Sunday, June 28, 2015

We have a couple of swimmers!

We moved into a home that has a pool in mid-March.  Since then, I have been eagerly awaiting summer, so we could quickly teach the kids how to swim.  I want to make sure that they are extremely confident, in case they ever fall in accidentally and an adult is not nearby to save them.  Of course, we have many rules about the pool, including the most important--which is they cannot go near the pool unless Drew is or I am out there with them.   I began asking friends for recommendations of swimming lessons and instructors, and very quickly decided that the best method for learning swimming is one where the kids have lessons daily for at least a couple of weeks.  Having the lessons daily speeds up their learning--which is a good thing since I want them to be able to enjoy the pool all summer safely.  Also, class size was important to us.  So, Luke and Abbey began lessons a couple of weeks ago with a highly recommended instructor (thanks, Nikah for the recommendation!)  Luke and Abbey shared the daily, private 30-minute lesson for two weeks and we are very pleased with the outcome.

All ready to go to her last swimming lesson.
When Abbey and Luke first began swimming, they had only swam in our pool 3 times.  Sadly, they had only been swimming a few times more than that in their lives.  So, they literally went into the lessons with no knowledge of swimming.  Abbey was terrified to go under the water, while Luke was excited about it.  The first couple of lessons, their instructor, Miss Joy (who is AMAZING by the way) worked with Luke and Abbey on gaining their trust.  They also pretty immediately were dunked under water to see if they could hold their breath.  Both were successful at that (although that freaked Abbey out even more) and so they got to move on to the next step.  Over the last couple of weeks, Luke and Abbey learned to swim under water, dive for diving toys, jump into the water and get back to the side of the pool and get out.  Luke also learned to take a breath while continuing swimming, although we are still working on that.  They also learned to float on their back and swim a little on their back (although we are still working on that as well).  Luke is actually a very strong swimmer already.  Abbey loves to glide under water, but we are working on her ability to move at a faster pace than a snail--ha!  Also, she hasn't learned yet how to come back up for a breath and continue swimming.  But, having a pool at our home, they will get plenty of practice and in a month or so, I am sure they will be pros.

Here is a video of the two of them at swim lessons.  Their teacher is in pink and Luke and Abbey take turns swimming to her and back to the step in this video.  

She is pretty proud of that bow on her bottom!

Hooray for swim lessons!
Outside the community pool where they had their swim lessons.
Luke graduated the trout program (level 3) and Abbey graduated the minnow program (level 2).  I was happy with those results, considering they both started out level zero and Abbey was terrified to go under the water initially!

Abbey is no longer scared to go under at all and Luke is a little too fearless.  I think he believes he has become a dolphin--although we remind him he has a ways to go, still having a lot to learn.   :-)  I took a little video last week of the kids swimming to Drew in our pool.  They were excited to show daddy some of their newly learned skills. Drew didn't get to see them at their lessons, and so he wasn't sure of what they were capable.  He was pleasantly surprised.  You can tell in the video though, he is still very cautious of letting Abbey swim and gives her some pretty big pushes to the steps.  That is a good protective daddy though. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Funny title, huh?  Those of you who are really into "natural living", health and fitness probably know what I will be talking about here in this post.  Otherwise, you may think this post will be about snagging the basketball after your opponent shoots a basket and fails.  Or, you may even be thinking of "rebounding" in terms of relationships.  Ha!  If that is the case, you may be surprised that I am going to talk about jumping on a trampoline. 

Rebounding, or jumping on a trampoline is SO GOOD for your health.  You know how ecstatic I was when I found out about just how awesome it is for your body?   This was just another reason I could use when trying to convince my husband that we "needed" one.  I mean, I am trying to prevent cancer recurrence, remember?   ;-)  One of the best benefits of rebounding is its amazing effects of detoxification and improving one's immune system.  This is crucial to my preventing recurrence.  Here is just a little about what says about rebounding's benefits:

"The rebounding motion stimulates all internal organs, moves the cerebral-spinal fluid and the aqueous fluid within the eyes (many people claim improved eyesight), and does wonders for the intestines. Many immune cells such as T-lymphocytes and macrophages are self-propelled by amoebic action. These cells contain molecules identical to those in muscle tissue. All cells in the body become stronger in response to the increased G-force during rebounding, and this cellular exercise results in the self-propelled immune cells being up to five times more active. The job description of these cells includes eating viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells, so it is good that they be active. This exercise directly strengthens the immune system.

Rebounding is an exercise that reduces your body fat; firms your legs, thighs, abdomen, arms, and hips; increases your agility; and improves your sense of balance. Rebounding strengthens your muscles overall, provides an aerobic effect for your heart, rejuvenates your body when it’s tired, and generally puts you in a state of health and fitness.

Jumping on a rebounder is remarkably gentle on the joints. There’s no solid ground to suddenly stop the bouncing of your feet. Your movements are perfectly safe, and they make the effect of gravity beneficial.
Some benefits of rebounding include:

• 20 minutes of rebounding = 1 hour of running for cardiovascular workout
• Easy on the bones and joints (when using a therapeutic rebounder)
• Rebounding strengthens the heart muscle
• Profound body detoxification is possible

By working against constant gravitational pressure while bouncing, you resist Earth’s pull. Your resistance is subtle, but it builds cellular strength. Rebounding’s alternating weightlessness and double gravity produce a pumping action that pulls out waste products from the cells and forces into them oxygen and nutrition from the bloodstream."

You can read even more by googling "rebounding benefits".  You will find countless articles and research about its awesomeness.  Anyways--when we moved to our home, we sold our old playset.  We had planned on purchasing a playset for the kids when we got to our home.  However, we ended up acquiring one for free from someone who was looking to get rid of theirs.  So, I have been campaigning for a trampoline for quite some time.  I finally convinced Drew that it would be a great fit for our family.  So, during the weekend where we had 15 visitors to our home, we used the money we had set aside for the playset, bought a trampoline and assembled it.  We figured it would be additional entertainment for all the kiddos that were there. Also, I agreed that it could be my birthday present (which is coming up in July).  So, there you have it.  That is the story of how a trampoline became part of our family.  :-)

And, here is some of the fun the kids are having while detoxing and improving their immune systems-ha!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer 2015

It is officially summer and we are taking full advantage of it!  Here is what is going on in our family this past week:

First, before I move into the fun stuff going on with our family I have to share some news for those of you who have been praying for my parents.  They traveled, along with my brother, Jeremy, and sister, Holly, to the University of California (San Francisco) to see some physicians who are researching Cruetzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD).  This is the disease my mom has been diagnosed with (although the only way to be certain is via a brain biopsy or autopsy).  The researching physicians offered to run numerous tests to confirm the diagnosis to the best of their ability, as well as provide very helpful information to our family regarding the specifics of the disease and how to properly care for my mother.  They confirmed that they were nearly 100% certain that this was the disease that is afflicting my mother.  This saddens us, because it really is one of the most cruel diseases one can be afflicted with.  And, it is extremely difficult to care for someone who has this disease.  But, we are now armed with more information and my dad is in the process of contacting Hospice for an evaluation of whether my mom could qualify at this point.  Usually, you contact Hospice when the individual is within 6 months of passing; however, it is so hard to tell when that will be with this terrible disease.  The physicians at the UCSF believe her disease is slower progressing than most with the disease.  They would guess she may be with us for another year, maximum.  However, most patients with this live only 6 months and we believe she has had this disease for at least 8 months.  Regardless, we know that we need to get certain things in order and spend as much time with my mom as possible!   Thankfully, we have a trip planned to visit very soon.  I just love my sweet mom so much and this breaks my heart.  I am definitely planning on doing an entire post on my mom soon, as tribute and for documentation so my kiddos can remember and know how awesome she is as well.

We have been so busy recently.  This past weekend (Father's Day Weekend) was the first one in forever where we didn't either have out of town guests or were out of town ourselves.  So, we used the time to try to get some stuff done around the house that we really needed to get done.  Also, we made sure to spend some quality time with Drew on Father's Day to show him how much we appreciate him.

The kids each made a little card for daddy using their footprints (and Abbey's handprint as well).  Luke wrote everything on his card to daddy, but of course Abbey needed a little help.
We decided to take a bike ride all the way to our little downtown on the afternoon of Father's Day.  First though, all of the tires had to be aired up.

Drew taught Abbey how to use the little air compressor.

It was her job to stop and start the air compressor at the correct time.  Here, she is waiting patiently.
The kids love to have specific jobs and feel helpful.  Luke's job was to put the caps on after Abbey aired up the tires.  Look at his concentrating face!  :-)

All ready to go--time to get on the bikes and head to the trailhead!

Father's Day was so much fun. Then, as this week began, so did Luke and Abbey's second week of swimming lessons. They are really progressing well.  They wanted to practice swimming at home last night.  However, when we tested the pool chemicals, we realized they needed some adjustment.  So, we weren't able to swim.  Luke asked if they could play with the water hose instead because he really wanted to get wet.  I said, of course you can! 

Abbey got to control the hose first, since Luke was the one initially insistent on getting wet.
Look at that adorable bow on her hiney!
Her turn to get sprayed!
She got it back pretty quickly.  Look at her sneaking up on Luke!
A spider web on the playset got wet.

This morning, the kids and I took a fun walk.  We intended to go down to the creek and see what we could catch with our net; however, the water was still flowing pretty rapidly.  So instead, we just explored. 

There are a lot of trees uprooted due to the recent flood.  Although it saddens us, it is also pretty fun to check out and makes a great science lesson.

This mushroom we found was so pretty that it looked like a flower.

We came across many snails who were crossing the trail.
We are still schooling through the summer, as we do year-round school, so we have had that on our schedule each day as well.  The kids love it, and I figure, why stop something they love.  Because we school year-round, I don't feel bad when we take off a week here or there.  It creates a ton of flexibility into our scheduling which I love.  So there you have it--some of the stuff we have been up to this past week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wedding, travel, car wash and a visitor!

June has been a very busy month--but in a good way.  Just 4 days after my family left our house, we were traveling to Oklahoma for my cousin Whitney's wedding.  My family actually planned their trip  to visit us long ago, before knowing the date of my cousin's wedding  Coordinating that many schedules to visit us at the same time (you may recall there were 15 visitors) obviously took some planning ahead.  So, when we found out the date of Whitney's wedding, we decided not to change the date of their visit.  Plus, I am all for seeing everyone more frequently--especially with my mom's deteriorating health.

So, we headed to Oklahoma for a short weekend trip to celebrate my cousin's marriage!  It was a beautiful wedding and it was so good to see all the extended family.

Whitney and Will (photo courtesy of Tulsa photo and videography).  Isn't my cousin such a beautiful bride?

This was the first wedding for Luke and Abbey to attend.  So, I was wondering how they might act throughout the ceremony, reception, etc.  I think they really enjoyed their first wedding.

The girls had fun dressing up, since we rarely do that.  Here my sister Holly and I are with our mom and our daughters.  This is a special picture to me.
Drew and I before the wedding

my cousin and my uncle walking down the pretty

Luke, as you can see was very interested in the wedding.  Smartphone games came in handy for miss Abbey during the ceremony.

Our nephew, Traber, was a pretty cute ring bearer.  Luke wanted to check out his special pillow after the wedding.

And, the little girls wasted no time when the music came on to begin dancing.  They danced the night away.  It was pretty entertaining.  :-)  Here is a video, but please ignore the commentary.

We headed back home the following day, because we had a busy week ahead, including Vacation Bible School during each weekday morning the following week (last week).

We managed to fit in a car wash during the afternoon one day last week.  Our van was in desperate need for a good washing.  Earlier last week, the entire back windshield of the van broke while it was parked in the garage.  My guess is that somehow a tiny rock ricocheted from the riding mower blade while mowing the front yard.   Our garage is side entry though, so I really have no idea how that happened.  Anyway, after repairing that, the van had a new, clean back window.  I just had to clean the rest of the van to match.  Of course, with two small children always at home, any time I want to wash the car, I am going to have 2 very eager helpers.  So as you can imagine, we had lots of fun (although it probably took way longer than normal) with our car wash.   We kept it pretty civil, by constantly rotating jobs so there was no fighting over who got the sprayer and who was washing with the glove or the brush.  Since this, sadly, is a rare event, I grabbed my phone and snapped some quick pictures.

We got that car sparkling clean inside and out!  

Then, the next day, we picked up one of Drew's friends, who was in town.  Matt was Drew's college roommate and his best man at our wedding.  He was in San Antonio for a conference, so he delayed his trip home to Indianapolis by a day so he could visit with us.  We had such a good time with him.  The kids absolutely adored him.  In fact,  Abbey cried at the airport when he left our car and she discovered he was going back to his house.  Also, any time we ate a meal, Luke always asked to sit by "daddy's friend."  Drew was so glad to get to spend some quality time with his friend.   the last time they saw each other was 7 years ago, at our wedding.

Drew and Matt
Luke wanted to be in a photo.  With these tall guys, he practically had to be held to actually be in the photo.  
Speaking of "seven years ago at our wedding", the day after we dropped Matt off at the airport was exactly our 7-year wedding anniversary.  What?  How did that many years pass by so quickly.  This anniversary, because we were both so busy with stuff, was kind of funny and different for us.  The extent of our celebration involved both awaking Sunday morning, rolling over in bed and saying, "Happy Anniversary."   After that, it was a normal Sunday for us.  Ha!  Though, we will make some time soon for a date and reminisce on our seven years of marriage.  So much has happened this past 7 years, that we really should spend some time thinking about it all and giving God the glory for the great things He has done.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

35 Random Road Trip Questions

In order to kill time on a road trip a couple of days ago, I found some questions for Drew and I to answer.   I thought it would be fun to turn it into a blog post and document our answers.  Here it goes... (Drew's responses are indicated with a "D--"  and mine are with a "H--".)

1. What movie deserves a sequel?  D--"The Incredibles"; H--:The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "World War Z" (although I think there may be a sequel coming for the latter)

2. What one toy would you like to throw repeatedly at a brick wall?  H- Ha, there are none that I would like to throw at a brick wall, but some that are quite annoying.  Luke has a race track that is large, you have to put it together every time Luke wants to play with it (and then disassemble it and put it away when done), calls out the winner extremely loudly (no volume control of course) and sends the metal cars racing into our baseboards (leaving marks on them of course).    It really is a fun toy, but can be a pain for mommy. 

3. What is one thing a woman should never do?   D--Grow a beard  H:  be more concerned with what people think of her looks, than her heart

4. Who would you hate to see naked?  H-ummm...never thought about this one, and thinking about it now is making me a little sick. 

5. What is your favorite kind of cereal?  H--my homemade chocolate peanut butter granola--I eat it err-day.  D--homemade granola

6. What is one thing you always wanted as a kid, but never got?  H--Trampoline   D--Jet Fire Transformer

Jetfire transformer

7. If you were in a witness protection program, what would be your alias?  H- I would go for something fairly generic, like Amy Allen, or Bethany Brown.    D--Jeven Jackson

8. What is the nicest thing someone else has done for you?  H-Cooked meals for our family and brought them to us when I was going through chemo--it truly is a sacrifice knowing they have busy lives and also families and small children to feed.  Also, Drew's massages are very sacrificial and also healing--such a sweet act of service.  Oh--one more--when Drew's parents have come up to help us move, watch the kids so we can have a night out or watch them while I had chemo (so Drew could work).  I'm just so thankful for so many nice things people do for me regularly.  D--Heather cooks me nutritious meals and snacks every day. 

9. Where do you not mind waiting?  H--Honestly, this may sound weird, but I don't mind waiting at the doctor's office (when I am without the kiddos).  I consider it relaxing, since I am all by myself without the kids to take care of, even if just for a little while.  Also, I catch up on what is going on in the entertainment and health/fitness world by reading the waiting room magazines.  D---anyplace that I am without the kids and am not needed elsewhere.   H--Actually, I ditto Drew's answer.

10. What is your favorite potato chip flavor?  D--sea salt vinegar or sea salt black pepper.  H---I am not a chip person--but I do like tortilla chips (organic, non-gmo) with homemade black bean, corn, mango salsa

11. If you could project yourself into the past, were would you go?  H--I would go back to the 1940's or 50's.  Life seemed to be much more simple back then.  D--I would go back to when Apple stock was super low and buy a ton of shares (around 1999 or so)

12. What is your most impressive car repair skill?  H--nothing too exciting---changed some fuses and changed flat tires.  D--I change my own oil regularly....that's about it.

13. What is the best sports stadium/arena you have been to?  D--the Horseshoe (Ohio State Football stadium).  H--The old Dallas Cowboys football stadium.

14. If you were home on a rainy Sunday afternoon, what movie would you want to see on television?  D--Something I have already seen so I can take a nap;  H--a cheesy chick flick that I could watch while Drew is napping (not happening any other time--ha!)

15. What historical figure would you most like to have a discussion with?   H--Paul (from the Bible);  I would love to hear his vivid description of his conversion, as well as life before and after it.  I bet he has so many interesting stories to tell that were never documented.

16. If you could close one fast food chain, due to disgusting food, what would you pick?  no brainer here, but I pick 3:   H:  McDonald's, Wendy's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken  (barf)   D--I'll pick 3 tooMcDonald's, Taco Bell and Long John Silver's. 

17. What is one thing you refuse to share?  H--my chocolate peanut butter granola when there is just a little bit left in the storage container.  D--my underwear

18. If you could be on the cover of any magazine, what would you choose?  D--Sports Illustrated  H--some Health and Fitness magazine

19. What makes you really sleepy?  H--watching golf on a rainy Sunday afternoon D-  driving to Tulsa, OK (about 7 hours or so) at 2pm on a sunny day.

20. What do people do too much of today?  H--too much sitting and also eating unhealthful, processed foods  D--look at their smartphones

21. What is the most inspiring movie you have ever seen?  H--"Click"--ha! at one time after seeing that I actually said it was "life changing".  After watching it years later though it was a little more cheesy, but still has a good message.   

22. What household chore have you never done?   H--I am pretty sure I have done them all!  D--I have never cooked an entire meal for our family.  I have helped before, but never prepared it all by myself.

23. How do you like to relax?  H--This is hard for me to do.  But, I would say I find it relaxing to be away from the home by myself to shop or just hang out at home and watch a cheesy movie all by myself.  (Alone time is very, very rare for me).  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my family, but caring for a 5 year old and 3 year old all day every day with only breaks when Drew is home and I am working out is not "relaxing."   D--playing golf or basketball

24. In what part of the world would you hate to be by yourself?  H--Afghanistan;  D-I haven't been to enough places to know. 

25. To what would you like to devote more time?  H--more time in God's Word and in prayer.  D--serving others

26. What is the scariest scene you remember from a kid's movie?  H-In "My Girl" when Thomas Jay climbs up into the tree and gets stung by hundreds of bees-to which he has a major allergy--and dies.  Awful!!!  

27. If you could dis-invent one thing, what would it be?  H--Fast Food  D--Pesticides  H--Actually, Drew's is great, I ditto that and factory farming

28. What is the greatest pain you have ever suffered?  H--ummmm, probably a toss up between Labor pains and the bone marrow biopsy.  D--emotionally, Heather's cancer diagnosis 

29. If you could buy one object to complete your home, what would it be? H--a vintage velvet loveseat for our our formal living room, that I want to make into a fun, comfy reading room. 

30. What was your favorite childhood game?  H--I loved playing backyard volleyball and softball with my extended family and friends  D--playing Uno with my Grandpa 

31. If fat, calories, cholesterol, etc were not an issue, what two foods would you feast on?  D and H--Chocolate (especially homemade mocha fudge torte) and H--House Pizzeria Pizza!   D--also Taylor's Gold Pears

32. If you could be a member of any TV-sitcom family, which would it be?  H--The Huxtables  D--Not really a family, but I would choose to be one of the "Friends."  

33. What is your favorite movie line or scene?  D-In "The Natural" at the end when the main character hits a home run and breaks the lights. 

34. Do you have a place where you would like to go and think? If so, where?  D---Golf Course  H--I love taking a long bike ride by myself--lots of peaceful time in nature thinking and praying 

35. What profession have you always admired?  H--teachers---now as Homeschool teacher of my 2 kids, I admire those teachers even more.  What a tough, yet very important job!  D--surgeon

Friday, June 5, 2015

Just Playing and Exploring

At the end of year Awana cubbies party, Luke got a special prize for doing all his extra credit work.  In addition to his prize he got to select with his regular Awana dollars, he also got a "bubble blaster".  The kids were super excited about it.  So, the next morning after Awanas, we headed outside onto our driveway and tried it out.  They had a "blast."

Since the toy was Luke's he got the first turn using it.

But, everybody has fun when someone has their hand on a bubble blaster!

lots of fun!

Big brother is very nice to his little sister though. He let her have lots of turns as well.
Which gave him a chance to attempt to pop the bubbles with his mouth.  He was successful, but quickly moved away from that method of popping due to getting some of the nasty taste in his mouth.  Yuck!
Abbey was proud of herself for making so many bubbles.
Earlier that morning we had gone to the pool store for some chemicals.  I had a great coupon for $15 off if I spent a certain amount, plus a coupon for buy one get one free pool noodles.  I needed to spend just a couple of dollars so I could use the $15 off coupon and guess what was sitting right by the register and happened to be that amount? ...the buy one get one free pool noodles.  I grabbed a couple of the noodles, which quickly got confiscated by the kids.  The kids then began using them as swords in the pool store. I was a bit embarrassed, but the pool store employee reminded me, "You had to know they would be using them as anything but pool noodles, right?"  He was so right.  Those things have been used in so many ways--none of them how I am sure they were intended to be used.  I guess it's good my kids are creative though.  The pool noodles happened to be sitting in the garage within sight, so the kids took a bubble break and began fighting as knights with them again.  Then, when I pulled the bubble blaster back out, the noodles became a wonderful tool for popping bubbles.

Abbey wanted the last turn.

We also recently checked out a new park.  I had offered to capture some photos for a friend as a baby shower gift.  She recommended a park that she frequents and it was one to which we had actually never been.  I planned on just arriving a little early to check it out, as I always like to do thorough location scouting before shooting pictures for someone other than my immediate family.  But instead, the kids and I headed to the park that morning for a little adventure.  We didn't get to stay that long, because the kids got hungry (and a bit hot), so I ended up getting there a few minutes early before the shoot and scoped it out a little more thoroughly.  Here are some pictures though from our little trip there the morning of the photo shoot.

Such a serious look!
my sweetie pie.
checking out the donkeys

Berry Springs Park and Preserve in Georgetown happens to also be a huge pecan Orchard. 

I can tell Abbey will always look up to her big brother. 

I might have said something a little silly.

And, of course, Abbey had to be silly.
checking out the map.
There were lots of different fun footprints to check out.

And Abbey can always find something to serve as a "balance beam."
Of course, once they found the playground, we were there the rest of the time.  So, we are going to definitely head back there soon and explore more.  I found some beautiful areas there while shooting photos for my beautiful friend.  I am excited for how they turned out too--and I hope she enjoys them as well.  :-)