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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lessons in bike riding

Daniel and I ended up running all over Wichita this morning. We started out heading to Target to exchange our defective DVD player. I took it back into the store and explained to the customer service guy that I just wanted to exchange it, but I would really like to have my DVD back - you, know, the one that was stuck inside of it. So I went back to the electronics section, got another one, and then walked over to the bikes to see if they had the tires that I needed for his bike.

Of course not - they don't sell tires any more. They sell the tubes, but no tires. Well, that's fantastic, since I already have the tubes....but, whatever.

We went back up front and exchanged the DVD player and left. Then I thought that since we were in the "big city" I might as well check some other local bike shops to see if I could find the tires for less than the $20 that WalHell wanted. Thanks to my trusty phone, I was able to pull up a few that were in the area. I stopped at the first one, and lo and behold, they wanted $20 for the tires too. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I'll find them cheaper elsewhere.

Then I realized that I was just a few blocks away from Toys R Us. They sell bikes. Therefore, they should sell bike stuff, right? So off we went. We found the bikes in the back of the store, found the tubes, but again, no tires. I hit the nearby "help button" several times and waited for an associate to come help me as the little button promised, but nothing. Irritated, I walked back up front and asked about the tires. Guess what? They don't sell tires anymore.

At that point, I was willing to just give up and go home. We got back in the van and headed in that direction, but at a traffic light I pulled the list up on my phone one more time. There was one more shop that was sort of on the way, so I opted to call it to see what their prices were before I actually stopped in to check. Turns out that he had the tires and they ranged from about $9-11. I asked him to repeat himself, confirmed his store's address, and got there about 3 minutes later.

So, the same tires that would have cost me $40 plus tax at WalHell ended up costing me about $25 at this place. Oh yeah - I was happy - and Daniel was thrilled!

This afternoon, after I picked the boys up from school, I started working on the tires. It was a lot harder than I thought that it was going to be, and my hands are killing me now, but I finally got both tires changed. Turned out that one of the tubes was actually still in good condition, so I now have a spare tube.

I was absolutely tickled that after I got it done, Alex was helping Daniel to get his helmet on the right way. Daniel was so stoked to finally be able to ride his very own bike that he just couldn't get his fingers to work fast enough to get it on himself!

He couldn't wait to get onto it, but of course I hadn't thought to lower the seat yet - he still managed to get on, even though he couldn't reach the pedals. So I adjusted the seat and then we started practicing. I'm not sure how many times I ran up and down the sidewalk with him, but it was more than a few!

He's never been on a "big boy bike" so he really had no idea how to pedal or anything - but I honestly think that the hardest part is going to be getting him to look forward instead of down at his feet or off to the side at something.

Wouldn't life in general be easier if we all remembered that?

It's a lot easier to get to where you want to go if you just focus on what's ahead of you instead of all of the other distractions.


And just because it's too adorable not to post....after supper and baths, they played for a while and then got really really quiet. I went to tell them to go to bed, and this is what I found.

Moments like this make my heart happy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It is January, right?

The last time I checked, January was still considered a winter month.

So how is it that I was making sun tea on my front porch today?

This weather has just been bizarre, to say the least. But I tried to take advantage of it after I picked the boys up from school.

I had managed to get a hold of bikes for Daniel and Jared right before Christmas, but I haven't given them to them yet because they need a little bit of work. But I pulled Daniel's out today and figured that with some new tubes and tires, it would be as good as new.

We have limited places here in town to buy things like that, so I did what I could to avoid going to WalHell, but I ended up there anyway.

Holy crap! I had no idea that tires were so expensive! I mean really, it's a kids bike - not a car! It was going to cost me $50 to get new tires and tubes, but they sell brand new bikes for that price! I wasn't happy about it, but we left, empty-handed. We stopped at the hardware store, and they had tubes cheaper but no tires. I went ahead and bought the tubes but I'm going to hold off on the tires for now until I find some at a better price.

Once I officially gave up on the bike project, the boys went out back to play for a little bit - with no coats.

While they played around on the swingset, I wandered around the yard, scoping out the work that I'll need to do in the spring. Even though I've seen this fence post and tree dozens of times, it still amazes me.

I would love to know how long it took for the tree to surround the metal.

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow. I have a bunch of things that I need to do, even more that I want to do, and some that I should do. I really should get back down to Wichita to try to exchange the DVD player that I bought the other day, since it's defective and has eaten one of our DVDs - and if I do that, I can look for bike tires while I'm at it. I have tons of cleaning that needs to be done (imagine that), and I really want to go to a playdate. At this point though, I'm fighting to stay awake, so I'm thinking that I might just crash for now and figure out what I want to do in the morning after I take Alex to school. If I'm going to do the Wichita trip this week, I really need to do it tomorrow or it's going to have to wait until Thursday - and I'd really rather just get it over with at this point.

With my luck though, even if I do go to bed now, I won't sleep....blah. Too much on my mind yet.

How things change

I'm just going to warn you now. This is going to be an "off" week for me. Honestly, I've been dreading this week for a while now, and now that it's here, I just want it to get over with and go away.

At the same time, I sat here just now and thought back to where I was a year ago. I was still driving the ever-so-glorious She-Beast (when she wasn't dead) and was constantly struggling to get through the day. I was barely making ends meet and was in constant danger of losing my utilities until I could get some steady income. My divorce was finally final and all I wanted to do was reclaim my life and move on, in any way possible. I had no idea how that was going to happen, but I know that I wanted it so badly that I could taste it.

Little did I know a year ago how much my life would change in the next 12 months. In one message consisting of only 4 words, my world would turn upside down. I would be on the verge of losing everything. I would lean on my friends in unimaginable ways. I would learn the true value of those friendships. I would lose loved ones but still see new life being brought into the world. I would try my hand at dating, only to fail miserably a few times before finally getting it right. Things would start to fall into place in so many ways. I would make an epic road trip to see friends, both new and old, and get to spend time with my family. I would see this piddly little blog grow from nothing to what it is today. I would gain new friends, lose old ones, and strengthen relationships that were damaged.

In short, it's been a crazy year. I'll touch on some things later this week, including some moments in my life that were devastating, thrilling, and one that always makes me reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. Things might get a little deeper than usual, but that's why I do what I do here - this isn't just a place for me to brag about my kids - it's also a place for reflection. I share some experiences in the hopes that they may help someone who has been in a similar place, not that I think that I'm an expert on anything, but sometimes just knowing that someone else has been there can be the catalyst for someone else's healing.

So, bear with me as I get through this week and the memories that are going to surface. Some of them are going to be painful, but I promise that they will be honest and I will not intentionally hurt anyone else with what I feel that I need to say. If I do, let's just discuss it rationally, ok?

With that being said, I hope that we can get into some good discussions this week - if you're not already following me on my facebook page, please come and join in the fun over there.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Wow. We did so much today.

We got up early to go to the girls' final basketball games of the season. Emily's started at 9:00 this morning, so I was up by 6:30 to get all 5 kids up and dressed and fed. In my quest to try to start eating healthier, I opted to make the pancakes with whole wheat flour - and believe it or not, they ate them. The girls knew that something was different, and they said that they were "ok" but the boys inhaled them (go figure). We left here at about 8:00 to go and grab The Dude to take him with us.

Emily's game didn't go so well. The girls played hard, but I'm pretty sure that the visiting team's girls were on some sort of growth hormones and maybe some steroids too - seriously, they were HUGE compared to our girls. Granted, we have some small girls on our team, but for the most part they've been pretty equally matched in size with the opposing teams throughout the season - until today. It was virtually impossible for them to do much of anything against them. But they gave it their all, and I'm so proud of how far the entire team has come throughout the season.

We had some time to kill before Sarah's game started, so we came back home and cleaned up some stuff and then went back to the school. We got there just a couple of minutes after Sarah's game started and as we were making our way across the bleachers to get to a seat, I glanced up and saw Sarah NAIL a shot from well outside the 3-point zone - we're talking a "nothing but net" kind of shot - it was AMAZING!!! She got another shot in soon after that as well, but unfortunately it wasn't enough for them to pull out a win. Sarah's team played hard and it was a fast-paced game - her team has also amazed me with their progress since the beginning of the season, and I'm hoping that she decides to play again next year. She hasn't decided if she wants to or not yet - her insecurities are about as bad as mine, but I think with the right encouragement she might try.

After the games were over, the older 3 kids went with Ex1 for the rest of the weekend and so The Dude and I took Alex and Daniel and went to Wichita for the afternoon. We stopped at a friend's house to return the bra that I had borrowed for the wedding last weekend and hung out and visited with her and her husband and kids for a while.

After that we went shopping. I've needed to get a new pair of sneakers - mine were totally shredded inside and were starting to blister my feet, so it was time. We ran into Target (anything to avoid going to WalHell) and found a pair of sneakers for a reasonable price. I'm going to attempt to wear them without getting the lift put into them - I've had to have a 1/2" lift built into my right shoe for the past few years after the hip replacement, but when it costs $96 to get that lift put in...yeah. I'm going to try to live without it and see what happens. I used to not be able to even walk around barefoot because the difference in the lengths of my legs bothered me so much, but now I can so maybe I can tolerate shoes without the lift too. I hope. *crossing fingers*

By this time, it was getting late in the afternoon and we hadn't really had much to eat all day, so we opted to stop and get some food. We tried to avoid the typical "fast food" and opted for a pizza buffet, and totally gorged ourselves - and I had the first soda in about 4-5 days. See - I said I was going to cut it down, but not eliminate it, so I think I've been doing ok - and this is also the first time that we've eaten out all week too, so we're doing pretty good.

After we ate, we stopped to visit with one of The Dude's friends and hung out there for a little bit, and then we headed back home. I dropped him back off at his house and brought the boys home. We tried to hook up the new DVD player that we got when I got my sneakers, and sure enough, the stupid thing won't work. I'm so irritated right now, because it's most likely going to mean another trip to Wichita to exchange it, but of course one of our DVDs is now stuck inside it. Grr. So the boys hung out and played while I played around on the computer, trying to deal with some stuff that had come up and get some other things done at the same time, and then they went to bed with NO arguments - I think they were tired from all of the running that we did today!

Tomorrow is church, assuming that we get up on time - we really need to, since we haven't gone for the past few weeks with me being sick and then being out of town. Then it'll be an afternoon of cleaning and hanging out with The Dude and just trying to get stuff done before falling back into the school routine on Monday.

Time just keeps flying by, no matter what we do....

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Power of the Purple Bandana

I've made several references to my purple bandana on my facebook page but I've never really explained the meaning behind it. I'm not even sure when it started, but it's been around for years. It went missing for a long time, and then I suddenly found it -surprise - in the girls' room a few weeks ago.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I very rarely wear my hair down. It's almost always in a ponytail, or when it gets long enough it goes into a bun. As much as I like to have long hair, I can't stand to have it in my face - so it has to be pulled up away from my face. Unless of course, it's a special occasion (like the wedding last weekend) and then I might leave it down. I will confess though - I did have a ponytail holder in my purse in case my hair got the best of me that night!

Anyway, the bandana. I honestly think that it started in college. Or maybe right after college. It seemed like whenever I was in the mood to *really* clean, I'd bust out the purple bandana and put it on to keep my hair out of my face. People quickly learned that if I had it on, they had best just leave me alone, because I was on a mission.

And now, 15-20 years later, the same still rings true. When I know that I have a lot of things to get accomplished, I bust out the purple bandana and get to work. Today was no different.

After I got the kids up and dressed and fed and to school, I came back here and started cleaning. I got the dishwasher loaded and run and did some laundry. I took Daniel to school and then went to the library to deal with some overdue books, got gas in the van, went to the hardware store to get a couple of things, to the bank to get some money and to the post office to get stamps. I came back home and did some more cleaning before I picked him up and then took him to his other preschool for the afternoon. While he was there, I got the rest of the bills into the mail, did more cleaning, unloaded the dishwasher, washed some other dishes, worked on some other laundry, did some straightening up around the house, and took care of a few other odds and ends.

Somewhere in there I made a batch of no-bake cookies for the kids and then made supper. I folded the girls' laundry and made them put it all away.

I'll admit that I'm fizzling out though. I started cleaning up the kitchen a few times, but it's still not done....it's like a whole bunch of tacos exploded in there! The kids love them, but boy they make a mess....I will finish cleaning that before I go to bed though, so that I can make breakfast in the morning without having to sift through all of the debris.

People ask me all the time where my cape is - they think I'm some sort of superhero for doing the things that I do everyday. So now you know my secret - I don't have a cape, but instead I have a purple bandana.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brain dump

I finally went out yesterday and did some walking - first time since I got sick a couple of weeks ago. I think I went about 2.5 miles, and I only walked (no running) but it felt good to get back out there, although I was pretty wiped out by the time that I got back.

While I was out there, I thought about a lot of stuff. A few of the things that I mentioned in this post came back to me. I realized that a couple of the things that I mentioned (namely the Diet Pepsi addiction and the getting finances under control) could be interconnected.

I have a weakness for soda - that's no secret. It's actually a die-hard addiction. I live for my Diet Pepsi. Yes, I smoke too - but not much. I can go for days without a cigarette and think nothing of it, but by God if I don't have my Diet Pepsi, heads will roll. In this town, we also have Sonic Drive-Ins - and if you're not familiar with them, they have "happy hour" every day from 2-4pm and their drinks are half-price. I can't drive past a Sonic without stopping and getting my usual Route-44-Diet-Vanilla-Coke-extra-vanilla-extremely-easy-on-the-ice-please (need the extra vanilla to cover up the Diet Coke taste). Anyway, I started thinking about how much money I've been spending lately by stopping to get a drink every time I go out somewhere - and when I started adding it up in my head, I was really pretty pissed at myself. Add to that my tendency to grab fast food any time I don't feel like cooking, and it started to dawn on me that I have been wasting a lot of money.

I made a pact with myself during that walk yesterday. For the next month - at least - no more fast food. No more stops for drinks while I'm out running around. Significantly reduce the amount of soda that I drink, period. Notice, I did not say NO soda - I know that's totally unrealistic. But I want to see if there's a difference in how much money I have left at the end of the month and see how much of a difference it makes.

It's already been a couple of days since I've had any soda - and I can tell the difference. I've been sleeping so much better already, which for me is never a bad thing. I've been sucking down iced tea and coffee, and have even been trying to do it without my usual sweetener - I figure if I'm going to go healthy, I might as well do it right, right?

So, we'll see if I make it the whole month. I seriously thought that I was going to cave today and get something to drink while I was running all over the countryside to get the older 3 kids to get them to the dentist, but I didn't do it - I resisted the urge. But it wasn't easy. The Dude and I went grocery shopping yesterday, and I got enough stuff that I shouldn't have any reason to stop for any fast food, as long as I stick with the meals that I have planned. The kids are going to complain, but they'll get over it - and it'll be good for them too.

I've also been digging up recipes to make some healthier versions of some of the food that I already make - I just have to be discreet so that the five picky little people in the house don't complain too much. I will admit that I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast this morning with whole wheat flour, and they inhaled them - so there might be hope for all of us yet!

I had also had the goal of doing one race per month every month this year, and I haven't even looked into February ones yet. I know that there was one coming up on February 4th or 5th, but I need to find the info on that and see if I can pull it off or not - if not, I need to find another one and get registered. I just have to get to the point that I can run without my lungs exploding again. I've also gotten myself into a challenge with The Dude and another friend with the 5K on New Years, but I'm going to hold off on releasing the details on that until we nail them down a little bit more. ;)


In other news, the older 3 kids had dentist appointments today. I'm proud to say that all 3 of them had perfect checkups, and handled the appointments much better than I did.

The Dude picked Alex and Daniel up from school for me while I was at the dentist with the other kids...and given the gorgeous weather we had again today, they weren't home when we got home.

So for now, I'm tired of arguing with my computer, so I think I'm going to shut it down for the night and try to get some sleep - trashed kitchen and all. I'll deal with the mess in the morning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Just some rambling.

And a random cool picture that was on my phone - I think I took this the other morning....but I don't remember exactly when. I just thought that it was cool.

Anyway, my funk has lasted into today. I just haven't been in the mood to do much of anything. I took Alex to school, and then after I dropped Daniel off at his school I went over to The Dude's house to hang out, and ended up falling asleep for an hour or two. Wow - talk about a fun afternoon together. But, I must have been more tired than I thought that I was, and I actually felt a little better after I got up.

I still didn't do a whole lot for the rest of the day, but finally this evening I forced myself to get up and clean for an hour, and I actually got quite a bit done. I think that's the key for me - not to wallow, but to get up and get moving.

But tomorrow, I am going to force myself to do more. After I get Alex to school, I'm going to get all of my bills paid so that when I take Daniel to school, I can get out and run walk for the first time since I got sick. I am so tired of sitting around, so I'm going to at least attempt it, even if I walk the whole time - I need to get back out and get moving. Then when I take Daniel to school in the afternoon, I get to do grocery shopping. Woohoo. Such excitement, huh?

Then it's the usual Wednesday night chaos - I hope and pray that the funk is gone by then! Otherwise the kids might eat me alive.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to Reality

So today was our first day back from our quickie little weekend getaway.

I got everything unpacked and pretty much put away, not that there was very much. And, there was actually less than what I left with, since my bottle of shampoo and my container of baking soda (I use it on my face - better than soap) are still sitting in the hotel bathroom. Oops.

We did come home with something new - this was the favor from the wedding (sorry for the crappy picture quality, but taking a picture of a picture never works well). They had an actual photo booth for all of the guests to use - they printed out two strips of the pictures and we got to keep one and then one got attached to scrapbook paper and we wrote a message to the bride and groom on it. I had never seen that at a wedding before, and just thought that it was such a unique idea. So now the happy couple has a whole scrapbook of goofy photo booth pictures of all of the guests at the wedding, with personal notes from everyone.

Now it's back to reality. I haven't really done much of anything today. It always seems like after I get back from a trip, whether it's a long vacation or just a short weekend thing, I always end up in a bit of a funk afterwards. The same thing happened after our road trip last summer - I get so excited and anxious and stressed out leading up to the trip or event, and then afterwards I just kind of crash and feel blah.

I keep looking around at the house, at things that I want to get done and that I had planned to do today, and I just don't feel like doing anything. Honestly, I feel like just crawling into bed and going to sleep (I know - that wouldn't be a bad idea) and I might do that shortly...but there are some things that I *should* do tonight - and maybe actually forcing myself to do something will make me feel a little bit better. But on the flip side of that, if I get involved in doing something, I might end up staying up half the night and just being exhausted again tomorrow.

Ugh. Decisions, decisions.....

That's it. The bed wins. I'm going to dump the rest of the crap off of it, turn off all of the lights, and crash. And it's not even 10pm.

Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend recap in pictures

First there was basketball. Emily's team won in overtime.

Then there was the drive to Oklahoma City. And yes, I even let The Dude drive for a while. It was stressful - not because he's a bad driver (he did fine) but because I suck at letting go of control.

Then there was the wedding...

...and the reception...

....and the afterparty...

After The Dude and I checked out of the hotel, we went to the Oklahoma City Memorial. I had been there before, but this was his first visit. The foundation from the Murrah Building is still there, and the memorial is in the footprint of the building. The reflecting pool is where the street that ran in front of the building was. At one end of the memorial is a chain link fence where people have left mementos - I had not seen that before, and it was powerful to say the least.

And just to lighten up the mood a bit...

My friend Kelly and her son Alex (you might remember them from our road trip to Texas last spring) met us and we all went out to lunch together. It was great to see them again and to visit with them - we just need to do it more often!

We left 70+ degree weather down there and headed back. We stopped in Wichita to get Daniel from my friend and then came home, driving through freezing rain and snow. Alex got here shortly after that and then we took The Dude home.

The weekend was amazing. Just amazing. The Dude and I had so much fun and it was so nice to get away, even if it wasn't for a very long period of time. It was great to really have some quality time together to just talk and tell stories and enjoy each other's company. Plus, it was nice for me to have a hottie for my date! :)

Now, it's time to plan the next road trip....which might be even more of a challenge than this one was. But, I figure that we survived this one without killing each other (and we still like each other) so we should be able to make it through a bigger one!


Rest in Peace, JoePa.