Friday, June 26, 2009

Baltimore 10 Miler

On Saturday, June 20, Ron and I ran in the Baltimore 10 Miler race, near the Baltimore zoo. Ever since my last (and only) big run in October, I wanted to do another one. Yet, I didn't train so well during the winter, since I really didn't like running in the cold, and especially didn't like getting up early in the morning to run in the cold. So summer it was! Ron and I were looking for things to do together, and somehow I convinced him to run this race with me (he's not much of a fan of running). It was fun to go on runs together as a family, and we figured out a decent system of switching off with the stroller every 5 or so minutes. Evi generally did well in the stroller on the runs, and when we finished, she would always get her turn to run and "poke yu aams" (translation: pump your arms). Actually, until the last week, we never had to stop early to let her out.

Then I went to Utah for a week and our training was interrupted. I would run out there and Ron would run with Evi in the stroller. But then it turned out that Ron was able to come to Utah for the funeral too, so Evi had the week free of riding in the stroller for long periods of time. So the week before the run when we wanted to run together didn't so much work. But that was ok, because my mind wasn't really on 'training' anyway, more on just getting out and getting my mind on other things. My mind wasn't really focused on the race the week before it. I had just gotten back from Utah; from being with my family; from losing my dad. I knew I wanted to run the race, but my will wasn't entirely there.

We slept at Ron's mom's house the night before the race, because the race started at 7:30am and we were going to leave Evi with her for the morning. If it's unclear to anyone at this point, I am not a morning person (neither are Ron or Evi!), so we opted to stay overnight rather than get up even earlier to drop Evi off. I slept pretty terribly that night. My mind was too active, I wasn't in my own bed, and I don't know what else. But maybe I got 3-4 hours of sleep before my alarm went off, although I felt like I was awake all night.

Tired or not, I had prepared for this race, and we were off. Fortunately for me, it rained almost the entire time. I run better in the rain. Besides the fact that I felt a blister working it's way onto my toe, I much appreciated the rain, rather than normal June heat and humidity. We started with much gusto, maybe too much. I just don't like running in a huge pack of people, so we utilized the sidewalks (with some others) and ran ahead until there were some nice openings, and it felt good...

...It felt good for awhile, but Ron and I got separated and I was running alone thinking I wasn't physically and mentally ready to push as hard as I was. But I also shrugged that off and was still determined to push for my goal time of 1:30 to finish the race. The police commissioner of Baltimore was running the race; he started at the end of the group and with the the help of his police cadets, tried to catch as many people as they could. If they 'caught' you, they'd put a sticker on your back saying "caught by the commish" and money was donated for every person they caught. Well, I was also determined not to get caught. I never saw him or knew where he was, but a couple of times I heard commotion behind me and thought they were coming, so I picked it up some more. Actually, the last time was when I really felt like I had nothing left, but I'm that stubborn to not get caught that I kept on going!

When I was really hoping that I was close to the finish, I checked my watch and knew it would be close to getting my goal time. I tried to increase my speed, but I was tired, worn out, and hurting. Then I ran up next to a man, who when he heard me coming, he basically talked me in. He said, "come on. I hear you coming. Let's go. Let's do this." I ran hard and fast and that dear man helped me do it and talked me right to the finish. My time when I crossed? 1:29:56. That sweet man helped me get my goal, and he may not even know how much helped me. I did thank him, but I didn't get his name, or racing number, but he helped me to finish.

It would have been great to finish with Ron, but I was pushing for a time, and Ron's goal was to finish it. This was his first race of any kind. And did I mention that he's not a runner? He really doesn't even like to run, but he did this because it was something we could work at together. He did awesome (and wasn't "caught by the commish" either!). I got to cheer him on to the finish and greet him with a hug when he crossed. So although we didn't finish together, it's a goal we both made and accomplished together. It really was a great thing for us and I'm glad we did it. Not sure if he's ever going to run another race, but still, I'm glad we could do it.

The next couple of days with sore legs and blistered toes were a reminder that I might have pushed my body a little hard, but still, I'm glad I did it, and glad I got my goal. The few days before the race I thought I had decided to try for a full I'm not quite so sure :). We'll see what time has to tell for that big feat.

Here are some pictures of Evi enjoying the race venue the night before the race. I don't have any pictures of us on race day, so Evi will have to do!

This picture is of the sign I saw on the jail in Baltimore. hahaha, I thougth it was funny advertising.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What would you do?

My last two posts have been related to my dad, but this one will be completely different, so you're not surprised as you continue reading :).

Today I took Evi to the pool. We had been there for a couple of hours...she was splashing and playing in the water and having a great time. At one point we were in the baby pool and another little girl, who was maybe 3 years old, started splashing Evi. I didn't care because they were having fun splashing back and forth, but I started to care when the other girl splashed Evi right in the face. Evi was fine and she was wiping the water away from her eyes, but I said in a nice voice to the little girl, "sweetie, don't splash in the face. You can keep splashing, but just not in the face".

WELL, the "mom" of this child (quotes because I don't know if she was the day care provider or the mother), yanked the girl out of the pool by one arm and WHACKED her on the bottom a couple of times, and told her they were leaving. I felt so bad for the little girl, because she started to cry, and they had to leave the pool just because of that? I almost wished I didn't say anything just so that lady wouldn't have been so mean to her. Well...then there's the ripple effect.

THEN, the mom started into me, telling me it was illegal to speak to anyone else's child. She said to me, "if I had seen it, I would have said something and it's not your place to speak to anyone else's child" (her back was turned I guess, because she was speaking to one of the other children she had with her). I tried to be nice to her, but she just didn't want to hear anything I had to say; I was wrong no matter what. She repeated to me that if she had seen it, she would have said something, and I had no right to speak to another child, and she was getting more and more agitated. I calmly told her she was being very disrespectful to me and I would appreciate it if she didn't speak to me like that. OH BOY.

Then she started into me again that it was illegal that I said anything to the child at all, and she would have me prosecuted if I spoke to any of her children again, and if I didn't want my child to get wet, then I shouldn't have her in the pool. I tried again to explain I didn't care if they splashed, and that I only said something when the girl splashed in her face, but that just added more flame to her fire, and she continued on being very disrespectful to me, to which I asked her again to not speak to me like that. Well, whatever, there was no changing her mind, and I was ready to let it go...and then I thought, "she's acting like this and saying these things to me, but she just hit this child in front of me."

Sooo, one last thing I said was, "did you know it's also illegal to beat children?" Her response was that she could hit anything that came out of her body (words changed to make it a little more clean), and she repeated that a few times to me, I guess for emphasis. She said some other choice things and made the kids leave, and threatened me with prosocution again, if I ever said anything to the children.

Oh boy oh boy. All I wanted to do was not have my kid splashed directly in the face. Ok. So I probably could have handled it better (like not provoking her by reminding her about child abuse), but I stayed level headed, I spoke calmly and I actually stayed seated the entire time while she was getting closer and closer to me. I've had too many years employed TO SPEAK TO CHILDREN, so it's just a normal reaction to. If it really is illegal, well, that's news to me. I agree, she has a point, but about splashing? And as nicely as I put it to the child? I KNOW that I would not get that heated if the situation was reversed. AAAhhh.

Fortunately, they did in fact leave and we still had an enjoyable time at the pool.

What would you have done??

Monday, June 22, 2009

The real obituary

In the last entry, I posted my dad's obituary that ran in the Salt Lake newspaper on Sunday, June 7. HOWEVER, he wrote his own slightly different obituary before he died, and that is what I've included below. I would love to list for you all the things I love about my dad, but I'll just have to save that for a later time.

James Scott Packer Autobiographical Obituary

Jim Packer died of Pulmonary fibrosis on Friday, June 5, 2009. 1937-2009; husband to Kathie; father to Kristin, Jennifer, Erin, Amy and Michelle--beautiful wife and daughters that brought incredible—nay, indescribable—joy to him. Grandfather to elect children. Father to beloved sons-in-law. These were the treasures of his life. Could there be any greater encomiums? What deeds did he perform to deserve these blessed miracles? These were the good parts in his life.

THE SCRIPTURES tell us there’s a time for gathering rocks. Jim did his share. To his great joy he collected them from Argentina to Alaska and points in between. His time for gathering rocks is over (and he had to leave them behind, anyway); his embracing, in this life, is done. He’s going to embrace his sister, mom, dad, and others in a different world.

He was born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico and rejoiced in a perfect and beautiful childhood in that small town. Roaming the town and country, exploring every nook and cranny of that town, swimming at the local swimming hole in the Pecos River with no fear of robbers or evil. No one could have had a more perfect childhood. It was bucolic, idyllic and perfect for little kids.

Jim has gone to his true home; D&C 121:24 : For there is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be. Jim has moved into the 4th stage of the 5-stage dance.* (see below) He died of “Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis” (and his favorite thought about this was that it was so named because only an idiot would catch this kind of disease; there is no known cause, no one knows where it comes from, and there is no cure and no treatment).

He lived for 72 years—nearly 50 glorious years with the magnificent and glorious Kathie Smith, and marrying her was the smartest, most inspired thing he ever did. They had their ups and downs; they sometimes fought; sometimes got mad at each other like most people do. They worked thru it. And they loved, with deep, abiding love, and neither of them loved nor desired any other during their 50 years together. They stuck together thru everything; the better, the worse (plenty of each); the rich and the poor (they were poor, then rich, then poor again; and now poor again—sigh) good health and bad. They experienced all of those and came thru intact (well, sort of—Jim died from that lung disease after all). He waits for her on the other side; looking for rocks (are there such things as spiritual rocks?), shopping for houses and furniture. But putting off any final decision until Kathie gets there. They raised five beautiful daughters together-------without killing them or themselves.

He was a funny (as in strange) guy; he never talked all that much about family, and was hard to talk to over all, especially on the telephone, which he hated. He could put thoughts down on paper much more easily than saying them. And he spoke wonderfully well for large audiences. But his actions spoke more than words, and were clear. He loved his family fiercely and raised them so that nothing came before them in his life.

He was a vastly imperfect man and made so many mistakes in his life that it would be difficult to catalog them all. For these mistakes and sins, he sought for—and believed (and reverently hopes he received)--forgiveness from God, from his wife, and children. He tried to do his duty, to love others, and to act morally and ethically--not always successfully, but he tried. Some life tests he passed readily, others partially, and others he failed.

In the last 15 years of his life he faced numerous debilitating illnesses. And he didn’t face them all courageously either, often railing against them and he hated the conditions that made him an invalid. Lucky for him he had Kathie Smith Packer and his selfless daughters and sons-in-law to help him face them and to care for him. There are no words to describe their selfless service and his eternal, undying gratitude for them—and his sorrow that he brought them so many burdens.

He hopefully helped people as bishop many times, branch president twice, district President twice, a councilor in the stake presidency, as a missionary in Argentina (a country he loved all his life), more years than he cares to remember on the high council, stake athletic director, Temple ordinance worker etc, etc. And, most importantly, as a husband and father. Whether he did well in those jobs or not will be determined further up the line.

As you can see from the above he was a member of the LDS church with many callings; he loved his church and the people in it. He was an especially gifted teacher and speaker and positively influenced many lives (he hopes!). He taught the Gospel Doctrine Course (some called his course “Graduate Gospel Doctrine”) of his church for over 16 years, and also taught for the church “Know Your Religion” series in over 30 different stakes from Alabama to Canada on the subject of his book, “Saints, Sinners, and Christian History,” plus countless firesides, the Temple Visitor Center, and youth firesides. And where some might see chains or onerous responsibilities in the duties assigned to church leaders and members, he saw liberation, elevation, opportunity for service, happiness and joy (although stake farm assignments with a shovel in the manure pits had it’s moments). Did he serve well? There is only one court to decide that, and he has gone there to hear his case.

Academically he held a Ph.D. in entomology from Utah State U; and became a college professor and Dept. Head; teaching not only biology courses, but also journalism courses (in both Spanish and English). He was supported in his academic career by the Ford Foundation for Early Admissions, a Rockefeller Foundation Ph. D fellowship, and was offered a Fulbright Lectureship in Colombia along the way.

In his career he ascended rapidly and with great success to become CEO of several large Non-Profit institutions in Washington, D.C.

He was an active writer and published articles in many national magazines. In 2008 his book, Saints, Sinners, & Christian History was published by Cedar Fort publishers of Springville, Utah.

Seems like a lot of stuff, makes you wonder where he found the time.
*For the curious:
Stage one; an entity, an intelligence, waiting, developing somewhere in the vast universe.
Stage two: born as a spirit child of God in the pre-existence; more development, progress.
Stage three: born into earth existence, in the likeness of God, and of Daphne and Edson Rulon Packer.
Stage four: Where he’s gone now; death, the Spirit World and Paradise; waiting for Kathie, working, progressing, and looking towards the resurrection.
Stage Five: Resurrection and eternal assignment with Kathie and their eternal progress together.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The time has come

I am a fairly private person, and therefore have not allowed myself to divulge the 'bad stuff' too much on this blog. I've tried to keep it mainly positive, so if something not so happy was going on, I didn't always write. Well one thing that's been going on with me lately is dealing with my Dad's battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was diagnosed with it in 2005 or early 2006 (I think) and at the time, they gave him a 3-10 year window of life expectancy. They weren't sure because it's a relatively obscure disease, and the cause is fairly unknown. Some of my first thoughts back then were, "how does a guy who never smoked end up with a lung disease?". Well, our thinking is that it is a result of growing up in mining towns in the desert of New Mexico and mountains of Peru (his dad was a miner), and breathing in some pretty poor air. Research is continually being done on this disease; in fact, he has been involved in a drug study to treat pulmonary fibrosis.
He has gradually declined over the last few years, and lately it has gotten much worse. In March, his doctor told him she thought he had 3 months to live, maybe more if he could find a way to basically be sedentary (which, if you know my dad, you know he can't sit and do nothing). I wanted to believe and hope that she would be wrong, but I also knew to prepare for her to be right. He was able to meet with a Palliative Care team (end of life care) at the Hospital to plan out his wishes so when death came, it would be on his terms. He was approved for Hospice home care so he could have his nurse and doctor come to him, and in the end, to die peacefully and comfortably at home, rather than in a hospital.
Two of my sisters live near my parents, one is in Maryland near me, and the other is in Minnesota. In April, we all managed to converge at our parents house (although somewhat staggered, we couldn't manage to all be there at the same time), to have what might be a last visit. Turns out that for me, and for Jen, it was. My Dad died on Friday night, June 5, 2009. He was 72. I have been overcome with many emotions over the last few months. Right now I am heart broken, but at peace at the same time. I am so glad that he is not hurting anymore and struggling to breathe. I am glad that he is at rest and I am glad that his passing was as he wanted it to be: painless and easy, and calm. I wish like anything that I could still have him here with me, but I know that's not what is. I can be comforted to know that he will continue to look after me and will always be there for me. I am at peace knowing that I will see him again. But this Daddy's girl will sure miss her Daddy.
Obituary that will be in tomorrow's paper in Utah:
James Scott Packer passed away peacefully at his home on June 5, 2009 from pulmonary fibrosis.
He was born January 30, 1937 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to Edson Rulon & Daphne Elizabeth Packer. He married Kathryn Smith in the Salt Lake Temple on March 18, 1965. Jim and Kathie lived in Central America, Utah and lived in Maryland for 33 years, moving back to Salt Lake in 2005. Jim attended schools in Carlsbad, NM; Lima, Peru; Salt Lake City and Logan, UT. After many travels and experiences, Jim earned his BS and MA degrees at the University of Utah, and his PhD in entomology at Utah Sate University in 1970. He became a college professor and department head, teaching not only biology courses, but also journalism courses (in both Spanish and English). He has published extensively in magazines and professional journals. He was supported in his academic career by the Ford Foundation for Early Admissions, a Rockefeller Foundation Ph.D. fellowship, and was offered a Fulbright Lectureship in Colombia along the way. He ascended in his career to become Executive Director of large non-profit institutions in Washington, D.C. His book, Saints, Sinners, and Christian History was published in 2008.
The scriptures tell us there’s a time for gathering rocks. Jim did his share. Jim collected rocks from Argentina to Alaska and points in between. His love for rocks was evident to any visitor to his home and has rubbed off on his children and grandchildren. He had a passion for reading and continual learning across an eclectic array of topics. His greatest devotion was for his wife and family.
He was a member of the LDS church, served a mission in Argentina and held many callings. He loved his church and the people in it. He was an especially gifted teacher and speaker and positively influenced many lives. He taught the Gospel Doctrine course of his church for over 16 years and also for the church “Know Your Religion” series.
His is survived by his wife, Kathie; daughters Kristin (Jared) Jones of Maple Grove, MN; Jennifer (Jeffery) Taylor of Cooksville, MD; Erin (Justin) Brown of American Fork, UT; Amy (Christian) Jenni of Orem, UT; Michelle (Ronald) Mower of College Park, MD; 11 grandsons and 3 granddaughters; brother Norman (Darlene) Packer of Salt Lake City, UT. Preceded in death by his parents and sister, Faye Jean Gregory.
He faced numerous illnesses in the last 15 years of his life. In his words, he was lucky to have Kathie and his selfless daughters and sons-in-law to help him face them and to care for him. There are no words to describe their service and his eternal, undying gratitude for them—and his sorrow that he brought them so many burdens. Special thanks also to Dr. Mary Beth Scholand of the University of Utah and Vistacare hospice, particularly Andrea, for their care and support.
Funeral Services will be held Wednesday, June 10 at 12:00pm at the Ridgedale Ward, 3400 S 1100 East, Salt Lake City. A visitation will be held Tuesday, June 9, 6-8pm at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, 3401 S Highland Drive and Wednesday, June 10, 10:45-11:45am at the church prior to services. Interment, Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.

Singing with Evin and Gwynn, "I'm so glad when Daddy comes home" to our dads at a Parent Appreciation Dinner in 1995 or 1996.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Web cam

Last night, I used a webcam for the first time ever. Yes, I would say I'm very behind on the technology front. Anyway, so I borrowed one from a friend (that's just how behind I am :) ) to talk to my family in Utah. I must say, those things are pretty darn cool, to see the person you're talking to. Evi and I were talking to my mom and grandmother, when my mom said to Evi, "are you going to come see us soon?". Evi said yes and got off the chair as I kept talking. Well, the cute little bug that she is went to try to open the door and she kept saying, "manna's house. manna's house" (if you didn't guess it, "grandma" comes out as "manna"). So she thought it was time to go to Papa and Manna's house. The webcam had a view of the door behind me, so at least "Manna" and Great Grandma got to see Evi trying to come see them! Cute, and sad all at the same time since we are too far away. I think it might be getting confusing to her now that she knows she has a grandma here that we can drive to see. I wish we had different names for them so it wouldn't be as confusing, but maybe in time we'll sort that out. I think Evi thought it was cool to see her cousins, aunts, and grandparents. She seemed very excited to talk to them and see them. Way better than just a plain old phone conversation!!
That's my webcam report. Two thumbs up!! I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Welcome to Tennessee... least we saw the sign that said that last week. We drove to Asheville, North Carolina so Ron could attend and present at a conference, and our route took us in and out of Tennessee. It was night, and dark, or else I would have stopped to take a picture of the sign. It was sorta sad for me to be in Tennessee (even if just an hour or so), and not to go to Memphis! Although, that would have been another days drive, so it's not like we were right around the corner. Still, it was nice to think about being that close.
In Asheville, Ron's presentation went great. This was despite the fact that someone DELETED his name from the program, so the two professors from his department that were going to listen to him, thought he had dropped out. One didn't go at all, and one went late after he learned of the error. He had good feedback and it was a good experience for his first major presentation and his 3rd overall conference.
Evi and I tried to make the best of our time while Ron was busy, and we found a great park that I could run at, and then Evi could play at. Thumbs up for the Asheville Recreation Department, because it was awesome. It had a jogging/walking trail along a river around an enclosed park. Within this huge outdoor complex was pretty cool playground, 2 sand volleyball courts, lawn bowling (not sure what that is, but it was there), basketball courts, roller hockey court AND a bicycle track. Access to the fun was over a bridge/ramp, but fenced in. I was pretty impressed with our day at the park. Later that night I took Evi to the pool at the hotel where the conference was being held while we waited for Ron to finish up his meetings. Despite a bad nap experience in the middle of the day, it was a good day overall!
The second day of the conference, Evi and I went to the West North Carolina Nature Center. The travel book described it as "a living museum on 42 wooded acres with over 100 animals native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains." Basically, it was like a zoo, only the animals seemed to have more roaming room than at a zoo. They had a petting zoo/farm area where Evi got to go in the areas with the goats and sheep (not much of a "petting zoo" though if you ask me). She kept trying to feed the animals some hay, it was pretty cute.

Read the sign. Then, if you can see past the water bottle, you'll notice a HUGE rabbit, that is nowhere near exercising. I found it amusing enough to take a picture.

Evi's new buddy. She stuck by this one, even when he got up to move.

Trying to feed the goat some hay. He wasn't interested.

I think this was one of the 2 cougars. I thought he was a baby, but the other one was the same size. So either they were both babies, or this is a smaller breed. She kept calling them cats and wanted to pet them. Good thing there was a wall of glass in between.

Self portrait at the Nature Center

Near the exit they had a big sheet of canvas they wanted Memorial Day Weekend visitors to sign with their handprint and put where they were from.

One of Ron's professors from Memphis is now at a school in North Carolina, so we stopped to see them on the way home. They have a dog and a pool in their housing development. That means I got lots of pictures at the pool and with the dog, but NONE with our friends. Sorry :(. However, refer to this post, and you can see some fun we had in Memphis at Graceland before we all moved away!

Evi could not get enough of this slide. It was pretty fast and she was splashed with water on every landing, but she kept wanting more. Yea!

Not too far from them, were our dear friends the Ekstrands. They used to live in Maryland and he was our bishop in our old ward (our first ward after we were married). We housesat/dogsat for them a few times and really formed a great bond. In fact, before my parents moved to Utah, they actually stayed at the Ekstrands house for a few nights when they had to be out of our house but weren't quite ready to leave town. I love them both and am always so glad to get to see them. We stopped in to see them for a few hours along our drive. They have four dogs and, at first, Evi wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation. When we walked in, they were all so excited to see us and were jumping and barking and Evi just stood there. They calmed down and were used to us, then it was Evi's time to torment! She found a straw that whistled, and ran around blowing it and chasing the dogs. I think it's safe to say that they all had fun playing together. Sadly, again, I didn't manage to get a lot of pictures with adults. Here's what I did get:

Joyce, Ron, and Evi feeding the fish in the pond.

Evi thought the doggy door was the coolest thing. There were steps on the other side going down, so I told her she couldn't crawl through outside, only inside. So she'd open the door and go out, crawl in, and repeat over and over. Smart kid. Glad she had some fun. I don't think the dogs were quite sure what to make of the little body using their door!!