Monday, December 27, 2010

My Baby is One Year Old!

Where does the time go? I vividly remember all the end-of-pregnancy drama I experienced last year like it was yesterday. It's been a wonderful year and I love having Case in our family. He's delightfully sweet, cuddly, and adorable. His brown eyes and olive skin are so handsome and different from anyone else's in our family (thank you, Clark genes, for finally appearing). Everyone loves Case and we are all thrilled to have him around.
Since he's the youngest (rip off) and since he only turned one this year (rip off again), we didn't do much to celebrate. Amber and I actually went to San Diego on Case's birthday, so I made a penguin cake and we had a tiny party with my parents, Jen and her family, Adam's parents, and us after Christmas. The cake didn't turn out quite as well as I wanted it to, but Case loved it and it tasted good. He loved being the birthday boy and would smile bashfully when anyone wished him a happy day.

I've tried to enjoy every aspect of Case's babyhood since he's my last and it's been a fantastic 12 months of snugly, squishy kisses, miserable ear infections, and the cutest giggle. I love my little Queso!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Girls' Trip: Poinsettia Bowl 2010

My mom and sisters choreograph the halftime show for the Poinsettia Bowl every year, but since it's right before Christmas, we haven't been able to work out a family trip to San Diego to participate. I really wanted to go this year because the halftime show involved honoring members of the Armed Services, and Adam's brother Dave would represent the Marines, Adam's Grandpa Smith would represent the Army, my cousin Fletcher would represent the Navy, and my Grandpa Rydalch would represent the Air Force. I was secretly really bummed that we couldn't make the trip.

Enter my wonderful husband, Adam. At the last minute, he arranged for Amber and I to fly to San Diego on a private jet (amazing!) on Wednesday morning, attend the game on Thursday night, and fly home on Friday (Christmas Eve) morning. Despite several mishaps, the trip was a blast! It was great fun to be able to have a "girls' trip" with Amber, and we felt like major celebrities when we drove right onto the runway, had our bags loaded and car parked by the valet service, snuggled into the huge leather seats, and were in the air only five minutes later. The ride was fantastic! I can never fly commercial again...he he.

San Diego was completely flooded when we arrived, so we couldn't go anywhere (no shopping, boo!). Everyone and everything was soggy as could be, but we made the most of it and hung out in the hotel room watching football with Grandpa and Lorna, Greg and Leslie, Rob and Amy, Dave and Maren, Ryan and Steph, and eleven kids. It was a party! After a soggy night, several hours of rehersals, and a few episodes of Amber vomiting, it was time for us to get our glittery poinsettias painted on our faces and head to Qualcomm Stadium for the game. Wahoo!

We had second-row seats, right behind SDSU's team on the sidelines, and it was thrilling to be that close to all of the action. We could clearly hear the coaches calling plays, etc. and the best part of those seats was being able to watch the hundreds of Navy Midshipmen march onto the field in perfect squads for the National Anthem, during which Navy performed a sweet fly-over. What a sight and what a sound! The game was so-so, and soon it was time for us to head to the tunnel to prepare for our big entrance.

The halftime production turned out to be an almost total disaster. Mr. Sound Guy screwed up the music (even after three sound checks earlier in the day, duh!) so badly that the timing of every subsequent event was ruined. The dancers didn't have their cues so they didn't dance, the fireworks started too was an utter mess. The only thing that went perfectly was the honoring of the Veterans--thank heavens. Despite the sobbing performers, the totally-miffed parents, and the ridiculous Poinsettia Bowl staff who did nothing to make it up to us, I had a great time being involved in something of that magnitude. Since I was a coach, I got to be on the field for the whole second half of the game. It was surreal and loud and fun and amazing. I was proud of Amber for performing her little heart out even though she didn't have music, and I'm excited to try it again next year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rivalry Revelry

If there's a reason to convene and consume, the Clark family finds it and has a party. We were all stoked to bring the noise and the trash talk at Greg and Leslie's house on Saturday when U of U played BYU in the annual Deseret Duel. Of course, we knew the Utes would win, and I think we were evenly matched in the Utes:Cougars ratio. Thankfully, after a painfully uneventful and in-offensive game, the Utes squeaked out a win at the last second with an awesome blocked field goal attempt. Days later, the family is still arguing over the calls by the refs, the methods of coaching, where the most LDS prophets went to school, which team really has the Spirit, etc. I love this rivalry!

Rex and Kinzi sported crimson. Kinzi is a waffler, though. The next day, she wore a BYU sweatshirt. Traitor!

Amber decided on Saturday morning that she HAD to have a BYU shirt, so I quickly made her this one out of a man's t-shirt I got on clearance at Walmart this summer. I used a freezer paper stencil and acrylic paint to make the "Y". For about an hour of time and some white-trash methods, I think it turned out pretty well. She loved it.

Amber was really representing the Y. Where did she come from?

Karli was all for BYU as well. I made her a cute shirt, too, out of some blue and white gingham fabric she fell in love with. Of course, though, when I was finished, she found a number of problems with it and refused to wear it. Kinz let her borrow the wig, so that was good enough for Karli.

Case is a Ute fan by default; he has all the gear thanks to Grandpa Brad.

Since Adam and I have brainwashed Rex into being a Ute fan (get 'em while they're fresh!), Amber said he had to cheer for MSU as well. She provided the green M tattoo on his forehead for some Spartan love.

Whitney was just happy to be there; I don't think she could have cared less about the game. She's adorable!

This poor little boy is so confused! Can you tell he's related to Kinzi? BYU hat and Utah shirt. Nice.

Things were pretty tense during the game. We even had an adult throw a fit and stomp upstairs because the little kids were in his way. Tee hee. It's just a game, people!

The best part of the Ute's victory was Adam's computer speakers blasting the Utah fight song at the end of the game. It was adorable to see the little kids dance, and I loved seeing Greg, Leslie, Amber, Karli, and even Kinzi cringe.

So until next year, we have the bragging rights. A Utah fam are we.....GO UTES!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Thanksgiving this year was marvelous; we spent it at Greg and Leslie's house with them, Kristi, Jake, Kinzi, Whitney, and Parker, Adam's cousin Dean, and Grandpa Smith and Grandma Lorna. While a huge family gathering with everyone present is always a party, it was nice to have a small group. Since there were only six little kids present, the chaos was notably reduced which made a nice, relaxing afternoon.

The food was spectacular as usual: Leslie's excellent turkey breast AND cinnamon-glazed ham, sweet potato casserole complete with broiled marshmallows, potatoes and gravy, green been casserole, corn casserole with tons of cheese on top, fresh cranberry sauce, stuffing, cran-grape salad, 12-layer jello, Lorna's rolls with three different varieties of homemade jam. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie and lemon-cheese pie--two of my very favorites. I ate and ate and ate, and definitely had a food hangover afterward. Aah...I love Thanksgiving!

My favorite part of the holiday was the cute shirts I made for my kids. I used some recycled men's V-necks for Amber and Karli's (she insisted on a tank top, the crazy kid) and two hand-me-down ready made shirts for the boys. The letters are all scraps of old t-shirts appliqued with brown thread, and "adorable" on both girls' shirts was spelled out in rhinestones. They were darling!

Rex and Whitney had a blast together.

Karli did lots of puzzles while waiting for dinner.

Parker taught Case how to be even more trouble than he already is.

Case was thrilled by every bite of food; he'd squeal and laugh every time the fork approached his mouth.

Thankful to be adorable.

I also made Karli's headband out of old t-shirt scraps; those roses are my new favorite item to craft.

Thankful to be awesome.

Little turkey.

I'm thankful for these cuties!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Crazy, Wonderful Life

Everyone who reads my blog will know exactly when the batteries in my camera die; they're dead. Hence, the shortage of posts lately. That's not the only reason, though. Life is speeding up for me and our little family. I can't believe how quickly the days fly by, the laundry just keeps piling up, and the dishes move from the cabinets to the table to the sink seemingly on their own. Between my job, Amber's school, and the hundreds of trips to the doctor's office, I feel like I live in a blur. It's a good blur, but it's insane!

I always love November and the heightened sense of gratitude that I feel. This year has been great mixed with not-so-great, and I'm feeling right now like we're stuck in a rut. While things definitely could be (and have been) worse, I'm ready to move on to the settled-down-and-established phase of life. Then again, I wonder if there ever will be a phase like that for my family. It seems like the world has changed significantly in the past ten years. Will there ever be such a thing as job security? Does my lifetime view of "middle class" even exist anymore? Call me a real pessimist, but I am starting to think that we may be scraping by in one way or another for the rest of our lives.

I gave a talk in church last week about President Monson's conference address entitled "The Divine Gift of Gratitude". It helped me remember that the important things in life are the things I already have: my husband, our kids, the gospel, a testimony. I am glad I had to speak on that talk, because I really need that reminder now. This is an awful thing to say, but I feel like we've suffered through the starving student era, had babies, paid our tithing faithfully, and we've paid our dues. I'm ready to be over that!

Here's to a bright future, enduring hope, and a wonderful holiday season filled with love and happiness. I'm blessed to know what I know, and to have a Heavenly Father who loves me. I know that I have a Savior who makes it possible for me to repent of my sins and I feel divinely blessed to have Adam, Amber, Karli, Rex and Case in my life. We have wonderful parents and family members who bless us daily. I appreciate all of their help and kindness. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays; I get to make costumes for my kids, they always look adorable, we eat waaay too many treats, and we carve pumpkins. This year, I was a usual look because I don't have to try very hard at all. Rex and Case sported the Sons of Anarchy getups that Rex and Colton wore last year, Karli was Tiana from "Princess and the Frog" and Amber was Claudia, the vampire princess from "Interview with a Vampire." We had a hootin', hollerin', howl of a time!

My tough little biker who still sucks his thumb.

Just because she's dressed like a princess doesn't mean she eats like one.

The boys' mohawks were my favorite part of their costumes.

Too cute to be hardcore.

They were so excited to trick or treat that they didn't want to pose for a decent picture.

Hip Halloween Digs

From the time I was ten years old, I've been a fan of Hannah Andersson. They always have darling clothes that look oh, so comfy and perfectly matched to every holiday. Before Halloween, they featured an adorable black tutu and orange Halloween-themed top complete with witchy-striped tights. Being the tightwad that I am, I set out to procure outfits like those for my girls without spending the $126 I would have had I ordered from H.A.

Here's the rundown: I found the purple-and-green-striped tights at Walmart for $2 per pair. I made their black lace skirts out of one of mine from days of yore, so that was free. I found a men's XXL orange t-shirt on the clearance rack at Walmart for $0.50, which I cut into two small shirts and to which I added some purple felt and silver sequin fabric that I found lying around in my scrap bag. I finished off the tops with some rhinestones (of course) and voila! adorable Halloween outfit for each of my girls for only $2.25 apiece. Since the picture is kind of bad, the shirt says BOO! (appliqued in silver liquid sequin) and has a purple felt star stitched with silver thread and sprinkled with rhinestones.

I thought it was delightful for my girls to have something fun to wear to church since Halloween fell on Sunday this year, and they seemed to love the ensembles, too. Yay for thrift!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Las Vegas Ragnar Relay

For four years, I've been aching to run in a Ragnar Relay race. My family started running the Wasatch Back in 2005, then the Del Sol the next year, and then the Vegas race. Adam ran in it last year, and each time I'd get invited to run, I'd find out I was pregnant. At long last, all of the stars aligned and I signed up to run with Stephanie, Amy, my mom, and some great gals whose kids cheer at our gym. I met the race with a teeny bit opposition in my corner, but it was more than I wanted. So, after a few weeks of training, I was ready to run. I had two things to prove: that I could run my legs quickly and respectably, and that two vans full of women could navigate the course without getting lost.

By the end of the race, I had five really great(er) friends, I'd learned a bunch of excellent running strategies and techniques, I overcame running on an injured knee and pushing myself to finish the race despite the intense pain I felt with every step, and I felt like I could conquer the world. I can't describe the feeling of accomplishment and power that I experienced, not to mention the great fun I had every minute of my trip. It was definitely something I want to do again!

Leslie, Steph and I set out on Thursday at noon for Vegas. We stopped in St. George to meet up with four of our other team members for pasta at Brick Oven. Then we hit Target and Rebel Sports to get some last minute gear, snacks, matching socks, and water. Two hours later, we met up with the Arizona members of our team, decorated our vans, and climbed into bed to enjoy two hours of sleep.

Waking up that morning was almost as easy as waking up early on my wedding day; I couldn't wait to get going and I couldn't stop thinking about what was ahead of me. I had no idea what a race would be like and I was excited to go for it.

For pre-race and pre-dawn, we look pretty good, no? We woke up at 2:45 a.m. to be ready to rock at Valley of Fire State Park by 5:00 a.m.

Stephanie started us off bright and early. She did an awesome job on the first run of the day.

The first hand off didn't go very smoothly, but that's what you get when you're running 8 miles an hour and slapping a bracelet onto someone who's standing still. Eventually, the bracelet was on and Amy set out on her first leg.

Amy killed all of her runs, especially this brutal 9-miler that was ALL uphill. Phew. I'm tired just looking at this photo!

Leslie, Kaye, Sarah and me chillin' by our van during Amy's first run.

Stephanie and I spent 3 and half hours cutting vinyl for our vans. They turned out so well and we voted us the best-decorated team in the race. We got lots of compliments, too, so that was fun.

We dotted the "i"s in our names with tiny hearts and skulls and crossbones. They were adorable!

Here I am, waiting not-so-patiently to begin my first run. I was so anxious and nervous and excited. I wanted to run fast so my van members wouldn't get annoyed, and I kept wondering if I had eaten the right things, if I'd have to pull over and throw up, etc. I had only run 7.5 miles once before, so I hoped I'd be able to make it through.

Amy made it up that last hill in no time, and I wasn't quite situated when she passed the bracelet on to me. I fumbled with my iPod and watch for about 100 yards while I tried to have a good takeoff.

Eventually I got into a good rhythm and really enjoyed myself. The view was so incredible on my first run. I love looking at (not running up) those desert mountains!

Finally, a downhill stretch! I hate how I look when I'm running--I always picture myself prancing along gracefully like a gazelle, but in reality, I have the weird neck/chin compression and drool flying out of the corner of my mouth. Oh well. I felt good and that's all that matters, right?

This darling redhead is Kaye the Magnificent. She was kind of like the mother hen of our van, but waaay cooler than any other mother hen I know. She is inspiring, hilarious, and wise, not to mention very talented in the running department. She had great advice for all of our worries, she let me borrow her cool GPS watch, and she jumped out of the van to support every single runner on our legs. She makes me want to run a half-marathon!

It was fun to be able to hand off to Leslie, even on that massive stretch of really steep hills. I was thrilled that Leslie could step in at the last minute and run with our team. She's one of my best friends and she made the van ride even more fun.

There was a team called TuTu Phat--all the girls wore these green tutus. We started with them, and at some point early in the race, we all decided that they were the team for us to beat (along with the White Tigers). There is Kaye, catching up to the innocent, adorable, and unsuspecting "Green Tutu" while we were scheming, snickering and yelling "Great job!" to the poor gal.

Kaye was awesome, and the look on her face was even better as she approached Green Tutu to overtake her. In Ragnar speak, a pass is called a kill, and that was one sweet kill. Kaye rocks!

A great part of the race was being able to spend time with Amy and Steph, my two awesome sisters-in-law. Hopefully someday all the Clark girls can run a race together. That'd be a party! I'd also love to run a race with my sisters.

Something in my knee malfunctioned in a major way toward the end of leg number 2, and when I woke up for my third run, I couldn't even walk. I was in tears most of the morning, but not wanting to be a wuss, I swallowed the lump in my throat and said a prayer and set out to run my last 5.5 miles. Amy and Kaye, the resident experts, fixed me up with some awesome tape and topical medicine, and my makeshift leg warmers helped to keep my knee flexible, I guess. Halfway through the run, though, I wanted to quit because I couldn't bear the pain. Then I thought about how hard I had worked to prepare for the race and how mad I'd be at myself if I didn't finish, and I figured that walking to the finish line was better than hopping back in the van.
Cue the cheesey music and slo-mo recap: I was listening to my sisters' C.D. (Crazy About You) and there's a line in a song that says "when the bad gets worse and each step hurts, just keep on movin'" and I figured I could run a little bit more. My sisters inspired me, and I started running. Aaawww...but anyway, I made it across the line, just in time to heave a few really hideous, dramatic, and embarrassing sobs as I collapsed onto the nearest chair. My awesome teammates were there to help me, and they didn't seem to be too humiliated by my antics (thank heavens, because I was!). After sitting in the car for another 4 hours, I couldn't even walk up the stairs to our hotel room and I was worried that I had done some serious damage. Fortunately, my knee feels better today and I'm only having minor problems now. Phhew. Looks like the Del Sol Ragnar is still a go!

Terra was the last runner, so she had to get dressed in her matching team gear while she ran. That's talent!

Leslie, Steph and I represented Van 1 at the finish line since Amy, Kaye and Sarah had to fly home shortly after we finished our legs. Check out our shiny medals and our cute shirts (Leslie helped me make them and she saved my life). I really loved our socks and legwarmers, too.

Utah Hold 'Em...Amy, Sarah, Kaye (all not pictured), Sabrina, Stephanie, Shelley (my mom), Terra, Joy, Leslie, Natalie, Sheri, and Rena. Nice legs, nice shirts, nice van, and nice abs (some of us). This was more fun than I've had in a really long time, and I can't wait to do it again!