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Friday, January 23, 2015

Sunshine on my shoulders


These were taken a few days ago when the sun was out. I am always amazed how much difference sunshine makes. I am most definitely solar-powered. There is something that makes me catch my breath when sunlight hits freezy trees:


 
As always, if you click on a photo it can be viewed larger. This bottom picture will look familiar to those of you on Facebook as it's my cover photo. As much as I despise cold, freezy trees are pretty awesome.
 
***
 
The kids actually had some school days this week. Amen and hallelujah! They've finished their first semester and grades have been mailed out. You often hear how moving is such a huge stressor. I've been really impressed with how well the kids did overall with switching school districts and starting from scratch. Even in her parent/teacher conference, Carrie's group of teachers mentioned they'd have thought she was a student here from day one. Proud Mama!
 
It's supposed to be above freezing all weekend, in honor of my birthday, no doubt. Hehe! Today's been a pretty good last day of being *mumble mumble* and I'm looking forward to baking my brown sugar cake to celebrate!
 
Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January jibberjabber

 
While we haven't had much school lately, and it was cancelled again today due to the ice under the snow, we have been up to other stuff. We celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary this month. This poor guy has put up with me for a long, long time. This photo was from his work holiday party.
 
 
 
The kids have taken a session off from their karate class because I'm too wimpy to drive them in the dark and blowing snow both ways while Damon falls asleep in the car, etc. But Dada has been going strong and has leveled up to his next level of krav maga. So did our sweet Zita! This was taken of them right before their test. They both passed and are having fun in their new level.
 

 
Miss Carrie had a small cooking lesson yesterday. The topic was mac and cheese. As she's reading off the directions she reports, "one fourth cup of 2% milk, one teaspoon of migraine or butter," ....
 
I stopped her right there. "Carrie, margarine. Not migraine. Migraines are headaches. We're not adding a dash of headache to the mac and cheese. And the one with a 'b' is a tablespoon, not a teaspoon."
 
She's also informed us that the fire in the fireplace is down to emeralds. "Hahhahahahaa! I meant EMBERS!"
 
And last night, I woke up hearing hooting. The boys had taken forever to settle down, so I was halfway out of bed en route to yell at them before I realized the hooting was coming from outside. Sure enough, I spotted two owl-shapes perched in a big tree out back, pretty much straight out from our window. If they were that loud with the furnace going and the windows shut, I can't wait to listen for them in the summer! I'm so excited!
 
 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Caught in the Act


We're betting this guy or a close relative may be responsible for the theft of Virgil Eugene's frayed red hat. We watched this squirrel wrestle with this windsock, mouth full, for several minutes before he had to admit defeat and skulked off.


 
He sure would have the most colorful nest around! Probably would have won the Deck your Nest 2015 competition...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shivers and Shenanigans

 
Virgil Eugene, our garden Gnome, used to have a red and black striped hat. It's gone missing. We have our suspicions as to the identity of the culprit. We live in a college town now, and are pretty sure it's highly unlikely that his HAT would go missing while HE stayed behind if college students were involved. At any rate, his new hat:
 
 
This week has brought a school cancellation and two 2 hour delay days so far. This morning it was foggy and damp when we woke up to find someone had dredged every tree and bush through powdered sugar:

 
Poor freezy Cheeky Beaky needed a scarf. Thanks, Kate, for the homemade one. If it grows legs like Virgil Eugene's hat, I shall be most put out.


 
Lalaith Havens, our new home, in the grip of January. Lalaith means "laughter" in Elvish, according to Tolkien, and we thought that would fit perfectly. We have already laughed a lot here, and are looking forward to many more years of laughing in our haven from the rest of the world.
 


 
No wonder birds fly south!

 
Did I mention that today it is 6 degrees out?
 
Damon had 3 other students with him in class yesterday. That's it. His teacher said she hasn't seen her morning class for a month. I guess there IS something to be said for afternoon preschool! I haven't had a full kid-free day since December 18. Crazy!
 
We're having some new friends over for dinner tonight. The Decadent Chocolate Bundt Cake is already baked and cooling, but I have a lot more prep work to do, so I'm off.
 
Stay warm!
 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This post is brought to you today by the letters E-l-s-a...


"Winter is coming."

Say all the Starks in George RR Martin's A Game of Thrones series. They can stop saying it. Winter is here once again. We have not had a full school day since before Christmas. December 19, to be precise.

Last week we had 2 hour delays MWF. Tuesday and Thursday brought cancellations. Yesterday school was cancelled again. Today the kids had a 2 hour delay.

We are NEVER going to be able to get up and moving once life thaws out and things are running on time again.

Naturally, this leads me to muse about hibernation and all its wisdom. Who wouldn't want to eat all autumn, stocking up treats and fats so one could sleep through the bitterness of winter? How many of you find it easy to hop out of bed while it's still dark to go shovel your walkways/stairs/driveways while your brain is still in bed, dreaming of warmer memories?

I don't know about you, but I am solar-powered and have an awful time trying to find my motivation, much less use it, when it is dark from 5 PM until 8 AM.

And then there are the germs. How many of you have been sick since November? October? The start of school? Uh huh.

Yet one of the number one goals of the New Year remains to lose weight. How has it not occurred to us YET that our bodies are trying to stay warm to survive? Weight loss programs should start when it warms up. Like in June. If we're lucky.

How is one supposed to go from the candy canes, Christmas cookies, champagne, fruitcakes, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parties, Christmas dinner, and all the leftover snacks to flipping over the calendar (or finding the new one, three weeks into the new year) and magically using willpower? Ridiculous.

How do people stay warm on skim milk/ soy/ no whipped cream drinks?!

There are several comics floating around various walls on Facebook. One has a sad little cartoon person stating, "The air hurts my face. Why do I live where the air hurts my face?"

It's a valid question!

Another has a bird with a decorated Christmas tree, a cheerful snowman, pristine snow, and a happy heart. He's singing "fa la la la la..." and the caption says either December or Christmas, I forget. The frame below it has the same bird looking pretty bedraggled, a half melted snowman, tracks and slush everywhere, lights taken off the tree, and the bird is stuttering, "f f fff fff ff" as the caption reads, "January-Spring. A cold, grey bucket of suck."

Completely appropriate. And completely hilarious to our middle schooler, though we all try to refrain from using that word.

2015 has been rough starting year. Our friend Helen's husband Jack passed away, our car was rear ended and totaled, our mailbox has been demolished by a plow (we think), and a mom from my moms' group has a sister who was in a car accident that left her oldest daughter in the hospital while she herself recovers from knee/leg/arm injuries. Both younger girls were fine. I'm sure you could list several accidents and injuries and even deaths yourselves.

Winter is here, and it is scary and uncooperative.

Can you tell that I'm a hater?

To cope, we're doing what people have done forever. We eat. We're having people over for dinner tomorrow- new work transplants. A family from South America and another coworker. We're trying to practice hospitality in a big way in 2015. Which means I'd better go and clean up so they're not frightened back to South America tomorrow night...

But I'll leave you with this. I saw it in the movie theater and thought it was hilarious. I'm not promoting any weight loss system, I'm just trying to brighten your day. It makes me laugh every single time I see it.

Be human. Stay warm. Do what you gotta do to survive the winter, and give yourself some grace. YOLO.



Sunday, January 04, 2015

All things new


Happy New Year!

Yes, I realize it is already January 4th and that I haven't posted for weeks. Christmas Crazy tends to take over at our house just like it probably does at yours. 

The kids finished up their first semester of school, Carrie got her orthodontic expanders out, Grandma Barb and Pap came for actual Christmas, and Grandmama and PaPa visited for New Year's. Dada and I made it to the movies twice (first times since "Maleficent") to see the last of "the Hobbit" and "Mockingjay". We rang in the New Year with friends from college, made it home intact, and then Dada got rear ended into our driveway Friday night before the freezing rain hit.

Life is... odd.

Tomorrow the big kids will go back to school and Dada will take my vehicle to work. Tomorrow night we'll pick up his new-to-us Honda Accord, which we haven't named yet. Damon will go back to preschool on Tuesday. My Girlfriends and I will meet up again on Fridays to cover our kids and their school in prayer through the 2015 school year. Moms' Bible study will start up next week, and life will settle into status quo...

Except. 

It's a New Year. Our pastor, Lee Powell, spoke today about how only 60% of people even make resolutions for the new year and that only 10% of those people keep them. He talked about how women succeed in achieving their goals more consistently if they work with others- the accountability factor, I suspect- and how men succeed if they write down goals. We heard about self-discipline and how you need a plan to be truly successful. Naturally the tie ins to football were made, as was the adage about "if you don't have a plan to succeed, you have a plan to fail."

What are your resolutions?  Are you among the 60% who make them? Have you statistically been among the 10% of those who succeed at your goal? Have you lost weight, quit smoking, served others, started a positive habit or quit a bad one? What do you want from 2015? What's your plan to go get it? 

Britt Nicole sings a song called Breakthrough that kind of pumps you up into thinking about new beginnings. Lee mentioned a quote stating that a breakthrough comes after a breakdown. I don't know about you, but I've had plenty of breakdown moments in 2014. It's easy to kick off a new year of new beginnings with optimism and momentum and drive and focus... as anyone who's tried to accomplish hard goals like the aforementioned quitting smoking or weight loss knows, it's easy to become discouraged when the battle turns into a war without end. Doesn't matter what you're facing: a less-than-desirable diagnosis, parenting, bad habits, getting out of a rut, getting out of debt, cutting out draining relationships, etc. Any of them, and especially more than one of them, can be exhausting when you realize that yes, you made it through today but tomorrow will arrive and the day after that and the day after that, and you're going to have to keep choosing and choosing and choosing. 

Don't let guilt and/or shame about a step or a slide backwards make you quit. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:11:

     ...Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with
     faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the
     good fight...

Lee pointed out that fighting the good fight is action and it's moving forward. It's not passive. Only you can change yourself. If not now, when? Are you waiting for a crisis to force you to change your diet, into exercising, to quit? 

I'm the first to admit that I was standing behind the door when they were handing out self-discipline. It is no strength of mine, but I am determined to make 2015 a breakthrough year. I'd love to hear what all y'all want to achieve this year as well. Carpe diem!