Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Snow boots

Me: I love my Columbia snow boots. For the first time, my little always frozen toes, are kept cozy warm. They are stout boots with a nice high design keeping snow out and ankles from rolling. I use these for all things snowy – to include snowshoeing in my most wonderful MSR snowshoes.

SH: Sportiva Glaciers again! How great to have a boot that you can use to hike trails, climb mountains, and snow traverse. These work great in his MSR Ascents – his chosen snowshoe. Side note: the MSR Ascents have a televater which is basically a heel lift making ascents up snowy mountains much less taxing on the calves. (I still beet him up the mountains J).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Every year we take our 20 plus guitar and piano students up to the Nursing home to do a truly outstanding musical show for them. It's a tradition in my family that my mom started when my brother, David Klinkenberg, and I were kids. We'd travel to at least 8 different retirement/nursing homes over the course of December putting on a full show as well as at least one church.

David and I still have the privilege of traveling all over the US doing shows together - the last one we did was this last weekend in December at Westside Church in Bend. It's a little different scene than the nursing homes with over 5000 people seeing our show - but we didn't lack for tearful older men, beaming moms and kids, and doting grandmas. What blessed us the most was the fact that over 30 people raised their hands to accept Christ as their Savior. To continue to be used by God, alongside my brother, is unspeakably amazing!

I can't celebrate Christmas without a visit to a nursing home and a performance or two in a church! So, now, we have expanded it to our entire studio of students and truly, there is not a more grateful audience.

It teaches our students how to perform. But it more importantly teaches them to give a little of themselves - serve in our community by sharing a musical blessing. And music has a way of blessing the soul unlike almost anything else can, it transcends words and shoots straight for the heart.

This year was the most talented group of students we have had yet - putting on a high quality show. These students practice hard for this, wanting to give their very best, and it brought tears to the eyes of many of the residents.

My 2 precious sprouts were in the program this year, for the first time. Princess sprout declared that they looked like a "Man and a Woman" dressed up like they were. Here's a picture of my little man and little woman who walked around that nursing home talking to the residents, unbeknownst to them, bringing tears of joy to the eyes of the men and women there blessed by their joy. At one point, my little Shirley Temple broke out into a full rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas to a captivated audience of 3 ladies in their hallway. They couldn't take their eyes off of this little golden angel of mine.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What does Running Gal run in?

I just got word that Brooks has chosen me to be one of their Brooks sponsored athletes. This means I need to be seen training and racing in (and hopefully winning in!) Brooks shoes and clothes. I also need to be caught proclaiming their mission statement in public places like grocery store check out lines and subways. OK - I made that last one up! But, even before I was chosen by them to represent them out in the running world, I had written this blog post.

This is, what Running Gal runs in!

  • I have been competitively running since 1988!! Wow! Amazingly I am still going strong. Truth is, I rather pound a trail then pavement, but find myself on pavement a lot. So, I need a very good shoe. I have quickly destroyed Asics, Nikes, and Reeboks. These are cute designer shoes, but not truly made to last well. NewBalance offers some good shoes but, again, not my favorite. For years, I was a Saucony girl and still think those are great shoes. However, the shoes that make my heart skip a beat, make my step lighter and my sride faster are the Brooks shoes. These folks design for runners. Like many companies these days, they have many shoes with medial posts placed to offer lots of support and correct for pronation or suponation.

    The winning shoe for me right now is the Brooks Adrenaline($80 to $95). I just love the name! Somehow this shoe does adrenalize me! The Brooks Addiction was one I hoped would work for me as the name was perfect, but it has built in pronation correction that overcorrected me with my orthodic.

  • Check out this Brooks link to be inspired by this company. They truly are desigining high end running shoes and it makes a huge difference. The shoe hugs my foot, provides amazing bounce to my run, and wonderful support. I love this shoe!!!!

Designed to elevate the running experience, Brooks' advanced stability, cushioning and motion control gear is recognized as the product of choice among runners of all levels. Entirely focused on the run, Brooks is dedicated to inspiring people to run and be active. Brooks creates innovative equipment that keeps you running longer, farther and faster—and with more enjoyment of the run.

  • Here's the techy specs on my current shoe:
Rejoice! Runner's World gave the new Adrenaline™ GTS 8 the "Best Buy" award for Stability shoes in its Spring Shoe Guide 2008. Many a runner relies on this trusted road warrior. The shoe is loved for its tried-and-true fit and feel, sought after for its signature smoothness from heel to toe, and depended upon for the graceful, graduated support of its PDRB®. The Adrenaline™ GTS 8 maintains all of the above while enhancing the ride with the long-lasting cushioning and resiliency of MoGo

  • For fun, I might explore some other Brooks shoes. They have an amazing high-tech selection. One on the docket for my next try might be the Defyance:

Runner's World awarded the Defyance its "Editor's Choice" award in its Summer 2008 Shoe Review.
Neutral runners, this is your golden ticket. Your prize? A highly sought-after ride. Finally, the glove-like fit, famous feel, and smooth heel-to-toe transitions of the Adrenaline™ GTS have been re-packaged just for the biomechanically efficient. With no PDRB® and just a touch of control to keep natural pronation in check, you won’t fall into any chocolate rivers.

SH: tried NewBalance with good success. The best shoe for him was the Brooks Beast. Brooks stopped making the Beast and SH stopped running. Truthfully, running just doesn’t work well for a big guy like studhusband. ;(

What works for you and why?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back packing boots

SH: The Merrill Chameloeon is his pick for light weight hikers. They have a strong vibram sole as well as a well made heel cup that combine to create a great supporting shoe for a light weight hiking shoe. He has super WIDE feet. Have I already mentioned – he’s a BIG guy!! Merrills work for wide feet, according to SH, better than any other brand out there. He really likes the Gore-Tex lining, as it keeps his feet totally dry, especially when he's standing in the surf with his camera shooting a sunset!

La Sportiva Glaciers are his top choice for climbing mountains, trekking, or carrying heavy loads off trail. These are an intense climbing boot with a half shank meaning there is not much give in the knobby Vibram soles.. Fully cramp-on compatible. Extremely comfortable on scree and snow, solid on trails, premier off trails. These suckers are ready to rock and roll (if you, the user, are ready to that is!). He also hikes with these in the summer if we're backpacking as a family (think heavy 50 lb plus pack!) for the extra ankle support.

Me: Low-cut and lightweight Columbia hikers have lasted me 4 seasons so far. They are a supped up running shoe with a strong sole. I love the light weight feature as it allows for easier hiking and since my ankles need minimal support, it works great. Columbia seems to be a great company for us narrow footed souls. Obviously this means that SH has had absolutely no luck with Columbia. They snug to my feet perfectly. I am ready to hit the trail for days or weeks in these gals!

The Key: go as light weight as you can given your body type and physical issues such as weak/strong ankles. If you, like me, have good ankles, don’t feel like you need to get some high top hiking boot just ‘cause that’s what “hiking boots” look like. I have been known to do a 10 mile day hike with running shoes and 3 or 4 mile hikes with sandals! Lighter is best as it saves on the wear and tear on the rest of your body by not having to haul around heavy shoes!

Tell us What works for you and why?

Monday, December 15, 2008


SH endorses the Teva Musher flipflop. A good hang out – take the garbage out – putz around summer shoe.

I enjoy my Chacos!! When I put them on, no matter what time of year it is, it’s summer to me. They have a vibram soul which makes them stout but unfortunately, a minimal arch support. $50 normally but I got them on sale for about $30 at REI. But, I must say, that Teva my SH picked up has the most comfy squooshy footbed I have been on in a long time!! I might have to grab a pair of Teva’s too. Not the Jesus sandal – just the flip flop. About $15 at REI if you catch them on sale.

This year I have added the Keen waterproof sandal to my repertoire ($80).. It has a lot more protection and support for summer fun then the Chaco flip flop did. It has an anatomical footbed, great arch support, a lovely toe covering to protect from stubbing toes on sidewalks or rocks, and fully waterproof. It’s been great on beaches and rivers as it clings to my foot well and allows me to just enjoy the day without thought of my feet getting cut up by sticks, rocks, or cement. My little piggies are safe and cozy in their little Keen sandal home. I can easily get in and out of our canoe or kayak or even hike a few miles all in one little sandal.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Every day and working shoes

SH, as a highschool teacher he NEVER sits down. His students have asked him why he never sits down as all their other teachers do, but on his feet he will be found interacting with the kids. He was starting to notice due to his suponation problem and all his feet time that the tendons on the top of his feet were getting really sore. He went through many types of shoes trying to add support that included Keens (I thought these looked cool and was bummed that they too were no good for this large guy of mine), Merrills, and Bass shoes. What finally started to work was the Dansko Clog. It shifted him back on his heels and aligned his body correctly. We work hard not to elevate the Dansko to a god like status in our home. It’s just that good!!! They don’t get soft and mushy like most other shoes. They are the only shoe I know of that is podiatrically approved. They have this rocking foot bed that propels your foot forward but when you are just standing they force your body to align correctly.

SH has walked to work every single day for the last 5 years. So, his commuting vehicle is simplified to what coat he is wearing and what’s on his feet. The New Balance running shoes gets too soft and unsupportive in too quick of a time. He has found that Merrill low-cut hikers hold up the best for the commute.

Like Mr.Rogers, SH arrives to school in his Merrills and takes them off, puts them in his closet with his puffy black down jacket and dons his Danskos for the school day. Every single day he does this routine and once again, his student’s get a kick out of this little quirk of his.

Me: I used to spend tons of money on my running shoes, climbing shoes, and hiking shoes, but never bothered to get anything but cheap shoes for the rest of my life. Sure, spend all effort and money on shoes that you are in 5% of the time!! I started noticing more and more trips to my amazingly miraculous physical Therapist (for locals – check out Peak Performance. My guy is Wes Rau). He’d size me up and say, “oh yeah. I can fix you. Your hip is way off, again. We’ll get that popped into place.” And he did. 4 years ago it took one visit in the fall to get me back aligned. But 3 years ago, I needed 2 tune-ups…2 years ago I think I needed at least 5 ….and last year, it was just hurting all the time. So, I went in to get my tune-up and this time, I went straight to the shoe store.

There, I finally purchased my first Dansko clog – the Professional – and I got their new narrow design. I wore that thing religiously. We used to have a “no shoe” house, but I couldn’t see how this shoe could do me any good if I didn’t wear it! Dishwashing, vacuuming, floor mopping, laundry, and all other assortments of indoor housewife sports all need the right gear! Amazingly, this last hip tune-up took!! The Danskos kept it in place. A year later I sit here realizing that I have absolutely no pain in this stubborn left hip (or low back as that too was starting to hurt a bunch).
Amazing to think that washing dishes while standing correctly now in my Danskos was actually, day by day serving to heal me!! Yippee!! Go Dansko!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

on Advent and making your own Advent Calendar

The sprouts remember the Advent traditions that we celebrate each day of December more than anything each year. We have done Advent for at least 5 years in our family and I love it. It brings us together daily to focus on a verse of the day, with a weekly theme and a weekly "family church" time on Sunday evening.

We have a large felt banner with a tree on it. Along the borders are 28 slots with 28 different versus. Each slot has a different velcroed ornament on it. So each day of advent, they move another ornament onto the felt tree and read the verse. Each Sunday, we do the candle lighting ceremony and discuss the theme for that week (the 4 themes we use are: Preparation, love, joy, and God's Gift) as a family and sing together songs that fit the theme.

They just can’t wait to start reading the daily versus as we count down to Christmas and doing the weekly candle lighting Advent ceremony. They are getting the meaning, all mixed in there with the jittery joy of anticipating what’s going to appear under the tree. I don’t doubt that for a second. In fact, for wildman sprout's school Christmas program, when asked what his favorite thing about the holidays are, he said, "Celebrating advent with my family and doing the school Christmas program."

What You Will Need:
White felt - 24" X 36"
Green Felt - 9" X 18" - cut into the shape of a tree
3/8 " dowel - 24" long
Gold rope or string
28 to 31 Stickers or what I did was cut out pictures from Christmas cards (size of a quarter)
28 Bible verses written on index cards (cut to be about 1 inch wide)

Advent begins the 4th Sunday before Christmas. It often begins in November. Many commercial Advent calendars arbitrarily start it on Dec 1st. If you get stoked about this and want to start, we are currently in the middle of the 2nd week of Advent - theme is Love.

Cut out your tree and glue it to the white felt banner. I also cut out a brown felt trunk so it didn't just look like a large green triangle. I used red felt to line the bottom and top of the banner. Sew the red felt to the tops and bottom of the banner so that it's about 3" vertically tall. Sew vertical lines so that you create 14 mini pockets on top and 14 mini pockets on the bottom.

Write out the verses and put one in each pocket. Attach to the outside of each pocket a Christmas sticker or a mini-picture cut from Christmas cards with velcro.

Each day, have a child move the next sticker/picture from the mini-pocket to the green tree and read the verse.

Some possible Bible versus to use in the Advent Calendar
First week of Advent: Preparation, Waiting, Hoping, Trusting
  1. Romans 15:4
  2. Titus 2:13
  3. Isaiah 25:9
  4. Genesis 49:18
  5. Psalm 33:20-22
  6. Isaiah 26:8
  7. Isaiah 33:2
Second week of Advent: Love

  1. John 16:27
  2. 1 John 3:1
  3. 2 Thess. 3:5
  4. 1 John 4:16
  5. Jude 21
  6. Romans 12: 9-10
  7. 1 John 4:7-10
Third week of Advent: Joy

  1. John 15:10-11
  2. 1 Peter 1:8-9
  3. 3 John 4
  4. Psalm 35:9
  5. matthew 2:10
  6. Isaiah 52:9
  7. Psalm 66: 1-3
Fourth week of Advent: God's Gift

  1. Romans 8:31-32
  2. James 1:17
  3. Luke 6:38
  4. 2 Cor. 9:7
  5. Isaiah 9:6
  6. galations 4:4-5
  7. 2 Cor 9:15

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

on Santa Claus

Years ago a sad reality slammed me. The sprouts put out cookies and a note for Santa before bed. After we tucked them in, I was shocked to see my StudHusband go straight for the cookies without missing a beat. “Those are for Santa” were my literal first thoughts. Thankfully, I burst out laughing before I said such silliness outloud. But it struck me then and there – there really is not a Santa from the North Pole! I was Santa!! We were Santa together, my hubby and I! I now was given the delightful hat, passed down from my parents to me, of being Santa to the precious little kiddos sleeping soundly in their beds.

I have friends that think it’s a horrible lie to bestow on their kids that there is a Santa and others that don’t celebrate Christmas at all. That’s fine. I can completely understand their perspectives – it is quite a commercialized day. But, we choose to just go with it. Just enjoy it for the fun that it is. The truth is, it’s magical to receive presents. It’s scream-happy worthy. It’s just plain giggles inducing fun!

And we, as parents, get to practice what St. Nick inspired so long ago – giving in secret. For we are the Santas – and someday the all-mighty Santa hat will be passed on to our children to carry on and that’s when selfless giving, modeled by Christ first, St Nick, and parents around the world, gets to be what they take with them into future Christmases.

I really would love to tell my Sprouts that I was the one that saved up for months to buy them both their new bikes, games, craft supplies, and toys…but instead, I write, ‘From Santa”. My right hand is not telling my left hand what it’s doing in secret.

I, for one, am blessed by the countless selfless years of giving my parents did for me each Christmas day, never taking credit for what they gave and I am honored to carry the torch.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mom...?? Say what??

I have thoroughly confused my sprouts. In an effort to keep the “meaning” in Christmas, I have weaved a crazy story that leaves them nothing short of totally lost.

See….St. Nick was a real guy. He was born in A.D. 280, in Myra, which is modern day Turkey. He was born into wealth and had a deep interest in Christ from an early age. He seemed to base his life on 2 principles: 1 John 3:17, ”If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” and Matthew 6:3-4,”But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

When a wealthy merchant-friend of his lost everything in a violent storm at sea, Nicholas knew he had the resources to help him. His friend would be embarrassed to take “charity” and would want to pay him back so he decided, one dark night, to take a bag of gold coins and drop them through the open window of the eldest daughter’s room. Some fell into a stocking that had been hung out to dry.

News spread and everyone wondered who the identity of this anonymous donor could be. The afterglow of that experience warmed his heart drawing his attention to the poor and suffering people in and around Myra. He soon made Mathew 25:35-36 his motto: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink….I needed clothes and you clothed me…”

For the remainder of his life, he consistently cared for the poor. He employed people to make clothing for the needy and distribute food to the hungry. He even hired a wood-carver to make simple toys for the children. The only condition he placed on these activities was a request that his identity be kept a secret during his lifetime. He often baked bread, mixing sugar and exotic spices that came to be known as gingerbread.

He died on Dec 6, A.D. 343. This day began to be celebrated as St Nicholas Day.

What we have tried to do is celebrate Santa by remembering St. Nick. Each year, St Nick comes on Dec 6th and fills the sprouts stockings with goodies. We try to bake gingerbread cookies and distribute them to neighbors and we try to anonymously bless a family or 2 in need with traditional St Nick items like:
  • A stocking to hold the coins and gifts because the gold fell in the girl’s stockings and shoes
  • A mesh bag of chocolate gold coins because Nicholas tossed real bags of gold (Trader Joes has these this year!)
  • A wooden gift remembering Nicholas hired a wood carver to make toys for the children.
  • An article of clothing, remembering his concern to clothe the poor.
  • A favorite food item, remembering his generosity in feeding people.
  • A gingerbread cookie, with a pointed bishop’s hat, like Nicholas had.

Then, after Dec 6th, all Santa décor comes down to be now focused on the birth of Christ.

It’s all good, but here’s the problem. No one else does this! So, all December long over the last few years, the sprouts have gotten more and more confused as people ask them the traditional December question, “what do you want Santa to bring you?” To which they always tell the silly adult, “ He already came!”

Adult looks at me with questioning eyes then back to the Sprout at hand…”No I mean this year, what do you want for Christmas?” Sprout then tries to explain…no success then leaves the conversation feeling bad for the many adults that were clearly not good enough to get a Santa visit this year.

Then this year, the final Princess Sprout question sent StudHusband and I into fits of laughter at me – a mom that clearly cannot get this simple December holiday straight. She asked, “Is St Nick still alive?” To which I unwittingly answered, “No. He died.”

Stud Husband about crashed the car as he listened to this crazy wife of his trying to bring meaning into Christmas by calmly assuring her 5 year old that St Nick (or Santa in her little mind) is dead/

Santa’s dead? She asked, shocked and mortally devastated.
(quick! Fix this!! She can’t be going to school announcing that st nick is dead.)

So, I tried to explain that Santa is not dead. He got inspired by St Nick’s life and love for Jesus so he will, indeed, now be showing up at our home on Dec 25th (Instead of on Dec 6th for stockings and then again on the 25gh), like he does around the world for all good children (my husband reminded me). And on Dec 6th, we will skip the St. Nick coming to fill stockings with toys and instead, spend all that money on food and warm clothes for the family in need that we have chosen to bless this Christmas.

Finally! We have a plan!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Our Christmas Tree Lives

Each year we gather together in the forest with friends, hot cocoa, hot soup, and great fast sleds and we find the perfect tree. Each year, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if instead of killing another tree that has tried to survive for 20 plus years for 3 weeks of Christmas indoor viewing pleasure, we instead, bought a LIVE tree!!??

This year, rather spontaneously, we decided to do just that. We passed a cute little Christmas tree farm, selling live trees for $5! We quickly chatted with the kids and decided that it would be fun to grab a shovel and dig up our own tree. Instead of watching it dry out and die all December, we could water it, knowing that we’d get to plant it in our yard and watch it keep growing. (I see a great analogy brewing – baby Jesus came to us on Christmas and stays in our hearts forever, growing His Grace, Love, and power in us, as we become deeper rooted in Him….)

So this year, we are not sporting the 6 foot plus perfect tree from the woods. Instead, we have this cute little 3 foot tree, a mere babe. We get to water it and tend to it, and read books on how to not kill this youngin’ when the shocking transplant to the earth takes place.

And hopefully, we get to watch it live.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Orthodics - fix your hips, knees, back, and even your neck could benefit!

In the 90s, after about 4 yrs of intense distance running training and competing, I finally was stopped dead in my tracks with a stress fracture in my tibia bone (lower leg). I had also suffered much tendonitis in my knees, shin splints, and some hip pain.

SH has a lot of pain on the bottom of his foot, up near his toes for years.

All of these issues were solved after a visit to a podiatrist and foot casts were done so they could create custom orthodics to correct the promation/supination issues o had.

We learned that at least 80% of people would benefit from orthodics. If the foot is hitting the ground wrong, it bio-mechanically throws the entire gate off putting strains that lead to injuries up the entire body. Foot, ankle, shin, knee, hips, and backs all could suffer in time if this simple step is not taken to get orthodics. Even shoulder, neck, and headache pain can be attributed to an off balanced gait.

All of our shoes need to be compatible with orthodics. This means they cannot have their own built in pronation or supination corrections which is becoming more and more common in shoes. They also need to have a wide base and not the common narrow soles. So many shoes when you look at the soles have an hourglass shape to them. We look for shoes with as wide of a base as we can find.

Welcome to our shoe journey.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shoes, glorious shoes!

I am not much of a shopper. There are few things I could review here, in terms of products, other than food! I don’t buy house décor. I rarely buy clothes. My kids wear hand me downs. In fact, the world of shopping absolutely overwhelms me. I enter the world of stuff, feel overwhelmed, and leave empty handed. So, I’ve basically stopped shopping altogether.

However, the one item we are constantly trying to determine what to buy next is shoes.

The reason buying shoes is so fun for me is that shoes = motion!! In my active family, we love to play!!

You can’t be active without the right shoes. We are self proclaimed gear-a-holics with shoes being our biggest weakness. You can’t run, hike, bike, ski, or even do dishes ( I have found!) without the right shoe.

I will cover 2 “extremes” in body types and which shoes “work for us” (through much trial and error) for both types. My hope is that you can identify with either me or my husband as we have quite different body types and needs and that you might, discover a shoe that could be perfect to keep you active or get you going again.

I also hope that you are inspired to be active! If you have physical limitations, there may be a shoe out there that can bridge the gap you need to keep you going, and may even help correct the problem!!

ME: light weight, medium height (5’6”), gal with strong knees, back, and ankles. I have had left hip pain quite a bit over the years (that was corrected by shoes and my physical therapist). I have a normal width food but a AAA heel. I pronate – meaning I roll in on my foot, putting strain on my knees and hips. When you stand your weight should spread over your 5 toes equally. Mine is mostly on my big toe. If this is you, then you too are a pronator

SH: Weighing in at 200 plus pounds and 6’3” his shoe needs are totally different then mine. Through many years of soccer and basketball he is now the proud owner of weak knees and ankles. He has extremely wide feet (EE) and suponates – meaning he rolls out (more weight ends up on his pinky toes – this puts strain on his ankles and knees). Despite these setbacks, he stays extremely fit mountain biking, hiking, climbing mountains, XC skiing, snow boarding, and snow shoeing. But, he takes his shoe choice very seriously. We talk about what shoes he is needing months in advance as they are not cheap!!

Sprouts: so far, in their young ages of 5 and 7, we have found that Wal-Mart has shoes that last them as long as they need before they’d need the next size anyway! It’s truly about the only thing I buy at Wal-Mart and this little discovery was made by my SH one weekend that I was gone as I rarely enter the store to know that they have pretty decent kid’s shoes. I don’t spend much money on their shoes yet. They can hike in any good tennis shoe at this point. Winter boots have often been Sorrel boots. Sandals are whatever we get our hands on for cheap or whatever is handed to us from friends whose kids have outgrown theirs. It works for now.