Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Happy Holidays from the Reese Family!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from our house to yours! For our family, 2021 has been like eating a dozen donuts: really awesome, but also super challenging, and something you absolutely never want to do ever again. Here’s a brief rundown:

Kylee
Ky is finishing her senior year at Hurricane High School, and is in the process of applying to Dixie Tech for their Digital Media Design program. I am constantly stunned by her artistic abilities. In her graphic design classes, she makes the most incredible album covers, logos, prints on clothing, images, and posters. She is also an amazing painter and chef. Over the course of the year, she became an invested fan of the Real Salt Lake soccer team and went to many games. Kylee had an incredibly difficult year. In January, she was in a traumatic sledding accident where she broke her knee, shattered her ankle, and tore the ligaments in her knee. After almost one year, three major surgeries, and countless physical therapy, her knee has only gotten worse. She has constant pain and swelling. We took her to get a second opinion at Primary Children’s Hospital, and the doctor confirmed that it hasn’t healed right, and he will need to “start over” with a completely new knee reconstruction. It was a devastating diagnosis, and lots of tears were shed by the whole family. But we are hopeful that her new doctor will be able to get her back on track. She just had her fourth surgery with the new doctor on December 9th, and is beginning recovery. A friend set up a GoFundMe to help with college expenses since she hasn’t been able to work and save college money for the past year. If you’re interested, that website is https://gofund.me/bcb34df9

Danica
This past year, Dani graduated from high school and went on a senior trip to Disneyland. She said their motel was so sketchy that she shared a bed with a sewer roach. I chose to not ask any more questions. She went to State as part of the high school swim team, and made the 2021 Women’s Allstate Water Polo Team. I’m certain that somewhere underneath her hair, she has a pair of gills. Dani started her first year at Dixie State University. When I look at some of the science and math stuff she is working on, it looks like pure gibberish. She went to lots of RSL soccer games and has fallen head over heels in love with their goalie, David Ochoa. She went on a college service trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary which, she reports, solidified how much she loves dogs, and how much she hates cats. This year, Dani got diagnosed with Celiac Disease and is no longer able to eat wheat or gluten. Understandably, this has caused a gigantic shift in her lifestyle. She says the hardest part was having to unfollow Crumbl Cookies from social media because their videos brought too much pain. When she’s not at school or water polo, Dani works as a CNA at a local skilled nursing facility, including spending time working in their COVID unit.

Jackson
Jackson is in his second year of classes at Southern Utah University. He is working toward a degree in chemistry, and is trying to do everything he can to be in a good position to apply for medical school. His girlfriend is named Organic Chemistry, and they spend ALL their time together. I think this organic chemistry class has taken three years off his life. The fact that people find this stuff enjoyable is unfathomable to me. He uses his expertise and education by working part time in the SUU Water Lab. They do water testing for all of southern Utah, including local national parks. Prior to working at the water lab, he worked for a community support program where he coordinated activities and job opportunities for teenagers with disabilities. He loved the job…though he came home on more than one occasion with deep indentations in his arm from being bit by one of his kids. He is the treasurer for the SUU Pickle Ball Club. He thinks that this sounds nerdy, but I’m confident that this makes him a certifiable babe magnet. In super exciting news, Jackson has recorded a solo piano album which will be released in 2022! I have listened to the whole album and it is mind blowing. When it comes to playing the piano, his talent is off the charts.

Melanie
Mel has managed to continue her 43 year streak of being seriously awesome. She continues to work as a nurse practitioner for Intermountain Healthcare. She provides care at a few skilled nursing facilities, and, like Dani, has had her share of time working with COVID patients over the past year. She truly loves her job and the people she works with. Her favorite hobbies are doing puzzles, and cooking. She has really stepped up her cooking game over the past year. Our family joke is that Mel’s most common phrase after she makes a meal is “I could sell that.” And you know what? She’s right! Minestrone soup. Pasta primavera. Potato salad. Stir fry. You name it….she could sell it. In October, Mel had a work conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I went along because her training went until noon each day, then she had the rest of the day to explore. We took a tour of “America’s largest home,” the Biltmore Estate. We also spent a lot of time sight-seeing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and did some incredible hikes. We loved checking out the River Arts District, and trying to eat our weight in Mexican food. Mel has become quite the bird enthusiast, and had a blast visiting the Bear River Bird Reserve to see countless great blue herons. Our favorite Sunday morning tradition is to walk to a wildlife pond 5.5 miles away to feed the ducks, look at the herons and egrets, then walk back home with a stop at a coffee shop conveniently located on our route.

Cory
In June, I released my third book, Stronger Than the Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression. I was honored to have it listed as one of the 20 Best Books of 2021 by Men’s Journal. I decided to retire from writing for UltraRunning Magazine. After being a monthly columnist for the past six years, this month’s column is my last. I have loved working with the amazing people at the magazine. This year, I ran the Hennepin Hundred, and the St. George Sizzler, a solo 100 miler I did in July. After working for the University of Utah Dialysis Program for almost 17 years, our program was bought out by DaVita Dialysis, one of the largest dialysis companies in the world. So I am now officially a social worker for DaVita Dialysis. My other big news for the year is opening my own private practice for mental health services called Bright Way. www.brightwaytherapy.com Earlier this year, Mel and I took a brief trip to San Antonio. We loved exploring the River Walk, going to the Alamo, and eating our weight in Mexican food. (Are you sensing a theme in our lives?) Last month, I checked a big item off my bucket list when I met one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris.

As a family, we went to see OneRepublic in Las Vegas. Even though we’re some of the last people in the country who have discovered the magic of the TV show Ted Lasso, we’re now on board with the rest of you fans. And have you seen the one-man Broadway show on Hulu called In & Of Itself? It’s one of the most moving, powerful things we saw all year. Please. Go watch it. It’s a family favorite as well.

Our poodle, Jack, and our Great Dane, Little Debbie, have somehow managed to remain among the living. They are old. But they still find so much joy going on walks, and stealing cookies off the counter. Honestly, their favorite thing in life is to be petted by Mel when she is going to the bathroom. As soon as they hear the sound of a toilet seat, they go running like Pavlov’s dogs to get some affection. We’re not sure how much longer Jack will be around. We don’t want to be unprepared for burial after his passing. So we have a large, empty box sitting in the garage ready for when he passes away and we need to have Jack In The Box. (Sorry, too far?)

So here we are on the brink of 2022. The New Year stands before us like the chapter of a book waiting to be written. I love the idea of a blank page. A fresh start. I hope the next chapter of your book includes overwhelming heaps of adventure, hope, love, and happiness. Oh, and donuts. Lots of donuts.

Love, Cory, Mel, Jackson, Dani, and Kylee Reese



Monday, May 17, 2021

Upcoming book: Stronger Than the Dark

I am so excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest book, Stronger Than the Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression. 


The book will be released on June 8, 2021, and is available now for pre-order from Amazon

Stronger Than the Dark is unlike anything I've written before. I've been working on the book for three years. It is raw, personal, and vulnerable. Here's a brief description:

In his gripping memoir, Cory Reese offers a compelling and vulnerable insight into the pervasive destruction of depression. Drawing on lessons learned over a decade of ultramarathon running, Stronger Than the Dark offers a powerful new approach in the battle against depression: the willingness to embrace suffering.  

In a moment of physical and mental crisis during a 314-mile race across Tennessee, he realizes with clarity life’s ultimate purpose. We are here to endure. We are here to help others turn pain into peace. We are here to be a beacon of kindness and compassion.  

Cory’s beautifully broken path of healing speaks to anyone feeling lost in insecurity or despair, and gives hope that even in life’s darkest moments, we can find the light. 

I can't wait to share the book with you!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Happy New Year from the Reese Family!

 Hi.

Ideally, this would have been the annual Reese Family Christmas Letter. But, like everything else in 2020, those plans went up in flames like a fire in the dumpster behind Denny’s. Then I thought, “That’s okay, I’ll just make it a ‘Happy New Year’ letter.” At least I finished it by January 21st, National Squirrel Appreciation Day. (Nope, not making that up.) Here’s a summary of our crazy year:

AUNT JACKIE and LITTLE DEBBIE
For those of you not following along, Jack is our senile poodle. Debbie is our Great Dane, and resident food thief. If you’re eating dinner and turn your head for a split second, Debbie will have your piece of pepperoni pizza in her stomach faster than you can say “Seabiscuit.”

KYLEE
Ky got her driver’s license this year, which required lots of time driving with a parent. On a related note, my blood pressure medication was increased this year. She worked at the city pool over the summer, and has been busy with school. She continues to excel with art, and made some amazing screen printing designs for tee shirts in one class. Ky got her wisdom teeth out, which led to an interesting ride home from the surgeon afterward. Through uncontrollable sobbing, she begged for a penguin and a baby koala bear. When I asked why she was crying, she said “Because baby kola bears are just so, so cute.” She recently started working at Papa Murphy’s Pizza, and now we get a family discount. #blessed A few months ago, she bought a fish, and fish tank, then snuck it up to her room hoping we wouldn’t notice. He only looks dead 60% of the time, but comes to life whenever we think it’s time to scoop him into the toilet.

DANI
Speaking of fish, Dani must have rainbow trout somewhere in her family tree. She is happiest when she is in water. On the evolutionary chart, she is dangerously close to growing gills. Over the summer, she worked at the pool as a lifeguard and taught swim lessons. As a high school Senior, she remains active on the swim team, and keeps getting faster and faster. She has also continued playing water polo, the equivalent of WWF Wrestling in water. Her team even moved up to Gold Division this year, and she received the team’s Sportsmanship Award. She loved going on a white water rafting trip. She passed the college courses she was taking in school, and completed medical coursework to earn her CNA certificate. But these things pale in comparison to her proudest achievement: sitting down to binge watch a whole season of Impractical Jokers. The show is basically like a weak attempt at Candid Camera for millennials.  

JACKSON
Jackson returned home from his Mormon mission to Oregon in March. It was the time when Coronavirus was just taking off. Because of issues with his immune system, and weekly infusions, there was a collective decision that it would be best to return home after six months of service. Since then, he completed an advanced EMT course. One of the course requirements was to start 30 IVs on friends and family. To me, the idea of sticking IVs into people sounds worse than attending a Nickelback concert, but he loves it. He has volunteered at a few veterinary clinics in Shiprock, New Mexico, and Chinle, Arizona. He moved to Cedar City, and finished his first semester at Southern Utah University. He works at an assisted living facility in Cedar City, and loves to destroy me at pickle ball in his spare time. He is taking his brilliant piano playing abilities to the next level as he finishes up work on a new album of piano music.

MEL
Mel has managed to sustain her 42 year-long streak of being awesome. She continues her work as a nurse practitioner at Intermountain Healthcare. She works in a rehab facility, directly with COVID patients who aren’t sick enough to require hospitalization, but are too sick to go home. With all her protective gear, and tubes connected to a ventilation system, she looks like the 2020 version of Inspector Gadget. In February, we went to New Orleans with a big group of friends to enjoy amazing music, amazing tours, and amazing food. February feels like twelve years ago. Before putting our house up for sale, Mel did most of the work remodeling our bathrooms. The force and precision with which she used a gigantic sledge hammer was equal parts inspiring and terrifying. This year she got shingles which she gave a Yelp rating of 0/10. She also just received the COVID vaccine. Her proudest achievement was completing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k, running 621 miles in less than four months.

CORY
I just finished my 16th year working as a medical social worker with the University of Utah. In May I ran a solo 100 miler doing loops around the block that I called the Co-Run-A-Virus 100. This is proof that social isolation warps mental capacity and makes you do dumb things. Mel and I went to Virginia where I ran the Yeti 100, then we headed to Nashville for a few days. If someone abducted me and moved me to Tennessee, I don’t think I would try to escape. I have the Headspace app, and have tried to be more consistent doing daily meditation. This helps me manage the intense rage that gets triggered when Little Debbie steals my food. I read/listened to 77 books this year. I continue writing a monthly column for UltraRunning Magazine, and have been devoting lots of late nights and early mornings to working on a new book.

FAMILY
In January, before COVID shut everything down, we took a family vacation to Calgary, and Banff, Canada. We happened to arrive during one of the worst cold snaps in history. It was -29 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived. I can confidently verify that absolutely nothing is enjoyable when it is -29 degrees. Then COVID hit, which was particularly concerning for our family, considering that Jackson and I both need weekly infusions for nonfunctioning immune systems. We’ve been conscientious of social distancing, but you know you’ve been cooped up too long when you realize you’re having conversations with the toaster. We also have COVID to blame for watching Tiger King. I’ve never been so tempted to grow a mullet. Our family did lots and lots of hiking together during the year. It was fun to show the kids some of the trails that we’ve been running for many years. In our most spontaneous activity of the year, we drove to Page, Arizona. The night before, we learned that illusionist and TV star David Blaine was planning to hold on to 43 weather balloons that would carry him 25,000 feet into the sky, before he would disconnect from the balloons and parachute down.

2020 welcomed in a new chapter for our family. After living in our home in Hurricane, Utah for 17 years, we moved to St. George! The move happened right before Christmas, which is why this became a Happy New Year letter. We had planned to build a house, but things kept falling through. Then we found a stunning house that was almost done being built. The house stood at the base of a towering mesa that glowed red in the sunset. The neighborhood was quiet and established. The front door was modern and stylish. And it would turn our 30 minute commute to work into a 5 minute commute. We immediately fell head over heels in love. We made an offer that night, and were ecstatic when it was accepted. So here we are in St. George, in the process of turning a house into our home.

Despite all the challenges of 2020, we still have so much to be thankful for. May the New Year bring you and your family happiness, peace, and a new season of Tiger King. Love, the Reese Family

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Co-Run-A-Virus 100 Miler

It's a crazy time right now with this Coronavirus pandemic. People are quarantined at home.
~ Days blur together. Is it April 92nd?
~ Parents have been forced to do home schooling, and there are record sales of alcohol. Coincidence? Um....no.
~ Salons have been closed so people have attempted to give themselves haircuts. That Jennifer Aniston hair style you were hoping for looks more like Cookie Monster. Ooops.
~ When cooped up at home, eating distracts from boredom. No longer is weight gain referred to as the "Freshman 15." It's now the "Quarantine 15."
~ The government has announced that lock down will not end until every man, woman, and child has watched Tiger King.

In the midst of all this craziness, I had a few days off work. I had already met my moral and ethical obligation to watch Tiger King. Yes, Carole Baskin killed him. And I figured this might be the only opportunity I'll ever have to run a 100 miler during a pandemic. (Insert Fingers Crossed emoji here.) So I set out to run the Co-Run-A-Virus 100! (Thanks to Hollie Reina for the cool name.)

I decided to stay close to home and run a .9 mile loop around the block of my house. I set up an aid station on my porch with running essentials: Dr. Pepper, peanut butter M&Ms, Doritos, and Swedish Fish. Are you new to ultrarunning? Don't give up kids! With enough practice, you can run many miles fueled by Nacho Cheese Doritos too! Around lunch time, I stopped at home for a few minutes to vacuum up at least 2,000 calories worth of nachos.

My friend Leah Lister heard that I was out running around the block. She knows that at any given moment, my blood stream is likely 30% Dr. Pepper. I saw her pull up beside me with a cold fountain drink. I could have hugged her. But then I remembered that I had been running in the sun for many hours, and I probably smelled like a rotting armadillo. (Unfortunately, I know exactly how those smell.) So instead, I gratefully took the drink and kept moving.

A few people asked about the mental challenge of running such a monotonous course. Thankfully, I don't usually get too bored, even on repetitive courses. #blessed Once I ran a 100 miler around the deck of a cruise ship. A few times I've run 100 milers around a high school track. Taking those into consideration, my .9 mile loop wasn't bad at all. As long as I have a good podcast or book to listen to, and an occasional sighting of a horse-drawn carriage, I'm happy as a clam.

Eventually I started to get sick of Swedish Fish and Doritos. Mel ordered some pizza for dinner, and I took a short break to indulge. I've eaten MANY pieces of pizza during long runs over the years. It ALWAYS tastes amazing. And I ALWAYS regret it. Before I knew it, four pieces of Little Caesar's sausage pizza had plowed their way into my stomach. This behavior will not rank anywhere on my list of Smartest Things I've Ever Done.

As evening started to approach, I could see some dark clouds brewing in the distance. If my legs are cooperating, I try to get a jumping picture during each 100 miler. This seemed like a good time to take care of that.

Once it got dark, my kids decided to join in on the "fun." (I use the term "fun" very, very loosely.) Talking with them was a good distraction from my legs that were starting to get a tad grumpy.

The level of "fun" decreased when a storm rolled in and decided to dump. No big deal. When life gives you lemons, just crack open another Dr. Pepper and loathe the fact that you're out in a downpour instead of getting into bed.

Later, the family went to bed. I started perfecting the art of sleep walking. I love sleep walking as much as I love cream of mushroom soup (exactly 0%). Sleep walking led to me almost stepping on a frog. It was time to change from an audio book to music.

Sometime way past the hour that a sane person would have gone to bed, my friend Josh Conner showed up. If you didn't know any better, you'd hang out with us and think "Those two are so quirky and nerdy that they must be brothers." As evidence of his athletic abilities, this man holds the World Record for the Fastest Half Marathon While Dressed as a Cowboy. Josh was patient with my slow nighttime pace, and kept me laughing for hours as I inched my way toward sunrise.

Then somewhere around 5:30am, my friend Turd'l Miller showed up. Turd'l has worked countless aid stations over the years, and he always seems to be at the aid station where I feel my worst. He has an endearing way of shoving food into my face to make sure I get the calories I need. There has been some ongoing trash talking between me and Turd'l about who could eat the most McDonald's ice cream cones in one sitting. (Spoiler alert: me.) At some point this competition will happen. But in the mean time, Turd'l called a bunch of McDonald's and managed to find some ice cream before coming out to meet me. That ice cream was heaven. I loved the hours he spent going around that damn loop with me.

Finally, light began to spill over Zion National Park on the horizon, and we were treated to a beautiful sunrise.

Mel shared many, many miles with me during the first day, during the night, and during the second day of the run. Just how many miles? Mel finished an incredible 40 miles during the time I was out doing loops around the block! I am seriously impressed.

At mile 98 or 99, we stopped for a minute and talked to Seret Rafferty who lives nearby. Later she shared this picture of me and Mel.

I finished the Co-Run-A-Virus 100 miler after 29 hours and 32 minutes. I really like these solo 100 milers where I can do my own thing, run my own course, and just have fun without the pressure of cutoffs. If my count is correct, I think I've done thirty five 100+ mile runs, and eleven of those have been solo 100 milers.

I bought myself a belt buckle for an award in case I finished the run. It is a handmade buckle by Bykali. I have many race buckles that have been made by her, and her stuff is always incredible. I especially love this one.

So in conclusion, you can go suck a rotten egg Coronavirus. And I'm sorry if your hair looks like Joe Exotic because your salon has been shut down so you were forced to give yourself a haircut. And to Doritos, I feel like I might be single-handedly keeping your brand in business. And I can't wait until regular races resume so I won't be tempted to run 100 miles around the block. When social distancing eases up and we see each other at a race, consider me first in line to give you a hug.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Annual Reese Family Christmas Letter - 2019



Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from the Reese family! I’m sorry to report that we weren’t able to achieve our goal of teaching our dogs to bark the notes of The Twelve Days of Christmas. I had this vision of how awesome it would be for the UPS guy to ring the doorbell and have our poodle and Great Dane serenade them with a Christmas song. Maybe next year. Here’s a little rundown of 2019 at the Reese household:

Kylee is a sophomore at Hurricane High. I don’t know what kind of time warp I entered where suddenly our youngest child is in high school. Early in the year Ky and I contracted what was either the flu or the Bubonic Plague. We’ve never been so sick and I legitimately worried that the Grim Reaper might pop out of the pantry and snatch us. At least we got to suffer together. That wasn’t the only terrifying adventure me and Kylee shared this year. We also drove five hours to the middle of nowhere (also known as Tonopah, Nevada) to spend a night at the scariest motel on the planet, The Clown Motel. Sleeping in a place surrounded by clowns (and probably bed bugs) was pretty scary. In February she completed an amazing 50 miles at the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. Ky continues to develop as an artist. Her drawing and painting skills are exceptional. A personal favorite art piece of mine was her rendition of Mona Lisa with the face of Homer Simpson. She went to prom and Sadie’s. She spent the summer working at the local pool, and is also on the high school swim team. Another highlight of her year was when we discovered an amazing pizza place in Hildale, Utah. The first time we took a bite of their pizza, we literally heard a choir of angels rejoicing. Strange to hear angels at the pizza place, but whatevs.

Dani is a junior at Hurricane High School. She is counting down the days until she is a senior and has the legal authority to shove kids into their lockers. She reached the rite of passage every kid dreams about – getting a driver’s license. This involved lots of early morning classes, passing a test, and getting lots of practice hours with a parent. Mel went out with her once, but she was so scared that she started levitating out of the seat. When she got home, she said “You’re going to have to be in charge of doing the hours with her.” Thankfully Dani feels much more comfortable behind the wheel now. Approximately 37% of Dani’s life is spent in the water. It was highly disturbing when I realized that she is starting to grow gills. She was a lifeguard at the pool over the summer. She is on the high school swim team. And she was on the water polo team. She is a very talented swimmer. She had a blast going to the BYU/Utah football game with her siblings, and also went to the homecoming and Sadie’s dances. Earlier in the year Dani and I drove to northern Utah to see one of our favorite musicians, Ben Rector. We were pretty psyched to meet him before the concert. He didn’t propose marriage to Dani like she was hoping, but whatevs.

Jackson’s year has been pretty insane in the membrane. During his senior year in high school, he also completed coursework to become certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. His classes went until 10pm, after already having a full day of school. He finished his final year as the pianist of the school Jazz Band and had the honor of being awarded Musician Of The Year. He was the Music Sterling Scholar for the school and earned a nice scholarship, then graduated from high school. Jackson chose to serve a mission for the Mormon Church and is currently in Medford, Oregon teaching in Spanish. Before leaving for his mission, he gave a farewell talk at church. The night before his talk, the whole family was in the car listening to our favorite reggae band Rebelution. While listening to the song “Celebrate” we heard the lyrics “I got your back at the worst set of times, and in return know that you have got mine.” I jokingly said “Jackson, those are cool lyrics! You should work those into your talk!” The next morning we were sitting in church listening to his talk. He said “I’ve had a few health problems over the past year. I received a lot of comfort from my dad when he sat me down and told me ‘I know this is tough, but just remember that I’ve got your back at the worst set of times, and in return know that you have got mine.’” #proudparentmoment The family inside joke had all of us smiling from ear to ear. After the talk, a few people came up and said “That was so touching what you said to Jackson.” People didn’t know where the line really came from, but whatevs.

Mel has managed to continue her 41 year streak of being pretty freaking awesome. In February she ran her first 100 mile race! We were able to run every step of the Jackpot Ultra Running Festival together and it was so cool to share that experience with her. We went to Costa Rica earlier in the year. It was pure heaven hanging around the beach, or lounging by the pool and trying to keep monkeys from stealing our snacks. Mel could have started her own HGTV home remodeling show this year by redoing all three bathrooms in our house. Her dad definitely would have been proud of all her handiwork. We went on an awesome road trip together in September. We spent time at Monument Valley, then headed to Ouray, Colorado where we saw the most stunning autumn colors ever. We hiked to the indescribably beautiful Ice Lake and Island Lake. Then we spent a day in Durango before heading home. We feel so lucky to have an amazing group of friends that we regularly get to spend time with. In fact, it was during one such weekend with a group of friends that we went down to Vegas and had a chance run in with Vanilla Ice. I’m relatively sure that seeing Mr. Vanilla Ice in person probably wasn’t one of Mel’s highlights for the year. Mel has some big news – she is starting a new job at Intermountain Healthcare! By the time you read this, she will have started. She will be one of their nurse practitioners who covers a skilled nursing facility in the area. She has been doing a similar job already so it should be a smooth transition. Her only flaw is an occasional chastising when I stop at the gas station to buy a soda, but whatevs.

I’m beginning my 15th year as a medical social worker for the University of Utah Dialysis Program. After more time than I would prefer with doctors, I found out I have this thing called Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) which basically means that my immune system is as useful as a pet rock. I had to start weekly infusions of Hizentra (kind of like plasma) and will have to continue doing them for life. I love needles as much as I love Celine Dion music (somewhere around 0.000%), but usually the infusions go okay. My friend Scott Kummer helped me complete a lifelong dream of seeing a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. We sweated a few gallons of fluid during the game, ate crappy nachos, and had the time of our lives. I ran the Jackpot 100, Zion 100, and a race called Vol State. This little adventure involved running/walking/crawling/crying across five states and 314miles. Then I got home and entered therapy to deal with my PTSD. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to read/listen to 100 books. It’s the beginning of December and I’m at 116 books. This goal really has been life changing. But my ultimate highlight of the year happened on Halloween. At work I dressed up as Bob Ross, complete with the big afro and beard. I ran across the street to grab lunch at the grocery store. The guy managing the bakery said “Hey! Bob Ross! Did you know that we sell Bob Ross energy drinks?” He told me where they were. And suddenly…I was holding an energy drink with a big Bob Ross face on the front…while I was dressed as Bob Ross. I think I made all the planets in the solar system align in that moment, but whatevs.

Then we have our two dogs who create more than their share of mischief. Jack, the poodle, loves following us around the house like a stalker, and chewing on Bully Sticks. Since this letter is family friendly, I won’t describe what they are. Google it. (After I Googled it, I no longer allow Bully Sticks in the house.) He’s old and we don’t know how much longer he’ll be alive. Unfortunately he won’t be going to dog heaven. He barks so much that he will be going to dog hell. Then there’s our Great Dane, Little Debbie. She absolutely loves watching National Geographic videos. She is a horrible demon of destruction and sneaks as much food as possible. For example, this past week she enjoyed stealing a piece of pizza, a bag of homemade caramels, and a full plate of cookies that were left on the counter. Her general attitude is “I know I’m going to get in big trouble for this, but man, I love cookies, so whatevs.”

We had a lot of fun experiences as a family this year. We love going to concerts and saw Aerosmith, Rebelution, The Strumbellas, OneRepublic, and Paul McCartney. We enjoyed a fun family reunion at Sand Hollow Reservoir. We fell in love with Modern Family and had fun watching episodes and laughing together. We had lots of dance parties late into the night that included loud music and lots of mocking how terrible my dancing abilities are. A few times we’ve spontaneously made the 3 hour roundtrip drive to a dairy in Beaver, Utah that has amazing ice cream. The drive home usually includes a stomach ache, and mild self-hatred for the vast quantities of ice cream that were consumed, but whatevs.

I hope I’m not implying that our house is always a Norman Rockwell painting. We have had our share of challenges and heartache and frustrations and discouragement. We also have our share of fighting, arguing, whining, and complaining. But through it all, we still love each other. At least most of the time. We are a blanket of flaws and imperfections sewn together with love. I know. That last sentence sounds cheesy, but it’s true, so whatevs.

Thanks for your continued love and friendship. Here’s to a wonderful 2020! Love, the Reese Family