Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Curse of the Suit

Nathan and Luke both made it safely back to college on Sunday.  Luke flew back on a direct flight, so we thought there would be no problems.  When we took Luke down to college back in August, he decided to leave his suit here and just take down a pair of dress pants, white shirt, and tie.  Since being there, he decided there were some occasions where it would be nice to have a suit, so on the way back, he checked a (plain gray) suitcase to bring the suit and some other stuff back down with him. 

But unfortunately, the suit did not make it onto the plane with him.  Never to fear, though--it would arrive Monday, and they would bring it out to him! On Monday, a suitcase was indeed delivered to his dorm:

 So, clearly not a plain, gray suitcase.  Instead it belonged to some guy from Sweden.  At this point, the story began to feel like de ja vu . . .
 Last January, Nathan and Luke went to a big homeschool dance.  This picture was taken right as they were leaving.  At the dance, they all had their jackets off, draped on the back of chairs, and someone walked off with Luke's.  So they waited until the very end, and Luke took home the extra suit coat, which was pin striped, so clearly not his.  After numerous emails to the evite recipients and several moms homeschool loops, someone finally came forward who had a pinstriped suit but took home a black jacket that night. 

So we made the switch--and while this new suit coat was black, it wasn't the right brand name to go with his pants, and it also wasn't the right size.  So again, not the right coat.  After more fruitless emails, it seems there is still some clueless young man out there with a suit coat that doesn't match his pants.  In fact, it is probably laying in a crumpled heap on the bottom of his closet floor because clearly he never checked it, like all my emails implored everyone to do!  I threatened to pin a huge pink boutonniere on his jacket the next time he went to any sort of dance!

But we actually had a pressing need for a matching suit.  Luke was competing in the state mock trial tournament in March, so we finally bit the bullet and bought a lovely new charcoal suit.  It served him well for both the state tournament, as well as nationals.
It looked fine and distinguished . . . and it was the suit that didn't make the plane, and didn't get delivered on Monday afternoon.  Ack!  I was seriously wondering what kind of crazy bad luck made people careless about making sure we got the right suits. 

But hallelujah, this story has a happy ending!  The airline employees were able to figure out where they went wrong, and Monday night, Luke's actual boring gray suitcase was returned to him, with his charcoal gray suit inside, looking rumpled and definitely not like we had it dry-cleaned before we left.  But hey, we aren't having to go suit shopping again, so that is a huge win in my book!

And now Luke has 2 interesting airline stories to tell, the first being our emergency landing when we went down for a college visit! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thanksgiving Break

I am always so ready for Thanksgiving break, and this year was no exception!  It was a busy week, but also a lot of fun.
 Nathan came home last Friday night, and on Sunday, he and I did a joint presentation.  He is required to do a recruiting presentation, and I suggested doing it to homeschoolers, instead of finding a local school to go to.  We sent out an email to local groups, and people forwarded it to other groups.  We had a good turnout of very interested families!  My part was on applying for ROTC scholarships and the academies as a homeschooler, with helpful tips for the mom, who has to be the guidance counselor. It was very well-received!

We had been planning on having it at our house, but when more and more people said they were going to come, we couldn't figure out how to make it work, since our only TV screen is in our basement, it's not that big, and we don't have that much seating down there.  So the L's said we could use their family room, which was an excellent set-up! 
 Luke got home around 9:45 Tuesday evening.  Everyone was very glad to see him, especially Verity!  She  sat in his lap like this, even while he ate some soup and cornbread, until we put her to bed.
 For Thanksgiving, we went over to the L's house, as usual, with other families who are like family!  I made sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, plus cookie dough brownies, ginger snaps, and a chocolate pecan pie.  We had such a lovely and relaxing time, just visiting and hanging out for hours.  Some games were played, some football was watched, and the kids all bounced on the L's new trampoline that our 4 boys had helped Amanda assemble on Wednesday!  Best of all, I made enough of my dishes to have leftovers on Friday, with another turkey.  Yay!
 Because the weekend wasn't busy enough, we decided to celebrate Drew's birthday on  Saturday, even though it's not really until Thursday. But I'll be teaching all that day, and Caleb and Jonathan have Civil Air Patrol that night, plus Nathan and Luke won't be here. . . so clearly Saturday was a better day!  We had corn dogs for lunch, since that was what Drew  has been wanting for quite some time,and we opened presents after dinner.  The only thing Drew had asked for was a "Darth Vader mask", so I found one on Amazon, and he was super happy with that, as well as with his selection of candy. 
 A lady from our church was selling some boys dress-up stuff a few months ago, and I snagged it, thinking of Drew's birthday.  We have plenty of girly dress up stuff, but our boys' selection is pretty worn or already been thrown out!  This set had a pilot, firefighter, and police outfit, and Drew and Micah have already been having a blast dressing up in them. 

After presents, we had cake.  Drew wanted a Minion cake,specifically "Kevin".  I googled him to find  a picture to use as a model, and it turned out pretty cute!  It was super easy too, since I only had to shape the top.  I had also bought a new set of frosting color gels from Amazon to use, since I was really getting  tired of my Wilton ones (hard to get out, separated easily, and my latest black one was actually dark green!).  These were a "Good Cooking Gourmet Liqua-Gel Food Coloring" set of 12 colors, and I must say I was *very* happy with them.  They come in squeeze bottles, which makes them 1000x easier to get out than Wilton.  The colors were better, and they didn't separate (although in all honesty, I made the frosting and frosted the cake Saturday afternoon, and it was completely gone by Saturday bedtime, so there wasn't much time for colors to separate, lol).  I was able to mix lemon yellow and orange to get a perfect Minion color, and I mixed the 2 blues in the kit to get a better blue for Kevin's overalls.  The colors were so easy to work with!
Drew was adamant that he would light the candles, but that ended up being a team effort with Luke helping him hold down the button.  Nonetheless, he got them all lit and quite proud of himself!  Five is such a  fun age.  He is looking forward to his "real" birthday on Thursday.  He wants pizza for his birthday dinner, and a Thursday is definitely the perfect night for that!

Nathan  left this morning, and Luke is at the airport now, so break is officially over.   We just have to make it 3 more weeks until Christmas break . . . . 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb turned 16 at 1:10 this morning!  We did not wake him up to celebrate, lol.  I did make cinnamon rolls with breakfast--but in full disclosure, they were the Pillsbury ones.  Then it was off to church, where Caleb was slotted to work the infant nursery!
After a busy afternoon where another friend hung out at our house for several hours, Jonathan competed in the Cyber Patriot competition, and Bob worked children's ministry the evening service at church, we finally were able to have Caleb's birthday dinner.  He picked "chicken packets", pierogies, and cabbage.  That's his Polish/Slovak blood speaking!
We have this ongoing "tradition" (joke?) where we reuse the same birthday gift bags for each birthday.  Hey, why buy new gift bags all the time??  Also, I do
We had already gotten Caleb what he really wanted, a nice knife, so he got a giant box of Frosted Flakes (because he loves that cereal, and I never buy it), some candy (Tootsie Rolls, Skittles, and Swedish Fish are his favorites!), a new wallet (one without velcro, like his old one), and a nice dressier silver watch to wear with his blues. 
He and the girls made the cake last night, while I was out celebrating a friend getting her doctorate.  We had so much fun that I stayed out way later than I was expecting, so I was glad they could mix everything up themselves!

Caleb decorated the cake this afternoon with the symbol from "Overwatch", a computer game he likes to play.  He's getting quite good at decorating his own cakes! 
Here is Caleb, helping Micah light all 16 of his candles.  Caleb loves his younger siblings, especially Verity!  Good thing for her he still has 2 1/2 more years until he heads off to college!  He has really stepped up to the challenge of being the oldest one at home this year.  He is looking forward to getting his driver's license in February, the soonest he can get it.  He's already done the computer part, and we're working on finishing up the 45 hours of driving with a parent.  Then he will just lack the 14 hours of "behind the wheel" training, and he'll be done!  

I will say, it has been hard going from 3 drivers back down to just 2!  Once he gets his license, I don't think we will have another time where we will only have 2 drivers again . . . as long as the kids are diligent about getting their licenses as soon as they can!  I am really looking forward to having 3 drivers again, even though it will be at the end of basketball season, as opposed to the beginning.  

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Weight (Non)Loss Update

So to recap, I did a Whole30 in April, 2016 (here's my starting post) and lost about 12 pounds by the end of it (here's a post from day 26).  Then I went through the summer of 2016 trying to have a really short eating window, and by the end of that summer, I had lost about 19 pounds.  Yay!

The only problem was, all that focus on what and when I was eating was simply not sustainable through the school year.  So although I tried to eat less carbs, I just pretty much slid back into regular eating habits.  Also, I exercised pretty much not at all last school year.  It just didn't happen, not even walks in the evening with Bob.  So as you can imagine, buy the end of the school year, I had regained all the 19 pounds I had lost, plus an extra 2 or 3.  Then in March I read The Secret Life of Fat, the most depressing book I've read for awhile, and I realized it would be very, very difficult for me to ever actually lose this fat permanently, so maybe a better approach would be exercising and feeling healthier, and just come to terms with my perpetually pregnant belly.

With that in mind, I contemplated asking my homeschool email loop if anyone could recommend a gym where overweight, middle-aged, frumpy women who look pregnant might possibly not be mocked.  But then!!  A homeschooling friend that we have known for years posted that her daughter, an exercise science major who had just finished her junior year of college, was looking for clients to do personal training for, at just $15 an hour!  I felt like that was a direct answer to prayer, so I emailed right away.

I met with Kaitlyn for the first time right before we left to visit my family in Ohio in June.  She had me do some exercises as an evaluation of where I was, and where my weak areas were, including running on a treadmill for a few minutes really fast.  As I was getting on the treadmill, I joked about how I've wanted to start running again, but each time I run, I end up having to go to the chiropractor 3 or 4 times to get my back and hips right again.  Haha!

Well.  Two days later we left to drive to Ohio, and by then I literally could not stand up straight.  I spent the week in Ohio on my back, stretching 6 ways to Sunday and taking motrin around the clock, but I was in so much pain.  I could not wait to get back here to see my chiropractor!  I saw him 2 times, and then I started really feeling better.  I was sooo discouraged though.  Here I am, trying to get healthy, and now I can't even move?!  I was so ready to throw in the towel already!

But Kaitlyn encouraged me to hang in there.  Best of all, she was able to really see the areas that were so weak--specifically my hips, which I had no idea were the weak link!--and tailor my workouts to strengthen those areas.  It was hard at first.  My poor legs and hips!  I hadn't realized what an exercise rut I had been in (prior to 2016/17, where I didn't even exercise at all, lol).  I would walk a ton, and do a pilates dvd I really liked.  But it turns out I wasn't even doing all those moves correctly, because that way bothered me and didn't feel "right"!  So I was great at what I did--and I never did anything different or challenged any other muscle groups.  And in the meantime, my hip muscles especially got weaker and weaker and weaker.  Kaitlyn was so very helpful, and I really enjoyed all my times with her, because she was always so encouraging.  Just what I needed!

I exercised with Kaitlyn twice a week all through the summer, and I did my regular walking in the mornings during swim team practice.  I started feeling much stronger, and I definitely noticed a difference in my back and hips.  Even during all the hours of driving down to Alabama and back to drop off Luke, my hips and back didn't hurt, like they usually would!  Progress!

But I lost no weight.  None.  I felt better, but I don't even think I looked any different.  Oh well though-that was what I had decided in the spring, right??  Focus on exercising and becoming healthier and don't worry about the scale?

I had a physical the end of August, and my numbers are pretty good.  I am "prediabetic" but holding steady there--the A1C number hasn't changed in the past 2 years.  Everything else was good, although my vitamin D level was low, which was weird.

I was able to exercise every day through September, but now the wheels have fallen off that good plan, as always seems to happen.  The things I am teaching require more prep, Micah is being a real pill (more in a different post), and I am just so tired and worn out and unmotivated.  Bob and I have been walking probably 2-3 times a week, but nothing like we were doing, and I was getting up every morning to work out as well.  I don't see me getting more motivated with the shorter, darker days either, lol.  The only thing I am really doing, diet-wise, is trying not to eat much wheat.  Eating that definitely seems to cause me to retain water.  Otherwise, I just don't have the bandwidth to figure out whole30 type meals right now, and honestly, if I lose the weight but then gain it back as soon as I eat more grains--well, that just seems silly.  I'll just hang out where I'm at, and hope I can get back to more exercising.  In my spare time!  Ha!  I'm not sure if I'll ever be brave enough to try running again . . .

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Happy Halloween/Blog Anniversary!

My blog is been sorely neglected of late, but I'm going to try to do better for November.  And what better way to start off than by remembering that I have been blogging since Oct. 30, 2004!  Here is my riveting second post, on what we were doing for Halloween that year. 

Fast forward 13 years, and we again went to Chuck E Cheese with our same friends, the L's and the P's, along with some others!  We took 2 years off and went to an indoor golf place, but this year we were back to the old familiar favorite, lol.  Drew and Micah were thrilled!  Drew especially had been asking to go to Chuck E Cheese for a very long time, since we pretty much only go there on Halloween.

But things were not exactly the same.  Caleb and Jonathan stayed home to get some work done, and Anna and Grace went to a church party with a friend.  So we only had 4 kids there, which felt weird--we were a normal sized family!  No one looked even slightly weirdly at us when we came in or when we left!  Also, the pizza was better than we remembered, which was a very welcome change, lol.

All 4 kids had planned on wearing costumes, but then they all decided it would be to much of a hassle, and they wouldn't be able to get full enjoyment of the games and the crawly-tubes in costumes, so they didn't end up dressing up.  But for the record, Faith would have been a cowboy, Micah a soldier, Drew a knight, and Verity a princess.  Fortunately they spend a good part of each day dressed up, so they didn't feel like they were missing out.
Verity did wear these amazing boots that the G family gave us.  They actually passed them on to us when Faith was little, but her feet were already to big to wear them.  So these boots have sat forlornly in our shoe tub in the basement, just waiting for Verity's feet to be big enough, and now they are!  As you can imagine, Verity loves them.  I do not give high odds for the ball things on the sides to last through the whole winter though.
Many games were played (the 4 kids were happy to have less people to split the "tokens" up with), but my favorite stops are the ones that give you pictures.  Like this great view of Drew's right ear!  Haha!  Enough tickets were earned to get everyone some airheads and a few odds and ends, like a whistle that fortunately isn't very loud, and a humongous purple ring that Verity promptly lost as soon as we walked in our front door.  I guess it will turn up eventually?  

And I went to Walmart today to buy 3 bags of half-price candy, so everyone is happy!  With Rivendell, we didn't do anything especially "Reformation Day" oriented, although we did say the timeline, and that is one of our points.  So happy Halloween/Reformation Day--and happy blog anniversary to me!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Getting Old


Yesterday I took a big step--I bought a pair of reading glasses!  Now I can practice my stern librarian look, as I glare over the top of my glasses . . .
Every year, I have been dreading more and more opening my teacher manuals for BJU science.  The student text pages are reproduced in there, but at only about 2/3 the size, so there is a margin around the edge for some extra notes.  This makes the print extremely small . . . and I am dealing with that small print more and more poorly each year.  

A few days ago, I broke down and tried Bob's reading glasses on.  Wow!  The print was clear, and I wasn't straining!  So I bought myself this lovely purple pair at Walmart yesterday.  I'm still not exactly sure I got the right ones, but they definitely help.  Maybe this will make my prep slightly less onerous, lol.  It is definitely a clear sign of my aging though.  It looks like I stopped having babies just in time!  Ha!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Happy Birthday, Verity!

Verity officially turned 3 on Sunday, but we celebrated the entire weekend!  We started by bringing her cake to Bible study Friday night.  I made a cake that looked like her favorite "princess leotard" that a friend passed down to us several years ago.
I also made this cake for Faith's 2 year old birthday, because it was also her favorite thing to dress up at that age.  I did a better job this time with the proportions.  Last time I made the bodice way too wide.  Regardless, Verity was quite pleased with it!
She was so happy that her birthday was finally here!  Our last family birthday was Nathan's, back at the end of June, and so we've been telling her that her birthday is "next" since then.  So naturally she has been eagerly talking about her birthday since then, lol.
We opened presents Saturday night and had the last few pieces of cake.  Verity loooooves Minnie Mouse, so we got her this little Minnie Mouse headband, plus a Duplo set with a Minnie Mouse character (and a pink airplane!), and also a flower nightlight for her room.  She loved those things, but the main thing she was excited about, however, was candy.  She's picked up on the tradition of giving each kid some candy on their birthday, so for the whole month of August, she would say, in a happy, sing-song-y voice, "It gonna be my birthday soon, and I gonna get my own CAN-NY!"  So she was thrilled to have some gummi bears, M&Ms, and so on to call her own!  [Although it appears Drew ate a rather large share of it, claiming she "gave" it all to him, so now we are learning about "coercion", and he will be sharing his birthday candy with Verity . . .never a dull moment!]  But she hasn't been upset about it, lol--her bigger siblings seem to be more upset than her!
Verity is such a happy girl most of the time!  She's very confidant and independent--who wouldn't be, with all these big siblings watching your back?  And if you ask her who loves her, she will rattle off a huge long list of names of family members, friends who are like family, etc.  Don't get her started!  Being the youngest of 10 definitely means there are so many people around to love you, and she is happy to bask in the love and attention!