Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Woodridge 1st Ward Community Luau

After several weeks of costume sewing and crafting, dance practices and dress rehearsals...

As well as advertising, cooking, decorating, delegating, coordinating, and spreading the word...

Kevin and I loaded our ward members into the church building, painted their faces, fixed up their hair and makeup, and got them all ready to perform in our first ever ward luau that was designed to invite the community and help us share the gospel!

My co-chairs, Zeke Johnson and Nate McConkie, thankfully took care of all the advertising, decorations, and food. Which freed Kevin and I up to teach all the dances, gather and make costumes, and organize and present the show.

About 15 minutes after we opened the doors, Kevin and I, as well as other members from my dance group Halau Hula O'Puanani, started the show with an Ancient Kahiko called Keahi Alapa, that was choreographed by my Uncle Bill Kelly!

Then Kevin and I split in a hurry so we could change for the next dance while Sarah and Christine danced Aoia with the ipu.

Then we were up again to dance Ku'u Hoa... all the while, Kevin was being the emcee between numbers. Needless to say, the man is VERY fast at changing costumes!

When we finished dancing Ku'u Hoa, some more ladies from our halau got up to perform the auana, Wahine Ilikea. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures because our photographer, Liberty Cameron, was behind stage trying to help Kevin paint a moko on his face.

Which of course brings us to the next dance that Kevin and I did, E Tui/Terina from the island of New Zealand. And I'm happy to announce that I didn't hit myself even ONCE while I was doing the poi balls!

Then Christine, Sarah, and Yoshie came back on to perform a Tahitian Otea and end the professional half of our show.

After they were finished, Kevin gave the ladies a final thank you and then began introductions for the second half of our show that would be performed by ward members!

We started by having the Bishopric lead random audience members through a simple Tahitian Otea (and when I say random, I mean they picked people who had it coming to them!)

Then the Elders Quorum got up and performed a sweet Haka! We had about 15 men on stage (or in front) screaming like maniacs and slapping themselves like wild monkeys...it was AWESOME!

Once the men cleared the stage, the Relief Society got up and performed Palehua. And of course, they had practiced to near perfection, sewed themselves matching costumes, and impressed everyone with their grace and beauty.

Next up were our Young Men. They performed a Fijian War Club dance and looked AMAZING in their table-skirt skirts and face paint. The best part? One of the leaders, Dan Deem, made each dancer their very own club fashioned after hockey sticks! :) Creative and effective!

Our Young Women followed the Young Men with a beautiful aparima called Fakateretere. They had all just returned from a week at EFY only an hour before we started the show, yet they still got up and danced their hearts out!

Then the show stopping High Priest group got up to perform a Fa'ataupati, or slap dance. They came out with so much energy and had EVERYONE in the audience laughing and cheering. It was so fun to watch them dance!

The show ended on a high note with our Primary performing a Samoan Sasa. I'm not sure if a single one of them was doing the same thing at any given time, but they were absolutely adorable and totally stole the show.

When the dancing came to an end, our handsome emcee got back on stage, thanked all who participated, and announced our closing song and prayer.

The closing song was performed by our fearless young woman, Amy Hickenlooper. She played the guitar and sang the Hawaiian Hymn, Kanakawaiwai.

When all was said and done, we ended up with one of the most successful activities our ward has ever had. We estimated somewhere between 200 and 250 people in attendance and a very large number of those people were NOT ward members. But more importantly, our entire ward was united through this massive undertaking. Thank you again to all who helped watch our girls while we were dancing, and who helped with costumes, food, decorating, running the stage and makeup, and those who took pictures and video, who helped teach and organize, or who in any way helped us to pull off this magnificent event. It was worth every second of your hard work!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Father's Day Weekend 2011

Since I got to spend Mother's Day drifting in the ocean on a Caribbean Cruise, I felt it was only fair to allow Kevin 3 full days of Father's Day celebration!

The girls and I started those celebrations on Saturday with a Worship Wall for Daddy!

Later in the day we took Daddy shopping for some new work pants and shirts. That might not sound very exciting, but if you know Kevin, you also know that he sweats all day long and can never keep cool! Thus, he was very excited to get pants made with special "cool max" technology, and a shirt made out of technical running fabric! Kevin DEFINITELY liked his mini shopping spree!

Sunday morning Kevin requested a waffle and strawberry breakfast. So, we granted his request and then took it up a notch by decorating the waffles like watermelon and adding some homemade buttermilk syrup!

The meal was enjoyed by all, but especially Lily who was not above licking her excess syrup off the plate in front of everyone :)

When the syrup was finally rinsed out of every one's hair and ears, we all got dressed for church. I tried to take a picture of the girls with their Dad but it is REALLY hard to get them both to stay still and smile at the same time... Oh well!

After church we enjoyed a nice walk with Daddy. It was a beautiful afternoon and the girls loved running around and climbing trees with their buff Dad!

When we were all walked out, we returned home to make Kevin the cheese enchiladas he had requested for dinner. They might not look like they turned out that great, but let me tell you... They were the BEST enchiladas I EVER had! (and Kevin agreed.) I'd never made enchiladas myself so I just winged it with what we had in the house. Luckily, when our friends (the Noorda's) moved, they left us with a bunch of their homemade salsas. I used a green one for the inside, and red for the outside and it made a world of difference! Mmmmmmm!

And to top off the evening, I made Kevin some Thousand Dollar Bars. Yummo!!!!

The dessert was also enjoyed by all, but especially Kevin who got to take all the leftovers to work to eat by himself (so, that mommy wouldn't eat them all in a single sitting, by HERSELF!)

On Monday, we decided to end the celebrations with a trip to our swimming pool where Kevin and the girls swam, splashed, squirmed, squealed and flew until their hearts were content! It was a wonderful end to our 3 day celebration and a great reminder of why we are all so grateful to have Kevin in our lives! Happy Father's Day Kevin! We love you!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brooklyn's First Trip to the Dentist

When we first moved out to Chicago, Kevin and I were lucky enough to stumble upon Doctor Ronald Carroll, our amazing Dentist! He originally started out specializing in doing work for the developmentally disabled and young children, but as his patients started to grow up, they begged him to keep caring for them. So now he has a Family Practice and we get to benefit from his years of experience working with young and scared patients.

When Brooklyn first came into the room, he waited for her to approach him (which didn't take long) and soon they were singing songs, counting fingers, and playing peek-a-boo with his face mask.

When it was obvious that Brooklyn wasn't scared of him, Dr. Carroll had her get up in the chair and count her teeth for him.

Then he took a turn counting her teeth in between spurts of neck tickling!

After he was done checking her teeth, Dr. Carroll taught Brooklyn how to brush her teeth the right way. While he was brushing her teeth, she kept telling him he missed a spot, or that he needed more toothpaste. It kept him giggling and he said if all his patients were like Brooklyn, he would have the easiest job in the world!

When they were all done, Dr. Carroll gave Brooklyn a clean bill of health, a new pink toothbrush, and some silly bands. Needless to say, he is her new best friend. And Brooklyn was pretty proud of herself for not having any cavities! (We were pretty happy about that too.) The only bad news... the Dentist said we should start saving up for braces now! Brooklyn's mouth, though loud and well exercised, is too small for all the teeth she will eventually have. DOH!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicago RAGNAR Relay!

On June 10th and 11th, Kevin and I drove up to Madison, Wisconsin to run our very first RAGNAR Relay TOGETHER! Kevin is an old pro at Ragnar races. He started running the Wasatch Ragnar when it was still called the Wasatch Back Relay and hasn't stopped since then. When we were engaged I got to be in one of his support vans and watch him run up the mountain stretch that use to be called "you gotta be kidding me!" and that was it... in that moment I knew I would start to run, and would eventually run a Relay with Kevin. 6 years later and we finally did it!

Van One started us out early in the morning on the 10th. They had a little rain but other then that things went really well. Their van consisted of our team captain's husband, Dan, her brother David, David's son Trent, Trent's cousin Jesse, Dan's daughter Alexa, and Alexa's friend Ellie. Because the van was mostly filled with teenagers who can't drive, Dan and David had to drive all their legs (which is actually pretty tiring) but they survived and had a fun time.

We met up with them a couple ours later and David handed off the bracelet to me since I was the first runner in Van Two. By the time I started running the rain had stopped and the temperature was PERFECT! I ran 4.7 miles on a beautiful forested dirt path, which felt great on my knees and allowed me to run 30 seconds/mile faster then I usually do. Needless to say, when I came in to hand off to the next runner I was pretty proud of myself :)

After me, Rachael (who is the team captain's sister) ran, then she handed off to Jared (who none of us really knew, but I had met last year when he and I ran the Red Rock Relay on the same team...different vans, and I knew he wanted to run all 15 Ragnars this year, so I facebooked him and asked him to fill our last spot, and he said YES! And he was the best addition to the team, and we all loved him! Whew! that was a mouthful) who then handed off to K'lynne (our organized and fearless team captain) who handed off to Livia (who goes to the same church/ward as us and K'lynne) who then FINALLY handed off to Kevin!

Anyway, it was a long wait before Kevin got to run, so he was getting very nervous watching the rest of us go.

But that's OK because we kept entertained by telling funny stories, getting to know the other runners on our team, admiring the legs on "Calf Man", and making fun of the Bootie team that seamed to always be near.

Eventually though, Kevin got to take his turn pounding pavement, and let me tell you... he did NOT disappoint! Somewhere along his 6.9 mile route, he found this guy who was just a little faster them him (a hard thing to do) and decided his goal would be to keep up with the guy. Well, they ran neck-in-neck the whole way and actually looked like they were having a blast together. When we saw them coming up around the bend, both teams (and all the other runners that were standing around) started yelling at them to beat each other. They both put it into overdrive and literally came FLYING through the shoot! And yes... the crowd went wild!!! When we all calmed down, we hopped back into the van and went to get lunch while Van One took over and we awaited our next turn on the trail.

That time came somewhere around 10:00 pm. We were all waiting in the van in a parking lot to hear from Van One when we realized they should be coming in by now. So we started to walk over to the exchange, just in case, when I heard someone yelling "345! Your runner is coming." YIPES! I wasn't really ready but I turned on my head lamp, strapped on my vest, and barely made it into the shoot before he did! Then I was off! Kevin was supposed to be running with me at this point (because I'm still afraid of the dark) but hadn't known that David came in already so I had to go solo. No worries though, about a quarter mile in to my 3.7 mile leg, Kevin came running up behind me, pinched my rear end, and scared me to death.

We found out later that some random people had moved/stolen a bunch of signs and 2 of Van One's runners got lost. They only found their way because they were carrying their smart phones and were able to use GPS! In the chaos of trying to find each other, they'd forgotten to call us to tell us where they were, thus, the chaotic exchange. Also, further into the night we realized that dozens of runners came into the exchange only to find their team mates lost and missing... so I guess we were pretty lucky!

The rest of the runs went smoothly, minus some creepy guy that tried to sneak up on Livia at 1 in the morning, and a moment of panic when I thought I was being attacked by gnats, only to find that I was seeing mist in the light of my headlamp... :) and soon it was time for Kevin to run again. We had noticed that the guy he ran with before passed us about 10 minutes before Kevin got to take off on his 5.4 mile leg, so we all tried to convince Kevin to catch up to him. That is a REALLY hard thing to do when you run the same pace and are that far apart, but Kevin came within 2 minutes of catching that guy and we were all very proud!

When we were done running that night we went to a hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before we had to run again. We all wanted as much sleep as possible, so we had timed our wake up call to the T. Unfortunately, we woke up to a flat tire!

We phoned the other team to let them know we might not make it to the exchange and then Kevin and Jared made fast work of changing out the tire for a spare! 20 minutes later we were on the road and MAGICALLY we were only 5 minutes behind Van one, who were slowed by some roads that closed during the night and caused them to lose their runner. We pulled up and I could see David waiting for me. I wanted to jump out and run to the shoot but if I didn't go potty first there would be a much bigger problem to deal with. So, I jumped out and ran to the bathroom, cut in front of 30 other runners (who were NOT happy with me), took care of business, and then started to run my last leg of 4.9 miles.

I was really tired, really sore, and really hungry by the time I started to run my leg and could tell I had slowed considerably! But somewhere in the middle of my run an older gentleman came up from behind and asked if he could run with me awhile. I gladly said yes and about 5 minutes later I could tell he'd pulled me back up to my regular pace. At that point he kindly said goodbye and then I ate his dust, but it was OK because he'd really helped me out.

I kept on running and before long another runner came out of nowhere and asked which way he was supposed to be going. I pointed him in the right direction and prepared to eat some more dust but then he asked if he could run with me too! I said sure and soon realized I'd gained a funny new friend.

He told me some funny stories along the way and tried hard to keep me motivated, but the best part was when we saw the "one mile left" marker. Brian (my new friend) turned to me and said, "Look, we only have a mile left. I know you got some juice left so lets kick it into high gear!" I started to tell him that I didn't think I had enough in me, when he cut me off and said, "No! Let me tell you something. Yesterday I was at an exchange and saw these two guys on different teams running in together. EVERYONE started to cheer and yell at them to beat each other, so they started to run super fast! They came in neck-in-neck and then hugged each other and everyone was cheering like CRAZY! It totally inspired me and now WE are going to do the same thing!" I started to laugh at him pretty hard right about then. He said, "What? You don't think we can do it?" Then I proceeded to tell him that we certainly could, but I was laughing because he was talking about my husband! We both got a good chuckle out of that and then we started to run our britches off! We ran into the shoot accompanied by loud shouts and cheers and it was the perfect way to end my last run!

Now all I had to do was wait. During that waiting period we saw more bums, watched Kevin perfect his cheer leading skills, waited for our runners on scary corners in our stealth van, took many bathroom breaks, and of course, ran. A few of our runners had to do really long runs at this time. Rachael had to do 10 MILES! and Livia had to do 8.2! But they handled it like machines and soon Kevin was up again. The last runner, on the very last leg. He ran a long 7.8 miles into Chicago where we proudly met up with him and crossed the finish line as a team!

It was truly an amazing experience running with my husband and getting to know so many fun people. We had perfect running weather, never above 60 degrees, constant fog and cloud coverage to fight off sunburn, and no injuries or illness to speak of. Our team finished running 200 miles in 29 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds. We came in over an hour faster then our predicted time! When we were done enjoying the free post-race food and entertainment, we said our good byes, drove home, and passed out cold for the next 12 hours. And yes... it was totally worth it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Life AFTER Vacation...

Is there such a thing? To be perfectly honest, when we first got back from our Epic Vacation, I didn't think there was! All of the sudden no one was making my bed, scrubbing my toilet, bringing me gourmet food 12 times a day, entertaining me, giving me naps, or organizing cool trips for me. It was hard to face reality again, but it wasn't long before we got back into the swing of things. We took a good week to mope, and then ramped up our activity level to match our growing schedules.

First on the docket was a walk to raise money for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease. Our friend Lucy was a team captain, so we took the girls with us and walked the 5K to help support her. Brooklyn was pretty excited to FINALLY be part of a "race" with mom and dad, and she ran almost the whole way giggling and shouting "I'm beating you!" to everyone we passed. It was very cute and everyone got a big kick out of it. When we were finished, she even got to have her face painted, and Kevin and I came home with loads of free food and drink (complements of Lucy's mom.)

A few days later we hopped on the train to head downtown for the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. It was a cold day and the race didn't start until 7 pm, but we risked it anyway. Our train pulled into the station 25 minutes before the race started and we were about a 45 minute walk from the starting line. So, Kevin stuffed our 30 pound 3 year old and 25 pound 1 year old into our 30 pound single jogger, shouldered his backpack, and started running. I was only responsible for myself and could BARELY keep up with him. We got there just as the guns went off. Kevin ripped of his top layers of clothing, hopped over the crowds of people, and started to run! Despite our chaotic start and his 25 minute accidental warm up, Kevin still managed to run the 3.5 miles in only 20:11! It was a record for him and it was pretty cool for us to watch him come in so fast!

After things started to calm down at our place, we enjoyed some time together replanting our garden (it totally died while we were on vacation). It was a fun activity for the girls and the garden seems to be growing OK...minus a few chipmunk problems we seem to be having. I guess we built the garden on top of their tunnel and now they want revenge. They keep digging up our plants and chewing on the roots just for fun. I think one even yelled at me the other day when I walked outside! YIKES!

At the end of the month we enjoyed a very fun and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend together. We swam in the pool, ate hot dogs and smore's, and just enjoyed each others company. It was great to have that last moment of peace before we jumped into the crazy month of JUNE! But you'll have to wait to hear more about that...