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Monday, April 30, 2012

Let's Go Fly A Kite

This weekend believe it or not - more friends from PA came out to visit us!!!!! HOW AWESOME!!!!!
This family has 2 little twin boys exactly 2 weeks younger than Carson, and they were best buds when we lived in PA. We spent as much time together as we could and ran our boys ragged the whole weekend!

Sunday afternoon a local park had a Kite Festival! It was So COOL!!!!! They even had a station to make kites for free for the kids, and the kites actually flew! And the boys did it and were loving it. (and I'm sure would've loved it even more if they had gotten their naps first. :) )

What boy doesn't like Kites?

Father/Son


The Shupp family! too bad this is the only pic I took of them :(

Daddy showing them how it's done

the homemade kite that actually works!!!!


Look at Landon!!!! he actually was flying it!

This was a different day at a park, I thought it was funny that all the boys were throwing rocks
into the water. Even the dads still love it!
This man right here is my HERO! He deserves the best dad award!!!! No one can match this!!!! Right after our super fun afternoon of kite flying and running around, Landon threw up ALL OVER our car!!! I mean it was everywhere! We were stopped at a gas station when it happened! This man right up in that picture completely cleaned everything!!!!! I had no idea what to do and was gagging like crazy just undressing the kid! But Richard completely took care of everything! even when we got home! He is AMAZING! I would've still been sitting at that gas station trying to figure out what to do, and trying to not throw up myself!

Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Random Facts Friday

Let's see if I can come up with 10 facts for today. This week I've felt extremely uninspired for some reason! Who knows why! The pictures are kinda random too b/c we really didn't do too many exciting things this week

1. Monday and Tuesday I was very sore from the race
2. It has been in the 80's and sunny every day this week, until today, but it's still about 70 and sunny, just breezy. I can never complain about the weather here in CO
3. We have been outside a lot this week, at parks or in the apartment complex.
4. Thursday night for Me was amazing! First meeting at a restaurant with my running buddies, then straight to the good ol' Olive Garden for Desserts with my Life Group Ladies! It was so refreshing.
5. Today we went and visited EVELYN. She fell and had to be transferred to a new place. I think she was glad to see the boys. She recognized them right away. :)
6. To be completely honest with you - I miss close friendships :(
7. My sisters and mom make everything better. I love that i can talk to them about anything and the "get" me and Love me, and I "get" them.
8. Landon is talking TONS now! and it makes my heart happy. But we've entered frustrated phase when mommy doesn't understand what he's saying. But still makes me happy! he also imitates and copies EVERYTHING Carson does!
9. On Weds i gave all my boys haircuts, even the big one. it was a long night since really none of us enjoy the experience :) But cookies all around :) for good behavior





10. Great friends (different ones than before) are here visiting. They have relatives in town, so they are staying with them. But if you remember this post, it's the same family! Twin boys 2 weeks younger than Carson. What a joy for a mom's heart who misses her own friends, to see her boys running towards the twins and acting like they had never left each other! :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Race Results

I know I've sorta driven this whole thing into the ground, so if you're sick of hearing about the race, don't read further, but this is a huge accomplishment for me, and "life goal" and I want to remember these details. (and honestly b/c I don't know if I'll do this race again, ever. :) )

The Horsetooth Half Marathon is a well known race among running community b/c of its difficulty! So why not make it your first half marathon ever so that everything afterwards will be easy. :)

I was nervous to say the least about this race! But I had trained, and even on the hills a lot, I slept way better than I expected the night before, and I ate a healthy nutritious breakfast.
As you can see - it was a gorgeous Sunny Day!

excited and super nervous all at the same time
Some of the ladies that I had trained with. The significance of this photo is most of these women are over 60! The one of the far right is 75 and won her age category and did it 20 min faster than me!!!!!

The start going up the hill
this picture cracks me up - the boys were so annoyed to be there so early 

this was the first hill we climbed - beautiful once you got up there overlooking the lake

So the first 8 miles are extreme up hills and just as extreme down hills. I had trained these hills many times and knew exactly what I was getting into. I had places I stopped to walk and then run again all along the steep uphill. I also knew I could make up good time on the downhills. So the first 8 miles were good. i felt good and was ready to go, and mentally thinking, when I reach mile 8 it will all be easy peasy from there!
Then I finally got to mile 8 and time wise I was doing great! right on track to be at about a 2 hr race finish, which I was esctatic about! THEN - at about 8.5 it turned into a bike path that was wide open, dry, windy and very spacious, seemingly going on forever! I lost all my energy very fast. Maybe my pace was too fast at first, maybe I was dehydrated. Who knows. All I knew is I was tired and each mile after that took a life time. My next mental goal was to make it to mile 10 it will be easy peasy. Then I hit mile 10 and felt even more awful, mentally wondering if I was going to finish this thing. I lost a lot of time in those last 3 miles because I had to stop and walk. I am dissappointed that I had to walk so much at the end but over all still happy I finished this race.
 My overall goal for the race was to finish under 2 and half hours. My chip time was 2 hrs 15 min and 13 sec. So overall I was happy but mentally knowing that if I wasn't so wiped out by the end I might've done a whole lot better. My average pace for the race was 10min 19 sec which typically is really slow for me but I think it was because of all the walking!
Not the best picture of the boys - but that finish sign was great for me to see!!!
Rounding the corner to the finish line! I was pooped!
 I have a friend (same one that won the 5 k I completed recently) who has done many half marathons in his life time (and believe it or not, got 2nd in this race) and he told me that was the hardest half marathon he has ever done! That made me feel a lot better.
My Birthday boy! and greatest encouragement along the training journey! I could never have done it had it
not been for his support, motivation and help with the boys!!!!
 I don't know that I can say yet I enjoyed the race. I'm very proud of myself for finishing, and very glad I did it! But overall it was hard. I had felt better on many of my training runs than I did that day. I don't really know why. Maybe I tapered too fast, maybe I should've run the day before, maybe I should drink coffee before races - either way it is what it is.
I was never really sore after my training runs either - but today I'm VERY sore! and expect tomorrow to be worse! I don't really know why - except I know that means I pushed my body as hard as i could've. I also have a friend that says "if you're not throwing up at the end you didn't push hard enough". well i didn't throw up, but I was dry heaving at the end. (and at mile 9 and 10 too!) does that count??????

Next goal - Run a flat/downhill half marathon and see how much time I can shave off :)
But maybe not till next year :)



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Nerves!!!!!

Today is the DAY BEFORE my big race. Do you remember this post?  Well that seems like forever ago, and since I signed up I've been training hard! I've had ups and downs, lows and highs and lots of feelings of being burnt out and wondering if it's worth it.
My training is done! All I have to do now is drink lots of water and eat a healthy filling supper and good breakfast in the AM.
I have run the hills (this half marathon is really hilly. and do me a favor, humor me and give me sympathy, here is the link to the elevation changes of the race, click on it!) and trained, and have run most of the course, and done 13 miles before. But I still wonder if I can do it! Still wonder what will happen.
Today I have a lot of excitement and nervous feelings going on! This will probably feel like the longest day ever! Fears that i will cramp up, or push too hard at the beginning and not be able to finish or doubts of whether I can do it! UGH!
Tomorrow 8:30 AM mountain time! I will be starting out my race, going up hill right away. The first 8 miles are very strenuous and the last 5 should be easy but by then you're pretty tired! I will most definitely have an update here as soon as I can walk again! ;)
One of my "life goals" (of course not very spiritual) was to run a half marathon before I turned 30. Well I'm 3 years ahead of myself. and it will feel like the best accomplishment in the world to finish! I can't wait to accomplish this! Looking forward to that feeling of being done!

Can't wait to give you all the update!

this is the first hill right at the beginning


This is the second hill about a half mile after the first one
(and I feel like these pictures don't really do it
justice. You just have to see it
in person)


this is at the top - and it really is a beautiful run

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Visitors


We had visitors from PA come to see us in Colorado! Dear dear friends! What a joy to spend 2 nights together and a day and half together! It was so fun showing them around our new home, telling them about our church, and seeing the beauty of Colorado! I'm pretty sure they thought Colorado was the coolest place, and who can blame them!!! :)  We packed the little bit of time full of cool things. Thursday morning we woke up and the guys got a round of 9 holes of golf in. They were golfing buddies back in PA. Then when they got home Caren and I got a nice 5 mile run in, we were running buddies. :) 
Then we had a picnic, drove to see the mountains, ate dinner in Old town Fort Collins at The Rio Grande, great mexican place, then topped it off with custard from Culvers. (Caren is from WI and was dying to have some good old custard, and of course I was much obliged to do that for her ;) )

Friday we drove down to Downtown Denver and walked around the 16th Street mall and drove them to their hotel. They were actually here for a wedding. 
It was so fun and awesome to see old familiar faces! To chat about what's been going on in our church in PA. It was fun to hear about an update! 
Thanks for making an effort to visit us Michaels. We really appreciate it!











Monday, April 16, 2012

Party Time


Ultimate Blog Party 2012
Last year was my first experience with this whole "blog party" idea and really where i got inspired to blog more often, and ever since I've been waiting for the Ultimate Blog Party again this year! I have been looking forward to it for a long time, and I'm so excited to party with other bloggers. :) (through the year this is the best link up too, that I have participated in. )

So about me----

ME -My name is Jessica Gardner. I grew up as a missionary kid in Ecuador South America (and yes I always specify that b/c you would not believe how many comments I have gotten in my life about it being on another continent). Now I am married to a wonderful man who loves me very unconditionally, Richard Gardner, and puts up with many of my unique pet peeves. :) We have 2 boys, Carson 3 yrs old and Landon 19 months old. You can read about their birth stories here if you're interested.



History of our Family - As a family we recently (as in August, 2011, about 8 months ago) moved to Fort Collins Colorado!!! We were living in Northeastern PA (scranton, home of "the office") where my husband was getting a masters degree at a Seminary there. He graduated in May, and him being a native from Colorado wanted to move back to the "homeland". We were in search of a Good gospel believing church that had a heart for and actually showed LOVE to the community around them, with strong goals to always be church planting. And we found one!!! "The Crossing". Go check out the website! Awesome church. So my husband quit his job in PA, we moved out on faith to Fort Collins, to jump right into "The Crossing" and help wherever there was a need. And boy have we been blessed. Richard found a job almost exactly a month after moving, we have a great little apartment, and friendships are blossoming, church is thriving and growing, and we as a family have been refreshed, encouraged, and challenged like never before! It's been quite a journey - but God has been faithful all the way through! And that leads me to my blog (if you desire to read a few posts about this journey check out here and here and here and here)

(on a side note: this Sunday, April 22nd, will be my very first half marathon race, and I have never raced that before! It's a difficult race and very hilly! so let's hope I'm alive next week to keep blogging. Stay tuned for the race results. I love running and after this race I might actually consider myself a runner)

BLOG - I want to document my boy's lives! I want family (who happens to be all over the world) to be able to see updated pics of the boys and hear stories of what they are doing. I want God to be glorified and praised. I want the story of the Grace that he has bestowed on me to be evident daily! I want the fact that Jesus died to save me b/c I am a wretched sinner, and the fact that I did nothing to deserve it and still do nothing to deserve it to be evident. I want to daily remind myself of this Good God who loves me more unconditionally than I even realize.
 This year my "word for the year" is to ENJOY life. I hope in my posts that comes out! I want to ENJOY life, ENJOY my God, ENJOY church, ENJOY the boys, ENJOY my husband. ENJOY LIFE!

So have fun clicking around on my blog and catching up on my life. And then go check out the party yourself. :)

Dear, Dear Evelyn.



We have an elderly woman in our church whose name is Evelyn. I don't know much about her life, but I've enjoyed getting to know her. She is as spunky and as funny as they come. She always has a smart comment to make about the conversation that catches everyone off guard and then we all laugh b/c it is quite humorous, her perspective at life. She adds a lot of experience and perspective to our conversations.
She has attended our "lifegroup" (small midweek community groups) that  Richard is leading. This lifegroup has become such an encouragement to us. We have people of all ages, engaged college couple, single college people, young families with kids or just starting to have kids, widows and divorcees, and older couples. A great balance and as we have met week after week a special bond of community is being built and it is awesome!!!!! Evelyn is one of the widows in our group that attends.
Life group has also been hard to manage with young toddler kids. It is hard a lot of times know what to do. No childcare means we have to figure out how to manage them on our own. It's hard some days to be engaged in bible study while I know my toddler kids are downstairs tearing the room apart and I have to be checking on them every 5 minutes, or watching them grab food off the counter non stop while I'm trying to hold a conversation with a friend. Sure at times I think it would've been easier for me to just not go b/c it was hard to handle the kids there, and I felt like I was expecting too much from them as toddlers.
But at the same time - I knew I wanted my children growing up knowing what "living in community" meant. I want them to see the bonds we have with these people, and I want these people to feel like they know my children, I want my children to feel comfortable with them. This group is a HUGE part of our lives and if I stayed at home with my kids, or left them there with babysitters every week they would not experience it!
I will say - as time goes on, my children are getting more used to the idea of what is expected of them, they are comfortable with the surroundings, and the other people are comfortable with them, and I truly feel like we are becoming a family - that in time can reach our community around us in LOVE b/c we love each other deeply. I have seen the fruit slowly start to show and this is the reason for this post!

Evelyn, dear Evelyn is elderly and doesn't always hear well or understand what is going on in a group setting. But my boys know who she is. They recognize her and that warms my heart. This Sunday a dear friend told me a story. Evelyn's earthly body is starting to fail her and it is becoming more and more evident each week. This particular Sunday she just did not seem herself. As my dear friend was helping her down the hallway Carson rounds the corner and sees her, his face lights up, and he gives her the biggest smile and "hello". I'm told Evelyn perked right up and said "that's my buddy" to my dear friend! And her countenance changed! Even as I type this out I'm teary! How precious that my little boy Carson can be a blessing to dear Evelyn! He has such a way of brightening anyone's day! I love that about him, and I sincerely pray that God will use it his whole life. Carson loves life and loves people and this is a gift! Carson knows Evelyn b/c of life group weekly and I'm so thankful I have stuck with it (even though it's not ideal for toddlers) b/c I see how beneficial it is to my kids and the elderly. I hope I can teach Carson to pray for Evelyn and that he would understand how much joy he can bring to her days in just smiling at her and recognizing her!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An evening in CO

i know this is getting a little redundant to some - but really - we LOVE being in COLORADO!!!
My husband always said it while we lived in PA, and he says it practically every evening now! "Evenings in Colorado are amazing in the spring/summer/fall". And he is absolutely correct about that. The sky is amazing and big and has wonderful sunsets, the weather seems to be so nice the majority of the time.  (and if it has been hot, the evenings cool down so much). (disclaimer - I hope ppl still realize our time in PA was so fun and amazing and we enjoyed it so much, but you just can't take the Colorado out of a man!)

Last night after supper we took a family walk together, which just so happens to be one of my most favorite things to do. Fort Collins has great paths along creeks in town and great areas for the boys to play. As we enjoyed the long walk with the boys, I couldn't help but ENJOY the day the Lord Gave me! the family I am blessed with. No matter the frustrations I felt earlier in the day, the messy house (that literally did not get cleaned until this am, and boy was it gross), the busy schedules, the stresses of life, the fighting brothers non stop all day . . . There is something about getting out of the house for some moderate exercise with the family that just clears your head and makes you appreciate the simple things of life!


Literally the Smiliest boy I have ever met!

literally the best dad for this family EVER
btw - this pictures makes me want to just squeeze them both so hard!



I love the look of awe in his eyes

Older brother showing little bro how to do it :)

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