Friday, July 29, 2011

Carlsbad Beach Day

Every summer since I can remember my Aunt Pam arrives from Missouri having been deprived of the beach all year, ready to camp out at her timeshare for the majority of her stay.  And every summer she invites her family to come join her at the timeshare, and every year that we can, we do.   Its a familiar haven. The same beaches and haunts, all comforting, all bringing restoration of the soul.

When we brought the girls here last year their reactions were much less enthusiastic than we had hoped for.  Eleanor wouldn't let us put her bare feet in the sand without acting like she was being cruelly tortured.  And getting in the water? Forget about it. We couldn't have been more evil to her than at that moment.

I got my hopes up when we ventured up to Tahoe this year that a true beach experience would not be fraught with such anxiety. But in the back of my head I worried that their terror of the beach came more from the pounding of the ocean waves than the sand beneath their feet.

The morning of our beach adventure I pumped the girls full of anticipation, extolling each virtue of the beach, doing my best to transfer to them my love for all things sand and crashing waves. 

It seemed to work.

Annabelle stayed snuggled up in Aunty's lap for most of the day, but she was brave enough to venture into the water with me after she saw all the fun I was having without her.  She walked right in the water with me, and after I picked her up didn't fuss as I walked deeper and deeper into the waves.

Eleanor even allowed me to take her into the water with me too.  Even had fun too. Until we got in deeper than I thought and a wave managed to splash up and around me and into her mouth.  She wasn't much of a fan of that. 
At all. 

Even still, I have a feeling if we lived close enough to the beach she'd get over that soon enough and be as totally in love with the beach as I am.

Luckily my aunt is a member of the resort, so even though she wasn't time sharing with them this summer, we had full access to their shower rooms, pool, and jacuzzi and spent about four in the kiddie pool.  Annabelle really warmed up to the idea of being in the water, and got a kick out of 'jumping' in the water to me.

And while Eleanor splashed around in the pool she was scandalized by the teenage couple huddled in the corner, "Mommy, what's he doing to her?!"


Not cool teenagers. Not cool. 

And there it is. I'm officially 'uncool.'

Friday, July 22, 2011

Skater Girl

Remember that feeling you had when you slid on your first pair of skates? I remember that first pair like it was yesterday.  They were the same strap-on over your shoes kind of skates, and I was five.  I must have wore those things everywhere. Even to bed. 

Eleanor was given this whole set (Thanks to 'Rich Uncle Jeremy!') for her 3rd birthday, and we finally pulled it out of the box today.

Her excitement was contagious. 
She's really getting a whole lot better at the whole "say cheese!" bit.

Well, a bit better at least.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with her balancing skills.  She only did the splits once (not in the video, sorry) , and thank goodness for those gloves when she did!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Annabelle's words

My grandma told me I need to start writing down the words that Annabelle says. Now, before the list is so large the thought of creating one makes my head spin and I give up before even trying.

It feels like she says a lot, but 32 words (yes - including animal sounds. They count, right?) isn't quite the 300 that Grandma thought she had!

Here it is, Annabelle's words at 16 months (in no particular order){updated July29}:
  1. Yea, and Yup (Which she uses a lot, and appropriately, "Do you want to do/eat/go X?" I'll ask "Yup!" she says with a smile)
  2. No (again, which she uses a lot, and appropriately)
  3. Mama
  4. Dada
  5. Sissy
  6. Papa
  7. Gramma
  8. Up
  9. Down
  10. More
  11. Thirsty
  12. Dolly
  13. Puppy 
  14. (Also  "woof woof" when she hears a dog bark or we say dog, or she sees a dog) 
  15. Kitty 
  16. (and me-ow) 
  17. Horsey 
  18. (And neighs. All. the. time. Girl loves herself the horseys!) 
  19. Candy
  20. Cookie
  21. Boob (not too thrilled of this one. In retrospect, I should have used different terminology with her from the beginning . . .)
  22. ouchy
  23. happy
  24. done
  25. Boo! (when playing peek-a-boo) 
  26. Poopy (even says when actually poopy . . . not too far away from potty training it seems)  
  27. That's (as in, "that's sissy!") 
  28. This 
  29. Good
  30. Morning (When Grandma came in to breakfast this morning Annabelle laughed, pointed, and said "Good morning!" clear as day. Where has my baby gone?!) 
  31. Hi
  32. Bye-Bye
  33. Birdie
  34. Cookie
  35. Ta-ta (Thank-you)
  36. fishie
added 8.19.11

   37. p'ease (for please)
   38. no' (for nose)
   39. mouth
   40. Eye
   41. tooth
   42.  toothbrush (with her cute baby accent)
   43. binky
   44. El'nor (Eleanor)
   45. Elmo (whoohoo! So excited she's learned who Elmo is! {insert sarcasm font} )
   46. book
   47. read
   48. apple
   49. dip
updated 8.30
    50. toy
    51. hat
    52. pee-pee
    53. diaper
    54. orange
    55. cheese
    56. cup

updated 9.4
    57. shirt
    58. toe
    59. come
    60. yogurt
    61. Love
    62. You {That's right - the girl says "Love you!"}
    63. bowl
    64. bite
    65. ball
    66. Pookie
    67. ni-night
    68. out
    69. outside
    70. play
    71. clap
    72. chip
    73. sting-cheese
    74. grape
    75. thank-you
    76. pray
    77. "uuh uuhh" {it might not be a word, but she sure says it a lot!}
    78. spoon
    79. phone
    80. shoe
    81. sock
    82. car
    83. cow
    84. moo!
    85. ducky
    86. quack!
    87. knock-knock
    88. wall
    89. door
    90. light
    91. fly
    92. 'moothie {daddy's special smoothie}

    I am sure there are many more words. The list is growing each day as she is constantly practicing sounds and moving her tongue in odd ways, attempting to figure out exactly how it needs to be to make just the right sounds. 

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Reading, Writing, Publicizing

    I'm waist deep working on a very time consuming, mind consuming, project. Hands down the biggest undertaking I've taken on, besides having children of course.

    I have started a new blog to chronicle my writing to publication journey (because, y'all, these books I'm working on are going to get published. They are.) I'm not just writing for me, I'm writing for God - so if I said, "I don't care about getting published," then what help would I be doing God if I don't do everything in my power to have these books published? Hmmm?? Yeah, that's what I thought, too. 

    I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about wordpress. And so far? Eehh, I kind of wish I'd stayed here at blogger. I'll stick with it over there for awhile longer, who knows, maybe it'll grow on me. I must have no computer skills at all cause apparently its suppose to be great for custom this and that, but so far all its been is a pain.

    Can you tell I don't like change?

    Come on over and follow me at The Contracting Keyboard, don't be shy! 

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Mixed Up Conversations

    Eleanor has a hard time speaking clearly.

    Her great-Grandma has a hard time hearing, especially when the words are not clear.

    They have conversations anyway. Because they love each other.

    "And we washed the clothes, and cleaned the house," Eleanor said, and then burst into one of the songs sung at Sabbath school, 'every Sunday morning!"

    "I like to eat peanuts too!" says Grandma.

    "Uh huh, and I raked the leaves too!"

    Most of the time I step in to help clear the confusion, but if they don't ask, and they're happy in their mixed-up conversations, I just sit back and smile to myself, relishing in their love for each other that doesn't bother with trivial things like understanding each other.

    You don't have to know the meaning behind people's words to understand how much they love you.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Modern Challenge to Motherhood

    Okay, so not so modern, since when this quote was given it was in the 1950s, but a great challenge none-the-less that I found in the forward my great-grandmother Margaret White Thiele wrote in novel she wrote, "Whirlwind of the Lord."  When I read the quote this morning it struck a chord in me, and I felt the only course of action I could take was to share it here with you.  

    “The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challenge –
    that of being godly women –
    The very phrase sounds strange in our ears.  We never hear it now.

    We hear about every other kind of women -
       beautiful women,
           smart women,
             sophisticated women,
               career women,
                  talented women,
                     divorced women,
    but so seldom do we hear of a godly woman – or of a godly man, either, for that matter. . .

    The world has enough women who know how to hold their cocktails
    Who have lost all their illusions and their faith.
    The world has enough women who know how to be smart.
    It needs women who are willing to be simple. 
    The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. 
    it needs some who know how to be brave. 

    The world has enough women who are popular.
    It needs more who are pure.
    We need women, and men too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct."

    Peter Marshall, Mr. Jones, Meet the Master (New York; Fleming H. Revell Company) pp. 154,155. 


    Friday, July 8, 2011


    Henry tossed another log onto the dying fire,   "all we need now is some marshmallows," he said winking at Margaret.  They had taken a break in packing to come out to relax around their campfire,  needing to forget for a moment all thoughts of the projects and hustle the next day would bring:  one last quick inventory of the "Derit's"* energy tablets, pamphlets, receipts, and  other sales paraphernalia; packing carefully to get all the supplies and luggage to fit into the sedan, making the first leg of the journey to San Jose State where he would say good-bye to Margaret, leaving her so she could begin her masters degree, while he continued on to his sales stops.  Their busy activities preparing for their trip and respective duties had kept them apart for most of the day, but now, tonight, they put their focus on back onto each other.

    A full moon clung low to the horizon. The stars, brilliant points of light decorated a velvet-black canvas.   They enjoyed the beauty of the night, the quiet, and the simple pleasure of enjoying just being together. Even after more than thirty years of being married, it was still bliss.

    Their hands each sought out each others,  their fingers fitting together perfectly and effortlessly, as only hands that have known each other through years of triumph and trials can know each other. Henry began to speak then of his hopes for the upcoming months that would pull them apart.  They talked optimistically, resigned to their separation, each knowing it was the best and only path that stretched before them.

    "Remember, Henry, what we admired so about the Chinese?" Margaret said, reflecting back on their years spent working as missionaries in China, "It was their lack of worry and anxiety, a heart of optimism and graceful cheer. 'This is their insurance for the future.'**," Margaret spoke softly, feeling a hushed reverence for the moment.  Speaking of such characteristics reminded her of the anonymous 7th century Mongolian poem she had set to memory so many years before in China.  Lovingly,  and with all the good fortune, cheer, and hope for the furture, she gazed into her beloved's deep brown eyes and recited for him:


    This little strip of light
    'Twixt night and night
    Let me keep bright
    And let no shadow of tomorrow
    Nor sorrow
    From the dead yesterday
    My happiness today. 
    And if tomorrow shall be sad, 
    or never comes at all
    I've had - at least-

    "Darling, you never cease to amaze me, how do you always have the perfect poem or thought for every moment?" Henry said with a smile, and then tenderly, "This memory, this happiness today with you, will get me through all the lonely days ahead. I will remember this moment, and today," Henry said cupping Margarets face in his hands and kissing her softly, "will get me through anything."

    - - -

    Henry sat behind the wheel of his '47 Frazer Manhattan sedan,  humming a favorite hymn, "At The Cross," tapping the steering wheel in the tune as he sailed down Bradshaw street. They had left Paradise a little later than they had planned, which was unusual for them.  Margaret never did abide being late, but they had made good time and were already in Sacramento.  If they didn't have to make any more stops or have any more delays, he thought, they should still arrive as they had planned.  Suddenly his thoughts were cut short as he heard Margaret scream,
    "They're not stopping! Henry! Stop!!!!"

    He slammed on his brakes, but it was too late, there was nothing he could do to keep from barreling into the side of the black Ford sedan.  The energy of the impact ripped him from his seat, and tossed him, and everyone else,  like rag dolls from the two cars.

    "At least," he thought as he flew through the air, "I've had today," and in a flash of light and a burst of  pain it all went black.

    And let no shadow of tomorrow
    Nor sorrow
    From the dead yesterday
    My happiness today. 
    And if tomorrow shall be sad, 
    or never comes at all
    I've had - at least-

    Afterward from the author (thats me!): In the story Margaret is my great-grandmother, and Henry my great-grandfather.  This is my best recollection of the true events told to me by my grandmother - with a bit of creative license taken by me.
    As Henry was taken to the morgue, Margaret and all 5 teenagers in the other car, were rushed to the hospital having suffered serious injuries.  Margaret was there recuperating from those injuries when Henry was buried, not even able to say good-bye one last time to her beloved.
    The haunting foreshadowing of the poem Margaret recited to Henry the day before he was suddenly taken from her is, for me, as heart-wrenching as it is captivating.
    I have wanted to post this poem here for a long time, but felt the poem by itself wasn't enough, I had a need for you, my dear reader, to understand the full context of the poem.
    *: Derits = tired backwards.  Henry sold these 'energy' tables as a traveling salesman.
    **source of quote: Margaret White Thiele in her book 'None But the Nightingale,' page 148. 

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    The Fourth

    Fourth of July cooking and baking requires a lot of help cleaning up.  Eleanor is the designated dish washer and floor sweeper (she insists on it, like she insisted on wearing an apron so her shirt wouldn't get wet while rinsing all the dishes)

    What is fourth of July without some kind of patriotic dessert involving raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and cream?

    Learning how to play frisbee before the show began

    Eleanor promised us she wouldn't be scared of the "boom booms," or cry at all.   But she cried. A lot.  Which is funny, because I went back and read about our 4th of July celebrations last year, and she didn't cry then.  But she cried this year.  A lot. I did my best to make her see how fun and pretty the fireworks really were by making a game of "I spy" the colors in the fireworks. . .

    . . . it worked for a few moments.  

    Annabelle was so sad her sister was upset and crying, she kept giving Eleanor hugs and kisses.  Later, Eleanor told me, "I was crying and crying 'aaahh aaaahhh!' cause the fireworks were scary and then Annabelle kissed me and that made me happy."  Nothing makes my heart soar more than when I see the girls love up each other like this.
     Annabelle was amazed by the fireworks, clapped and kept saying,  "wooooww woooow," at least when she wasn't trying to comfort her traumatized sister, or being distracted by the flashlight.  

    Birthday Traditions: Tales of Turning Three

    There is so much hope and expectation all wrapped up into a birthday. An almost-one-year-old, even an almost-two-year-old can't really feel it. But an almost-three-year-old? She feels it with all of her soul.
    Brandon's parent's started the tradition of filling their boy's rooms with balloons on the birthday so that is the first thing they saw when they woke up in the morning.  I have been anticipating the third birthday, because for some reason I felt that at three we could finally start the birthday balloon tradition with Eleanor. 

    (In the months leading up to her birthday we asked her repeatedly what she wanted for her birthday.  The only real consistent answer we got from her was pink, purple, and kangaroos. Thus the pink and purple balloons. Apparently there are no 'kangaroo balloons.' )

    When she first woke up, she hated them.  Screamed bloody murder when a balloon randomly popped in the middle of the room and woke up both the girls at 6:30 in the morning.   By the time 7:30 rolled around she was bouncing around the room squealing with the pure delight only a child can have on their birthday in a room filled with balloons.
    We practiced repeatedly for weeks before her birthday how many fingers old she was going to be on her birthday.  She still has a hard time pulling that third finger up straight.

    I asked her, "If you can have anything in the whole wide world for breakfast, what would you want to eat today for your special birthday breakfast?"
    "Hmm, I think I want sixpix ('crispix')!"
    "Aww, sweetie, there is no more crispix left, I'm sorry.  What else would you like?"
    "Well, I guess I'll have some Life, if we have any."

    I'll take it as a good sign she likes things simple.  But I wasn't having 'simple' for her birthday, so I made her choose between Belgian waffles with strawberries and fresh whipped cream or blueberry pancakes. 

    Remember the only other thing Eleanor asked for her birthday? Yup, we took her to the zoo to see the Kangaroo's.  It was 101 degree's out, and none of the animals did anything but lay there trying not to get heat stroke. Eleanor had had enough by the first exhibit.  But gosh-darn-it - she had kangaroo's on her birthday!
    What birthday would be complete without pizza for dinner.  Mmmm pizza face!

    Trying to beat the heat with a little kiddie pool action.  Eleanor loved every second of the splashing, filling, splashing, dumping, splashing kicking, and splashing action.  Annabelle still loathes being submerged in water that is anything less than her own body temperature. Even if it is 101 out.

    Southern Style Strawberry Cake.  In sticking with the 'pink' theme, I whipped up this delicious strawberry cake from Joy The Baker.  Pink and strawberry.  A perfect fit.
    Unfortunatley I somehow failed to make sure we had candles on hand.  Our candle bag had every number except three, so she wound up with a 1 and a 2 to blow out (because 1+2=3. . . )

    She blew them out like a champ!

    It was a simple birthday. No huge party, not even presents to open (which, by the way - I thought would go unnoticed, but later that night she told me in a slur of excited ramblings about the day, "and the only present I got was that pink bag from Sabbath School . . ."  She wasn't sad or upset, just stating a fact),  all the party and present fun will happen next weekend when our family is able to make it up here to celebrate with us.

    Honestly? This simple birthday with traditions, simple wishes fulfilled, time spent together as a family just enjoying each other's own unique quirks and delights, filled to the brim with each laugh and squeal of pleasure from the birthday girl on her special day was much more enjoyable than any (stressful) big party could have been.

    As we snuggled together in bed, as we do every night, I asked her, as I do every night,

    "What was your favorite part of today, sweetheart?"
    And she sang to me, "Happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to ME. Jesus loves Me, dear Eleanor, Happy birthday to ME!"

    Happy birthday indeed, baby girl. You amaze us every single day with the silly things you say and do, the thoughtful acts of service and humility you constantly teach us, and the love that you share with the world. 
    We love you more than life itself. 

    (Wishing I had had the energy to post this on her actual birthday. . . the 3rd.)

    Saturday, July 2, 2011

    Taking Advantage

    Do you ever get those calls in the evening, right before you sit down to eat? You know the one's that go a little something like this:

    Caller: Good evening Ma'am, I'm so glad to get in touch with you this evening! Would you like to hear about how you can vacation with XXX (fill-in-the-blank time-sharing company) for only $XX? 

    Me: Hot-diggity! So glad you called! Cheap vacations are the hippest, yo!

    Caller: Totally. You rock! All you have to do is listen to our 90 minute promotional shpeel on why you should buy into our time-share plan and you can have four nights in a nearby hotel for SUPER cheap! Are you in?

    Me: Sounds rockin'. But you know we won't buy a time-share though, cool cat?

    Caller: Dude, whatever, just come chill out, listen to the shpeel, and have a great super duper cheep vacation on us! We'll even give you $75 in vouchers to go to dinner, or buy totally tubular stuff from the gift shops. 

    Me: When are the next available dates?

    Caller: Mid-week is even cheaper if you're down with that.

    Me: We're so down with that. Sign us up!

    Aaand CUT!

    We've had many opportunities throughout our married years to vacation for super cheap this way.  Usually the hotels aren't that great, but you get access to the super nice resorts facilities while you are there, and the promotional shpeels are not pushy at all.  They don't even care if you don't purchase a time-share.  We're very upfront with them about it.  It does make the promotional speech go a bit faster when you tell them that from the get go.  We usually say, "We are planning to buy in the future but the time just isn't right for us at the moment," which is true.  I do want to buy a time share one day.  Just right now we don't want to be channeling our funds into something like that.  Soon though.  Soon.  

    In the meantime, we get to enjoy really nice resort facilities and enjoy cheap vacations (near us).  In the beginning of June we took just such a trip to South Lake Tahoe: 

    The hotel that they had us stay in this time was actually very nice.  The first room we got (which we moved out of because we wanted just one king not two twins thank-you-very-much) had a balcony with beautiful views of the lake, the second room had no balcony, but the room connected to ours was empty and the connecting door was unlocked . . .  
    Everyone look!! Eleanor is walking in SAND! And enjoying it!! Well, at least not crying about it. No no, she did enjoy it. Such a difference from last year when we went to Tahoe.
    Annabelle was very unsure about putting her toes in the sand at first
    I could just sit there relaxing with the beautiful views all day if I had the time.
    Yes, the water was freezing cold.  They didn't call it Juneuary for nothin'!
    I adore that Annabelle loves the feel of the wet sand on her toes.
    We found a cute little mini-golf place and decided to take the girls since they had so much fun the last time we went
    Annabelle even learned how to mini-golf, and seemed a bit more focused than her big sis most of the time
    More focused on cheating, that is! :)
     Brandon had a great time giving Eleanor swimming lessons in the hotel pool. She'll be swimming on her own before too long, hopefully
     Annabelle has yet to be impressed with swimming. 
    The hotel even had its own theater, and we took the girls to their first movie in a theater. We had the whole theater room to ourselves and we could be as loud as we wanted, move around as freely as we wanted, and switch seats as often as we wanted.  It was perfect!  The movie (Rio) was pretty cute too. 
    Annabelle passed out halfway through the movie. It was perfect transitioning her from sleeping in my arms in the movie to carrying her up to her bed in the hotel room.  Movie theaters in hotels is genius!

    Note: Since my mom referred us to these people years ago, and we accepted their offer, we are on these lists. If you don't get this calls for the great deals, and you want to get called, let me know. I could hook you up. 

    P.S. If you must know our accommodations were only $75 for 4 days, 3 nights. Can't beat that!

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Things Loved in June

    I think I somehow missed my "things loved" post for May. Whoops. Oh well, moving on to June! I've missed blogging a lot (really, I managed only one post in June? That's horrible. Horrible!), and have a lot to catch up on.

    1.) Noodles & Company. 

    We have one of these restaurants nearby us now, and I'm sad we have missed out on months of its delicious food being ignorant of it existence.  We went with our good friends who moved away across country (A thing I HATED in June) and fell in love with the place. Think: "Panera for Noodles,"  although their slogan is much better: "Travel the Globe Without Leaving Your Table," how'd they know that's what I wanted to do? And you know how sometimes you can't decide if you want Asian, or Italian, or good ol' American food? No? That's just me? Well, they solved that problem for us me by putting all three cuisines in one menu.  Just for me. Not to mention that at the one where we live has pretty amazing customer service.  The same woman has helped us both times I've gone and she always bends over backwards to help us, and is just so sweet and gosh darn helpful and goes above and beyond her job duties.  Gotta love people like that, and places that hire people like that.  (The only drawback is there aren't that many locations yet, seems like its still a fairly new company.)

    edited to add: One the things I love about it so much is that all the food starts out vegetarian. ALL.  You can then choose to add a protein: chicken, beef, shrimp or tofu. Tofu! Yes, good tofu too. And the prices are pretty great too.  And the combo meal, you can get a salad and soup and noodle dish (with the added protein of choice) for only $7.50.  Phenomenal. They even have mushroom stroganoff on the menu.  Nom Nom.

    2. Frozen Yogurt Joints. We hit up a lot of yogurt places in June. It is definitely the 'popular,' 'cool' (pun intended) and 'in' thing right now. There are now more frozen yogurt places in my town than coffee houses. (Don't you just love it when when people make up statistics on the fly like I just did there? No? Sorry . . .) The fad works for me, besides frozen yogurt is much better than coffee (and if you need me to say "in my opinion" let me remind you . . . this is my blog.)  I've heard all the rage about Pinkberry, and it's good. . . but nothing beats one of those "Yogurt My Way" places where you can put whatever kind of concoction together without having to tell the worker what you want. Too much bother with a middleman when you can do it better yourself anyway.
    Great Friends and Frozen Yogurt. A tubular combination. (Hey, if the '80's are the 'in' thing again I think we should bring back 'tubular,' no?)
    3. Buying Stock in Children's Ibuprofen. Oh wait, never mind we didn't buy stock, just a couple quarts of the stuff. We should buy its stock though, it would be a great investment.  Can't see that stock ever crashing, with us alone we keep the company afloat.  Combined sicknesses from our house, we've had strep throat, viral exanthem, the flu, and teething (okay, not technically a 'sickness,' but that stuff is painful and acts in very similar ways to being sick). Antibiotics, ibuprofen, and oragel have been my best friends in June.
    I don't love it when she's sick, and sad, but I love how sweet and cuddly she gets when she doesn't feel well.

    4. Inspiration.  I love it when I get hit with an idea. There I was, laying awake in bed, my heart racing from a cocktail of medications (yes, I was the one with strep throat), and unable to sleep, when inspiration hit me. Four hours later I finally was able to fall asleep, after working out plans, ideas, and wonderful inspiration that I know only could come from God. Sometimes its in the night hour, when all is quiet and at peace that I'm able to connect the most with God. When I have my mind clear and open to His word.  This new inspiration and motivation I have goes deep in my soul, and I'm dedicating much time to the completion of this new project.  My mind is consumed with it these days, and the cool part is that due to the nature of this project, its having me connect even closer to God, as its requiring copious amounts of reading the bible, reading books that I've wanted to read for a long time, and reflecting deeply on things I've pushed aside as unimportant for too long, and generally connecting with God more than I have in a long time.  Who would have thought I'd ever be thanking God for getting strep throat?
    (picture Source)

    5. Mike Grove Zoo Zoom.  I ran the Mike Grove Zoo Zoom 5K race with Brandon, Caren, my sister, her boyfriend Andrea, my niece Ayla, and of course our girls in the stroller. It was a tougher race than the Avenue of the Vines because it gave us no indication of where we were at while running the race, and like the fool I am, I failed to bring a watch or any device that would gauge time for me.  I pushed really hard when I thought it was the end and tired myself about 3/4 of a mile from the end, giving me a feeling of defeat which made me stop to walk for a few moments. I thought then I had surely lost all chances of finishing in my goal time.  But that moment when I looked up at the finish line and saw that I would be making it to the end within my goal time of 30 minutes was such an amazing and motivating moment. Seeing that I could do it, without my ipod, without time to help pace me, without any real training, made me want to run more, train, do better.  I need to find another race to sign up for, and I really really need to find a good triathlon to participate in. You with me Caren? Sis?
    Caren and I before the race

    Heather, Ayla and I before the race
    6. Lorikeets. Before our good friends abandoned us moved across the country, we felt the need the spend as much time getting together as we could.  This I loved.  The fact that they are now gone? (Can you tell yet?) This I do not love at all. Early in the month Kari and I took the girls to see the Lorikeet exhibit at our local zoo, and we fell in love with the birds.  They are stunning!

    7. Nordstroms.  Expensive, yes. But hello customer service! Hello beautiful clothes! I hadn't shopped in a nordstroms since I was in middle school and my best friends mom took us shopping there for our 8th grade class night dresses.  I still have and wear the dress.  And now you know how bad my fashion is.  My mission this time: get myself fitted (for a bra. yes. I went there. Its a mom blog, right? These things are very important)  This is something I have never had done in my life, but felt it was finally totally necessary after having had and nursed two children. I really completely clueless about where to even start after throwing away my nursing bras (to encourage me to really start weaning. . . a whole 'nother blog post).  I realize even more so after having been fitted how necessary it really was.  Mom's, if you haven't gotten yourself fitted (or re-fitted) yet, RUN don't walk to the nearest store (it doesn't have to be as fancy as Nordstroms, but it is a nice treat).

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    P.S. I felt it unnecessary to mention all things travel related since I blogged about that already, but suffice it say that I very much loved all things travel related in the month of June.  :)