Sunday, January 15, 2017

Conkling Christmas Vacation


It's not a Conkling vacation without the famous chalkboard list that we gleefully make the week before, as we anticipate a few days off and family time. This year's Conkling Christmas vacation included in-town outings, out-of-town outings, and special treats that we enjoy more when there's no morning alarm clock. 

It took us a few days after vacation, but we did it...we checked off every thing we wanted to do on our Christmas vacation list! 

Brax mustered up the courage to look at the big rocket outside the Cosmosphere doors...


We picked a not-so-busy night to look at Christmas lights...


Mama only endured a mini headache while playing games with the kidlets at the arcade...


We rang in the New Year on New Year's Eve at noon at the Firehouse Cafe over pancakes, eggs, and bacon...


And we rang in the New Year on New Year's Eve at 10 p.m. (Mackie and Brax) and 11 p.m. (mama and daddy)...because it's always midnight somewhere!


We wrapped up our final to-do last weekend as the kidlets gleefully watched John Wayne's "Comencheros" with daddy in the tent they made and actually slept in (all night long! in the basement! by themselves!)

What a joyous break, filled with memories and giggles to last us through our next adventures during Spring Break!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mama On The Run: Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

This morning I ran my final miles in 2016. The 4-miler pretty much captured my year in running - I was tired, not really feeling it, and it was nice and easy. 

I finished the year running 1,174 miles. Most of these miles were slow and steady. Tiring. Humbling. And they provided me with so many lessons while entering 2017. 

In 2016, this mama on the run:



  • Enjoyed running alongside my kidlets and family. I held Brax's hand while he crossed the finish line (smiling!) in a 1-mile race. I watched Mackie train and work (hard!) this summer in preparation for her first youth triathlon. And it brought me such joy to run alongside her on Thanksgiving morning as she was insistent on running and finishing her first 5K. 
  • Ran my slowest race times in some of my stand-by races (Titan 10K, Easter Sun Run 10K). Again, it was a humbling year!
  • Was able to (finally!) participate as a runner and race Run for the Rocks Half Marathon in my hometown this year, after spending the last five years coordinating the event. 
  • Completed the #RWRunnersStreak, where I ran at least 1 mile from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. (technically this will be completed tomorrow, but I'm going strong and feeling good!)



2017 is all about PURPOSE and that flows into my running and racing routine. I feel like I gave myself a break in 2016 - almost too much of a break, as it became a common crutch for me to let go of goals, dreams, desires, and chalk it up to health issues, being a busy, tired mama (it only gets busier as our kidlets age, right mamas?!), and any other reason I could come up with. 

Don't get me wrong....physically there were times throughout the year where I simply wasn't ready to compete at my full potential. However, I feel like a lot of times, my fear of pushing through pain held me back. 

My biggest running/racing goal for 2017 is to say good-bye to the fears, the obstacles, the reasons why I can't and instead surge through training, competition, and reasons why I can. With a healthy body, I hope to:

  • Run 1,200 miles in 2017
  • Run a 48:00-50:00 Easter Sun Run 10K (redemption from 2016!)
  • Run a 1:53-1:55 Prairie Fire Spring Half Marathon in May
  • Enjoy a new race distance - the Firecracker 8K in June
  • Re-evaluate goals each season and adjust race times and distances as needed. (We're still figuring out what races to do as a family and individually later this summer and fall)



Here's to a new year, filled with purpose!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017: A Year Filled with Purpose



Happy (almost) New Year! It's this time of year when many of us reflect back on the last 365 days (or 366 days in 2016). We look back and marvel at how quickly the days, weeks, and months went, and yet - if you're like me - you wonder why you didn't have the time, gusto, or desire to accomplish all that you wanted to do for the year. 

2016 represented awareness. My desire was to be in the moment more with my family, to know what I was putting into my body, to listen to my body when exercising, and to worship the King with more awareness. 

I'm building on 2016 and working on PURPOSE for 2017. This year, my vision is to bring PURPOSE to the forefront of all areas of my life, including:
  • Family-Career-Life Balance: A friend of mine introduced me to the Brilliant Life Planner this summer, and I couldn't wait for the 2017 version to arrive (especially as I move forward from part-time to full-time hours this year). This planner is intentional about living life on purpose and assisting busy mamas to dream, vision, and plan their way through their days, weeks, and months. It's more than a planner (which I love the hour by hour feature, as it allows me to put purpose to the hours in the day!), but also gives gentle reminders in reaching out to others, who and how to connect with others that week, etc. The planner also includes pages to vision map, dream, and goal set - something that I fail to do when caught up in the day-to-day survival mode of life with young kidlets. I'm already drooling over the planner and looking forward to using it with PURPOSE this coming year! 
  • Studying Scripture: Every few years I have the desire to read the Bible in its entirety for the next 365 days. I've tried several studies and apps, yet by the time I reach Numbers, I'm done for and feel overwhelmed. These next two years I'm going to read the Bible in its historical order to bring some order and PURPOSE in my understanding of the context. I'm also excited to walk alongside Jack and study the book of Colossians together through the He/She Reads Truth study. She Reads Truth is a fantastic resource for women wanting to dig into the Word!
  • Racing to Compete: When it comes down to it, I enjoy signing up for races to hold me accountable and give me a reason to rise out of bed at oh-dark-thirty and run in the frigid cold, rain, intense humidity, and heat. But when I get to the races, more often than not I feel underprepared and not very confident. I cross the finish line thinking I could have done better, only to repeat with the next race. I gave myself a break in 2016 after a health scare in 2015, but that became my crutch. I'm excited (and nervous!) to dream big and go after some goals this year with various running adventures. For Christmas hubs gifted me with the Compete Training Journal in helping me get there! I'm eager to see the PURPOSE in every step of running this year - the preparation, training, racing, and recovery. 
  • Overall Health & Wellness: As much as I enjoy food prepping and meal planning, I go in spurts. And the hectic months of November and December completely threw me for a loop! I'm excited to get back to Sunday meal prep/planning and introducing my family to new foods and recipes. Jack and I also are making it a mission to read and/or do word puzzles before bed instead of binge watching (again and again!) The Office on Netflix. Hello, better night's sleep!
  • Finances: My move to full-time office hours has given us a boost in our family's income. We're taking this year to plump up our savings account that dwindled throughout the past seven years as I worked part-time. I love looking back and seeing how God sweetly provided for us time and time again throughout these years - what a gift! We're also excited to commit to a ministry beyond our local church giving and see how the Lord uses our dear friends for His glory as they minister to churches across the United States. 
  • Home Life & Hospitality: I want our home to reflect our love for others. It's a safe place for my kidlets. It's an open door for the college kids who come throughout the year for parties, dinners, lunches, and fellowship gatherings. It's a place where you can guarantee the coffee will always be available, hot and strong. But far too often I'm comfortable in not letting the world in my home. It's easier and more comfortable for me to come straight home from work, close up the garage door, and slip into my jammies (at 6 p.m.!). This year I want to show my kids the PURPOSE of opening up our home - to the neighbor kids who want to play, to the drop-bys, to the couple or group of college/career guys and gals who desire to stop by to chat, to pray, to engage in one another's lives. 



My ultimate purpose is for God to be glorified in all that I do. And when my plans and purposes aren't shining a light toward Him, it's all done in selfish vanity. I pray that I'm a light for Him this year and that His purposes are my purposes in life! 

"Commit your plans to the Lord and your plans will be established." - Proverbs 16:3

Happy New Year! What are YOU dreaming and visioning about this coming year? 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Family Christmas

Perhaps the favorite tradition for our family of four is Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. Gives me goosebumps as we end our service with the church all aglow from the candles, singing hymns in great anticipation of our Savior's birth. 



After a wonderful service, we went to my parents' house to celebrate with the cousins, and then hurried home to get to bed for the big day ahead. (and really for mama and daddy to finalize Christmas wrapping and details!)

We're pretty fortunate to have kidlets who don't wake up super duper early on Christmas morning. Maybe it's the fact that we stay up late on Christmas Eve celebrating with family. Or maybe it's knowing that there's a big day ahead. Either way, mama actually woke up before anyone this year, and the kidlets were snuggling in our bed, reading from the Jesse Tree Advent calendar by 7 a.m. 

This year's gift giving highlights included:

Brax: Lego City set (a steal from Costco that has kept him entertained for days!), plus Nerf guns, marshmallow gun, books, and clothes. 

Mackie: American Girl sleepover set (again - thank you, Costco!), mini Lego sets, clothes, books, a new money jar, and arts/craft supplies. 

Jack: The complete Garth Brooks CD set (the kids were delighted to help him unwrap it - and kept a secret for almost an entire month!), clothes, running gear, and (hopefully, if he finally bites the bullet), a new phone. 

Mama: New running head lamp, running journal, running winter jacket (notice a theme here?!), plus Jack had my diamond earrings re-set so they fit better. 









It was a lovely Christmas morning and probably the strangest weather-wise we had - 30 mph wind gusts and temps in the 60s. Brax made a good point that Easter felt more like Christmas with the overnight snow, and Christmas felt more like Easter this year with the rain and wind!

To Grandmother's House We Go (Times Two)

We had a wonderful Christmas weekend celebrating with both sides of the Conkling/Preston families. 

Our first celebration included Christmas at Grandma and Papa Scaliwag's house (AKA: Conkling). The kidlets loved celebrating with their 8 cousins, while mamas and daddies enjoyed catching up with the aunts/uncles/in-laws. 

Mackie's highlights included: playing with cousin Lily (her fellow girl in the cousin pack - the girlies must stick together with 8 boys around!), running around outside on the farm, and receiving a digital camera from grandma and grandpa. 

Brax's highlights included: playing with cousin Max and the other boy cousins (he's a magnet to Max!), meticulously playing Legos most of the afternoon, and receiving a ukulele from grandma and grandpa. 

Mama and daddy enjoyed themselves, too (plus the homemade chicken and noodles with mashed potatotes!). 







We continued our celebrations the following night - Christmas Eve - after church service with the Brawner cousins. This year's celebration was at my parents' house, where we snacked and exchanged gifts with one another. 


After our own family celebration on Christmas morning (will blog about this later!), we headed to Grandma and Papa Jimmy's house for a day of pajamas, brunch, and opening gifts. It was a relaxing day and special time with my parents and brother.

Mackie's highlights included: receiving a kids VivoFit and Spirograph, playing "Santa" and handing out gifts, plus eating all the sugar she wanted for a day.

Brax's highlights included: receiving a STEM circuit board (it's a pretty cool contraption and I'm amazed that he picked up on it so quickly!) and watching Home Alone 2 with the family.







What a joyous time with family! 

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