Saturday, June 28, 2014

States I have visited!

So, I'm totally ripping off my sister on this one so Haley, thanks for the idea.

I have visited 31 states.

Here they are, in alphabetical order.

Arizona - Lots of visits.  So hot.  So many shopping centers.  So little scenery.
California - The Ocean.  Disneyland.  The ocean.
Colorado - In the summer of 2001, drove through the state at least 4 times.
Delaware - There is no sales tax in Delaware, just in case you wanted to know.
Idaho - Boise is a cool city with great restaurants.  Ross and I came "this close" to moving there about a year after we got married.
Illinois - Mormon history.  Bad rainstorms.
Indiana - Bad rainstorms - people stop driving right in the middle of the freeway when it starts to rain.
Iowa - Winterset, Iowa.  One of the most beautiful places on earth.  And the birth place of John Wayne.  And where my little VW golf easily went over 100 mph.
Kansas - Scary gas stations.
Kentucky - Airports count, right?
Louisiana - New Orleans with my mom when I was in high school.  Swamp tour.  Real live alligators.  Biggest bugs I've ever seen.
Maryland - Go terps!
Michigan - Upper Peninsula.  Little Caesars pizza had chopped up pepperoni.  We drove on an island with white deer.  I got "hand dipped" ice cream and thought that it meant it would be like a brown topper from the Arctic Circle, but it just meant that someone would scoop it for me instead of soft serve.
Minnesota - Bemidgi, Minnesota for a wedding, and a nut sack from McDonald's. (inside joke!)
Missouri - Hottest stinking place in the world in July.  Feet stick to the tar on the road. Giant bugs.
Montana - Pretty.  Yellowstone.
Nebraska - Ick to the ickity ick.
Nevada - Everyone only wants to leave Nevada.
New Jersey - Garden State.  Drove here for a concert in Holmdel.  Visited Long Branch and Ft. Monmouth where my grandparents lived.
New York - NY NY what a wonderful town!
North Carolina - Raleigh Durham was the most confusing place to navigate I've ever been in my entire life and I learned that I do not like Carolina BBQ.
Ohio - Got sick at a Perkins restaurant near Huber Heights and spent some quality time in a gas station bathroom.
Pennsylvania - In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days....and Gettysburg.
South Dakota - Rount Mushmoore and Flinstone Park in Custer, SD.
Virginia - DC, Mt. Vernon, etc.  I had a pretty good streak - from 2000 - 2007 I visited DC every single year.  Now, I haven't been back for 7 years.  I'd say it's about time.
Washington - One trip to Seattle when I was 14 and had longish frizzy permed hair.  And wore denim shorts.
West Virginia - I was navigating.  It was a mistake.  The guy at the visitors center was nice, but if I recall correctly, had no teeth.
Wisconsin - a quickie.  Can't really remember.
Wyoming - Only worth driving through.  Casper should be called Crapster.

If someone were to ask me, not that anyone has or will, what my bucket list of "dream vacations" would be, they would all pretty much involve staying stateside.

I want to visit New England in the fall and see all the leaves change colors wearing a big comfy sweater and maybe even a pair of knee high boots - which of course, I'd have to buy because I don't own any boots.
I want to drive through Big Sur in Northern California and read Jack Kerouac to myself (and out loud to anyone who would like to listen) perched in a cabin overlooking the ocean.

I'd like to visit Glacier National Park, the Florida Keys, and take a BBQ tour eating my way through the middle south (Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.).

I've never been to Oregon.  I'd like to explore that coast.

I'd also like to take a Civil Rights tour through the South - maybe follow the bus route of the Freedom Riders from Washington DC to Montgomery, Alabama making the same stops they made along the way in Selma, Birmingham, Atlanta, etc.

I want to walk part of the Appalachian Trail.

I'd like to see some glaciers in Alaska before they melt, and maybe see a polar bear in the wild....from far away.

Of all 50 states,  I may die only having visited 49.  I'm really just not interested in Hawaii.  It feels to cliched and over run with tourists who only wear their bathing suits all day long for me.   And I'm just not a beach/water/fish/swimsuit instead of underwear type of person.  Not sure if I'll every get to Hawaii, but it looks really pretty.

One day, hopefully, all these adventures will get knocked off my list, and I'll have a herd of family to cross them off with me.  One of my most favorite things of my childhood, is that my parents took us on so many adventures with them.  Well, all of their adventures were with us.  As my kids get older and more grown-up, the prospects of taking them to all of these new places to experience together, and to the places that I've been to so many times and love dearly is pretty exciting.  It's the thing I look forward to the most.  Not the places to cross off my list, but the fact that I get to take the people I love the most with me.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spring Baseball for Elliott!

This spring, we signed Elliott up for a second season of machine pitch baseball, but after a marathon day at try-outs, he was drafted into the kid pitch league, to play for the Pirates.  Ross and I debated a bit back and forth about whether to keep him in the more difficult league or to bring him back down into the machine pitch, but we decided to leave him, and I'm glad we did.

He had a great coach, some really good kids on his team, and he really learned a lot.  He mostly played center or left field and occasionally second base or short stop.  He had some really great plays during the season, and even though he had a hard time hitting off of a kid pitcher, he really made some great improvements batting as well.  And this kid of mine learned how to throw hard, and had a lot of practice pitching, and in his last regular season game he got to pitch the last inning.  He was so nervous, but did a fantastic job and I was so proud of him, and was also happy that everyone was able to be at the game to see him do something so cool.





His team ended up only losing three games in the regular season which meant they were headed to a little tournament this week.  Well, this week was cold and after a rain out on Tuesday, their first game was rescheduled for Wednesday but it was too cold so Quinn and I didn't go.  And, we missed quite the game.  In the bottom of the second inning, with bases loaded, Elliott hit a triple, knocking in all three runs, and his team blew the doors of to a pretty easy victory.

But, last night, victory did not come and the Pirates lost.  Elliott was pretty bummed out.  He loves baseball - maybe almost for the social aspect more than the actual sporting component and the fact that he didn't get to hang out in a dug out a couple of times a week any more was pretty upsetting to him.  So, after a few tears, and some decent attempts at pep talks from me, the mom, and a trip to in-n-out, the kiddo seemed to be okay.

He is such a good kid and had a great season!  He's got many more seasons ahead of him and I couldn't be more excited or more proud.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spring T-ball for Wyatt!

Wyatt played coach pitch t-ball again this year.  Ross was his coach again this year.

He did a great job.

He did not cry.  Except for the time he got smacked in the face with a bat, when it was totally appropriate to cry.

Wyatt is a really good little baseball player.  He throws straight, hits hard, and runs fast.  It's fun to watch him and he really has a great time playing.   Next year, he's on to machine pitch....heaven help us because that will be interesting.

Wyatt's games had a lot of overlap with Elliott's games this season and since dad was the coach, we had to split up so Elliott and I didn't make it to all of Wyatt's games but we did our best.  I brought my nice camera to his last game, last week and between Elliott and myself, we got a few good pictures to document his season as an oreo Oriole.

As always, I'm proud of this kid and he looked great in a uniform.






Friday, June 13, 2014

Praise to the Man


I've said it before, but I have a lot of faith and I believe in miracles.  I believe that, no matter the circumstance or situation, no matter the joy or heartache involved, it's part of a bigger plan, one that though before I was born I may have been privy to the details, now that I'm here on the earth, I'm just along for the ride.

Sometimes with tears of sadness and frustration.

Sometimes with tears of pride and joy.

This week though, I was able to pray fervently for a couple extra miracles for my grandpa and along with, hopefully, the rest of my family, we were able to bring those miracles to fruition.

My grandpa's fall, broken vertebrae in his neck, and subsequent surgeries and rehabilitation stays started three months ago on March 17.  It's been a long and arduous road for him to recover from neck, prostate, and a bevy of other physical maladies and mental and emotional hurdles.  As a family we've visited when we could,  I've visited on the rare opportunities I've had to be alone while running errands, and we've prayed for him night and day to get better.

The biggest battle he's been waging is with his swallowing mechanism.  Every two weeks, for months now, he's had a swallow test where they put barium in his throat, hook him up to some sort of x-ray machine and watch how he swallows certain foods.  But, the small flap in his throat that blocks his windpipe when he eats to prevent him from aspirating has been malfunctioning and thus, he's had a feeding tube for months.

Though the folks at the rehab place love my grandpa, and he's had some really good experiences there, he has been so ready to get out of "prison" as he has called it, and the last few weeks has been more adventurous - visiting graves on memorial day, and heading home for a few hours every Saturday to supervise the yard work and the pool preparations.

But this week....THIS WEEK....we finally got the miracles we've been praying for.

On Tuesday, my Grandpa was freed of his neck collar.  And my mom said the first thing he did when he got in the truck from the doctor's office was to offer a prayer of gratitude.

On Wednesday, my Grandpa passed his swallow test.   He passed! My mom was there.  She said everyone cheered.  Many cried.  That all those who my grandpa has touched during his stay were there to support him and were so excited for him.

Passing the swallow test means no more feeding tube.  No neck brace, no feeding tube means no more rehab and he gets to go home.  His home has been made ready for him, it's almost beckoning to him to return.  He has to stay a few more days to get him off the sauce completely, but soon he will be home.

And the first thing he wanted when his freedom from the tube was declared.

A diet coke!

Grandma would have been so proud.

And the first thing the boys and I did when we rushed to visit him after school on Wednesday?  A happy dance of course.  We made him laugh.  Not sure if it was at us or with us, but we'll take the laugh, because we haven't seen him do that for months.

My grandpa is the wisest man I know.  He is the most faithful.  The most strong.  The most honest and true.  He has dealt with this trial and hurdle with grace and veracity.  He has fought to get better and stronger and tougher.  He sits in his room and listens to the scriptures on CD.  He still attends church and bears his testimony.  He has invited others at the center to go with him.  He is the best example of the grace of God that I have in my life.  I have always "feared" my grandpa, but in the true biblical sense of the word.  I have never been afraid of him.  But I have the deepest respect and gratitude for him and his life, just like I do for the Savior.  He is to be honored and respected always and forever.  Just like my grandma's.

I am so proud of him.

I am so happy for him.

He is going home.
First activity of the day - easter egg hunt at rehab.  My grandpa is awesome and so is my mom.  #wishihadherstyle

Friday, June 06, 2014

Quinner :: 21 months


This little boy of mine is the coolest kid ever.  If you miss one day in the life of Quinn, it feels like you miss a lifetime in the life of Quinn.  He changes every single day, like most little kids do, and he is constantly reminding me of that line in Ferris Beuhler's Day off.

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around, you could miss it."

This little squirt of mine is almost two.  He is so funny and smart and just melts my heart every day.

Right now, he loves sunglasses and blowing bubbles.  If he sees you get the stroller out, he jumps right in, ready for a ride anywhere you are willing to take him.  He lowers his own high chair so he can climb in more easily and says the name of pretty much every single food he wants to eat.

He never forgets to say please and thank-you, even when he's crying.

Quinn and Wyatt and I went to the zoo this week.  Since that trip, at home, and particularly in the car, all he can do is talk about the animals we saw at the zoo.  And, every animal is a baby, even if it isn't. Our conversations have been like this, non stop, since our trip:

"Baby biraffe, mama."
Yes Quinn, we saw a giraffe at the zoo,
"Baby Orilla, mama."
Yes Quinn.  Did we see a gorilla at the zoo?  Did it scare you?
"Uh-huh!  Baby yi-yon, mama.  Baby tat, zoo."
Yes, we did see the lion and the cats, too.  Did you have so much fun at the zoo?

In addition to talking about gorillas, he also only wants to look at books with gorillas (luckily we have quite a few) and have me draw gorillas, which I cannot do.  I am much better at fish, which he isn't interested in.  This kid is completely animal obsessed.  Elephant, rhino, gorilla, bear, giraffe, lion, zebra and horse...these seem to be his favorites, but only in baby form.  In the bathtub, he plays with a rhino, a goat, and an ibex, which he thinks is a horse.

And Patrick Star from Sponge bob.  He requests Patrick pretty often, too.

I wish you could be warned when it was field trip day before you went to a place like the aquarium.  That way, you could try again another day when your kids didnt have to fight through 800 other kids to see a fish.  But we still had fun.  Nice new buildi

He loves to tell stories, and is starting to talk so well, even throw out some three and four words sentences which just blow my mind.  We even taught him to blame his brothers for stuff, which is pretty funny.  Quinn will spill some crackers and I'll say, "Oh no.  Quinn what happened?" and he will look at me with a smile on his face and say, "Elliott did it!"  Even though Elliott is at school.  He knows it's a joke and he knows it's funny.

And this boy chose wet dancing on the trampoline

Every night when we say our family prayer in the big boys room, he sits on the edge of Elliott's bed with his arms folded and his eyes sort of closed.  When the prayer is over he says Amen.  Then he waves to his brothers and says, "Night night Eyut.  Night night Iyut.  Night night banket," and walks into his room with his dad to go to sleep.

Lately, we have entered the land of bumps and bruises.  It probably has something to do with being very brave and figuring out how to run very fast.  Skinned knees and foreheads abound, making this kid a poster child for the walking wounded.  But he seems to recover pretty quickly.

This kid loves to be outside, ride his bike, jump on the trampoline, kick a soccer ball, throw a baseball, play in the water, water the flowers, and chase his brothers.  I really don't know what we ever did without him sitting in his high chair and making googly eyes at us while we eat dinner.

21 months next week. I wish I knew why he has to all of a sudden  look like he is five.

Weighing in: 7 long months

As frustrating as it is to see the number on the scale ALWAYS be the same...I guess having my old go to jeans look like this isnt such a bad thing, right?  These were too tight for me just a few months ago and today they are going to the DI. Goodbye to th

I'll admit, as I've done many times before, that I am a slave to my scale.  It's my worst enemy, especially at the doctor's office and the gym, and I've learned not to trust those.  I also know that in a day, my weight can fluctuate easily by five pounds depending on what I've eaten, the weather, my mood, and a million other factors.

That being said, yesterday morning I hit an emotional high, with a new low on the scale.  Finally, after 7 longs months of insanely hard work - long mornings in the gym, working with a trainer, counting calories, cutting out almost all dairy, grains and gluten and 90 percent of sugar, I am finally at the weight I was at in December 2011 when I found out I was expecting Quinn.

But yesterday, after seeing that number on the scale, while I was walking around the lake with two of my little munchkins I had a couple of epiphanies.

1) I have worked really hard.  Minus being pregnant, which was largely out of my control but very hard work nonetheless, I have worked harder on my overall health and fitness since October 2013 than I have on anything else in a very long time, if ever, minus babies.  It's a daily process that doesn't get any easier, but it's still something that I need to keep doing.

2) Because of all that hard work, I need to give myself some credit.  Being a diabetic puts some major roadblocks in front of me, but I'm still doing it.  I keep pounding that dumb scale into my head because it's hardly budged in months.  But, in the big picture, since October, I've lost 18 pounds, lost over 6 inches on my waist alone, am leaner and meaner and am the most physically fit I've been in more than 10 years.  That's something to be proud of.  It often doesn't feel like a lot, but I need to give myself some credit.  I'm going to start trying to do that.

3) I've kicked a lot of bad habits.  Tortilla chips don't taste as good any more, but green beans taste better.  Sugar isn't as satisfying as it used to be and I think I'm finally ready to pass on pizza all together because even one slice immediately makes my stomach upset and bloated.  I am finally starting to realize that there are  foods that make me sick and even though they taste good, they just aren't worth eating, and that I am in charge.  No one is twisting my arm to eat that crap.  It's my decision.  It's my choice to say no to the cupcake or the doughnut.  When I have the chance to eat sugar, it's going to be heavenly and divine homemade sugar!  Even Diet Coke doesn't quite hit the spot like it used to, so I'm considering putting the kibosh on that habit as well, just to see what happens.

4) My healthier eating habits are changing my life.  My hair is softer and fuller and falling out less.  My skin is clearer.  I sleep better.  Even though I still get stressed out every single day, I feel like just in the last two weeks, I'm not yelling at my boys as much and am more rational with them.  I feel like I'm nicer to my husband, in turn he's nicer to me, and that I like him a lot more (and I already liked him a lot.)

5) I don't want to ever be pregnant again.  Just had to throw that one out there.  I've been batting the idea of another baby around for months, but just in the last little while, it's hit me like a ton of bricks that I cannot do that to my body and mind again.  Besides the fact that I could completely fall apart physically, my little family is just about perfect and I need to be healthy to be able to take care of them.

Now, I'm not about to be some health nut.  I'm not going to go and adopt a Paleo diet and even though I just finished reading, "It starts with food", I'm not going to jump on the Whole30 bandwagon or start drinking green smoothies like it's my job.  There are a few more small changes that I'm going to make.  I'm ready to change my exercise routine (and I need some suggestions!) and might just take it outside for long walks every morning instead of sweating it out in the gym.  I really need a break - mental and physical break and the summer time seems like the perfect time to do that.

But, it's really nice to know that on the rare occasion when I've given in to a fast food craving in the last few months, that In-n-Out has never tasted so good.

Anyway - I need to remember that life is good.  That my kids and husband are great.  And that you spend your time doing what is important to you - and what is important to me are my people and I want to be with them - and be healthy for them.


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