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Costa Rica Week 1

It took us a while to get to Costa Rica ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท! Our travel started off with a 5 hour drive to Las Vegas. We started off on Saturday, May 25th (the day after school ended). We stayed with our cousins Dan and Ericka for the night (well sort of). Dan was nice enough to get up at 3:15 a.m. to get us to the airport for our 6:00 flight.

We had an hour flight โœˆ๏ธ into L.A. California (we arrived at 7:15 a.m.). ๐Ÿ˜‚ My brother, Mike, picked us up and we hung out with him and his family for the day until our layover flight was to leave for Costa Rica! Our layover was a 17 hour layover, so we were flying out at 12:20 a.m. It really was nice to see him and his family! We went to church and then hiked to a waterfall to see a bunch of salamanders. My girls were in heaven!

We finally caught our flight to San Jose, Costa Rica at 12:20 a.m. and landed in at 7 a.m. Not much sleep at all but my kids loved there 1st plane ride. We rented our car (which was a lot more expensive than what we were told ๐Ÿ˜‚) and drove to the Castillo household. Corom served his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints here in Costa Rica, so we have many connections and lots of people, places to go.

Day 1 (Monday 27th)- Week 1:

We took a bus from the Castillo household (San Rafael) into Alajuela to do some shopping. The bus was fun to take in. We drank the juice straight from the coconuts (which was our 1st but definitely not our last on this trip… it was almost a daily way to drink the coconut water). We visited the Castillo’s factory, tried different foods, saw many different cats & dogs in the grocery stores, learned a few things about cooking from Diana Castillo and just visited. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Later that night we picked up Aunt Georgia from the airport. She is going to be with us for the 1st week.

Day 2 (Tuesday 28th)- Week 2

After Diana (Castillo) made a great breakfast, we stopped off at the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saint Temple in Heredia and drove into San Jose. We spent the rest of the day there going to museums, shopping at the farmers markets…

We visited more families, played at a park , picked mangos and ran into Later Day Saint missionaries.

Day 3 (Wednesday 29th)- Week 1:

We left the Castillo household and drove to Orotina. We made many stops along the way! Fruit stands, crocodiles, etc. The fruit out here is amazing!! We cannot stop eating all the different kinds.

We made it to our next place. It was up in the mountains (rain forest) at an amazing, secluded place. We saw a scorpion ๐Ÿฆ‚, a massive cockroach, and lizards ๐ŸฆŽ within the 1st 5 minutes of being there. It was creepy but pretty awesome all at the same time. We eventually unpacked and then headed straight to the beach.

After the beach we grilled hamburgers and ate lots of fruit and veggies. So good. We did some laundry and played games.

Day 4 (Thursday 30th)- Week 1:

We went back to the beach all day. The girls, Corom and I had a fun time trying to learn how to surf… some of us better at it than others. ๐Ÿ˜‚ We tried to get Aunt Georgia to surf but she was not having it.

We had a major thunder/lightning storm. It was way cool but eerie at the same time. My 2nd daughter wasn’t having it. Oh and the bugs!!! Holy Crap… so many big, scary bugs! Many bug bites everywhere.

Day 5 (Friday 31st)- Week 1:

Before we headed out of this town to our next destination, we stopped off for a hike to some waterfalls. The start of the hike didn’t go so well! My youngest was attacked by some ants. These ants are brutal (especially the little black ones)… It was beautiful and we had a lot of fun hanging out there. We actually stayed a little longer than planned.

We left Orintino and headed to a farm house in Palmar Sur. We stopped off for some homemade ice cream on our way to the farm… that was some good stuff; very different then what we are used to but we liked it.

We didn’t know what to expect of this farm. We were told to bring lots of bug repellent and that made us all a little nervous. Even as we drove up through the neighborhood, it didn’t look promising. But as we pulled in and saw the cute home and a few elderly people waving us in, we knew this would be a great experience!

Corom found this farm home on air b&b. We found out we were their 1st customers and they just finished the place the day before we came. The night cost us $25, which included breakfast, a tour of their property (fruit trees galore), how to make juice out of sugar cane trees, etc.

Day 6 (Saturday, June 1st)- Week 1

We did have a net over us all night to keep the mosquitos ๐ŸฆŸ away! Those things are little buggers…

We had a great Saturday touring the farm and eating wonderful food. But we were eaten alive by all the mosquito’s! My oldest daughter got it the worst!!

We left the farm a little after 2 and went to a museum on our way out. It was the Archeological museum of Zona Sur. There we saw many monkeys… but none of them came down our way…

Our next place was up the mountain in Canaan. It was in a cute little town at a wooded cabin that was only $23 a night. (Corom did a great job finding places to stay.) After we settled in, We headed into the little town/village to look around for a little while that evening. We went to an indoor mini farmers market about 15 minutes before closing. After closing the girls kicked the soccer ball around with a couple of the boys.

Day 7 (Sunday, June 2nd)- Week 1

We all woke up this morning to a lot more bug bites; especially around our ankles. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ We think the dang beds had special friends in them. It was a little disturbing but we were not surprised with how run down the beds and sheets were. Anyway… we left the cabin house right around 8:15 a.m. and headed to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints church to attend sacrament meeting. Today is fast Sunday so my 3 youngest went up and bore their testimonies… they have no fear (Corom did as well). They obviously said it in English so not too many people understood them… so I guess I’m a way that would probably make it easier. We talked with many of the members and missionaries there, then headed on our way to San Gerardo.

We had to drive through The Cloud of Forest. The main highway took you straight up the mountain; up through the clouds and even further up so we were above the clouds and into our next air b&b stop. It was secluded little town called San Geraldo Do Ta. This home (mainly the beds), had a better feel about it. Another beautiful area but colder!

We went on a 2 hour hike following the river…. we loved the hike and wanted to go further but do to how late we started, had to turn around before it got dark (which is around 6 here).

We started a fire, roasted hot dogs and played cards tonight. We all went to bed early because we had to get up at 4:50 a.m. to go on a bird watching tour.

This week flew by so quick!

Random 1st week pictures:

Pretty Much 2018 All In One Post! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜‚

I will start off this post with my recent race and then back track to all our other craziness, fun, heartaches & adventures… but 1st and more importantly, here is my family:

January 2019

Houston Marathon Race recap:

I’ve been out of the racing community for the last 2-3 years. Back in October I decided I wanted to train for the Houston marathon and try for the 2:45 time. I hired John from Ireland and he put me on a 12 week training plan. It was hard work but wonderful! I started off by pacing a friend of mine at the St. George marathon (in October)… and went on from there.

The race morning was extremely cold for Houston. 32 degree weather (and by the time we finished it was 35 or 36 degrees). The humidity was at 70% and it was windy. On the news it said the wind chill made it the coldest in record for that morning of the marathon. I was so bummed… not about the cold (even though we were all in shorts and a tank tops… I did have arm sleeves and gloves) so much but for the dang wind and the extra cold it brought. This training cycle went great and I hit the marks I needed (even on the days that I felt like crap). So I was ready for this race but not ready for the weather conditions.

I was so nervous and In a way dreading going into this race because my confidence was not there due to the lack of racing. I didn’t know if I could run at the 6:15’s (even though I did it through training) or if I even belong where I was corralled (sub-elite). But there was no turning back as we lined up and I just took a deep breath and said to myself to just enjoy it!

As the gun went off, I started into my pace along stride everyone else. I felt great and for the 1st 3 Miles, I was faster than where I wanted to be (6:13, 6:13, 6:04)… I slowed down a little to hold on to an even 6:15 pace. There were a few miles I would pick it up and had to slow down. We turned a corner around mile 7-8 and headed into a head wind. More corners and it was a side wind, then back to head wind (this continued on for much of the race… 8 to about 16-17 Miles). I came across the half way point at 1:22. Right on a 2:44 pace for the marathon time. I felt good and felt like I could hold on to this pace.

I decided to be more conservative starting into the second half because I wanted to make sure I could finish strong. I was tired of the wind coming at all angles except for the back. And finally at about mile 17 the wind was against our backs. It was a nice tail wind. I did start to struggle with the mental thoughts at about this time but still feeling ok.

I ran into my friend Ashley at 19 miles… we realized we were still on for our time but getting closer to the 2:45 time. We knew we had to dig deep and push. (She ended having to stop for a potty break which is always a bum deal but said she will catch up). Mile 20 comes around and I came across at a 2:06 flat. Doing the calculations in my head, I knew I had to stay right on a 6:14-6:15 pace, no room for dropping back. I totally felt this was achievable and going to be extremely hard. I kept repeating 38-39 min left.

Then mile 21 hit and somewhere around that mile we turned a corner… back to the challenge of the wind. Instantly I felt a dread of that dang wind. I unintentionally began to give up and more frequently I let the negative thoughts seep in. My pace slowed and by mile 23 I was a minute off pace. I took another gel and my stomach started to churn (I think I took too many gels… I believe 6 total every 25-30 min and I took 2 run-gums… too much sugar). Mile 24 I slowed down to a 7:30-7:45 pace and Ashley caught back up to me. She hung with me the rest of the time and helped me the rest of the way. I wanted to throw up and my legs began to feel heavy but because of her, I held onto that 7:20 pace.

I came in at 26.47 miles in 1:50:52. Not what I wanted at all but it was a good fight. The beauty of this entire race… I went into it as a 40 year old and ended up winning the masters age group! Kara Goucher started the race (she is 40 as well) and was unable to finish… so I took 1st. I won money and was so stoked about it. There were 33,000 runners and majority of the field were women.

I’m not going to lie… I am so bummed about my timeย but I am ready to start all over again for another try at it.

We did have a great weekend together. I stayed with Ayisha and Ashley and Marco was with us to do some video and pictures for Ayisha. These ladies were amazing and an inspiration. Fun weekend. My 3rd daughter left this cute note for me before I left; loved seeing the support for the TSA workers during the shutdown; loved the Texas shaped waffles:

These 2 ladies (Ashley and Ayisha) were so funny! Ayisha had me cut her hair the night before the race… she said it was weighing her down. I am not going to lie… I was a little nervous at 1st to do it.

December 2018

Christmas is always a fun time for us. We Try to do activities throughout all December with games, crafts, outdoor snow things, service, etc. We have two boys staying with us from a different country for the school year. One is from Brazil and one is from Spain. This was their 1st time making Gingerbread houses.

We all enjoyed Christmas! We usually have a $75 budget per child. Sometimes we go over and sometimes we are good with staying under… it is nice to have them at a young age still. Once they get older, that will be a little more difficult. We had our traditional Christmas Eve Greek dinner, with family and friends. We were able to go bowling and snow boarding (up a little hill by our house) over the break as well.

January 2019

2019 New Year’s Eve 4th annual Salem Pond Town Polar Plunge. It was 4 degrees out and so feakin’ cold! The girls all jumped in and obviously Corom. I did not!!!

April 2018

My Youngest’s birthday and Baptism: Oh, I just love my youngest! She has so much energy and drive, it is hard to keep up with her. Sheย is so carefree and can definitely hold her own. ย It was an extremely special birthday for her! She turned 8 (in 2018) andย was baptized into the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

May 2018

My oldest had her 12th birthday. We threw a nice surprise party for her. She was pleasantly surprised! She is so talented and creative! She has a confidence about her that I wish I had. She is a great young lady.

September 2018

My 2nd oldest turned 11 this year (well in 2018). She is so kind and loving to all those around her. I will have to say she is the 2nd mother here in the home. Very mature and has a great sense of humor… she is the one that is always joking around with the adults.

November 2018

My 3rd daughter turned 10 (in 2018). She is a ball of energy and fun. She is always laughing and wanting to do something. She is also my clean child. Everything has to look perfect and she hates messes. I love it!

August & November 2018

Corom and I both turned 40 in 2018. Gosh we are getting old!!! The only good thing for me is now I can compete for the masters division in races. We both had a few surprises for our birthdays. Corom had a band (during our City Day’s) surprise me with a birthday song. And for Corom’s present,ย I reached out to many people throughout his life. I had them write something about him (a memory, story, how he has touched their lives, etc). I had a little over 100 letters come back and oh my… they were hilarious. I loved reading all of them. Oh and Corom let the girls start a controlled fire in the backyard. Well… it got a little out of control and our fence caught on fire .

April 2018

So much has happened since I’ve been home from Greece and Georgia ! I was home for 2 days before our new exchange students came (well they are soccer coaches… Renan from Brazil and James from England). They are going to be here for about 2 1/2 months (April – June) and then Renan will be back in August until October or November.

April 2018

Easter/April Fools: Easter and April fools fell on the same day. We made the girls salted pancakes for breakfast and then during the Easter egg hunt, half their eggs were filled with Brussel sprouts or rocks.

It was fun watching the girls with their Easter baskets (they had to find them); and it was great to have Renan and James with us. We had an Easter dinner with my sister (missy and her family), my brother John (and his family) and Aunt Georgia on Saturday night. Easter Sunday, we all went up to Yolanda’s house (Corom’s sister) with his mom and Gary and another family.

Spring break: We packed a lot in during spring break. Many hikes (bridal veil falls, 5 mile hike up diamond fork hot springs), museums, activities, etc. We did go to Moab… absolutely love it there! On our way home our 3 hour drive turned into a 7 hour drive. Our van broke down and couldn’t go faster than 30 mph. It was hilarious driving home. Fun times!

Still April 2018

September 2018 (and on)

We have New Foreign Exchange Students (one is from Brazil and one is from Spain). They came into our home at the beginning of September. Our student from Spain will only be with us for 4-5 months and the one from Brazil will be with us for 8-9 months. And everybody always asks us, “How much do you get paid for housing all these people from different countries?” Absolutely nothing! We actually take them all in as family and it comes out of our pocket. Some of the times/people are harder (financially, emotionally, etc.) than others, but we do love to house those from other countries.

End of July- Beginning of August

We had the opportunity to House 6 musicians from Peru for a couple of weeks. They were here for the Springville Folkfest (2018). Such a great group! They had Smore’s for their 1st time, learned American “football” at the high school that I coach at, were “arrested”, made us amazing Peruvian food, we went to the Bean Museum, the host families met up every evening and watched them perform, they did some kayaking, some fishing, bowling, swimming, shopping and played mud volleyball for Salem Days… oh and one had to visit our good friend Dr. Fullmer because he messed up his wrist pretty bad. Mike was able to cast it up pretty nicely. He was the drummer… it was a painful week.

October 2018

I love the month of Halloween! Pumpkin patches & mazes (with the Thompson’s), pumpkin carving (with the Harris’s), costume 5k’s (the cross country team put on)- ok us coaches put it on, Sundance Spooky Lift rides, and trick or treating in Las Vegas at our cousin Dan’s house. The boys staying with us think we are crazy with the way we trick-or-treat her. ๐Ÿ™‚

This was Gianluca’s and Zecheng’s (the boys staying with us) first time carving a pumpkin.


April-May 2018

Track 2018: Track season has been so much fun. We have a lot of great talent and hard workers. Our girls took the Region Title and the boys placed 2nd. My distance runners excelled on so many levels… it was a great season to coach. Our 4 x 800 boys team did break the record this season. It was awesome to watch.

August 2018

Camping and summer family fun: our family for the past 10 years have gone beach camping in California. We have always gone to Leo Carrillo in Ventura. This past summer (2018), unfortunately, most of it burned down in a huge fire, so we will see if we are able to go there this summer.

September 2018

Mountain biking on a few different occasions… a few falls but nothing to serious. Our youngest has no fear! That scares me.

October 2018

Capital Reef with the Thompson’s: It was really cold in the morning and the evening but the day time was perfect. Our little camper trailer held up real nice (the heater inside worked great).

June – December 2018

Cross country (2018) started 2 weeks after a track ended. We have had a busy but fun summer season so far. Cross Country season came and went with another successful year. We started off with our cross country camp and finished off at the Footlocker meet in California (in December). The boys made it to State and we had 2 of our girls make it as individuals. We took our annual California trip to the footlocker cross country meet. Always a fun time (especially with Corom around). Disneyland, the beach, racing, etc…

November 2018

Hanging out with my side of the family during Thanksgiving. At my parents in Couer De Lane, Idaho (missing a sister- Keri and her family, and a brother- Mike and his family): My dad was just diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few months ago. It has been hard for him and my mom. They just retired and now have this next chapter in their life to worry about. We are a very close family and will be there to help!

July 2018

Pictures of when a few siblings and/or my siblings kids and my parents were able to come visit during the summer… we attended our family reunion at This Is The Place in Salt Lake City…

December 2018

Snow shoeing with the Harris’s and our exchange students.

April & June

James and Renan the 2 soccer coaches that stayed with us.

January 2018

At an indoor track meet (2019) with the high school team and the Thompson family. It was held at the Olympic oval in Salt Lake.

August 2018

The fire that hit close to home but we were fortunate enough to have 100’s of firefighters from all over and time on our side. And of course many prayers were answered. So many people from our community stepped up and volunteered time, necessities, homes for all the evacuees (3 cities were evacuated and all people were housed… Red Cross did not have to set up a base camp at the HS). We took in a lady who had 4 cats (no one wanted to house a lady with cats)… we just told her to keep the cats in 1 room and to keep the door closed. We also took in another family for a few days. We had a full house with 2 families and 2 Foriegn exchange students and 1 foreign soccer coach. Talk about full house!

Random Pictures: The next set of pictures are all random!

May 2017

A poem my oldest wrote for her class:


(6th grade)

Heroes to me are my mom, my dad, my friends, my grandpa Bill and my uncle Steve. Why are they my hero and what is a hero? I guess you will find out.

First of all, I will talk about my mom and dad and why they are my hero. The reason they are my heroes is because I would not be here today without them. And who’s better than mom and dad, right? Second of all, they make most of my food and tell me all sorts of wacky stories that as you can tell do not actually exist. The reason why they are my heroes is if something bad were to happen they would try to protect us no matter what, just like a moma bear and her cubs. That is why they are my heroes.

My second paragraph is why my friends are my heroes. The reason my friends are on this list is because friends are family and friends mostly always have our backsโ€ฆ. so why would I keep them off the list? Did you know the word friend means companion, confidant, ally and many more. A friend is always there for you. A friend can keep a secret for you and trust you to keep their secrets. Last of all friends can give you company. That is why my friends are my heroes.

My third paragraph is about my grandpa Bill. Even though I have never met him I still love him very much. He was a cop and a mayer of a city in Sacramento. He is my hero because he was here to protect and make everything safe for you and me. They named a police station after him. On my dad’s birthday he had a heart attack and died. Even though he is dead he is still my hero.

My fourth paragraph is about my uncle Steve. He is in the Navy and is probably away from home right now. My cousins always have to move because of his job. Why is he my hero? He goes to battle and risks his life for our country. He is my hero and a lot of other people’s hero to. If I was a hero I would want to be like my mom, my dad, my uncle Steve, and my grandpa Bill. That is why they are my heroes. They inspire me to be like them.

A hero to me is someone who protects, loveโ€™s and careโ€™s about you and me, like the people I was talking about. Heroes don’t care whether they win or lose. They try and try again until they succeed. People think a hero is someone who flies around kicking and punching bad guys waring tites, but that is not what a real hero is to me. A hero puts someone else before themselves. If there was a fire in our house I would make sure my sisters are out of my house before I get out. Or if something like that happened in school and the teacher was out of the classroom doing something I would make sure everyone got out before me, and then I would go out.

That is what I think is a hero. You and me can be heroes without even trying to be one. Maybe just one smile can brighten ones day. That is what a hero isto me.

June 2018

I had the opportunity to run Grandmas marathon in Duluth Minnesota in June as well. Corom (my husband) and Sarah my mother-in-law flew out on aย Wednesday. The race was on aย Saturday so we had a few days before to relax and enjoy the weekend of race activities. Grandmaโ€™s marathon does not disappoint on everything they have planned. I was also given the opportunity to receive an elite bib. Along with the comp pass, I was given a room for half off, 3 different dinner opportunities, massages, a room open all day for snacks/food/drinks, a few after parties, an elite charter bus and a separate starting lineup area. I felt very blessed and a little saddened at the same time. Donโ€™t get me wrong… all the elite runners have worked so hard to get where they are at and deserve the benefits.

But I was saddened for I felt like I did not deserve to be there this time. I began my training for this race in February. I am going to try for the Olympic trials time and give it another go. I know I am not young and just about 40 years old but I still have a few good years in me.

But about a month before the race I started to feel flat and my legs were really achy (I found out due to my car accident when I was 23, I have arthritis in my legs.. oh well, right)… it did cause me to worry about my workout performance but I knew I had to keep fighting through it. I ran a few races and paced a few and felt ok.

About a week after that I strained my left groin and it went down my quad to my knee. It was so painful to run. I immediately went to Dr. Brady to start work right away. That 1st appointment he told me I could not run for a week. You tell a runner who has been training extremely hard for the past 4 months to take a week off of Running 3 weeks before a race is not going to go very well. I did break into tears . I just sat there and said ok… I guess I can start my taper now. I did a lot of biking and yoga. The next week, I was able to run every other day to every 2 days. I added in the elliptical with more biking and yoga. The week of the race was not any better. Monday was a bike day; Tuesday was a run; Wednesday I took off; Thursday a run; Friday was a bike/elliptical/mile run; then Saturday the race.

Throughout those last 3 weeks, I spent many times at the doctors getting shots, acupuncture, herbal bandages, etc… it helped but not completely healed. The day before the race I was able to go to the doctors they had for elite runners and he also put KT tape on. I went into Saturdayโ€™s run with everything I could have done.

I knew this was not going to be the best chance I had but I still mentally and deep down wanted it to go well.

As I started the race the pain was not as bad as it has been and actually considerably better than what I expected. I donโ€™t know if it was also do to nerves and the adrenaline but I was so excited to start with little pain. I was right with 3 other friends of mine for the first 2 Miles at a 6:13-6:15 pace. I realized I had to back off because my training was not up to their level with the time off I had. I was going to have a better chance if I ran my race and not theirs. So I slowed down and ran a 6:20 pace for the next 4. I hit the 10k mark at a 6:19 average. I continued on and had to reevaluate my pace. I realized I could not keep up that pace and this was a race that was just not going to go well if I didnโ€™t back off. I came across the half at a 1:25 I believe.

A few miles after the half way mark my left leg (thigh/groin) area began to ache… I wanted to shake it off but it was there. The last 10 Miles began to drag… especially the more my leg hurt. I kept thinking that I needed to slow my pace so I can enjoy the race and not reach that point of hating the marathon! I knew I wasnโ€™t going to hit the time I wanted (or even come close) so I needed very much to just enjoy this. This race is my 1st marathon back into my racing career in 3 years. So I was determined to make this an enjoyable one to start of my marathon racing.

The last 5 Miles approached and my left leg was not happy with me. I decided I would walk through all the water stations that were left to stretch out the leg and take some stress off of it. That 5-10 second walk helped every time! I finally came in at 3:04:09.

The 3 ladies that ran this race with me all qualified for the trials. I was so happy for them. With that happiness brought on a sadness of why it didnโ€™t come together for me in my training. I know I will get the time I want and who knows… it may make me stronger and more determined but it was bitter/sweet.

My dear friend Amber green finished at a 2:43 and instead of walking ahead into the runners field area, waited right by the finish line (for 20 min) just so she could cheer me in. I was so overwhelmed with emotion to see her there! When I asked if she did it (qualified) and she gave me the nod I was so extremely happy for her! Many emotions at that moment. I did spend a good hour in the medical tent but it happens to most of us at sometime.

Overall… Iโ€™m just happy to be out running in these races, to be around all the runners. And most importantly… I am so appreciative of my husband for coming with me on this journey. He is my biggest supporter and the shoulder I can cry on. He gets me and it was so fun to see where he would pop up along the course. He made our entire group laugh all weekend long. Always the entertainer!

My mother in law came in just around 6 hours. She did so well and the 3 of us were able to have a great time doing it.

Our Stay in Greece

(I did not proof read this so I’m sorry! ๐Ÿ˜‰)

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 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช. 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ˜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. ๐Ÿ˜Š 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We found an LDS/Mormon church on the Sunday we were in Athens but got there right as it ended. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ 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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ญ Corom told the girls that peanut butter would take away the pepper pain. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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)… ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‰

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… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰). 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. ๐Ÿ˜˜

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. ๐Ÿ˜” 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! ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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… ๐Ÿ˜‰.)

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Cute, random pictures:

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