Thursday, February 1, 2018

Basketball Family

As many of you know, this was the first season in our entire marriage (and his entire teaching career) that Jack has not coached basketball at the high school or middle school level.

So, what's a die-hard basketball coach to do? He coaches his kids - and they (and me!) adore him for it! Jack has coached our kidlets for the past five years, ever since Mackie was a 4-year-old in Lil Dribblers for the first time.

He continued the youth coaching stint with a bit more ease this year - and even survived his competitive mess of a wife by his side as she helped him coach Mackie's 2nd grade girls team. (Side note: In the 10 weeks of practice and 7 weeks of games, Coach Conkling only told me once to simmer down - SUCCESS!)

Brax wrapped up his season this past weekend with the famous Lil Dribblers game on the big court of the Sports Arena. Hutch Rec does a great job with this final game, as each player runs out onto the court and is introduced, just like they would in a high school or college game. Jack also finished his five-year Lil Dribbler coaching stint. I say he should add that to any future coaching resume!

Brax improved so much from last year and grasped what the game was all about. He confidently shot baskets, (literally) stayed on his man the entire time on defense, and enthusiastically cheered and yelled (loudly) for his teammates when they scored.

Mackie, meanwhile, will end the season with a small end-of-season tournament next weekend. Her love of basketball progressed from last season, and she dedicated herself even more this year to wanting to play hard, be aggressive, and also work on her shooting, using her height as an advantage. More often than not she'd beg us to go outside (in all elements!) to shoot and Jack even had to shine his truck lights on the basketball goal at night when it became too dark to see.

Can I just say how much JOY and delight these 2nd grade Lady Crusaders have brought our family this winter? Our family was a bit lost with Jack not coaching at the high school this season, and let me tell you - these nine little girls brought a lot of fun and laughter (and yes, tests of patience!) to the game of basketball.

It was such a treat watching these little ladies improve week in and week out on their skills, especially on the defensive side. We're excited to see how we do in the tournament next week and finish the year strong - and already are looking forward to more sports and next basketball season with the group!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Brave - Life On Purpose 2018

2018 is quickly approaching. In a few hours, I'll gleefully break out my brand new Brilliant Life Planner and start filling in the blanks of life. I'll turn the big family calendar on our fridge over to a new month - my favorite part of winding down a month (besides pay day!).

2017 brought a sense of purpose. Living all areas of life with purpose. I loved that mantra and it carries over in to 2018, when I add a word to the mix: BRAVE.

Part of the BRAVE comes with the unknown. And that scares this type-A mama, who plans every detail out to a tee, but find myself in recent months embracing the minutes, hours, days, and life plans not fully carried out. There's a comfort letting it go; truly, it comes from God's unending work on my stubborn heart.

So here it is, my BRAVE vision board highlights for 2018:

Faith & Family:
  • Purposely pray for and WITH my husband and children. Pray over Scripture. Keep a prayer journal. 
  • Get back to reading the two-year Bible plan, hopefully with Jack, whose also expressed interest in reading the Bible through a year. 
  • Discipline our spending habits to put even more away in savings that will equal into a memorable, fun summer vacation plus memorable outings with the kidlets each season. 
My work dreams and goals really drove the word BRAVE this year. Ten years into my career, and I'm dreaming about future possibilities at a job and place I love and work that's being done in our community that I'm passionate about. 
  • Successfully study, test, and receive Certified Parks & Recreation Professional (CPRP) certification
  • Grow and expand my knowledge by serving on KRPA and NRPA boards and advisory committees.
  • Take the hard, messy, heart work being done in improving our community's health and wellness and hit the streets and community of Hutchinson, educating them on recreation, parks, and health work being done and their piece of the puzzle. 
Running, Fitness & Health:
On a race front, I'm not sad to see 2017 go. I was slow. Super slow. Felt defeated. And yet, at the same time, it was liberating to find something other than times to focus on. I approach 2018 not quite sure where it will go. The competitor in me says there's still some speed to this mama on the run's legs for a few races this year, thus the time goals below. But I'm also realizing my 34 (going to be 35) year old legs need a boost in the form of other training and nutrition, also noted below. 
  • BRAVEly commit to training hard for a 48:00ish 10K race & 1:53-1:56 1/2M race. 
  • Enjoy different races - new distance (7.7-miler); trail race; possible sprint triathlon
  • Up the ante on strength training (Iron Strength for Runners - I'm scared just thinking about it!)
  • Core30 yoga classes for flexibility
  • Cut out the diet soda (1x a week)
  • Up the water consumption (2 glasses for every 1 cup of coffee - forces me to cut back on caffeine)
  • Re-commit to whole foods, especially veggies
  • Re-commit to meal prep and planning
  • SLEEP - aim for 7-8 hrs/night
There you have it - BRAVE for 2018. These goals are a blueprint and will most likely change, evolve, develop as the next 365 days unfold, but I'm toeing the start line confident and ready to conquer the year ahead, by God's grace and His perfect, purposeful plans for myself and family. 

Happy New Year! 

Christmas Vacay

What a wonderful week of nothing (and somethings!) that made our 2017 Christmas family vacation a memorable one!

I always love banking the remaining vacation time I have to take off and spend with my babes. Those final 10-12 days of "us" time are oh-so sweet, and this year, Jack even commented how "this has been my favorite Christmas break ever."

Ironically, we did "less" with our time together, which resulted in more. I think we're on to something.

We baked and decorated Christmas treats for neighbors and friends...

We sang our hearts out for Jesus with a special Christmas Eve morning celebration at church with family and friends all around...

We enjoyed several family Christmas celebrations, which meant lots (lots!) of cousin time...

We continued our annual tradition of a good and filling diner breakfast at the Firehouse Cafe before saying hello to a new year...

We cleaned our house top to bottom and frustrated ourselves trying to re-organize and update the main living space layout... (boring, I know - but isn't it great when you live in a freshly cleaned home?!)

We dated each other, with our favorite tradition of post-Christmas shopping trip to Wichita kid-free...

And in between, there was a lot of MacGyver. Basketball practice. LEGO building. Yahtzee and UNO games. Hot Wheels race track stunt-pulling. Running in frigid temps. Laundering all of the layers from running in frigid temps. Hunting in frigid temps. Going home after 30 minutes with kidlets in tears because of the frigid temps. Starbucks dates. Homemade hot chocolate. 

Sounds like a lot, but actually for our family on the go, go go, most of our days were lazily spent in our jammies and warm clothes as it was bitter cold. It forced us to take it slow, enjoy the comforts of our cozy home, and savor our family of four time - time that we cherished and don't take for granted. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas with the Conklings - 2017

Merry Christmas from the Conkling clan!

We've been busy little elves this first weekend of Christmas break, celebrating and rejoicing in our Savior's birth with family, friends, and neighbors. The kidlets kicked off Christmas weekend with a morning of sugar cookie decorating and delivering the sweet treats to neighbors. 

I love seeing their creations become more refined (and using less sprinkles and red hots) each year they decorate. 

On Christmas Eve morning, the kidlets had the joy of singing carols and songs as a part of the children's choirs at church. We were blessed by their singing, as well as the entire worship service as we celebrated along family and friends in our packed sanctuary. It was also a good six-year run of "Come on Ring Those Bells," as our baby participated in this Conkling family's final "little kids" Christmas choir performance. Movin' on up sure is hard for this mama sometimes....

Our celebrations continued into the evening, when our Christmas Eve tradition of getting together with Preston/Brawner families continued. I love seeing the kidlets play with their second cousins (or is it cousins, twice removed?). Regardless, it's a fun time when they're all able to get together and giggle incessantly, which happened when Aunt Janice gifted the two boys of the bunch with whoopie cushions. You can imagine the roars of laughter coming from a 6-year-old and 8-year-old boy as they "discreetly" attempted to place the cushion behind certain family members during the late hours of the night. 

We awoke to a bitter cold Christmas morning, perfect for morning snuggles as we gathered in our bed and read the final Jesse's Tree devotional and hung one last ornament on the tree. We prayed and read Scripture and the kidlets bounded into the family room for exchanging of gifts. 

Mackie requested a telescope and that's just what she received from us, as well as some American Girl pet care accessories, books, clothes, crafts, a bike pedometer, and a pocket knife (that only took a few hours to have in hand before she sliced her finger open, thanks to a forgetful mama and daddy who failed to dull the sharp blade prior to opening). 

Brax, meanwhile, asked for robotics and he, too, was excited to receive a STEM kit, race tracks, Star Wars Legos and light saber, books, clothes, binoculars, and a bike pedometer.

Daddy Jack (who I failed to take a pic of with his loot) acted oh-so surprised when he opened up a new handgun that he'd been eyeing (and actually picked up a few weeks earlier after I had to ruin the surprise so he could have it registered in his name). And then there were the boring, usual gifts of clothes and new work shoes. Adulting at Christmas - at its finest!

Jack, meanwhile, spoiled this mama on the run with a trend of a few of my favorite requested things - a new Garmin 235, runner's journal, InstaPot cookbook (I will learn how to cook with the darn thing by the end of Christmas vacation!), Iron Strength for runners, and a date day to Wichita where we'll shop (namely for a new pair of running shoes at my favorite local running store there). 

We didn't make it out of our jammies all day, and when our gift giving was complete at home, we moved the celebrations to my parents' house for more gifts, food, naps, movies, complete laziness by the warmth of a roaring fire. 

We look forward to celebrating with the Conkling side this coming weekend - a sort of New Year's party of sorts - and savoring more family time. In the meantime, we'll spend these bitter cold days relaxing and snuggling at home in our jammies (notice a trend here?) as we read, build Legos, construct long and winding race tracks, paint nails, perform science experiments, and watch MacGyver. (We live it up in the Conkling house!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 8, 2017

She Did it Again!

I don't know how she does it, but the amazing Katie Thacker with KT Photography has this way of capturing our family perfectly in our family pics - every.single.time! I love the expressions she snaps of our kidlets. There's something so special to look back and see their expressions and how they've grown from year to year.

We were once again thrilled to participate in Katie's Christmas mini sessions a few weeks ago. Some of these pics will be featured on our Christmas card, coming to a mailbox near you soon!