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?