Thursday, October 25, 2012

A New Decade, An Old Decade: Friday Quick Takes

It has been quite a few weeks since I have felt like writing much of anything. There are a few reasons for that, the main one being that homeschooling is kicking my butt, but the other one being that I am having a hard time coming up with anything to write about that is not negative. I don't want to be a whiny baby. I don't want to be that person who looks at all she has been blessed with and can only see the things that are less than desirable. I don't want to be that person, but that's how I have been feeling, so I figured it was best to keep it to myself. An entertaining, funny, snarky, serious, insightful, or informative writer, I am not. Whining I can do, but no one wants to hear it, so quiet I have been.

This week, we have a had a few major milestones with our first-born child and these are the kind of positive things that I think are worthy of sharing with the world.

We celebrated Gabriel's 10th birthday on the 24th. This wonderful, sensitive, loving, caring, sweet, and innocent little boy whom we are so blessed to be able to call 'son'.

He was always happy. I'm a little biased, but he was the most beautiful baby EVER.

Gabriel was so wonderful, so easy, SO perfect, that only a short ten months into his life, as soon as it was possible, we couldn't wait to have another baby. He was, and still is, a wonderful big brother.

He loved his little sister, and was so proud to be a big brother, even at a mere 20 months old himself.

Gabriel has always worn his heart on his sleeve and been very sociable. Everyone at the playground was his new best friend, and to this day he still can't fathom why some kids just aren't nice and don't want to play with him.

Look at that sweet face, not a mean bone in his body.

Gabriel was, and still is, a momma's boy. And a Daddy's boy. He loves us. He really, truly, loves us very much and cares deeply about  our wishes. 

I just can't get over the fact that my little boy is already done with his first decade of life. My little boy! MY Gabriel! I have less than a decade left with him to mold him into the wonderful adult that I know he will be, since he is already more than half way there. That's crazy talk! 

We're talking about THIS little boy:

No, no. Not that one, he's too old. I meant this one:

Or even this one:


I don't know who this is. This is just some older child with two digits in his age that lives in my house. 

And he just started his training to be the altar server for the Latin Mass. And he is excited about it. EXCITED! It is so much hard work, what he's about to learn, seeing as how we have gone to Latin Mass exactly ZERO times. He has no clue, really, how much work this is going to be. I think he's going to do great, and I couldn't be more proud. 

But still, we can't possibly be talking about the same child, the priest and I, since he asked for Gabriel the ten year old.

And this is my little boy. Clearly not yet Altar Server material.

I'm going to go sob into some whine now, and look at more old pictures. Sometimes I do that, thankfully not often.

For more Quick Takes, go see Jen!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Quick Takes: Preparing Your Home for a Long Trip

We just returned not twenty-four hours ago from the longest trip we have ever taken. Longest in the miles in which we traveled, and longest in the time in which we were gone, which happens to have been eight days.

In case you were wondering, it takes a family of seven approximately two days to drive from northern to southern California if you stop for basic needs and sleep in between once you reach the daily limit for time in a car with small children.

It was fun, we saw family, we experienced living in an oven for a week (which we missed EVER so much!), my brother-in-law got married, we came home. My kids got a bonus car tour of California's highlights down the valley and back up the coast, in addition to an unending supply of chocolate cereal, candy, soda, and various other junk food. Definitely a win for the kids on this trip.

While there is much to be said about the experience of a long road trip with a large family, I think the major points have already been covered by Cari, and better than myself.

What I want to talk about is how to prepare your home for you to be gone for more than a few days. Some of the items on the list are things I already knew to do, but other things I have added upon my observations after coming home last   night  four days ago (yep, that's how long this took me and that's how my week has been). This is just as much for me, as it is for you. Although it will be a really long time before we go anywhere further than downtown, at this point. It is SO good to be home!

Preparing your home when you are leaving for a long trip:

1. This should go without saying, but be sure to empty all of your trash cans right before you leave. Sometimes, this is good enough, but after whiffing the audaciousness coming from my empty kitchen can when I got home last night I would go one step further and spray every can down with a disinfectant and leave the can open while you are gone. "Bleechy clean" beats "festering diaper odor" any day.

2. Strip down all your mattresses (specifically kid's beds that have been blessed with pee) and let them air out while you are gone. Bonus step: Spray them liberally with febreeze or other deodorizer. Make sure you have clean sheets to make the beds right away when you get back, since you will probably arrive home right past bed time with two-three sleeping children who will promptly pee on your freshly deodorized mattresses.

3. Put something in the freezer for breakfast the first morning and dinner the first night back. You will be glad you did, since you are going to have to get rid of all that perishable stuff in your fridge that can't sit there for more than a week like milk, eggs, meat, leftovers. And this takes me to my next pointer....

4. You may as well get that fridge cleaned out while you're at it!

5. Try to get all the laundry washed before you go, or at least anything that is smelly and damp, because it will only get worse with each passing day and you DON'T want to come home to that stink. Make sure you leave your washing machine open to dry out while you are away so it doesn't start to smell. The same goes for your toilets; clean and open to avoid any funk.

6. Put a hold on your mail, or have a neighbor pick it up for you. The same goes for any deliveries you have like the newspaper. You especially don't want to make it obvious that you are gone for anyone ill-intentioned passing by.

7. The last thing to do before you walk out at that door, and make sure YOU are the last one to walk out the door, is turn off all the lights except the front porch light, make sure all computers, thermostats, coffee machines, alarm clocks, and basically anything else on auto is turned off, then check all the doors.

Now walk out that door, get in your car, and don't look back!*

*any egregious omission of something obvious is due to exhaustion from said trip, beer, and potato chips. Heed my advice at your own risk.

See Jen for other Quick Takes that probably put mine to shame.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quick Takes: Music and Ice Cream and Big Feet, oh my!

1. My oldest, dearest, sweetest child Gabriel was badly in need of new shoes, seeing as how his current pair of really awesome Vans high-tops were thrashed and looking too small. To the store with five children I went! Seeing as how our options in CC are limited to Payless and Walmart, and knowing my sons ability to trash cheap shoes in ten seconds flat, I knew we would have to look further for something better, and that included crossing state borders (tax free baby!) and shopping at Fred Meyer in Oregon. This is only the second time I had been to Fred Meyer, but the first time I really got to take my time and look around. Since it wasn't busy due to everyone being at work and school, we practically had the ginormous store to ourselves, and this store has EVERYTHING!  It's like a Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Safeway, and gas station all in one. We bought hiking boots, socks, binder paper, and groceries, all at the same place. The entire time I was shopping my two little ones were enjoying their mom-free time in the playland with a babysitter, for FREE. Can I get an AMEN to that?

 As a side note, my almost ten year old son has such huge feet (I suppose long and narrow is more accurate) that he is now only three sizes away from sharing shoes with his father. I am sure by his birthday next year he will be handing shoes down to his father. That is weird to me.

In short, I now heart Fred Meyer, and will be doing as much shopping as possible in that wonderful, blessed store.

2. Yesterday The Dave Matthews band released a new studio album and it is so incredibly awesome. It hearkens back to their roots, pulls at our heartstrings, and allows the hubby and I to relive our DMB fandom days all over again. While we have never wavered in our love for DMB over the years, this new album just renews our interest and reminds us why we liked them in the first place. Good job, guys. Oh my gosh, the new album, oh. my. GOSH.

3. Today we wrapped up our first week of homeschool no worse for the wear. I can see where some improvement and *cough* preparation *cough* is needed on my part to make the learning more engaging, but I think once we get in a rhythm and get past the simple review stuff we will be flying right along.

4. We went to the park today for some good end of week running around and my timing could not have been better. At the same exact time that we arrived some other moms whom I recognized from church were there with a group of other moms, none of whom I had met. I made friends today! Like, a group of friends! All homeschooling, some at the same charter school as us, some from my church, all with children close in age to mine. I hit the new friend jackpot. I was even invited to a mom's only clothing exchange, in which food and alcohol will be consumed, and I am going! Oh yes, I am.

5. Enthralling and revealing conversation I had today:

Discussion with JP after he pooped on my floor:
Me: John-Paul, animals poop on the floor, people poop in the toilet.
JP: cows poop in the grass
M: yes, and little boys poop in the toilet.
JP: sheep poop on the ground
M: are you an animal?
JP: no
M:are you a little boy?
JP: no
M:what are you?

JP: I'm a John-Paul

yes, my dear boy, yes you are. smh.

6. Gabriel enjoys watching Beakman's World. Win: Me. Win: Science Education. Win: Gabriel's brain. Win win win.

7. I just remembered I still have Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. I am a lucky gal. 

More quick takes at Conversion Diary, but this week at CampPatton, GO!

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Thinking Positive

Today, I feel just negative, negative, negative. I am throwing myself a pity party, in fact.  Woe is me, life is so hard, blah blah blah.

In hopes of getting out of the rut, let's make a rundown of everything I have going for me today.

  1. I took a shower. That is a wonderful thing, even if it was in the afternoon after lunch.
  2. I am wearing socks. They are clean AND they match! woot woot!
  3. John-Paul is using the toilet for the third day in a row. For both bodily functions! He may be butt-nekkid from the waist down most of the day, and we can't leave the house with him reliably yet, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. That many less diapers that I have to buy.
  4. Yesterday we got our curriculum so we can start our homeschooling. It's going to be awesome. One more step in the right direction.
  5. Also yesterday, I was able to open a child's bedroom window with a butter knife and climb in from the outside before the cat ruined anything after being locked in the room for two hours. That's a good thing. Plus, now I know how to open a window from the outside with a butter knife, so hey, we learn something new every day!
  6. There is still beer in my fridge and it will be consumed this evening. 
  7. God is good.

There ya go. That's the scrape-the-barrel kind of way I feel today. There is always something positive out there, and with great stuff like this, I clearly have tons of great stuff to look forward to. Yup, great stuff.

And just because it makes me happy, a little bonus pic for the day:

That is my dearest Gabriel a mere 9 years ago. Isn't he just the cutest, most gorgeous little boy? He makes my heart melt and he is still a momma's boy. Yessiree, those were the days.

For more Quick Takes, go to see Jen at Conversion Diary

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Embrace the Camera Thursday

It's Thursday again! Amazingly, it is always after Wednesday. Did you know that?

 Every. Time.

 It's TRUE!

So here we are again, embracing the camera. It has been a busy weekend for our family, with a three day visit from my sister and her boyfriend. I am still recovering, even though it is almost next weekend. Also, not so shockingly, I managed to NOT get any photos of my sister and me together over the weekend. 

However, I did manage a pic of me and Erik. These are so rare these days. I must share.

Your turn!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Funny Funny Little Girl

I would not normally volunteer potos of myself in this condition, in which I mean up close, no makeup, roots showing, bad lighting...yea, I'm sure you wouldn't either. BUT, there are exceptions for everything, and the little dearest daughter behind me is such a crack-up. I laugh harder every time I look at this photo series, and it's even better in slideshow form. It MUST be shared with the WORLD!

In all of it's hilarious, little kid fun, I present to you:

If that doesn't make you laugh, well.....then there may be no hope for mankind.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Embrace the Camera Thursday

This is it for today. 

Me and my little guy, John-Paul, morning time fun in our pjs.


There ya go. Next week my goal for Embrace the Camera is to take actual not last minute pics during the week with not the person standing nearest to me when I want to write this post. Also, not blurry. Also also, not with the bluetooth in my ear.

Now it is time to Embrace the Crazy and get my house cleaned up for my little sister AND her boyfriend to come stay with us for the weekend. They are going to be our first guests EVER, since we have ever been married in 10.5 years (excepting when my mom stayed for the birth of #2). No one has ever had to stay at our home before since we have always lived near my parents who have plenty of extra room. But not anymore. Now we have an extra room and are near no one. WE are a destination!

I am so not ready. My extra room is full of bookshelves, I have no extra bed, I still have unpacked boxes. I also have the regular cleaning that goes along with having five childrens. BUT, it's ok. She is my sister and she understands. Plus, there is plenty of time still! They are coming in four, three, two....TOMORROW.

Wait, what?

Cute pic!

Untitled by materfamilias
Untitled, a photo by materfamilias on Flickr.

so, not sure how this got here all on it's lonesome, but head over here to read more!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Late Night Soul Searching

But first, I need coffee.

So I've been thinking about how this homeschooling thing is going to work out, and even though I told myself this wouldn't happen, I am starting to freak out a little (so far, only on the inside). The reason for this is that as I go through my day, or stumble through my day in a chaotic fashion, as it were, I am struck by my glaringly obvious lack of organization and discipline.

At least 80% of the time, I don't have anything for my children to do. I don't have a nifty cupboard of constructive activities to give them, or planned crafts, or interesting games, or even a checklist of chores to assign!  The downward spiral of chaos that comes from bored children is too much, so I am doing what I do best and looking to others on the internet to solve my problems, since I am hopelessly incapable.

It seems to me that the first thing I lack is a set of House Rules. Real rules, actually written out and posted somewhere very visible for children to see, complete with some illustrations, perhaps, for even the non-literate to have a reminder. I envision helpful reminders all over my house, much like in a classroom (or office!) to remind children to turn off their lights, make their bed, put their shoes away, hang up their towel, and most importantly, please, please, please wipe up those huge blobs of toothpaste on the counter and wall and WHERE THE HECK IS THE TOOTHPASTE LID, ANYWAY!?


 So you see, we just need some simple rules, in writing, so there is no mistaking where the line in the proverbial sand has been drawn.

In addition to the rules, I plan to make and implement a chore chart and some discipline cards for the older children in lieu of time-out. This is going to be so much fun, I can't hardly wait! I think my children will be ever so grateful and bow down to my wisdom and wonder aloud "mother, how ever did you know that we have just been dying for you to finally crack that whip of yours!"

Today's awesome ideas, totally not mine at all, brought to you courtesy of Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. I submit to her awesomeness.

Now to go make my rules.

While I do that, you need a light-hearted laugh!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Monday

On the agenda for today: unpacking the rest of the boxes for items that belong in the house. The reason for that might be because we are sick of looking at boxes around every corner, because it can't possibly be due to our first out-of-town visitor who is coming this weekend. Heavens no! I don't clean for people, I only clean for the benefit of my family who lives with me. That's right. So my sister best not be expecting any special treatment like clean bathrooms, clear hallways, or non-sticky sofas.

Another reason I might be motivated to empty out some more boxes:


Yup. My cup is still missing. I can't figure out what happened to the dang thing. I am afraid that it will be forever be a mystery if it doesn't turn up soon. It's only my favorite cup ever, after the other really awesome one I had a few years ago that was broken by a child (shocking, I know). Starbucks doesn't make uber cute cups like this any more, what will I do if I can't find it!? Drink out of a regular mug? Like normal people?

Also happening today, The Man has decided it is time to refinish our dining table. 

Things we like about our dining table: It is HUGE and sturdy. That's pretty much the only thing we like about it. It was purchased second-hand out of desperation, and has served our needs well, but it requires a table cloth to cover up the ugliness.

 A good sanding and a new finish and it can look totally awesome for a while longer. Or at least not hideous, either way, it's a win. We'll see how this goes since the amount of experience we each have doing any kind of similar project is exactly none. I just want it to be done, one way or the other, so we can finally bring the table inside. The large plastic craft type table we have been using in the interim is losing it's appeal, and coupled with all the mismatched chairs we have, at least a large sturdy table would make everything more bearable.

I promise pictures one way or the other. You can see the current finish of our table in the pic of the coffee cup up there, so we'll see how close to a match we get with a new finish, since we are only doing the table top. It might be really awesome, or go horribly wrong.

Now, I must go unpack more boxes of toys. Not because my sister is coming to visit, but only because I want to. I love unpacking and cleaning and organizing. LOVE IT. Don't tell me I don't, because I do.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Embrace the Camera Thursday

Cari over at Clan Donaldson wrote last week about Embracing the Camera by putting yourself in more of the photos with your loved ones. This is something that my husband and I have discussed several times in the past, but putting into practice has been a challenge. It is near and dear to my heart, and I am grateful for the reminder from Cari and grateful to Emily  for starting a Thursday link-up to remind us to put the idea into practice.

Even though the importance of putting myself and my husband in more photos, esp. with our children, has been on my radar for quite some time, there are various poor excuses for not making a good effort to actually do so.

Some of my silly excuses are as follows:

  1. I am always the one taking the pictures, therefore I can't be in them
  2. Erik is not a good photographer. Erik is a horrible photographer. The harder he tries to take a good pic, the worse it is, and this only seems to apply when I am one of the subjects.
  3. We originally preferred the use of a video camera, the better to capture the cuteness of our children, the awesome things they do and say, that cute little laugh, the funny little dance, etc. We briefly owned a camera, don't anymore, yet still seem to be waiting for one to appear.

I know full well that one day, I won't be here anymore. God willing, my children will still be here after me. I don't want them to be trying to put together a slide show or looking through photo albums (or digital frames, more likely), and wondering where all the pictures are of their parents. That would be a tragedy. I am already a lackluster photographer as far as moms go, I frequently do not think to take pics for the moments that most others seem to remember, and I don't even get annual family photos done like I should. But dang it, at the very least we should all be in the daily photos of our lives, even if it's on my phone!


In the spirit of not having applied any makeup and grabbing the closest willing child, here is my photo for the week. Gabriel is the most photogenic person in our family, though all of my children take great pictures, but this one right here, my first born, loves to be in front of the camera. Next week, I want Genevieve to be in the picture somewhere with me, she's a hard one to get as the scowl on her face seems permanently applied these days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nothing is Nice

Sometimes, you need to do nothing. Your body and your mind need the break on occasion, and instead of fighting it, just give in and enjoy it while it lasts.

Right now,I am sitting outside in the sun with my little boy. He needs outside time every day so we don't all go crazy, and today he wanted me to stay out here with him. With a list a mile long of chores to do inside, it's not that I don't want to be outside with him, I just felt like I couldn't.  Then I remembered that the stuff inside will still be there later, and the sunny days around here get fewer and father between as the year progresses. I could use some vitamin D anyway.

This is what doing nothing looks like at my house today.

 Do you ever purposely do nothing? What does your nothing look like?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thinking of You, and Thank You

I've been wanting to write this for a couple of weeks now, and have no excuse to not have made it the first post I should have put up here as soon as we had internet in our new home, but ya know, that would be all organized and thoughtful, which are not my best character traits. So while I sit here all alone tonight, thinking about the friends I left behind in Bakersfield, I remember that I never really got to say a proper good-bye and thank you to most of them.

 While we were in the midst of moving so many wonderful friends came through with offers of help in a variety of ways and that really touches my heart. It's in times of your life when things get tough that you really get the opportunity to see how many wonderful people are in your life, and it's also during those difficult times when you don't get to say thank you and spend time with those people like you really want to.

This is for my friends who offered help, gave us boxes, dropped off clothes for cooler weather (thank you esp for this!), and who took the time out of their lives and day, despite all of the difficulties of daily life with kids, to bring my family a meal. Thank You. Everything you did was SO helpful and we are really grateful. I clearly have some awesome friends, and some of you only came into my life recently and the fact that you still took the time to help us out speaks volumes. Some of you I have known for a few years now, and still was just really getting to know you, and now that I am starting over you are sorely missed.

It's so cliche, but you really don't know what you have until it's gone. For all the coffee outings, book groups, MNO's, holiday parties, and park days that I am no longer there for, I cherish the ones I had with you.

Thank you. Keep being awesome!


Friday, August 17, 2012

Homeschooling Noobs

In keeping with the 'all new for the first time ever' theme in our current lives, we have decided to home-school this year. Truthfully, we had decided this before we found out we were moving, and we had registered at a home-school based public charter school in the area that was going to really be ideal. Now that we have moved, we can't attend that charter school, and have to figure something else out since homeschooling will be even more ideal in our new surroundings. There is another home-school based charter school in our new area, but it does not offer comparable extra curricular activities as the one at which we were registered, and I kind of figure that if I have to pay for these activities myself now, perhaps I should be choosing my own curriculum and cutting the state tests and other requirements out entirely. I haven't decided yet. I have also totally  dropped the ball on getting anywhere close to making any decision beyond 'we are home schoolers now!' I am dragging out the same i've-been-moving-for-an-entire-month excuse and conveniently use it here to fit my needs.

I know the whole half dozen of you (if that many!) who might read this may have some homeschooling experience in your lives, so I am appealing to you to point me in the right direction. Your top three favorite tips, a few linky online resources, favorite curriculum, perhaps? There is just too much out there, and I don't need my head swimming while I try to narrow things down on my own with no reason to choose one thing over the other.

Here are a few of my thoughts right now:

Charter school advantages:

  1. They give me the curriculum and help me make a lesson plan for each child
  2. FREE
  3. Resource teachers and tutors available, as needed, FREE
  4. The keep track of grading, testing, official report cards, makes it easier to possibly transition later if/when needs arise
  5. Some extra curricular activities, classes, labs offered, some free, some at a discount
  6. Easier transition from quasi-involved parent to primary educator at home

Charter disadvantages

  1. Public school curriculum, with public school textbooks
  2. Some schedule/lesson plan requirements that are non-negotiable throughout the year
  3. Still have to take state tests
  4. Generally not as freeing/flexible as doing it yourself, but maybe I need the structure to get me started, but maybe I will resent it just because I like to complain....not sure yet

The charter school office opens this Monday, then I will know more details about this particular school. Until then I am on the fence about it.

What I want out of homeschooling:

  1. Better quality family time that includes Erik, who will probably have mid-week days off and odd shift work hours the whole of our children's schooling years.
  2. Solid Catholic faith based knowledge relating to the world in which we live.
  3. Better understanding of history, esp. related to our faith and the saints
  4. Keeping them home keeps them more innocent, longer. It's a fact.
  5. I want to impart to my children the things that are truly important in life, and learn to better appreciate those things myself.
  6. Flexibility. If we want to go visit our family or take a trip overnight in the middle of the week when Erik is home, it shouldn't be a problem. Our time should be our time.

So, can I get what I want out of homeschooling from the charter school, I don't yet know. But if I choose to do it on my own, which I really want to, I don't know where to start. Where do I go to keep it simple, cheap, and cover all my bases? Where do you get your stuff? What curriculum do you use? Is there anything online based?

Please, just hold my hand, tell me it's going to be ok, and point me in the right direction for success. I know it's a highly traveled road these days, and there are lots of different ways to do it, just give me something good to start with.

P.S. I have used St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the past, for half a school year, for one child. While it is fantastic material and curriculum, and I might use some of their books this year, it's not quite what I think I am looking for right now. Lots of work. Unless you think I should look at it again. Do you think I should? I'm desperate people, can you smell it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Virtual 5k Linkup

About six weeks ago I completed my first, official, 5k run. It was awesome, and it was even RAD! I hate to say that for an entire month after that 5k I didn't do any running, partly due to the ridiculous heat of the central valley in the summer, but mostly due to the process of moving our family 700 miles away in as little as two weeks notice. 

I missed my running! I know, I know, I am just as shocked as you to be saying that. About five years ago, after my third child was born, I was at my heaviest and Erik and I started a journey to better nutrition and exercise together. At the time, I was all about the strength training, building muscle to burn more calories while at rest, and I really enjoyed it. The results were fantastic, the weight loss was easy, my body looked great. I even maintained most of my strength workout throughout most of my pregnancy with my fourth child, and I looked and felt great right after having her. Don't be too jealous, because that was the only time that happened. You see, the inherent problem with the strength training, at least for me, is that it demands a strict schedule. You have to do it on time, working on certain areas of your body on exact days of the week, and you have to have a specific plan to follow with which to measure your progress and gauge your success. You have to have a plan, and you have to be able to follow that plan to a fault, or you will not get the results that you are looking for. Well, it's hard to follow that plan when all the weights and equipment are at the gym, your baby can't yet go to the gym, your children are at home in the way if you are trying to at least maintain your current status at home, life is hard, woe is me, blahblahblah. So for a few years I went to the gym inconsistently, had a fifth baby, and was never really able to start working out again like I wanted to. And it's not from lack of commitment, there is just nothing you can do when your life just doesn't work that way at certain points in time. I think I was pretty hard on myself about it, knowing that if I could just find the time I could look and feel so much better, and everyone around me made it seem as if I could make the time if only I was more committed, but it always means sacrificing something, and I had nothing deserving of being cut from my life so I could selfishly go to the gym and work on my physique.

About a year ago, after seeing a few of my friends start running who were no worse off than me, I looked into the couch to 5k program. Cardio is not my thing. When I was weight lifting, I always knew that if I was willing to add cardio on my rest days, I would see faster results, but I just loathed the treadmill. I would prefer to do squats in a corner all day over any activity on the treadmill for any more than 5 minutes. Since there was no exercise going on in my life at the time, and running was so much simpler than having a plan for weights, I decided I would give it one really great, honest-to-goodness try. This time I researched running, watched youtube videos on how to run (since in the past I would get shin splints immediately), researched shoes vs. barefoot vs. minimal running shoes, and lastly looked at the different interval running programs out there. I made my choices and started the program. All last summer I followed my c25k program on the treadmill at the gym. I was doing great, amazed at my progress, and couldn't wait to get outside when the weather cooled down and try out my new running skills. 

Well, the weather did cool down in September, and I tried running outside, and let me be the first to tell you that you can't learn to run on a treadmill and expect to go outside and pick up right where you left off on the treadmill. No siree bob! You pretty much have to start all over with your program. I did not know that, and after a few days of running on asphalt I had shin splints and had to lay off. It worked out pretty well, since the school schedules and my lack of discipline in the mornings kept me from any regular exercise in the fall and winter. After my chiropractor introduced me to foam rollers (youtube these things, you will never regret it) and the weather warmed back up, I was ready to try c25k again, this time outside. It just so happened that the Color Me Rad 5k was announced about the same time, so I immediately signed up and had myself a deadline. I would be dammed if the 5k came around and I couldn't at least run the whole thing, even if it was a slow run. It was a few months out so I had plenty of time to work my way up to the 5k distance, and it did take about that long. I don't care what the nine week 5k programs tell you, I believe it takes most people an average of three months, and that is only if you are dedicated. The beauty of it is that you just have to make sure you get your run in, which most people can do in their own neighborhood, and it's only about 30 minutes three times a week. When I was doing strength training at the gym, including drive time, it was averaging me about two hours at least three times a week. 

The thing about running, and exercise in general, is it really makes my day feel more productive. It's a great way to get your body moving, wake up your mind, get some fresh air, and it just gives you some clarity to your day. For me, if it doesn't happen in the morning, it's probably not going to happen at all.  Much like Cari over at Clan Donanldson, when I exercise I am calmer, happier, more patient, and my daily life just seems to come together a little bit better. It also gives me focus, not just on my exercise, but it has made such a huge impact on me to have some personal goals with a deadline. In fact, after my 5k last month with nothing definitive to work towards, my running and my desire just languished. That is why I am excited about Cari's idea of a virtual 5k on the September 29 over at Catholic Exchange. Unfortunately for me, I have an important family wedding to attend that day, but I will be participating and working towards it, probably for the weekend prior to the 29th. Now that I have another deadline, I feel like I have order in my life once again. As long as I can get up and get going in the morning I will keep running. 

So long as my phone keeps playing the music, because when the music stops, I stop. Can't run without the music. It's a fatal flaw.

What are you waiting for, get going!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Old News, New News, NEWS!

We MOVED! That news is so old at this point, it's ridiculous. I don't even want to talk about it anymore. I'm such a beginner at this blogging business that the idea of writing all the great posts that I haven't yet written pertaining to moving would stalemate me for at least a year. So, onward!

It may be close to a month since my last post, but I am happy to say that I finally get to put some stuff up here. For the first time since the moving process began I managed to get all children in bed by 9. By myself. Heck YES!

Instead of boring you with descriptions of the beautiful place in which we now live, which is inhabited by some locals who make it quite clear we are no longer anywhere near a big city (or even town), I will attempt to post some interesting pics of our adventures thus far, and give you some quick pointers of the awesome things which we have thus far discovered.

Awesome pic attempt numero uno:


Well, that wasn't so bad. As long as I don't mind converting every photo to html. If you know a better way to put pics from flickr or instagram here on blogger, I'm all ears! I can NOT figure it out, and keep running out of patience whenever I look it up.

Moving on, that was on our first foray into the awesome Redwood forest. This particular hike, accessible in under ten minutes from our house, is in a large area of old growth Redwoods which consists of several different famous groves and backs up against the Smith River. Come to think of it, this town is so small that everything is accessible in under ten minutes from our house, and let me tell you I have been driving on the same tank of gas for nearly TWO WEEKS!! That is amazing, in and of itself.

Here is something else that is just three miles down the road:


The Beach!


A Lighthouse!!

It's pretty cool. We're excited for now. And something we are learning really quickly is that it doesn't matter how numbingly cold the water is, the kids will still get in it. I am not the prepared parent type of person. I am lucky if there are wipes in my van most of the time as we don't usually go unexpected places with unpredictable outcomes. This is all new to us, and being prepared is not yet my forte, so wet sandy kids, no towels, no swimsuits, no change of clothes....this will be my hard lesson learned one day when it really kicks me in the ass.

Moving on:


We had moved to town just in time for the Del Norte County fair. Hurray! I thought. No heat, no dirt, no stinky animals, no gang members, no huge crowds, and no horrendous prices like we were accustomed to in Kern County. And mostly, I was right. As you can see in the picture above, aaaallll those people probably make up about half the county, so when everybody else showed up later, it was only kinda crowded. That's my helpful brother in the foreground. But as far as the horrendous prices, I am saddened to say that the ridiculous cost of taking a family to the fair is universal, and we are not going again for several years, if ever. After admission, some food (most of it is awful these days), and a few beverages, you are easily out more than $100 and still have to purchase tickets for the rides. After seeing the cost of the rides, we swiftly urged the children to pick their one favorite ride, and then left immediately. In short, this fair was everything a fair should be, except affordable for a family.

Shameless Cuteness:


A few other exciting tidbits that have made our new home enjoyable:

1. There is a farmer's market twice a week

2. I found a local organic dairy who distributes at some of the grocers in town, but even better, you can drive to their dairy, take milk from their fridge, and leave money on the HONOR SYSTEM. Who does that anymore?!

3. Oregon is so close, and sales tax free, and gas is much cheaper there, AND they fill your gas for you

4.  Fred Meyer is in Oregon. It is like a Target, Walmart, and Kohl's with a gas station. And they have a play area for your preschoolers to stay for up to an hour while you shop. LOVE.

5. I never have to stand in line for anything. Post Office, Library, DMV. It's all so close, and everything is practically across the street from everything, and it's just lovely. Excpetions to this are Starbucks and Wal-Mart - you will stand in line, and you better be prepared to wait.

6. Our new parish, St. Joseph Church. We have a young priest who has only been there for a month, and he is passionate. It's a small intimate parish community. He is trying to get people back to church, and he described the parish to me as 'orthodox'. There are other home-schoolers, they are teaching the religious classes, and they are awesome! This will be my next post. We are already in love with our new parish. 

That's it for me today. Was this too much? It was too much, wasn't it? Oh well, I will get better. 



I still have yet to find the box that contains my favorite coffee mug. I'm certain it will take us at least until the end of this year to be fully unpacked. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making a Major Move Very Soon on Short Notice

YES! We received definitive confirmation today that we are, indeed, moving quite a ways away from all that our young children have ever known, and we are doing it in a hurry! Literally, as of today, Erik has to report to his new post in two weeks. There may be some wiggle room there, I don't think it's set in stone, but either way, it will be very soon.

I am elated, scared, excited, thrilled, anxious, worried, short, I am calm on the outside and MAJORLY freaking out on the inside. And why, you might ask? Perhaps you have moved a few times in your life, or perhaps you have even moved your family a few times, or even just one major move. Well, then you would have a leg up on us, since our only moves since having more than two very small children have only involved moving a few miles down the road in the same town just to adjust for growing children. We have only done those minor in-town moves a couple times, and no more often than every three years. We have been in our current residence for three years this month, and the place before that for four years. Also, our current residence is the first house we have lived in, so we have that much more stuff than last time, even though comparatively we don't really have very much, it's still a house full of stuff and not an apartment. So yea, the thought of the actual move terrifies me. Five children, one big dog, two small cats, four rooms, kitchen, garage, backyard, closets...all of it- packed in an orderly fashion and moved in a timely manner. I am somewhat doubtful that it can be done well, but I am hopeful that it will all work out. Only time and God's good grace will tell. Also, lots of help from loving helpful family who really want to help.

Aside from just packing our home, cleaning, and discarding of things we can't bring, this move is a major climate change. I'm sure it is probably hot right now, in the middle of July, wherever in the US most of you are, and it is no exception here in Bakersfield where the high temperatures predicted for the rest of the week hover around 105. That's pretty average around here for July and August. Where we are going the average high for July is 65. Let me tell you, I can not wait to get the heck out of here and put on some pants and enjoy that cool weather! What a dream, I tell you!! The only problem with that right now, is that no one in our household has clothing for cool weather. Even in the winter we are lucky if it gets into the low 60's, and it doesn't stay that cool very long, only a couple of months. Up there in the Redwoods it is like that year round.  Dressing in layers is a must, flip-flops and cami tanks will not cut it, and neither will pant-less, barefoot, bare butt little two year old boys, but I digress. I don't even know where to start with the shopping, I generally avoid it at all costs and my poor children barely have enough to get through the week. It's just too many people to shop for, too time consuming, boring, and irritating....oh, and there's the part where it costs a ton load of money to buy anyone anything remotely decent, so I just don't shop.

Lord willing, this will happen. The packing, cleaning, shopping, organizing, last minute visiting, and child-rearing. I am certain there will be some cooking at some point, as well.

As a reminder of why we are going so far away, consider this:

Beautiful Del Norte County has the redwoods, two major rivers, and the pacific ocean. It's the trifecta of natural wonders and family recreation. Beautiful doesn't even begin to describe the area. I grew up there until the ripe old age of nine, but the experience of living there has been with me my whole life and it is something I am so blessed to be able to soon share with my own children.

Blessed, that's a good thing to be.

Monday, July 2, 2012

On blogging, the unknown, anxiety, and prayer

I really want this blogging thing to work out for me. I want to make the time for it, I want to remember later in the day the great idea I had for a post earlier in the day. Like yesterday, when I had something really fantastic I wanted to write about after the great homily I received during Mass. Or like every day last week, when I wanted to write a post for each of my awesome children, to remind myself why I am so blessed and that there is much to be grateful for. It's all there, these great topics, floating around in my head, just waiting for me to make the time to write it up and share it for posterity. Unfortunately, this blogging thing is way more time consuming than I anticipated, at least at the beginning; my biggest hang up right now is the picture issue. Picture problems on the great interwebs seem to follow me everywhere I go! I have pictures here, pictures there, pictures everywhere; except, it seems, in a convenient location that works seamlessly with everything.

Aside from the day-to-day difficulties that are life with a family, we have had extra on our plate as of late, including but not limited to a broken family vehicle, searching for a replacement vehicle, possible and likely move hundreds of miles away, and the hemorrhaging of money that goes along with all of those issues. It's just life, we know that, and tough stuff always seems to happen all at once, and we're used to that, but that doesn't make it any less riddled with anxiety. It's all time sensitive stuff this time, and it's all full of unknowns, and it's all serious stuff. It is consuming our thoughts, actions, conversations, and generally draining us of motivation. I realized I am so riddled with anxiety I have canker sores in my mouth. Apparently, I don't do well when there is unresolved major life-altering stuff hanging in the air.

Now that I know the problem, I need a solution, and I am keenly aware that my solution should have mostly to do with prayer, thanksgiving, and faith. Most recently there has been nothing but stumbling blocks every time we try to accomplish something; the simplest of things has been made difficult by piddly stuff blocking our path. Then I read a post by Simcha Fisher about prayer a few days ago, Praying In Your Native Tongue, and shortly after reading that revealing post my priest gives a homily that obviously was written with me in mind. Now there is no way for me to deny that my ability to let go, to give it to God, whatever it is, is severely lacking. I  have always secretly prided myself on how I thought I was able to easily hand over my problems and just relax, I am good at just letting things go and not being a stress case, but the big things we have right now have more than amplified my weakness, and I am humbled. 

I now know, personally, that it's not enough to just talk about praying, or to just think about praying, but actual prayer is in order. The homily this week about faith, trust, and having the freedom to go where God calls you RIGHT NOW cut me to the core. When things got tough, I turned inside myself, trying to figure out how I can make everything ok, instead of asking God to lead us to the solution. All the stuff right now will be unimportant, probably sooner rather than later, but it can be a permanent lesson in patience, humility, and the strength of prayer and faith.

In short, life is hard, prayer is the answer, never doubt the Lord your God.

And all that awesome stuff that Simcha says about prayer is good to have on hand.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On summer in the San Joaquin valley, two year olds, and moving

It  is summer time here in the valley, which means it is as hot as the interior of a hot pocket outside, in the car, in the can't escape it. When it is in the triple digits like it has been this lovely Father's Day weekend, hotter than usual for this early on in the summer, it means that my kids are stuck inside with me. It feels as if I may as well live in New England in the winter, except maybe worse because it's not even magically white outside and there is no beautiful aftermath to this horrifying weather that might make it mentally bearable. So, extreme heat, AC running constantly, 5 kids under ten in the house with nowhere to go; I don't think I need to spell it out, but just in case it's spelled like this: L-O-O-N-Y-T-U-N-E-S.

Along with the being stuck inside we are SO blessed this summer to have a vocally gifted 2.5 year old little boy who is trying to no longer take naps and needs the daily exertion that only running around outside can give his little body. John-Paul is already the most athletic of my children, at such an early age, and the most gifted speaker. He can ask you, clear as day, to take him to the tractor store and please buy him a backhoe loader and excavator. I know this because he has been talking about it incessantly for days; partly due to his infatuation with large trucks and tractors right now, and partly due to being so bored at home that he has nothing to do but ask for things and whine about them when his requests are refused. Poor kid, all he really needs is some quality time with some dirt, water, and dump trucks. And he still needs regular naps, just as much as I NEED him to keep taking those naps. He wakes up refreshed, I have time for coffee and cleaning, everyone gets to live without the whining for a short while, win/win/win. I am only writing this right now because I put him in his crib and had to tell him, nap or not, he must stay in there and be quiet for a while.

In other news, we may suddenly be moving very soon. The Man works for the State of California, which has not been so great since the economy bust a few years back, and it has hit state employees particularly hard. While state/govt employees typically are very under-appreciated and people the public taxpayers love to hate, state workers are equally loathed by elected officials. They fall into this grey area of people who perfom necessary functions for the state to operate on a daily basis and keep society moving along, but also are seen as people who are sucking the coffers dry (if you are a taxpayer), or as people who are taking money away from pet social programs that get you re-elected (if you are an elected official.) Curse those state workers, doing jobs for little pay, with ok pensions, taking money away from schools, orphans, elderly, disabled, and single mothers! The reality for us right now, due to the state trying to cover it's ass and still give as much away for free to non working peoples, is that there is going to be some job losses in the department in which Erik works, which involves public safety. This time, it's for reals. We can probably stay where we are and he would likely get to retain a part-time position, which would still allow him to work 40 hours a week without the possibility of overtime, but it could have him only working 20 hours as well. It is an unknown. Our other option is to volunteer to bid for a full-time spot at another facility within the state. The only location available with fulltime positions are in remote locations, some in nice locales, some in awful locales. We put in his bid a few days ago and opted for a full time spot in a remote but beautiful locale that is a mere 11-12 hour drive from where we currently reside. The directory above, a picture taken this afternoon by my mother-in-law who is passing through the area today, may tip you off to how small the town is. Also, note the overcast sky and green grass; I can practically feel the mist from the fog on my face, the breeze from the ocean, and sound of the sea gulls nearby are already calling out in my mind. Considering the aforementioned weather where I am right now, I can't wait to get the heck out here, there's just that silly little matter of leaving family and friends behind and starting all over again, but hey, no biggie.