of it. Earlier this year I decided I was tired of moving all the supplies around and I was just going to actually do it. So I did.

A few things held me back. First, looking at a lot of quiet books online made me think they all had to be hand sewn with embroidery floss. And while I love to sew, I much prefer the machine. So I had to get over that misconception. Then it still took me a bit to realize that I could use fabric paint for some of the details instead of sewing them. So it was my own misconceptions that held me back. But no more!

The Hebrew alphabet only has 22 letters. So it’s a bit simpler to do than the English alphabet in some respects. But each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a concept associated with it, and I wanted the pages to represent that concept and not just words that start with those letters. So that made designing the pages a bit trickier. However, it turned out awesome!

When looking at the book and pages remember that Hebrew reads right to left, not left to right.


We titled it “Book for the Sabbath.” I used a freezer paper stencil and fabric paint for the title. I love how it turned out.



Each page represents the concept for the letter. And each page is interactive in some way. We also made sure each member of our family is represented with the animals (specifically the penguin, elephant, flamingo, zebra, lion, and bear for each of us individually and the turtle for our whole family), which is a fun bonus.


The book is dedicated to our four children. I used freezer paper stencil and fabric paint to write their Hebrew nicknames in the front cover.


There’s a “cheat sheet” at the back to help point out what concept each letter represents in case the page doesn’t make it obvious. Printable fabric came in very handy.


And the whole BIG thing ties closed.

The kids love playing with it and so far have been great at sharing it. We love that Izri likes to sing what he knows of the Hebrew alphabet song every time he plays with it.

However, I think my next quiet books will have much fewer pages.

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Categories: Education, Family, Happy Things, With the Kiddos

We went to the Children’s Museum Tucson for the first time on December 18, 2015. We tried it out on a Saturday when Brett could come with me and all three kids so we could see if it was something we would want a membership to and something I could do regularly with the kids on my own. Iddo was 2.5-years-old. Shimri and Shimei were 7 months old. We had a lot of fun and decided to get a membership.

On Friday morning, January 8, 2016, we went to Wee Play, the story time for little kids, for the first time, and purchased our first membership. We quickly moved to Tuesday afternoons as it fit our nap schedule better and rare were the weeks we missed being there for story time at 2:00 and then the weekly craft at 3:00. Shimri and Shimei practiced walking pushing the shopping carts in the grocery store area. They learned how to go up and down stairs at the tree house. Shimei loved climbing UP the slides. Iddo learned how to use scissors in the craft area.



With the freedom of the membership we didn’t feel like we had to see everything when we went because we knew we’d be back in a week. We were free to spend all of our time in one area if we wanted. And we quickly developed favorites. As Shimri and Shimei grew and became more mobile it became more frequent for all three kids to pick different rooms, but they would at least pick rooms next to each other so I could just stand in doorways and watch them play.

Izri was 3 weeks old the first time we took him to the children’s museum. He was awake for part of the visit but stayed with me the whole time. When he was ready to start walking he practiced with the shopping carts. He learned to color with the crafts at story time. He learned stairs with the tree house. He’s more cautious with the slides. He’s fascinated with the bubbles.


We’ve pet alligators, met super heroes, honked the horns in semi-trucks, learned capoeira, played in wading pools, made fused glass pieces, sat inside an inflatable planetarium, learned about rocks, gone to art camp, explored light and sound and temperature and electricity and bubbles, played Taiko drums, and taken dozens of photos in the carrot car. We’ve marked several birthdays at the children’s museum. We’ve taken Grandma Giles, Grandpa Giles, Aunt Kim, and several friends.









We love going to the children’s museum every week (twice a week now that Iddo’s in school so we can still get the story in the morning and the 3:00 activity after school). But more than the building and the exhibits, we love the people. They are our dear friends. Shimri’s best friend is Miss Bri. Iddo cried when Miss Roshea started working at the Oro Valley location. We loved doing story time with Miss Andrea and we all cried when she left for a children’s museum in Chicago (and totally have plans to go see her if we ever go to Chicago). We love Miss Ellie, Friend Aaron, Miss Haley, Miss Mo, Miss Jordan, Miss Miriam, Miss Nicole. Since we are there for the last hour they are open on Fridays now, Iddo loves to follow them all around and help them clean and put everything away. More than once I’ve found at least one of them sitting at the front desk helping check people in, Shimei even did the hand stamps for an entire field trip group one morning. They are our family. They have watched all of our kids grow.

A few weeks ago it was time for story time and Iddo was with someone else. Miss Bri got on the walkie-talkie and asked whoever was with Lauren to let her know that Wee Play was starting. They came back and said Iddo didn’t want to come and would that be okay. I indicated yes to Miss Bri and she passed it along. Iddo spent that morning helping sweep the outside and loved it. Next year when she comes with her first grade class for a field trip she’ll probably want to be the one giving the guided tour. When she’s old enough she plans to get a job there, and she’ll already know how everything works.

Last week was Shimri’s and Shimei’s birthday. It fell on Friday, our normal day to go visit the children’s museum. We’d told our children’s museum friends in advance that we were going to be coming on their birthday and Shimri and Shimei were excited to spend it with their friends. Iddo ran ahead when we got there. Shimri and Shimei followed more slowly behind since they were both carrying plates of cupcakes to share with their friends. And I was coming in last with Izri. When I got to the door my heart swelled and my eyes watered as I saw all of the front staff there waiting for Shimri and Shimei with birthday crowns they had made for them (in their favorite colors and decorated with their favorite animals) and they sang Happy Birthday to both of them. Our children are so loved.

I never would’ve imagined this would be the outcome when we first started going to the children’s museum. It’s been worth so much more than the price of the membership. Our kids have learned about science, art, safety, the world around them, work, and especially love.

Talent Show!

Categories: Family, Food, Quilting/Sewing/Knitting/Crafting

I’m doing an online talent show again this year. Last year I shared my sewing and sock folding talents.

This year I set up two webcams with our two lap tops, one in the family room, and one in the kitchen, and had each one take one photo every 5 seconds for basically 12 hours last week to showcase my talent for Momming. The resulting time-lapse video makes us laugh.

I also have the talent for following recipes in America’s Test Kitchen cook books (specifically their The Best 30-Minute Recipe book and their Slow Cooker Revolution volume 1 and volume 2) which makes it look like I have an amazing talent for cooking.

And I have a great talent for starting projects. I’m still working on developing my talent for finishing them.

Me, the Runner, Part 5: Running With Dad

Categories: Exercise, Family, Remembers

Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: Jr. High Track & Field
Part 3: College & Beyond
Part 4: Marriage & Children

You might have noticed a theme as you’ve been reading through these.

My dad has been an integral part of my running story from the very beginning. And he was always there at the end of the run or the end of the race for me.

I started running when my dad pushed me in the stroller when I was a baby.

My first race was at age three. I held my dad’s hand the whole race.

My summer mornings as a kid started with runs around the neighborhood with Dad before he’d go to work and I’d go back to bed.

When I ran track and field in high school my dad would rub my shins with Icy-Hot when I’d get shin splints.

It was my dad’s encouragement that had me run my first marathon. And our combined desire to run Boston that had me running my second.

My dad and I started my wedding day by going for a run together.

We bought our BOB jogging stroller with the Christmas money my parents gave me when Iddo was born so that I could run with my own children just as my dad had run with me.

My dad and I shared our miles with each other virtually through live-tracking as well as comments and virtual races as my family grew and more miles than we’d want to run separated us.

On October 30th I told my dad with great pride that Iddo had paced me for a 3-mile run on her bike. He was so proud of her.


And now the rest of the story.

That night he got incredibly ill incredibly fast. We lived the crazy ups and downs of the ICU at different hospitals until November 12th when, after the perfect storm of complications, we said goodbye.

Iddo and I have hummingbirds on our running hats now in his honor. I’m still leaving notes about my miles, who I take and what I see, because I know he is running with me still. I cry for a bit on most of my runs, especially my long runs on Saturdays, because I miss him. And I wish he could watch me and my kids run again in person.

This last Saturday I ran my second half marathon. It was the day after my dad’s birthday, and also two years from the day we found out Izri was coming. I had a special shirt made for it that I’m planning to wear for every race until it wears out, at which point I’ll make a new one. I finished in 2:13:27, about 7 minutes faster than I thought I’d finish. Strangely, my live tracking didn’t work the way it should during the race, meaning Brett and my mom couldn’t track me and my dad was the only one who could.


Afterwards the older three kids ran the 1K again. Izri will run the 1K next year for his first race.


And I know we’ll always be running with Dad.

Me, the Runner, Part 4: Marriage and Children

Categories: Exercise, Family, Remembers

Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: Jr. High Track & Field
Part 3: College & Beyond

I had two significant runs in 2009. The first was an early morning run on November 14th. My dad and I woke up early that morning and bundled up to go running in the Avenues neighborhood in Salt Lake City in a snow storm that would become a bit of a blizzard a few hours later before clearing up and leaving the world absolutely beautiful. My parents met while they were working at LDS Hospital there in the Avenues and their first place after they got married was a basement apartment in the Avenues. They were living there when I was born at LDS Hospital. We ran past both of those places plus a few others. A few hours after that run Brett and I got married.

Because Brett knows running keeps me same we agreed that me training for a marathon while planning for our wedding would be a good idea. So almost one month exactly after we got married I ran my third marathon, the Tucson marathon. I spent the first 25 miles cursing the head wind and the last mile and a bit cursing whoever planned the route to end going uphill and last couple hundred yards in sand. Because really?

In 2010 I talked Brett into running a Turkey Trot in Bountiful, Utah. There had been a huge winter storm a few days before and it was still well below freezing. But no wind and lots of sun so it actually wasn’t that bad. He did the 5K and I did the 10K. It was his very first race.

I was looking forward to running while pregnant. I even read a book about all the benefits to both the mom and the baby if you exercise while pregnant. But then there were some complications with Iddo’s pregnancy as well as Shimri’s and Shimei’s. So I never got a chance. The closest I got was a 6 mile run the morning of our IVF transfer that gave us Shimri and Shimei. I did get back to it as soon as I could after every time.

When Iddo was six months old we got our BOB running stroller and I loved taking her out running. And she loved going. Her first race was the Boneyard 5K in March of 2014. It was Brett’s second race so that he could watch her. She wore a running outfit my dad had bought for me to wear when I was a baby and he took me running.

Her second race was the Deseret News 10K in July of 2014. Since the race finishes down the Pioneer Parade route and the race is on Pioneer Day, I wore a pioneer bonnet the whole time and I decorated the stroller to look like a covered wagon. We heard a lot of cheers as we finished and the newspaper even ran a photo of Iddo getting her finisher’s medal at the end.


When Shimri and Shimei were born we were gifted a double jogging stroller. Their first race was the Boneyard 5K in October 2016. This involved telling them not to eat or hit each other. And the double stroller was a bit tricky to get through the crowds on the small dirt paths, but it was a whole lot of fun. Shimri wore my running outfit this time. So far this is the only time Brett has ever run with a stroller.

The Boneyard in 2016 was at the start of me training for my first half marathon, the Mesa-Phx race. Through the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 I was increasing my mileage and having some of the best runs of my life. I ran on my own in the mornings on weekdays and then on Saturday I’d either take Iddo out in the single jogger or the twins in the double. Iddo started getting a bit bored on my really long runs so I even did a few where I would do several miles with her and then run past the house and switch kids and strollers to finish my run. I loved running with the stroller because it held my water for me.

Three weeks before my race I started to seriously consider that I might actually be pregnant. Two weeks before the race we confirmed that I was. Since I clearly hadn’t had any complications with the pregnancy and my running to that point we went forward with the race. I was a day shy of 24 weeks with Izri on race day. Which meant he’d actually been with me for the Boneyard race a few months earlier too. I was finally getting my opportunity to run while I was pregnant, a thought that choked me up every few miles. I was grateful for him giving me that chance. My dad was able to track me digitally on the race and when I finished he congratulated me on my race, “Good job on the run. You were consistent on the pace. Have fun racing with [Iddo]. Send pictures.” I got cleaned up from my race and then Iddo ran her very first race, a kids 1K fun run. The race photographer snapped a photo of us finishing.

The next year, 2018, I ran the 10K, my dad tracked me again and when I finished told me, “Right on target. I followed the first half; then the weather cleared so I went for my walk. It started raining again just as I got home. Congrats to you and your family.” Afterwards Iddo ran her third race and Shimri and Shimei ran their first races and there was another photo at the finish.


In August 2017 my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and we all got together for a week for it. As part of the celebration my dad got all of us running shirts and we had a family race with Grandpa.

Since it’s still hard to find races that aren’t on Sunday I’ve started doing virtual races, since a big part of racing is the t-shirts and I can still get those with a virtual race. My first virtual race was for the solar eclipse in 2017. It was my first run after Izri was born and it was humid as all get out. My dad had done his run for it earlier in the day before it was quite so warm.

My most recent one was for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. Our whole family did it at the park and we had some friends join us. We’re looking forward to doing the next virtual runs for the Apollo missions later this year.

And there is a 5K near Christmas that also has a kids 1K that Iddo and I have done two years in a row now. Izri’s first race in the stroller was the Christmas race just two months ago.

2017

2018

When I go out running I track my mileage with the MapMyRun app. I would leave notes about which kid I took and how windy it was, because the wind makes a huge difference when pushing a running stroller, as does the weight in the stroller. Eventually my dad started leaving notes about the wildlife he saw on his morning walks and it became part of my daily routine to wake up in the morning and see how his walk had gone and then later in the day report on my run around the neighborhood or my walk taking Iddo to and from school. There is a cactus on the corner of our street that we discovered blooms in a spiral and so every day I’d include a photo of the cactus so we could watch the blooms work their way into the center till the last bloom in October. I wasn’t literally going out running with my dad every morning any more, but through technology we were still able to get out and do our miles together. It was a milestone on October 30th to share with him that Iddo had ridden her bike with me for my whole three mile run that evening. The older three now love to go for a mile or two with me on their bikes when I go running.

I love running with my kids. I love passing it on to them as my dad passed it on to me.

Me, the Runner, Part 3: College and Beyond

Categories: Exercise, Family, Remembers

Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: Jr. High Track & Field

I mentioned at the end of Part 2 that I’d dislocated my knee at the end of high school. But I still got back to running when I could. At BYU I did the inaugural Rex E. Lee Memorial 5K my freshman year and every year I was at school. Getting into a regular running routine was a bit of a challenge as I also got into the routine of living on my own, but things went better when I was running regularly.

1997 was the sesquicentennial of the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake valley. As part of the celebrations for Pioneer Day, July 24th, there is the Deseret News Marathon that starts in the mountains and follows the route of the pioneers down the mountains and into town. My dad and I decided we would run the marathon in honor of the last wagons, the ones who had to breathe the dust of everyone else ahead of them. And that’s pretty much where I finished. But I officially finished. My dad finished ahead of me but came back to run the last bit with me.

In 2004 I ran my first 10K, part of the Deseret News Marathon. The runners never really thin out and the race finishes running down the parade route. With all of that pushing me on I finished in 59:45. It was a great race.

At midnight on December 31, 2007 I bundled up and went for a 3 mile run to get 2008 off to a running start. It became a tradition. One that has been modified most often to a walk that “starts on the right foot” due to being sick, or having small children, at New Year’s. But I hope to get the years off to a running start again soon.

In 2008 I turned 30 and my dad and I again ran the Deseret News Marathon, which is the day after my birthday. We both had the goal to qualify for Boston but his hip started giving him grief near the end and I had issues with my ankle through training and the race. But we finished. So the race didn’t beat us.


In 2008 I also moved to Tucson and that September I ran an 11 mile trail race in the mountains north of town and decided that I am definitely not a trail runner. But finding races in Tucson that aren’t on Sunday is hard.

As 2008 turned into 2009 Brett joined me on my midnight New Year’s run.

And that’s a good place to end part 3. Part 4 I’ll talk about running since getting married and having children.