Seattle: Natalie and Adia

While Rowan and I were up in WA, we got to swing down to Seattle and spend the night with another old friend, Natalie, and her daughter Adia.

The summer after my freshman year of college (that would be 1996!) I did a program called Kingdomworks in downtown Philadelphia. The program was the brainchild of Bart Campolo, son of Tony. It put groups of 6 or so college students together in an area of need, partnered them with local churches, and had them live communally and serve the neighborhood/church that they were living in. So I was one of 6 that lived in a small apartment in Kensington, a rough neighborhood north of Philly. We ran a day-camp at the church, spent lots of one on one time with kids, and in our free time tried to figure out what it meant to live in community and negotiate all of our differences. We lived in a small space, cooked all our meals together, worked together....you could say we all got to know each other pretty well!

Natalie was one of the people I lived with that summer, and we have kept in touch ever since. I went to WA when she got married, she came to MI when I got married, and she made a trip to AR soon after Rowan was born. It had been a few years since we had seen each other, so it was especially nice to reconnect and spend time together. Natalie and her husband Silas have one daughter, Adia, who is 6, and are newly pregnant with their second. They live in Sunnyside, WA. We met at a hotel north of Seattle, then headed into the city for the afternoon. Nat and Si went to college in Seattle and then lived there for a few years...so it is sort of her old stomping grounds. We went to Pike's Place Market then out for dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Then we headed back to the hotel for what the girls really wanted to do: swim! Never mind cool art, music, and fish being thrown through the air...for a 3 and 6 year old, not much can top a pool! The girls played and we visited, then we plopped them down for a movie so we could keep talking. In the morning we ate breakfast, hung out, then parted ways again.

I always marvel at friendships that can pick up easily after time and distance. There are just those people that are comfortable no matter what, who you can listen to and talk to with ease, who you feel known by and know, even across years and miles. Those kids of friendships are a real blessing. Natalie and Silas have had an amazing journey since 1996, and she has been gracious to let me in, help me understand her life, and teach me what it means to be a friend in new ways.

Natalie and Silas decided to make the trip over to Eugene to see Joe compete at the Trials, so it was fun to have a short good-bye and then get to see them again for a few days. Competition time is never a great social time for me or for Joe, but it meant a lot to us that they came out to support us. Nat and Si were both interested, gracious, and patient with the long days of competition! Kind of humbling, really, to feel all the love and support and prayers we have had from friends.

Natalie and Silas have a blog which you can visit here. They wrote a few nice entries about the Trials if you scroll down a bit...with a few pics.

To see a few more photos of our time together in Seattle, click here.


What Next?

Lot of folks have been asking what we are up to and what our plans are next. First, the easy one: what we've been up to.

After a relaxing week on Lake MI with my family (I'll catch up on all these blogs eventually!), we decided to extend the MI stay for me and Rowan. My sister is getting married on August 16, so we knew that all 3 of us would have to get back to MI for that. At one point we thought we might take a cross-country RV trip before the wedding, but after much discussion decided that we needed more time to decide what's next. We decided it would be easier on the wallet to pay a change fee for our tickets rather than buy all new ones to fly back to MI in just a few weeks. Plus, who wouldn't want to hang out with all these relatives and friends during a beautiful summer in MI for more days?

So Joe flew back to Stockton on July 14...thinking that he was done with the decathlon. He was going to spend the time exploring some work and living options, get a feel for what was going on at the training center (there has been talk of Joe being the assistant coach out there, but funding has been sketchy), and have some time alone to think and process. He did do that for a week or so, but then got a call inviting him to compete at one more decathlon: the US vs. Germany meet in Kansas. He is thrilled to have one more chance to end his competitive career with a score he feels satisfied with. So he will compete next weekend on August 2 and 3, then fly to Grand Rapids on the 4th. We'll be together in MI until a few days after my sister's wedding, then all fly back to CA.

Rowan and I are hanging out in MI, enjoying lots of time with family and friends and helping with lots of wedding details. I'm not sure Rowan knows where home is anymore (I'm not sure I do, either!) since we have been on the road since mid-June. She is a trooper and has made lots of transitions and slept in lots of different beds with ease. I am almost 18 weeks pregnant now, feeling great (no more nausea or food aversions, yeah!), and starting to actually look pregnant (sometimes). I'm feeling the baby move--this is the part of pregnancy that I love.

What are our plans next? It seems like a few options are rising to the surface...but we have a lot of conversation and serious considering to do in the coming weeks. I'm not very comfortable with the unknown; Joe could exist there for quite awhile. So this is the hard work of marriage...negotiating all the angles and desires and visions for what life will look like. We will be married 9 years on July 31. I am grateful to be doing life with Joe and know that what really matters is that we are facing whatever comes next together.

Thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes during this time of big changes and big decisions.

We'll keep you posted.


Burlington, WA: Denham Family

After Portland, we kept driving north to see another good friend from high school (that I talked about in the Birth Blessing entry) named Becky Denham. We not only lived close growing up, we played basketball together in high school…and being on a team of girls can bond you like nothing else! Becky and I also went to Calvin together. Several years ago (was it six?) I got a mass e-mail from my friend named Jason…and I thought to myself “Becky would really like this guy.” Without thinking about it too much (or getting his permission!), I forwarded his e-mail to Becky and said “why don’t you e-mail him?” Well, several e-mails, calls, and visits later…they were engaged, married, and now the proud parents of almost-2 year old identical twin girls. They are living north of Seattle in Burlington, WA, and are expecting their 3rd child in December, just a few weeks before we are due.

I’ve had it in the back of my head to get up to WA to see Beck during our year in CA, as I had only met her daughters once in MI when they were babies. So I was really looking forward to an extended visit with Becky and her family! Rowan and I arrived on Sunday night and got to spend a few hours with Rachel and Anna (the twins) before they went to bed. On Monday the girls had daycare, so we took advantage of only having a 3 year old and went to Deception Pass. Rowan loved playing on the beach and climbing the rocks (couldn’t get enough of that!) and we enjoyed the beautiful views on Whidbey Island and the whole area. Joe’s parents lived on Whidbey Island during the first part of their marriage because Joe’s dad was stationed there, so it was fun to get to see it. After Deception Pass, we had lunch at a great little deli, then I convinced Becky that we should get pedicures! Becky couldn’t quite believe that Rowan would patiently wait while we got our nails done (with the help of a portable DVD player and Aladdin)...but life is different with an independent 3 year old as compared to two 2 year olds! Rowan even got her nails painted when we were finished with our feet.

We enjoyed the afternoon at home in the backyard with lots of bubbles and laughing, then a yummy dinner when Jason got back from work. It was easy to slip back into conversation and life with Becky--isn't it great to have friends like that? On Tuesday after lunch Rowan and I drove down to Seattle to visit another friend (I'll post a separate blog about that) and returned on Wednesday afternoon for more hanging out with the Denhams.

I burned through most of my tank of veggie oil getting to Burlington, so I had to collect some oil during the week. Turns out that there is a big bio-diesel company up in those parts....and everywhere I went, the tanks had their company sticker on them. I felt weird about taking oil from someone already doing bio-diesel...but I really needed oil! Lots of the tanks had just been emptied...I asked at one and was denied...and finally found an unmarked barrel with over 50 gallons of great oil. It took a bit more effort this time in the looking phase (I maybe looked for an hour?) but even so....got about $250 worth of fuel in less than a few hours total! I felt very independent and self-sufficient to collect oil on the road like that (with a kid in tow, no less)

Wednesday we took some family pics of the Denhams, had another lovely meal, put kids to bed, and worked on sewing some maternity skirts. I do not sew. I have tried. Fabric and sewing machines do not like me. But Becky has gotten into it (how does she have time?) and wanted us to have matching maternity skirts. I helped measure and cut fabric, then provided moral support and good conversation while Becky sewed.

Thursday we spent another day playing with the girls, taking walks, blowing bubbles...it was fun to get to know Becky's kids so well, and have her spend time with Rowan. Rowan was very sweet with the twins, taking on the role of mature older sister effortlessly. It was neat to see the Denham family in action. Becky and Jason are a great team....they deal so well with the stress of having 2 toddlers underfoot and all the demands that entails. They are both patient, loving, dole out good discipline, and did I mention patient? It was fun to watch them in action, loving the girls and loving each other even when it wasn't easy.

I realize how special it is to have friends that I have known for over half my life...there is s different level of comfortability and feeling "known" when a friend went through the 9th grade with you, you know? I mean--the 9th grade! But it's also special to know each other as adults, and to continue to dig deeper and understand each other as wives, mothers, professionals.

To see more photos of our time together, click here.


Portland: Listening to the Stars

On Friday the 20th of June, Rowan and I drove over 9 hours up the 1-5 through beautiful Northern California and most of Oregon to Portland. Rowan is a great traveler (which is karma for us....we spent a few car trips to MI when she was a baby enduring hours and hours of crying...when she was under the age of one, she really had something against riding in the car) but now we just alternate between talking, coloring, listening to a kid's CD, and watching a DVD. We also try to spot VW bugs, PT cruisers, school buses, and of course, RVs. During one of our conversations (I think we were talking about my sister's wedding this summer) she asked me "what does falling in love mean?" In case this happened to be an enduring memory for her, I took a minute to really think about my answer before I spoke!

We arrived in Portland in the early evening and were greeted by my Aunt Ruth, Uncle Rick, cousin, KC, and a bucket of sidewalk chalk. My mom is one of five kids....4 sisters and 1 brother....and Ruth is the youngest sibling. She and Rick moved to Portland right after they got married so she could attend law school. They thought that they would move back to MI after law school....but it's 28 years later and they never left. Portland can do that to a person, I think. It has always been one of my favorite cities in the country. There is something about the type of person it attracts (just a little bit hippy!)....the little walkable neighborhoods, the bungalow houses that you could just live in forever, the gardens that are so natural and local it's hard to tell what is intentional and what is not, the markets, the coffee shops, the local restaurants, and oh yeah....the mountains and ocean so close. Yes, it rains a lot. But it is so lush and green!

It is fair to say that a big part of my affection for Portland is the home on Rex street and the family living in it. They live in one of those bungalows....a house with a warm, welcoming front porch and a garden with juicy raspberries waiting to be picked. Woods floors, a perfect breakfast nook, cool art, and a few cats running around to complete the place. It is one of my favorite homes to be in. Come to think of it, each of my mom's sisters' homes (and my parent's house!) are ones I would gladly die in (well, I haven't seen Jane's new home in MN yet....but I adored her home in GR, and saw pics of the one in OR...and could safely say I feel this way about her homes, too!) And my Aunt Anne's house in Grand Rapids....mmmmm. A favorite place for family gatherings.

Ruth and Rick have two kids, Jake and KC. They are both in their early 20s, going to school, figuring out what to do with their next phase of life. They are both excellent people and cousins. KC is adored by all of her cousin's children and just has a special way with kids. I also learned that she is a great photographer! Jake has a great hug, a sweet spirit, and an excellent sense of design. We got to meet both of their significant others in Portland....Brock and KC have been together for 4years, Jake and Jenny for around 2.

Friday night we ate a yummy dinner, got to bed late, and woke up Saturday for a busy day. Ruth had a fundraiser walk she had to do for a non-profit on which she serves on the board, so Rowan, KC, and I joined her. Rowan is more interested in "finding treasures" (rocks, flowers, sticks, etc) than riding in her stroller on a walk, so the 3 mile distance became a bit too far for us. After a few shortcuts and a potty break, we joined the other walkers for pizza (and beer if I wasn't pregnant!) then headed home to collect the rest of the crew for Saturday Market. Saturday Market happens every weekend in downtown Portland and is a must-see for anyone traveling through. It's basically a big festival/fair with vendors, music, street performers, good food, and lots and lots of local artists displaying their wares. Also, great people watching.

Saturday night we made burgers and KC helped Rowan cut a few artichokes from the garden for us to cook. I have loved artichokes since my dear friend Katie introduced them to me in high school, but I am ashamed to say I had never seen how they grow. Of course Ruth and Rick had them in their backyard! Rowan loves them, too, so she got a kick out of cutting them right off the plant.

Rowan thought Portland was great fun. Rick dug out a bunch of old toys, and everyone spent their fair share of time with Rowan on the floor playing dominoes or legos. Rowan also occupied much or her time chasing after Jazz and Cola, the cats. One evening we heard a faint "mommy, help" and I found her in the corner of the dark basement, about a foot from the ceiling....she had followed one of the cats up their ramp to a cat door...and was mostly upset that she hadn't succeeded in capturing the cat. She didn't seem too worried about the dark, dank, spider-webby place she had become stuck!

Saturday was the longest day of the year, so there was still some light at nearly 10:00 PM. Rick took us a block away to a bluff that overlooks downtown Portland so that we could "listen to the stars." With a 6-foot long PVC pipe, anyone can accomplish this feat. Just put one end to your ear, point the other end to the stars, and listen to the universe. Having already listened to the ocean in shells, Rowan was very curious about listening to the stars through a pipe. It was a calming way to end our day and usher Rowan to sleep.

Do you know anyone that listens to the stars? This is why I love this family. Also, because they ask thoughtful questions, listen intently, smile easily, laugh contagiously, cook unusual and delicious food, are each gorgeous without effort, wear clothes and shoes from Goodwill, and kiss on the lips.

Sunday morning we went out for breakfast with one of Ruth's best friends, walked down to a park with towering pine trees so Rowan could play for a bit, then after lunch Rowan and I headed out to continue our journey north. The best part about saying good-bye was knowing that we'd see them again the next week at the Trials in Eugene!

To see more pictures of our time in Portland, click here.



Today Rowan and I were snuggling on the beach and talking about the new baby. Conversation turned to breastfeeding, and she was asking lots of questions. I told her how much I loved breastfeeding her, and she asked in the sweetest voice: "Mommy, what was your favorite part about milking me?"

Coming up from the beach the other day, Rowan turned to her grandma and in a very serious voice said "I have really bad news! Grandma, we're going to have to fly back to California!"

A few days earlier, Rowan said to grandma: "I don't get to see my cousins when I'm in California. What a bummer!"

And this one she has said to several people, when asked about whether she would prefer a brother or a sister: "well, I want a sister. Daddy wants a boy, but if God decides to give us a girl, daddy is just going to have to deal with it!" (and I promise she is not just repeating what I have said! She has probably overheard conversation about Joe wanting a boy eventually...but nothing about him having to "deal" with a girl!)

Three year-olds are a lot of fun!

Birth Blessing

I have a great group of girlfriends from junior high school and high school. Many of us were friends as early as 7th and 8th grade…5 or 6 of us lived within a few miles of each other, and spent lots of time walking, hanging out, carpooling, watching 90210, and eventually driving our own cars and finding fun stuff to do. We had a really unique larger group of friends—probably over 20 of us, guys and girls, who hung out regularly and stayed out of trouble (for the most part!) We weren’t the coolest kids in school, but we had a lot of fun…and most importantly, I think we were respectful, kind, and fairly responsible for teenagers.

A handful from this group went on to Calvin College together... many of us have stayed in touch, many are still my best friends. One of these friends is Jenny, who moved to LA to attend Azusa Pacific for college and ended up staying there to live. She got married to Mick about 4 years ago, and they live in Culver City, a little town right near downtown LA. It has been fun this year to see Jenny (and Mick) several times…it’s only a 5 hours drive south, so we’ve been able to see each other more than usual!

Jenny and Mick just welcomed their first child, a son named Max, last week. A few weeks back, on June 12, Jenny’s friends from LA threw a “birth blessing” for her and invited me to attend. I decided to take a few days and drive down for it---when else would I be close enough to share these kinds of special occasions? Plus, I had heard about these “birth blessings” that her friends had a tradition of doing, and I was curious to see what it was all about.

The Birth Blessing is a small movement that seeks to bring back some ritual and tradition to the way we celebrate an impending birth. In our culture we have showers…which have basically become short get-togethers that are very focused on gift-giving and eating some finger foods. In some other cultures and traditions, women gather to help prepare a woman for the process of labor and delivery, celebrate the strength of women who endure so much physically during birth, and express their solidarity with the mother-to-be. There are lots of ways to do this, you can find lots of ideas on the internet, and Jenny’s friends have embraced this method instead of a traditional shower to acknowledge each new birth.

What a cool thing to be a part of! The evening started out with a fabulous meal…looked like something you’d get at a gourmet restaurant…and lots of leisurely talking and laughing. Then we moved outside to the candlelit backyard, sitting on blankets and pillows, and each person went around sharing how they knew Jenny, a significant memory they had of her, and then shared a “blessing” that we each wrote in advance. The blessings were then strung together for Jenny to take with her to the hospital during labor. Next, we soaked Jenny’s feet and took turns rubbing her hands, feet, back, and arms….and went around sharing our birth stories…and what we had learned from them. It was very positive in tone—not the typical horror story stuff that would make any mother-to-be afraid! Jenny had a chance to share her fears and excitement about birth, tears were shed, and words of encouragement shared. Then we all laid hands on Jenny’s belly and prayed and prayed. The host (Jenny’s friend from college, Shandy) made bracelets with a single bead on them for each of us to wear during the last few weeks of Jenny’s pregnancy…so that she would often come to mind and we could pray and think about her. Jenny got one, too, so that she could wear it during labor and remember all the women standing behind her. I must say that Shandy’s leadership through the whole birth blessing was a key to its meaning, relaxing atmosphere, and tone. Shandy has such a natural, mother-earth way about her and it made us all feel included and blessed.

It was amazing to hear all those birth stories….and see in one place how strong and determined and focused woman are. I know that it strengthened and prepared Jenny for her impending birth…and encouraged all of us in what it means to be a woman, mother, and friend.

Thanks for including me, Jenny. I am proud to be your friend and proud of how much courage you showed last week during Max’s birth!

To see a few more pics from the blessing, click here.


Trials and Tribulations

Well, I am no longer a decathlete. At times my mind races with the ramifications of what that means. Was I successful? What will I do now? Will my wife still love me if I don’t wear spandex and shave my legs? See…a little levity to prove I am not going to jump out of a window following the Olympic trials. First let me talk about last week.

What an amazing Decathlon competition!!! I guess I have done over 30 Decs in my career now, but none have ever been as high caliber and high scoring as this one! The crowd was an even match to the energy level of my competitors, as 21,000 knowledgeable track nuts oohed, ahhed, clapped, and cheered over the two days for every run, jump, or throw of the nineteen decathletes. A few times on the field I actually thought to myself that their hands must be getting sore. I know mine would be. Outside of the Decathlon competition there were performances by many of America’s great track and field athletes that made for one of the more impressive Olympic trials meets in history. Many have wondered if this isn’t one of the best overall track and field teams we have ever sent. We’ll see soon.

Bryan Clay, Trey Hardee, and Tom Pappas put up the #1, 3 and 4 scores in the world this year. To put this in perspective…in just about every Olympic Decathlon ever contested, a score above 8400pts would be on the medal stand. Just to make our team this year, you had to score well over 8500pts!! If all goes well in Beijing in a month, the US could have the first ever sweep of the Decathlon. Best of all, the three athletes representing the US are among some of the best guys I know. In another 20 years I would let Rowan date any of them…yes…even Trey! (Though I doubt any of them would be able to handle her:) Sidenote: I know that some people have their opinion about Trey, but I have known him since he was a wet behind the ears high schooler at Earl Bell’s camps in Arkansas. My good friend Lon Badeaux (now head coach at ASU), may have been one of the first people to ever see Trey’s potential as a decathlete, but few listened. He’s had naysayers all along his career, and if he has a chip on his shoulder, it’s at least understandable. But the truth is he is now an American Olympian and one of the best Decathletes in the world. At the decathlon last month in Dallas, I watched him take time from his competition to help a freshman from his former university (UT) achieve a new PR by helping him with steps, coaching and encouragement. He then calculated what I needed to run in the 1500 for the A standard, grabbed a watch and ran back and forth across the infield with Jake Arnord (4th) to yell me splits and encouragement on my way to a new PR. He has become a man with fierce passion for winning and I watched him this past weekend compete with a maturity I had not seen in him before. He is truly in a position to become one of the best ever…and I am happy for him.

So the meet was not what I had been hoping for. It became obvious early that the “Big Three” were ready and able to put up huge scores. If I would have put up personal lifetime bests in each of the 10 events, I would have finished 4th or 5th, but still 300+ points out of making the team!! Conversely, it appears that doing 4 decathlons in 9 weeks finally caught up with me and I just didn’t have enough left in the tank. My performances were all a bit flat across the board. If I had cleared a height in the vault I would have finished in the top ten with a respectable score somewhere between 7700-7800. The only “good” thing about my no-height was that it was due to blow throughs on each pole, rather than bad vaulting. The wind was switching back and forth and I just did not adjust to catching tailwinds in competition vs the headwinds I had in warm-ups. Though extremely sad and disappointed, I was never angry or mad. These things happen, and I am at peace with the outcome.

So how ‘bout Bryan Clay!! 8832!! And this from a guy who told me during the high jump that he just “wasn’t in the mood to do this.” Bryan and I have known each other for some time as we both competed for NAIA schools. In fact, if you think he is small now, you should have seen him as a freshman in college. Many people thought he would never have the size to be world class. At 6’ (optimistically) tall and 185lbs, compared with Tom Pappas’ 6’ 6” 220lbs, they made a good case. Yet Bryan is now one of the best ever throwing decathletes in history…a facet usually reserved for us “bigger” guys. After we both struggled in the high jump, we talked about what track used to be like when it was just for fun, and how easy it was to perform in practice when we were just goofing around with the guys. Bryan is expected to win the Gold medal, and foreseen as the next world record holder. He has corporate contracts and sponsorships that expect the world of him, and in fact will penalize him if he doesn’t deliver. I have no idea what it is like to compete with that on your shoulders. But on day 2, he came out with a lighter countenance and a determined stride. His time of 13.74 in the hurdles confirmed he was in a better mood. Again, for perspective, the “Big Three” ran 13.71, 13.74, and 13.75. Had they done that in the open 110 hurdles race later that day they would have each moved on to the next round. That is the next round of the Olympic trials of the greatest hurdle/sprints country in the world !!! Impressive. If I sound redundantly astonished, it is because I was…and still am.

After the Javelin Bryan and I were talking about the fact that if he ran a 4:40 in the 1500 he would break Dan Obrien’s American Record, which until a few years ago was the world record. He then asked if I would help to pace him during the race so that he could have a chance to do it. I was honored. Before the race, they were holding the Decathletes under the stadium while the men’s 800 was run. It was an amazing race, with three Oregon natives making the team…one of which had to literally dive over the line to get 3rd. The crowd noise grew in intensity during the race, to the point where we all stopped our warm-ups and simply stood and stared at each other while the hair on our necks stood up. The crescendo grew to the point it seemed the air around us was vibrating and you could not hear your own voice. Then it was our turn. In the end, Bryan was not able to keep pace, but still ran one of his better 1500’s and good enough for a new life time best 8832. After the award presentation and TV interviews, the top three are allowed to take a “victory lap” around the track before being ushered off. When told it was time to do this, Bryan stopped and said that he wouldn’t do it unless all of the Decathletes came with him. After some completely befuddled scrambling, the NBC/trials crew gave him the thumbs up and we all joined for the lap. I cannot put into words how special this was. Maybe for some of the young guys just starting out it was cool, but for someone closing out his career, it was emotional and meaningful. 21,000+ people in the stands clapping and cheering…and I think I made eye contact with at least 10,000 of them.

I have done the Decathlon for the better part of a decade now. This, after playing just about every sport in the book for the two decades preceding that. I went on to play baseball in college because I was VERY good at it. Maybe could have made a living at it. But I didn’t love the sport. Well…after fighting back welled up tears for the better part of Monday as I counted down the events of my last Dec, I can tell you that I love this sport. I have ever since my first one in the cold and rain at Taylor University, and do now as I sit here pondering never doing one again.

I come from a family that drives pretty hard for success. So much so that sometimes we can achieve it without the ability to recognize it. The others in the family can see it clearly, while the doer can miss it. Luckily for me, Laura and my family keep me in check here, and through their eyes I have been able to see clearly what has been accomplished. I was a good Decathlete. I won a collegiate national title while at Taylor University. I have been in the top 50 in the word for much of my career and top 30 a few times including this season, as well as top 10 in the US with finishes as high as 5th. I have won major meets in the US and Europe and have been selected to 4 or 5 international US teams. This in a sport many consider the greatest test of athletic ability and grit. I am content and pleased with what I have done.

Finally, what really defines the last 10 years of my life is people. To remove people from the equation leaves me running in circles, throwing metal balls, and jumping over stuff. Fun for maybe an hour or so, but not truly meaningful. There are two groups of people who have touched me…those I competed with and against, and those who by their generosity and support allowed me to continue competing. I don’t know that “pen to paper” can adequately delineate my gratefulness for the time, energy, love, prayer and money that has been given to me over the years. It’s enough to make a man feel guilty for not making it to Beijing…except for the fact that I know the people who have lauded all this upon me, and they did it out of love…not a need for something in return. From the depths of who I am, I thank you. I pray that I may someday be able to give to others in the way I have been given to. Thank you to everyone who has written to encourage me despite my "failure". I have truly been encouraged and emboldened by your words.

So what do I do next? I am almost 32 years old, I have not made a dime in my “career”, and my resume for the job market is less than ideal. Give me some ideas…I am open to suggestion (or job offers:)

To see more pics from the trials click here


Checking In

We didn't fall off the face of the earth after the Trials, but we did enter a no-reception zone at Crater Lake! We spent a wonderful couple of days with Joe's good friend from college, Curtis, and his wife Amanda, enjoying the beautiful scenery around Crater Lake and decompressing a bit from the weekend. We have lots of photos and stories to share not just from this week, but the week preceding....but just wanted to share this one family photo to let you know that we are happy, well, and that Joe can still jump.

We arrived back in Stockton this afternoon and will fly out tomorrow morning to Michigan for a week at Lake Michigan with my family. Crazy life! We will get some blogs written and photos posted during the week, so hang tight.

I'm including several links to video footage/stories from the Trials. If anyone has seen anything else, let us know!

To see highlights of the decathlon Day 1 on NBC (about 4 minutes, you won't see Joe!), click here.

To see highlights of the decathlon Day 2 on NBC, including the entire 1500, (about 10 minutes, you will see Joe wearing black throughout the 1500) click here.

To see a little clip on NBC of Joe talking about veggie oil (1 minute) click here.

To see a little follow-up article that appeared in the Stockton Record, click here.

To see a sweet note and a few pictures from the Trials that our good friends Silas and Natalie posted (they came down to the meet from central WA!) click here.



It is late so this won't be a long post. Just wanted to give a link to the full results: here it is. What a thrill to watch that 1500....over 20,000 people on their feet cheering. Bryan didn't quite make the 4:41...but still ran it in 4:50 and got a personal best for his overall score. Third biggest decathlon score in US history. And Joe did pace him....and encourage him...and that was cool to watch.

Third place was over 8500....amazing scores. It would have taken a 600 point PR for Joe to make the Olympic Team. There is still some sadness because it's no fun to no-height, and it would have felt better to put up a decent score and been in the top 10. But so it goes.

No better way to end a career than at Hayward Field at the Olympic Trials. Bryan insisted that all the decathletes do the victory lap with the 3 winners (he said he wouldn't run it unless everyone got to)....and that was fun, too. I managed to yell loud enough that Joe picked me out of the crowd and came over for a kiss.

A bittersweet day.

More details (from Joe, too) in the coming days. Photos too.