13.1 miles. Wowzah! But I did it...this morning...today. Me.

The Top of Utah Half Marathon was so much fun, and even though I was not able to train the way I wanted to because of previous running injuries, I will say that I was not the last girl to cross the finish line. I was actually somewhere in the middle. Is there any glory in being runner 1086 out of 2012 runners? Not really. Did I feel awesome when after the race my husband pointed out that children and crippled people came through the finish line sooner than I did? Not particularly.

But I feel very happy to have completed this goal! Nobody said I had to run it fast to say I did it! So half marathon...I'm checking you off the list. For now.

(You can see some less-than-flattering pictures of race day over at The Moon House.)



A few weeks ago I read something about a 200 year old German tradition for children on their first day of school. I continue to search for a tradition to land on for a family celebration each year the night before the first day of school. So, I decided to give "schultüte" a try. We are planning a dinner for our little soon-to-be-second-grader, and this schultüte will be presented to her at that time.

From a random website, this is what I was able to discover about the tradition of giving a schultüte:

[Presenting a child with a schultüte is a] German tradition dating back to the early 19th century. Oftentimes, the first day of school can be a bittersweet moment in a child’s life, but in Germany and Austria it is marked by a day of celebration and appreciation. On that day, families present their first grader with their very own Schultüte. Inside, the child finds little gifts, treats, and school supplies.

And here is a photo of some presumably German children in days gone by with their very own schultütes. Just to reassure you that I'm not pulling your leg on this one.

Okay. So, we are neither German, nor is this the first day of first grade for our little kiddo. Nevertheless, I am going to go willy nilly on this one and borrow the tradition for my own purposes and schedule. I'm fearless like that.

Here is the final product:
I covered poster board with fabric to make the cone. Then I filled it with little items that had notes attached to them. The items I included were a pencil sharpener, post-it notes, a bag of smarties, a book, a pencil bag, a journal, glitter pens, ice breakers, watercolors, and some hair accessories that I made to match her school uniforms. Nothing too big, just some random fun stuff. I mean, what kid doesn't like glitter pens and post it notes, right? Here is a look at the individual items with their corresponding notes attached.
I hope she'll like it (I think she will)! If I were to do this again next year, I think I would skip the whole cone thing and maybe make her a fabric covered box that she could actually continue to use. The shape of the schultüte makes it awkward to fill, and really, what is she going to do with a giant fabric covered cone? It is not at all practical. Nevertheless, I gave it a try and will not be empty handed for our little celebration tomorrow!

Happy first day of school to everyone!


pinewood derby . . . girl style!

The same week of the Wasatch Back, I also hosted a daddy/daughter pinewood derby & barbecue for my Activity Day girls and their dads in celebration of Father's Day. We were able to borrow an old track from our brother-in-law's friend for free, which made the whole thing doable (read: affordable). When I was a kid, I always envied my brother and his winning pinewood derby cars. I wanted to build one myself. Assuming all 8 or 9 year old girls feel the same way, I commenced preparing for the activity.

One month before the derby I put together derby kits for the girls to take home. I bought a bulk pack of pinewood derby cars, wheels, and axles. Then I sewed cute bags for each set and attached the printed instructions by sewing them onto the bags. I'm guessing something this cute might not go over very well in the scouting world, but the girls seemed pretty excited about them. Here is the basket of pinewood derby cars before I distributed them:

My initial plan was to hold the derby out in the driveway and have the barbecue out there alongside the track. However, it was pretty warm that week, so I opted to set up the track in our family room and dining room. Then on all the windows I hung pinewood derby banners. Some of the girls helped make and decorate a poster for the event.

And the crowning decoration was the derby flags that each of the girls made. I gave each girl two fabric pennant flags to decorate...one for the pinewood derby and one as a note to their dads for fathers day. They all returned them to me ahead of time, and I sewed them to a ribbon to make a giant banner. It turned out great, and I was so pleased with the lovely notes and lists of things the girls love about their dads. For some reason, we don't have any close-up pictures of these flags, so I have cut in close from the larger photo of them, which gives you the general idea:

Also, for each girl when she arrived, I had made a pinewood derby contestant badge to wear. I just printed these out, had them hard laminated, then punched a hole in each one and tied a ribbon through to create a pseudo-lanyard. It was cute to have the girls all wearing their badges during the derby, and I hope it added to the festivity.

And, in lieu of gifts, I printed out certificates for all the winning categories. I had some gold stickers left over from a school project, so I used those on the certificates. It added a little pizazz. I don't have photos of those really, either. Except at the end I will have some photos of the girls with their certificates. But just a slip of paper isn't much of a prize...bragging rights, sure. But not much of a prize. So I made "trophies" out of cans of root beer and cream soda. One for each dad and one for each girl. They looked like this:
I just played on the A&W logo to make these, using the letters in the word "awesome." I felt better sending everyone home with something.

Now, on to the big event. First of all, we had a barbecue. Each girl had an assignment to bring something, and we provided the hot dogs and kabobs. I will say that in preparation for this event, we needed to obtain a barbecue grill because ours caught fire last year, rendering it unsafe to use again without a fire marshal present. Fortunately, I was able to convince B to sell the old car in front of our house (the one we've been moving and storing, etc. for 7 years without driving it) for enough to purchase a grill. I call it a win-win, and not only that...we'll be able to actually shovel our driveway this winter without trying to manage around that car!

But I digress. So, the barbecue was splendid. Eating, visiting, the usual when it comes to a church group gathering. During this time our bishop came over and judged the cars for us, which was super nice of him to do. Having him there was lots of fun. Thanks for coming Bishop Nichols:
We took a picture of each girl with her dad (or her friends or mom if her dad couldn't make it to the derby) and their car at the beginning of the activity. Here is the group:

Aren't they a cute bunch? And here are the cars...I have to say that I wasn't sure what to expect. I know that the cub scouts go a little crazy when it comes to the pinewood derby. We had the advantage of being able to do whatever we wanted, so there were no regulations regarding weight, design, etc. The only stipulation was that it begin with the original block of wood and wheels. Nothing more. I have to say that what they came up with left me utterly impressed. And our Primary President...hers is the car with the extravagant shoe atop. Wow! Needless to say, it didn't race down the track, but she receives full marks for decoration!

My daughter's car is the flat one in the middle with the Mendi designs on it. She designed the shape of the car, chose the color, and determined how she wanted it decorated. My husband cut the car, affixed the wheels, added the weight on the bottom. I sanded it and drew the designs (though Mags chose which designs she wanted me to use). All in all, a family affair. I tried to make a car of my own as well and got as far as the sanding, painting, and wheels. But no decorations, so I didn't enter it in the contest...maybe I'll just hold on to it for next year!

At the end of the derby, all the girls were excited to receive their certificates. We had races for the fastest and slowest cars, which were both exciting contests. Additionally, we had a number of categories not associated with speed: best paint job, most colorful car, most realistic car, most original car, best workmanship, funniest car, coolest design, most unusual car, slowest car, fastest car, second fasted car, third fastest car, crowd favorite.

Everybody won something, but more importantly, I think everyone had a good time. I was exhausted by the end of it all...which I find is normal for most things worth doing.

I know you must be thinking that the purpose of this blog has turned to documenting Activity Days and nothing else. That I have abandoned its original purpose...to become more of myself, do more with the ideas in my head, develop some ingenuity and become something, well...more. Do not fear...I have not lost track of the original goal. And doing well at my my church job is among my goals for improvement and refinement. But there are some authentically Amy projects in the pipe. I promise. Stay tuned!


check this race off the list

(I am posting this both here and over at The Moon House. For my two loyal readers who check both blogs, my apologies for the repetition!)

We came, we saw, we...um, finished? I'm not quite ready to use the word
conquered. Oh, what the heck. We conquered! I can happily report completing the Wasatch Back this past weekend. And finishing is something indeed. What an adventure!

There is so much I could describe from the experience. Running in a Ragnar Relay is certainly something you have to do to appreciate it. And now I can say I've done it.

Would I do it again? If the opportunity presents itself... ABSOLUTELY!

The night before the relay we met as a team for some oh-so-tasty carb loading pot luck, and then took some very silly pictures in our Wonder Women attire. After worrying for weeks about running in this race, particularly doubting my ability to do so because of a running injury, I was finally starting to be excited about the race. Come what may, we were definitely running this thing, and that felt good.

The next morning we packed up the car, put our Wonder Women decorations in place, and made our way to Logan to begin the journey.

I'm not sure how well my running contributed to the overall accomplishment of our team, but I certainly had fun designing and putting together the car decorations for both cars on our team. Part of the culture of these relays is in the team spirit each team accomplishes. Everyone decorates their vans, and most teams have some sort of costume or coordinated running gear. Our team was a little over the top...I thought...until I saw some of the other teams out there. We were actually so tame by comparison!

Our start time was at 11:30, and for the next day and a half the 12 women who made up the Wonder Women team did their best to get us all to that glorious finish line in Park City. Imagine. 6 women in one van. The first runner begins, and we cheer. YAY! We drive a little farther down the road to cheer her on and giver her water. And we cheer. YAY! We do this two, three, sometimes five or six times during one runner's leg, depending on how far they have to run. Then we go to the exchange point, runner one give her slap bracelet to runner two. We cheer. YAY!

And then we do it all over again...18 times! We ran in the heat We ran in the middle of the night. We slept in the car, on the grass at Snow Basin, in the hallway of some school in some town...I honestly don't even know where we were, only that it was somewhere in Utah. I was just so happy to get a full 3 HOURS of sleep! Wahoooooooo! I felt like a new woman (okay, not really...I was still exhausted)!

My first leg of the race was my hardest...7.4 miles up Avon Pass. Before I even started, my pulled muscle - or whatever it is that has happened to my leg - was killing me, so I was kind of disappointed before even starting because I knew it would be impossible to run as fast as I once had during training. However, I really feel like I was blessed to be able to run and feel well. I made it up to the top with a time not too far from my training times. I was completely spent by the end of this race, but it felt AWESOME to have accomplished it. I even got 5 kills! (That means I passed 5 people on my trek...I know, amazing, right?)

My next two runs were only 4 and 3 miles respectively. They were actually my hardest because my leg injury had gotten the best of me. Nevertheless, I didn't walk, and I didn't stop. I just kept running...slower than I would have liked...but I kept running. Every woman on our team is a hero to me because we all fought so hard to run our best and stay positive. I got to know the women in our van better, and it was a delight to spend that time and share that experience with them.

By the time we cleaned up after our last leg (Thanks Bunderson's for letting us crash your cabin!), dressed up in our costumes, and made our way to Park City, we were all a little on the loopy side. I consider myself an expert in sleep deprivation. But this was taking it to an entirely other level!

I don't have any pictures that turned out of our group waiting at the finish line. The man I asked to take those pictures was a little wobbly with the camera, so they are just big blurs. But, imagine all of us striking a Wonder Woman pose and creating a tunnel with our arms for our last runner to pass through before we followed her to the finish line.

Was it exhausting? Yes. Was it just a touch crazy? Yes. Were there times in the middle of the night with a headlamp strapped to my head out on a dark road all alone that I asked myself, "What the @#%& am I doing?" Um, Yeah. Was it one of my most fun, memorable experiences. Yes indeed!



Last Saturday I ran Suncrest for the 4th time. It was AMAZING (aside from it snowing on me...actually, I was kind of okay with that). Up near the top the fog was so thick I could only see about 40 feet in front of me, and around mile 4 I was thankful to not have a clear view of coming hills as I pushed forward to the top. It was like running inside a cloud bubble, and it was very peaceful.

I have now conquered Suncrest twice without stopping on the 10 mile round-trip. I've been up 5 times total. But I made a costly mistake on Tuesday. Sure, it was only three days after running it on Saturday, and I should have taken a short run that evening. But a friend was anxious to try the mountain on for size, so I decided to tackle it again with her. And it would have been fine, except I had the beginnings of a torn muscle. It didn't feel like much, so I plowed forward. At the top, however, I realized I would have to walk the remaining 5 miles because I was in a lot of pain. But running is pain, you know? So I didn't think much of it.

Perhaps I should have. Sigh. I have not been out for a run in 4 days now, and though I can again walk up the stairs without crying out in pain, I'm not exactly stellar Ragnar material right now. I'm taking the full week off from running in hopes that I can be back in business for the race in just a few short weeks. I should have been off running mile after mile today, which is my most peaceful moment of the week. Instead, well...I'm not.

Here's hoping three or four more solid days of rest will fix this mess so Baby G and I can hit the roads again soon. I'll keep you updated!


mother's day coupon books

For Activity Days last week, we made coupon books for Mother's Day. I designed several basic coupon book pages, and then made some covers for the girls to choose from to enclose their coupons. Then, after a lesson on the value of work and serving one another in our families, the girls assembled their books. I thought, since Mom's Day is this week, I might post the templates and a sneak peek at how we assembled them.

Now you, too, can give a little coupon lovin' to Mom this weekend. (You can use them outside of Mother's Day as well!)

The coupon books all bound and ready to go:

A little look at how they come together inside:

The coupon pages (click on each image to enlarge):

Many of the images I used were found over at The Graphics Fairy and at The New York Public Library Digital Gallery. Thanks to Kristyn from Cerebral Blueprint for tuning me in to these sites. They will be up on the sidebar sometime soon.

And for our next activity, I was able to find enough used copies of the Katherine Woods translation of
The Little Prince for each of the girls. They each have the assignment to read the book, and we are going to have a book review next week.

I just felt so happy about this lovely little stack of books before they went to their new homes. I'm looking forward to hearing what the girls learn from the story, and I'm thinking we may plant flowers for our activity.

time capsules

A dear friend asked me recently if this MORE blog was strictly for goal setting, or if I was using it as more of a journal of accomplishments, etc. Hmmmmmmm. I think I have to say that it is a touch of both.

I realize I have posted a few things on here that were not strictly established as goals initially. Generally these have been crafts or Activity Day events that I think might be valuable to share with you. Perhaps I'll just remedy this and set a wee goal right now ... I want to be awesome for my family and awesome for my Activity Day girls. There.
Goal set! And with that said, I will now begin posting some recent activities that I have done with the activity day girls from our church that could also be used for Family Home Evenings or family activities. BTW, I always make the girls an FHE lesson to go with each activity. so let me know if you are interested in those, and I'll post them.

So, we had a fun Time Capsule activity last month. I made each girl a homemade time capsule and gave them 3 weeks to find things to fill them with. I made the time capsules by just washing out round containers with lids and covering them with craft paper. I also cut out round pieces of matching paper to cover the inside bottoms of the containers. Then I used Mod Podge to affix the labels and smooth out the entire exterior. Then, at the activity, we shared some of the items we put in our capsules and got them ready to seal up tight for the next 10 years.

Here are some of the time capsules...

I also made some cute questionnaire books for them to fill out to put in their time capsules. I am including the pages here. These are geared toward 8 - 9 year olds, so you could use these as a starting place for making something similar for your own family. Just print these back to back on two sheets of paper and then cut the pages in the middle, lengthwise. Then put the cut pages together, cover with the "All About Me" covers, fold in half, and punch holes in the spine of this questionnaire book and tie with ribbon. You get the idea.

Page 1:
Page 2:
Page 3:
Page 4:
Questionnaire Covers:

Container label:

Maggie and I had some wonderful fun putting our time capsules together. We filmed Mags for about 20 minutes just answering questions and talking. It was so funny...she cracks us up. Then we put that on a dvd along with some of her favorite music from right now. I wrote her a long letter, and we also included lots of photos, book lists, drawings, sheet music, letters from friends...just lots of stuff. One cool thing Maggie and I did was send ourselves a stone letter. If any of you have seen the excellent film Departures, you will know what I am talking about. (Yes, do see this film!) We wrapped our stones in a paper with the following explanation on it . . . Then we as a group wrote letters to ourselves to include in our time capsules. I shared with the girls some of the letters I wrote to myself when I was a kid and told them about how many of my wishes and goals had come to fruition. I tried to explain to them that part of becoming who and what we wish to be in life is saying and manifesting it somehow.

I am thinking I will transition this idea into a family tradition, starting this year, to make a family time capsule that we seal at the New Year. Then, beginning in ten years, and for each year afterward, we will have a time capsule to open and enjoy as a family. I am always on the look-out for a quality family tradition, and I think ours will really respond to this one.

Maybe your family would like it too! Let me know if you make one and if you have any great ideas for containers or time capsule contents!

still running

Well, here is a little update on my running goal. I'm still running friends. I have shin splints. I am earnestly trying to keep a recurring ankle injury at bay. I haven't lost a single pound after running for a full month (boo.). I am battling bronchitis. (as usual). However...I am still running, and it feels great to be in the process!

We met as a Wasatch Back team a few weeks ago to choose our routes and talk a little bit about the race. It looks like I will be runner #5, which means I will be running legs #5, #17, and #29. One pretty hard run (#5), and two really easy ones. I'm beginning to feel pretty jazzed about this. Nervous, but positive.

Many of the ladies on our team have been running our local behemoth known as SUNCREST. This is a road that takes you from Utah Valley over the mountain to Salt Lake Valley via the Suncrest neighborhoods on top of the mountain. Mountain is a relative word...I know. To us, it's really just a hill. In other parts of the world, it is a mountain. Be it hill or mountain, it's a tough little run folks! 5 miles from where I started to the point on top where you can see to the other side of the mountain/hill/really big pile of dirt. All uphill. And when I say uphill, I'm not joking. It is ALL uphill.

So when Saturday came, with its snow and rain and fog and wind, you can imagine the excuses I came up with to NOT run this bad boy. I wasn't looking forward to doing it all alone, and the weather was crumby. However, after stretching, and humming and hawing over whether or not I should do it, I decided to just jump in and see how it goes.

And I did it! I had to walk 5 times (I'm not even embarrassed by this...you should see these hills!), but I never walked more than 30 or 40 yards before I started up again. It took me 63 minutes to get to the top, and it was AWESOME! Not so much the gasping and crawl-running, because I had to tell myself repeatedly that I wasn't going to die. But definitely awesome when I called B from the top and said, "I'm at the top! Come pick me up!" (Let's face it...I'm not ready for the 10 mile round trip just yet! I have four more weeks before I attempt that one.)

I plan to run Suncrest once a week to prepare for my first leg of the relay, and if I can run it without stopping and cut my time down a wee bit, then I know I will be able to tackle leg #5 with confidence. B plotted the Suncrest run over the leg #5 run, and though it covers a similar elevation change, it does it in two less miles than the relay run does. See (the top line is the Suncrest road run) . . .

Anybody want to come with me for another s-l-o-w run on Saturday?


see amy. see amy run.

So I have had this goal brewing for a while, but I've never quite decided to bite the bullet until now. I stepped on a scale yesterday (something I don't do all that often) and realized I weighed only 5 pounds less than when I was 9 months pregnant with Mags...7 years ago. Yikes!

I used to do a bit of running back in the day, but I pretty much stopped about 5 years ago when I injured my ankle while running. But I'm ready to get back to it. I have to. So yesterday B and I discussed what race I should run. I suggested that I should just train hard and go straight for a marathon. That way my family would only have to suffer through my training schedule once. I could run the marathon, be done with it, and check it off my "before 35" list.

But we both know me running a marathon in 6 months is a long shot. Not impossible, but a long shot. We agreed it would be better to see how it goes with a half marathon. I mean, 13 miles is nothing to giggle about, right? If that works out well, then I'll continue training and see what happens. So I signed up, plunked down the cash, and am now registered to run the Top of Utah Half Marathon in August.

Then at church yesterday, several ladies approached me about being on their Ragnar relay team this summer. My first thought was, "Have you
looked at me?" It's not like I'm the epitome of running prowess. I can't imagine that when someone sees me waddling down the street that they think, "She's a runner." Quite the opposite. Sigh. I thought about it all afternoon and evening. I thought about it all morning again. And after a phone call with the group's compellingly persuasive leader, I said these three words. "Okay, I'm in."

Gulp. Wasatch Back...ready or not (emphasis on the
not) here I come! I'm actually really excited but very nervous. I only have 2 1/2 months to train, and that's really not enough time. I would have preferred 6. But I don't have 6. I have 2 1/2 and plan to make the most of it.

So I would say this goal is three-fold: 1. Run in the Wasatch Back 2. Complete a half marathon 3. Don't die.

I'll keep you posted! Or not (refer to goal #3).


Easter-ific, part 3

Thanks to wonderful Kristyn from Cerebral Blueprint for telling me about The Graphics Fairy ! I was able to find additional cute vintage Easter cards there, which means I just might be hanging more over one of my windows in the near future. Though I have another project in mind for Easter as well. I'm hesitant to place it as a goal here because I'm worried it won't turn out. What I want to do is sew a couple of little bunnies to put in Maggie and Grace's Easter baskets. But I don't have a pattern, just a picture I found on a website, for what I want to create. You all saw how the Valentine's animal creations turned out without patterns...not stellar.

Also, I wanted to create a pretty nightgown for Mags and one for G...something simple and sweet like you might imagine Miss Elizabeth wearing in
Pride and Prejudice. But I'm running out of time this month, so it just might have to wait. What to do? I shall post my goal for accomplishing ONE of those tasks. Which one? Ah...you'll have to stay tuned!

For now, enjoy these additional Easter prints. And let me know if any of you decorate with them or use them for cards this season! Click on the images to enlarge.