Monday, January 23, 2017

Change

A LOT has changed since my last blog post.
A lot with me at least.

If you follow these pictures right to left, you can follow my health progression. 
The picture on the far right was from September 23rd. The middle, from Thanksgiving, and the left, Jan 23. So, yep, there's me 4 months later. 

In September, I decided to make a few changes and so I started going walking in the am with my husband. I realized I'd been grieving for my life and friends in Florida for long enough.  I also decided to cut out sugar for a while. I'd been exercising for a week and off of sugar for a week in that photo. 

Towards the end of October, I came across enough information that told me that I wanted to try a WFPB (whole food, plant based) lifestyle change.  This included removing all animal products, sugar, oils, refined flours, and processed foods.  

And it has been an interesting process!  I've been learning lots of new things and it has been an adventure. Learning to cook differently than ever before.  Figuring out what I and my family like or don't like. 

Part of the reason for this post though, is to celebrate. I'm almost (just a few pounds shy still) down 50 pounds.  Which is exciting in itself, but here's the exciting news.  Today, I went out for my regular walk and thought to myself, "why don't I just see how far I can run today?" I know there are 6 hills that I'll have to climb, and I can walk them, but I should see if I can at least make it to the first hill.  
And so I started to jog. 
And I kept jogging, up those 6 hills and back down, and around, and I ran 4.2 miles today - without stopping!  3 months ago, I wondered out loud if I'd ever be able to run our walking route, and my husband assured me I could. I never thought it would happen so quickly!  I haven't run this type of a distance since 2002...  Furthermore, that middle picture...you know, from Thanksgiving? That was taken at a 5k Turkey trot. Which I participated in, and walked at least half (if not more of).  

So...today was a victory for me. I was amazed that I truly felt like I could have kept going, almost double of what I'd already done (but didn't have the time).  I'm excited to see where this takes me. I'm excited to see my own personal growth and achievement. 

We decided to try out the WFPB diet/lifestyle simply because we'd come across so much information regarding so many diseases being preventable, solely through diet. Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimers to name a few.  Having seen a couple of dear friends just go through cancer, we realized that if these diseases are actually preventable, simply through diet, we wanted to try it out and see how we felt.  

In a couple of words, these are the buzz words we keep using: 
Full. 
Never thought on a plant based diet I'd say that I usually felt full and didn't have cravings. 
Energy
I've been amazed at the energy levels I've found. I've cut 40 minutes off of our weekly hiking route, and was able to add in 2.5 more miles. I've slept better, and haven't felt the total exhaustion that has accompanied my exercise in the past. 
Awesome
The foods are awesome, it's been a total adventure!  



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Still here

It's been a whirl wind of a summer.
The girls and I trekked all over the northwest, putting at least 6,000 miles on the car.
Together we traveled to Oregon, Ca (Redwood forest - ooh la la!), Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Utah and Colorado.  When we totaled it up, we realized that through the second week of August, we had collectively only been home for 2 weeks this summer.  Crazy!
We've been grateful to see lots of family and spend time with them - making up for all of those years we spent so far away in Florida.
Er.. well really, we were taking our kids to different activities.
Our eldest went to a youth conference with her cousin in Oregon. Then we took her to a youth camp in Provo Utah for a week, while the little one and I visited cousins in Co., and also stopped in for a Rockies game (still love that stadium!). We then hung out in Ut. for a couple of days, picked up a BFF from Florida who flew in to spend the month with us, and then headed back to Wa.
We then drove back down to the Ut. border the next week for a family reunion and back home.
Back home again, the girls went to a church camp, then we headed back to Ut. to drop the BFF back to the airport and back home again after a pit stop in Idaho where we left our eldest daughter. She traveled up to West Yellowstone where she camped and hiked and swam and slept in a hammock all week at a boy scout leadership training camp.  She learned how to really rough it there, and had an amazing time.
The rest of us stayed home, my husband was in a car accident. Just quietly waiting to turn onto a road when a collision in the intersection landed a truck on top of his car and through the windshield.He walked out with just a broken pinky - so blessed!
That was the same day that I discovered a huge water leak from the AC in the garage, into our office - ruining our carpet and pad.
We turned off the AC (for the 3rd week this summer due to it not working), and then headed back to W. Yellowstone to retrieve our daughter.  We camped for a couple of days and just enjoyed hanging out, sitting by the fire, listening to ghost stories from an audio book by Jonathan Stroud.  Then we all headed back home.
Next up - the girls are going on a backpacking trip this week with the young women from church.

In other news, last week was canning week. We canned peaches, pears, tomatoes, and raspberry jam. We also dried a bunch of pears and plums, and we bought a new car to replace the one that had the truck land on it.

On top of all of this, our oldest daughter got her driver's license (EEK!) and has begun her road to independence. She's loving running her sister around, shopping and going to the library without me. She's also looking forward to driving herself to school. She also started to teach piano lessons and has 3x the students that I have (she also charges much less than me).
And, we just heard that she made it through the audition for the local youth symphony here in the Tri-Cities area. So excited for her. Life just got even more busy.

So, there you have it - the condensed synopsis of our summer!
We are looking forward to cool weather and lots of routine!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Growing up

Yippee!
I'm still here.
Looking for momentous things to write about. Our lives have been so busy, yet it all seems to be a blur.

Oh! Our most exciting bit of news....my birthday. My husband was so kind - I wasn't set to put much stock into having another birthday, however, HE wanted to make sure it was celebrated properly, and so it was.
I spent the morning doing a little shopping, then went to the mall with a friend in a paint your own pottery shop. I haven't finished it yet though...gotta get back there!
The activity days girls came by and we played water kick ball, and a couple of other games, and then some friends we knew back in Colorado (who have since moved to Idaho), were driving through, and so they went to dinner with us.  Indian...yum.
The next morning though - that's when it gets good.
But I've got to preface it with a story.

A few weeks ago, we were planning a surprise birthday party for our oldest daughter. Her birthday was over spring break and most of the kids were out of town. We heard word that another family had moved into our neighborhood and church community, and that they had a daughter and son who are between our oldest in age.  So - in order to check them out and see if we should invite them to the party, and to welcome them, and get to know them better, we invited them to dinner.  We'd never met.

Dinner was great...except the sauce from the lasagna dripped in the oven and started smoking and almost started a fire. Nothing like guests coming to the door with the house filled with smoke and the fire alarm blaring. Yes...welcome and come in...I bet you are super excited for what we are going to feed you no?

As we were asking the kids about themselves, the son said he was going to go to school and study business, and then take over his father's business.  So...we asked what the dad did.  He said that he is a bee keeper.
I got really excited. Then I told him I had called a guy a while ago to ask about bees, but he had never called me back.  I found the business card and we found out it was him! (He thought he had called and had me in his data base for some reason).

Anyways..it just so happened, that he was getting some bees ready to sale. So, we bought to nucs - this includes bees, brood, and a queen - about 4 frames.

So, we put them into our boxes and we now have bees.  So excited!
So that's one thing. I recently read a book on beekeeping. The one I received for my birthday last year, but never read because I didn't have bees.
Can't wait for the honey!

Our oldest daughter got asked to prom this weekend - she is pretty excited, so we've been busy answering the boy and dress shopping and trying out hairdos and the likes. We went to a lot of stores, but really struggled to find anything modest and less than $400 that we liked.  Finally, we headed to Pasco where there's a high hispanic population. We then spent 6 hours in their quinceanera dress shops, and walked away with a winning dress. Complete with a hooped petticoat, but she may be too shy to wear. Oh the excitement!

Our youngest is busily involved with drama, and we were able to see her first performance this week. She's super excited about all things drama and we get to hear lots about it.
She also got CONTACTS!  Yes. This little one has been wearing glasses since she was 6. We moved her into contacts a couple of weeks ago, and we still sort of expect to see her squinting when we see her, because without glasses, that's usually what we saw.  She is super excited for a birthday that's upcoming, and to be able to wear make up!

So, I guess our news is that we are all growing up and older.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Still alive - barely

We are alive, and we survived our move to Washington. For the record, the week before Christmas isn't the best time to move to the Tri-Cities area...especially from a sunny state, and especially if you aren't prepared for 8 weeks of cloudiness and no sun.  
Gratefully, we are enjoying sunny skies. 
Lots has happened since our move. 
I only have a few minutes today, and I'll post some photos later, but here are the cliff notes. 
  • Moved in, and had to clean and paint the entire house. 
  • Highlight of the painting was little miss's room that we did in five colors, blended together with pink on the bottom, graduating up to cream on the top. It really is a wonder and quite lovely. Our oldest daughter went for a beach theme - linen colored walls with a sea blue/green accent - it's pretty. 
  • Furniture procurement & putting the house together. 
  • Road trip to see my brother and his family in Oregon (only 8 hours!)
  • 3 months of car shopping (I was limited to a 10 mile range)
  • Teenage driving lessons - oh me oh my! (She drove to Pocatello & back - only 9 hours!)
  • A quick trip for hubby & me to Ut. to attend the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference
  • Application process for grad school (yep, for me!) - still waiting to hear back
  • Opened my music studio, and started 7 piano/violin students
  • Teaching our daughter how to run a business - she is now self employed, teaching piano lessons
  • Taxes...including employed, self employed, unemployed, home office, cross nation move, rental real estate refinance, two homes sold, one home purchased.  I finally threw in the towel after two weeks of working on them, and paid someone who really knew what they were doing to do them. Good thing - now I"m not to blame. He said they were "fun" - they were definitely out of the box! 
  • And finally, I've been occupied with work and gathering individuals together to form a coalition against sexual exploitation in the state of Wa. Tonight is our first meeting, we've invited our local and state representatives, and our aim will be to bring a legislative resolution recognizing pornography as a public health crisis, which will then give us the ground to stand on to work towards child protective legislation, and possibly, national legislation.
I'll be honest, our move to Wa. has been difficult for me. I'm pretty outgoing and friendly, and it was hard to leave my friends in Fl. behind. I haven't found the same types of friendships here yet. And so I've been in mourning. My kids and husband leave the home each day and have social interactions - I haven't found those yet, and I'm an extrovert who needs this! I've realized that perhaps this just isn't the time...so I've been able to throw myself into my work - working with women going through betrayal trauma due to a spouse's sexual addiction(s).  I've found much peace and purpose in this work, and am finding passion in pulling together the coalition that we will hopefully form tonight.  So excited! 

So, there it is - our past 4 months in a nutshell. Still alive. Still kicking and saucy as ever!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chronicles of selling a house in Colorado

This was a draft from July, 2015 that I never posted.... here it is, better late than never.

Life has a tendency to be like a roller coaster.
Let me correct that-my life has the aforementioned characteristic.

Somethings go up, others go down-at a tear jerking screaming unexpected crazy roller coaster speed and pace with the wildest turns imagineable.

At least that's kind of how it has been lately.

I can't remember when I I last blogged so here I will say it.
You know our sweet cute cozy little yellow house in Colorado?
It was totally defiled!
We  went to Colorado with the intent of renewing our lease with our tenant.
Sorry if we didn't see you or notify you (Caterina). My husband flew to Denver, I came via SLC it was a bit contrived  but we got there.

That morning I was saying my prayers, thinking about my
Upcoming day, asking Heavenly Father for help on the things up ahead of me and I had the impression that we should sale our home.

Say what?
So I said "honey, why don't you say a prayer before we leave". He did and came to me saying "we need to sale it."
There was the confirmation. Law of two witnesses right?

We got to our home, met the tenant. Started checking the house out. He asked if we could extend the lease for the next two years at least. We said no, we need to sale.

My husband was checking everything out and said I'm going downstairs. Our tenant, said., "ah, you know, there's nothing down there".  So I I went too.
As we headed down the steps, he says, "I have cancer".
We thought that was a little ill placed but didn't think much of it. For the next two steps down.
And then we turned the corner.

And saw.... Our 1,200 sq foot unfinished basement  that  had been turned into a commercial marijuanna grow center. Really.

Defiled.

We were assured that  he was registered for medicinal use with the state.
Yeah right. The state allows 6 plants. Not 600. (Ok maybe I exaggerated but maybe half of that).

Since the lease was almost up,  he told his he would be moved in the next couple of weeks.
Being an absent landlord is tough. Really tough!


New Adventures

SO much to do, so little time to post.
Life has jumped into fast forward mode for us.
It seems to always be an adventure - one crazy thing after another.

This July, we traveled to Colorado and discovered that our sweet little yellow house, was actually being used for a commercial pot growing operation. Our tenant insisted that he never smoked it, (the house reeked) and told me that he only used it for medicinal purposes, and put it in his smoothies, unfortunately for him, the carpet didn't lie like he did.

In the end, my husband spent a few fine days in Colorado, begging our tenant to leave (in the end we had to pay for a hotel so he would leave), ripping out carpet, repainting and fixing up our home there.
We were gratefully able to sale it in October, and have (sadly) closed the Colorado chapter of our lives.
Sniff - so many good memories and things learned there, and sweet ones we love(d).

The same day that our house sold, my husband received a job offer in the state of Washington.  Yep, as in - the other side of the nation - the polar other side of the nation.

We all traveled there on a house hunting trip, and saw a lot of homes in the Tri-Cities area and we are excited to be moving there next month.  That said, there's SO much to do here in Florida. So many beaches we haven't visited, so many items on my bucket list that will have to wait until we move back (along with lots of packing, cleaning, and getting yet another home ready to sale).
I really love Florida, and am so sad to be leaving.  It has been a crucible here. We've experienced a lot of really hard things, but we've also definitively seen God's hand in our lives, and we've been so touched by the kindness of others here.

As we were thinking and pondering such a big move for our family, we went to the temple, looking for some heavenly insights.  I was a little distracted, and not very focused, but one thought that very distinctively came into my mind is that God is a creator, planner, and preparer.  Before sending us to earth, He created every single minute detail down to the T.  Planned it, and executed it.  He planned the rivers, streams, insects, fish, larvae, grass, flowers, lava to create land, weather systems, and even that pesky mosquito.  Every single minute detail.
I realized that if God was sending us to Washington, He would have also prepared before sending us there. But then I argued (in my head), "But I don't even know anyone there in that area!"  And then, suddenly, I remembered a sweet missionary from our church who we had been close with, who 'might have been from somewhere in Washington'?
Leaving the temple, I shared this with my husband, and texted this young man (who completed his mission about 5 years ago).  Amazingly, this young man was from the exact area we were looking at moving to.  He put us in touch with his parents, who were so kind and sweet and helpful with information.  They've been such a blessing to us, and I've learned that Heavenly Father prepares all needful things if we are just patient, and look for His hand in our lives.

My boxes are calling my name - and so our adventure continues...next stop Washington!  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sweat, tears, and Blessings

This is a draft from June 2015, that never got posted.... guess I'm backdating old posts.  Anyways, it should serve the purpose of documenting my good intention. Sometimes it is so hard to find that pesky Publish button!

I haven't decided how I'll title this post.
I'm still deliberating about whether I should add a *whine alert at the beginning of this post.

Ugh.
I'm so hot. Not as in, "oh, baby I'm hot", but as in..."Oh MAN I AM SO STINKING HOT!!"
However, on further introspection, I realize that my house, rather than myself is hot.
It started out with my husband's loss of work.  Yes, yes, he's still unemployed. There are a few roasters in the fire, but they are roasting slowly...as am I in this hot house. (I did warn about the whining right?)
As we evaluated our finances, we decided that our pleasantly cool home could be sacrificed for a few bucks. As in, we went from 72* to 78*. It doesn't seem like much, but let me tell ya...anything above 74* causes me to break out in a sweat.  As in literally pouring down my face (and chest and back) if I move kind of lovely sweat.
It's okay. I've been surviving, and daily grateful that we installed overhead lights when we moved in, and that they included ceiling fans.  We've been surviving.

Until the AC went out.  Just about the same time that we began looking for new work, our AC started making weird noises. Mind you, we've had to have someone out twice in the 2.5 years that we've owned our home. We have a dinosaur of a system. It was supposed to last for 12-15 years. I believe we are now at 17 or 18. We may have reached our limit and may get to bury this prehistoric beast.

They say when it rains it pours... we've seen that too. (Where is the rain? I wouldn't mind some of that right now. Unfortunately, in Florida, the rain comes down warm).  Yes, my brain is wandering in strange heat induced circles...and my children are asking if they can make soup. Really??!

My saving grace is the swimming pool. I can survive there until the AC guy comes at 3.  I hope.
Or a friend just invited us to the movies...except that there's nothing worth seeing. Even for $1. Perhaps Cinderella again?

Okay, on to the good parts. There's always a silver lining right?
We've been blessed. Oh, SO blessed.
Here are some of the highlights:
7 new music students - just sort of out of the blue showed up this summer - helping us to keep paying our mortgage.
We had planned on a trip to the west to see family, but were unsure of the finances to get us there. A friend called and offered the use of her car while she was here in Florida.
A family member moved and doesn't have a specific airline serving in their new area - she had some flight points that she gifted us that helped us get back home.
My husband's previous job required him to travel...he had enough points to fly out after an interview.
Our children's music teacher has continued to work with our kids.
Both girls were able to participate in band camps with their schools this summer.
We refinanced our Co. home just as all of this hit, so we had 1 month of not having to pay the mortgage.
SO many blessings that have been showered upon us from up above.

Sometimes, life is just about learning to smile through the tears, or sweat drops, and learning to LOOK up, because when you do, you see God's hand - outstretched, as He reaches towards you and lifts you up. His vision is not our own. We've been cradled in his hand this summer. We've been immensely blessed. Our problems, are first world problems. We are healthy (we did have a weird bug bite this summer, but all is well), we have a roof over our head, and ceiling fans that work. We also have a pool out back, that I'm going to go jump into, and I'm going to float on my back, and ponder on the goodness and mercy of a God that loves and cares for me, more than I can ever imagine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Endings

We've been dealt some interesting endings in the past few weeks. Read on...

Today is the last day of school!  Hooray!!!
I've never been as excited as this year.
Our oldest daughter has been such a trooper. She's been getting up at 4:40am to get ready for school...well, her alarm goes off then.  She has learned the fine art of napping - which she never before appreciated (except when she was 0-5).  Sleep deprivation at it's finest.
She has gotten herself up (most of the time) so that she could attend Early Morning Seminary which translates as early morning bible study.  Mind you, it wasn't all her choice. There was a pre-existing agreement. Something about a flute, and if she was involved with marching band, then she had to attend seminary.  I know.  Mean mom. But she made it through.  Just 6 more years of early morning seminary for our house!
Really, I was so thrilled to sleep in.  So thrilled in fact that today, on her last day of school, she was so quiet getting ready that I didn't even wake up to help her get out the door with breakfast and lunch.  (She gets really hangry, and I usually get up out of self preservation, knowing that we are all much happier when she eats regular meals). She did say that she will be okay though - she got a lollipop in Spanish class.  The good news is that she will be home by 11:30, and she will make up for her missed breakfast.
Anyways, she made it through the year!! Hallelujah for summertime!

I did in fact get our youngest daughter out the door...this could also be related to the fact that her school doesn't even start until around 9:30 am.
 Here's her first day of school last fall...
 All chipper and excited, not knowing what the future holds.
And here's her last day of school. Wiser, not quite as innocent (middle school teaches all sorts of things...girl drama, things aren't as they seem, and lots of new cuss words (not that she uses them)). 
I'm happy to say that she still lets me play with her hair in the morning...so we did this fancy updo today...er, I did it while she watched Mr. Bean. Her photo speaks volumes...as in come on mom, I've got to go!




Okay.  
Next ending. 
The last time I blogged (two weeks ago), I got everything updated, and then my husband called me and came home. He was laid off from his work.  He was hired for a position that was split in half because the responsibilities were so great. 4 months later, his boss left, and his reports changed from 9 to 19, and from 19 hospitals, to 31.  He is really great at producing stability.  He was in a historically high turn over job for 4 years. During that time, he had 4 different bosses.  His most recent boss came in and decided that he wanted something different, and so he let my husband go.  
It's an interesting place to be.  We weren't expecting it. 
But, we've been praying that my husband would be able to be in a job where he could help many people, and would be well respected.  So...our paradigm has changed. Do we stay here for our kids? They like their schools, although they aren't completely tied to them with the best friends in the world.  They have friends, but I think they'd be okay if we had to move. 

I'd be ungrateful if I didn't state first of all that we've been so blessed.  I decided to start keeping a journal, and recording the blessings that we are seeing in our lives everyday. I know that they come from God.  There's no way I could say that they aren't. 
In the past week, I picked up 3 new music students.  One literally walked in my door.  
I feel peaceful.  
My husband and I have both been on a long hard road.  Of personal healing. Neither is at the end of our road, but we've picked up some skills along the way.  One of which is more reliance on Heavenly Father.  
This keeps reverberating around in my brain: 
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 
We are buckling down and settling in for the ride...and as we do, we see His hand in our lives, every day and feel a Father's love for his child. 


Friday, May 15, 2015

Where upon the fine viewers of this blog see lots of photos and a verbal commentary of the past 3 months

I guess you could say that I took a sabbatical.  For the record, I did come across several half baked posts, that never made it all of the way.  
As such, here's a really long post, with 44 pictures that depict what we've been up to in the most recent past.  Not necessarily in any chronological (or logical) order mind you. 

For several (many) years, we've been looking for a painting. We know exactly what we want, but just haven't been able to find it.  Spanish tile and stucco walls, possibly ocean, and tons of bright bougainvillea.  
This one is the closest to what we want, but it isn't right.  after going to every single shop we could find, (several times in the past 3 years) we narrowed it down to a few that were maybes.
Suprisingly, this random abstract painting spoke to me, and now sits upon our wall.  
Not exactly the landscape we were imagining :) 
This is a really good book I've been reading.  It is like, change your world good.  
I had to speak in church a few weeks ago and pulled some thoughts out of it.  
Along with speaking in church, I've been going through some personal and emotional healing.  
Both my husband and I have. I'm a really good suppressor, and I've supressed and bunch of junk for like, my whole life.  Somehow, my pandora's box opened, and I've been doing a LOT of self healing since mid-January.  I found a fantastic group that has been helpful to me, and we've really had to slow down and examine our marriage and relationship, and we've had to really work very hard.  My healing did involve a month of bland numbness, and a lot of "just being".  I've been reading one to two books a week along with my scriptures, and have been very grateful for the healing that I've been finding.  Not fun, or pretty, but slowly healing.  And the good news is that we are still married! 

Here are our ghetto curtains. 
Yep - that is a bed sheet. High class people. 
Someone yanked the curtains out of the wall somehow. It looked awesome. 
And I'm glad our handyman friend could fix it for us...


My daughter and I went for a leisurely Saturday am bikeride.  
Except that we ended up at a garage sale. 
And we ended up buying this grill. 
Grateful to our neighbor for his willingness to help me get it home since my husband was out on a run, and this was a hot garage sale item!

At some point in time (it's all a blur), we were asked to help out with the catering of a state wide single adult church conference.  We had to leave by 4:15am to get there by 6:00 am.  
Part of the entertainment (this is Florida folks) was when "Fluffy" was brought out for some fun pictures.  
This little gal was a trooper. We were dead on our feet. 
They held church in the rodeo grounds the second day. It was pretty cool to be sitting in the bleachers, receiving the sacrament, and hearing the sand hill cranes, woodpeckers, and braying donkeys and cows while we took the sacrament and contemplated the Savior's atonement for us.

Here's just a cute shot of our youngest. Both girls got new glasses and prescriptions. 



And here's a picture of our dinner. 
That's right, it does look like funeral fare! 
Our eldest daughter was being very specific about her desires for her funeral. So, we held a plan your own funeral Family Home Evening, and enjoyed funeral potatoes, ham, and green jello for our exciting funeral themed evening. And we bought a fire chest, and planned our funeral services. Yeah, a bit morbid but prepared.

Both of our girls participated in, and received Superiors for flute solos at Solo and Ensemble in February.

During spring break (when it was beautiful and in the 80's and perfect beach weather) we headed North. And once again realized, we REALLY don't like the cold. 
We spent time with my brother's sweet family. (So sweet that we didn't even take a photo with them - what is wrong with us!?)
We spent two days visiting sites in Washington DC. 
Here are the girls enjoying the azalea installation at the National Art Gallery (my pick)


It was so incredibly beautiful!


On our way to the science museum, we discovered an outdoor ice skating rink. It may have been the girl's favorite. They were even nice to each other. And this photo is definitely for posterity's sake. 


We visited the National Archives. There we saw the Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. But we have no proof. They wouldn't let us take photos. 
We also visited the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. All in all, we walked back and forth, totalling 7 miles that day. 


Outside her future home: 

Lunch in the park. And no, the boots, hats, and cute scarves were not fashion accessories



Thanks to some food recommendations from my sister and her husband (foodies), we had an early dinner at Old Ebbit's Grill - right across from the White House. It was a fun venue (we were in the courtyard), and the food was great. We were very glad we'd gotten there at 5 because there was a huge line out the door by the time we left!

After spending some time touring "Dutch" country, we decided to take advantage of my brother living so close to the Canadian border, (6 hours is close right?) and we all drove up to Niagra Falls. 
My brother has some great tips on how to cross over, and return to the US with a family van full of people, and no passports for anyone, but he will have to tell that story. 
We were thrilled that they could see the falls with us despite not having their passports. 


On our way back to my brother's home, we drove through New York, and stopped in Palmayra. 
We spent some time at the Sacred Grove - the area where Joseph Smith went to the woods to pray, to ask which church to join. There he had a vision, and God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph.  From this experience and others, he was called as a prophet of God, and the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth.  

We also visited the hill Cumorah, where Joseph had been directed by an angel, and where he found golden plates which contained a history of the people and prophets who lived on the American Continent, with records dating back to 600 BC. Joseph later translated these records, and it was published as the Book Of Mormon, another Testament of Jesus Christ. 

Finally, just before leaving, we were able to visit the Washington DC Temple, which is known for it's beauty. 


We got home and celebrated Easter


Our traditional Ukranian Eggs decorating - some of this year's creations:


Our eldest daughter competed at State Solo and Ensemble, and received a Superior
Here she is with her phenomenal accompianist, my friend Lorette.

Lorette is pretty amazing. She put together the piano part in a day, but it would have taken me a full month of heavy practice.  She recently moved into a new house and she has single handedly painted the entire thing - huge ceilings and all. I've been amazed.  I showed her several faux tecnhiques, and helped her paint a wall in her entry.  I came away inspired, that I too could paint my house, and I finally hit the emotional point where I was able to tackle such a project.  So...for several recent weeks, these have been my projects.
Bedroom accent wall - copper penny, faux leather (plastic sheet) and sponge (filler). This was after the first time when I ragged it, but we decided that we didn't like it very much. 


I also stained the chest, and the bed.
Then, I repainted, and ragged the walls again, since I didn't like how they had previously turned out.
At the end of the day, the copper wall received 5 coats of paint!
We wanted a terra cotta/spanish feel, and so I also pulled out a Guatemalan bedspread, and pained the quilt rack blue and added some bright blue accents.


Our daughter had a birthday - she postponed it so friends could come, and then the day of, only two showed up. She was pretty bummed, but had fun with those who came. 
She gave me a months notice when she requested this cake. 

 



I got to spend a fun day with these two special ladies - my counselors in the primary presidency. We started our day out with breakfast at the new Beauty and the Beast castle. It was pretty amazing. Our food just magically appeared! 
And, we found some beautiful tiaras :) 

Old friends came to town, and we enjoyed catching up with them at Universal City Walk

I tackled painting (and finally digging through the old boxes and pulling out pictures and decorations) our family room. Bringing it from nasty dingy brown to a bright creamy yellow. 






And I had another birthday. My sweet husband made me breakfast (with Mangoes!) and decorated the room with yellow streamers, and balloons painted like bees since he gave me a beehive for my birthday. 

We celebrated Mother's day this past week - so grateful for these two girls who made me a mother, and this past week has been "concert week".  We've had a lot of school end of the year concerts. 


And, we've battled two bouts of a cold (or something more sinister, we just chose not to go to the doctor). 

 Finally, here's a photo from earlier in the year of our primary kids and teachers. We have encouraged the kids to share the gospel and their testimonies with their friends. Each time they did, they got to put a pebble in our jar - representing a ripple that they may make in someone's life.  They got 654 ripples last year!  It's been really awesome to hear them share their experiences.  















Monday, February 2, 2015

A long post about a lot of things from our lives these past two weeks.

Good Monday Morning,
This weekend we began a new adventure....we are potty training the kitties.
Yes. You heard me right.
Yes, I am questioning my sanity.

We've closed off the toilet in the girl's bathroom, and this weekend, my bedroom and bathroom were cleaned so that they now sparkle - since anyone who comes to our house gets to use the master bath if they need to use the facilities.

So far, the kitties are using it for #1, but we aren't sure where the #2 is going.  I'm a little worried, but hoping they will catch on soon.  It's been gradual. We moved their litter box into the bathroom, and we've gradually been raising the heighth to the same height as the toilet.  Saturday was the day that their litter pan went into the toilet, and once they get that, we will make the opening very small, and then gradually make it bigger and bigger until it is just the toilet seat.  I can't wait!

Our kids PROMISED that they'd clean the litter faithfully, but they don't.  As such, we are hoping our plan B works.

Let's see...new in our life.... I had a piano & violin recital a couple of weeks ago.  It was great. 11 of my 12 students performed, and they all (with 2 or 3 exceptions) had their music memorized and they all did fantastic! Only one had a peanut allergy and went into borderline anaphylatic shock from the peanut butter blossom cookies someone brought. Wasn't quite the weekend that they had planned.

Here's our youngest daughter playing the last half of Malaguena:

My Students

Last week, I got to go on a field trip with the local middle school kids.  Our daughter was ThRilLeD that I could chaperone.  We went to the waste water treatment plant, and then a local state park where we saw an 8 foot alligator, and got to sort through a netful of stuff scooped up by the ranger from the lake and find all of the glass shrimp, beetles, minnows, spiders, and dragonfly larvae.  It was pretty fun - I was surprised. 




Here's a recent family photo I came across with one of the Sister missionaries from our church who was leaving to go back home.  The sweet girl next to my husband is our "Sunday Daughter". She is a great friend to our oldest daughter, and is a great influence.  We really love having her spend Sunday afternoons with us.  

Last week, I went to the dermatologist to get some moles looked at.  He froze a "pre-cancer" off right then and there, and had me come back the next morning for biopsies for 3 other moles.  He scraped two and cookie cutter punched another.  Crossing my fingers and waiting to hear back from them this week.  Here's one of the 'scrapes'. 

And finally, I've started on a road to personal recovery.  I'm not going to go into all of the details, I'm hopeful, and taking responsibility for me and my journey of life. 

Today, as part of my recovery, in taking care of me, I chose to spend quality time with my bike and my favorite bike path. 
It was beautiful. 
I love Florida during this time of the year.  
Here's the view when I just couldn't stand not documenting the beauty of the bike path. :)