Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Second Birthday

My birthday was one week ago. Much to my dismay, I did not realize that this was also National Hey-Kids-Be-As-Grumpy-As-You-Can Day. Our children played the part well. In fact, I nominated each of them for the award of Most Likely To Make Your Parent Go Psychotic. Certainly a proud fatherly achievement.

But seriously, the kids were nuts. ALL. DAY. And I'm ashamed to say that this rubbed off on me also. I was part of stiff competition with the kids to see who could be the grumpiest member of the family. By the end of the night, I may have won (although each of the children apologized, saying "Sorry we ruined your birthday.").

I was not thrilled with the attitude my children had. But I was most disappointed in myself. So I made an official declaration that for this year, my birthday was not going to be on December 19th. I moved it forward a few days to Thursday.

I even went to the store and bought myself some new birthday presents: a $1 bag of butterscotch discs, a bag of Reese's peanut butter cups, and a brownie mix.

I am happy to report that the new birthday was much better than the old birthday. From this day forward, I reserve the right to adjust any birthdays, and I am officially cancelling National-Hey-Kids-Be-As-Grumpy-As-You-Can-Day.

Parents, you're welcome.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Reese family! I find it difficult to summarize our awesome year into a few pages. I could be brief and say that we ate lots of snow cones from SnoKaps, and that I recently discovered the heavenly attributes of carne asada French fries from our local Mexican restaurant. But alas, much more has happened.

The kids all have excellent teachers and love school. Our children have even managed to enjoy chicken drumsticks when they have hot lunch, whereas for the average adult, just the sight of these drumsticks would cause dry heaves. They all enjoyed swimming lessons during the summer and have gone positively NUTS with the piano. The girls had fun taking gymnastics lessons this year and Jackson stays busy with scouts.

One highlight of the year was a trip to California to visit Sea World and Lego Land. The worst part of the trip was the flock of birds that lived outside of the windows. They had no concept of “bedtime” and enjoyed chirping at ear-piercing decibels all night long. Mel and I also went to Hawaii in March with two other couples and had a blast. I ate so much pineapple that my blood started to turn yellow.

Mel and I continue to work in the primary at church. Spending time with the kids is great. But I do have one beef with the primary room: the temperature always hovers around 638 degrees. I swear you could put some cake batter in there and have a beautifully cooked cake 30 minutes later.

Mel works a night a week at the hospital and also helps out a little bit at an assisted living facility. She is still very beautiful. She ran her first marathon this year – the Park City Marathon. Then ran a second – the St. George Marathon! At the expo before the race, we sat next to a guy who was 80 years old and running the marathon. I asked him what time he was shooting for and he said around 6 hours and 15 minutes. Mel said “Cool, give me props!” and she held out her fist for props. He just sat there and looked at her. I nudged her to put her hand down NOW! An 80 year old IS NOT going to know what it means to “give you props”.

And then, right before the St. George Marathon started, Mel stepped in a pile of human poop. It sloshed out the holes of her shoe. I believe I earned some Husband Bonus Points for running next to her for the next 26 miles while I smelled her foot.

I continue to my career as a social worker which keeps me busy. I managed to run 5 half marathons and 5 full marathons this year and am looking forward to a race I organized coming up next week: the Hostess Half Marathon. Runners must eat a Hostess product every two miles of the race. Registration filled up quickly and I’m certain there will be some barfing along the way. I signed up to run my first ultra-marathon (50 miles) coming up in March.

Here are a few other highlights from the journal:

January 4, 2010: So a few minutes after I tucked the girls into bed, Danica came down sobbing. She was crying hysterically. You’d have thought someone died. I asked her what was wrong and she said that her tooth got lost in the carpet and she couldn’t find it. I asked how that happened. She explained that her and Kylee thought it would be fun to play catch with her tooth. Two throws later, the tooth was lost in the carpet. With our carpet, finding a tooth is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We looked and looked. She continued to sob the whole time. I heard her whimper “Are you serious?” as she searched the carpet in dismay. We never did find the tooth. Thankfully the Tooth Fairy accepted a note for this tooth also. At least she didn’t eat it, like the first tooth she lost.

January 26, 2010: The Alzheimer’s conference I attended yesterday was at the Senior Citizen Center. Unfortunately lunch was provided by the Senior Center. I was doing my best to enjoy the broccoli cheddar soup when I came across a stringy black hair. Suddenly I didn’t want anymore soup. So I started eating the turkey wrap. With the first bite, I bit into a long brown hair woven between the slices of turkey. Note to self: never eat lunch again at the Senior Center.

April 5, 2010: The hike back was a little more challenging because it was so crazy windy. Kylee had a little stretch where she struggled and said “Dad, both of my legs are really tired.” She was able to keep trucking though. Kylee and I walked together during the hike and pulled up the rear. We had fun talking. She said that she wanted to have lots of animals when she gets bigger. Then she clarified “But I don’t want to be a cowgirl.”

April 26, 2010: We decided to take the kids to the Earth Day celebration in Springdale. On our way up, the kids asked if we could stop and see the ostriches. We agreed to buy a little bag of food for them to feed the ostriches and they were thrilled. Well, somehow Danica managed to grab the fence for a second. And a moment later she was running toward the car crying and screaming. I followed her to the car and she was bawling because she got bit. The guy who owns the ostriches happened to be out there and saw what happened so he brought the kids each a big ostrich feather. That got the tears to stop. Later she said that it scared her more than it hurt. I learned that it’s hard to show sympathy when you are laughing.

May 21, 2010: Apparently at school Dani’s class was supposed to be walking around the track for some reason. According to Dani, her friend Kelsey called over to her to come and look at some lady bugs. So Dani went. And then they got in trouble from Mrs. McCombs for not walking around the track. She put Dani’s name on the chalk board to lose recess the next day.
Danica came home from school distraught. I don’t think she gets into trouble too often so she was worried. She came home and wrote Mrs. McCombs a letter. It said something like “Dear Mrs. McCombs, I’m sorry I was looking at lady bugs. Do you forgive me? Yes or no?” She put it in an envelope and included a pack of Smarties. I asked her the next day what Mrs. McCombs said. She said that Mrs. McCombs forgave her and let her go to recess.

June 1, 2010: On our drive home from San Diego…. One funny thing about the drive home happened when we stopped for lunch at Arby’s. Kylee looked out the window and said “Look at that mof!” We said “What?” She said “Look at that mof!” We asked her again and she said “Mof!” a few more times. We thought it was really cute. Danica was polite in enunciating “mothhhh” instead of “mof”.

August 17, 2010: Jackson ran the Washington County Fair Mile Race. I was standing at the finish line talking to Shelly Thomas and we looked down the road and saw some runners coming. It was too far away so we couldn’t see any details, but Shelly said “It looks like the person in first place is wearing a black shirt. Maybe it’s Jackson!” I vividly remember the image of looking down the road seeing that black shirt and feeling unsure but hopeful. I remember the image so clearly because I thought to myself “That guy is going fast!” As the runners got closer I saw that it was Jackson – and he was in first place! It was really exciting. He ended up winning the mile race with a time of 8 minutes and 55 seconds! That is incredible. That is really fast! He won a ceramic plate and a $20 gift certificate from Classic Sports. I felt very proud of him for all his hard work.

September 21, 2010: I decided to take the kids to SnoKaps Wednesday night which they were excited for. Jackson said “I really hope there aren’t other people there because I want to order Care Bear flavor (cotton candy & wedding cake) but I don’t want other people to hear me order Care Bear.” When we got there, he was relieved that there weren’t other people around. He placed his order: “Can I get a small cotton candy mixed with wedding cake?” A few minutes later the guy opened the window with his snow cone in hand and said “Here’s your Care Bear”. Jackson was mortified. And we all howled with laughter. For the rest of the night, any time the girls saw somebody they said “Jackson likes Care Bears!” We all got a good laugh.

October 11, 2010: At some point during the week Kylee lost her first tooth. It was one of the small ones on the bottom. It was pretty loose so Mel suggested that she tie some floss onto the tooth to pull it out. Plans didn’t work out as well as expected. She kept tugging on it but it wouldn’t come out and Kylee started crying. Unfortunately the floss was tied on really tight and there was no way to get it off, so she either needed to pull it out that night, or go to school the next day with a big piece of floss coming out of her mouth. I took some turns wiggling it, and Kylee took some turns wiggling it, and FINALLY it came out. Thank goodness.

November 12, 2010: Mel made quesadillas for dinner and Kylee must have been pretty tired because she threw a huge fit when the rice was put on the side of the plate instead of inside the quesadilla. She was crying for a while and finally I told her she needed to go to timeout. Then she yelled “You guys aren’t the boss of me! Jesus is!” Mel and I both grinned at each other and bit our lips so we wouldn’t laugh.

November 18, 2010: Mel and the kids raked leaves at Marie’s house. I guess Jackson didn’t realize that there were still tons of leaves on the trees and he said “Mom, this seems a lot easier than last year. Does that mean I’m a man?”

Our family is so blessed. I couldn’t have asked for a better year. (Unless you could erase that little food poisoning incident I experienced in May.) Happy holidays from our family to yours. Wishing you a happy New Year with no hairs in your broccoli cheddar soup! Love, the Reese Gang

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Misery Of Snow Camping

Recently it snowed. Maybe you're thinking "What's the big deal nimrod?" Well, it's a big deal because it hardly ever snows in our lovely neck of the woods. Granted, the snowfall totaled about a fourth of an inch. But hey, it snowed.

It got me thinking about the most miserable experience I ever had in the snow. This traumatizing event was courtesy of the Boy Scouts of America. If ever an act of child abuse was committed, this was it. Our scout leaders had the audacity to......wait for it......wait for it......take us on a winter campout ..... in the mountains ..... in snow up to our waists ..... with no tents. Yep, amigo. You read that right. NO TENTS.

And why weren't there any tents? Because we were about to create a shelter even better than a tent - a snow cave. Whoever's idea this was ought to be shot. The leaders had us take the Lazy-Man-Approach-To-Snow-Caves: we just removed snow from under some picnic tables which were already covered by a few feet of snow. That seemed easy enough.

We situated our bedding in the snow caves, then went to sit around the fire. And I swear to you, without a hint of exaggeration, that my toes froze completely solid. You could have broke them off like peanut brittle. And then it was time to go to bed. And the longest 8 hours of my life began.

My Walmart special sleeping bag didn't quite cut it in the Arctic tundra. I might as well have taken a bed sheet. But wait, it gets worse. After about 15 minutes in our snow cave, it started dripping. And dripping. And dripping. Eventually the top of my sleeping bag was soaking. And the bottom of my sleeping bag was in a puddle of water. And did I mention we were inside SNOW?!?! I'm positive that nobody else inside our cave slept for a single second. But nobody said a word. We all laid there in quiet, tortured silence praying that our lives would end quickly.

I can assure you with full confidence that I will never, ever, ever, never go on a winter camping trip ever again. Never. Ever.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

At This Very Moment

  • At this very moment, it is 10:58pm.
  • I am staying up until midnight when registration begins for the Utah Grand Slam (run 4 marathons over the course of a few months this summer).
  • The Grand Slam is hard to get into, just a limited number of spots. Maybe I could just do it in the morning. But I would punch myself in the ear if by chance other neurotic people are sitting around their computers too, and when I wake up in the morning all the slots are filled.
  • Part of me is thinking this is foolish. I must have been dropped on my head too many times as a child.
  • Do yourself a favor and read THIS blog post by Fat Cyclist about getting a massage. I laughed until I cried.
  • I didn't eat hardly any junk food today.
  • (I had to make up for multiple indiscretions yesterday.)
  • The latest book I'm reading is called Overdosed America. I highly recommend it, although it will make you nervous to go to the doctor.
  • Eggnog? I saw eggnog at the grocery store today and thought to myself "Does anybody really drink eggnog?" The very word sounds yucky. Why would someone willingly put something into their stomach that ended with "nog"?
  • Is it midnight yet?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kids Like Peas

Apparently, children like peas. Well, if the peas have black eyes.

In our primary class at church our sweet little 8-year-olds were working on a project. And suddenly out of nowhere one of these sweet little 8-year-old boys started singing.

He proceeded to sing EVERY single word to a Black Eyed Peas song. I'm talking every word. If it hadn't been for the high-pitched voice, you'd think an actual Pea was there in our classroom. You know that song "I Got A Feeling"? Yep, that one. (I'll pause for a moment to apologize for the fact that this song will now be stuck in your head for the next 14 hours.)

And, speaking of peas......
funny graphs - Also: The only non sodium or polystyrene based ingredient
see more Funny Graphs

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mesquite Marathon

I ran my sixth marathon yesterday, the Mesquite Marathon. To read the story, see the pictures, and watch the video, CLICK HERE. (

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Happiness Project - Part Three

I highlighted lots of information as I was reading The Happiness Project. Some of the pieces became part of my Personal Commandments. But there were many more aspects that I thought were important to consider as I work on boosting happiness. They are like valuable little nuggets of wisdom. Rubin calls these little reminders her Happiness Manifesto.

Even though the commandments provide some overarching principles, I liked having these things to remember during the course of each day to keep me on track. These got added to my bathroom mirror too. So….without further adieu….here is my Happiness Manifesto:
  • The days are long, but the years are short.
  • "One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”
  • Don't compare yourself to others.
  • Accept the things you can't control.
  • Don't gossip.
  • Enjoy the process.
  • Don't complain.
  • Honor God.
  • Be positive - in thought and speech. Re-frame negative thoughts.
  • Live simply.
  • Don't take it personal.
  • Look for reasons to laugh.
  • You're not happy unless you think you're happy.
  • Lighten up.
  • Be forgiving.
  • Don't buy useless crap.
  • Make footprints: "I was here!"
  • If you can't get out of it, get into it.
  • "It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light." G.K. Chesterton
  • Do it now.
  • Choose to be happy, not right.
  • Imagine the eulogy - how do I want to be remembered?
  • Be a haven.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Happiness Project - Part Two

The first step I learned from The Happiness Project was to make a list of my Personal Commandments. For me, the personal commandments are some core principles that I want to use to guide my life. When I follow these guidelines, I am more likely to feel happy. I had a long list of possibilities for my Commandments but I eventually narrowed them down to ten. I chose these particular ten because I believe in them very deeply, but I also have lots of room for improvement in each of them. None of them are easy and I don’t do any of them perfectly. They give me a good challenge. My Personal Commandments are:

1) Act the way you want to feel.
2) Do what ought to be done.
3) Be present in the moment.
4) Be kinder than necessary.
5) There is only love.
6) Live deliberately.
7) Say “yes” to life.
8) Smile always.
9) Spend out. (Taken from the Happiness Project book which talked about not taking things for granted, and celebrating the small victories of each day. Don’t save the nice dishes for a special occasion – because EVERY day is a special occasion.)
10) Be Cory.

I printed off my Personal Commandments and taped them on my bathroom mirror. If I’m really going to work on these, I need constant reminders. So here is the challenge: figure out what YOUR personal commandments are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Happiness Project - Part One

I’d like to tell you about a fantastic book that I read recently called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book is based on her experience over the course of one year where she focused on boosting happiness. She chose a different area of her life for each month and had specific tools to strengthen happiness, such as:
Remember Love (Marriage)
Aim Higher (Work)
Lighten Up (Parenthood)
Keep A Contented Heart (Attitude)

For me, the structure of the book was perfect. Instead of a general discussion about how to be happy, these are real, everyday tools we can use. And the tools she talks about seem to come from three main areas: 1) Research, 2) Her personal experience, and 3) Suggestions from people who have truly mastered happiness.

Originally I checked out the book from the library. I returned it after two days and ordered it from Amazon because I quickly realized that this is a book that I would need to underline and write in my own notes.

I could really relate to Rubin who said that her purpose in doing her own Happiness Project wasn’t because she was particularly unhappy. In fact, she felt quite happy. But she had a nagging sense that maybe she was letting some important things pass her by, or maybe wasn’t sucking everything out of life that she could. I sometimes feel that way too.

And so, over the next few days, I’ll share with you how I incorporated her tools into my own Happiness Project. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Hostess Diet

Looking for another reason to register for the upcoming Hostess Half Marathon on December 18th? Look no farther than THIS article from CNN.

My brother forwarded me this story of a NUTRITION PROFESSOR (!!!) who lost 27 POUNDS (!!!) over two months on a Hostess diet. I ain't kidding you! Read the story. If it's on the internet, it must be true.

Feel free to start your own Hostess diet during the race. To earn a medal, runners must eat a Hostess product at each aid station spaced approximately two miles apart. Pick your poison: we'll have Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and bite-size donuts.

The deadline for race registration is December 4th. CLICK HERE for the link to the registration form. Bring your shoes. Bring your speed. Bring your appetite.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Horrors Of Middle School

Recently our family watched the movie Diary Of A Wimpy Kid. It’s a good thing the movie was funny. Otherwise it may have triggered post-traumatic stress disorder. I could relate to WAY too many things in the movie.

While watching, I recalled a few situations that made 7th through 9th grade miserable:

1) Mt. Jordan Middle School was an oven. Seriously. It was an oven with desks inside. The school was old and had no air conditioning. You could have baked a loaf of bread in my math class. I always felt so sad for my history teacher Mr. Murphy. He had the hottest classroom in the school and he always had enormous sweat tacos under his armpits.

2) PE Class: are you kidding me? I could write a Bible-sized story just about the misery of PE. This is going to come as a shocker, but in middle school I was (am) a scrony, skinny weakling. “Shirts and Skins” is a cruel punishment passed down from Hitler to PE teachers.

We didn’t play Dodge Ball in middle school. It was called “War Ball” (for good reason). Apparently bouncy balls are for sissies. We used fully inflated volley balls. I had braces, and a few times my face got an up-close-and-personal meeting with a volley ball traveling the speed of sound. The inside of my mouth resembled bloody ground hamburger. Sometimes I would pretend I got out and go stand on the side just to minimize the carnage.

3) Home Economics: I don’t remember what we actually DID in the class. I just remember that our teacher was MEAN. And if you got in trouble, the punishment was to go to the classroom across the hall and sit in “The Box”. I am among the lucky majority who never saw The Box. I don’t know if anyone ever returned from The Box. I don’t know what happened in The Box. Maybe kids got water-boarded.

I’m sure there were many other traumatic experiences that my brain has protectively blocked as a way to prevent life-long mental scars.

What was your most miserable middle school experience?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Piggy Back Ride Dilemma

I had a sad realization Sunday afternoon. Our family took advantage of the awesome weather to go on a walk around the neighborhood. Along the way my two little girls asked if I'd give them a ride on my shoulders. I can't turn down a question like that.

But I realized that they are getting bigger. They aren't the little people they used to bed. And I thought to myself "What if this is the last time I ever give my kids a piggy back ride?" That thought made me sad. I wished that I could freeze time and keep everything exactly how it is right now.

And then I remembered a quote I heard from author Richard Paul Evans years ago. He was writing about feeling sad that his daughter was growing up, and then came to a realization that has stuck with me ever since I heard it:

"To hold the note is to spoil the song."

Kids grow up. Things change. You won't be able to let them ride on your shoulders forever. But maybe this is all part of "the song". It was a good reminder to me that I need to slow down and enjoy the music.

(I may also start weight lifting so I can provide piggy back rides until at least seventh grade.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Strength, Courage, and Confidence

Recently I saw some cool quote pictures which were conveniently sized to fit perfectly for a computer wallpaper/desktop. So I thought I'd try my hand at it with some pictures of my own. Here is #1:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What NOT To Wear For Halloween

A week ago with Halloween approaching, Mel's sister brought over a clogging uniform that she had worn when she was 12 years old and dared me to squeeze myself into it. I'm always up for a challenge so I took a deep breath in and pulled the shirt over me. And I thought to myself "Hmmm, I guess this would be an okay costume for Halloween."

And then I looked at myself in the mirror.

I looked so completely ridiculous that I laughed until I cried. It was the kind of laugh that makes your stomach hurt. I looked like a mix of:

1) A frizzy poodle.
2) Neil Diamond's sequins.
3) A younger Richard Simmons.
4) A cheerleader who fell out of the Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down.

Our family did a 5k fundraiser race on Saturday where costumes were encouraged. I abandoned every ounce of self-dignity and wore the costume for the race. I fully admit that it should be illegal to look like this in public.

I ran the race in 25 minutes, then participated in the Men's Sprint race afterward. And then my friend Tom had a genius idea: I competed in the Women's Sprint race right afterward.

So to all you innocent community members who happened to be driving down the road on Saturday and witnessed an ugly man/woman in red sequins running down the street, I am deeply sorry that this horrific image was burned into your mind. I pray that you will one day forgive me for the mental anguish I have caused.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I LOVE Baseball

Baseball is hazardous to my health. I love playoff baseball. Love it. I get as giddy as a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert in the weeks leading up to the World Series. And finally, like the excitement of Christmas morning, the World Series has arrived! Game one tonight!

The only problem is that I usually record the baseball games and then watch them after the kids have gone to bed. This distraction-free time with just me and the players is invaluable. When the kids are awake, I'm busy with homework, making dinner, or cleaning punch off the floor for the 39th time. But when the kids are asleep, I can get absorbed in every glorious minute of playoff baseball. It. Is. Heaven.

And then I make a casual glance at the clock and gasp in horror. 12:30am. Woops! My late nights have left me dragging for a few weeks but I wouldn't change a thing.

For you seven other people across the nation who actually watch baseball, my prediction is Rangers in 6 games. And remember, that alarm clock in the morning is going to HURT.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear Universe

The universe is testing my patience. Dear universe: I'd appreciate it if you would stop testing my patience.

Yesterday morning I went out to the car to leave for work. And to my unwelcome surprise, one of the car tires was dead as a door nail. (It was flat. But saying "Flat as a door nail doesn't quite work.)

I hope I'm not tempting fate when I tell you that I have never changed a tire before. I have seen a tire changed. And I've helped change a tire before. But I've never had all the weight on my shoulders. In past situations, I've been fortunate enough to be in the same car with an actual man who knows how to actually change a tire. So I hand tools around and try to fake that I actually know what I'm doing. I think if there were no other options, I probably could change a tire. It might take me seventeen hours to do it, but I think I could make it happen. I was relieved yesterday morning that a can of Fix A Flat was able to get me to the mechanic where a real man could fix my dilemma.

And then to add insult to injury, the universe threw me another curve ball as I was leaving for work this morning. I was walking to the car and saw the sprinklers on. Peculiar, since the sprinklers came on at night. I went to the timer box and turned off the sprinklers. But.....they didn't turn off. I went to the valve box and everything was off.....but the sprinklers were still going. I went to the backyard.....and it was flooded. The sprinklers were just bubbling under a pool of water. I managed to turn off the main water valve.....and the sprinklers turned off.

I have a sick suspicion that somewhere within the parameters of my yard, there is a broken water pipe. I have a sick suspicion that the next few nights will involve lots of digging.....and lots of repairs.....and lots of hours.

I think the universe is making me prove that I deserve to keep my Man Card.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Changing Autumn Leaves At Kolob Reservoir

Last week I saw my brother-in-law Matt's amazing pictures from Kolob Reservoir. The autumn leaves were changing and it looked like the hills surrounding the water were on fire. I headed up twice and here are a few of the pictures I got:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Free CD - If You Can Beat Me

I came across a blog post from a few years ago where I was talking a moderate amount of smack for my typing skillz. (As Napoleon Dynamite would say, I have bow staff skills, nun chuck skills, typing skills....)

For fun I took the speed typing test again and beat my score from two years ago by NINE words on my second try.

Until November 12th, I will give a free CD to anyone who can beat me at this typing test. It takes one minute, and you have to post your score here.

89 words

Typing Test

Read it and weep suckers! Take this typing challenge and post your score. And make sure you include how humbled you were by the typing master of disaster.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How To Ruin Dinner

Once upon a time (August) we went to a family reunion with my wife's side of the family. The reunion was complete with camping, fishing, junk food, and dentures found in the medicine cabinet.

One night my father-in-law Mark was in charge of dinner: Dutch oven chicken and potatoes. He spent hours preparing the food, then protecting the Dutch ovens from the pouring rain. He was a proud, protective father ensuring that his family was fed with best food this side of the Mississippi. And it's a darn good thing that the dinner was going to be so good. Because everyone was STARVING. We all hung around the fire like vultures waiting for a scrap of food.

And finally the moment of truth arrived. His male sixth-sense told him that the Dutch oven chicken was done. The lids were pulled off and a gasp went through the crowd. There was no longer chicken in the Dutch oven. It was like asphalt. The "chicken" was blacker than the charcoal they cooked on. (Remember on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold cuts open the turkey? Our scene was very similar.)

Mark was distraught. And instead of Dutch oven chicken and potatoes we ate........cereal.

Here is an actual picture of the wreckage chicken:

On Sunday night I learned how Mark felt. I prepared a delicious dinner of Hawaiian pulled pork and rice. Lots of people were coming over for dinner. As the food was being served, I realized that the rice was no longer rice. It looked more like a pot of wet newspaper. And it tasted worse than wet newspaper (not that I've eaten a New York Times before, I'm only assuming).

And the tender pulled pork? I guarantee that a Siamese cat would taste better than the meat I made. (Again, not that I've eaten a cat. Well, unless you count the local Chinese restaurant I went to.) My only regret about the meal I prepared is that we didn't pull out the Lucky Charms.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Family Pictures

If your kids are anything like mine (could live on ice cream, and don't understand the concept of a "clean room"), they grow like weeds! Honestly, sometimes our kitchen seems like a 24 hour cafe. Time passes quickly and kids grow up fast.

Have you had family pictures taken lately? If not, I have the perfect solution. I'll be doing some blocks of family photo sessions coming up in a few weeks. When you reserve your time, I'll provide you with the location and some ideas for clothing that will look cool for pictures.

Your family will spend a half hour in front of the camera doing some family pictures as well as some individual shots. But this is just half of the fun. After that I will go through the pictures and professionally edit the best pictures, boost colors, add texture to some of them, and give you a disc of 10-15 high-resolution images.

I will also give you a photography release so that you can use the pictures for ANYTHING (enlargements for the house, your blog, Facebook, Christmas cards, etc.). The cost for the photography session, picture CD, and release is $100.

I will be in Hurricane on Saturday, November 6th from 1-5pm and St. George on November 13th from 1-5pm. To reserve your spot call me at 435-862-6521 or email . Call now before spots fill up and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

At The Elementary School

Yesterday I went to the elementary school to help out in the kid’s classrooms. This is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Here are a few things I saw:

1) Three children feverishly working at getting out a loose tooth . One of these children happened to be mine. (I'm happy to report - mission accomplished later in the day.)

2) I LOVE working with kids who are just learning to read and write. Their spelling is always so literal. One little girl in first grade showed me a sentence she was working on. Here is a fun challenge: decipher this part of her sentence --- Skuwl Kulrs. Did you figure it out? She was writing about her SCHOOL COLORS!

3) In the second grade, kids were writing about who their hero is. My daughter said her hero is her mom. And would you like to know how she arrived at this decision? Because mom makes yummy pancakes and sometimes even makes cinnamon rolls. (She included a picture of a large cinnamon roll.) This is further proof that she is my daughter.

4) Hard-working, dedicated, caring teachers. The fact that these teachers can effectively wrangle a room full of six or seven year olds ALL day is miraculous, commendable, and worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. I imagine that their job is similar to putting a bunch of cats in a bag, shaking it around, and then trying to teach the cats how to conjugate verbs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good Music from Matthew West

There aren't too many musicians that I like enough to pull out my wallet and buy each new CD they have. But Matthew West is one of those guys that I'll pre-order his CD before I even hear it. CLICK HERE to visit his website.

He just came out with a new CD called The Story Of Your Life which has some great songs, but my favorite is "My Own Little World". This is a bare bones acoustic version of the song. I really love this song. I think you will too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The School Picnic

Last night we had the pleasure of attending the annual elementary school picnic. What is that you say? You don't know what an elementary school picnic is? Allow me to describe:

1) Elementary school administrators obtain every ketchup packet within a 5-county radius.
2) Teachers are hanging out in faculty meeting when the principal says "Who wants to be in charge of barbecuing the hot dogs at the picnic?" And everyone screams "NOT IT!!!!!!"
3) A few teachers are sleeping and don't hear the question. So the names of those sorry suckers are written down on the naughty list and become the official barbequers.
4) Those teachers then realize that they are in charge of barbecuing 7,200 hot dogs. They start to cry uncontrollably.

Okay, I admit it. All those descriptions are purely speculative. But I'd be willing to bet that this is what happens.

But what I AM sure of is what happens at exactly 6:00pm on the night of the picnic: approximately 7,200 elementary school children, their parents, aunts, uncles, third cousins, cashiers at Home Depot, and every other breathing mammal within a 5-county radius shows up and gets in line for a free hot dog and chips. Laughs are shared, bonds are formed, and great fun is had by all. It's amazing how many people will show up for free food (guilty).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gas Station Hot Dogs

I need a dietary intervention. I once saw a show called Intervention where someone was struggling with drug abuse, so all his family members held a meeting to confront him on his negative behaviors. They told him how much he needed to change.

I have been eating so poorly that I need an intervention. A few days ago I only had a few minutes away from work to grab lunch. I actually stopped at Subway to get a semi-healthy lunch. But the line reached to Massachusetts. One woman had been waiting so long that she decided to catch a power nap. So I left. Time was dwindling, so I did what any rushed American with absolutely no self-respect would do. I stopped at the gas station and got a large Coke/Diet Coke fountain drink, a large peanut butter cookie, and a nasty gas station hot dog.

Yes, dear friend. I ate one of those gas station hot dogs. You know, the ones on the rollers that have been there since April? Fear not, I put some nacho cheese on the hot dog to drown out the taste of toxic mold and bacteria. Starving children in Ethiopia would not eat one of those things. You have permission to slap me.

And then the very next day my minimal amount of self-control went on vacation. And I ate a huge plate of carne asada fries:

I was almost positive that this one meal alone would clog every artery in my body. I told the wife to keep the car keys handy because I'd need a quick trip to the ER in a few minutes when my heart attack started. I will let you know what room I'm in at the hospital. So you can bring me a peanut butter cookie.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Running The St. George Marathon

St. George Marathon 2010: 5 Hours & 26 Minutes!!

This marathon weekend was one of the most fun experiences of my whole life. It started Friday night when we went to the marathon expo. We went to the First Timer's clinic by Terry Tucker which was excellent. He said that he did everyone a favor and took down the wall at mile 20. He said that people hit a wall at mile 20 because they think that is what's supposed to happen. They expect it. And so that's what happens. He suggested that runners get that out of their minds and decide that if they are going to "hit the wall", they can do it at mile 27. Great advice!

We also picked up our race packets. The St. George Marathon prints a poster every year that they give to all 7400 runners. I was surprised when I looked at this year's poster to see that it was one of the pictures I took during last year's race! They contacted me a few months ago to ask if they could use a picture in one of their publications, but didn't tell me that it would be the official race poster. What a cool surprise!

Saturday morning we rode the bus with our friends Darin and Shelly to the starting line in Central, Utah. The bus to the marathon is always full of 1) Nervous chatter, 2) Anxiety, and 3) The penetrating smell of Bengay. Before the bus started, the driver told us where the exits were, how to locate a fire extinguisher, and where the emergency brake was in case she wasn't able to stop the bus. One witty runner said "You haven't told us what to do in case of a water landing."

Prayers were answered and we arrived at the starting line without needing to use the fire extinguisher or perform CPR on the bus driver. We stopped for the customary Start Line picture:

And now for the funniest story of the day: The marathon was a few minutes from start time and lots of runners headed for the hills, bushes, and trees in the dark for a last-minute bathroom break. Mel decided she'd head for a bush too. A few minutes later I could smell her coming back. She was distraught and said that in the darkness of the bushes she stepped in someone's poop! She did her best to wipe it off, but it still sloshed out the holes of her shoes when she stepped down. This is evidence of the fact that I love my wife: I still agreed to run with her for the next 5+ hours DESPITE her smell.

From the moment the race started, it was very, very warm. I was a bit concerned when I was already sweating my guts out at mile one. That is unusual for me. Mile one was miserable. Not because of the race, but because of the guy who was running by us. He reminded me of a very un-funny Jerry Seinfeld. "Man, there sure are a lot of shirts on the side of the road." And now for the punch line......(wait for it....wait for it.....) "Man, someone is going to get themselves a free shirt after the race." Instead of getting laughs, I think I heard crickets chirping after the joke. People were not impressed. This continued on for 10 minutes before we stopped to walk and let Seinfeld move ahead. Seinfeld is lucky nobody was carrying a pocket knife. Otherwise he may have been the first death ever at the St. George Marathon.

The marathon is such an incredible experience to be part of. There is such an energy and excitement and togetherness among the runners. It is incredible to look ahead of you and behind you and see thousands of other runners weaving through the hills. This is one of my favorite pictures I took from yesterday:

Around mile 2 a girl came up to us and said "Hey! Cory Reese! I will be listening to some of your songs while I'm running today." I suggested she find some different running music. One of the things I loved most was taking pictures during the race (117 pictures to be exact). One lady saw me taking a picture and said "Do you want me to take a picture of you guys?" (Runners are very kind.) Two thumbs up for her photography skills:

At mile 7 we reached the most intimidating part of the course, the dreaded Veyo Hill. I appreciated this sign as we were heading up the hill:

We were thankful to be done with Veyo and reach the aid station at mile 9. Unfortunately this little stunt left me with orange pulp in my teeth for the next hour or two:

We spent some time running with our kid's awesome first grade teacher and 21-time marathon runner Mrs. McCombs. I love this picture where I happened to catch her looking back to provide some encouragement and moral support. This is what the marathon is all about: everyone helping everyone make it to the finish line.

I am convinced that running through Snow Canyon is one of the most amazing things in the world. Here is a glimpse of the Snow Canyon aid station.

By mile 18 it had become ridiculously hot (Ridiculously hot = 94 degrees. Seriously.). Dehydration had set in and many people had started the marathon death shuffle.

Alex: "Welcome to Jeopardy."
Cory: "Alex, I'd like to take Heat Stroke for $600."

Every once in a while we would see a shuttle drive by, with its welcoming doors wide open offering runners its comfy seats, air conditioning, and a ride to the finish line. It seemed like a vulture circling around a wounded animal expecting to get a meal soon. But none of the runners I saw gave in to the temptation.

The Young Women in our ward did a project where they made signs for everyone in the neighborhood who was running the marathon. I thought this was so thoughtful and the signs helped us stay positive so we didn't become dinner for the vulture.

At mile 20 I saw this random stranger holding a sign up for me which gave me an enormous boost. I was surprised that I had become such a well-known member of the community! Oh......wait...............

Within the last few miles all fluid had been leeched out of our bodies. If we had been grapes at the starting line, we were now raisins. Like those really shriveled, hard raisins that you buy at Walmart. It was 94 degrees outside and we had been running for five hours. These big water misters were a welcome sight. If you had come up to Mel and said "Listen, you look like a raisin. I will give you $1000 and tickets to see Oprah, or you can walk through my water mister." she wouldn't have thought twice. She'd take the mister.

Mel's goal for the race was 5 hours and 30 minutes which I thought may be a bit ambitious. But within the last few miles I knew she could do it. I pushed her to keep going and ensured her that she would thank me later even though in the moment she may have wanted to ram an ice pick through my eyeball. We were passing lots of people and it was a cool feeling to be running while everyone else was walking. We did the Galloway run/walk method and passed LOTS of people who cruised by us earlier on in the race.

You will never believe who we caught in the last mile: SEINFELD! Unfortunately he had the last laugh and sped past us at the end. In the last stretch we saw lots of friends, and Mel's mom and sister who brought the kids in to see us run. We were so thankful for them.

We reached the finish line in 5 hours and 26 minutes, so Mel beat her personal record by 35 minutes! Amazing. I was pretty overheated and gave myself a 63% chance of throwing up (fortunately I beat the odds). The St. George Marathon does an incredible job with the finishers area and has tons of good food available. I had been so excited to eat a month's worth of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Unfortunately by that point my stomach felt so sick that I didn't really want to eat anything. I managed to get down half of an ice cream sandwich.

I felt really proud of Mel. She worked hard in her training, pushed through some challenging times during the race when she wasn't feeling very good, and earned herself a PR. A year ago she wanted to run a marathon but didn't want to do it by herself. I told her that if she really wanted to run a marathon, I would run it with her. It was rewarding to have that day arrive.

I felt really proud of myself. I ran 4 marathons in less than 4 months and feel like I have learned so much since I did my first marathon a year ago. I once saw a Nike quote that said "Running never takes more than it gives back." I think this is so true. This was one of the best experiences of my life.

"Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things."
~ Joe Paterno

So......did you run the race? If so, how did it go? Did the heat make you want to attack Jerry Seinfeld with a pocket knife?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Look Like A Cheerleader

Allow me to share with you a post from my marathon training website . I invite you to stop by for a visit sometime. I attempt to make the stories and pictures readable for runners and non-runners alike. (PS: The words "Fast" and "Cory" are an oxymoron.) (PSS: After reading this entry you will think the word "Cory" is simply a moron.)

One of the athletes I admire most is runner and World Record holder Usain Bolt who absolutely embarrassed his competition at the Olympics. He is CRAZY fast and confident.

I made an enormous mistake at the recent Top Of Utah Marathon. I always try to ham it up for the race photographers, and this race was no exception. Then I remembered a cool action that Usain Bolt made when he set the world record at the Olympics. Well, I kind of remembered what he did. I thought I would try to mimic his Superman move, which was highly ironic since he’s so fast, and I’m so, well, not fast.

My fatal flaw was the complete lack of preparation and research about exactly WHAT Bolt did. I THOUGHT I remembered. But obviously there was a blemish in my memory. This resulted in a blatant injustice to Bolt. Just look at this comparison in our posture:

Here are the major problems:
1) Usain Bolt looks incredibly awesome.
2) I, on the other hand, look like an incredibly nerdy cheerleader.

Honestly, this is just ridiculous. I ought to be am ashamed of myself. Here are the main differences between me and Bolt.

1) Bolt has his fingers pointed up. I have my fists clenched.
2) Bolt is strong and muscular. I am skinny and gangly.
3) Bolt is wearing his country’s flag. I am wearing a fanny pack.

I’d like to assure you that I’ve learned my lesson. I will never again try to feebly attempt to imitate someone cool without first researching exactly WHAT they do. With luck I hope to avoid any future impressions of looking like a cheerleader going to cheer at a chess tournament.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Very Funny Graphs

Some of the pictures on made my eyes water because I was laughing so hard. Here are a few good ones:

funny graphs - Also: The only non sodium or polystyrene based ingredient
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funny graphs - Universal Experience
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funny graphs - Smile! You're on Candid Camera!
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funny graphs - She hid it behind the toilet seat?
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Funny Graphs - Blinded by Darkness
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