Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Great Grate

I like water.  I like to drink it. I like to lay by it while sunning at the beach.  I like how it can cool me off when the humid summer has taken over. I like how it warms me up after a chilly morning run.

But I am scared of water.  It is rather silly actually.  You see, I just may think a "shark (I use that term lightly)" is going to get me.  This fear of a shark "getting" me can occur in an obvious place such as... THE OCEAN!  But embarrassingly enough, this fear can present itself while participating in sharkless places such as a lake, river or even a swimming pool (yep, I said a pool).

I noticed my little "problem" as a teen-ager. I loved to swim laps in our indoor pool in Alaska. We were lucky, in such a cold place, our little neighborhood had this pool.  Surprisingly, it was rarely occupied during adult lap swim.  And although one might think this was a good thing, for me, I quickly found out it was not. 

One day, while swimming, as I made my way toward the deep end, I glanced down and noticed at the very bottom of the murky water, a grate.  I remember thinking to myself, "Whoa, this water is deep! Why is the water so much darker down there?  And geez, what the is under that grate...sharks?"

I seemed fine in my thoughts until I reached the other side and headed away from the deep end.  As I swam further from the "deep," thoughts started creeping into my head such as, and not limited to, "has something entered the water through that grate?, is it coming towards me?, why am I here alone?"...and so forth.

And just like that, from that day on, I had a fear of water.  I bet your wondering if I swim today....hang on a minute.

I bet you have a GREAT GRATE you are dealing with right now. We all do. Sometimes these grates are small but seem so scary (these can be really tough because others may not know).  Other times, they are so large, it's obviously frightening. 

This year, like you, our family has had our fair share of "sharks under the grate."  This go 'round of trials, was in no way easy.  But interestingly enough (durng my own tribulation), I was given the opportunity to journey with a few other dear friends during their battles...making mine seem so small.

It was like I was given a pool of the clearest water (probably bottled Fiji). Handed to me, were goggles, with the perfect fit (no leaks, no painful circles forming under my eyes).  The lenses were free from scratches, they didn't fog, enabling me to see the entire body of water with clarity. The cool water clear, I could see all the way to the bottom...and there was no grate.

So back to me and my fear of water. 

I was given Jack. Our dear elderly neighbor Jack.  He never knew I had a fear of sharks in our pool. He didn't realize that the grate at the bottom scared the living daylights out of me each time I turned my back on it. He was just there, each day...swimming.

But you know what, I was able to swim because of him.

And today as long as I have someone with me, I can swim...I know you can too.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Double Dare YOU to Become More

I love many things...

I love Garth (duh). I love my 5 children (double duh). I love to play the piano. I love to bike. I love to go to the movies (and after free popcorn was offered from Regal this summer...I love that too and unfortunately am now addicted). I love to shop for a bargain. I love to decorate my house. I love clothes. I love to travel. I love reading. I love my big family. I love helping others. 

The list could go on and on...

To be honest, I used to have the belief, if I wasn't "the best" at one specific thing, I was lacking some how.  If I wasn't the fastest runner (my brother), the smartest (my other brother), the funniest (and yet another brother), the best pianist/singer (sister)...and so on with pretty much "everything" or "anyone" that happened to surround me throughout life than gosh O' golly I wasn't good enough.

It wasn't until my senior year in high school that I realized how wrong I had been...and how talented I actually most things. 

The difference was I wasn't actually the BEST at any one thing, I was Pretty Good at many things.  And you know what?  I LOVE THAT ABOUT ME. 

I am a pretty fast runner, quite smart (math is another story), actually pretty funny (I laugh at my own jokes all of the time), can play the piano quite well (and teach even better...have I mentioned I play the organ too). I am pretty good looking, not shabby in the style department, enjoy a good alto part, can follow a recipe to a T...

Someone will always be smarter, prettier, faster, skinnier, more spiritual...but it is about daring to become more.  The competition is NOT with your neighbor, it is with YOU.

So this year I double dare you to become more.

 And encourage those around you to do the same...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Run is Fun...

...or bike, hike...whatever gets you moving!

I have been thinking about the joy that running has brought into my life over the past 25 years.  I have been able to spend time with my wonderful brother Matt on long runs (well sort of, usually he is about 3 miles ahead), hike with my sister-n-law Tiffany and other dear friends, bike with an awesome group of haymarket women, run races in totally cool places (with cool people), become a better swimmer, more efficient biker, faster runner...mostly because it has been fun! hasn't always been easy.

To become faster, you need to run faster.  To go farther, you need to stay on the road longer.  To keep up with a large group on steep hills, you have to be willing to climb.

Is this the year you plan on having some fun?!  If you take that first step (literally), you will grow in so many ways...and experience some serious joy.

Enjoy some of my running/hiking/biking experiences over the years!

 Riding with the Buttercups!
 More Buttercup fun (our motto: Suck it Up Buttercup!)
Accepting the win at a local 5k
 Boo and I after running Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!
 Ann and I at Boston
 Linda and I at Boston
 Stephanie and I at Nation's Marathon 2011
 Rob, Linda and I at Nation's Marathon 2010
Running my 5k PR 2010
Friends at Shamrock Half Marathon

 Training run at Burke Lake

Burke Lake Training run

 Hiking flattop in Anchorage
 Hiking across gorge in Alaska
 Crazy training run
 First (and only) bike race
Running my first Boston Marathon
 Matt and I after my first marathon
My shining moment when I found out a photographer used this photo for the 2009 Richmond Marathon brochure.

So my advice...start running (or doing something you love), you won't regret it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We Love The Movies!

This year has been rather tough financially for us.  Garth lost his job in April and man 5 kids can be expensive (not to mention Garth and I)!

But the blessings of FREE movies came along when I found packages of M&M's with codes inside for $3 off a movie ticket (or concessions).  When I combined the right coupon with the store that offered the cheapest packages of M&M's, I ended up getting a rather lovely supply of candy AND free movies. 

It has been wonderful having the ability to take the whole family to a movie (stress free) AND get popcorn and a drink for absolutely free!

I have recently seen some packages of M&M's with the offer of FREE Movie Tickets on the outside, so be on the lookout!

And when you combine deals like these with theatres matinee prices and their concession coupons, you can really save big!

This week at Regal, you can go here and give them your cell phone and they will text you a mobile coupon for a $2 popcorn and $2 drink. Did you know you can ask for the larger size for only a dollar?  Often large popcorn and drinks can be refilled...we share one of each with the whole family!

This week we saw Mission Impossible (and even took Aunt Lisa)!  That was 8 tickets ($72), a large popcorn and large drink...for a grand total of $100...costing us a mere $3!

By the way, both Mission Impossible and WarHorse were fabulous movies!

Monday, December 26, 2011

We All Need More Charity...

I love, love LOVE this story!

Click here to watch...before you sure to gather the kids!

Thanks Shawni!

Brittany's 2011 Surprise Gift to Her Parents

Brittany and I have started a Christmas tradition where we secretly plan a special gift from her to her parents.  You see, Brittany doesn't have the ability to get out and go shopping for her most wonderful parents.  But I know she still wants to give...

This year, my lovely friend (and photographer extraordinaire), Jean, came to me with an offering of her services.  We decided we would sneak over to Brittany's house and have a secret photo shoot!

You may think this would be an easy process.  It was NOT easy but man did we have fun.  I first had to ask Brittany if she wanted to even participate (since she was the model and all).  After getting a "yes (this is done by Brittany putting her little hand over to her right knee...that means yes)," the preparations began.

She first needed a new outfit, perfect for the shoot. I went over to Justice and picked out three complete outfits. While her parents were out, I showed her all three...she chose her favorite one.

Then came the hard part...when could we find a time to sneak over?! You see, Brittany is fed her meals through a takes 2-3 hours...(we didn't want a tube in the feeding for this model)!

And...between numerous doctor appointments, physical therapy, it was next to impossible to coordinate this small frame of time with Jean's schedule (and with Sommer too...she was our hair and make-up artist for the shoot).

After finding exactly ONE hour that fit everyone's schedule, we waited until both mom and dad were out.  Brittany's nurses let us in and the secret photo shoot began.  The new outfit was put on, hair was curled and styled and a little make-up applied.

We all lifted, positioned and helped get Brittany ready for Jean to take the perfect picture.

And did she ever.  Here are are favorites!

I requested Jean take a picture of Brittany's feet.  To read the post I wrote earlier this year about her sweet feet click Here.
Merry Christmas to the Leap Family!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christamas Was Wonderful

We had a wonderful Christmas! 

Brooke and I had to take this shot following our darling daughters, Sommer and Suzanna's modeling mother like daughter!

After our amazing friends and family left for the evening from our annual Christmas Eve party (Mexican fiesta, Gingerbread House decorating contest, present exchanges and Charades!), we finished the evening with a sibling gift exchange and new PJ's!

 This all happened after a small fight broke out, followed by frustrated parents, threats, lecture and forgiveness.  This led to us reading from Luke, having each family member read a few verses (which Ashton ended up taking over) and Garth expounding on the beautiful Christmas message.
 Early (much too early), we were awakened by all FIVE (I was shocked) children asking for "release" to the family room to see if Santa had indeed come...and did he ever!  We feel so blessed this year (after quite a doozy) to find Garth feeling much better AND with a NEW job! 

 The day seemed absolutely perfect, having the opportunity to go to church for a music filled meeting and great speakers sharing the history and their testimony of each Christmas song presented!  It was pretty awesome if I say so myself (thanks Garth for the help)!

We ended our day at Grandpa and Grandma Gair's (with Aunt Lisa too) where Grandpa plotted the most amazing surprise for Ethan. He asked Ethan to bring his guitar (and Sommer, Tate and Ash to plan on playing a piano piece) to share.  While the other kids were performing, Pop-pop snuck into his room and "exchanged" Ethan's old guitar for a BRAND SPANKIN' RED DREAM guitar Ethan had been eyeing.  As he unzipped his guitar bag, he looked confused and pulled out the coolest guitar. He immediately set it down and ran into Bruce's arms saying, exclaiming, "Thank you Grandpa!"

All the other kids were spoiled too and showered with love and perfectly picked out gifts (and totally spoiled once again).

Happy, Merry, Wonderful Christmas indeed!