Sunday, August 14, 2016

Days of Peace and Quiet

Two years ago was a really, really difficult year.  Verity was born in September, she had all her nursing/weight gain problems, I had all Nathan's college application stuff, and I was teaching anatomy & physiology, life science, and Latin.  Last summer I was really pretty depressed and on the edge of a breakdown, at least as far as homeschooling was concerned.  Driving back to VA from Ohio was the hardest thing I've ever done because I just did NOT want to go back.  I was so done.

Then Bob's company paid for us to go to Vail for 4 days in September, and it was the most amazing time ever.  My parents came out to VA to be with the kids, and Bob and I were away, just ourselves, for the first time since I was pregnant with Jonathan in 2003.  I honestly think that weekend away was what allowed me to get through this last school year after being so depressed and numb during the summer.  I had no idea that I would be so refreshed by just a little time away where no one needed me, and I didn't have to do anything.  It was a gift from God.

Last Saturday, as we were driving home, we stopped to eat dinner with Nathan.  After dinner, Bob and the rest of the kids drove home, I dropped Nathan back off at WSS (remember, we left a minivan up there when we were driving out to Ohio the previous weekend) . . . and then I drove off all by myself to town!  I met my friend Carri (we were on staff at WSS together back in the glory days, lol, and we've kept up over facebook and even a visit to their house in KY through the years), and we had a lovely little slumber party at the Super 8!  She got there about 5 minutes after I did.  We started talking, and we kept right on talking.  Eventually we turned on the Olympics, but we continued talking.  We talked for awhile longer even after we turned out the lights!  And we started talking again before we actually got up Sunday morning.  In fact, we talked so much that we missed breakfast at the hotel, so we drove over to Denny's.  We got there around 9:45 . . . and we stopped talking at 12:00 when we realized we had missed church at the Springs, and we had better get on back there so we didn't miss Sunday dinner!

We both have 10 kids, and we are right there in the middle of the same struggles, with older kids as well as younger kids.  It was so nice to just talk about things with someone who knows what I'm feeling, and who just listens.  We both feel "done" with homeschooling--but of course we aren't anywhere near done, so we have to just buck up!

We sat at lunch with Christa, another friend from way back who has 8 kids and is also in the same boat.  We commiserated about feeling overwhelmed, constantly tired, etc.  It was absolutely lovely, and really, so encouraging.

After lunch, people picked up their junior staff kids and left.  And then . . . it was pretty much just me, along with all the senior staff, who were having a little end-of-summer retreat/clean the hotel session before they left on Tuesday.  See, we knew Nathan needed to get picked up on Tuesday, and I wanted to see Carri Sunday.  Bob was the one who suggested that I stay up at WSS all. by. myself. Sunday night through Tuesday, instead of coming home Sunday afternoon and driving back up Tuesday at lunch to pick up Nathan.  It sounded pretty extravagant to me, but wow--what an amazing gift!  Time to myself!
I went on long, quiet walks.  I didn't have to get back to check on anyone!  I read.  I think I finished 6 books, and none of them were school-related!  I rocked on the porch and gazed out at the trees and hills.  I made some lists and contemplated some curriculum changes for the girls.  I went into town Monday afternoon to use the coffee shop wi-fi so I could catch up on emails, and then I just drove around town, looking at old houses, since I didn't need to be anywhere.  It was lovely.

I really am quite introverted, and sometimes it is hard to live with so many people around me all the time.  But being able to recharge like this, all by myself, was really a good thing, and it hopefully will put me in a better frame of mind to get through this next school year, another one where I have to do all the admissions stuff, and deal with all the emotions of another kid graduating and heading off.  

Sometimes I try to think ahead to when all the kids have graduated, and it will just be peaceful and quiet around me all the time.  I know I'll miss the chaos and noise at least a little bit, and at least sometimes--but that's at least 16 years away, so it's hard to even really think too hard about it, lol.  In the meantime, I'm especially thankful for these brief little respites, and for a husband who is generous enough to see I need them!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Week of Fun and Family

We had a great week in Ohio!  We drove out last Saturday, dropping a mini-van off at WSS on our way for Nathan to use.  We rushed to get to Ohio because Saturday night I had a little mini-reunion with some people from my high school class!  We had such a nice time visiting and re-connecting.  I've heard people say they don't like facebook because they don't want to hear from people in the past, like high school, but I think this is one of the best things about facebook!  I liked my high school classmates, and I really enjoy seeing them and hearing what they are up to!  Plus, we ate Marion's pizza and had delicious cake that Jenny brought, so it was a total win!
Sunday was church and then rides in the old 1928 Model A Ford of my dad's.  Then, for a change of pace, we did facial masks, which was so fun.  Some Korean friends had given my parents the animal and Shrek masks (that's what my dad is wearing, in case you couldn't tell), but they only had 4 of them--not even enough for all 5 girls!  So Bob and I had to make an emergency trip to Walmart to get the blue masks as well.  That gave us enough for all who wanted their skin revitalized and refreshed!  It was a lot of fun, and Verity wasn't TOO scared.
Monday we wanted to go bowling, but we forgot that the bowling alley is (still) closed on Mondays.  Whoops!  So we headed to the park and brought Chick-Fil-A for a picnic lunch.  It was overcast but oh, so humid.  We melted!  Everyone except Verity had fun, and that's because she was being a total crab for some unknown reason.
Tuesday was Kids' Day at Youngs, so Grandpa, Uncle Jim, and Bob took everyone except Verity miniature golfing, which Micah and Drew loved.  Then Grandma, Aunt Claire, Verity, and I met them for lunch and ice cream, and of course the obligatory barn tour.  There was a goat who must have been due any minute with twins and looked extremely uncomfortable.  Poor mama!
This is the cutest picture of Verity with her adored older brother, Luke.  Luke got to try his hand at driving a stick shift Tuesday night when Grandpa let him drive the Model A!
Thursday we went back to the base bowling alley, which was open.  We took up 3 lanes, and everyone had fun.  The girls had gone last week, as past of Grandma/Grandpa camp, and Grace didn't have a very good time because she didn't do very well.  But this time she listened to some good advice from Uncle Jim, conquered her fear of being up there all by herself, and was thrilled to bowl a 98.  Next year, 100!
After we bowled 2 games and ate lunch, we were dismayed to discover our big van wouldn't start.  Bob ran over to the BX and bought jumper cables, and we got it started, but that was unsettling.
Thursday morning the big van once again wouldn't start, but we ladies went out to Mimi's for a lovely breakfast in 2 other vans, and the men all went out to First Watch in another van.  But when we all got back, getting the big van fixed because a top priority.  We decided it must be the alternator, because I was sure we had replaced the battery lass than 2 years ago.  But then my blog came in very handy--I knew we had gotten stuck at TNT when the big van wouldn't start, and Nathan and Isaac had to come rescue us.  But when I went back and read my blog entry, I realized the battery wasn't the issue then, and we didn't actually replace it.  So we ended up replacing the alternator and the battery.  My dad was able to get a garage to work on our van right away, which was a miracle, because the soonest appointments anywhere were the next Wednesday, and THAT wasn't going to work!

Thursday after we went to a local waterpark.  I used to go there with the older boys when we were stationed in Ohio, but it has really changed since then!  The kids had a really fun time.  Grace faced her fears and went down a really steep water slide as well as diving off the indoor high dive!  Anna did too, although she wasn't as initially scared.  We went at 3:00, which was perfect timing, as the daycares were all leaving!  I think Micah, Drew, and Verity had the best time though.  They loved the place!  It was good to get that much energy run off of them.
Friday we sadly had to say goodbye to Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Emily, and Elia, as they flew back down to Texas.  We had hoped our 3 girls could go to the airport with them to say goodbye, but sadly the van wasn't finished yet.  This did allow Bob to take Anna and Caleb to the Pass & ID place on base.  Anna never got her first ID card, even though she turned 10 in March, and Caleb's had been expired since February (and he looked like a toddler in his picture, lol).  We had called to make an appointment before we drove to Ohio, and the soonest appointment they had open was in September!  But when they walked in, there were only 3 people ahead of them, and they were back home in an hour!  It was such a blessing to be able to get that done there, because it is a real pain back in DC.
Friday night Luke and I stayed up late to finish this puzzle we had been working on.  I love doing puzzles--it's such a quiet activity!
Saturday morning we had to leave early so we could stop in PA and visit Bob's parents!  His sister Ann and her husband were there, as well as his brother Paul, and a little later his sister Jane stopped by.  She brought ice cream, which was a popular gift on a warm day!  We spent a few hours visiting there, and then we drove on to WSS where we picked up Nathan and took him out for pizza.  It was so good to see him--it's hard to believe his summer there is almost done!
So we had an absolutely lovely week of vacation, which of course ended way too soon.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rest and then (Finally) Productivity!

We had a lovely and refreshing weekend in Ohio.  We left Thursday afternoon, after Bob worked half a day, and we drove straight to my parents' house to drop the girls off for Grandma/Grandpa camp.  To say they were excited would be an immense understatement, and they could not wait until Aunt Claire, Uncle Jim, Emily, and Elia got there on Saturday!  We then drove over to Amy's house, where we spent the rest of the weekend.

It was so wonderful to catch up with her!  Saturday Bob took Micah, Drew, and Verity to a (really, really hot) open house at the local police station, while Amy and I went out for lunch and hit some teacher supply stores.  I finished a book and just generally relaxed, which was so nice.  AMy and Jason even took us to a new (to us) ice cream place Friday night!  I got "chocolate hazelnut", which was a really dark chocolate ice cream, and let me tell you, I highly recommend it!  It was SO good!  Definitely a close favorite with Young's chocolate peanut butter, a flavor which has never really had any competition with me before.

Jonathan had a grand time with Jacob, playing as many different kinds of video games as possible in just a few short days.  Jonathan was the only "big kid" for us, so that was really weird.  Luke was down in Florida for a Civil Air Patrol activity.  He was going to get back Saturday night, but we realized before we left that he hadn't taken a key.  Caleb was still not feeling real well with his really sore throat, and he was also pretty wheezy.  I started wondering if an 8 hour trip and then a weekend in a house with a cat would really be the best thing for him.  Bob agreed, and so we asked him what he thought about it.  He chose to stay home, so we let him--which also did mean he could let Luke in.  Caleb had a restful, quiet time here alone.  He did comment that quiet was nice, but now he could see why people didn't want too much of it, lol.  I left him leftovers, but his throat was so sore, he really hated eating.  He subsisted on a few bowls of oatmeal and a few of chicken noodle soup.  He's (finally!) feeling some slight improvement, but he ended up losing about 11 pounds, which, unlike his mother, he does not have to loose!  So now we will have to work on fattening him back up again.
We said a sad goodbye and drove back home Sunday.  Again, it was SO weird to be driving the big van with just 4 kids!  We listened to Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, which passed the time quite nicely.

Once we got home, I got to work.  I had a list a mile long of things I hoped to accomplish while the girls were gone.  It doesn't seem like taking away just 3 kids would really make a big difference, but it really does change the dynamics around here!  When the 2 girls were at Camp Caleb, Faith spent most of the week over at the McC's house, and I was able to put together the biology syllabus for this year, and figure out what labs we will be doing.  This is just a regular biology class, using BJU's high school biology book, so it is a class I've never technically taught before.  It's a good, meaty class, but it will certainly be easier for me compared to AP bio.  Yay!

So far this week, I've tweaked the life science syllabus.  We are using a new edition of that book, plus I'm not having a baby.  I've taught that class 3 times for Rivendell, and I've had a baby each time, thus requiring a block of "maternity leave" in the schedule!  It was VERY nice to make the schedule with no maternity leave.  

I also made up my lab list of supplies to order, which is always a big undertaking. I was thrilled to discover that it looks like "Bio Corporation", where I always bought my dissection specimens, has now become "Biology Products", with a similar inventory and prices!  I was worried when I couldn't get Bio Corporation's website to work anymore.  I haven't yet placed my Home Science Tools order, but I should be able to finish that this week too.  I stayed up late Monday night to finish listing out what I needed to order, and I did order the dissection specimens, paying for the order with my Sam's credit card.  When I walked back into the study to turn out the lights, I noticed my credit card sitting there on the desk, and I picked it up to put it back in my wallet.  The only problem was, it never made it there!  Tuesday morning we took Bruno to get his nails trimmed, and when I went to pay, it wasn't in my wallet.  As soon as we got home, I searched around, but it wasn't anywhere on any flat surface in the kitchen or the study.  I was pretty panicked, but the Lord prodded me to go get the bag of kitchen trash out of the big trash dumpster.  I had taken it out there that morning, when I wheeled the dumpster to the curb.  I got it out, went down a few layers, and voila--there was my shiny silver credit card!  I was SO thankful that we took Bruno in.  Otherwise I wouldn't have even realized it was gone before the trash men came to empty our trash!  So that was a big praise, as well as a reminder that I am not really at my best late at night, lol.  The credit card was with some random paper trash and capless markers that I had picked up from the study on my way out to put my credit card away.  It didn't take me very long to get distracted and forget all about the credit card!

I've been working on memory work for this year too.  It's one of my favorite years (okay, I always say that!), with the Preamble to the Constitution, the Star-Spangled Banner, Charge of the Light Brigade, and the Gettysburg Address, among others.   Again, I had to rework it because I had Drew the last time we did this year, so there was a big chunk of time with no memory work scheduled!  I'm not quite done with it, but I've made a good start.

I've also been ordering the books we need for next year.  We are finally at a point in Tapestry of Grace where we have *most* of the books for each year, so ordering for history and lit is not the huge chore it used to be, with 20 million books for both dialectic and rhetoric needing to be ordered and then kept track of.  I'm ordering books for a lot of people, though, and I am always slightly panicked to think that I have overlooked a book (happened before) or (gasp!) an entire class!  Hopefully that won't ever happen!

The last main thing I'm working on is trying to get a little, tiny bit more caught up on the individual scrapbooks I have for the girls. For each of the kids (well, down through Faith, currently . . .) I have an 8x10 scrapbook that has 2 double page spreads for each year besides their first year.  I completely stopped at 2012 (and for Caleb and Jonathan I stopped earlier . . . )  This has really bugged me, so I really wanted to work at least a little bit on these books.  I'm going to try get the 3 girls through 2013--at least that is what I printed off pictures for.  So far I have finished 2012 for Faith.  It's a start, I suppose . . . I don't want to work on it while Verity is up, since I can imagine her contribution to my efforts, and I don't really want Micah and Drew around either.  They would also be thrilled to "help with scissors and markers, and well, I just can't.  Honestly, that's one big reason I haven't worked on this for so long.  I don't really want the girls around either, because I know they too would want to help, and it would just be really stressful to have 3 girls around, and me trying to give them things to do, and  . . . it would just be crazy, and I can't deal with any more crazy in my life right now, especially not in something that should be a relaxing hobby!  Maybe in another 15 years or so I'll get caught up.  Ha!  I am still determined at some point to start books for Micah, Drew, and Verity, but I don't know when that will be.  I like doing it non-digitally because then I can do just a little bit each year, and they each have something where I wrote in my own handwriting for them.  I just think that's neat.  But since I haven't been able to find a good way to scrapbook by myself, alas, it might be awhile.

And now I should get off the computer and start being productive again!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer Sickness

We are rarely sick during the school year (which is a huge blessing), but this summer has been particularly bad for Jonathan and Caleb.  First Jonathan has his staph infection on his scalp, followed by Lyme disease.  He's come to the end of his 30 days of antibiotics, and he seems to be doing well, thankfully.  He had more antibiotics in the past 6 weeks than he has had the entire rest of his life!  And he picked up some little virus while at Camp Caleb, but that passed quickly as well.  Hopefully the rest of the summer will be uneventful for him--he doesn't want to go back to Bethesda any time soon!

Caleb also picked up a virus at Camp Caleb, but he has not ever recovered.  His throat remained really sore, he ran a low-grade fever (99.4 usually) for awhile, and he's been really tired, taking naps in the afternoon.  I'm sure everyone is thinking what I was thinking at this point--mono--so I made an appointment for him last Tuesday.  They did a rapid strep test, which was "faintly positive", so he started on antibiotics as well.  The doctor also thought it sounded like mono, so she ordered a mono spot test, which is a blood test.

I was very surprised when she called Thursday to say that had come back negative, because Caleb is still not any better.  If anything, he said today that his throat feels even more sore, and all he ate yesterday was a bowl of oatmeal, since it hurts so much to swallow.  This is his last day of antibiotics, but there hasn't been any improvement.

I googled "mono spot test accuracy", and what I read said that the test is more accurate after 2 weeks of symptoms.  Caleb only got sick starting July 7, so it's just been 2 weeks now.  If he's not any better next week, I'll make another appointment and take him back in.  I know you can't do anything for mono, but it seems like it would be good to have it documented if it is in fact mono.

I got mono in the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of college.  Bob and I were dating, although he never did come down with it.  I remember so vividly how sore my throat was.  At one point, I just wanted to cut my head off because I could NOT swallow, and I was so miserable.  Bob brought me Wendy's frosties, because at least I could get those down.  It was a horrible month.  Honestly, this seems like the direction Caleb is going, so I would be really surprised if it wasn't mono.  Poor guy!  I really am thankful this didn't happen during the school year.  It would not have been good for his academics!  Hopefully this will all be behind him by the time Rivendell starts back up again.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Weekend at the Lake

 We drove back up to WSS Friday in time for lunch, but way too late for Jonathan's zip line finish.  We left later than we should have, and then traffic was at a standstill on 70 for about 20 minutes!  Nathan had to call to make sure we were actually going to show up to officially pick up Jonathan, since his counselor had to stay with him until we got there.  Oops!  It turned out Jonathan was a bit of the problem camper all week.  He picked up some kind of virus, so he ran a low-grade fever, which led to some sitting in the nurse's office and missing some activities.  He also threw up in the cabin one night, splattering his duffle bag and someone else's too.  God bless his poor counselor Micah who had to help get that cleaned up.  Ack!

Caleb was back from AO, where he had a great time, but he also picked up a little virus.  He mainly ran a low-grade fever and had a sore throat.  At least his started at the end of AO, so he didn't miss out on any activities there.

After finishing up at WSS, we headed northeast to Bob's sister's house for the weekend. She and her 2 girls live in a lovely old house in a cute little town on a beautiful lake.   We got there after dinner, but since it wasn't raining, Maddie and Amanda took people out of the boat right away.
Rose and I sat on the dock, catching up and watching Verity.  She was looking like a pirate, due to an accident on Wednesday where she climbed on our dollhouse, fell off, and pulled it down on top of her.  It gave her a nasty black eye, plus a cut on her nose and her cheek!  Not that she learned her lesson, though.  Wednesday night--that same day!--she was trying to climb up the back of one of our kitchen chairs, but thankfully I was right there to keep it from falling back on her.
Obviously her eye didn't bother her!  She was happy as a clam running around on the dock!
Saturday morning there was a 5k race for the local fire station.  Rose signed us all up, and the start was literally less than 100 yards from her front door, so all of us except Jonathan participated.  He was having some issues related to taking antibiotics for a long time, poor guy, and he didn't feel up to a race.  Caleb did go, even though he wasn't feeling well either, and it probably was not a good thing for him!

Rose kept her jogging stroller, which is still in great condition, so I pushed Drew and Verity in that.  I couldn't have done it without that stroller, that's for sure!  Verity is crying in the above picture because I had unbuckled her before I remembered I wanted to take a picture, and she is ready to get out!  I was surprised at how cooperative they both were in the stroller.  Drew wanted to get out at first, but I walked quickly and distracted him by enthusiastically pointing out every single remotely interesting detail I could find of the lakes houses we were passing (basketball hoop! boat! 4-car garage! day lilies! beautiful porch! doggie!).  I really do love looking at all the old houses, so I had a marvelous time walking, until Verity started fussing to get out, but thankfully that was just right at the very end.

About halfway through the 5k, Faith dropped back to walk with me and the stroller.  She had been walk/running with Maddie (holding her back like an anchor, lol), and I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't very happy.  She had drunk too much water at a water station, and her tummy wasn't feeling well, and Faith isn't what we call stoic on a good day even, so . . . again, it took some fast talking to distract her from her woes.   I walked the whole 5k, pushing the stroller, and I finished right around 47 minutes.  Luke, Anna, and Grace all finished way before us, and they came back to encourage us.  Luke even got Faith to run the last little bit so that she finished before me!  Bob and Caleb walked the whole way with Micah, who was not particularly happy about it but nonetheless did it, lol.
Here is a terrible picture of our group because I picked the wrong small little thumbnail shot and I'm not that technical to delete it and get the right one back in the right place . . . imagine us all looking at the camera and smiling, because that's what the other shot looks like . . .
The rest of the day we went out on the boat and did lake-ish things.  Even though it was cloudy and cool, the rain held off, and honestly, the cool weather was *such* a nice change of pace from DC's heat and humidity.  It was really refreshing to need a hoodie!  The lake water was warm, so lots of kids tubed, even Micah and Drew!  They also boated over to an island in the lake, swam ashore and explored.  A read-aloud from last year was Swallows and Amazons, so all the lake and island stuff reminded me of the book, although maybe not anyone else, lol.  Fun times!

Verity went on the boat several times Saturday, and she LOVED it.  I was worried she would be scared, but she clearly is more like Faith than Grace.  She sat there, swallowed up in her life jacket, looking out the front, and loving everything!  As you can see by the picture, I did go on the boat, although I also took the opportunity, while so many little people were so engaged, to read some books.  Rose has a gorgeous side porch, with a lovely porch swing, and sitting there reading, and glancing up every so often to gaze out over the lake, is so incredibly peaceful and relaxing!
At dinnertime, there was more excitement--a parade!  Right by Rose's side porch!  This was also to celebrate the fire department, and fire departments from every single surrounding burrough and hamlet were out in force, sirens blaring and horns honking.  It was loud, but very impressive, especially for Drew and Micah!  When the people in the parade started throwing candy, then they were all in high heaven.
Jonathan actually got to ride on a float with Amanda, throwing candy.  All the kids had Walmart bags to collect their booty, and the candy certainly kept people quiet on the way home the next day!  You would not believe how much candy Drew and Micah ate in the van.  Ah well . . . there didn't seem to be any ill effects!

After the parade, there was a little carnival over at the fire station.  We walked over (this small town thing is really nice!), and the kids played games, bounced in a bouncy house, ate a funnel cake, etc.  It was a jam-packed day, and we were all really tired by the end of it!

We had to leave the next morning to drive back to WSS to drop off Anna and Grace for their week of Camp Caleb.  The drive between NW PA and WSS is really pretty, especially by State College.  We needed to stop at Walmart to get more tennis shoes for Grace (she outgrew hers between camping and now . . .), and we ate some yummy barbecue at Dickie's for lunch.  It was good to see Nathan again, even just briefly.  I'm glad he's up there because Grace was NOT excited about being in camp without Anna (they're in separate camps this year).  The daughter of a friend of mine from my own WSS days was also in Grace's camp, so hopefully they could hit it off.  Nathan texted last night to say he had seen Anna and Grace at the square dance, and they were both having lots of fun.

Back here at home, we did a ton of laundry.  Then we cleaned up the basement because we had surprise company!  Ian, the son of some friends of ours who we were stationed with back in Ohio, was coming back from a missions trip in Europe.  His flight landed Tuesday afternoon, but his flight back home didn't take off again until 9:00 Wednesday morning.  So we picked him up and had a nice little visit!  He even with to CAP with the boys, since he is in CAP where they live now.  I do love Facebook for keeping in touch with friends from old assignments!

Drew actually received a medal for "fastest male walker" in his age group.  This was a bit inaccurate, since Drew didn't technically "walk", per se, but boy, does he ever love his medal!  He wears it all around the house and talks about it to everyone who will listen.  Grace was happy he got it, because he's always had a thing for her swimming medals, but then they mysteriously break.  She said (darkly), "Good.  Now he can break his own medal!"  I think it will be a fun memory of a fun weekend--if we can manage not to lose the thing!

ETA:  A better group shot at Rose's!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Summer Busyness and "Glorious Uncertainty"

We had a great weekend starting last Friday.  We had a goodbye party for friends in our small group who are moving to Norway with the state department, the lucky ducks.  It was such a fun party, even though the reason was sad.  One newly married couple stayed late and washed everything up, which was such an amazing gift.  We had cleaned up the house pretty well (okay, the main floor at least), and because of their help, it was still clean at the end of the evening, which was so nice because we left the next morning to drive to WSS to drop off Caleb and Jonathan and spend the night there so we could see Nathan.  The whole time we were gone I kept thinking, "I'm going to come home to a clean house!"  It was lovely.  And it made the weekend away so much more relaxing!

The weekend was really wonderful too.  I took a nap Saturday afternoon and also read a murder mystery, something I definitely don't have time for during the school year.  The kids ran around and got themselves completely tired out, which did lead to melt-downs later on over completely random things.  Drew pitched several fits over the fact that we made him eat "SO MANY TIMES" (three times a day, in fact, because we are completely unreasonable).  Also, he "HATES GRAVY".

The speaker could not have talked on a more appropriate theme.  He was talking about David's life, and he was especially focusing on his time in caves during the sessions we were there.  "God does his best work in caves" was kind of his mantra.  He said waiting wasn't passive, but that we wait ON the Lord and spend time with him.  He talked through Psalm 13 as a way to go through "caves"--first lamenting, but then trusting in God's faithfulness, and praising him.  He also went through Psalm 63, which was written after David fled Jerusalem after Absalom's rebellion (2 Sam. 16, paying close attention to the end of verse 14 "And there [in the desert] he refreshed himself."  In Psalm 63, David was satisfied, and it was because the Lord was enough for him.  It was a refreshing time for Bob and me too.

It was so great to see Nathan and hear everyone say how much they like him and enjoy working with him.  He has Saturday night and Sunday off, so that worked out really well with our visit.  He and I stayed up late talking Saturday night, and then Sunday afternoon I drove him, Luke, and 2 other staffers who had the day off into town where he and Luke bought some very snazzy patriotic socks at Walmart.  Drew was so impressed by them that he wanted Luke to wear them every day.

We drove back Sunday night because we couldn't face a drive back into DC on Monday after a 3 day weekend.  Talk about a depressing cave, lol.  Plus, the kids were so tired.  They all fell asleep, Luke drove the whole way home, and it was very nice to be back home in our own beds!  Monday we unpacked and did laundry.  We were going to go watch fireworks, but it was a rainy, gloomy day, and who wants to go sit on wet grass to watch fireworks?  Not me!  So we wimped out and watched them over at the L's house.  As the show started, we could tell it was going to be awful--the cloud ceiling was so low you couldn't really see the tops of the fireworks at all, and none of the smoke was dissipating.  Eventually it looked like DC was burning after having been attacked by a heavy artillery barrage.  But then--like magic on our screens!--all of a sudden the skies were clear and the fireworks were amazing!  We had been laughing at how they couldn't find the right angle--but suddenly they did!  It was called the "time travel" angle, because PBS started showing fireworks from some previous year, where the sky was clear, and the Capitol building did not have scaffolding all around it.  Ha!  They never said a word about it, either!  Occasionally they would show a shot of the actual live fireworks, where the sky looked like a red lava lamp of weirdness, and then we'd be right back into clear skies and beautiful spangled fireworks.  An alternate reality, for sure.  We had fun watching and commenting though!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Diet Plan--A New Twist

When I started my Whole30 back in April, my friend Lisa messaged me to tell me what her husband, an Army doctor, had discovered in his search for diet success.  He started eating only during a 3-4 hour window, from around 4:00-8:00 PM, mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week.  He lost 25 pounds in 3 months, and he said it only took him about 2 weeks to adjust and not feel so hungry.

Well, of course I immediately rejected that as insane because I could never imagine going without breakfast, much less not eating most of the day!  My thought was, "I'd rather look pregnant . . ."

As swim season started out, we had practices in the evening for the first 3 weeks.  That meant we had people swimming from 5:30-7:30 every night, and it made dinner really tricky.  I had already not been eating after dinner, and after a few days it dawned on me that it really would just be better all around if I could have dinner ready (and me be done eating it) by 5:15, when we needed to leave for swimming.  This meant I had to start thinking about dinner by like 3:30, so I felt like my afternoon was really cut short, but that's what I started doing.

Well, it was only a short hop, skip, and a jump in logic to wonder what would happen if I shortened my eating window on the front end too.  I really wanted to be able to eat whatever I was making for the family to eat for dinner, because it was hard enough getting everyone out the door at 5:15, and I couldn't deal with making a separate thing for me.  So I started backing up my first meal of the day until lunchtime, and eventually to around 1:00, so I was eating only between 1:00 and about 5:15--closer than I had ever dreamed of being to that 4 hour window.  Of course, I was NOT eating mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week!  I ate a cupcake to celebrate Nathan's birthday, and some things like that, but only in the afternoon.

At first it really was hard.  I thought about food pretty constantly, and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, not really accomplishing very much, until I could finally eat (and that was back when I was starting to eat at 11:00!).  And then once I felt full, I only had a brief window of time to do things before I had to start on dinner.  It was choppy.  But that did eventually get better, although I don't know if I would say I've completely "adjusted".  I lost another 2 pounds, which is not incredible, but remember, I was eating things in the afternoon that were not particularly healthy, and I was eating regular stuff for dinner, even the occasional slice of pizza.

Things kind of took a turn for the worse as we switched to morning practice.  I knew we don't usually eat dinner so early, so I started trying to move my window of eating later in the day, like from 3:00-7:00.  That was *really* hard.  Again, all I could concentrate on was food, and since I started eating so late, there was really no time when I got lots done!

The good thing about morning practice is that I walk every day while Micah and Faith are practicing, but that bad thing is that means I'm not doing the Bow-flex weights anymore.  And also, I'm finishing my walk by 8:30, but then I still have hours to go before eating, so I am definitely hungry and not focusing extremely well after that (but surprisingly not light-headed or any other symptom of crashing blood sugar, not even a headache).  Also, once I finished eating at 7:00, I still felt really full by bedtime, and I didn't sleep as well.  Plus my kids seemed to engage in a coordinated attack on my sleep, by Drew and Verity crying for several nights at random times for no discernible reason, and by Jonathan needing to go to the ER until 4:00 AM.  Several days of poor sleeping resulted in a mouth full of cancer sores, including one on the back of my throat.  I thought I had strep throat because my throat was so sore!

I stopped feeling so good and healthy, and in fact, I was slightly nostalgic for the "good old days" of Whole30.  I never thought I'd have a rosy memory of that month, lol.  I did more reading about intermittent fasting, and it seems I'm probably doing the 4 hour window thing a bit wrong, because it seems like Lisa was describing the "Warrior Diet", which has a lot to do with your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and in fact you really are supposed to eat before bed, to help the body recuperate.  I honestly felt a lot better eating in the 1:00-5:00 window, though.  I will say that I no longer miss breakfast, and I've even been able to make a 4 hour trip to Bethesda for doctor appointments, go to Sams and Walmart, and do a lot of other things without eating breakfast, and I actually feel just fine.  It's really going past 1:00 that gets hard for me, so I am probably going to lengthen my window so I start eating then again for the next little while.

I'm sure eating a Whole30 diet and having a short eating window would be a great combination, but the whole point of me trying something different was so that I didn't *have* to eat paleo all the time, especially as we do some traveling.  So far I haven't really found anything that seems really sustainable, long-term and during the school year especially, except for my plan of eating a paleo breakfast and lunch, and then a regular dinner (and eating it as early as possible, I guess).  I never thought I'd ever be able to only eat during a 4 hour window, though, so I have to say I am pretty proud of myself.  This has definitely been an interesting experiment in eating patterns!  I've noticed I don't eat as many vegetables as I did on Whole30 because 1) I'm not eating them with breakfast, and 2) by the time it is time to eat, I often just heat up leftovers because I am *so* hungry, instead of making a big salad or whatever.  I know I need to increase my intake again, and I think that probably starting to eat at noon or 1:00 will help with that.  I shall continue experimenting!

Oh, I should also mention as far as results go, that I have not lost a single bit more around the waist, so this post-10-pregnancies tummy is going to be incredibly stubborn, I'm afraid.  I have lost inches on my thighs, but who really cares??  No one looks at them and asks me when the next one is due!