Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bold and Beautiful

Sommer is Bold!

Sommer had a project at school where she needed to pick a quality she possessed that described her best and write how her life thus far has shown this quality.

Garth and I were amazed at her writing talent and loved the adjective, BOLD that she chose to decribe herself. She had two assignments. The first, to write a poem and second, to write five paragraphs about her quality from 0-3 years, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12, an autobiography.

Her poem, "I AM."

I am a bold person.
I wonder what people think of me.
I hear my voice standing up for myself.
I see people reacting to my boldness.
I want people to understand me.
I am a bold person.

I pretend I know what I’m talking about, even though I don’t.
I feel great when I can stand up for others and myself.
I touch people that know I will stand up for them.
I worry that I might be too bold.
I cry out that people might take me the wrong way.
I am a bold person.

I understand people won’t like me for being too bold.
I say I’m sorry often.
I dream that I’ll be able to say whatever I want to say.
I try to hold my tongue.
I hope my boldness doesn’t hurt anyone else.
I am a bold person.

My Bold, Exciting Life by Sommer Porter

I think of myself to be a bold person. Throughout my life I’ve said and done things that reflect the characteristic of bold. My parents think I’m bold, but they know my limits. My friends think I’m careless. When no one else wants to so something out of fear, I’m always willing to step up. Many experiences in my life have taught me many things. I’ve changed a lot over the years, but I’m still a bold person through and through.

When I was two, I loved to climb trees. One beautiful spring day, all the kids on my street wanted to have a tree-climbing contest. The kids gathered around a really big pine tree. The highest climber was a boy named Matthew. He had made it halfway up. I knew I could beat him and climb higher. When I said I could, everyone laughed at me. I began to doubt myself as I started to climb. It turned out I beat Matthew and almost made it to the top. I was really proud of myself. I learned that even if everyone else doubts me, I still have to try. I became bolder because I had tried and succeeded. This success boosted my confidence. More growth in my personality was soon to come, as I got older.

One big change in my life was when I started my school career. Preschool was very exciting to me as a little four-year old. I couldn’t wait to start learning. When we started to learn shapes, everybody was bored. All the kids had learned shapes already. I could tell everyone wanted to say something, but they didn’t out of fear. I gathered up my courage, and walked over to the teacher. I could feel every eye on my back as I told the teacher we didn’t want to learn this, and that we were very bored. The teacher was startled at my boldness, but the she let us out to play. I, like when I was two, learned that I have to stand up for myself. I can never be afraid to speak my mind. All these successes were making me a little too confident. I would soon realize that, as I grew even older.

When I turned nine, something happened to change my outlook on life. I loved being in the center of attention. On this particular summer day, I decided I would show off in front of my friends by jumping on top of my swing set. When I got to the top, I suddenly lost my balance and fell off. I didn’t get hurt that bad, but the fall gave me quite a scare. I realized from this that I have to make smarter decisions. I learned I have to be more careful. Previous experiences had led up to this by making me too self-confident. Soon the things I had learned would be put to the test.
During summer camp when I was eleven, we went to an amusement park. We were having a lot of fun riding all the attractions. Soon my friends wanted to ride a ride that our counselor had specifically told us not to go on. I wanted to say something but I didn’t want to seem like a dork. As we neared the front of the line, I finally said that I wouldn’t be riding. As I walked away, I could feel my face burning red. To my complete surprise, my friends followed me out of the line. They all confessed that they were just following everyone else. I learned from this that I can’t be afraid to do what’s right, even if I’ll be embarrassed. I know I have to be bold and smart at the same time. My boldness is what made me the character I am today.

I’ve learned a lot throughout my years. I’m proud to be bold and different. I know I can’t be scared to speak my thoughts and feelings. I also know I have to make smart decisions so I won’t get hurt. I can’t get cocky or too self-confident. I know who I am. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without my boldness.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mouse in the House

Why are we so scared of mice? They are extremely small, harmless and quite cute. We live across the street from a farm house, thus making our home a great location for numereous mice over the years. We have always had an pest control service to control the ever so cute mice that have come for visits, but we had to cancel them a few months ago (darn gas prices!). I thought we would be okay since we have our very own cat (altough I did ask our pest control guy last year if all cats had mice capturing skills...he said no...darn cats), minus her front claws. What she lacked in cat killing ability she had what I call, "mouse location sites skills."

About a week ago, I noticed Misty (our feline), hanging out extensively by our fridge. Hours and hours would pass as she sat transfixed at the floor...I tried to ignore the reality that we might have a new unwanted houseguest...

Today Joey decided he too held the "mouse location site skill" putting his nose to the floor right by a shelf in our entry way. I thought he might have lost a toy behing it. Thoughtful me, decided to move the shelf to retrieve his desired toy and immediatly saw it...the MOUSE! I screamed (that is what we all do when we see a mouse right?!). Joey ran and hid in the family room (what good is he...come on...he is much bigger than that mouse and they are so cute, refer to first paragraph). But at least I knew the truth...MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!

After the mouse was scared out from behind the shelf, it made a mad dash under the bench. The rest of the day, Joey stayed clear of the frightening invader and Misty made herself comfy and began camping out in hopes of an attack (no front claws? not sure what kind of attack she was planning...). I did see her crouched low, watching under that blasted bench, eyes quickly moving from side to side...eeeww!

When the boys got off the bus, I told them all about our mouse situation. Calvin immediately asked if he could shoot it with his airsoft gun. Ethan wanted to feed it a bit of cheese. I decided to stir things up a bit and asked Calvin to help me lift the bench. We both took an end and slowly lifted up the bench. Misty quickly went into action and made her way under the now exposed bench site. Cal and I were totally blinded,having no idea what was happening beneath our feet (I was cringing hoping that if the mouse did come out, it would take Calvin's side due to the flip flops I had on). When all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. Misty grabs the mouse into her teeth. Calvin and I start sceaming like little girls as we see the mouse flailing in her mouth. She freaks out and releases the mouse (I think this might be her first catch) and high tails it upstairs. The mouse makes a scurried run for it back under the shelf.

So much for animal help. Garth is headed to Lowe's as I write this tail (little furless pink one...ewww!), I mean tale to pick up a trap.

Together Forever

I had the most wonderful trip this weekend visiting my dear friends, The Merrills. This was a very special day for them. They were finally able to take their daughter, Chase to the temple (South Carolina) to be sealed to them for time and all eternity. The young children of our church sing this precious little song, "Families Can Be Together Forever." The simplicity of song reveals the hope of being together forever with our families and the joy we receive knowing how that can happen.

"I have a family here on earth. They are so good to me. I want to share my life with them through all eternity. Families can be together, forever...through Heavenly Father's plan. I always want to be, with my own family. And the Lord has shown me how I can. The Lord, has shown me how I can."

For those that would like to know more about the temple, click here, to read the words of a prophet.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This is Chase Merrill...one of the cutest little munchkins I have ever seen! I am thrilled that I get to squish her cheeks tomorrow when I get to be with her and parents, Jason and Michelle for their temple sealing! I can't wait!


I am pretty sure I actually ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, especially due to the pains I still have in my right heel and both quads. But here is some proof:

Click http://www.marathonfoto.com/order_my_photos.cfm?BFI=fp2lai7g8u (then got to Boston 2008 and put Porter and 16899 for my number) to see some of my various running emotions such as:

Overly Excited for it to be Over
Totally Tired
Overly Excited for it to be Over (see finishing pics)
Not planning on running longer than 3 miles for awhile


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

11,461 out of 22,000

I am alive but not kicking. My quads are so sore I would never be able to kick anything. I avoid the stairs and sitting down unless I can remain sitting for a long period of time. BOSTON was awesome! I loved every minute of it, except for maybe minutes 1:50 (mile 13.1) through minutes 3:47:58 (mile 26.2)! I have never run a race with so many people running and cheering. Let's start from the beginning:

Garth and I arrived in Boston on Sunday morning just as the Women's Olympic trials were ending. We saw many super lady runners proudly wearing their finishing medals throughout the day. Go Deena Kastor (she won)! We went straight to the HUGE expo to pick up my race number, chip and shirt (ahhh! I literally got the last small shirt). Garth and I were there early enough to avoid the body to body crowds that began to surround us by lunch time. It was so crowded that they had to stop letting people in until others left. The running booths were great and we got my fix of free stuff (this included plenty of "prizes" for the kids). Garth was a trooper following me around as I had to check out everything!

After the Expo, we went to our hotel (via the "T" or subway) to relax before meeting up with some of my super fast running boys for dinner. We carb loaded at Maggianos (very frustrating not being able to chow down too much). We really wanted to take a tour of the city earlier that day, but were not able to get tickets. We were bummed we missed out on seeing all the super sights of Boston (but I figured I got to see quite a few on my run).

We were lucky to have our hotel about one minute walking distance from the buses that would take the runners to the start 26.2 miles away in Hopkinton, MA. Garth walked me to my bus taking a few photos of the HUGE crowds of runners awaiting their turn to load on the buses. It was fun to chat with other runners and hear about their stories and experience.

After the long bus ride, we were taken to the "athlete's village" where we were treated to bagels, water and powerbars and of course the ever so long bathroom lines. They had jets fly over the start right before the first wave of runners started. I was in the second wave at 10:30 and started walking to the start about 10:15. The start was about a mile away and I figured I had plenty of time due to the sea of people leisurely walking to their various race corrals. As I hit the back of the corrals (26 and I was in 16...each corral had 1000 people in it), I heard the announcer say, "And were off!" I couldn't believe I had missed the start! I started high tailing it to the front of the line, up a steep hill, dodging spectators. I finally reached corral 16 and was smashed together with a sea of runners as far as the eye could see. It took at least 2 miles before I stopped getting elbowed or just about run over!

I was finally on my way! The weather was perfect...55 and sunny! Virginia has been blasted with heavy rains and I was so grateful the front stayed south of Boston. I was excited about mile 3 because one of my dear college buddies, Sara Stout Apke (who I haven't see in at least 12 years), would be cheering! I was thrilled to see a big sign with Heytar written on it through the huge crowds. I ran over and gave her a big hug and I was off. My next fan wouldn't be until mile 17 where Garth was planning on cheering me on! I had a long way to go.

The course was pretty tough with a lot of downhill (great for the heart but not so great for the quads) and some pretty nice hills spread throughout the course. The notorious "HeartBreak Hill" was actually a serious of three hills from mile 20-22. Those hills were actually a relief from the downhills...no I am lying they stunk...no hills are good in my book. The hill that bothered me the most was the surprise hill at mile 25...are you kidding? Mile 25? My quads were so spent at that point that I kept singing in my head, "Just keep running, just keep running" (from Nemo, just keep swimming...).

I was so excited to see Garth at mile 17 and gave him a kiss and whispered in his ear, "Help! Get me outta here!" But he said, off you go...and I figured I had to keep going or I wouldn't get that coveted finisher's medal.

The crowds cheering were like nothing I had ever experienced. The entire 26 miles were lined with people giving support. Donna put my name on the front of my singlet so my name was cheered over and over again throughout the race. My favorite was when I heard a Boston native yell my name, "Go Hathah!" It actually gave me some major encouragement high fiving all of the people (the kids were the best!) as I ran along the course.

I know many you kept track of my progress as I ran the race. The race had timing mats every 5k of the race, giving you all a play by play of my progress. Each time I hit one of those mats, I would get teary eyed thinking about all of you cheering me on!

The joy that filled my heart when I came around the last turn and saw the huge Boston Marathon Finish line was something I can't explain! How cool to be amongst one of the 340,000 Boston Marathon finishers over the past 112 years (can you believe only 340,000 people have run this race?)!

The marathon is an incredible experience. It tests you mentally as your body screams for you to stop. It challenges every fiber of your being as you train week after week until the final test. You never know how each race will turn out...will my body hold up, can I keep going, why am I doing this?

Even though I was a bit shy of my goal time of 3:45:59 (that is my Boston qualifying time), I was thrilled with my final time of 3:47:58. The whole training process this go round was much more difficult due to some injuries. I ran less, did zero speed workouts and therefore decided to put my best foot forward and just where it would take me. It took me to the finish...the ultimate goal!

During the race, I told myself I didn't want to do this again. Today, I feel different. I actually can't wait until next year where I plan on training harder and going for a personal record...okay I can wait. Luckily I qualified for 2009 in November at Richmond so I have the option to take on Boston again!

At the Expo with my race number.
Garth and I at the Expo.
Waiting to board the bus with thousands of other runners.
Meeting Bart Yasso (on the left). If you don't know who he is click here. He signed a copy of his new book!
Dinner with VA friends after the race...these guys ran the race in 3:09!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Boston Baby!

In 4 days I will be lining up to race the greatest marathon (at least that is what they tell me...I will let you know on Tuesday) in the world! I will be amongst some of the fastest runners in the world (well, they will mostly be ahead of me). People from every state and from all over the world have qualified to participate in this, the 2nd biggest sporting event (behind the Superbowl)! For more fun facts click here.
I am so excited that Garth will be coming to cheer me on as we make our first trip to Boston together! Thank you to Grandma and Grandpa Gair and April for helping us out with the kids!

It has been a thrilling marathon journey, with many miles on the road (over 3500 miles over the past 3 years), early mornings, late evenings, extreme cold (frozen fingers, water, Gatorade...remember that Angie?), hot weather, nagging injuries and a very loving husband who let me do this!

Thank you friends and family for all of your support (especially those that listened to me talk non-stop about running), I couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Day at the Museum

We had an unexpected day off from school today (at least for me...I never know what things are going on around here). The kids and I decided to take a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Ethan and Tate were thrilled when we saw the big T-Rex upon entering the building exclaiming, "Hey, this is where they filmed the movie, Night at the Museum!" I think it was in NYC, but I don't think they care. The flash on my camera is minimal, hence the dark picture of the T-Rex.

Ethan is totally into rocks, jewels and gold. He went crazy happy when we saw the Minerals/Rocks section. He kept saying, "I want this one! I want that one!" They had many rocks that were "touchable" and Ethan took advantage of that bonus feature. He saw a huge piece of gold that was found in Alaska. He begged and pleaded for me to take him to visit Pop-Pop so he would take him gold mining so he too could find a giant nugget for himself!

Sommer kept taking pictures with her cell phone of the jewels (she especially loved the aquamarines...her birthstone) and sending the pictures to her friends. Her most important stops were the Hope Diamond and the Mammals section where we preceded to lose her as she read everything there was to read about each animal.

The kids finished off their trip by tormenting the pigeons by chasing them all over the place. We feel so lucky to live so close to our history. It is amazing that the things we saw today, including a mummy, were actually real! I love that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Popcorn Popping...

For those of you who have heard the song, "Popcorn Popping," you'll have to agree that the writer of the song was from the east coast and loving the spring...and Cherry Blossom trees!

"I looked out the window and what did I see? Popcorn popping on the apricot (or cherry) tree. Spring has brought me such a nice surprise, blossoms popping right before my eyes! I can take an armful and make a treat! A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet. It wasn't really so, but it seemed to me, popcorn popping on the apricot tree (or cherry)."

Okay, so maybe she was referring to the apricot tree (and the writer of the song is named Georgia) but wherever the expression comes from, I love the Popcorn Trees! If you haven't had a chance to be in the east during the Cherry Blossom Festival, make it a priority to come and visit us during that time! They are truly amazing!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not sure how you do things but...This is What I Do...

This is how I do things around here. I thought you might want to give some of these tried and true ideas a go...ARE YOU KIDDING (is this what our Moms did?!)!? Thanks Kim for sharing this on your post. It is quite hilarous.

How To Be A Good Wife (From a 1952 High School Home Economics Textbook)
HAVE DINNER READY: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.
PREPARE YOURSELF: Take 15 minutes to rest so that you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair, and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work weary people. Be happy and cheerful and a little more interesting. His boring day may need a lift.
CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER: Make one last trip through the main part of your house just before your husband arrives; gathering up school books, toys, paper, etc. Then run a dust cloth over the tables. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give him a lift too.
PREPARE THE CHILDREN: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.
MINIMIZE THE NOISE: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all the noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and be glad to see him.
SOME DON'TS: Don't grieve him with problems or complaints. Don't complain if he's late for dinner. Count this a minor compared with what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or suggest he lie down in a bedroom. Have a cold or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soft, soothing, and pleasant voice. Allow him to relax and unwind.
LISTEN TO HIM: You may have a dozen things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first.
MAKE THE EVENING HIS: Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.
THE GOAL: Try to make your home a place of peace and order, where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Arizona Retreat

I have a secret place I go every so often...shhh...don't tell anyone or everyone will want to come.

When I was fourteen, I went on my first solo plane trip to visit my cousin Suzanne and their family one summer in Arizona. It was there, I met the most amazing people...and I was related to them! I loved Suzanne and her hubby Wayne and I felt like all of their kids, Todd, Trisha, Amy, Amber, Sara, and Alissa, were the most fun and lovable little brother and sisters (I like to think I am one of them) ever!

I have been blessed to be part of their lives over the past 22 something years and it has meant the world to me! As I have had a family of my own, they have welcomed them into their lives as well (Garth, Sommer and Calvin know what I am talking about). So I must tell each of you in the Tomkinson Family how ever grateful I am for your constant love, concern and the happiness I feel when I am with you. And the super Arizona sun always helps too! (pictured: Amy, Trisha, Me and Suzanne)

On this trip, I was able to visit two of my long time friends, Shawni and Stacy. We have known each other since the days of "one toddler and second baby on board." In those days, we used to get together regularly for playdates. We would sit together and talk about our futures and eat the following: Chips and Salsa, Spinach dip and warm Artichoke dip. Those were some good old days! It is refreshing to see them both with beautiful families, strong in the gospel and still inspirations to me...we have 15 kids between us...10 girls and 5 boys! And notice...we are eating!

A Night at the Circus

We love the circus! We haven't been able to go for a few years...so many in fact, Ashton and Tate have never seen "The Greatest Show on Earth!" (note: isn't wasn't that great this year)
After hearing Calvin (yes Calvin our totally cool kid), plead with us to take the family to the circus, we relented and found half price tickets for opening night. As you can see from the pictures, we were in the nose bleed section. As we started making our ascent to our seats, Calvin moaned, "I can't believe we are in the last row! How lame is that!" We did end up having a blast...especially fun with our great friends, the Babic's and Grandma! I thought it too cute seeing our littlest boys so tuckered out in the back of the car!