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One of these days I will get to sleep in. I just know it. Today was not that day. Gavin had a basketball game this morning with the deacons. Heath is the second counselor in the Young Men’s presidency and apparently now he is also the basketball coach. Between his Young Men’s responsibilities on Tuesdays, he also referees men’s basketball on Thursday nights. Welcome back sport widowhood. *sigh*

He has been refereeing church basketball games since he was 15 years old. Coaching is new and intimidating to him but he is doing it. He said that he really enjoyed being a coach today and watching the game from a different perspective. I just loved looking over at him and seeing him make all the hand signals as if he were the ref! Old habits die hard.

This morning’s game was a trip down memory lane for Heath since the game was at the same church building he attended as a 15 year old. Every time he reminisces and wonders aloud if he will recognize people from his past, I always wonder if I should change my clothes. Should I put on something cuter to give off a better impression? My clothes aren’t changed and so far we haven’t run into anyone. There are only a couple of people in our ward now who know Heath in roundabout friend of a friend sort of ways. Going home can be strange.

Gavin asked me to watch him play. He says he performs better under pressure so he wanted an audience as motivation. He played well. Most of the boys are experiencing organized ball for the first time. I don’t particularly like basketball. I would rather watch basketball than many other sports like baseball or soccer. I have to say, I rather enjoyed watching basketball today. Since the boys are inexperienced 12 and 13 year olds, it slowed the game down for me. The referee explained things to the boys which I found extremely helpful.

My first experience with basketball was traumatizing. Someone called me. I think it was the Young Women’s president. She would not take no for an answer. And I’m such a people pleaser that I rarely say no to requests! (if you need me to do something then ignore that last sentence) I told her I didn’t want to play and that I didn’t even know how to play basketball. She didn’t care. She made it sound like if I didn’t show up the team would have to forfeit. Motivated by guilt, I reluctantly accepted the invitation to play a game I didn’t understand with girls I never felt connected with since I was a school grade younger.

I remember I was chewing gum. It completely disintegrated as soon as I went out to play. I was so nervous! I ran up and down the court praying no one would ever pass to me or expect to even see me. Watching the deacons play today made me realize I was not as invisible as I once thought. Somehow I lived through my experience. I was a little jealous of these boys though. They had coaches and plenty of adults in the gym shouting encouragement and advice. No one did that for my team. Sports are even harder when you grow up in a family that doesn’t follow sports in any way and church leaders just expect everyone to understand the game.

These boys had a lot of support. I loved watching boys that would immediately pass the ball as if it was a hot potato start trying to take shots. Whether the shot was successful or not the parents went crazy cheering. This gave the boys an extra boost of confidence and they would try again. Two of those boys made several baskets for their team.

I also thought it was cool that Gavin congratulated an opponent for successfully scoring. The teams were a little mixed. There was supposed to be a game at 9:00 but only one team showed up. The team that was supposed to play our boys didn’t show up. We won by default. There were enough boys to play a game if Heath gave up some of his players to the other team. Gavin was one of those trades. When he patted an opponent on the shoulder, he was really congratulating a friend.

After Heath logged his first win as a coach, we went to Café Rio for lunch. Love that place! Then we did some shopping. Gavin is going on a snow campout this coming weekend and still needed a couple of items. I have mixed feelings about a snow campout. I’m so excited for him because I think it will be really fun for him. Heath tells great stories about building an igloo on Mt. Rainier in the rain. I just worry about Gavin being warm enough. I’m a mom. It’s my job. I think we got him the supplies he needs to stay warm. I will still worry until he comes home! Can’t wait to hear about his adventures though.

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Heath bought me drapes for our bedroom. We put them up while watching BYU play basketball. I definitely need to work on reupholstering the bench. The 90’s called and they want their striped cream fabric back.

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The drapes are a shiny gun metal gray color. The sheers are white with a pretty geometric design. The drapes boast light blocking, sound reduction, and they should also help reduce electric bills. Sweet! I look forward to not having the early morning sun wake me up in the summer. I am super excited about the noise reduction since there are times, especially on warmer nights, when the neighbors are out partying until the wee hours of the morning. It looks so grand. I love it!

Interesting bit of trivia, Batman!

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They say money doesn’t buy happiness. While that’s true, it can often buy memories. Would you rather sit at home being bored on a day off? Or go do something touristy? Personally, I’ve done the first part. A lot.

When we moved to California we had no money. So we didn’t get out and enjoy the many activities the state had to offer. By the time we felt like we could afford to do some of those things, the kids were in school. We learned very quickly that any school break equaled an enormous number of people. Taking kids out of school comes with a lot of guilt. We still did it on occasion! I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut again here in Washington. So I suggested we do something fun for Civil Rights Day.

The tickets weren’t cheap, but Heath booked a Future of Flight tour for Monday morning. Neither one of us had ever done that before. We have tried on several trips here. The timing never worked out right. Until now.

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It was a clear day. Clear enough you can actually see Mt. Rainier! The temperatures finally rose to normal – low to mid 40’s. Rain was forecast to arrive later in the evening. It was the perfect day to tour Paine Field and the Boeing Factory.

Cameras, purses, bags, cell phones, food, basically anything not attached to your body are prohibited on the tour. Espionage and safety. They do have free lockers in the lobby. We were just about to show our tickets for the tour when we realized Gavin still had his cell phone. He didn’t know he couldn’t have it! So Heath had to run it out to the lockers before we could go into the theater.

I have been on many factory tours like The Peppermint Place in Alpine, Utah where you see candy canes being made and The Jelly Belly Factory in Fremont, California where you learn everything there is to know about the gourmet jelly beans. These tours come with complimentary samples. Can you believe that Boeing doesn’t give out complimentary airplanes?

We learned that planes range in price from one to three or more hundred million dollars. One guy bought himself a plane for about 300 million dollars and then he bought both of his daughters a plane. True story. If you do have your own airplane you can land it and store it at Paine Field when space allows.

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This is the Boeing Factory. We took a bus to this building. After touring the C tunnel, we got on another bus to the M tunnel. The bus ride was not a 30 second jaunt down the parking lot either. The building is the largest building in the world by volume and has it’s own microclimate. To give you an idea of the size, because the picture can be deceiving, all of Disneyland plus the Disneyland parking structure will fit inside the building.

There are eight different Tully’s coffee shops inside. It’s one of the only buildings in the Seattle area that does not serve Starbucks! There are also several different cafés for the employees, as well as child care, video rentals, and places to get a massage. Employees often run down the long tunnels for exercise. When Gavin heard that his eyes lit up as if he was thinking, “Running? What are we doing walking when we can run?” Gwen wondered why people were riding tricycles. I would imagine it’s a faster way to get around from plane to plane.

We got on elevators as if we were cargo. The elevators were huge. There were about 50 people on the tour. We saw planes in various stages of completion. They put the planes together like Lego bricks. The planes move up and around a large U shape picking up all the pieces until they are finished.

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We learned that planes (the 787 Dreamliner) are now being made from carbon fiber. It is lighter, stronger, and much better in many ways. At the end of the tour, in the museum area, we saw the difference between carbon fiber and aluminum. The aluminum had a ton of rivets holding the pieces together. The carbon fiber had no rivets at all. It was much thinner too. Some benefits of carbon fiber: the plane is more as pressurized making you feel more rested and have less jet lag. It is more fuel efficient and also quieter.

Windows are now being made differently, particularly without shades. With no shades the windows can be in a variety of shapes. You touch a button to darken or lighten the window.

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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the newest plane in production. The plane in the picture is a Dreamlifter. It’s a cargo plane that takes parts from around the world back to the Boeing facility in Washington to complete Dreamliner production.

By the way, we learned what the numbers mean. The first of the three digit numbers coincide with the type of aircraft it is followed by other numbers that show which series it is. Plane numbers start with sevens, like 747, etc. Space equipment starts with a different number, prop planes and helicopters start with another number and so on. I honestly can’t remember which aircraft starts with a 200, 500, etc. But that’s what the numbers mean.

The fact that the first airplane was a Boeing 707 was a marketing ploy. They felt that 700 wasn’t interesting enough so they started at 707 and have only changed the tens place with each new series.

When the tour ended, the tour guide let us into the gift shop through the emergency exit door. We had already looked around the gift shop when we arrived early. So we quickly weaved our way through to the museum.

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There were many interactive displays and fun ways for the kids to play and learn.

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Like these balls that float over the air vents.

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And nanotechnology. They had three different domes with different sizes of magnetic material inside that you could move with the handles on the outside.

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We had our picture taken. Gwen had to put her coat back on because her bluish green shirt wouldn’t show up against the green screen. Yes, this is in front of a green screen. We didn’t actually see any rocket launches. That happens in Florida, right?

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Here I am in front of a 787 engine. I am there to show scale.

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This picture shows how big the back fin is.

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Kids in front of the fan.

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There was an old 727 cockpit. Gwen and Parker had fun “flying.” Heath would talk about the different knobs, switches, and levers. Two guys were just outside patiently waiting for their turn to go inside. When we came out they asked if Heath was a pilot since he seemed to know so much! He replied that he knows enough to be dangerous. Although if he had to he could land a plane safely. Not that he would ever have the chance. But if he did … if the pilot couldn’t do it and the co-pilot couldn’t do it and so on, Heath could land the plane. Probably.

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One picture we had to get was Batman dressed as a pilot with the Dreamlifter in the background. Parker wants to send it in to Lego magazine. They are asking for pictures of mini figures around town. What could be cooler than Batman on a Future of Flight tour?

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Batman playing tic tac toe with Parker at Bob’s Burgers. That definitely counts as cool.

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Of course we had to adopt a new pet. Meet Bill, as in William Boeing, the aviation pioneer who founded the Boeing Company. Our Bill is a tiger who came with a tag that said he served as a legendary member of the famed Flying Tiger Squadron. They flew the much feared shark teeth P-40s.

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We also picked up a vintage Coca-Cola sign for our bonus room. I love vintage Coca-Cola ads and I love the story that this one has for my family. Parker is saving his allowance for an Area 51 sign to hang on his door.

Sitting in front of a crackling fire

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It has been a busy three day weekend. On Friday afternoon I laughed so hard my sides were splitting. I was reading Gwen’s report on cheetahs. She cannot spell to save her life! Somehow spelling came up later that night. Heath told Gwen about my fit of laughter. Without missing a beat she said in the most deadpan voice

Whatever Miss Spelling Bee Champian! (champ ee awn)

Yes, the misspelling is on purpose. I have a t-shirt that says Spelling Bee Champian. It’s funny because that’s not how you spell champion.

On Saturday I swore we would never have anything to do with another birthday party. Ever. Those midday birthday parties mess up the whole day! Gwen understood since I complain about this a lot. I even wrote a post last January saying it would be my New Year’s resolution for 2017. Somehow I forgot that. On Sunday I got an email inviting Parker to a birthday party for a church friend this Friday. Looks like my stairs will continue to be vacuumed every day this week too!

My biggest problem with all these birthday parties is the short notice for my kids to truly earn the money for a gift. Gavin pointed out that Parker’s friend is turning 12 “and that’s a big deal.” Very true. Turning 12 and receiving the priesthood is a big deal.

Sunday was the day of meetings for Heath. If Gavin wasn’t involved with one of those meetings I may have taken the kids out for a walk. The sun was shining and the temperatures had warmed up. To the 40’s but it still felt balmy! The kids had spring fever so badly. We never went out walking. I did get a nap in which was nice. And my blood sugars stayed on the lower side of normal all day. That was a nice change of pace for a Sunday.

Yesterday we went on a Future of Flight tour. Afterwards we had family over for homemade pizzas. It was a full and fun day. I want to blog about it. Just not right now. I decided not to post the lesson notes on Sunday and yesterday I didn’t have any time to post anything about the General Conference Book Club reading assignment for this week. I just got both of those posts out for my ward. Now I’m tired.

I think I will curl up in front of the fire with the rest of my Diet Coke and a book of deck ideas. Heath and I have been dreaming up plans for our backyard. I’m so excited! While we wait for Heath’s bonus and tax info we will solidify our backyard plans. For now the Pineapple Express is dumping warm rain. *contented sigh*

Miss Matched

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Look Mom! I dressed myself!

Actually, she didn’t dress herself. Today is Mismatched Day for Gwen. She woke up early to ask for my help. Once I got all the lunches packed, I went with her to her room. That was when I learned that it is extremely difficult to find mismatched clothes for my children. I don’t think I do it on purpose, but they all seem to wear colors that go together. They also wear jeans. Anything goes with jeans!

Gwen wears skirts but even her print skirts go with everything. Grandma suggested this patterned fabric for a skirt because of the many colors. Any t-shirt would go with it. I found one shirt with an allover print. I wouldn’t recommend she wear the shirt and skirt together but the shirt is pink with a subtle print. It didn’t not go! The shirt is more summery with fluttery, nearly non-existent sleeves. So I grabbed a long sleeved shirt to go underneath. Also pink. With a pair of jeans underneath, the outfit didn’t feel mismatched enough.

The only t-shirt she had that clashed with the pink sleeves on the long sleeved shirt was a yellow Ariel shirt. Then I remembered her purple zebra print pajama pants. Apparently the lesson here is that mismatching is easier with layers. Heath suggested she wear her tennis shoes instead of her boots. Gwen wanted to wear one shoe and one boot. We shut that down immediately. It would be too distracting for her to walk in uneven shoes.

She also wanted me to do weird things with her hair. Whatever the dress up part, she must be all in. I wisely braided her hair normally. Let’s keep the focus on the mismatched clothing. Weird hair would make for a weird looking crazy person.

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Layers indeed. When she put on her coat to head out the door, I had to snap another picture. Now that’s a mismatched outfit! She will be home soon. At that time she can shed a few layers and go back to normal. I hope.

 

Ice Skating

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The weather finally warmed up enough for rain to fall instead of snow. All the lingering snow melted. The nice thing about snow here is that it stays white and pretty. If you have to have snow at least it looks nice.

This has been an unusual winter. I have been told anyway. I am experiencing the Northwest for the first time. Heath lived here for ten years and has never seen such cold temperatures or as much snow in one winter! He probably hasn’t seen that much snow in all his ten years here combined! For now we blame the weather on Gwen. She wishes it and it comes true. Those are the facts.

Temperatures were in the low 30’s this morning. It was cold and the ground was still wet from last night’s rain. No snow. The boys planned on walking to the bus stop. They can  handle the cold. They are manly men! They come home from school wearing only sweatshirts since they have both stuffed their coats in their backpacks. That 5-10 degree increase can be such a sweaty heatwave!

This morning I waved and called out my farewells from the front door. Parker’s head could be seen as he passed behind Heath’s car. Suddenly the head disappeared. Parker came back into view behind the car and laughed that he slipped and fell. The boys said it was very slippery and icy outside. So I called them back inside. I did not like the idea of them walking to the bus stop when conditions were icy enough that Parker fell on his butt at the end of our driveway. I found out later that they were not the only kids who had slipped at the end of their own driveway on the way to school.

Heath took them to the bus stop. I was afraid he thought I was overreacting until he came home and announced the ground was a virtual ice rink. He stopped by the mailbox at the top of the street. Luckily he had one hand on his car the whole time his feet were flailing wildly underneath him as he got the mail.

Unfortunately Heath had a call when Gwen needed to go to school. The sun rises about the time the boys leave for school so there was no way the ice was melting before Gwen had to go. I got dressed and tried to decide if it was better to drive to the top of the street and walk in with her from there or actually go all the way around to the bus stop.

I’m from Utah and I know how to drive in the snow. I’m no dummy. But I never had the opportunity to drive my car around the Olympic Speed Skating Oval when we lived in the apartments down the street. I also chose the glamorous job of teaching over becoming an ice road trucker in Alaska. Icy roads are not on my driving resume.

I turned around at the barriers and parked on the side of the road facing into my own neighborhood. Gwen and I walked into the other neighborhood to the bus stop. We held hands and I squeezed any time she slipped. Which was a lot. She finally asked me not to squeeze so hard because apparently I was hurting her! The sidewalk looked wet and normal but it was essentially a sheet of black ice.

There was already a gaggle of kids at the bus stop. I asked Gwen if she wanted me to stay with her. I was kind of hoping I could just go home and work out. She said it would be nice if I would stay with her. Before we left I got a text and an email from the school district saying Gwen’s bus was late due to icy conditions. It’s typically late so who knew how late it would be now? It showed up about 20 minutes after it is scheduled to arrive.

While we were waiting the kids were ice skating in their sneakers. There were lots of falls. I thought the kids would be black and blue before they got to school! We also witnessed a car accident. That was crazy. I have no idea where this woman came from since I don’t remember seeing her SUV on the side of the road when we walked to the bus stop. Maybe she lives in the houses near the barriers. I don’t know. But she clearly was unaware of how slippery it was outside.

It’s not like there is tons of road for a driver to get up to speed on an icy day before getting to the T intersection where the bus stops. This woman came flying down the street. Not really. She was probably going 25 mph but on a day like today, it’s not wise. I assumed she would drive straight but at the literal last second she turned right. I knew she would crash into the car parked on the left side of the street. She didn’t turn early enough or break enough to avoid the collision. Her car slid to the left until it was directly in front of the parked car. Bam! At least the parked car stopped her momentum.

We all saw it. No one said anything about her driving. Just comments on how slick it is outside. We tried not to stare as she angrily got out and had to go knocking on doors to admit her mistake. I was relieved to know that no one was inside the parked car. I hadn’t paid enough attention to know if it was a waiting parent or an empty parked car. It was empty. One lady from that neighborhood said it belonged to the boyfriend of the house it was in front of. He came out. She drove further down the street and parked. He pulled into the driveway. Slipping as he backed up. We never saw the lady again. She must have taken her daughter to school out of sheer embarrassment.

The minor fender bender of an accident shut up my mind though. I hate driving. I didn’t trust myself to safely get down the hill and onto the main road to drive up more hilly side streets to get to the bus stop. That’s why I stopped at the top of my own street and walked in. Seeing the accident made me realize I had made the right choice.

Another mom drove her daughter to school after the accident. I had no problem waiting for the bus. The bus is probably safer than my car. Actually, Heath told me to drive his car since my van has too much power. I agreed with my next door neighbor who believed that the main roads are not slippery. It’s the side roads that are the problem. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get out of the neighborhood onto the main road though. No one judged me for my way of dropping off my kid. I stood firmly behind my California roots!

The sun came out earlier than Wally Weatherman forecasted. The sun has been out all day melting the ice. There may still be some in the shade. When Heath and I ventured out to the store we noticed some ice on the road just before turning onto the main road. That part of the street sees no sun in the winter. The rest of the week will go back to the low 30’s for a high. Good thing the sun has mostly dried out the ground. No rain forecasted until the weekend when the temperatures should also rise. What a crazy day!

Fast Experiment

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Out of the corner of my eye I saw a hand offering me a tray full of broken bread. I really didn’t know what to do. I had already taken a piece from another deacon. What was I supposed to say or do when a second deacon mistakenly stood at the end of the pew offering me and my family our second helping of the sacramental bread?

Being painfully shy, despite being a child, I reached out for the bread. I couldn’t hurt the kid’s feelings! My dad realized what was happening and stopped the transaction. I don’t remember what he said or did to turn away the young deacon. What I do remember were the words he said to me in jest. “Just because it’s Fast Sunday doesn’t mean you can have extra bread from the sacrament!” Yeah, I was embarrassed.

I don’t remember fasting even though I did once a month for nearly two years. I don’t remember if it was difficult for me. My memories are of my dad picking me up from class and walking me home for lunch whenever we went to church during the 11:00 am block. He would make a sandwich for me with some side of fruit or veggies. I would drink the milk he poured for me. It was probably good milk. I grew up on powdered milk but my parents would always buy a gallon of 2% milk for Sundays. I liked Sundays because the milk was better!

One Sunday my dad microwaved my sandwich and sat across from me at the table while I ate it. It must have been a Fast Sunday because he didn’t eat anything. I remember the roll was stiff and almost unchewable from the microwave. The sandwich tasted good but it was hard to hide from my dad the fact it was difficult to eat!

Three months before I turned 10 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I have never fasted again. The only times I have not been riddled with guilt on a Fast Sunday were those Fast Sundays I was pregnant. Other than that I hate Fast Sundays because I can’t fast. And I feel horrible about it.

I have gotten into some bad diabetic habits like not eating when my blood sugar is too high. This never lasts more than one meal in a row and ironically never seems to happen on a Fast Sunday! Until now.

Yesterday I got up and tried to wake up in the shower. It is going to take some time getting used to 9:00 am church. I really liked 9:30 better! Going back to the same schedule every LDS church in the world is on, except the place we lived in California, is hard! I know. I’m a big baby.

Anyway, I was so busy trying to whip myself into Sabbath shape, I forgot to check my blood sugar right away. I’m used to not having breakfast most mornings. One of those bad habits I’m in. When I remembered to check my blood sugar I saw that it was higher than it should be. But I didn’t want to give a correction bolus because I would need to eat in the middle of church. I don’t live around the corner, within walking distance of the church anymore. My dad isn’t going to walk me home and make me lunch.

I don’t know if this was a good idea or not, but I decided to check my blood sugar after Sacrament Meeting and correct the high then if I needed to. The correction would have two hours to bring me back into range. We would be home by then and I could eat lunch.

Only I forgot to check my blood sugar after Sacrament Meeting. I didn’t think about it again until we got home. It had only come down 10 points on its own. I took a correction bolus and decided to experiment. Could I actually fast two meals in a row? I figured if I couldn’t I was at least in the comfort of my own home and could eat as needed.

Apparently my basal rates are fine since my blood sugar was stable while I fasted. It only came back into range because of the correction bolus I gave. The kids were hungry. Fasting is hard. Gwen kept asking if it was time for dinner yet. The boys were much better about keeping their discomfort to themselves. I was not hungry at all. The closest thing I felt to hunger was when my stomach growled in the middle of church. It happened once and I never gave food a second thought after that.

The hard part for me was not being able to drink anything. If I was going to try this fasting experiment I was going to go all the way. Whenever I felt bored I looked at my mug full of water and had to remind myself that I couldn’t have any yet. Then I would think of what I was fasting about.

Not feeling hungry at all was strange indeed. I would imagine that the Lord asks us to fast because it is difficult. It’s a sacrifice for any human being to give up two meals in a row. The sacrifice allows us to gain mastery over our physical bodies while allowing us to be more in tune to spiritual matters. We grow closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior by making this sacrifice.

Only it wasn’t hard for me.
Shouldn’t it be?

I found myself being aware of this and wondering if I had actually mastered my physical body. I have tried in vain to sacrifice anything besides food for the sake of a fast. Nothing feels like a sacrifice. It is extremely frustrating to feel like I can’t fully participate in this one part of my spiritual development. I know the Lord understands my limitations and He is okay with it. It is still hard on me mentally to feel I’m not really making a sacrifice.

The kids devoured dinner. The food was delicious, of course. Heath loves making special dinners on Sundays. We both think we could have fed the kids stale crackers and they would have been just as thrilled! Unfortunately I overbolused for dinner. I didn’t end up with as many potatoes as I was expecting to get with my helping of pot roast. To make up for it I suggested we eat popcorn while watching a movie.

Inevitably several hours after our early dinner, my blood sugar plummeted. That’s when I felt hungry. Hungry, sweaty, panicky, and ready to eat anything in sight if it could only help me feel better.

Two things I have learned from this experiment:

  1. My feelings of hunger are dependent on a machine. For decades my glucometer has been telling me when I should eat.
  2. I will never do this again!

It was a dangerous experiment. I should just be okay with heartfelt prayers. I can’t fast, nor should I try.

Good Kids

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Parker is my little cartoonist in training. He draws the funniest pictures. This is the face of walking in a spider web. It’s from a collage of pictures he drew when we went out to eat over a month ago.

School started back up this week. The kids got Monday off to observe New Year’s Day. We told them the night before that they needed to go to bed on time and wake up on time so Tuesday wouldn’t be such a shock. Parker set his alarm and woke up on time. Gavin set his alarm and somehow slept through it. He woke up at 9:00 which I consider a win since he normally sleeps past 10:00 and we have to wake him up.

Gwen was up about the same time she normally gets up for school. She’s lucky because school starts so late in the morning. Her bus is scheduled to arrive at 8:47 but is typically at least ten minutes late.

It has been bone chilling cold this week. Mornings start out in the teens. The sun shines all day and we warm up to the low 30’s. With 80% humidity I don’t care who you are, that’s cold! The snow from late Saturday night still has not melted nor has the ice from the sidewalks so Heath drove the kids to the bus stop yesterday. He is such a nice dad he even lets them sit in the car while they wait.

On Tuesday the boys’ bus was late. So late in fact, that their dad took them to school. We got an email from the school district that evening saying that 17 buses wouldn’t start due to the cold! Today Heath had a call and wasn’t able to take Gwen. I took her because I love her. It was a whole two degrees warmer this morning! Tomorrow should be closer to normal so all kids will be back to walking to the bus stop.

Over the break Parker had to do a book report on a cereal box. He did a really good job. Heath helped him wrap the box in white butcher paper so it looked better. Parker glued his paragraphs and his cartoon drawing of the book cover onto the paper covered cereal box.

Yesterday his class was supposed to present. Completely unbeknownst to me, Parker woke up at 5:00 am to practice his speech! That boy amazes me. His teacher was very impressed with him. She told him that he was the only student in the class who had actually memorized his speech. The rest of the kids were reading straight off their cereal boxes! My heart swelled with Beverly Goldberg pride for my amazing snuggle monkey. What a great kid! Oh and he said he aced another science test too. Seriously … great kid!

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Parker draws the funniest cartoons of his brother and sister. This is Gavin talking randomly to fill the space, as he often does. The other night at dinner Gavin was saying that he’s learning about utopian and dystopian societies in English. I asked what book they would read as an illustration.

Gavin: The Giver, of course! That’s the book we always read when we talk about utopian and dystopian societies.
Me: Great! I love that book and I know you like it too.
Gavin: Mmm Hmm … I get to write another essay!

We call him Essay Man because he loves writing essays. And he’s really good at it too. He’s wrecking the curve in one of his classes. The teacher is kind of stupid about it though. Gavin has the highest score but she tries to grade according to the majority of students who more or less are failing her assignments. If I had my smart guys (Heath or Gavin) here to help me I would explain it better. The point is Gavin is brilliant. I love that kid!

He went roller skating for the first time last night. I know. My poor kids have led such a sheltered life. He wasn’t the only one who was on roller skates for the first time. Heath convinced his apprehensive deacons to try skating by promising them treats from the food court. One kid goes to that skating rink once or twice a week with his family. He wondered where his treats were. He didn’t get any! Gavin spent a lot of time hugging the walls but he did participate in the Hokey Pokey in the middle of the floor. Gavin also bargained with his dad that he would try skating if Heath promised not to take any pictures. Fair enough.

I have no new Gwen stories. She is still our little ambassador. Okay, one story. Tonight she did McKenzie’s hair in a fancy ponytail. She put in several fuzzy elastics spaced out evenly down the ponytail. The clear plastic ones are hard for me to get into the doll’s hair. Gwen was almost in tears she was so frustrated. I told her to use those hair ties that I never use in her hair. Anyway, the ponytail was supposed to look like Princess Jasmine’s hair with the bubble ponytail. She did a great job. I was happy for her.

Black, White and Gray of 2016

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Another year, another reminder of how far behind I am in publishing blog books! I have heard people say that they didn’t like 2016. Bring on 2017!

I look back on 2016 and my mind explodes a little every time. Obviously none of us can really anticipate everything a new year will include. We understand that there will be good times and bad times. Even then some of those bad times can still knock us on our butts and be the only thing we can remember about a year. That was not my 2016.

Some things that happened I anticipated. None of us had any idea we would move. To another state. A state we have been dreaming of living in since the beginning of our marriage. I tell you, had I known, I would have looked at my gray hair differently. I would have never asked my hairdresser to paint over the gray if I knew I would have to find a new hairdresser in a few short months after biting that bullet.

By the way, I haven’t found another hairdresser. I am currently rocking three hair colors – my own naturally colored roots, the silver and white pieces concentrated on top that laugh at me every morning, and the funky orange-brown color that the rest of my hair decided one day to suddenly turn into. Also, had I known that my hair would have a strange red quality to it even though the dye color had no red in it … I would have hemmed and hawed longer before choosing to walk down the path of no return that is hair dying.

If I had known I would change medical insurance twice in five months … I don’t know. Nothing would have changed. It’s not fun whether you know it will happen or not. Three insurance companies in six months is a lot though. Not my favorite part of this move.

I like me here.

I’m much more relaxed than I think I have ever been. Yes, I still feel anxiety but I realize it’s a natural reaction that anyone might feel. I don’t lose my mind over things anymore. I feel nervous and do it anyway. When I do the thing making me nervous, I somehow feel very calm while I do it.

This is a big deal because when my doctor weaned me off the crazy pills I had a strange reaction to the tune of random bouts of vertigo. Not cool. I think that only got better because the real test of being on my own mentally was dealing with three deaths in a year while everyone around me expected me to be a super hero about everything. It was nice to move and hit the reset button on a few aspects of my life.

I like how much happier I am. Writing comes much easier to me now. There is nothing worse than having writing be the best outlet and experiencing years worth of writer’s block. I love that part of my church responsibilities include blogging!

One thing I have learned is that traditions will change. I realize how much I did to help my kids have fun when they were on school breaks. We had a lot of fun together. But I don’t see us going to the library anymore. I don’t think I can even read aloud to them anymore. They have outgrown that in some ways. Mostly they don’t need me to entertain them because they have friends nearby that they can see. No need to make reservations for play dates. They can walk outside and find friends before reaching the end of the driveway. And our driveway is short! I don’t mourn the loss of these traditions either. I’m happy my kids get to enjoy childhood the way I always wanted them to.

It’s hard to explain how I’m different here. I just like me better here.

People like to make New Year’s resolutions. I’m still working on the resolutions I made for myself. These were made in the middle of years. That’s how I usually do it. Although I can’t help but want to jump on the weight bandwagon with everyone else at the beginning of the year.

(sarcasm font)
Jan 1: I must lose 90% of my total weight in two weeks.
Jan 2: I will only eat kale because it’s a superfood that used to be used as a buffet garnish.
Jan 3: I’m so hungry! Do shoe soles have calories?
Jan 4: The shoes were gross so I decided to eat nothing today … well, except for that handful of peanut M&M’s that I felt so bad about eating I actually baked, frosted, and consumed an entire cake before the end of an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was easier than watching My 600 Lb. Life.
Jan 5: I give up on my resolutions. Next year I will be better.

I think too many New Year’s resolutions are like this. Unrealistic.

Or this diet vlog! Hilarious! I hear people spout out these types of things every day and they totally believe it! Sorry, I mean totes believe it. It’s ridic.

I will say I am doing quite well with my exercise regime. My abs are sore which makes me smile. Heath is sore too but for a whole different reason. Yesterday he was throwing the Frisbee with the boys. He dove for the Frisbee and found a patch of black ice. He slipped and fell on his left side while catching the Frisbee with his right hand. Parker laughed so hard his abs hurt too.

Should we resolve to take him to a psychiatrist? There was no sympathy whatsoever. None. The boy laughed his head off and then stayed out there to dance on the ice. Too bad it didn’t hurt more when he fell. He got back up and waved at all of us laughing at him as we watched through the window. Still no remorse. I weep for the future.

Christmas Aftermath

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Gwen has been poring over her American Girl magazine trying to figure out how to spend her money. She has been through many different scenarios. It has been good for her to see how far her dollar goes in the American Girl world.

Any time she asked our opinion on what she should buy, I told her she would change her mind as soon as she walked in the store. I had a feeling that the store would have items not shown in the magazine and vice versa. I was right.

As much as the kids were looking forward to spending their money on Friday, Heath and I were looking forward to Café Rio for lunch. We heart Café Rio. It may be the only thing I bring to the relationship but he forgives me because he loves it too!

Rather than separate into teams, boys vs. girls, we decided to shop together. I have to give mad props to Gwen. She was excited to enter the American Girl store again but she held her cool. She was a little woman on a mission. She wandered seemingly aimlessly at first trying to get her bearings. We asked her what she really wanted before she could get completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices. She said she wanted a dog leash.

We found the case of pets and headed over there. She looked at her choices for leashes and chose a rainbow colored one. I was ready to tell her she could buy a dog if she wanted. The smell of endless possibilities must have gotten to me already! Luckily I kept my mouth shut. She wanted a dress in her size. We found the right one and I pointed out that only the doll dresses were on sale. Gwen wasn’t ready to part with that much of her money on a dress so she put it back.

When she got stuck and awestruck again we suggested she look at the Lea accessories. Lea is the Girl of the Year doll for 2016. She will no longer be sold. Gwen loves Lea because she identifies with Lea’s story. She’s adventurous, outdoorsy, brave, and loves animals. You should have seen Gwen’s face when we told her that she could assign any backstory or any characteristics to McKenzie. Shock quickly followed by twinkly imagination. Gwen liked the idea of buying Lea’s accessories for McKenzie and ended up getting some great stuff.

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Here is Gwen and McKenzie with the new stuff Gwen bought. A Lea movie, a book to complete Gwen’s set (she has the others on her Kindle already), the dog leash that fits Waffles perfectly (she got her last year at school when the Humane Society visited her classroom), a sloth, and a Lea accessory pack including passport, photos, National Geographic magazine (all doll sized), a braided headband, bracelet with turtle charm, and a camera.

Parker’s turn was next. He didn’t get any cash for Christmas but he had been saving his allowance money. I was impressed with his reasoning skills as well. The Lego store didn’t have the Lego Dimensions expansion pack he wanted so we tried Game Stop. No luck there either. He couldn’t find any Funko Pop characters he wanted so we went back to the Lego store.

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He chose the Batmobile. Because he spent enough money he was able to get a mini batwing for free. Both Gwen and Parker spent all their money. Gwen didn’t have the cash to cover the amount owed over the gift card. I helped her out with my cash. Heath said he forgot to get cash to pay the kids their allowance. He had enough for the boys but not Gwen. He assured me that she spent all her January allowance but no more. She is not in debt to us. Parker miscalculated tax and was short 87 cents. Heath helped him out.

workout-gear

Gavin used the money Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Steve gave him for workout clothes. There was one day that I used all the right words for him to understand me. Somehow he finally understood that it would be a good thing to have some pants and a jacket to wear over his uniform ONLY WHEN HE WAS BETWEEN RACES. I told him to run in his shorts and tank top but while he waited he should keep his muscles warm by dressing for the weather. He agreed. He also chose a new pair of shorts to practice in.

dressskirt

This is what Gwen got with the money Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Steve gave her. Gwen wanted a play dress really bad. She has grown out of all her dresses and most of her skirts and has been wearing jeans to school nearly every day. That’s like telling a person they can only breathe through a straw. Gwen lives for dresses and skirts. My mom asked what size Gwen was so she could buy a dress. I was concerned because we usually buy dresses much larger than she needs so we can get the length. I asked for the cash instead and that way I could just make something. I have fabric for one more dress but this was as far as my patience went before Christmas. I need to get pictures of Gavin in his new pajama shorts. It’s a little comical.

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In the meantime, Heath has been working on our latest cabinet/shelf project.

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It’s looking good! Heath got it to the point that Gavin could play the Xbox again. Everyone is playing Gavin’s new video game that finally arrived yesterday. It’s soccer with cars and it’s really fun. We also got the game my sister and her husband sent for Christmas. We will be trying that out tonight as we ring in the New Year with New York. Church starts at 9:00 am tomorrow so we really don’t need to see midnight this time.