Thursday, July 10, 2014

Needles, Bunnies, Wait Lists, etc.

Today was a busy day!  I had to take my 3 hour glucose test this morning.  I am very hopeful that this is the very last time I have to drink that incredibly nasty stuff!  I had 4 successful blood draws--and 9 total sticks, so it wasn't a great day for the veins, LOL.  One tech just wouldn't admit she needed help!  I had wanted to bring a sweatshirt or something to make sure my arms were warm, but I totally forgot when I walked out the door.  Oh well, it's over now!  I read half of Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I'm only years behind the rest of America, including Bob and Nathan!  What a fascinating book, though.  I am really enjoying it!  I love, love, love making connections and seeing patterns, so this book is right up my alley.  Reading it definitely made the time pass quickly.

While I was happily reading my book, Nathan was holding down the fort back at home with the 5 younger ones.  This morning, that entailed chasing down Bruno "Houdini" Bunny, which was not something Nathan had put down on his agenda for the day!  He was at the kitchen table when Anna and Grace came down.  They noticed Bruno sitting in the middle of the family room floor and mentioned it to Nathan, who was quite surprised, and wondered who had let him out!  Nathan had to corral Bruno after a merry chase around the main floor.  Bruno ended up in the study hiding behind our old printer, which now sits on the floor, on the bottom shelf of one of the bookcases in the study.  It was quite a trick to get him out, but Nathan eventually did, plopping him back in his pen--where Bruno promptly hopped over to his little house, hopped on top of the roof, and right back out again.  So after another merry chase, Bruno was recaptured and put into his little house, not just in his pen, to think about his transgressions while Nathan worked on a temporary solution to keep him in.  What he came up with has worked so far, and Bruno took a nice, long rest for much of the day, after all his exercise!  He is really missing Caleb, who has been gone this week.  Caleb has been taking him out the yard regularly for him to hop around.  I, on the other hand, have talked a lot to him, and petted him, but not done so much outside (sooooo hot this week . . . ).  So I guess he took matters into his own paws!  Silly bunny.

As soon as I got home, we got everyone into the car and ran them over to the L's house so that just Nathan and I could head over to our local community college to enroll in classes.  Nathan and I had gone over yesterday, but of course everything takes tons longer than you expect, so Nathan just took the math placement test.  Then we were late for his orthodontic appointment, so we had to get out of there before meeting with the dual-enrollment lady and actually enrolling (although we did register--that's different).  So today we went back to meet with her.  Nathan was able to enroll in calculus, but the only physics section was closed, so he's 11th on the waiting list there.  I'm thinking there are not going to be 11 people dropping the class, so I need to research the different online programs I've heard about.  Still plenty of moving parts in next year's schedule, that's for sure!

After getting everyone back home, I ran over to a chiropractor appointment.  A month or 2 ago, my chiropractic office sent out a notice that they had a new doctor on staff.  She was wanting to focus on pregnant women!  I've seen her now twice, and I like her just as much as my regular chiropractor there.  Hopefully keeping up with adjustments as I get closer to my due date will help the baby be in a good position.  She noticed a lot of knots in my back and shoulders.  NO idea why of course--my life is stress-free!  Ha!

Then it was over to Christine's to pray about some of those stressful situations, then finally home.  Oh, while we were waiting at the community college, the doctor called to tell me that I did indeed fail my glucose test, so I need to pick up my testing stuff and make my appointment to see the counselor person.  Well, this would be the 3rd time for that nutrition/how to test yourself session, so I'm thinking "no" on that, LOL.  Just one more stressful thing to add to my plate right now, not that failing was a big surprise or anything.  Oh well--12 weeks to go.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

PJOC Wrap-Up

Nathan got home very early Wednesday morning from 9 days in New Mexico where he graduated from the National Cadet Special Activity called "PJOC", which is a pararescue orientation course run by actual Air Force pararescuemen and SERE (survival) specialists.  These are part of the "Guardian Angel" weapon system, which is a large part of the Air Force special forces.  Nathan was very impressed with all the pararescuemen he was involved with.  He can't give a totally detailed breakdown of the course because part of the idea of it is pushing you beyond your physical and mental limits, and they don't want anyone going into it with too much outside knowledge about the specifics of what they are going to have you do.  For example, the cadets had to do a run of unknown distance.  Now Nathan knows about how long it was, but the idea was no one knew at the time, so they didn't know how to budget their strength.  And not everyone made it, either.  If you stopped running, you got picked up by the van and didn't have a chance to finish.

Nathan felt like he was well-prepared, physically.  They did a ton of push-ups, lots of running, some swimming, and various other (painful) exercises.  They also hiked all over the place.  They weren't actually on Kirtland AFB--they were in the national forest a few hours away.  Nathan lost 5 pounds over the course of the week.  They were given 2 MREs a day--one for breakfast at 5:00 AM, and another for dinner at 10:00 PM.  The rest of the day, they subsisted on the snackier parts of the MREs that they saved and carried in their packs.   Nathan had always wanted to try MREs, and now he's had his fill of them this summer, LOL.  They weren't allowed to heat them up, so they ate them all as they were, which definitely made some of the entrees better than others!

In the months leading up to the start of the course, they sent Nathan a fitness plan to complete, and Nathan was faithful to do that.  Like I said, Nathan felt prepared physically, but he felt the most important thing was to prepare mentally to challenge himself and go beyond what he thought he was capable of.

Another thing that was tested during the course was an ability to tie different knots.  Again, the PJOC people had sent out some links before the course so you could start working on them.  They said in the email that one reason people could potentially not graduate was not passing the knots portion.

A lot of the course was survival training.  They slept in shelters they made themselves, and learned other survival skills.  Teamwork was also really emphasized.  Nathan felt like he really bonded with all the other cadets.  There were 65 cadets there total.  The instructors were "squared-away", Nathan said.  They really helped everyone complete the challenges and go beyond what they thought they could do.  They were not "nice, fun people" until the end, but you could understand why they were so intense.  They have so much on the line in their profession.

So Nathan had a really great time.  He came back totally exhausted, but having learned a lot that will definitely help him deal with life.

He did have a bit of an adventure on the way home though.  He was woken up early Tuesday morning (4:00 AM!) by a recorded phone call from the airlines saying his flight, which was supposed to leave at 9:00 AM, had been delayed until 1:00 PM.  There were several other cadets on that flight to Dallas, and after waiting at the airport for awhile, many of them got put on other flights, but not Nathan and one other buddy.  They became very familiar with the Albuquerque airport!  Eventually Nathan flew out at 7:24 to Dallas.  When he arrived there, he had to get from the A terminal over to the C terminal for his connection to home.  My brother was also coincidentally flying out of the Dallas airport that night, to meet the rest of his family who were visiting other family in CA.  His gate happened to be right next to Nathan's gate!!  Isn't that amazing?!  So Nathan got to catch up for a few minutes with Uncle Dan before boarding the plane for home!  He eventually made it here at 12:30 AM.  We were really thankful his suitcase made it too--it was the absolute last one onto the conveyer belt, so we were getting worried!  Nathan slept in Wednesday morning, had a very informative lunch meeting with Christine's brother, who gave him, Isaac, and Caleb some career planning advice, and then fell asleep on the couch once he got back home for another 5 hours.  I think he has finally recovered, now that it has been several days!
 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

OB Appointment


I had another OB appointment today, and it was interesting.  I had to wait in the exam room for about 20 minutes before the doctor showed up, although that was just fine with me--it was so nice and quiet, and I read!  When the doctor walked in (she was an older, civilian doctor whom I had never seen before), she asked what we were doing today, and then answered herself by saying it was time for my 28 week labs and for my Rho-Gam shot.  Ummmm . . . I have never had one of those before, I told her??  She totally did not believe me, asking where I had had my babies ("Last 3 right here, Doctor!"), and launching off into a condescending lecture about why I needed the shot--"You see, your BODY makes ANTIBODIES . . ."  I told her I quite understood the physiology of the shot, but I had never needed one before, and this was my 10th baby, so I was not sure why I would need one now.  She said doubtfully that maybe my husband was Rh negative as well, but I knew that both Nathan and Luke have positive blood types, so I kept saying there must be some mistake.  She took down Bob's name and stomped off down the hall to check on his blood type.  She came back fairly quickly to say that someone had just marked my blood type down incorrectly, and that I was in fact, positive.  Yes.  Just as I thought.   So--no Rho-Gam shot for me after all.

After that bit of weirdness, she looked at my chart closely, and mentioned rather negatively my propensity to have big babies (as if I was unaware, LOL).  "We have GOT to get your weight under control!  You need to only gain 1 pound a week!  Once your glucose results are back, we'll get you on the GD diet, and NO MORE CARBS!"  I just said okay meekly, but when I got home, I checked my paperwork from last visit--so, my last appointment was 5 weeks ago today, and in those 5 weeks, I gained a total of 5 pounds, which appears to me to be (and I do have a degree in math, remember), an average of 1 pound a week.  So, that was weird too, but whatever.  I did gain more weight in the first trimester than usual, like I have said before, but I felt like I was doing okay lately.  I'm 27 weeks along, and I've gained about 25 pounds.  That is a little higher than I'd like to be, but it doesn't seem like obesity raging wildly out of control or anything.

Her next point was my "history of babies with shoulder dystocia", and that was why it was so important for me not to keep having these big babies.  Well, the one baby of mine that did have mild shoulder dystocia was Grace--who was by no means by biggest baby.  I told the doctor her story briefly, saying that I felt that the dystocia there was a result of the early induction and Grace not being in a good position, rather than her size.  She looked pretty dismissive of that, but again, whatever.  Hey--I am not interested in having huge babies or babies with shoulder dystocia either!  But it seems like I will keep having big babies, because, well, except for my 2 early Colorado babies, I've had big babies, gestational diabetes or not.

I asked what she thought of me flying at 33 weeks, and she looked absolutely aghast--"I would NEVER approve that for you!"  We had planned to drive down to TX in August to visit my brother and his family, but it turns out that I totally had the wrong date for when the community college starts classes (and we're hoping Nathan can dual-enroll for a few classes next year).  With the right start date, we don't have time to drive there and back, so we were looking into flying.  I was actually talking to my brother on the phone when it dawned on me that there might be an issue with me flying in my 3rd trimester.  I looked at the airplane regs, and it seemed like they all wanted at least a doctor's okay for travel after 28 weeks.  The doctor couldn't believe I had even ever considered it, and she said that was about the time they were going to start the non-stress tests because of my "advanced maternal age".  So now I am bummed about not being able to see Dan and Melinda and their girls, which we were all really looking forward to.  Maybe next May/early June, once testing is done?  I really want to get there before Nathan goes off to college.

So I walked into the appointment relaxed and feeling like everything was going well, and after a 15 minute appointment, I walked back out feeling old and obese, like a big pregnancy fail, LOL.  I made a note of her name, so hopefully I won't have to see her again.  Unfortunately, she is the one putting in the order for my 3 hour glucose test, which I'll take next week, hopefully, so she'll be the one to call me to tell me I failed.  Sigh.  I'm sure she will be encouraging about that!  Ha!  I've been trying to plan for the 3 classes I'm teaching next year, as well as memory work (and trying to figure out maternity leave for all the classes), I've got my guidance counselor hat on as I help Nathan with all the nomination/application forms for college, especially the service academies, we've got the same issues with our church that have become increasingly stressful, and I still don't feel like anything is really nailed down, as far as the schedule for the older boys for next year!  Let's add pregnancy concerns to all that too!  I thought summer was supposed to be relaxing . . . sigh.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pregnancy Exercise Video Comparisons

This post will have limited appeal, but I thought it would be helpful for anyone who is pregnant and looking to increase their fitness options by selecting one or more of the myriad of pregnancy fitness DVDs available at Amazon.  It's hard to get a good sense of the reviews there at Amazon, because one reviewer will be a triathlete when not pregnant, and another will be a total couch potato who just wants to get the blood stirring a bit, so it's hard to make a good comparison.

The day after I found out I was pregnant with this baby, we left for our big space-a adventure to Hawaii, where I ate a ton of delicious food.  When we got back to the states and got stuck in California, I ate a ton of junk food in an attempt to stave off the emotional nervousness about getting back home (didn't work, LOL).  So right away I started off gaining more weight than normal for me!

After I failed the 1 hour glucose test at 16 weeks, I got really serious about exercise, which is earlier than I usually do in pregnancy.  So since then, I have been exercising pretty much daily, and actually twice a day on most days.  Usually I do some sort of pregnancy workout video in the morning after breakfast, and then Bob and I try to go on a 40 minute walk after dinner (or I'll walk on the treadmill or do a lighter exercise video).  I had thought I had a somewhat decent selection of videos, but after a few weeks of them, it became obvious that I needed to increase my choices or go slowly insane, since I still had over 20 weeks of pregnancy left!  So I bought several more from Amazon, and now I have been using them for several weeks, so I think I can give a decent comparison/review for them all.  For the record, I'm in fairly good shape because I exercise a lot, but I'm not the kind of person that you would look at and think, "Wow! There goes an athlete!"  Especially while pregnant, LOL.  So definitely middle of the road, as far as average Amazon reviewer.

We'll go in chronological order.  I got pregnant with Nathan the beginning of October, 1996, so almost 18 years ago.  This Buns of Steel Pregnancy Workout video (yes, my copy is actually a videocassette!) is definitely an antique, having been produced in 1994, and it is the only workout video from that era that I still have around.  My kids think it is hilarious because the 3 pregnant ladies are wearing maternity leotards, and the head person wears shiny nude-colored stockings.  Yes, kids, exercise wear has come a long ways in 20 years!  The problem with only having "modern" videos is that they all mainly have some modified form of pilates or yoga.  This oldie actually has a little over 25 minutes of aerobics, and you know, it really feels good to move around!  This is not an extremely strenuous workout, but it does get the heart rate up, and it is not difficult to follow.  I like the instructor--she doesn't seem too annoying to me--so I think this video is good for something different, especially when it is rainy and I know I won't be walking outside.  After the aerobics section, there is a 15 minute section of toning, which mainly focuses on legs/rear, and not too much on arms or core.  But this video gives a nice 40 minute workout that is a good change of pace from my other DVDs.

Now the first thing you will notice about this next dvd ("Super SlimDown Pilates Yoga Blend) is that it is not technically for pregnant women.  I got it out of the library after I had Grace, and I liked it so much that I bought my own copy.  And when I got pregnant with Faith (and got a specific-for-pregnancy pilates video), I realized that all but one of the sections on this dvd could be modifed for pregnancy, just like in the pregnancy pilates dvd.  This workout really flows nicely, and I always just feel really good when I finish. It's a blend of yoga and pilates, and it works all areas but not in a vigorous, sweaty way.  The only part you can't do while pregnant is a section sort of in the middle where the instructor has you lay on your tummy and do several different exercises.  I usually do several sets of push-ups (like in the Perfect Pregnancy Workout), and when I'm done, I merrily skip to the next section.  That means it takes a little over 35 minutes instead of 40, but it's okay.  When I need a shorter workout, I often pick this one, and I still enjoy doing it when I'm not pregnant!

This "Pilates During Pregnancy" dvd is the one I bought while I was pregnant with Faith and started doing more exercise once I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  It is good and thorough, and once you do it, you will know how to modify a lot of basic pilates moves for pregnancy.  You will need several pillows to stack behind you.  There is a 15 minute ab section, and a 25 minute legs/thighs section.  It is fairly rigorous for a beginner, I would say, but doable.  Also, the instructor is in dark clothes in what looks like an airplane hanger with concrete floors and not much natural light, so it can be hard to see what exactly she is doing.   The leg section is actually harder than the abs section, and I have never done it without getting tremendous charlie horses in my hip muscles, LOL.   It's a good workout, but not particularly relaxing, so I don't usually do it in the evenings.

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout I also bought when I was pregnant with Faith.  The instructor is a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat, and she is in amazing shape (also, she has a nice little French accent).  I really like this workout because it really does work out every part of your body ("buddy" as she would say).  You do need a chair with a back, as well as some pillows.  You can use light hand weights for some of the parts, and she also gives intermediate and advanced alternatives to some of the moves.  I personally still can't do most of the advanced moves, even after using this dvd for over 5 years and 4 pregnancies, but hey, for those former triathletes, those modifications are probably excellent.  There are lots of lunges, push-ups, arm work, and other moves more like I don't know, calisthenics, maybe?  The one weird thing is this 3 minute "keep up exercise" she does at the end, where basically you do arm circles for 3 minutes while moving around.  I have read that this is supposed to help you practice focusing during labor, but I'm just going to say it has nothing to do with labor for me (and I am pretty positive I've been through labor more than she has, LOL), so I usually just skip straight to the cool-down, especially if I am in a hurry.  This is not an easy dvd, but none of the moves are really complicated or anything.  She also works out in a darkened gym, but at least there is a little more light actually on her, so you can what she is doing a little bit easier.

These last 3 dvds are the ones I ordered back in the middle of May, so I haven't used them for as long as the others.  The 10 minutes Solutions Prenatal Pilates is a good, not-too-hard workout.  There are 5 10-minute-long sections (buns & thighs, standing, core, flexibility, and total body).  I prefer to do all of them at the same time, so I can feel like I got a good long workout and used all parts of my body.  These moves are similar to the ones in the Pilates During Pregnancy workout, but for some reason they are not as difficult or uncomfortable, so I guess I prefer this one, although it is easier.  For any of you super-paranoid types, there are a few times (about a total of 2 minutes during the flexibility segment) when you are on your back, but not for long AND you are moving around, so you don't have to worry about pressure on your vena cava, unless you are really sensitive and feel faint or something.  It's never bothered me.

Suzanne Bowen's Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre workout is a good, hard workout.  I am always totally exhausted when I finish.  There is a section for the lower body, a section for the upper body and core, and a cardio sculpt section.  Then there is a short stretching section at the end.  I do either the lower body or the upper body section, along with the cardio sculpt and the stretching, and it ends up being about 50 minutes.  I do it just twice a week (so once with the lower body and once with the upper body sections per week), because the rest of that day I'm really tired, LOL.  She does these really intense sculpting moves, where you are up on our tiptoes, but also squatting, and by the end, my legs are just shaking and burning.  Whew!  Definitely the hardest pregnancy workout dvd I have, and I can definitely see doing it while not pregnant and still being quite challenged.  The moves are all pretty small, except in the cardio section, where you actually do move your whole body around.  The instructor Suzanne is not pregnant (there is also a lady who is 35 weeks pregnant who does the workout too--she is a fitness instructor herself, so she is already in fantastic shape), and Suzanne does these modifications for those in their first trimester or for post-partum.  I don't know if I'll ever get around to being able to do the modifications, LOL.  You need a straight-backed chair for this one too, and you can use light handweights for the upper arms section.  The one weird thing about the dvd is that the studio (a lovely open loft area, like in an old downtown area) has a big black pole in the middle of it, and the camera is behind the pole.  So when the camera scrolls across the 2 ladies, all of a sudden, there is a black pole down the center of the screen for a few seconds!  It's just weird, but not a big deal.  I kept wondering--why not move everything back a bit and put the camera on the other side of the pole?!

Last but not least, there is the Fit Mommy-to-Be Prenatal Yoga with Hilaria Baldwin (who sort of needs a bigger top, because she looks like she's about to fall out during some of the moves).   I really like this video for the stretching it provides.  I really started using it at my parents' house, when my hips were bothering me from the long drive in the big van.  There are 3 sections--one that focuses on the back, one for the hips, and one for "de-stressing".  The one for the hips was tremendously helpful for my hips.  I was really surprised at how much better they felt after these deep stretches!  Each section is about 23 minutes long, so I usually do 2 of them.  The instructor is in her 2nd trimester, and there are 2 other ladies doing the workout with her, one in her first trimester, and one in her 3rd (poor thing--she looks uncomfortable!).  They show modifications you can do if you want to.  You are supposed to have pillows as well as "yoga blocks", whatever they are.  I don't have them, so I just make do, and I've been fine without them (the blocks, I mean--I do have pillows, LOL).  This is a relaxing dvd, I think, and I do enjoy doing it in the evenings.  Then I feel nice and stretched out before bed, but my heart isn't pumping away, and I'm not all sweaty.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

USAFA Summer Seminar Wrap-up

So Nathan got back Friday from his week in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy summer seminar.  He was selected to attend--there are only 600 slots a year, with 3500 applicants, so we were really glad he was able to get in.
The candidates had to arrive at the visitors center between 9:00 and 12:00 Sunday morning, and it was impossible to get a flight out there at that time.  Fortunately, friends of ours in the Springs were kind enough to pick Nathan up at the airport Saturday night, let him spend the night there, took him to church Sunday morning, and then dropped him off at the Academy.  He had a great time at their house!  Eric is a VMI grad, so they were even able to have a little discussion about some of the merits of VMI versus the Academy.

When the candidates got there, they were issued a ton of stuff, all of which they were able to keep--3 sets of athletic clothes, 2 polo shirts, a backpack, water bottle, towel, sleep sack, and binder.  The main activity they did that day was an orientation briefing and dinner.
Monday was "doolie for a day", where they got treated like the 4th classmen ("doolies") do for most of their first year at the Academy.  So they were woken up at 5:00 by the cadre banging on their doors and shouting at them.  Then they had to do PT in the hallway until 7:00.  The candidates had been given knowledge sheets (with info about airplanes and some famous quotes) that they were drilled on, and they also were expected to know things about the other people in their element, like where they were from, favorite colors, etc.

Then they had breakfast at 7:00, where they had to eat like the doolies do, which is at attention--heads look forward, eyes only look down at the plate, feet are at a 45 degree angle, sit on the front 1/3 of the seat, hands are on the thighs.  You can move the hands to get one bite, which you have to move at a 90 degree angle (straight up and then straight over) to your mouth.  You have to put the fork back down, and your hands back on your legs, before you can start chewing.  You have to request things in a special way, even if it is right in front of you.  Not a relaxing way to eat, for sure!
Then they went to the parade field to do more athletics.  They did 8 stations, including running the bleachers, some pushups and ab stuff, sprints, and other game-type things.  Then they ate MREs for lunch, a highlight for Nathan since he had always wanted to try one.  He said it was pretty good (he had maple sausage), and that there was a ton of food in one.  Then they had a tug-of-war battle (Nathan's element won all his matches--above, they are celebrating one of them!), did a fireman's carry relay, and a push-up competition.  Lastly, they got to charge up the hill on the terrazzo, which is pretty symbolic for the Academy, because the cadets run up it when they are recognized (the end of their 1st year there), and when they graduate.

Monday night was an academic fair, where the candidates went around to different tables where the faculty for the different majors had set up.  They could ask questions and find out about the different options.  Before they walked around, there was an academic briefing, which Nathan found very helpful.  They talked about all the different opportunities available, like athletics, glider and jump teams, and so on, and they stressed how if you want to take advantage of these opportunities, then you should not pick a major which is going to be super difficult and suck up all your time.  Pick a major that you really like and are going to enjoy studying for, but not necessarily the most challenging one, especially if you want to go on and be a pilot.  It was a different perspective, and now Nathan is considering majoring in something like economics, which he had not really considered before, especially because at the Academy you already are taking so many classes including engineering classes as just basic requirements.
On Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, everyone had 4 classes.  Nathan took an economics one, one on officership, an intro to electronics one, and a laser and optics one.  His favorite one was the electronics one because they each built a circuit and soldered it to make a device that is sort of like a "magic 8 ball", where you could ask it a question, and it cycles through answers randomly.
Tuesday afternoon they did some various team-building exercises, including this spider web one, where you have to get each team member out of a different hole in the web, and if you touch the side while in the hole, you can't use that hole anymore.  There was also a v-line, where 2 candidates had to lean on each other as the 2 lines got further apart, and there was one where everyone in the element except 3 people were blind-folded, and the people who could see had to direct the blind-folded people, who were all holding ropes, in doing this complicated thing with a bucket.

The candidates also took a tour of the athletic facilities Tuesday afternoon, and then they took a practice candidate physical assessment test.  Nathan maxed out the sit-ups and push-ups, and he got 14 out of 18 possible pull-ups.  He wants to shave a little time off his shuttle run.  His mile was okay (6:30 but max is 5:20), but that is also at altitude.  He is faster here at sea level!  He really needs to work on the basketball throw, which is a totally useless real-world test in which you kneel down and then heave a basketball (from your knees) as far as you can.  The max is 102 feet, but the average is 70.  Nathan only got a 59, but it seems like the only way to improve is just to practice that one thing, since it's a weird move.

Tuesday evening, they divided into male and female groups.  The cadre also divided into male/female and were in 2 different rooms.  The girls all went in one room, and the boys in another, and you could ask any question you wanted about cadet life.  Nathan was not real impressed by this, as the bulk of the male questions either dealt with sex or were boring, dealing with either career questions, or admission and athletic questions that were going to be covered in later briefings everyone had to sit through.  Nathan was glad to have an element leader that was a cadet, because he talked about what cadet life was like, as far as scheduling and so on, and so that was helpful.
Wednesday morning was an outside PT session.  Here Nathan demonstrates his good push-up and squat form.  Then they had the other 2 classes, which were already mentioned.  Afterward, they went to the cadet store, and Nathan bought a watch cap.  At some point in there, they all toured the chapels.

Wednesday evening they had an ROTC briefing, but Nathan said that wasn't really helpful--it was mostly just stuff that is online or that we had already heard from people at VA Tech or VMI.
Thursday morning the candidates all toured the air field, but there were no pictures of Nathan, so sadly I didn't download anything to show here.  Nathan really enjoyed it though!  First they got to try on equipment from Wings of Blue, the Academy jump team.  They talked to the candidates about how you can get 5 free jumps, which Nathan was really excited about.  Next, they sat in an airplane and 2 different gliders, a trainer glider and a lighter one for cross-country competitions.  Then they had some glider pilots talk to them about that program.

After the air field tour, they had an athletic briefing.  Nathan is thinking that club sports are the way to go, as opposed to intramural sports (which everyone has to participate in), or intercollegiate sports (which have really grueling schedules).  But if you are on the starting team for a club sport, you can still get passes for some things, but you aren't missing as many weekends, and there aren't as many practices.  Nathan is thinking--rugby!

Then they had a character briefing with a really funny master sergeant who talked about your values, vision, purpose, and your influence on other people.  
Right after that briefing, still on Thursday afternoon, there was a career fair, set up like the academic fair, where they could walk around to different tables and talk to different active duty people about things like getting into a specific field, what the opportunities are there, and so on.  The guy above is a computer engineer, but Nathan also talk ed to pilots, security forces guys, and a drone pilot.

Thursday evening was a wrap-up final session, and some parents were there.  Not us, unfortunately!  Then all the candidates stayed up late talking.  Nathan had to get up super early to catch a 6:05 flight back home.  Some people stayed up all night and then caught the 3:00 AM bus, which is the one Nathan had to take. Nathan got home safely and had a great time.  I asked him what his favorite part was, and he said, "Everything.  It was fun just to be there for everything."  But after thinking more, he decided that the doolie day was the most useful experience.

Tomorrow Nathan leaves for another week of adventure.  This time he is flying to Albuquerque, where he will participate in a pararescue orientation course that is a Civil Air Patrol special activity.  He's been training really hard for this, as it will be physically tougher than the time at USAFA, but he is really excited about it!  I'll have the complete report when he returns next Tuesday . . .

Luke is also leaving tomorrow.  He's taking a tour of all the Norfolk-area military installations with a group from their Civil Air Patrol squadron, and he'll be gone until Thursday afternoon.  It is going to be so weird to have both of the biggest boys gone at the same time!  Caleb is quite excited about his chance to be the oldest kid!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Micah

Micah has had a busy past few weeks!  On the Wednesday before we left for Ohio, while I was at my OB appointment and all his brothers and sisters were otherwise engaged and not really paying any attention to him, he decided to be helpful and feed the fish for us.  So he dumped an entire ziploc snack baggie of fish food into the tank.  None of us realized anything was amiss until Bob got home and noticed that there were flakes of fish food all over the place around the tank--and hey, there was a layer of fish food flakes coating the gravel at the bottom of the tank as well!  This little episode brought back memories of the infamous microwave incident almost 2 years ago . . .  We commenced clean-up operations, trying to scoop out the food with our net.  We actually got out quite a bit, but it was a pittance compared to the amount still left!  So we had to call in the big guns--Thursday morning Amanda L came to the rescue, with her gravel vacuum thing, which worked amazingly well, as well as some water clarifier stuff.  She left all her supplies over here, so Thursday, amid all the packing and general chaos of getting ready for a big trip, we also vacuumed out the fish tank a few more times.  Fun!  I was not at all sure the fish would survive all this, since we left on that Friday for a week.  But when we got back home, amazingly all the fish were happily swimming around.  Whew!  So we reduced the charges to "attempted murder"--ha!  Micah has now definitely been told very clearly not to touch the fish food or really anything at all related to the fish, in hopes that there will not be a repeat attempt.

Micah's next big event happened last Thursday, when he went in for his first dentist appointment.  I know I didn't take the older boys in until they were 4, but hey, everyone else is going now, so why not.  Caleb had to get some sealants put on, so I made an appointment for Micah at the same time.  He was very excited about going, until the hygienist came out and actually called his name, LOL.  Then he got all mulish and stubborn.  I went back with him, which is a first for me.  The hygienist was an absolute saint, so kind and patient.  Micah glared at her and was not at all interested in the chair going back, so she pretty much stood up and cleaned his teeth all hunched over.  Eventually Micah sort of relaxed and watched the movie, so she was able to get done.  And by the time the actual dentist came by to examine his teeth, he even was okay with reclining.  Everything looks good, thankfully.  The whole time I alternated between reminding him to obey Mommy and do what the lady was telling him to do, and telling him that only big boys go to the dentist, and he was a big boy.  He was pretty happy when it was all over, and he got a new toothbrush and bouncy ball, so maybe next time he'll have a more cooperative attitude.

All the talk about being a big boy was part of a larger conversation we have all been having with Micah lately.  You see, Micah turned 3 on April 9 and still wasn't potty-trained, the latest so far of my kids.  In fact, he really didn't have any interest in *being* potty-trained.  He would pee on the potty when asked, but with the exception of only one time, he refused to poop on there, and he never peed on the potty of his own initiative.  So we talked about how Nathan, Luke, Caleb, Jonathan, and pretty much any other boy is in his life peed and pooped in the potty and wore big boy underwear--except Drew, who peed and pooped in his diaper, and was a baby . . . and Micah, who also peed and pooped in a diaper, so he must still be a baby as well.  Unfortunately, this air-tight logical argument did nothing to sway him, but we certainly brought it up often enough!  And I told him that his days as a "baby" were numbered, because when we got back from Ohio, he was going to start wearing big boy underwear and going on the potty because I had had it with changing his diapers.  Unfortunately, the week right after we got back was full of various appointments, as well as picking up the girls and getting Nathan ready to go, so it really didn't work to just immediately launch into my plan.  I was counting on starting the whole potty-training thing the following Monday.

Well, the Friday morning after the dentist appointment, Micah pitched a huge fit about getting his (incredibly soggy) morning diaper changed, so I decided I would just not put on another diaper.  After he settled down, I told him to pick out a pair of underwear, and he picked a Cars pair.  I had basically no expectations, but later that morning, while I was doing laundry, the surprising news came that Micah had popped on the potty!  Of his own volition!  We were all shocked!  And then he just kept right on going both pee and poop, all by himself, and he's been dry each morning since then.  So . . . that's that, I guess.  Here is Micah, enjoyed a little lollipop as a reward for his labors.
If you had ever even hinted that Micah would be the easiest to potty-train, I would have laughed myself out of the room!  But you know, potty-training (and learning to read) are skills that come to most kids pretty easily when *they* decide they are ready to do them.  So (in both cases) you can work and work and work, and be very frustrated because of a lack of progress, until *voila* the light switches on and suddenly they take ownership of it themselves and want it.  I am SO glad that I didn't try to potty-train Micah earlier, when it would have been a huge battle of wills (because everything else certainly was, and things like sitting in the carseat and getting buckled were much bigger issues to me than going on the big potty!).  During the school year, I really don't have the bandwidth at this stage of my life to constantly remind little people to try to go potty, and I definitely don't have the time to sit there and read hours of books to them while they try to decide if they need to go or not!  So maybe this will encourage someone whose child is really fighting something like potty-training.  You don't have to make this the hill to die on.  Eventually they will want it, especially if you are continuing to work on their attitude in other areas of their life!
And that brings me to the last new big thing for Micah--swim lessons!  He and Faith are taking swim lessons for 6 weeks.  Their first one was today.  Micah was (again) somewhat mulish at first, but the teacher was so patient.  He eventually was happily putting his face in the water and kicking around.  Faith is fearless in the water, so we thought it would be especially good to have her actually know how to swim so she is not a danger to herself and others!  Life is full of new and exciting opportunities for big boys and girls!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

All Together Again . . . Briefly


On Wednesday, Bob took the day off, and we had a "date day", as we drove into PA to meet my parents, Aunt Claire, and the girls at Cracker Barrel.  Unfortunately, they got stuck in a terrible traffic jam around Wheeling (an unfortunate omen for travel that day, for sure), so they were about an hour later than expected.  Bob and I had a perfectly lovely drive heading west, with hardly any traffic at all!  We were driving the Sienna, which was a wonderful change of pace from driving the big van.  I could drive that little van forever I think!

The girls looked so adorable in their matching Grandma/Grandpa camp outfits--so many people commented on them and asked if they were all sisters.  They definitely look like they are all related!
We had a lovely lunch together, and all too soon it was time to go out to the vans to switch stuff around.  After a sad goodbye, we got into our vans to head our separate ways.  Bob and I were parked facing I-70, and when I looked over there, I couldn't believe it--traffic was at a standstill heading west this time--just the direction my parents and their crew were heading!  Dad ended up creeping along until the next exit, where they bailed and found a different route back to Wheeling, so that didn't end up slowing them down too much.

They all got dinner at McDonalds, and then dropped off Aunt Claire, Emily, and Elia at the Columbus airport so they could catch their flight back to Dallas . . . or not.  Mom and Dad waited around a little bit, and Aunt Claire texted that the second leg of their flight was going to be delayed.  Eventually Mom and Dad started home, and when they were about halfway there, Aunt Claire texted with the terrible news that their flight wasn't going anywhere that night because of mechanical problems, and she was waiting in a huge line to find out if they would be able to go to a hotel! They eventually got put in one, but it was far away, it was late, they were all really exhausted, they didn't have any luggage, and the flight was going to leave at 0600 the next morning!  They slept but couldn't catch the 4:30 shuttle bus, so they had to take a taxi to the airport.  Eventually they got there, where they had to fly down to Tampa and then up to St. Louis before finally getting back to Dallas.  What a nightmare!!  Emily and Elia were real troopers the whole time, and Aunt Claire deserves some kind of medal for her efforts!  She flew back to Salt Lake really early Friday morning, and I'm sure it will take a month for her to recover from this whole adventure, LOL.
So we were all back together again for a few days.  Micah and Drew were so thrilled to have the girls back!  But it didn't last long, because this afternoon Nathan left for the USAFA summer seminar.  His flight got delayed as well, but it did eventually take off about 2 hours late.  At least it was a direct flight, so we didn't have to worry about connections!  He was really excited about this week, so hopefully he will have a really fun time!  I imagine that, like with the girls, we will miss him, but he will not really be missing us at all, LOL.