Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Am For The Child

CASA {Court Appointed Special Advocate}: noun A volunteer who wants to make certain the voices of abused and neglected children are heard.  CASA volunteers get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child’s life, including their family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and others.The information they gather and their recommendations help the court make informed decisions. CASA volunteers commit to a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.

18 months ago I sat in an IEP meeting with a mom who didn't feel it was necessary for her to be there, as she believed it was the school's responsibility to provide her son the proper special education without any of her involvement {either at home or at school}; and did not have the tools to navigate her way through an IEP to ensure her son was in the appropriate placement with all of the necessary resources in place. I sat in the IEP meeting fighting with all of my might to have the child removed from the classroom setting he was currently in where he  was separated from the rest of the class, on a modified schedule {only attending class 2 1/2 hours a day, as a first grader}, and spending a majority of that time in an isolated padded room. My heart ached, and my eyes filled up with tears as this child was labeled and had no one to stand up for him and BE HIS VOICE.

Last month I attended an IEP meeting with a proactive mom, who took initiative and asked questions, did what she could to ensure her son had a successful year at school.  I attended the meeting with a joyful heart and tears in my eyes, as I listened to the teacher speak of a boy who was attending school on a regular, full day schedule, showed huge improvements in his test results, was a part of the class, and called his classmates friends. 

The same mom and child attended both IEP meetings...

I AM the voice of the child
I AM the one who sees the confident, beautiful, intelligent individual that is the mom on my case
I AM the one who knows, without a doubt, that mom loves her children.  She may not have all of the tools and resources to be the most effective parent, but she is learning, and her love for them grows daily
I AM the one who ensures the children receive proper medical care
I AM the one who sees the good in EVERY situation
I AM the one who knows its in the best interest for the children to stay placed with their mom
I AM the one who ensures everyone else sees the positive in  mom and every situation, when it is very easy to remain focused on the negative 
I AM the one who attends school meetings, doctors appointments, etc to speak on behalf of the children, in their best interest; and provide mom the tools to navigate through all of this on her own.  
I AM the one who is greeted with a huge hug & smile, and a proud, "This is my CASA!!!" when I observe in the classroom. 
I AM the one who now realizes that my standard of living is different from theirs, and that  it is okay.  It does not mean mom loves her children any less.
I AM the one who assists mom in seeking out opportunities, such as summer camp, for her children. 
*each case is unique, and the above statements are my personal opinion and only apply to the case I was just assigned to

Whitney Houston said it best, "I believe the children are our them all the beauty they possess inside...give them a sense of pride."

As a CASA I give children strength when they are weak, a voice when they can't speak, eyes when they can't see.  I see the best there is in them. I lift them up when they can't reach, I give them faith because I believe.

Becoming a CASA has been the most challenging, but also most rewarding leap of faith I have taken.  As one door closes, another one opens; my first CASA case has officially "closed," but I will always be their CASA and am excited to see, and be a part of, all of the wonderful things to come for them. 

Click here to learn more about CASA and find a CASA organization near you. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm Running Hood-To-Coast with NUUN

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it....Why you ask!? Because I am running Hood-To-Coast with NUUN! Two years ago, while blog hopping, I came across a blog of one of the runners on the 2011 Hood-To-Coast team, which lead me to several other blogs, which lead me to NUUN, and thus started my addiction with NUUN and twitter

You might be asking why this is such a big deal:

1) Hood to Coast is the “mother of all relays.” This 200-mile long relay has runners start at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood and then, over the course of 36 different legs (each runner runs three legs) you finish on the sandy shores of the Pacific in Seaside, Oregon. Pretty epic, no doubt.

2) I was selected to join the team, along with 19 other bloggers, runners, fabulous women from across the country.

3) Not only is their product one of my favorites {if you aren't familiar with NUUN, click here} the company and the people who work for the company are truly fabulous. 

It's a know fact that you can't do EPIC alone, so check out the rest of the team:

Mason, Chief Hydration Officer for NUUN, summed up what the whole relay experience is truly about:
"Having a fantastic experience and walking away with a new set of amazing friends, a giant love of relays, lifelong memories, and a smile on your face."

Speaking of having a smile on your face...

I met up with Leslie at the Rock N Roll Portland 1/2 marathon

This is a running dream come true, and I am so grateful and honored to be part of the team!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Coffee Wisdom

Those of you who know me, or follow me on instagram or twitter, know that I love my morning Dutch Bros {small sugar free white chocolate latte with coconut milk please}.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we take our coffee very Medford there is a drive through coffee stand on {almost} every corner, up in Portland you will never be more than a block from a coffee shop, and Seattle is home to the original Starbucks.  Recently, my cup of coffee has been more than a caffeine pick-me up, it's an unexpected sip of encouragement and a little reminder of how to live life to the fullest.  

Words of wisdom from my morning cup of joe:

I encourage you to ask yourself, "Am I doing my part to be the change I want to see in this world?"  We can't do it alone, but every little part adds up. More can always be done, but I spend a lot of my time giving back to charities and organizations that hold a special place in my heart, in an effort to leave a positive impact and impart change. 

Life is short...let the people you love know how much they mean to you, on a daily basis.  Call a friend you haven't talked to in a while, send a "just-because" card in the mail. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life that we forget to invest time in that which is most important: personal relationships.  


A smile creates happiness in the home, 
promotes good will in business, 
and is the cornerstone of friendship.
It can perk up the weary, 
bring cheer to the discouraged, 
sunshine to the sad, 
and is nature's best antidote for trouble.

What a great reminder...Love Abounds. Next time you are down, or feeling like the world around you is crumbling, take a moment to focus on all of the love that is present in your life and in this world.  

Words to live by: 

These lids, that to most are just a lid, remind me that I need to slow down and enjoy the little things; it's amazing to me how many people aren't even aware of these tidbits of encouragement on their coffee lids. What wonderful, uplifting things are you and I missing as we go through life, because we aren't taking the time to slow down and enjoy.

I challenge you to live life to the fullest...and that includes enjoying the little things, like your morning cup of joe! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Relay Running, it's Easy {and Fun} as 1,2,3

Today I am doing my first guest blog post over at Rebecca Roams: Relay Running, it's Easy {and Fun} as 1, 2, 3 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Runcation in the Rose City

One of my favorite aspects of the Rock N Roll events is that they are always in fabulous cities, and thus a great opportunity for a runcation.  Being from the PNW, one of my all time favorite cities to run in is Portland. But Portland has so much more to offer than just fabulous scenery to enjoy; make sure to make the most of your time in Portland and enjoy all the Rose City has to offer. 

 Oregon Zoo: One of my favorite places to visit when traveling to a new city is their zoo. The Portland Zoo is  a quintessential Portland experience.  

Rock N Roll Denver

OMSIThe Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a scientific, educational, and cultural resource center dedicated to improving the public's understanding of science and technology. OMSI makes science exciting and relevant through exhibits, programs, and experiences that are presented in an entertaining and participatory fashion. 

While at OMSI, make sure to take a tour of the U.S. Navy's last non-nuclear, fast-attack submarine, the USS Blueback (SS-581)! The Blueback was the first battle-ready class of submarines to use the teardrop hull. It was in official operation throughout the Pacific Ocean for 31 years. The USS Blueback served in the entertainment industry too! It appeared in the hit movie The Hunt for Red Octoberand an episode of Hawaii Five-O and has been used as a location for a Discovery Channel documentary and various commercials.


One word that most runners love is BEER! Grab up to 15 of your friends, fellow runners, & cheer squad {must be 21 or older}, and pedal your way through a by seat tour of Portland's finest breweries:

Combining Portland’s love of handcrafted beer and biking, the BrewCycle will take you, as fast as you can pedal, to your next ice cold brew! Where you take your bike is up to you, but here are some possible stops:


Portland is know for their fabulous restaurants, and the options are endless, but here some of my top picks:
Pok Pok {Thai}
A culinary mecca where chef-owner turns out "lip smacking," "mind -blowing street food" like "unbelievably good chicken wings"
This "hip" local fast-food chain with a penny-pinching, six-item menu slings "fantastic" "made-to-order" sliders that are "tiny but full of flavor" and complemented by "wonderful" white truffle oil–laced fries and ketchup with a "kick"; good thing the service is "rapid", because its no-frills, red-accented shops offer "limited" seating and the line is "often out the door" – it "blows other burger bars away."
Like dining at your Italian grandmother's house; lovingly prepared pastas and main meet up with a fantastic wine selection
Tasty N Sons {Breakfast}:
drop dead deliciousness
The custom-made, wood-fired grill stars at this  Boise-Eliot Argentinean that's pulling in crowds for its sizzling mash-up of South American and Pacific NW cuisines
It's all about the meat

And of course a trip to Portland wouldn't be complete without a stop at the world famous, Portland quintessential,  VooDoo Doughnut for one of their bacon macon bars, VooDoo dolls, or any of their unique, one-of-a-kind donuts {and yes, you will have to wait in line}

And of course, a trip to Portland wouldn't be complete without dining at one of their infamous food carts:

With over 500 Food Carts to choose from, it can be quite a daunting task :) These are my favorites:

The Grilled Cheese Grill: Where else can you enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich on the second story of a double decker bus?

FlavourSpot: Home of Portland's Original Waffle Sandwich.  Being willing to get out of your comfort zone and try the Sausage and Maple OR Ham and Gouda, I promise you will be happy you did. For the more conservative taste buds, the S'more Waffle is mouthwatering deliciousness.

The Whole Bowl: Vegetarian; comforting and healthy medley of brown rice, red and black bean, fresh avocado, salsa, black olives, sour cream, Tillamook cheddar, cilantro, Tali sauce and trace amount of attitude
PBJs Grilled: Oh my, this isn't your average PB&J sandwich.  I really want to try the Spicy Thai: PBJs Peanut Butter, Siracha, fresh basil, curry, and orange marmalade. 

If you are someone who has a hard time making a decision, especially with so many fabulous options, why not take the Food Carts Portland tour?? Join Brett, the defacto food cart ambassador, for a fun and informative tour, while enjoying sample from several of Portland's best carts.

Aren't you excited for a weekend in Portland now, I know I am!!! If you haven't already signed up for the Portland Rock N Roll, you still have time, but HURRY {you only have til the 12th} ! Use "HOLLYROCKS" to save $10  off your  registration

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eugene {half} Marathon: The Highs & Lows

It's hard to believe it has been over a week since the Eugene {half} marathon! This race was supposed to be THE race...I hired a coach, was committed to and focused on my training, and went into it in {by far} the best running shape I have been in.   There was NO doubt in my mind I would crush my sub-2:00 half marathon goal.  So while the outcome of the race was a low, let me start by sharing a high.

I started my weekend by attending a Beth Moore conference Friday night & Saturday morning with my mom. Filled with 7300 women, the Matthew Knight Arena was overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Over the course of the two sessions, Beth talked about how its All About Time.  There was so much information in such a short amount of time, that it really deserves its own post; but it was an emotional, empowering, uplifting, and rejuvenating conference.  Two points from the sessions that really stood out to me are 1) We are NOT running out of time and 2) God calls us to redeem the time {we need to buy back our time}...I am in desperate need of re-prioritizing and buying back my time. 

Mother-Daughter time 


Saturday after the conference ended, I was planning on heading to the expo to meet some blogger/twitter/NUUN friends. Things didn't quite go as planned, but I was able to meet up with one of my fellow NUUN teammates, Meghan and meet fellow Medfordite Robyn.  Luckily, thanks to twitter, I was able to quickly meet Corey, Molly, Holly {who is on the Hood-To-Coast team & will be running Ragnar Tennessee with me} and Stephanie.  Sidenote: People who don't blog and aren't into social networking don't understand the friendships that are created among people who don't actually know each other. My friends and family  didn't understand why I wanted to get to the expo at a certain time and why it was so important to hang around to see was kind of frustrating. I am glad I was able to at least briefly meet and chat with a few people! 

Fellow Medfordites

I was so excited {maybe too excited} for the race to begin; I was up all night, like a kid on Christmas Eve.  Race morning we headed to Hayward Field, and I just had a feeling this was going to be the day...I had truly tapered, was well hydrated, my legs felt fresh, and I was confident I would do it.  My race plan was to start off "slow" and negative split it, which has alway been successful for me {when I execute it properly}. Due to the crowd at the start, our first mile was close to 10:00 because we weren't able to get around people.  Mandy and I sort of panicked {knowing that wasn't going to cut it} and picked up the pace. Still working our way through the crowd, we hit 9:26 for mile two, which was about right.  Miles 3-8 we were right at a 9:00 minute pace, which was exactly where we needed to be. But then we hit the hill at mile 8 {which I was fully prepared for...mentally and physically}, but it went downhill from there {no pun intended}...As I write this, looking at my splits, I was right on track with my goal {which is refueling my frustrations with myself}.  I reached the top of the hill {which wasn't even that steep of a hill}, and I was mentally done. Why? I am not sure. Yes, I was physically tired...but nothing out of ordinary for being at mile 9 of a half marathon.  

High: Great running friends and being able to run with my dad

I knew I would see my mom around mile 9, so I kept waiting and waiting, and finally I saw her and my brother, which gave me a little boost, but not much.  I decided to stop & walk for a second so I could turn on my music, get my headphones untangled, turn OFF my GPS tracking app {which was telling me my pace every mile, and at this point only making matters worse}and give myself a mental pep talk.  From that point on my only goal was to finish. Each mile, actually 1/2 mile, became harder and harder, fully aware that my goal was no longer attainable. It wasn't because I wasn't physically trained for it; I mentally crashed. Which is difficult for me to grasp, because mental strength is usually one of my strong suits.  

Mandy coming in strong

I was happy to enter Hayward Field, but it wasn't the victory lap I had anticipated. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I broke into tears...You know, the ugly-sobbing-can't talk kind of cry.  This was a first for me. I usually cry tears of joy every time I cross the finish line, because it is always such a feeling of accomplishment. But not this time.  These were tears of disappointment. Failure. Frustration. While these were a different kind of tears, they symbolized the same thing my tears of joy do: PASSION! My passion for running. Passion for constantly bettering myself. Passion for wanting to make my dad proud.  Passion for accomplishing my goals. Passion for living life to the fullest. Passion for having fun while living a healthy life. 

This training/racing cycle was different for me.   I usually don't take the training quite as serious {if something comes up, it is ok if I miss a run or cut it short}, and I really love the races and have fun.  This time, I was really focused on my training {wouldn't skip a run and did exactly what was on my schedule}, and to be honest, didn't really enjoy the race {that is for another post}.  I DO NOT want to get to the point where racing is no longer fun, so things are going to change! Through the process of running the race, contemplating everything in my head the days after, and in writing this post, I have learned a lot, and know the next race will be better. 

When I first thought about writing this post, I wasn't going to share my finish time, due to embarrassment. Not embarrassment because it is a slow time {I hate the word slow, speed is so relative}, but embarrassment because I know I am capable of so much more {I have raced and ran several long training runs at a much faster pace}. But bottom line, it is my finish time, and I can't change it now:

{I guess I could re look up my official time, but that is close enough}

Another high: it is a course PR

A little fun to cheer me up

NUUN for the win

While I struggled with the outcome of my race, I knew I had to pull myself together to celebrate other people's victories...Mandy who had a course and all-time half PR. My dad who had a phenomenal race. Stephanie who had a HUGE course and all-time half PR. David who ran his first half marathon.  Jenny who also had a course and all-time half PR.  I loved switching roles to cheer, take pictures and celebrate in the accomplishment of all of the NUUN/Oiselle runners who ran the full.  Watching the finish of a marathon is so empowering...seeing people fight, with everything in them, to cross that finish line.  Seeing the smiles, from ear to ear when people cross the finish line for the first time OR realize they are going to qualify for Boston.  This finish was even more powerful than most,  as people put their hand over their heart in honor and memory of Boston.  

All-in-all it was a fabulous weekend! One thing I know for sure, I will be running my next race naked {no watch, GPS app...NOTHING!}; I will focus on having fun and not worry about my time.