Thursday, June 18, 2015

End of May - Beginning of June 2015

Our niece Sarah graduated from high school at the end of May.  We took a trip to Virginia to see her graduate and to visit with the rest of the Bouldens who were coming to town to celebrate.  


But on the way to Virginia, we stopped in Maryland for two nights to visit Dwayne's oldest and best friend Dan and his wife Breeze and their children.  We had all the little kids pose for a photo before we left as you can see above.


Early one morning, I snuck off to take a Bodypump class at a gym in Bel Air, Maryland, about five minutes from our friends' home.  One of my favorite things to do when I travel is find a gym with Les Mills programs, buy a guest pass for the day, and take a class there.  I love meeting and connecting with other Les Mills instructors.  I also love seeing the various gyms and learning from watching other instructors teach.

While we were in Maryland, our middle child fell from a playscape and her two front teeth were knocked out!  There was a lot of blood! And we weren't sure at first whether or not the teeth had been pushed back up into her gums, so we took her to the E.R. that evening and then to a dentist in town the next day just to get X-rays make sure her adult teeth would be fine. Fortunately, everything is fine. She is just cuter than ever with no front teeth.  One of her teeth is already growing in!


Now that we're home, we've also been seeing the "chiro-back-cracker," as my kids like to call her. We want to make sure her alignment is alright, since she complained about her back a few times after the fall.  Everything is well with that, too, thankfully.

Once we got to Virginia, we enjoyed time at the hotel pool and visiting with family at Dwayne's brother's house with Dwayne's parents, all the siblings, wives, husbands, and most of the cousins.

One morning my sister in laws and I got up early to take a yoga class together at the YMCA where my sister in law is a member.


One evening, Dwayne's parents babysat for us and we went out with Dwayne's brother and our sister in law Lisa to The Melting Pot, a place I've always wanted to visit.


My oldest daughter stayed with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Virginia while Dwayne's parents came home with us to Connecticut after the graduation.  That was one of the first times she's stayed away from home, but she did great.

When I got back to Connecticut, I had to attend a practicum for Classical Conversations where I was trained as a Foundations tutor. My little girls got to stay home everyday with my inlaws instead of attending the camps at the practicum as they normally do, so I attended the practicum alone this year and that was actually, really relaxing.  I talked to my friends and I learned so much from the lectures.  I purchased many books and materials we will need next year at the practicum bookstore, which was also very fun.  I bought and have already read The Question by Leigh Bortins.  



My oldest is entering adolescence and I don't know every answer to the questions she asks, and even when I have an answer, it's usually an incomplete one. But this book greatly encourages me. Like my dear friend said, "The great scientists would sit with the same question for decades.  Decades! We need to become comfortable sitting with questions like that." 


While my inlaws were in town and willing to babysit, Dwayne and I went out to a nice dinner using a gift certificate we were given by friends at church.  

After a week, my sister in law and most of her kids came to visit us in Connecticut for a few days, bringing my oldest daughter back home. So the grandparents and my sister in law and the cousins were all here for a few days, really filling our house.  While they were in town, my teenage niece and I saw Insurgent while my sister in law took the littles to see Cinderella. We all also visited the Pez Museum and Factory in Orange, CT.  



We're getting our kitchen table repaired and refinished.  It's a Cushman maple table given to us by Dwayne's grandmother.  It's varnish wasn't tough enough for this family and it was cracking, but we found an excellent woodworker who is taking precious-good care of it. Here's what it looked like when it was taken away.


Here's what it looked like the last time I was sent a photo of it in progress. We are excited that it will come back to us beautiful and with a much stronger coat of varnish than it had previously so that we can protect it from ourselves.


My sister in law and her kids went back to Virginia and the next day we hosted a cookout for the youth that attended our Sunday night Bible study and we also invited their parents.  We wanted to spend some time with the youth during the summer, even though we aren't meeting for the study. But we had another reason for hosting a cookout. We needed to use up the rest of our grass fed beef, so the cookout helped us do that!  We get a half a cow every summer, and we still have quite a bit of beef left over in the freezer from last year's cow.


I have stopped buying my kids processed snack foods, officially.  I didn't just decide to do this overnight. It's been a long time coming. I've been eating healthy, whole foods for years, but I hadn't really figured out how to feed my kids healthily since they're so much more picky. The top of this cabinet in our kitchen used to be covered with snacks, crackers, bars, etc. I stopped buying them, slowly let the kids eat up what was there, and haven't replaced the snacks.  Now it's empty and that's a good thing, nutritionally speaking.  For now, the kids have been eating a few healthy things we have that appeal to them like brown rice cakes with nut butter, fresh berries, protein shakes, and/ or hard boiled eggs.  I'll be adding more things to the menu, of course, but I think quality of snacks are more important than quantity of snacks at this point.


My oldest daughter went to homeschool day at Quassy, a local theme park, with a good friend from our Classical Conversations group and her mom.  That was another milestone of sorts.  She is growing up and becoming more mature and independent enough to go do things with other families. She bought stuffed animals and cotton candy with her own money to bring home to her little sisters, which was a really thoughtful thing to do.  



I started getting water delivered. Best. Decision. Ever.  We were using 3-4 2.5 gallon jugs of water each week, so the price of the water, the delivery, and the cooler are still cheaper than what we were spending on water from the store.  And another good thing about this is I don't feel like I am at going to Crossfit when I go to the grocery store.  The cart used to be as heavy as a tractor tire with all the water we had to buy!  



Dwayne and I bought his and her recliners.  They have the same upholstery, but different designs that suit each of our preferences.  It's been nice to read in my recliner and even nap once or twice.  I have been trying to rest more. I have to been making a more conscious effort to rest.  It doesn't come naturally to me, but I believe that it is something I need more of physically and spiritually.  Dwayne's recliner will be a nice place for him to sit after his next foot surgery tomorrow.  During the last foot surgery, he only had a bed to lie flat on his back in and that made being immobile even more trying. 



Once we were settled back into our regular routine, I put some of the Socratic skills I had learned from reading The Question by Leigh Bortins into practice.  I asked my oldest what her school day should look like, what she wants to accomplish, what she should be accomplishing, etc.  With her ideas, we came up with a list that was superior to any I could have made myself and forced on her. Since that day, this is what she usually does everyday, unless, for some reason, we have much less time in a day.   This is in addition to her regular chores, cooking, etc.  She is a very competent young lady.  




I am finishing up my last few classes at the Greater Waterbury YMCA before I take the next season off.  This is a class selfie I took before my Wednesday morning class called 30/30 last week. I have asked to be left off the next season's schedule.  The break will give me on or two months off so I can help Dwayne recover from his next foot surgery.  I am probably going to sub a few classes, but it will depend on how Dwayne is doing and what times I am offered.  At that point, I may go back on the next schedule if Dwayne has recovered enough and there are class times that will work for me and my family.


I am still exercising. My main goals now are to gain more muscle and flexibility, so I have been doing a lot of Bodypump and Bodyflow and much less cardio like Bodycombat, as much as I love it.

People ask me if they should go to the gym or get DVDs at home.  I tell them that I teach classes, I take classes, I do my releases at home- whatever I need to do on a given day.  Success isn't about exercising at the gym or at home, it's about exercising whenever, however, and wherever it works! And if people are asking me about weight loss, well, I tell them that has hardly anything to do with exercise.  That comes with proper nutrition.



I am still doing the nutritional cleanse that I started at the end of April.  The program combines so many good things- nutritious supplements, whole, low glycemic foods, high-protein meal replacement shakes, intermittent fasting, etc. At this point, I have lost fifteen pounds and my goal was to lose twenty, so I may be done soon.  I want to be at my healthiest body composition and then maintain that.  I have much more energy for exercise now, so even though it's hard to believe, I enjoy exercise even more than I did a few weeks ago. But I also have plenty of energy to exercise and still do my important work at home with my kids, which is even more important.



I've started using the envelope system for my budget and I got this new wallet with envelopes and ledgers in it. So far, the envelope system has helped me stay within my budget each month and I usually have at least some money to spare in each category, which is really exciting.  When you spend cash, it's true that you absolutely spend less.  I don't feel as if we are going without anything we need, either.  If you are going over budget, consider switching from debit to cash.  I can tell you from experience, it really helps.
  


This month, I've attended two webinars at night at home on my couch. I love learning this way! I think it's a new hobby!  Technology can bring you into the same room with experts and I always like to say that there's no better way to learn than by overhearing smart people talking.  The first webinar was a book discussion on "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch" by Classical Conversations.  The second was about fat loss and nutrition by Leslie Ann Quillen.  

I have been reading a few other books to learn new things this month, too.  The first was Go Pro by Eric Worre.  It's about network marketing, something I realize I may actually enjoy doing since I have already been doing it for years.  I thrive on building relationships with new people and learning from them and talking to them about the things they are passionate about and telling them what I am passionate about. It was eye-opening to read this book and realize I'm pro network marketing after all.  Everyone has something to offer other people. There's no shame in offering what's good. Here's a quote I liked from the book.  


I am also reading Why Diets Are Failing Us by Peter Greenlaw, Dr. Dennis Harper, and Peter Greenlaw, a book recommended to me by a friend and certified personal trainer and health coach.

I'm reading A Student's History of Natural Science by Stephen M. Barr, another book I got at the Classical Conversations practicum this year. I honestly didn't think I had any interest in the history of science, but because so much history has been affected by scientific theory and so much is accomplished by scientific discovery, I am coming around.

I am reading iPhone for Dummies, because I am tired of having an awesome phone that I don't know how to take advantage of.  One of my main goals right now is to start using the electronic calendar, instead of my paper calendar, so that I can start communicating more effectively with my very professional husband and my friends.

Our small group had a pool party/ BBQ at our friends' the McCandless' house.  It was nice to be there and visit with some of closest friends before we go into another season of surgery/ recovery/ therapy.


I'm getting a physical next week, so this week, I had blood work.  This year, I want to pay much closer attention to my numbers, etc.  I used to wait until I was sick or in pain to go to the doctor, because I was too busy. Now I realize I'm too busy (and too important to these kids) not to go.   


I had to use my last gift certificate for a massage that Dwayne got me for my birthday a few years ago, so I scheduled a massage with my good friend Vanessa, who is a massage therapist and was also at the BBQ-pool party above, actually.  I know it sounds luxurious (and it was), but I actually have an issue with one shoulder being higher than the other (from carrying babies on my right arm) and it has lead to muscle pain in my back.  So with visits to the chiropractor, massages, and more Bodyflow, I am hoping to set things right.



After the message, I took Vanessa to dinner. We had Mexican!  Vanessa is also using nutritional cleansing to get healthier and coaching people in the program, too.  God is always blessing us through our friendship and now we share even more common interests and experiences.



We're also fixing our Jeep's air conditioner right now. Dwayne is actually working in tandem with our mechanic to save us money and save the mechanic his time (which is our money).  We are hopeful that it will be done before Dwayne's surgery tomorrow.  Dwayne will pick it up today.  We think we will be selling the Jeep since Dwayne has been provided a car from work and we could use the money to continue to pay off our debt snowball.  (See Dave Ramsey- Debt Snowball.)



It's been a busy few weeks.  But I am thankful for the full life that Jesus gives us.  He also gives us great gifts, but the richest blessing we have is one another and other people.  Everything else is good, too, but oh so secondary to people.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Girls Night Out To The Ballet


My oldest and I attended her friend's ballet recital on Friday night.  It was an excellent production called Just Because It's June by The Woodbury Ballet
  

I chose the dress I wore because my daughter's friend's mother, also a dear friend of mine, gave it to me several months ago and I wanted to surprise her.


We greeted her friend after the production with flowers and the girls posed for a photo together.  Even from where I sat in the audience, I could see that my daughter's friend's movements exuded great feeling. She dreams of being a ballerina and then becoming a nun; beautiful dreams fitting for a beautiful girl! I love and enjoy my children and my friends, but I've also come to discover a great capacity to love and take joy in my children's friends and my friend's children!