Road Trip! (Part 1 of 2)

Well, I’ve had several people encourage me to write a blog on our family’s road trip this summer and I decided to do it. Obviously. 🙂  It’s taken me a while, because I seem to write down every detail and as I was reading it, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have to write down that we stopped to eat and take a potty break.  That would be a given – eventually people do need to eat and such, right? Thus, it has been a work in progress, so bear with me. Let me start at the beginning.

My husband wanted to roadtrip 27 hours from where we live in California to my parents in Iowa.  Not my ideal way to vacation, but my husband was very excited about the prospect, thinking it would be a big adventure.  And it certainly was!  It took a while to convince me, and finally 2 weeks before our date of departure I gave in.  We added a hitch and rack to the back of our station wagon, so we would have more room in the vehicle.  Which was a good thing or we would have had to leave a bunch of things behind.  Namely, I don’t think camping gear would have made it.

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 But we were finally ready and at 5 am on a Thursday morning, we picked our 5 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old out of bed and put them in their carseats.  Well they did not go back to sleep as planned.  None of them.  Not even for a moment. Sigh.  Not a good start.

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Well our first leg of the trip would be only 5 hours away.  But the day did not go as planned yet again.  Crying, fighting, complaining and lots of me turning around.  Did I mention that curvy roads make me car sick? Especially when I am turning around.  I believe we stopped 3 times in those 5 hours for a break, allowing the kids to run around and me to relax a bit.  By the time we arrived at my brother-in-laws I thought this trip was going to be high stress and the 22 hours we had left to drive seemed an eternity.

We had a fun relaxing afternoon with family and the kids had time to run around and get their energy out.  We had planned on leaving at around 6 pm to get a few more hours of driving in.  Did I mention that my 17 month old had only taken one nap at 7am that morning and only for 1 hour? He was very very tired.  This fit perfectly with our plan: Jacob would fall asleep and we would drive, the other two would be contented with books, etc.  Well, we had to drive a couple blocks from the restaurant we ate at and grab our swim stuff we had drying at my brother-in-laws.  Jacob fell promptly asleep and awoke as we were packing the stuff back in the car.  Bummer.  And then he proceeded to cry the next 15-20 minutes while we drove.  Well, I think this was God’s providence that Jacob wailed for we were more tired than we wanted to admit from our late night of packing and early morning start.  We had to turn onto another road 20 minutes down and road and a camp ground was right on that corner.  Providence! So we stopped.  And decided to stay.  A rather easy decision.  So we set up our tent and got the kids in their beds.

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DSCN1030 Beautiful view from our campground!

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Love Abigail’s face in this picture.

Thus our interesting journey continued, Jacob was in his playpen, (supposed to be going to sleep) and had to watch every move that anyone did.  Daddy was outside the tent, and he would watch his shadow pass over the tent.  Big brother or sister would sit up or roll over and he would watch.  Oh, and Jacob would start bawling if I left the tent.  So I laid down – in my regular clothes still, and tried to keep all the kids still so they would sleep. They finally zonked out, but maybe I did first?  But the night was not over – and it wasn’t the kids who interrupted our sleep.  Josh awoke to the sound of a growl.  He went to the bathroom and a Sheriff ran up to him and told him to get back in his tent, there was a bear nearby.  So Josh hurried in, wondering if we were really safe in our tent.  Only a few minutes later the Sheriff told us the bear had left the are and it was safe again.  We laid down to sleep again, but before Josh could fall alseep he heard rustling outside our tent. The bear was back.  The Sheriff tore into the campground in his SUV and several other police cars were across the pasture by our campground shinning beams of light on the bear.  The bear was big and it was only about 100 meters away.  Well, after that there was no going back to sleep in the tent.  We put the kids in the car seats, took the essential items and headed back to our brother-in-laws.  So at 1:30am we finally could sleep in peace.

Josh read an article later that because of the drought in California the bears were coming down farther out of the mountains to find food.  Josh’s brother, who has lived in that area for nearly a year has never seen a bear. It was very unusual, but I guess becoming more common! And we got a front row seat.

Morning came, we were refreshed and ready for the day. I decided to have no expectations – or at least very low ones. A couple low expectations were that Jacob is not going to take a nap when I want him to, we will probably take more stops than I would like, and we will not get as many miles in a day traveled as I would hope for.

Our main goal of traveling the evening before had been to miss the heat of the desert during the day.  So now our goal was to get through the desert as fast as possible which means no breaks to run off energy.  Unless we can find a fast-food restaurant with an indoor playground. We started off leg 2 with a stretch of road that had 140 or more miles between civilizations.  So make sure you have gas! And our vehicle’s gas gauge only works sometimes – so we keep an eye on our trip mileage from our last fill-up.  We got pretty close to empty.  But gas was more expensive on either side of that stretch of road, so we were pushing it trying to get to a cheaper gas station.

We got to Las Vegas, the temperature of about 105 degrees or so (definitely don’t want to go outside and play in that heat!) We found an Inn-N-Out, which gave us the most wonderful service.  They cleared the table for me (Josh had gone out to the car to do something necessary, I forget what now.)  They held doors open for me (to the bathroom and out of the building) and gave all the kids Inn-N-Out hats.  Maybe some people would say that is just great service, but I think that was God’s providence yet again. God knew I needed a little kindness, compassion and help.  Oh, and did I mention, my kids did awesome while we drove now that I had moved to sitting in the middle bench between the two younger ones? Just a bit of attention from mom makes a huge difference!

We arrived at our campsite, after 8 hours of driving, just after sundown and some wonderful neighbors held their bright lantern for us as we set up our tent in the dark.  The evening turned very cold, down to 50 degrees and the wind was so strong it pulled up some of our tent stakes. God’s mercy at work again – the wind stopped for a few hours around the time we arrived and set up camp.  The kind neighbors said it had been windy all day and just calmed down.  And only a short time after we were set up the wind began again.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try to set up the tent with the wind whipping like it did.

I don’t think the temperatures would have bothered us too much as we had nice sleeping bags and blankets and such, except that the wind just whipped through our tent. We didn’t get a great night sleep. The noise of the tent material snapping in the wind woke up Jacob, who had a hard time getting back to sleep.  The tent began to fall on Abigail (5 year old) and she ended up using 3 year old Isaac as a pillow. Oh, and my air mattress had a leak, so it became very squishy. But morning came, the kids ran around while Josh did some business-related work and I packed up our campsite.

Day 3 went pretty well as we crossed the Rocky Mountains to get to Denver.  We did have a small hiccup when our cigarette lighter stopped working so we couldn’t charge our GPS.  So we came down the mountain without directions, and entered into Denver looking for a gas station to fill up at and to get directions.  It was really hard to find a gas station!  We would have filled up earlier but either the gas stations had expensive prices or when I would decide to stop at the next little town, it didn’t have any gas stations to stop at!  When we got to Denver I thought to go by the fast-food places, assuming gas stations would be by the food.  Wrong.  So after a bit of wandering and a couple u-turns we found a gas station. Josh charged the GPS a little bit while he used the bathroom so we each memorized a portion of the directions and shut it off, just in case we needed to use it later. So at 10:30 pm (the time change did not work in our favor) we drove into the yard of my college roommate.  Glad she didn’t mind our late arrival. Whew, we made it!

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Day 4 was Sunday, so it was really relaxing.  We went to church and hung out around the little farm of my friend.  Just before supper we left for a seemingly short drive of 5 hours (compared to the 8 and 9 hour days we put in the previous days!) to our next stop.  We went to another campground, but got a cabin this time.  It was much easier to throw the sleeping bags on the beds and hop into bed.  We were now only 4.5 hours from my parents!

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Jami and I and our gaggle of kids.

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Day 5 would be a nice relaxing day.  We stopped after an hour to spend time with one of Josh’s friends and enjoyed a playground and some frisbee golf.  Josh noticed that there were storms on the horizon (using his weather app on his phone.)  So we took our time so we would stay behind the storm as it was forecasted to produce good sized hail.  The kids did not complain about the extra playground time!

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When we were only 2 hours from my parents we noticed more storm clouds, and after a call to my dad we were informed the storms were likely to produce tornadoes as well.  There was a storm in front of us and beside us. We turned away from the storm beside us, much to our relief, as that one was the more serious one.  Unbeknown to us, that storm produced twin tornadoes that destroyed a town.  As we drove away from that storm, only 45 minutes from our destination we blew a tire.  In God’s providence we were only about 100 feet from town, and a nice local brought Josh to a tire place that was still open (it was nearly 6 pm!) While me and the kids were waiting for Josh to come back, two police cars stopped by and waited with me.  The man who picked up Josh called upon his sister-in-law to pick up me and the kids to hang out at her house while we waited for the tire to get fixed.  Did I mention that the serious storm was bearing down on us the whole time we waited on the side of the road, the county being issued a tornado watch?  It was rather stressful. But me and the kids were soon safe at a house with a basement if it was needed.

God protected us in many ways – providing help to us so soon after our tire blew out, someone to open her house to us, a tire station that was open and had the rare tire size on hand, and the storm that passed to the north of town.  We drove the 45 minutes to my parents and did not hit even a spot of rain. Minutes after we got our luggage and other essentials inside it down-poured. But we had made it, and by the grace of God we made it safely through it all.

Stay tuned for the continuation: the return trip!

~Mindy~

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Back to School Shopping

I can’t say I really enjoy back to school shopping.  There are several things that make the trip less fun:

  • the price tag keeps getting bigger
  • I always feel like I’m telling one of the girls we can’t get the really fancy kind, either because the school has specifics or because it’s too expensive
  • I can’t find the specific thing that’s on the school list
  • It takes multiple trips to multiple stores

However, this year, I was finally able to do something a little “fun” with the back-to-school shopping.  My oldest daughter is going into 7th grade, and she needed “heavy-duty” binders in different colors for each grade.  (There were specific colors listed for each grade.)  Well, it’s hard to find green, purple, & yellow heavy-duty binders.  The sheet indicated if we couldn’t find them, we could always insert colored paper to change the color of a white binder, for example,

So, after shopping, I went downstairs to play around with changing white or black binders into the various needed colors.  I thought Ally might like to have “fun” papers inserted, so I sat down at my craft table, and went to work.  (As Ally is a pretty picky kid, I did go to her a few times to get her opinion on the papers.)

I started by changing a black binder into green, white into yellow, and white into purple.  Ally liked them so much, she asked me to “pretty up” the rest.  Here’s how they turned out:

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Here is what the back looked like:

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I couldn’t exactly stop there, though.  🙂  I pulled out my Cricut and typed up the subjects, used my sticker maker, and put them on more of the patterned paper.  Here is a picture of the results:

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It was totally worth all the time when I saw the smile on Ally’s face.  It should hopefully add a little bit of fun to school.  I think we’re ready.  School starts in 1 week already, and I will officially have a 7th grader and Kindergartner.  I took off the day to take my baby to Kindergarten and Ally to Junior High, and I’m going to try to make the best of it!

~D~

My first 10k mud run – Race Day!

The night before the big race Jacob succumbed to a cold that stuffed his nose up. He did not sleep well. Which means I did not sleep well. But at 6:30am I was raring to go. Josh took a bit longer. Okay, so he was still in bed sleeping. 🙂 When we finally got all the kids in the van and drove away we felt like we were on Amazing Race – a show Josh and I both enjoy watching, just getting to the start line.  We arrived on time, but missed the parking lot area. So we drove an extra 15-20 minutes backtracking. Then we had to find Josh’s parents as they wanted to bring the kids back to their house so we needed to switch vehicles. We had 45 minutes until the race started. I nursed Jacob while Josh went to find them. Then we headed to the bus that would drive us to the start. 20 minutes ’til start time. Once off the bus Josh and I ran off to get our number bibs and drop off our belongings. About 6 minutes until start time.  Ahh! We pushed through the crowd of yellow bibs, as they were in the second wave to run. We got to the back of our wave #1, the pink bib people, and two seconds later the horn blew.  And we were off! Talk about cutting it close.

The course!

The course!

First up is the fire hose.  I could hardly wait for the fire hose.  It was sunny and hot already at 9 am.  So I got nice and wet when I got to the fire hose and it felt wonderful.  Not too far after the hose there was a small part of the course that had path A or B to help reduce the crowding of all the runners.  I took path A while my friend who was also running the race took path B and unknowingly I passed her up. Since we got their just before the race started I didn’t have time to find her before the race. I spent the entire race watching for her ahead of me, assuming she was still in front of me.  We finished only 3 minutes apart – we could have run the whole course together!  Oh well.

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Back of the t-shirt I received.

The steeple chase was a leap over a small wall and into a pit of mud.  It wasn’t hard or bad until I got out of the mud and discovered I gained a couple pounds in my shoes.  Blah.  And then the Omaha Beach Crossing.  Sand.  I do not like running in sand.  At all.  Horrible, horrible stuff.  And then came the hill.  Huge, long hill.  If you look at the above course map the hill extends from the beach crossing all the way to the straw bale challenge.  There are a few flat areas, but not many.  Josh and I estimated that it was about an elevation climb of 420 feet.  I walked a lot of that hill.  After combat town the incline became very steep .  Just walking up it made my legs burn. The cargo net climb was fun, except for the wait to do it.  There was quite a line.  Good time to rest, I guess.  And then the first water station.  Josh told me to drink at every station so I followed him advice and did so.  I thought I was at the top of the hill now, but discovered after the bend in the trail we went up even more.  Ugh.  Such disappointment.  I truly dislike hills. Why did I do this again?  The straw bale challenge was climbing over straw bales.  My aching legs! After all that up hill, to do more climbing?  But then a gatorade stop!  And after that the wonderful downhill.  Relief!  And I was 4 miles in, 53 minutes.  I asked a fellow runner who had a watch on. 🙂 What an encouragement!  I was doing much better then I thought I was. My training pace was 12 minutes/mile and even after all that walking up hill and waiting during some of the obstacles I was only at 13.25 minutes/mile pace.

Front of the t-shirt!

Front of the t-shirt!

Down in the loop was a mud pit with a 5 ft wall to climb over which I fell in.  Last year Josh told me about the mud pit and thinking it wasn’t as deep as it was and ending up on his hands and knees so I thought I was prepared.  Well, I was except that one foot landed on semi-solid mud while the other landed in a hole.  And I plopped over.  Next I had to duck under a net that covered the expanse of the Chosin reservoir which was bone dry.  That wasn’t too hard to me, I just bent over and walked.  A hose at the other side refreshed me again.  More wonderful downhill and then the mudpits.  This was probably were I was the most discouraged.  The first mud pit was around 3-4 feet deep with a 5 ft wall in the middle to climb over. I don’t know if I can accurately describe how hard it was.  My feet sunk into the mud and it required a lot of muscle to get my foot out.  There was no way I could have run through it.  I couldn’t even get my feet out of the mud when I jumped to get over the wall.  I had to lean over the wall and pull my feet out.  I was very relieved to finally climb out of the pit only to see another mud pit looming in front of me.  I almost wanted to cry.  But this one was only 1-2 feet deep and so much easier.  Some big concrete pipes to crawl through at the other end awaited me and gave me a few little cuts on my knees.

And then the slippery slope.  Very steep and continually hosed down with a firehose.  Extremely muddy and slippery.  I just kept thinking about where I was putting my feet and nothing else.  I didn’t even look up to see when it would end.  I was pretty exhausted by this point.   And then another horrible hill! Okay, it wasn’t that steep, but I was too tired to run up it.  At the top I was so excited, another drink station and I was at mile 6!  I was almost done!  And then my hopes were dashed when I caught sight of another obstacle.  But it wasn’t so bad actually. It was called “over-under” since there were beams that you alternated going over and under.  I went over a beam that I leaned on and swung my feet over like I was a gymnast.  It was actually quite fun.  The under wasn’t so bad – it helped I was small compared to other tall guys I was running beside at that time.  But I could definitely feel my burning thighs as I lowered myself.  The guy I followed was rather big and his legs visibly shook when he went under. A little more running and another mud pit.  It seemed like everyone was crawling, but I didn’t want to lower my body. I didn’t want to waste any energy.  But eventually I had no choice because after 2 steps an army guy yelled “Pink, down on the ground!”  That was me.  Up til this point I really had stayed rather clean.  From my knees down were definitely dirty, but my bright pink shirt was mostly still bright pink.  Not anymore.  But as much as I disliked lowering my body down to my hands and knees, I loved crawling in that mud.  The mud was cool and crawling used different, fresh muscles.  I just zoomed through that mud pit, it was great.  A steep downhill came up next.  At this point I could finally hear the live band that was by the finish line.  Have you ever run while listening to upbeat music? Just hearing that music gave me a burst of energy.  At the bottom of the hill was a bend in the road, and the finish line appeared 100 yards before me!!! I did it!!

Dirty and exhausted

Dirty and exhausted

After getting some more gatorade and sitting a bit, I really felt rather good.  I was elated that I finished and did so well.  Did I mention my goal was to be under 2 hours? My time was 1 hour 30 minutes!! But looking back I really should have trained more for the hills.  It was good to train for the distance running, but the hills really wiped me out. Or I should say, the hill.  People asked me if I’ll do it next year, if I had fun, etc.  My answer: I’m glad I did it, but it wasn’t really fun, and it’ll take a lot of convincing for me to do it again.  I heard there is a 5k mud run in a nearby town.  That sounds more my speed.

Oh…and I’m famous. 🙂 Here is a video clip, which is my children’s favorite movie right now.  I run right in front of the camera at about the 3rd second.  http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/01/mud-run/ I saw the man there with the camera, but I thought he was taking pictures, not a video!

Some fun facts.

  • I finished as the 48th female out of 190 in my age group.
  • I finished 1145 overall, out of 3440 runners. Not too bad.
  • The first woman to finish completed the course just under 48 minutes and was 50 years old.  I guess there is hope for me, right?
  • And for a couple minutes I ran beside a 79 year old woman.  Impressive!
  • The fastest guy was a 20 year old who completed it in 41.5 minutes.   My friend stood by him as we waited to start, and he told her that he runs 50-70 miles a week.  A little 6.2 mile run is probably a warm-up to him!

So there you have it.  Now I’ll have to find other motivation to keep up my running.  Every muscle in my legs ached the next day and I read that the muscles are torn and rebuilding themselves stronger.  So now I don’t want to lose those stronger muscles!  I went through a lot of work to get them. 🙂

Well, this post has gotten long enough, though I feel I could add more.  So I will end this with my funny kid quip for the day: After a 4-year-old girl threw up from being spun on a tire swing, my pastor’s wife asked her if she had gotten motion sick.  She replied, “No, I got swing sick”.  Haha!

~Mindy~

My first 10k mud run – The choice to race

I did it! 5 months to the day of Jacob’s birth, I ran my first 10k mud run.

Dog tag I received for finishing!

Dog tag I received for finishing!

But let me start from the beginning, this was quite a big process. Did you know that Camp Pendleton’s World Famous Mud Run sells out in the first 24 hours of registration opening? It’s not called World Famous for nothing! They have 5 race days, and there were around 3400 competitors on my race day. So, when did registration open? January 1. So the question was should I? Or could I? Remember I was pregnant at this time. So in December, 9 months pregnant I was thinking this over. There were so many questions. Would the delivery go well? Would I have a c-section? I wasn’t due until a week after registration!  Would I recover quick enough to train for 6.2 mile run in the mud with obstacles? And when would I train? And how? I’ll have 3 kids! I have a stroller, but it’s only a double, and will I really want to run pushing all the kids anyway? I can’t wait until Josh comes home to run since it’s not exactly the safest place for a woman to run alone. I started looking into our local YMCA and discovered that they have Child Watch.  I can drop the kids off for two hours a day to work out. So that would make things much easier. And I wasn’t completely out of shape. I was the assistant coach for a junior high cross country team when I was 6-7 months pregnant, and pushed the kids in the stroller while I ran. So, should I do it? And then Josh reminded me that my friend from church, a mother of 6, did it the past year and walked a good portion of it. So there shouldn’t be any pressure to have to do well. I could tell myself that, but in the end I do want to do well. Then little Jacob came 10 days early born on the 31st of December.  So now a few of those questions had been answered. So again should I try it? Remember, we have to register January 1 – that’s the day after I delivered my 3rd child. So while I recovered from labor and took care of our little newborn, my husband was on the computer registering us for a mud run. Wow. Am I crazy?

So the training can begin. I found out that I couldn’t take Jacob in the exercise room with me (sleeping in his carseat beside the treadmill) and he wasn’t allowed to go to Child Watch until 8 weeks old. So Josh would come home from work and as soon as I was done nursing Jacob I would drive over to the Y and run for a bit. I started with running only a mile and a half and worked up to 3.8 miles. Mostly it was a 2.5 to 3 mile run. I didn’t run as often as I wanted since the Child Watch has strict rules about the health of the children when being dropped off, which I fully understood and agreed with. I wouldn’t want my kids to get sick after spending an hour there. So I was happy to be able to run twice a week. But with three kids, I had three times the chance of one of them being sick. Which seemed to happen a lot.  I also discovered that running long distances on the treadmill was really boring.  After about 45 minutes of the treadmill I was ready to be done with it, even if I did have energy to run more. The last month or so Josh and I started running together with the kids in their strollers. I pushed the light-weight Jacob, and Josh pushed the older two. It worked out well, since it helped even us out a little. Josh could still run twice as fast, twice as long, and up hills twice as steep as me even while pushing 70lbs of children.   We ran up some hills – maybe I should say, Josh ran up some hills while I walked. 🙂  It felt good to run outside.  And I discovered that while the hills were not very easy for me, I still had enough energy to run back down the hill.  So I felt pretty confident. Walk up hill, run down hill.  Easy enough.

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Now my concern was Jacob. I’ve only given him a bottle twice. What were we to do with him during the race? Josh’s parents graciously agreed to meet us at the race where I would nurse Jacob right before the race. So race day came quickly. The week of the race we tried to eat right. That meant protein, complex carbs, lots of veggies and fruits. Storing up energy for the race. And drinking a lot of water so we were well hydrated. Yes, we were serious about this stuff.  I planned to go to bed early.  Which did not happen unfortunately, but eventually my eyes closed in sleep.

But since this post is getting a bit long and I’m only just up to race day you’ll have to tune in for the next post to hear about the race! It’s more fun if I can go into detail about it. Then you can really get a sense of what it was like. 🙂 And then you won’t be daunted by a really really long post. 😀 So, ’til next time!

~Mindy~

Winter, I love you.

You know how it always happens that you really remember how much you loved something as soon as its gone?  It’s like ugh, you were right again, Mom.  I complained about it when I had it; now that it’s gone I miss it.

So I made a list to remind myself later when I start complain about winter again; here’s my top 10 (in no particular order) reasons of why I love winter.

Happy May Day!  Yep woke up on the first day of May to this.  Ironically enough it was nearly 100 degrees just two weeks later.  Stay on your toes people! You never know whats coming.

Happy May Day! Yep woke up on the first day of May to this. Ironically enough it was nearly 100 degrees just two weeks later. Stay on your toes people! You never know whats coming.

1. No SPIDERS and no birds.  I haven’t officially found any live spiders in my house yet, but I know they are coming.  I HATE spiders.  Like seriously.  It doesn’t really make sense to me where they go in the winter time, but I don’t really care.  If my house is spider-free for a few months (or more) I’m happy.  I also got home from work the other day and there was a giant splat of bird poop on my car…. the kind that is basically cemented on.  No regular car wash gets that stuff off and it makes a bigger mess when you try to wipe your windshield… talk about gross.

2. Never worry about what to wear.  There’s really little decision-making for me on what to wear.  I find some pants, a sweater of some kind, fuzzy socks, and one or more coats.  Generally it doesn’t even matter which top you wear because you’ll have a coat on anyway.  And I’m not the kind of person to try to match my coat to the rest of my outfit.  A coat is a coat.  Plus my fur boots go with EVERYTHING!

3. Venues for parties/get-togethers are pretty much decided.  You don’t have to worry about anything outdoors.  Any party that you have will be inside, or will have some sort of heated shelter/cabin nearby.  You really don’t want to go to that community building an hour away… chances are there will be a freak blizzard and take you 3 hours to get home even with 4-wheel drive (and you have to get home, else where would you sleep?)  Basically you go with your house, or the friend’s house down the road.

The wind can do some crazy looking things to the snow.

The wind can do some crazy looking things to the snow.

4. I can sit in front of the TV with a blanket and my space heater and that’s perfectly acceptable.  One of my favorite things to at night is grab a blanket and get nice and toasty with a little heater.  Its not that I’m really that cold, it just feels so wonderful to be warm.  Its like why do so many people like hot tubs?  Its warm and relaxing and mmm… so nice 🙂

5. Everything looks pretty and clean. I love when everything is white.  White looks clean.  Of course this generally turns brown and dirty fast, but the white is nice!  See after harvest it gets a little depressing.  The fields were full, producing bountiful crops, and then all of a sudden they are empty.  Barren.  Nothing but scraps and dirt.  So after harvest I’m pretty ready for some nice white snow to cover up the sad and empty fields.

6. No one tells me how great my neighbor’s yard looks.  I will admit: my neighbor’s yard always looks fantastic.  They have good looking trees, grass, landscaping, paving stones, rock, bushes, flowers… you name it.  And all of it looks good, all the time.  I’m just happy if my lawn is mowed on a semi-regular basis!  However, in the winter, my yard looks just as good as theirs.  The grass and landscaping (or lack thereof) is covered in snow, so we’re basically on an even playing field! People will tell me how good theirs looks and its like, “hey, you haven’t even seen their backyard.  Its even better.”  Seriously.

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7. The only work I have to do on Saturdays is clean the house. There’s no roofs to be shingled, no houses to paint, no rocks to pick up.

8. No yardwork.   My husband and I have this sort of unwritten agreement:  he does the snow, I do the grass.  So when it snows and we can’t get our cars out of the garage, I lay in our warm bed while he goes outside in the cold to clear us a path.  When summertime comes around I’ll mow the lawn in the sweltering heat after work sometime.  So winter is great because I don’t have to deal with whatever winter decides to throw at us.

9. My hair stays straight when I do it.  Yes I do have naturally straight hair, but even with genetics the humidity of the summer can give me some odd waves and curls.  Its great to not have to worry about that during the winter months.

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And probably my favorite thing about winter…

10.  It does finally give way to sunshine and warmth!  Despite all the wonderful things listed above, I have to say that I am probably more of a summer child!  So bring it on… after several months of snow, cold, and bitter wind chills… I’m ready for an indian summer!

Bye Bye, Mitsubishi

Thats right folks; the Mitsubishi is gone.  And honestly I’m a little sad about it!

My "first" car

The day I took my car home! I didn’t even know how to drive a manual, but half-way home dad pulled over and made me drive. Trust me, I learned fast! I actually killed it at a corner of two major highways and couldn’t get it started again! But here we are, safe and sound at home 🙂

Drew and I have been searching for a little bit bigger car for me for a while; something that drives better in the winter and has room for the groceries.  Let me tell you I was a bit sick of trying to get all my groceries in and out of the backseat.

Dad helping me install my amp and subs.  We really had no idea what we were doing, but believe me, we figured it out! (Actually the radio didn't work, we had to enlist the help of a certain brother-in-law to figure it out!)

Dad helping me install my amp and subs. We really had no idea what we were doing, but believe me, we figured it out! (Actually the radio didn’t work, we had to enlist the help of a certain brother-in-law to figure it out!)

We actually started looking over a year ago but didn’t find anything we really liked (that was in our price range, anyway).  We decided to try to make it through one more winter with my car.  Winter came and went, and summer came and went.  Then we were back to winter again.  We started looking a little harder; but before we knew it winter was about over again!  Well recently Drew found a Chrysler Pacifica nearby at a small shop.  We looked at it a couple times and took it home 🙂  (Pictures of the new ride to come later!)

One of my senior pictures.  What a beaut :)

One of my senior pictures. What a beaut 🙂

We pretty much had my car sold to a relative of someone that Drew works with before we even had a new one bought.  We took home the Pacifica, cleaned out both of our vehicles, and the next day we left my car at Drew’s work.  Just like that…. my car is gone :(.  I feel a little silly about how much I already miss my car… but I did have it for like … umm… 7, no 8 years?

The steering wheel cover ripped into pieces as we took it off.  I guess it was about time.

The steering wheel cover ripped into pieces as we took it off. I guess it was about time.

Anyway, the new car drives pretty nice.  Not nearly as good of gas mileage as the 5-speed I’m used to, but getting groceries this afternoon was wonderful.  Throw it all in the back!  Technically it does have a 3rd row, but its small (only a 2 person bench).   With the back seat down there is a big open space for lots of grocery bags!

I’m still in a bit of a nervous/excited phase.  Its exciting to get something new, and yet I’m a little nervous that I won’t like it as much as I hope too… but people keep telling me its about time to grow up and get a big-girl car :).

~ T ~

P.S.  It snowed again today.  All the snow/ice from the previous storm was officially completely melted, so I guess it was time for some more.  I was pretty thankful for a bit bigger car and some AWD!

More snow! April 18, 2013

More snow! April 18, 2013

Winter again?!

Well its April and Winter has come back for one last “ah ha!”  Remember earlier when I had said that my hubby cleaned out the garage all by himself?  Well when he did this we re-arranged a bit.  We put the snow-blower in the way back and moved the lawn mower to the front.  That was a bad choice apparently.

Blowing off the driveway - one more time!

Blowing off the driveway – one more time!

We had a pretty good storm.  First lots of rain, which clung to everything.  It didn’t take long for the trees, roads and mailboxes to be covered in ice.  Then it started to snow.  Everything was actually quite pretty.  But then you could start to hear the trees creaking under the weight.  It was a little eerie.  As I was coming home from work I saw the powerlines bouncing around wildly under the weight of the ice and blowing wind.  I actually saw them hit eachother, causing a huge BRIGHT blue fire ball with lots of sparks.  I’ve never seen that before.  The wind didn’t stop, and the power lines kept hitting each other, causing more sparks and more bright blue balls.  It was a little scary.

Ice on our truck; notice it hanging off the hood?  This is after about an hour in the garage.

Ice on our truck; notice it hanging off the hood? And you can see it on the bumper; yes, thats ice. This is after about an hour in the garage.

No the truck isn't dirty.  Drew drove to the hog building and back and this is how it looked when he got home.

No the truck isn’t dirty. Drew drove to the hog building and back and this is how it looked when he got home.

I started writing this without electricity.  Good thing my laptop battery was charged!  I got home from work the other day and we had no power in the house.  Of course my hubby had to go out and check on our hog building (which didn’t have power, either) so I was at home by myself.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself.  I was starting to get hungry and was trying to think of what I could possibly eat for supper.  Its funny how I thought of quite a few good ideas but couldn’t carry any of them out without electricity.

The tree in our back yard, less a few limbs.

The tree in our back yard, less a few limbs.

The lights came back on soon.  With all the ice we were getting I wasn’t getting my hopes up.  I plugged in everything that I could think of… laptops, ipads, cell phones…  I even turned our furnace way up just in case!  Sure enough, power went back out about 10 minutes later.  This time I was thinking a little more clearly.  I went in search of a flashlight, and to my surprise it actually worked!

The neighbor's tree nearly split in half.  You can see it between the two houses, thankfully missing both.

The neighbor’s tree nearly split in half falling between the two houses, thankfully missing both.

Anyway as I was thinking of all these things I thought I should go find some candles too… but I don’t even have any!  I probably have some old ones from my wedding somewhere… but then the power came back on!  I had to act fast.  I put a bag of microwave popcorn in the microwave; the power went back out just before it finished.

My bowl of popcorn.  I sat here in the half-light by the windows while I tried to decide what to do.

My bowl of popcorn. I sat here in the half-light by the windows while I tried to decide what to do.

As I sat in the dark I started to reminisce about the “good ‘ol days.”  Whenever the power would go out Mom would put a big candle on the dining room table, and another in the bathroom.  I also remember one time when the power went out for a long time… when I was young.  We lit the gas stove in the old kitchen and locked ourselves up in there.  We played cards by candle light to pass the time.  It was the only warm room in the house.  I was still cold, so our wonderful brother offered me some long-johns… but they were in his room.  We ran out of the kitchen as fast as I could, grabbed more layers, and ran back in.  I’m pretty sure I wore his three-sizes-too-big long johns for days.  All us kids slept on the basement floor just outside the old kitchen.  It was kinda fun… a slumber party with all my big brother and sisters and no school!  Thats about all that I remember.  The long johns will never be forgotten.

My kitties watching me finish this post.

My kitties watching me finish this post.  They really enjoy watching the mouse on the screen.

Anyway the power ended up coming back on a few hours later for a while.  I did manage to have a warm supper before going to bed.  Since then the electricity has been a little unreliable.  I’ve been taking really fast showers and the laundry is piling up, as well as our dishes.  But my husband and I are safe, our house has been staying warm, and no damage from falling limbs, so here’s me, counting my blessings.

~ T ~

Unglued?

Have you ever been so overwhelmed, you just don’t quite know what to do, or which family member is going to trigger that “unglued” moment?  I’m certainly not proud of it, but sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me. 

I’m doing a Bible study with some other Moms at Ally’s school called “Unglued” — the website is here: Unglued.  I think it’s a perfect time of year to be going through this study as March 15th (a huge deadline for accountants or people like me in the pension/retirement world) is right around the corner.  So instead of running those numbers, I’m trying to write my first entry to my sisters on this blog.  🙂

Lysa Terkeurst, the author, has such a witty and honest way of going through common scenarios in life.  I certainly cannot recreate her humor, but I have a lot of takeaways that I am praying I’ll put into action.  Here are some awesome reminders that I’m hoping will help me limit those “unglued” moments:

  • There’s a big difference between replying/responding and reacting.  3 rules for replying in a tense situation:
    1. Begin reply by honoring the other person.  You don’t need to honor their words, but you can honor the person.
    2. Keep response short & full of grace.  (Otherwise it’s too easy to be defensive.)
    3. End by extending compassion.  (Don’t fake it!)
  • Whose side am I on anyway?  (God’s side!)
  • Remember: who is the real enemy? 
  • I am a work in progress, and God is full of grace!
  • Doesn’t my family deserve that grace from me, too?
  • When we’re feeling unglued, we may want to have a plan in place (like King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20).  We need to be “resolved”.  To remember who we are, redirect our focus, recognize God’s job isn’t ours, praise & thank God, and realize that reactions (good or bad) can have a shockwave type effect.  (That’s a bit scary when you think of your kids and grandkids being affected by your every day decisions.)

Each time I go through another set of questions, I am so grateful for all the grace my family has given me.  Love you!

“You Don’t Know, Oh Oh!”

Thats right.  One Direction.  Boy band.

My nieces got a new Wii game this past Christmas; Just Dance 4.  These girls both love to dance, and its actually got some pretty popular songs on it.  They had a ball playing.

The new game my nieces got!

The new game my nieces got!

So after a few hours of playing, all the little ones go to bed.  Let me clarify.  For holidays all of my siblings travel to our parents house to celebrate.  Generally this means long days of the cousins playing games, etc.  It also means late nights of the adults staying up and playing cards or chatting.

Some of us figured we should try this new game out, too!  Yes its easy to cheat (its a Wii… movements are detected by the handheld remote.  So technically you could do really well by sitting in your la-z-boy.  I’m not proud of it, but I ended up playing for several hours throughout the holiday!  It was kinda fun, and a good workout!

Getting back to my point; “You don’t know, oh oh!” (If you haven’t caught on, these are the lyrics to the song “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction.)  We heard and danced to this song.  A lot.

The little kids loved it, and it was also a ‘group’ dance, which made it fun for the adults.  But let me tell you what you don’t know… this will get stuck in your head.  Forever.  I’m not just saying that this is a catchy tune, because it is.  I’m saying that I was sitting at work today and the song came on the radio.  I nearly got up and started doing the moves when the chorus came on.   Honestly, I find myself dancing to this song all the time!

Video still of "What makes you beautiful" dance on Just Dance 4

Screen shot of one of the moves in “What makes you beautiful”

And yes, it is a trifle embarrassing.

For those of you who have seen or played this game, you know.

For those of you that haven’t… “you don’t know, oh oh!”

~ T ~