It has been a long 8 years waiting for one of my siblings to get married and it's finally happening!! Not to mention, my brother picked a real gem. I have known Ginger since we were teenagers and we all love her and her family. I can't wait to officially call her my sister. I took their engagements on Utah lake. Literally, on the frozen lake. It was ridiculously cold (18 degrees), I couldn't even tell if I was on the right button to take pictures by the end, but it was beautiful and they turned out so cute. I can't wait till march for their wedding. My girls are so excited to have a ballerina Aunt!




We went to see Santa at our favorite place. This is the cutest Santa, and he is so sweet and looks like the real deal! Ainsley was trying to push to the front of the line and kept running up the snowy walk way to get there before everyone. She was very excited about finally meeting Santa, but when it came time to sit on his lap she lasted about 1 second before she turned to daddy like she was sitting on a monster. We got there early this year so we didn't have to wait in a 30 minute line. Caden asked for his fire station lego set, Brynnley asked for a real puppy, and Ains couldn't even look at him. Haha. We wandered through Blickenstaffs so you guys could play with the toys and get some last minute Christmas present ideas. I love the way your faces light up about Santa and Christmas in general. You three make Christmas so magical.




We decorated our first ever live Christmas Tree this year! Our eyes were much bigger than our ceiling though, we ended up having to cut 2 feet of the bottom to get it the right height. It is so fun to have a real tree, my family had a real tree every year, and it just brought back all those fun memories. I love having my house smell like fresh pine too. The kids were decorated most of the tree and then I had to divide some of their work and move it up to the upper half of the tree which was completely barren of decorations. Ainsley loved the tree this year. Almost too much, haha. She almost pulled it over on top of herself so we had to weight the base to help keep it from tipping over again. This time of year is so fun.




Halloween was a pretty exciting day. I woke up at the crack of dawn and drove down to the bus pickup for my first half marathon! It was cold that morning, but the nerves kept my heart pumping and I didn't get too chilled. I set a goal before the race to run it in under 2 hours and 10 minutes. I knew if I wanted to beat that time I would really have to pace and push myself, most of my long runs were averaging around 10:00 min miles. I would not meet my goal at that pace. When the race started I found the 2:10:00 pacer, I knew if I could stay ahead of her then I had a good chance of meeting my goal. Everyone gathered at the starting line and they blasted the song "Roar" by Katy Perry which happened to be one of my favorite songs to run to. Everyone started jumping up and down and screaming and then started running. It was pretty steep downhill the first 4 miles and I knew I needed to be careful because of my knees, so I stayed right with the 2:10:00 pacer and tried to run with the best form possible. Running downhill is really hard on your body. When we got to mile 4 my mom and siblings were there cheering for me! It was such a surprise and boosted my spirits. We got on the Provo canyon trail at that point and it was more familiar to me, it was warming up but the shade down the trail kept me cool. My family met up with me at several mile markers down the trail and sometimes would run with me for a little ways. I loved every second of their company. It was getting to be farther in the run and I was getting kind of tired, but I kept my pace. I really couldn't get ahead of the 2:10:00 pacer, it was hard to even keep up with them sometimes. They would stop at water and aid stations for longer, or walk through them, and that was when I could get ahead a little bit. Mile 10 or 11 was the last stop my family made in cheering for me. I knew once I got to mile 11 I could just put it all out there and go for it. I would only have 2.1 miles left. When I saw mile marker 12 I felt like I could do anything, It was the farthest I had ever run. They set up a fun blow up tunnel with Halloween decorations that we had to run through after mile 12. When I only had half a mile left there was a hill I had to climb. Feeling all invincible I kept running up hill, traffic was so bad as it was blocked off from one of the lanes, and most of the runners were walking up the hill. I weaved in and out up the hill until it hit me. I just couldn't run anymore. My energy was gone. I thought about my Grandpa's letter to my mom, when he was going up the huge hill by the Veyo volcano (much worse than what I was doing) he kept thinking of the little engine "I think I can, I think I can...". I started telling myself "I think I can, I know I can!" and I speed walked up the rest of the hill, when the ground leveled out I started running again, slower than I would have liked. I wanted to sprint to the end but I just couldn't. I was far ahead of the 2:10:00 group and I knew I would beat my goal. When we rounded the corner and the street was lined with people and signs and cheering the adrenaline kicked in and my legs moved faster. I rounded another corner and saw the finish line. I knew my family was all there waiting for me, but I couldn't even look for them because my focus was so intent on that line. I did it! I felt disbelief and my legs felt foreign as I started walking through the crowd, like jello or something. I was so tired. I grabbed some water and a nutrition bar and started eating and drinking right away because that's what everyone says to do. I was supposed to keep walking too, but I wanted to see my family. I saw my brother Ben first and then Caden and Rachel. It was so exhilarating. I have the best support system in the whole world. I finished the race in 2:05:06 and I felt so proud of all my hard work.

On the drive home I started getting a migraine and by the time I got home I could barely see. I should have drank more water.. a lot more water. I crashed on my bed and took some medicine and slept it off. My legs hurt, especially my knees, but I wasn't about to let that spoil the night. We had basically everything ready to go before hand so we just gathered it all and left for my parents house. It was a fun night with family. I loved that all of my siblings dressed up. Haha! When we all get together it's like we are little kids again. The group pictures were killing me when I was looking through them. We went trick-or-treating around their neighborhood. Ainsley was in disbelief that she could walk up to a door and get candy. She went to every door. I love Halloween. It is such a fun holiday, at the perfect time of year.




Back before I ran my half marathon, probably in August or September, we were up at my grandparents house and I was asking Grandpa about when he ran his first Marathon in St George. While we were talking Grandma went over to a cupboard and pulled out a three ring binder with a bunch of papers in it and handed it to me. It was full of letters Grandpa had written to my mom on her mission. She turned the pages and found the letter he had written about running the Marathon. She asked me to read it out loud for everyone. We sat for over an hour while I read page after page of his experience running his first Marathon. His detail was incredible, it was really like a journal entry, every thought and feeling he had, the details of the landscape. It was so incredible and beautifully written. I looked up half way through to see my sweet Grandpa in tears, which in turn made me tear up. Something about running and training and working that hard for a goal goes beyond a physical level. I was right in the thick of it as I was only a few weeks away from my first half marathon. His story was so inspiring and so memorable. When we left that day my mom asked me what I thought about going to St George and photographing my grandpa and the landscape and such to make a photo book that would illustrate his story. We planned it out and made it happen on conference weekend when the St George Marathon was actually held. It just worked out perfectly, everything, it was as though Gods hand was involved, making it possible to create this book for Grandpa. We photographed the Motel 6 where he had stayed. We drove to the finish line which was all set up in preparation for the marathon the next day, then we went to the starting point of the race. It was so cool, the flags of so many countries, firewood piles for the fires the next morning. Part of Grandpas story said that there was a line of porta-potties that went on for what seemed like forever. No joke, the line of potties was exactly as he described. I couldn't even get half of them in one photo. Grandpa wore his t-shirt from his race in 1985 for pictures that day. He was all a glow that night, reminiscing, I can only imagine. Looking back on that time so many years ago, when his body was much younger and stronger. It made me almost sad, watching him walk out of breath around the start of the race, he is an incredible man. We photographed the rest of the race with fake signs that matched his description of the signs. It is a beautiful course. The next day when the race was held I needed to put in my long run, my long runs are always on Saturdays when Taylor can watch the kids. I knew I needed to get in at least one 11 mile run before my half, and I wanted enough recovery time after to not be dead for my actual race. I had been struggling with my knees and shins though and didn't know how long I would actually last. So I planned for at least 6 miles and anything else would be a bonus. There is a biking/running trail that runs right along the highway where the St George Marathon takes place. The house we stay at is right off that highway also, so my run was right there with the Marathon. I got major runners high running with all those people to my side. It was empowering, it's like you are part of a community, something bigger than yourself. You all work so hard and train for so long and you just have a commitment that is powerful. I made it 11 miles that day and had Taylor come pick me up at mile marker 22 for the Marathon. There were so many people cheering and holding signs all the way down, and you could see the marathoners were so tired at the end there. I just wanted to scream "Keep going!! You're so close!". My grandpa told me, everyone should run a marathon at least once in their life. I felt completely motivated to do it after that day. Haha, now after my half marathon I don't know that I would still agree ;) haha. I just love my grandpa and the amazing example of strength and hard work he is. He is such a hero to me.

This picture of him gets me every time. I sure love this man.