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Our Stay in Greece

(I did not proof read this so I’m sorry! πŸ˜‰)

My Aunt Georgia and I booked a cheap round trip ticket to Greece. We left on the 13th of March and made our return flight on the 27th. There were a few main reasons I wanted to come back to Greece. My mother was adopted when she was 11 years old from a small village here in Greece (Myraki). We are trying to figure out who all our family and ancestors are and I along with my aunt, want to work on dual citizenship. (I wanted to come to Greece to see if it’s worth the trouble of getting dual citizenship.) The morning of my flight I was able to get a decent run in at 3:30 a.m. I had to leave for the airport by 5. I was sick about leaving the girls and corom and nervous about flying… but we made it safely and the girls and corom are doing well. My kids sent me a bag full of gifts… (I took the lizard with me to a lot of places… thanks girls)!

Our flight went very smoothly and we arrived in Greece on Wednesday morning. We stayed 2 days in Athens before we headed out for the Republic of Georgia πŸ‡¬πŸ‡ͺ. Athens was wonderful. We toured a couple of museums, went to the Acropolis,

watched the changing of the guards,

went to their flea markets (on many occasions sometimes a couple of times a day… it was right in the center of town for all the cities we visited)…

and I met with the assistant Greek national running coach (I set up an appointment to meet with the head coach when I was to return back to Athens). Sorry… he didn’t know that I took his picture. 😬 I was just excited to be there in the office of professional runners.

We left on our trip to Georgia… blogged about that already but it was an experience I will never forget. An amazing trip and great young men and women.

We flew back into Athens on Tuesday (the 20th) and rented a car. I had the privilege of driving here in Greece. It was an experience all on its own. πŸ˜‰ On one occasion I did turn down a one way road and probably confused and scared a few people (mainly my aunt)… all I kept thinking was “holy crap, how am I going to turn around.”

Before I go on with all the sightseeing and family stuff… let me get into my running…

My running has gone a lot better this week on my return to Greece. I was able to get a 16 miler in with another day of speed. I felt good and alive on every run this week. It was great. In Sparta, I had a issue with the dogs that ran around (on multiple occasions)… I had to change my route many times. On one of my runs I seriously thought I was going to be attacked by 2 dogs but somehow got away. I did find trails and parks that became very useful for my runs.

On one of my runs, I ran into the Olympic stadium. It was fantastic. The random young man in the picture below was one of the athletes in the Olympic/athletic office. On Monday (the day before I left), I had the opportunity to sit down with the Greek national coach. I asked him if I would be able to run for his team. I told him I would still live in the U.S. and train here but would love to run for them. He went over many things regarding the rules and terms of running for them but in the end if everything turns out with my mom’s birth/adoption paperwork, I will be joining the Greek/European team. So we will see what happens. πŸ˜ƒ

Anyway…. we had our rental car and went on our way to Sparta. We did make a stop in Napleon (and I know I am slaughtering the cities names), but this place was amazing! There was so much to see in this city.

….We spent the next 4 days in Sparta working on family names of those living and for those that have passed on. It was mainly on my grandfather’s side. And of course we did some touring of Sparta and other towns around. This picture below is of family members that I have met (when I came out 3 years ago) and some cousins that I met for the 1st time. It was a wonderful experience!

We did go to my grandmother’s home village to find out more about her. In the smaller villages in Greece it is very hard to find information on those that have passed on. The paper work is either wrong or put in a place that can’t be found. 😊 My aunt and I resorted to going to the cemetery of my grandmother’s village to see if we could find any relatives names… we found the site of a few relatives. It was so nice to have something! The young man in the pictures below is Tony… he was someone we found in the neighboring village that became our translator for the day. He was absolutely wonderful.

My aunt and I did a walk through of her (and my mom’s) house where they grew up as little girls. Once again I was struck by the humble way they lived! It made me stop and think of how much I have. It’s a one room house where the parents slept in the closet and the kids on the floor.

We hiked to the top of Mystra’s (one of the castles on the top of the mountain)… it was so beautiful and the pictures do not do it justice. It really took my breathe away!

We went to Corinth where Paul taught… the red Poppies were beautiful!! We loved walking around the ruins here and it was fascinating to hear the history of Corinth.

We were lucky enough to book our trip during Greece’s Independence Day. We had the privilege of attending a huge parade in Athens. It wasn’t the typical parade that I was used to (with the floats and cheerleaders, etc.) It was an all military parade and I absolutely loved it. You could feel the patriotism throughout all the people there.

We toured another city (and I’m trying to remember the name) but it was by the seaside/ocean. I loved it there!! We had a nice little hike to “the island” and to the light house. So I didn’t really go further into the light house area… just clearing that up. πŸ˜‰

We found an LDS/Mormon church on the Sunday we were in Athens but got there right as it ended. 😬 It was great though because we met up with the missionaries. We took them out to eat (the sisters weren’t able to come because they had another appointment)… cute young men!

Loved all the food we ate!! It was wonderful.

I am going to switch to Corom and the girls for a minute… they all did well while I was gone. I know they had a situation with peppers and the eyes or something painful. 😳😭 Corom told the girls that peanut butter would take away the pepper pain. πŸ˜‰

They had fun with dad… my oldest drew that picture of the dolphin when I was gone. It was fun to talk with everyone on FaceTime.

Random pictures of the things we did/experiences:

Many people helped us with names of people in our family… so grateful for all their time to help us. Here are just a few of all those that helped:

All said and done… it was a wonderful trip. I had so much fun and traveling with my Aunt Georgia was great. She is an amazing person.

I can’t wait to go again and next time with my family. I came home to the best signs:

Visiting The Republic of Georgia

March 16-20th: The Republic of Georgia is a country that some people would not think of as a holiday travel destination. It was certainly not on my radar until I had the privilege of hosting some groups of beautiful dancers from that country. Their visit peaked my interest and I considered the possibility of visiting this unknown place. It seemed like traveling there would be an unfulfilled dream and the likelihood of it happening would be remote at best. But in the course of a few months the impossible became possible and plans were being made to see the land that intrigued me and visit the people that had captured my heart.

There are a few people missing from these pictures that I was not able to see while in Georgia but before I continue here are the young men and women and their dance teachers that took us around on our journey… (click on the picture to see the whole thing).

Onise, Tato, Tengo and Vako (top left to right then bottom left to right):

I hope you can remember their names… George, George (little George), George (Napo), George (#2)… πŸ˜³πŸ˜‰

Sallo, Lile, Ani, Sallo, Mari… And then 3 of the 5 girls… absolutely beautiful young women!

Alex and Gagi (brothers), David, the wonderful teachers (Irma and Paata)… the wonderful man on the left of me drove us around everywhere.

Erekle (Erik) and Giga (and erik’s girlfriend)… these 2 young men stayed with us a few years ago:

Ok… now we can go on… πŸ˜‰

My husband Corom and I grew to love the 25 members of the dance team (on 2 separate occasions with 2 separate dance groups). When I had a chance to visit them in their own land, I accepted the opportunity and made arrangements with one of the dance team members. My aunt and I took an inexpensive if not very inconvenient red-eye flight to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. It was a lot to ask of a dear dance team member to meet us at 5:30 in the morning. He and others graciously offered regardless of the time of arrival. The most overwhelming and heartwarming sight was to see 13 of the dancers waiting and holding up an “I love you Jena” sign as we got off the plane.

Those darling young people and a few dads had traveled two hours in the middle of the night to be there for us! That was just the beginning of their efforts to show love and affection for us.

The 1st half of the day we spent our time in their capital, Tbilisi. We walked around at the early morning hours before the city became alive. It was beautiful! The Georgians took us on a tram ride that was an extremely steep incline up a mountain (it freaked me out but so fun). There were lots of pictures taken, lots of sightseeing and lots of laughs… mainly because I’m so funny! πŸ˜‚

And then we ate (this was our 1st eating experience here and definitely not the last… oh how the Georgians can eat and it was all great food)!

After the tour of Tbilisi, my Aunt and I, headed to one of the villages with the young man we were staying with (Onise). They took us in as if we were family. Throughout the next few days, we had many of the dancers in and out of the house all hours of the day and night. It was great!

We walked around onise’s village/neighborhood with the other boys before the “dinner party”… all the while, scouting out places to run. πŸ˜‰

It was fun to dive right into their culture and traditions with making food/treats, chores, laundry, dancing, eating and being with the ones you love. Onise’s mom showed us where/how they make bread and the way they BBQ. The bread dough goes into that cement kiln. The food/bread was wonderful!

I had the opportunity to milk a cow, Ride on a donkey trailer, pet the pigs they raise to eat, visited the pastures they bring their cows to, and ate LOTS more food…

Paata, the dance instructor, rented a bus for a couple of days and took us around to beautiful destinations. We explored the villages there, played in parks and had a great time at their restaurants (dancing and eating of course πŸ˜‰). Their churches here are amazing!

We visited the Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday (the LDS/Mormon church was too far for us to travel), and we were able to visit the school there in Onise’s village…

The picture above with Vako and Onise planting the flowers… Irma (Onise’s mom) picked those in the mountain and the boys planted it the garden at their house and named it after my Aunt Georgia and I. 😘

We had the opportunity to attend their dance studio and watch one of their practices. Beauty beyond words! I can not even express the hard work and dedication that went into their practice. (Not that great of pictures because I had to screenshot the video)…

We went to Alex and Gagi’s father’s winery. It was fascinating to see how it all works!

Tengo, Onise and his dad (Tato met up later) drove us the 2 hours back to Tbilisi the night before our flight. We were able to stop off at a few other destinations to enjoy more beauties of Georgia. There is one thing to say about the Georgian men… they are always helping you with your bags/backpacks, always made sure Aunt Georgia was ok with the hikes/walks, helping every step of the way. Extremely polite and concerned over our needs.

We had the privilege of going out to dinner with 2 others from the group a few years ago on the last night we were here. We had a very pleasant night eating and visiting with Erekle and Giga (and Erekle’s girlfriend). Great young men!

Our time has come to an end here in Georgia. πŸ˜” I was extremely sad and hope to bring Corom (and the girls if possible) back for another visit. These sweet young men helped us back to the airport and we were soon on our back to Greece.

As beautiful and interesting and unique as the landscape of Georgia is, it cannot match the beauty of its people! There generosity of spirit, their hospitality and their exuberant personalities can not be compared to anyone else. Their circumstances are humble but they are willing to do anything to please you. There love and acceptance was overwhelming and we fell in love immediately!

Now for my running!!! I don’t know why I decided to book a trip right in the middle of my training! 😳 This 1st week in another country that is 10 hours ahead did not help. I did get out 5 days this week, ran 1 speed workout and a 11 1/2 mile run as my long run. Georgia was a beautiful place to run in. (I did run 2 days in Greece… Greece was hard to run in because it is so busy with cars.)

Corom and the kids at home are having fun andsurviving! Corom did go on a hiking trip weekend with his friends while the girls hung out with G-goat (grandma). They had a fun St. Patrick’s day. The rest of the week… survivor mode. πŸ˜‰

Some pictures of different foods we ate and of more beautiful sites…

The Norm

I have not blogged for a few months but it’s just been everyday things. So this post will be more of the catch up and made up of mostly pictures. I do love my family! Always a good time with the kids. (Well when they are not fighting… πŸ˜‰.)

Today, (March 12th), I surprised the girls and checked them out of school. We went to see the movie, Peter Rabbit, and then went out to lunch. It was really nice to go out with them. I need to do things like this more often.

My running: I signed up for Grandma’s marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. The race is in June. I just started a running plan 3 weeks ago. I get so excited until I do my speed workouts, oh, and my long runs. And the sad part is… this is the beginning of my training plan, so it’s the easiest part. πŸ˜‰ I have not raced for over 2 years and didn’t run for about 4 months during the 2 years (due to an injury). So the speed is so hard but I find it coming along. I’ve been trying to do more cross training and weights (because I seriously lack in that category).

I’ve done spin classes, the elliptical, barre classes, strength training, and I had my very 1st ice bath on Saturday, March 10th. It was surprisingly freezing πŸ˜‰ but nice (except for the feet)! They burned!!

We have had a nice winter so far… the weather has been great (snowing at times but the temperature has been very pleasant)…

Indoor and outdoor track (we just started the outdoor season about a week ago) is going well. The girls and corom came up to our weekend Simplot track meet in Idaho….

The girls are always entertaining themselves and enjoying life….

Valentines: A breakfast and school parties… the girls did make corom and I breakfast and put on a fashion show for us (a different day).

Basketball: The girls enjoyed basketball… it was a fun to watch them learn and the chaos on the court. πŸ˜‰

Work: I have taken the girls one at a time to work at the Clarion with me. It has been so fun to have them there with me.

My youngest had to be put out for a couple of root canals… that was so dang expensive but had to be done. It was so eerie watching her fall asleep. The 1st couple of pictures she was fighting against falling asleep. When she finally did (about 45-60 seconds after the shot), her eyes stayed open. 😳

Being the genius Corom is… my 2nd child wanted to put a pretend earring in the top of her ear, so corom helped her clamp it down. Well it was a little to tight. It was a good 20-25 min trying to get that little metal thing off her ear and it was painful!! The bottom 2 pictures, a group of high school kids borrowed our big van for a dance… we wanted to scare them by placing a life size Santa in the van. During the dance we snuck it in. Yes it did scare them. 😊

Cute, random pictures:

December & Bringing in the New Year

Today is New Years! I started off with a 6 mile run at a 7:15 pace. I am so out of shape but I feel it slowly coming back. As I mentioned before, I am able to run every other day. It’s been so great!

We went to the pond today for our annual polar plunge. (

It’s amazing how much it has grown… this year was a lot warmer than the past 2. That probably helped get more people in the water. (These pictures are those that have jumped in for the polar plunge.) This was Corom’s legs from the 1st year of doing it… the ice tore his legs up! Call me a bad wife but I still find it funny…. the bottom 2 pictures are from last year with him sledding in…

. ..This year… There was no ice in the pond, very little snow on the ground and the temperature was 42 degrees. A lot more mild then the years past but still so much fun. Corom and my 2 older girls jumped in…

… me and my 2 younger ones were perfectly ok just watching. 😊

< strong>December: <<<<

I love December! I love everything about Christmas… I love how everyone gives and serves and wants to help others out. I love the peace of it all and even the gifts. πŸ˜‰ For the month of December, as a family, we do an activity every day. The girls pick a little note out of a Christmas tree calendar with a different activity on it.

December

1st: Christmas rings

2nd: Making hand lotion & Bath Bombs

3rd: Ward Christmas Party & Santa Clause

4th: Writing Letters to Santa

5th: Read Christmas Stories with Hot Chocolate

6th: Making Christmas Ornaments

7th: Rock Climbing

8th: Driving around Salem Pond and Seeing Christmas Lights

9th: Cutting A Christmas Tree Down

10th: Delivering the Christmas Tree to a Neighbor

11th: Polar Express Night at the Elementary School

12th: Visiting our Elderly Neighbor (Dottie)

13th: Christmas Crafts

14th: Delivering Goodies

15th: Ice Skating

16th: Christmas Party with Friends

17th: Dinner with neighbors & Decorating Cookies

18th: Sing to the elderly at the Assisted Living Home

19th: Gift to Mail Lady/Garbageman

20th: Class Parties

21st: Gingerbread Houses

22nd: Notes to Neighbors (from the girls)

23rd: Christmas Stories and Hot Chocolate

24th: Greek Dinner and our PJ gifts

25th: Christmas and our gift to our Savior

26th: Playing With New Things

27th: Bringing treats to others

28th: Ice skating and Art Museum

29th: Sledding & Christmas dinner with Corom’s family

30th: Salt Lake Temple/Lights

31st: New Years Eve: games, food, family and friends

I love my family so much through the good and the bad, the fun and not so fun. They are everything to me. Bring on another year. 😊

Where to Start

I will start off with my running (or lack thereof) and then get on to more of the funny, normal things in our life. And everything will be out of order but oh well…

“I firmly believe that the only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Scott Hamilton

“While a positive attitude doesn’t always work, a negative attitude almost always does.”

I have been so discouraged with my injury and obviously lack thereof of running! I’ve been out since June with most exercises. I have ran just a small handful of times (which I probably shouldn’t have) and only biked a few other times. But I have noticed that my attitude is everything. There is nothing I can do about my injury except to rest and let it heal. Some days are easier than others (mentally) but I am trying to stay on the positive side. Β I am slowly coming back but I still feel a pain and tightness in the back of my knee.

I’ve been to the docs for a lot of physical therapy work… Today is Monday, December 18th, and a few weeks ago I was given the ok to start running, every other day, not going over 5 miles for each run! I have been loving it. It is not much but I will take it. On the other days, I bike, do a strength training class (which I so lack in), swim (well once so far in the 2 weeks), the elliptical, etc. It feels good to be able to do stuff again but I have a ways to go. I do have the good days with the not so good, but I have no doubt I will come back.

We finally got family pictures done (after 6 almost 7 years of not taking one):

My 2nd oldest had her 10th birthday. We invited the entire 4th grade over (all the girls). We put on all the invitations for no gifts! I do not want that many gifts coming in. πŸ˜‰ Yes it is loud and crazy for an hour and a half but we didn’t want anyone to feel left out. A month after my 2nd child’s birthday was my 3rd. She turned 9. We had the 3rd grade girls come for more noise and chaos. But it was fun (with that many people, you don’t really have to plan activities because everyone just plays). They are growing up way too fast and are both turning into beautiful young ladies.…after my 3rd child’s birthday was Corom’s birthday… well today was a day of payback for people to get Corom back. Corom is always pranking people. It started off at midnight with a couple of kids coming to our house and wrapping our car with plastic wrap.

Corom was freaking out because all he heard was the dogs barking (and it was the people are near our house bark). Corom put the dogs in the garage so the neighbors wouldn’t get annoyed. Then about 10 min later we saw a cop drive around the school (next to our house). After the cop left he saw 2 cars pull into the school parking lot, get out with something in their hands and run towards our house. (By this time it was about 12:30 a.m.) Corom lost sight of the boys and began running from room to room looking through the blinds. A few min later he let the dogs back out. He had me call the police, once the dogs were barking again. The 2 kids took off because of our dogs as corom is giving me a complete description of the cars and where they are going; which I would quickly relay that to the police. We went out front to see exactly which direction the cars went when corom noticed his truck was wrapped. We told the police to call it off and it was just a funny prank. I felt so dumb telling the police that… they got a kick out of it.

We then woke up to our porch full of stuffed animals and a happy birthday sign… <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
n church, our neighbor took a picture of our good friend, Mike, wrapping our big sprinter van in streamers, plastic wrap, foil and Oreos… It made me laugh! Even better that we caught him. I told corom he had it coming to him with all the things he does to others. His birthday was fun spending time with both our families! My oldest made his birthday cake… she made a pig. I thought it was pretty clever. We took our girls to Moab and did some river rafting. One of the coaches I coach with (Alex Crystal) is a river guide in the summer and took us out. It was a blast!!! My girls loved it. We did some pretty amazing hikes as well. Halloween is always a great time! Trick or treating, Halloween runs, parties…. https://motherracer.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/img_7320-1.movThanksgiving… my parents were able to come for a visit. It was a great week hanging out with them, my sister and her family and my brother and his family. The weather was great all week. The boys and kids took the boat out for tubing and water skiing a couple of times, we played games, did crafts, swam and just hung out. we did do the whole Black Friday thing… holy mad house! Corom was followed by the Walmart cops and then asked to search his jacket and bags as he was waiting in the line to leave. We were not with him, otherwise, there would have been a ton of pictures. πŸ˜‰ It was hilarious because he always gets pulled over, stopped, etc… so this wasn’t a shocker. ..but he does look a little crazy 😜 ! And the stuff in his bag was a little too funny. I had the opportunity to help cater a Republican Party event for the man running for president in Mali. It was a great experience and I was able to meet some pretty amazing people. A few of the “Railroad Underground” people were there and have done some wonderful things. With school now going, we have kept our days full. I have been subbing at the elementary school where my girls go and at the High School where I coach at… Our cross country season has been going strong. We have had great times, not so great, sorrow and team unity this year more so than any other. Lots of service and friendships with this group. They ran really well at region and then once again at State. Then it was off to our California trip. Disneyland, the beach, then the Footlocker race.

We keep busy on the weekends with Jamie (our guy from England) trying to stay out of trouble… Anywhere from big wheeling down steep mountains to rope Β swinging into the ponds. We had a hard time Once Jamie had to leave. He has been a part of our family for about 7 months and fit right in. We can’t wait until he comes out next summer!

The girls played city soccer and little kids city cross country was going on … and yes, Corom and I coach all 4 of our girls soccer team; and I coach the cross country team. Corom also became the Jr. High cross country coach. It has been busy but we are loving it… and it’s fun having the girls enjoy it with us. Once soccer ended, we put the girls in city basketball. I love that the city has all these sports throughout the year. It’s cheap and convenient for us.

Here are all the rest of our pictures throughout the past few months…

Red Ribbon week (I was in charge of at the elementary school):

5 mile hike round trip to the hot springs with the Harris’s… Playing, redoing our basement, etc…

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