Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! It's Christmas morning.....almost 8am and the entire house is still asleep. Hard to believe isn't it? We partied hard last night and the little ladies are worn out. As I sit here waiting for them to wake I am humbled at the thought of our Savior coming to earth as a little baby.....into this harsh that time a Roman ruled one dominated by fear and government control. Jesus.....why we celebrate today.

May your Christmas be filled with wonder, reflection and blessings as you celebrate with your family and friends today. Merry Christmas from us to you!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Little Break (Not Really) In the Schedule

Lots of stuff swirling around in my head. Let's see if it will make sense on here.

First of all, I can.not. believe it's almost the end of the year and the first semester of school almost over. Geez Louise….time flies. This year I am working at our school 3 days per week and homeschooling the girls the other two. I am coaching P.E., coaching cheer, and assisting in the athletic department. In addition I was in charge of our annual Field Day which just took place this past week. I am having a blast and absolutely LOVE the folks I work with. I couldn't ask for a better work environment and the icing on the cake is that I get to be with my girlies. It's a fantastic situation and don't I know it. Smile.

With Field Day over (So. Much. Fun.) I can actually sleep a little and clear the fuzzies from my brain… focus on the Holidays (eeeeeekkkk! It's here already!) and play catch up with projects and all the other gazillion thousandy things that clamor for attention. (Laundry anyone??!!)….and actually write a current blog post….cause it's Thanksgiving break and we have no school for a WEEK!!

We've made some changes in the way systems are running at home (for the better) and gymnastics competition season is drawing to a close for Mei Mei. Blondie has actually stopped competing and is focusing on her music and art for the moment. We require that they be physically active in some area so we are currently re-evaluating what that looks like for Blondie.

Mei Mei has had a stellar gym season with her new team and is headed to the USAG Florida State Meet for her level in a couple of weeks. This has been a rebuilding year for her as she switched from AAU to USAG. (Feel free to stop me and ask me what that means sometime. I will give you the lowdown….but not on here. ) The coaches have completely re-conditioned her itty -bitty -body into Wonder-Woman abs of steel and she is rocking the house with her focusing and athletic ability. I can take zero credit (her DNA says it all) other than being her chief cook and driver. It's a great gig. She's having a blast doing what she is built to do.

Here are some pictures from today's meet…..which just so happens to be the last of the regular season. Everytime Mei walks out on that blue gym floor I can't help but remember that little baby we held….the one that was left at the orphanage in a box not really knowing anymore of her story.  China doesn't know what they are missing……or do they??  I wish her birth mom could see who she is now…..I think she would be so proud.
We tried contacts. She hated them. Rec specs it is…. and now people recognize her by them. Pretty cool trademark:)

Best beam score to date today:)

Our coaches are amazing. She looks so tiny and vulnerable here…..

About to hit her tumbling pass in her floor routine. 

Today Mighty Mouse scored a 9.55 on floor for a first place finish…..and the 3rd place all around trophy.
We love how she's learned how to focus through hard distractions and sharpened her competitive spirit. We love how she encourages unity among her teammates. We love that she loves the sport itself, and to her it's that love that motivates her to do well. She's an awesome kid.

Heading home with a passel of balloons…..gotta figure out how to get them in the car.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Doing Hard Things

Here comes the rain….na, na, na, nah. Being prepared is half the battle.
     This past weekend The Doc and I embarked on what has become a November tradition. We ran the Epcot Food and Wine Half-Marathon. That's 13.1 miles if you simplify the math……even better is that it was a 10 pm start. Yep, you run 13.1 miles at…..ahem….bedtime. The really good runners (elite) get to start first then the other 14,800 entrants (real number here) have a staggered start over the next hour. Elite runners complete the course in 1:43 or shortly thereafter…..and the rest of the crowd over the next several hours. That means the last runners don't cross the finish line until well after 3am. Then Epcot Food and Wine Festival along with the rides and everything else Epcot has to offer stays open until 4am for your enjoyment. The Food and Wine Festival is a highlight of our year with tastings from countries all over the world. Yum. When it opens every year….we are there.
     Well, you guessed it…contrary to popular belief…..we were not in the elite group. Big surprise eh? The Doc is waaaayyyyy faster than me but being the kind soul that he is,  won't leave my side the entire time. Tradition. He is the 'pace car' and I just follow….tucked into a kind of 'race trance' that helps me log the passing miles without thinking about how much further there is to go or how far I've been. He is awesome.
     This year I was in much better shape than last…..but the end of October, the first of November are super crazy busy times for me as a wife, mom and em-ploy-ee. Lots going on that has prevented me from running/training as much as I'd like. I was worried we wouldn't make our goal of bettering our last year's time. I ran my first half marathon in my mid-twenties….and until last year hadn't done another. It's a daunting distance and training is critical. Hard to do while you have babies and toddlers around….which we've had for years:) However, we are firm believers of setting goals and 'doing hard things.'
Headed to the bus. Epcot right behind us….wondering if we were crazy.
     I am a planner…..I love to see lists crossed off and goals met. I love to run but at the same time I am not one to do something excessively to where it effects my family and interferes with day to day life. Last year I turned fifty. I have a hard time even typing that because it is just a number in my head and certainly the person I am today in no way identifies with the stereotype I have in my head of my gray-haired fifty something grandmother of yesterday. When I turned fifty…..I had an eight year old. I needed to prove to myself that fifty wasn't the end of life….but the beginning of wisdom. The Doc and I set the goal of 'hard'….because we feel hard is necessary to make the everyday trials we encounter seem what they mostly are….trite and trivial in comparison. Hard drives you to test your limits both mentally and physically……while proving to yourself and your adult children that as you gain wisdom with aging….you can also fight physical deterioration (no better way to say it) and slow the aging process by being a part of something physically that's bigger than you. We picked the half marathon to push our boundaries. (The Doc has done 3 Ironmen competitions just FYI. Out. of. my. league.) This  proves to ourselves and others that strength can be attained mentally and physically over and above what you conceived possible. I want our kids to know their mom and dad as tough, Godly stewards poised and ready to tackle any hard God brings them. Part of that involves self discipline, self motivation and a desire to honor God with every area of your life.
     With a crazy time schedule and not enough miles packed into the last three-ish weeks…..I was a little nervous about this race. I didn't want to disappoint The Doc by going SLOWER than last year. That would be a personal disaster in my book. I am not a late night person. We are usually in bed between 9-10pm and up by 5. So…..this race, as fun and awesome as Disney makes it STARTS at my bedtime and ends right before I have to get up. It tests all aspects and limits of my hard.
     Then we checked the weather. Understand that it NEVER rains in Central Florida in November and certainly not at night. Race night forecast= rain….and lots of it. On our way out to Disney we headed to our local sports store and got ready…..cause the worst thing you can do is not 'weather the weather.' We checked into our hotel and 'rested' and ate our last meal. With Disney races you are not allowed to park your car at the start. In this case the race started at the Wide World of Sports (fantastic venues) and you had to board special busses hired just to transport runners to the start. Mind you, we got a bus at 7pm. The race didn't start until 10. Early, early to the bus because 14,800 runners were all heading to the same place. We hung out in the pre-race field for another few hours. There is music, food, dancing, check-in's and all around fun going on there. We rested and talked to a few friends also running.
Getting in some R&R in the field hours before the start. I can sleep anywhere.
     About 45 min before the start they place you in 'corrals' according to your best half-marathon time. If you don't have a time you are placed in the last corral with several thousand of your new best friends. This year we were about halfway down the corral list from the start. We were happy with that. The rain started on cue right as we were lining up. Again, we were ready. At 10:30 the gun blew and the fireworks popped for our corral and we were off. The next 2+ hours we plodded through the rain, puddles and the theme parks smiling and waving as we weaved our way between runners. Everything went like wet, soggy, clockwork until mile 10. Always, always at mile 10 my right foot goes numb. I become the hunchback who drags his foot for the next 3 miles. At this point, we walked a little to help my foot find it's way back to my leg.
     Disney does an incredible job of having entertainment along all parts of their race routes. …'s what makes Disney races so awesome. The characters are available for pictures and you are never without music of some kind. Disney does it right…..unless it's 50 something degrees and pouring rain. They they make cuts and don't want their costumes to get wet….or their equipment. We plodded on numb foot and all. Somewhere in here my phone with my music started shorting out because of the rain. It continued to work but kept repeating the same song and would fade in and out. A runners nightmare. Plod-plod, moving forward….still can't move foot….but doing well and happy.
13.1 miles through Disney World. 
The end of the race. It's a little before 1:30am, raining, and I am giddy. We made our time despite the rain and wet, soggy conditions (think wet feet for hours). I wear compression socks and shorts which aids in your recovery. Makes you look a little crazy but well worth the shortened recovery time.
     We did it. 17 minutes faster than last year. Boom. In the rain, cold temps and late night adventures we did hard. We made it back to our hotel at 3:15am…..feeling exhausted but exhilarated. People do all kinds of challenges these days but this one helps me stay focused the rest of the year…..and gives me hope that I can conquer other challenges that are thrown my way.  Fifty doesn't have to be old. Doing hard has made me calmer, more patient and has given me the spirit of perseverance in a way that gives me courage when new obstacles come along. What is your hard friend? I encourage you…. meet it head on….and conquer. Until next year…...
Got our medals! (and our coats were waiting at the finish line for us!!)
P.s. My phone which held my playlist didn't work for 2 days after this. It hung out in a bag of rice, miraculously came back to life and is now as good as new. Shameless plug for Apple and the Mophie that protected it from certain soggy death.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coming Up For Air…..

     It's been 9 weeks. Actually almost 10 but who's counting? 9.99 weeks ago school started (officially….which in our language means the girls put pen to paper. The mom went back way before that.) Right about the 6 week point this mom started sucking air. Can't think of a better way to put it…..and I just resurfaced to gasp another giant breath before descending into the abyss again.
The Princess Collection on a recent trip to the Pumpkin Patch.
They could've cared less about the pumpkins and
stayed in the brooder most of the time. Silly girls.

     Cray. Ultimate time crunch /never enough sleep /who is going to fold all this laundry. Such is our life from August until May… other words known as the school year. Please note…..I am not complaining. Not. One. Bit. I love our life. It probably sounds a lot like all the other Mom's out there so I so don't want to sound redundant at how unbelievably busy things got in the blink of an eye…..but instead want to tell all those other moms driving carpools, working, hanging out at all hours getting that homework done, fixing dinners on the fly …..that there is solidarity among the ranks. We are women….hear us roar….or snore as many of us would like to be doing.

     This year I am working at our school more. My choice and I absolutely hands down love being around the kids there….being an influence (hopefully a happy one:) and being a part of our girls everyday. Our school rocks and I couldn't think of any other place I'd rather be working right now. The girls are older and I wanted to be out and about more. I got my wish. In addition I am also coaching cheerleading (with daughter Julie which is the awesomest!!). Our  girls are now in 4th, 5th and 6th grades ……which are also some of the most difficult academically in the lower grades of our school  (oh and throw a few learning differences in there to stir up the pot and you've got a nice casserole of perfect storm for Mom. In other words….'don't plan on reading a book for fun all school year, Mom….or watching tv……or taking a shower.)

      Blondie just finished up her first volleyball season (first seasons of anything are utterly precious and PAINFUL like a needle in your eye sometimes……and did I say precious? Cause I meant it! Great group of girls learning teamwork and skills…..and how to lose gracefully.) Both she and Mei Mei are competing in gymnastics at a new gym….in separate categories which makes the logistics delightful. Mei Mei is having a kicker of a season and being a  boss as she becomes more and more confident competing in bigger meets. Nature Girl is still bringing home new and delightful critters everyday. We had a snake lose in our garage for a while and even a pet Pine Snake as a weekend guest. She has applied for a volunteer position at our local zoo…..we are just waiting (not too patiently) to see if she was chosen for he job. Fingers crossed…..cause this girl would rock at it. (Please, Please choose her oh mighty Zoo people! She will do you proud!!)

     The Doc started a new job last June. He has a lot more time off but his new position (Emergent/urgent care) requires travel and nights away. Between his new schedule and my new schedule it makes crazyupsidedown schedule of well…..schedules. We are getting used to it and
coming up with new systems to make daily life flow smoothly and as crash free as possible. We are s.l.o.w.l.y. getting there. The Doc and I are also training to run a half marathon (my 3rd) next month cause well….. there was a time slot in the schedule that needed filling.

     So in a nutshell there you go. We are doing what the rest of America is doing……raising kids, working, rushing to orthodontist appointments, sporting events, doing laundry, packing lunches, trying to remember all our kids names….. all while praising Jesus. It can be done. Here's to an incredible 2nd 9 weeks… which there is the C word. Christmas. Time to take a giant breath and suck air …..again.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Just In Case You Didn't Already Think We Were Crazy…..This Should Confirm It

Nature Girl is obsessed with animals. Obsessed. We sent her to Zookeeper Camp this summer because she just loves animals so much and we have a feeling she will pursue a career in the animal world one day. While at Zoo Camp we just happened to see the Dean of our School there doing the Zoo's rope course/zipline. Ever since, our girls have been begging/pleading/whining to go. There was only one problem…..(always a problem….)

Mei Mei is too short. Again, she's 9 years old and still hasn't hit 48" tall (except when we stuff her shoes to ride roller coasters but that's another story…heh). In order for us to have fun as a family on the Zoo's ropes/ziplines we would have to split up. No go. Weren't gonna do it.

So…..we did a little research. We wanted Nature Girl's birthday to be a big bash. She's turning 13 after all! We found out that Gatorland (yes, the official cheesy, touristy icon that has been around since 1947) has one of the top rated zip lines in the entire USA. AND……AND……AND……AND…..Mei Mei was tall enough. Yea, go ahead and check out their link…..nasty gators and all. If there's one thing that I can't stand about the Florida wilderness that we live in it's snakes and alligators. And here we go considering PAYING MONEY to throw our bodies into mid-air, hurling ourselves 25-30 mph., over swamps filled with Nile Crocs and American Alligators. Did we do it?

For Nature Girl……and for the sake of family team building…..yep today, we did. (Thank you Groupon). This Mama doesn't particularly like heights. In fact I hate them. I was so excited about surprising Nature Girl with her grand adventure that I neglected to read that they take you up 7(!!!!!) stories, hang you on a wire then shoot you across flailing and screaming over GIGANTIC alligators to the other side…..(all while praying to Jesus you don't die and that dang wire doesn't break from the weight of your backside). But I had agreed to do this and that child was so gosh darn excited. We all suited up.

I almost backed out once we had climbed to our start point. That first tower was a doozy…..however our guide talked me out of my heights funk. Finally he pushed (yep, he did) me over the edge and I never looked back (or down….or side to side….and I may, just may have had my eyes closed all the way through that first zip). Heaven has never heard so many prayers in that nano-second. But after that first one (which was not the tallest) I began to relax and enjoy the adventure. In fact….at the end of our day I was ready to go again. The whole Zip adventure takes about 2 hours….and then you can finish your day in the park where there's Alligator Wrestling, exotic animal shows and Mom Jo who will take you for rides on her motorized scooter….. (last part so very true). Who would'a thunk?? Happy Birthday Nature Girl! We did this for you….and us….but mostly you. We had to show you how amazing we think you are!

Our Zip group and guides. Our fam count was 7. 

The Birthday Girl went first. Not a peep of fear….just excitement as she hurled herself into space. Here it's about 3-4 stories up.

8 year old Cade… fear. 

Jay….fresh off a plane from the West Coast.

Blondie was nervous….and quiet….but went for it. Oh, and notice….no cast!! 

This little bit FLEW because the guides enjoyed sending her off with a mighty push.

Me at the beginning…..after the guide pushed me off. I was nervous….and loud about it. I got over it.

Us after our first Zip! Of course….we had no idea what was coming next. Heh.

Yes, it was this high. Yes those are Nile Crocs. Yes you go right over them. Yes, he loved it.

Yes, that is our 9 year old…..hanging above the tree line over a pit of alligators. She was not a bit afraid…..

I love that you can see Cade waiting for Mei Mei. He was cheering her on LOUDLY. They were hilarious.

The Doc…..who thought this was the greatest thing EVER.

About now I was praying I didn't have to cash in our life insurance. Insane thoughts go through your head at times like this. At least in my head they do.

Nature Girls turn…..examining all those crocs as she went.

Sure hope she remembers this birthday as a good one……heh.

Cannot even.

I pretty much hate all alligators…and all heights…..but this was pretty cool…..after I prayed and asked Jesus to protect my stupidity for wanting to do this in the first place. 

Our jet-lagged son. 

Sweet Blondie. One day she'll thank us for making her an adventurer. I think.

High above the trees.

 It was that high….and that insane. I.N.S.A.N.E and awesome. Still cannot believe they let kids do this. But they do and we did. They had a blast.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Nature Girl

Today Nature Girl turns 13. She has changed us and brought us closer to our Savior as no one else could. She sees the world through eyes that challenge you to think critically……because she finds answers in the most unlikely places…..and she's usually right. She's brilliant. She understands animals and nature in a way that's eerily spooky at times…..but makes you think she really is Dr. Doolittle. Happy Birthday love… have taught us beyond measure how obedience, unconditional love, perseverance (thrown in with a bit of whimsy)…..can change a life. We are undone because of the inspiration you are to us and others who know you. Grace amazing. God knew.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Where We've Been…..

Confession. I am the worlds worst blogger. Our life has been insane. Insanely good that is….but insane nonetheless. Next year I'll know to plan better because the last few weeks of summer found me running like a chicken with it's head lopped off…..and it hasn't slowed down. So let's play catch up and talk about where we've been.
Wubba turned one and like his Mimi…..loves all things chocolate. 

Mollie (4 months older) helps the Wubs open gifts.

Bookworms. Really cute ones.

The cousins……always a party when they are together!

We took a teeny tiny vacay to one of our happy places. The Doc started a new job in June so we don't get big vacations for a while.  That's ok peeps. We vacation in our big Florida backyard.

The girls had a ball with all the games the resort had to offer. They are not ones to turn down an opportunity to party! Yes, that's a water balloon with Blondie trying to hit the target.

She did. Isn't this picture hysterical??!!

Heheheh. I should wake them up for school like this…..but then that would be mean…..or not.

Mei giving it a try.

In two days she had a horrid splinter imbedded in her hand…..and a bee sting. There's a reason we call her Nature Girl and utilize that free medical care whenever possible.

Love their enthusiasm for gosh…..everything. Nature Girl was off chasing lizards, hunting wildlife and getting stung by something.
Read this poolside. Written by a young pastor's wife with a knack for understanding teen girls. A Biblical yet GRACE filled approach to issues your daughters deal with. A MUST READ if you have young girls in your house. Like, totes. (Yea, I said that.)

They had been begging for years…..yes years to do this. We caved. Nature Girl wanted a different souvenir .  Good thing too cause they charge by the inch for this hair wrap thing. Hers would've been a gazillion million trillion dollars. Girl's got hair.


Julie, Wubba and Jon came too. Yes, this tutu hat was for sale. Seriously.

This is a Florida skink. Let's just suppose that you are allowed to bring it home with you only it escapes into the nether regions of the interior of your car……never to be seen again……which means at this posting there's a dead skink in my car. Really.

And then Mei Mei had to go in the hospital for a day for tests. No food or water for 13 hours was pure torture.

Our local children's hospital is sponsored by Disney…..she had her own laptop controller and every Disney movie at her fingertips. The moral of the story is…..if you have to starve and thirst to death you may as well be watching a good movie. Oh and Mei Mei is fine. This test came back completely normal. She will tell you the torture wasn't worth it. I will tell you the peace of mind it brought…..totes worth it. (If I sound like a teen girl it's because I live with a whole passel of them.)
And school started. This Mama sent these three into 4th, 5th and 6th grade…..along with the hamster. You gotta do what you gotta do. Those teachers were warned:)

This one is for the "Aww…..aren't the sweet!" factor. Most of the time, yes, yes they are.

Mei and Blondie are at a different gym this year and competition season has begun. See Mei? Tiny is always first……therefore we will always be……first. Adorable are we.

Then this happened. Fracture of her hand where her pinky meets her hand joint. 3 weeks in this thing and we're halfway through as I type this. It has not slowed this gymnast, cheerleader, and volleyball player down one bit. She has continued to practice all 3 all while freaking out the onlookers. Let it go people. We got this. That cast is hard as a rock and she can serve a mean volleyball with it.
So awesomely amazing (and all other wonderful adjectives) to have Julie and Jon back on the worship team (they moved from Charlotte, NC in early May….I think. Was it May? Blurry.)  The Wubbanator spends the night Saturdays so they can be up bright and early to set up and rehearse…..which means getting the girls and Wubs ready for church and in the car and there on time is……dizzy. We get it done though. Worth it.

Someone (ahem, ahem, ahem) can't swim until her cast comes off, so we have been frequenting the Mouse House. Uhm, please notice that apparently I am shrinking. Actually, Nature Girl is 5'7" in those size 10 shoes of hers. Y'all pray for us will you? No end in sight.

This Anna and Elsa thing just isn't stopping. Nature Girl has none of it and sticks to…..Dragons??!:) 
Y'all want to cry with me? This is the kid some said would never learn…..and listed all the negatives about her history, background, etc and why she would never succeed. Baloney. If they could see her now! Taking the time to peel back the layers of illness, learning differences and DNA factors takes time…..but this is the outcome. This girl's got game……and what it takes to be successful in whatever field she chooses. Sit back and watch Nature Girl conquer…….LIKE A BOSS!!!!!

I've worked part time for the last several years but this year I took on a new and bigger role which meant a big adjustment for our family. I am now the PE coach at our school, coaching the elementary and middle school cheer teams (along with daughter Julie which makes that part super fun) and assisting in the athletic department. This right here in addition to home schooling 2 days a week has my total focus and attention……and I love it. It's all going really, really well. See Nature Girl in the white shirt in the center left of this picture? You can see how really tall she is. I love our girls, our school, our jobs, church and family and am daily grateful for the opportunity to do all we do. It may mean though that my next blog post is 2015. Hopefully not…..cause I'm sure someone will do something blog worthy by that time…..or we'll find the skink. Heh.