Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Break, General Conference, and Spring Break 2

It seems like half of the pictures don't want to show up.  I'm having some serious issues with Dropbox and transferring my pictures from my phone to the computer and such.  A real camera should be coming soon!

We weren't originally going to take a Spring break, but the kids convinced me, and honestly, I enjoyed it so much.  We had school as normal on Monday, and when the kids kept asking why we weren't on vacation like everyone else, I told them what they had to get done in order to take time off.  You wouldn't believe the record time they got done their full week of Grammar, Spanish, and History.  Even with the break, we did a lesson of Math every day.

We went roller skating with cousins.  Here's some blurry shots of it. 

Alyssa had a sleepover, Becca got the stomach flu, Marcus got an ear infection and the flu bug, and we just enjoyed not having to go to ballet, gymnastics, or soccer.  It was so nice to not have to go anywhere!

We loved General Conference!  The kids are getting so much better at sitting and listening, especially Alyssa.  She loves watching Conference.  We made french crullers, and played Conference Bingo.  I love so many of the talks, and I can't wait to get the next Ensign so I can start reading them.  They were all so powerful, and I learned so much.

We started up the next week as normal, and we actually had a really great day of school.  We went to the library and the park with our friends, the Burtons, and enjoyed the sunshine.  Tuesday was going well, except Alyssa woke up with her ear hurting, then school was quickly cancelled right after Literature when Alyssa started throwing up.  We thought we were over it all, but Alyssa hadn't had her turn yet, I guess.  We took Wednesday off from school, which was really nice, because I wasn't feeling well either.  Then everyone was well enough for MCP and McGee on Thursday, and since the first half of the week was already shot, we cancelled school on Friday and spent the day Spring Cleaning.

We moved Ethan's bed into the school room that we don't have school in anymore, because he said that he's tired of being the one to clean up all of Marcus' messes.  We stuck him in the short side of the room where the little green door is.  He slept in it on Friday night and loved it, then asked if we could move him back last night, because he was lonely.  So last night I just had him sleep with Marcus, and we'll see what he requests tonight.  We'll figure this out.

Life is really good right now.  I still don't know if we're going to homeschool or not next year, but I'm not rushing the decision.  It depends on how the kids do with out new school schedule over the next few weeks, and also on what classes will be offered at MCP next year.  I've got lists of pros and cons for both public school and homeschool, and they're pretty equal.  I think the kids would do well either way, we just need to decide what we want to do.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Marvelous March

March is great, because it has my birthday in it!  march this year was not so great, because all the good was slightly overshadowed by the fact that I accidentally left our almost brand new, most-expensive-than-any-other-we've-ever-had-because-we-finally-wanted-a-nice-one camera at a park, and it was gone fifteen minutes later.  I had just taken the most adorable pictures of Marcus and Becca playing at the park in the sunshine, and I'll never get those pictures back.  We were leaving for Camp Zarahemla the next day, and I was so excited to take pictures there, but that couldn't really happen without a camera.  I'm still kicking myself for being so stupid to leave the camera on the bench.  It was all chaotic with Ethan and Alyssa walking from the Christensen's house from piano lessons, and then all the school kids getting out of school, and me running to the van to get Ethan's scout stuff so he could be dropped off by my mom while the rest of us were at a doctor appointment.  I left the camera on the bench while I ran to get Ethan's stuff, then because of the way I met him on the sidewalk and sent him to my mom's van, I never went back for it.  Still kicking myself.  I think some school kids is probably having a great time with a wonderful camera.

The rest of the month was wonderful!  Now that we have the sad out of the way, we'll move on to the fun, and I'll try to find some pictures from my phone that I can add in.

My Birthday:
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, so we went out as a family to Fujiyamas on Saturday.  We had the kids' first soccer games of the year in the morning, and it was cold, but then we relaxed and had fun the rest of the day.  On Sunday the primary kids sang to me, and Becca made sure to be extra wiggly during Sacrament meeting.

Camp Zarahemla:
I think this was the best year at Camp Zarahemla we've had yet.  We slept in family groups, instead of having the kids spread out all over the room.  It made it nice to keep all of our luggage and bedding and everything in the same place, and it was especially nice to not have to search fro Marcus when he woke up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom.

This was also the first year that we've given the kids official chores to do.  We split them into a boys group and a girls group, and they took turns cleaning up after meals and straightening oter parts of the lodge.  It made it so much more enjoyable to us parents.

I was able to take a couple naps during the weekend, which was wonderful.  We played Farming Game, and the kids played Sleeping Queens, and we watched Frozen for movie night.

Brian had continuing education classes in Seattle, so we decided to bring the whole family along.  While he and his dad were sitting in classes, his mom and Eric and Claire and the kids and me checked out the Children's Museum, the Seattle Science Center, and a glass flower exhibit that has a name that I don't even remember.  Alyssa went to see the glass flowers with Diane and Claire while Eric and I took the boys and Becca to the science center.  It was so fun! We've never gotten a chance to hang out with Eric and Claire so much, and we really enjoyed it.  It was also really weird hanging out with Eric without Brian there, because it was like hanging out with Brian but not exactly like hanging out with Brian.  That's the only part I didn't enjoy was not spending much time with Brian.  I don't think we'll be doing many more family vacations during CE classes, because I want him to be able to have fun with us.  We also went to the zoo, and the guys were able to join us after their classes.

"Mama, look me! Packed up!"

Grandpa needed a hat, and Becca went into the gift shop with him, so she got a hat, too.


Ethan got the Wolf badge at his first pack meeting for completing the first part of his Scout book.

My Back:

While we were in Seattle we discovered that I was becoming addicted to the pain medication that I've been on for the past few months.  A fun part of this medication was that I noticed that after a couple hours of taking the pill I found myself saying things like, "I love you, Brian.  We have the best kids.  Don't we have the best kids?  Our kids are awesome.  Life is really good.  I love you so much."  Really, it would go on and on.  Then we looked it up and found out that the medication had a slight anti-depressant quality to it, which was pretty fun.  While we were doing that research, I found out that although doctors sometimes claim that this particular medication is not addictive, there were many reviews of people becoming addicted to it.  Because of this, I decided to only take a pill when I absolutely needed it.  I ended up usually taking one in the morning and then in the late afternoon, so about two pills a day, when the dosage was four pills a day.

I assumed that being addicted would be more of a mental thing, like I would find myself thinking, "I NEED that pill!"  I was surprised to find out how physical it was.  I missed my afternoon pill while we were in Seattle. I was actually doing fine pain wise, and we were busy, so I just didn't take it.  A few hours later I started getting chills and cold sweats.  They lasted through the night, and I actually hardly slept at all.  The sad part was that was the night we took the kids swimming in the hotel pool, and I just stood in the corner of the pool by the stairs, shivering, and we only ended up staying down there for a half hour.

So while I was laying in bed in the very early morning hours, I started to wonder what was causing the chills, and then I remembered that I had actually gotten a lot of chills and cold sweats this winter.  I put two and two together and realized that the chills came when I didn't take my pill.  If I skipped the morning pill, I would freeze and sweat through the day, and if I skipped the afternoon I would freeze and sweat all night.  After Brian got up on Sunday morning to go to his classes, I pulled out my phone to search the internet, and found out that, yes, chills and cold sweats were one of the first withdrawal symptoms of the medication I was on.  I just felt lucky that I had only been taking two a day for a short time, because there were many withdrawal stories I read that contained all sorts of horrible symptoms.  Experiencing chills was very mild in comparison.  I decided then that I would take my morning pill so I could be comfortable while on vacation, then I would be done.

Coming off the medication wasn't a huge deal.  Just more chills and cold sweats for a few days.  And honestly, I don't even miss the medication.  It didn't help my back pain all that much.  I think the stretches, core strengthening exercises, and sleeping with lumbar support has helped more than anything.  Plus, while I was researching, I discovered that a few of the other side effects of the medication was sluggishness and tiredness.  While reading that I huge light bulb went off in my brian.  No wonder I wanted to nap all the time!  No wonder I went back to bed after Brian went to work!  Other than those couple of weeks, I have never done that.  Since stopping the pills, it has felt like I've come out of a fog.  Everything is so much clearer, and I have so much more energy.  Plus, I'm not craving sugar as much.  There was a while there that every afternoon I would get a powerful urge to eat sugar.  Crazy.

Now the plan is to continue with my exercises and stretches and such, and possibly go back to a chiropractor.  We'll see how this all goes.  I think sleeping with the lumbar pillow is helping the most.  My back feels better each morning than it has in years.

Home School:

We're thinking of putting the kids back into public school.  For a while we were 99% sure, now it's kind of 50%.  It's a huge decision, and there are so many positives and negatives to each choice.  I think the main things holding us back are the possibility of losing our friends from MCP and not being able to use my favorite curriculum anymore.  I'll write a post on this later.  I have so many thoughts on it.  I went to the General Women's Conference with scratch paper so I could think things through and jot down any inspiration that came, and the clearest answer I got was during the closing song when we sang, "...the Lord alone we will obey."  I know I need to do what Heavenly Father wants me to, but I haven't gotten any clear answers as to what that may be.  I think I'm going to wait for next year's MCP schedule to come out before we make our decision.

The kids sometimes seem excited at the possibility of going back to school, but they also really want to stay home.  This decision is huge!  I'll get back to you on this later.

A few random pictures from the month:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fast and Testimony Sunday

I thought briefly about bearing my testimony today at church, but didn't think the content was very appropriate for sacrament meeting, so I'm sharing it here.  It's one of those, "Carrie learned a lesson" moments, and now you get more details than I would have shared if I had actually gotten up today to bear my testimony.

Yesterday Alyssa and I went to New Beginnings at nine o'clock in the morning.  Alyssa and Nellie were the only girls there that will be going into Young Women's this year, because Ashley was out of town.  It was so fun, and Alyssa ate it all up.  They had one of the leaders speak about coming closer to Christ, they had the Bishop speak for a few minutes, and they explained what the Young Women program is all about.  Then we broke up into two groups, and one group made magnet boards and magnets, and the other group passed off a Personal Progress goal about Moroni's Stripling Warriors and about the role of a strong, righteous mother.

While talking about these young warriors, one of the mothers noted that the reason the boys weren't harmed was because they listened to the Spirit.  I had never thought about it the way she explained it, but it makes perfect sense.  If the Spirit whispered, "Hit left!" or "Duck right!" these boys didn't hesitate to follow.  In fact, the scriptures say that they followed each command with exactness, and I think that means they followed the commands of both their military leaders and the Holy Ghost.  We talked about how we need to listen to the Holy Ghost without hesitation in our lives, because we are fighting a lifelong battle with Satan.

That afternoon Alyssa complained to me that the Not Rated movies on Netflix were blocked on their account.  She wanted to watch "Shrek: the Musical."  I explained to her that some things are listed as NR, because there's nothing wrong with them, and they're kind of in a different category from other movies, so there's no reason to rate them, and some things are NR, because they are so bad that they don't even deserve a rating.  I told her that we have the NR movies turned off, along with R and PG13, because if it's not appropriate for kids to watch, then it's really not appropriate for anyone to watch.  (Disclaimer:  We do watch PG13 movies.  We're just selective in the ones we watch, because we all know the rating system is pretty wacked.)

Fast forward just a tiny bit, and I was upstairs on my phone, and I wanted to watch a scary movie.  I love scary movies, but barely watch them now that I'm a mom and have kids to protect.  They just scare me that much more now.  I don't have the NR movies blocked from my Netflix account, so I saw a scary movie that looked interesting that wasn't rated.  I thought, "Well, scary movies are always rated bad, because they're scary."  That was Rationalization #1.

I didn't have a lot of time available, anyway, because we were headed to a friends' house soon, so I decided I would just "skim" through the movie.  I'd watch a couple minutes, push it forward a bit, watch a bit more, and so on.  Halfway through the movie I scrolled to a part where - and this is the part I would never say in sacrament meeting - the girl is alive and looks like she's about to die, and I thought, "It's the middle of the movie.  Surely someone or something will save her.  I'll watch this part."  (Rationalization #2.  I should have just turned it off!  Did I listen to the Holy Ghost?  NO!)

Long story short, nothing saved her.  I waited for it.  I waited for the power to be out, or for someone to walk in at just the right moment, or for the whole thing to be broken, but nope - she died big time, and it is burned into my brain.

That's when I just pushed the scolly thing along with my finger, looking at the still frames, because I needed to know the end.  Turns out, he's caught in the end and gets done in by a cop.  I felt better about that, but I still felt sick to my stomach, not just by what I had seen, but for the fact that I deliberately ignored the Holy Ghost AND my own council from just a few hours before.  How stupid was that?

Brian was laying in bed, reading beside me, so I snuggled up to him, and told him about it.  I still felt sick.  Just before we were leaving to our friends' house, I remembered an article from the Friend magazine about a boy who saw something on TV that he shouldn't have seen and couldn't get it out of his mind.  He went to talk with his parents, and he prayed.  So before we got in the car, I knelt by our bed and prayed.  I told Heavenly Father how wrong I had been, I apologized for ignoring the Spirit and doing something that I knew was wrong, and little by little, I'm moving on from what I saw by filling my life with good things.

On the note of good things, Singing Time was awesome today.  We started to learn, "I Stand All Amazed," and we did fun movements to certain parts of the song.  If a word was highlighted in purple, we would stand.  Orange, we would hit our knees.  There was a whole sentence in red, and we did the wave.  We were moving for the whole thing, and it was so much fun.  I love my calling!

In other news:

We'll sum up the second half of February.

I can't remember where Alyssa was that night, but I know it was somewhere fun.
1. Valentine's Day was fun.  We had both our parents over for dinner, and had sous vide steak, sauteed potatoes, wrapped spinach things, and a whole bunch of other good stuff.  The steaks turned out delicious, and I can't wait to try them again.  It was fun visiting with our parents and having a good time with them.

2. For our anniversary Brian and I tried to go to the trampoline park, but it was so crowded that we didn't even attempt going in.  We then tried to go ice skating, but there was a kids hockey game going on.  We talked about other fun and active things we could do, but there's not that much available in the winter, so we decided to go straight to dinner.  Texas Roadhouse had an hour long wait, so we got on the list, then headed to Costco to pick up some movie tickets.  Our plan was to have dinner, then stop by at home to pick up the kids to take them to the Lego movie, but we ate so much that all we wanted to do when we got home was just be home.  We ended up taking the kids out the next week, and that was fun.

Even though we really didn't do anything, it was nice being out together, and we had fun talking without interruptions.  We've been talking lately about wanting to travel together, so a lot of our conversation was about where we want to go and when it might possibly be.

3. The next Saturday I ran the Richland Runfest Half Marathon.  It was so great!  It was the first half marathon I've run without getting off track and trying to run the whole thing by accident.  The weather was perfect.  It started off cold, but warmed up just enough to take the iciness away, but to also keep you cool while running.  The first ten miles were so much fun.  I listened to a book that I've listened to before, because I wanted to know that it would keep my attention, and I just ran along with everyone else, thinking about how wonderful it all was, and how much I loved running, and how I should run thirteen miles every day 'cause it's just so fun...

When I hit eight miles, for some reason, I subtracted eight from twelve instead of thirteen, so I texted Brian, "4 to go."  When I hit nine miles I texted, "3."  Then I hit ten miles and realized - duh! - I still had three to go, so I texted, "Oops.  3."  My mom called soon after, telling me that she and my dad were at the finish line.  She wanted to make sure they hadn't missed my brother and I.  They shouldn't have worried; we're not that fast.  So I thought I had hit ten miles a few minutes ago, and that I was nearing two and a half left, but after I got off the phone, my running app said, "ten miles," and I thought, "I still have three two go?"

Needless to say, the last three miles were tough.  It didn't help that I hadn't trained very well, and the longest run I did this winter was only ten miles long.  But the main reason I signed up for the race was just to keep me running during the winter, and I did, so it served its purpose.  I kept pushing on.  My brother was quite a ways ahead of me, I think about twenty minutes.  I came in at two hours, twenty-three minutes and two seconds.  My sister, Kim, and my niece and nephews, Kenna, Asher, and Brennan, were waiting on the side a little way before the finish line, so they ran through the grass of Howard Amon Park along side me.  Mom and Dad were waiting close to the finish line, and my mom was hollering my name and saying, "Good job!" and stuff like that.  It was a great finish.

About an hour after the race there were moments where I did not feel very well.  I met Brian and the kids at his parents house, and we hung out there for a bit.  I felt sick a couple times, but only for a few seconds.  When we got home, I still hadn't eaten anything, and I think that was contributing to it all.  I took a quick shower.  I didn't even shampoo or anything, just rinsed off, wrapped in a towel, and lay in bed.  I texted Brian, "I need to eat.  Chips in the pantry please."  Apparently, we text all the time, or maybe just when I'm running.  He was nice enough to bring me up a bag of chips, and the saltiness actually helped a lot.  After that I felt pretty good, just stiff and sore for a couple of days.  Overall, it was very fun, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

I think training has a huge impact on performance, because when I ran my first half marathon, I held up pretty well physically, and even ended up running/walking about eighteen miles.  Then I drove forty-five minutes home, stood all day for Tombstone Tales, and was barely even sore.  I never felt sick after the first race.  Looks like I'll have to prepare for the next one a little better.

4. Ethan had his first Pinewood Derby, and I didn't get any pictures, because I was at ballet with Alyssa.  The plan was to join everyone else at the church when her class was over, but we passed Brian coming out of the church parking lot on our way in, so we missed the whole thing.  Ethan had so much fun, and he kept talking about how he won so many races.  Apparently he did very well, and almost got third place.  Pretty good for designing it himself and finishing it up just hours before the event.  I'll make sure to get a picture of him with his car.  He is loving Scouts, and I love that he loves it.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I have been wanting to write posts about Valentine's Day and our anniversary and many other things that I should have written down but can't remember now.  I always tell myself, "When the kids go to bed, I'll write," but I never do.  I choose to hang out with Brian, or watch a movie, or read, or even sometimes I'll clean in the evenings, but not very often.  But I know I have to sit down and write right now, because I feel amazing, and I don't want to forget the way I feel.

Everyone knows we homeschool.  I talk about it all the time.  Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  Some days are just so-so, and some days are mostly good with a little bit of bad sprinkled in. 

Today was kind of a "Meh" day for me.  I ran a half marathon on Saturday (woo-hoo!) that I didn't train for as well as I should have, and that has left me feeling stiff and sore.  Last week it felt like Spring was finally coming, and it was warming up and sunny, and now today we've had gray skies and freezing rain.  If you add those two things to the fact that I'm just so tired of cleaning and laundering and dish...ering all day long just to wake up to do it all over again the next day, and it just adds up to a very "Meh" attitude.

I didn't start Brian's and my laundry this morning, even though it's our laundry day. I've been arguing with the kids all day long to get their work done, even though, for the most part, they have done a pretty good job at staying on task.  Eh, maybe Ethan not so much.  Alyssa and I drove to a doctor appointment for her in the freezing rain, and at that point I just wanted to go home and sleep, even though I knew that was an impossibility.

Instead of sleeping, I got the kids back to work when we got home, and started doing the random cleaning I do each day.  It's so random I don't even remember what it was, and it's probably undone by now anyway.  Ethan didn't want to work today, and I finally got him going.  He did his Math this morning, and I got him going on his Spelling, Grammar, and stuff like that.  After a little while he brought me the "Book of Mormon Stories" book that the church puts out that also goes along with his "Discover the Book of Mormon" book that we use for his daily scripture study. 

"I finished the whole book," he said.  I was a little distracted at the moment, trying to make a chart to keep track of some of the kids' activities.

"That's cool," I said, and sent him to finish his work.  Then he brought me his workbook, so I could look it over, and I noticed that he only had one page left in the workbook.  That's when it hit me: my eight year old just finished studying the Book of Mormon all by himself!

Ethan had just finished studying the Book of Mormon all by himself for the first time! 

All of a sudden I was overcome with this huge feeling of happiness that I didn't know was possible.  Honestly, it was stronger than anything I've felt when studying the scriptures by myself.  It was so strong!

I thought about how wonderful I felt, and I knew that Heavenly Father feels that way, too.  I know that He's proud of Ethan, too, and I'm sure that He has that wonderful feeling when we, His children, make good choices.

And just like that, my day made a complete turn-around.  I sorted Brian's and my laundry and dumped the first load in the washer.  I gathered the kids around the table with promises of Reeses peanut butter eggs, and then we worked together to make a homeschool schedule that will *hopefully* work for all of us.  And now, even though the laundry isn't even close to being done, and the house is even more of a mess than it was this morning, I feel like I'm making a difference in my role as a mother.  I'm encouraging my children to learn, and we're making progress, and it feels great!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In Other News, February Edition

1. It's finally warm!  It's been so cold all winter, consistently between ten and twenty degrees, even during the middle of a sunny day.  I don't mind the cold, but I'm one of those people that feel that if it's going to be cold, you might as well have some snow.  But living in a shrub steppe like we do, we don't get much rain or snow.  We endure cold, cold winters without the fun of building snowmen or forts.  When it does snow, it's usually because a warm front is  coming through, and it's all melted by the next afternoon.

Last week, though, it was cold and snowy, and we got eight or so inches dumped on us in one evening.  Marcus had school cancelled, and I let the kids go play outside before starting our school.  The fun part of it all, is that it didn't melt until yesterday!  We got to keep our snow for a while!

It was Becca's first time being old enough to actually play in the snow.  I took so many pictures of her!

Ethan's snow angel.  He made them all over the yard!

Marcus just ate snow.

We went sledding on Charmichael Hill on Saturday, and had so much fun.  We also learned a good leasson on using our brains, even when having a good time.  There was a group of teenagers that were bracing themselves inside their huge inner tube, then rolling down the hill instead of sledding down.  Each time they did it, they would fly out of the inner tube about halfway down the hill, and fall to the ground.  I cringed each time I watched it.  My mother brain kept asking how they could be so stupid.  Didn't they see how dangerous that could be?  Sure enough, the fourth or fifth time down, the kid flew out of the tube, crashed to the side of the hill, and didn't get back up again.  They ended up calling for an ambulance, and on the drive home we were able to have a good talk with the kids about making smart choices, and not doing something that looks dangerous, even if our friends are doing it.  Brian had gone over to stand in the crowd for a bit, and he heard that there was a possible concussion and neck injury. We told the kids how serious a "neck injury" could be, and that kid might have traded ten seconds of fun for being able to move for the rest of his life.

We had a good time, though.  We met Mike and Tallia and their kids, and we went down multiple times before Becca got covered in snow from Brian's dragging foot, and wanted to go to the car.  We had to go home early, anyway, to get dinner ready to have the missionaries over.

She was happier until she lost her glove.

This is when Becca got snow plowed.

2. Brian has been researching for a while now, and just after Christmas he bought a sous vide cooker.  I had never heard of sous vide cooking before Brian showed me a project on Kickstarter for one.  That's what started him looking into it.  It took over a month to get to us, because they were on back order or something, but we've been using it often ever since.

Basically, sous vide cooking is cooking in a water bath at a select temperature, which makes for perfectly cooked meats and vegetables.  We started with boiled eggs, and have since done chicken and asparagus.  It's so yummy! And just as easy as using a crock pot.  The chicken turns out perfect and juicy every time, instead of drying out in the oven.

We're trying steaks for our Valentine's Day dinner tomorrow, and we made Alice Springs Chicken last Saturday when the missionaries came over.  Because of our sledding adventure, we didn't put the chicken in early enough, so the missionaries helped us put it all together when they came. It was fun!

3. I passed 30,000 words in my book!  I hit 30,848 this morning after typing over 1400 words.  I've hit a plot point that I consider to be the middle of the story, so I'm basically half way there.  It's so exciting to see it all come out.  I know, though, that I wouldn't have been as consistent as I've been without the use of Now Novel.  (That's where my monthly allowance has been going to, and it's been so worth it.)  If I can keep at my goal of writing 5,000 words a week, I should be done with the rough draft in about a month and a half!

4. Ethan has started Scouts, and he loves it!  They went to Lowes last Saturday to do a project there, and then yesterday was his first weekly meeting.  He had so much fun!  He kept talking about it all afternoon.  "And then we...And I was the...And we also..."  He's so fun!