Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Working

I have a robust immune system! I'm not 100%, but I'm doing pretty well and even mostly enjoying the last of the Christmas prep. I've been cooking and baking and wrapping and food shopping and Davan surprise planning for the last two days and keeping up just fine, thanks.

It's amazing that even with how simple we try to keep Christmas present-wise, how much wrapping and such there is to do. Now, though, the wrapping is all done. Most of the food is made. It's all bought.

We're going to my MIL's this evening with more or less a whole meal. Davan is a strict vegetarian, mostly vegan, these days and, thus, doesn't eat most of what will be served there. I'm not far behind her and am not excited about most of what is served there. So, I've made two different types of dinner rolls, brownies (it is a feast day for us), and am working on unstuffed squash and a veggie tray with peanut peanut dip. Yum.

As we're getting well into our Christmas stuff, I hope you all are enjoying your New Year's!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I am NOT Getting Sick

I have a robust immune system. I have a robust immune system. I have a robust immune system. This is my mantra.

I am definitely fighting something. Yesterday, in the afternoon, I started sneezing, feeling a bit of a sore throat and feeling run down. My mom is still recovering from her nasty flu-type illness. I spent a good deal of time with her on Saturday. Of course, on Saturday, I also spent a good deal of time climbing around inside Safari Sam's, which, I'm sure, is a brewing house for illness.

Here's the thing, though. I'm not getting sick. This, right now, is as bad as it's getting. Because, say it with me, "I have a robust immune system." I do, really. I eat healthy foods. I exercise. I'm pretty happy with my life. I'm not under undo stress. I have a robust immune system. I will fight this off.

I've been sick on Christmas day - like really sick - four out of the last five years. And last year, I was really sick just before and recovering on Christmas day. On the real Christmas this year, I was right as rain - totally healthy. I will not succumb to being sick on the day we're doing our traditional Christmas. I will not because I have a robust immune system.

I will not pass this on to Davan to have it interfere with her meet on Friday. Not only will I fight it off with my robust immune system, but Davan has a robust immune system, too, and will not even get mildly sick. Yup. Robust immune systems around here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday!?!?!

Davan's first meet has been scheduled for Friday at 10:30 am. It's an intersquad meet and doesn't really count for anything but practice, but it'll still be her first meet and she's been nervous about it.

As of 6 hours ago, it hadn't been scheduled at all and, in fact, the only thing we knew was that it was not going to be this Saturday. Davan was pretty happy about that, wanting more time to practice.

Then the email came. It's this Friday. Davan got teary when I told her. She's worried that she won't do well without having practiced much lately. The gym has basically been closed for two weeks now and we were out of town the week before that. Yikes!

I talked her down some, telling her that it just really doesn't matter what scores she gets. If they are really low, she'll have no where to go but up. All these scores will tell is what kind of numbers she can get after three weeks off, never having competed before.

She's been practicing some this evening....she's kept somewhat in shape other than this evening, but it's been rather hit or miss. Ah well. A little more notice would have been nice, though.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shopping Sucks

I spent 2 hours at Old Navy and Target this afternoon. I had a few things on my Christmas list still - Anthony's present, Davan's Christmas Eve new pjs, an active family gift, a shirt for a young cousin that we see on Christmas Eve, and Christmas stuff for the cats - in addition to just a few things we needed like conditioner and toothpaste. I came home totally whipped and rather grumpy.

I spent far too much time wandering around each store. The only thing I needed at Old Navy was the shirt. At one point, I had four things I was carrying around, thinking about buying. I did manage to leave with only two things, but that was one too many. Double what I'd gone in for, in fact. Yes, the second item was an extraordinarily good deal, but it wasn't on my list. The shirt I'd gone in for? I got, but I'm not overly thrilled with it. Sigh. I hope the young cousin likes it alright.

Then I went to Target. A list that should have taken maybe a half an hour took me well over an hour. I picked up so many thing and dithered over them. Things that weren't on my list. I did leave with the conditioner, a present for Anthony, super glue that Anthony called to ask me to pick up, toys and special wet food for the cats for their Christmas presents, the pjs (the very last pair of footies, which she still loves to wear in winter, in her size) and the family gift. In addition, I had four packs of Christmas chocolates that were on sale to give as gifts to the families we see on Christmas Eve and a pack of undies for Anthony. Those were the only extras I left with, so that wasn't too bad, considering how many other things I dithered about.

However, I also left in near tears over the stress of it all. So many people. So loud. So much money spent. Did I get the right things? Will people be happy? There is always returning, but that's not as fun as getting a gift you really want wrapped and under the tree.

All-in-all, shopping, particularly at Christmas, is difficult and I'm glad it's done for another year. Next year, we're seriously talking about not buying for cousins anymore. I'd be good with that. Although, sometimes stuff like that makes me feel like a complete cheapskate. Why can't it just be easy?

Another Reminder of Life With Max

On Christmas Eve, Anthony was talking to his mom on the phone when something off about the vent in the dinning room caught his eye. He got a flashlight and removed the grill to find....a rotten, black, shriveled banana. Nice, eh?

The crazy thing is that we didn't notice before. I mean, at some point were we wandering around going, "Hmm, something smells a little off, I wonder what it is..."

When the heat came on, was there a banana smell that we were all just ignoring?

It wasn't the only time Max ditched food he wasn't interested in eating. We found stuff behind the cat food dishes, in his room, under other things in the trash. It's not that he didn't like bananas. He did. They were his favorite fruit, which wasn't saying much, really, but he did like them. There were times he told me that eating bananas was a treat for him. Not so much of a treat that they didn't get stashed all over the place, though, I guess.

Now it's easy to laugh it off. I wasn't capable of that when I had to live with it. Good times.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

And With That, We're Done With Birthdays For a Whil

We made it to Safari Sam's today, one week late. We spent five hours there, playing. I probably played for about four of those five hours with Davan and I have the bumps and bruises to prove it. It was a good deal of fun, though.

Anthony played some, but is super sore from an abdominal work out a few days ago and had a hard time climbing about.

My parents joined us for the last two hours, but didn't climb about at all, as they are both recovering from colds - my mom from a more flu like illness, really.

The five of us went to Chevy's for dinner after where Davan opened presents and ordered off the adult menu - yikes! That's expensive! Just more good reason not to eat out often.

Davan's gifts were mostly gymnastics-y. The grips we ordered last Saturday came yesterday, so we wrapped them for her to open just for fun. My parents got her wrist guards to go with the grips and gymnastics shorts. She got a gift card to Micheal's from Aunt Chris and a new Hanna Anderson sweater also from my parents. She was pleased.

And we're done with birthdays for a while. At least family birthdays. Of course our second Christmas is in just a few days. That snow storm really stretched things out.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Davan Has a Blog!

Davan has been asking me to help her set up a blog for a while now. She had one several years back that she abandoned and opted not to start up again.

She just started tonight and has her first entry. She's planning on doing some remodeling as she goes.

She'd love it if you were to go over there, check it out and leave a comment. She's named it Once Upon a Blog.

Relaxing and Recovering

It's the day after. It's not that we open presents and have a ton of stuff laying around or anything like that. However, we did have a holidayish period of time. We have some recovering and relaxing to do.

No one slept much on Christmas Eve, which was odd because it wasn't like we were full of anticipation. Davan just had one of her difficult nights of falling asleep, which meant that we all didn't sleep a lot. We did "sleep in" but not a lot of sleep was involved. It was more of a "relax in". So, this morning both Davan and I slept way in - 8:45 for us. Anthony woke up at 5:00 and couldn't get back to sleep, so got up. That's probably part of why I slept in so nicely, as much as I enjoy the morning cuddles, I don't sleep as well when Anthony is still in bed, too.

We're also in recovery from sugar overdose. I made smoothies this morning - a regular blueberry for Davan and a quit green one for Anthony and I of just oranges, frozen blueberries and lots of spinach. It totally hit the spot.

I called both my best friend and my mom to catch up and talk about how Christmas was.

We've been having all of these family days and, while this may be too much information, haven't showered in a while. So, we're each working our way through the shower today.

We've walked and sledded and such, but I haven't done any serious exercise for a couple of days and that's on my to-do list.

We have a few chores that need attention. Litter boxes, laundry, that sort of thing.

None of this is overly taxing and a lot of it is chilling out time, so a relax and recovery day is in store.

Tomorrow we'll actually drive someplace for the first time in over a week. We'll be off to Safari Sam's and out to dinner for Davan's final birthday celebration with my parents. We're looking forward to getting out of the house (other than for the snow) and spending time with other people, too.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas, Sort Of

We did mostly cancel Christmas. We're doing dinner at my MIL's on New Year's Eve, including our present exchange. My parents didn't come spend the night, so we also chose not to do presents this morning because it's more fun to do it all together. My mom is still sick, but on the mend. She had a nasty flu. She says now it more just feels like a cold.

I have more time to procure presents. Whew. Davan is a little disappointed off and on, but mostly doing well with it. She said, when I first told her we were postponing, "Well, that way Christmas will last longer. We can leave the decorations up longer. I think that most of the fun of stuff is anticipating it anyway."

Still, she sometimes has pangs of wishing we were doing real Christmas today. Anthony keeps saying, "The way the weather turned out, we could have done it." It's pretty drippy around here today. Our road is mostly slushy now.

I, though, am actually quite glad that we postponed. And I didn't even push for it. I'm glad for more time. I, like Davan, am enjoying the advent days (we backed up on the advent calendar). And we're having a kick-ass sort of Christmas.

We were still able to go to coffee with friends of ours yesterday and we all walked together in the snow. We spent a lot of time sipping coffee and chit-chatting while our girls played cards together. It's a Christmas Eve tradition that we all look forward to.

When we walked home, our older across the street neighbor was shoveling a walkway for his kids who were coming for Christmas Eve. The plow that came through our street created a good ridge of snow in front of his driveway. He wasn't trying to dig out, just to make a walkway for people. We helped him, then cleaned up our driveway, shoveling out to the packed snow in the street in case we needed to go anywhere. Davan, meanwhile, worked on her snow fort.

This picture is from the night before, but it still gives you an idea of it. She dug it out so she can totally lay down inside and sit up in there, too. It's pretty cool.



We came in for a light lunch - it was, to our surprise, already 3:00! Then we watched The Ultimate Gift. We liked the message, but found it kind of preachy. We also thought that the kit, while a good idea, was a little silly for a family that already did stuff together. A big deal was made of the kit and how it could help you build a better family with the gifts that were introduced in the movie. Check out the website for more information on that, if you're interested.

After the movie, we walked over to Safeway to return it to the box there. It was a lovely evening walk in the snow with Christmas lights all along the way. We opted to grab the sleds and do a little after dark sledding before coming in for a late dinner - a feast meal for us, topped off with brownies. Yum. Then it was bed time for Davan. It was a really great Christmas Eve.

We snuggled and slept in this morning, all three of us, as Davan joined us for snuggling in the morning. Then we made monkey bread together and ate that along with hashbrowns and garden sausages for breakfast.

We did a round of family rotational fun that included more sledding (although that wasn't so great because of it being mostly slush), building a snowman, making an ornament and playing games before starting some gingerbread dough for cut out cookies.



The dough is in the fridge, waiting. Lentil soup is burbling on the stove top and dough is rising for flat bread to go with it. The flat bread is a treat because we try to avoid using too much flour, for one, and for two, there is much more olive oil in it than we usually use. Lentil soup just goes nicely with the flat bread.

Of course, after snacking on baby carrots, sugar snap peas, left over brownies and caramel popcorn given to us by friends, I don't know how hungry everyone is. Ah well, the lentil soup will still be good tomorrow.

We've had a nice day of being together, playing in the snow and eating special foods. I totally feel like I'm getting two Christmases this year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past

When we went to EPCOT one day and rode the Test Track ride, we were given an extra passenger. The cars each seat 6 and there were 5 of us - my mom, my stepdad, Anthony, Davan and myself. So, a single rider rode with us.

Afterward my mom leaned over and whispered to me, "It was like the ghost of Christmas past!" I replied, "But this young gentleman was smiling and polite." "Well, yes," she said, "But you know what I mean."

And I did. You see, the young man in question was black. He was a few years older, and, as I mentioned, enjoying himself, but it was sort of like the year before at Disneyland for a few brief minutes.

Max doesn't enter my thoughts a lot still, to be honest. I was reading another blog where a family had disrupted. As that family was getting out their Christmas decorations, they had a hard time of it because they found decorations and stockings belonging to the child who'd left their home. We had a little of that. We found a couple of items we'd missed when we got out Max's stocking and decorations to send on with him. But, we'd already sent most on.

My memories are mostly not good, even when they are triggered. For example, one decoration we found was a picture. We'd all sat down together to make ornaments for the tree the first year Max was with us. Max, instead, painted a picture, rather than an ornament for the tree. That's okay and all, but it's really indicative of how lots of things went - he was always trying to not be one of us, or so it seemed.

I measured Davan today and, on the opposite door jam, there are Max's measurements. I did feel a pang of sadness. I mostly feel sad that adding a child to our family didn't work, though, not at Max's leaving.

I feel really sorry for Max these days, when I do think about him. I hope he is okay and has found a place to fit in. I can feel these feelings because I don't have to live with him every day. When I did, it was hard to feel anything other than resentment, anger, frustration and grief in regards to him. Because of that - because of him and I, particularly, being oil and water, he just wasn't going to heal here. And we were falling apart. So, here it is. And I'm reminding myself that it was the right thing to do. It was and I'm okay.

Canceling Christmas?

So, here's the deal. We are snowed in. If it weren't for Christmas, I wouldn't try to go anywhere besides maybe walk to the Safeway that is about a 1/2 mile away to stock up on perishables. We'd be fine on food even without that, but I'd be sad to see the end of the apples and Cuties, particularly. Of course, veggies are good, too.

However, I don't have what we need for food for Christmas. I could be creative and make some things that would be treat food even without going out. If it were just the three of us, staying at home, I'd seriously consider doing that. Again, maybe with a trip to Safeway for a little supplemental fresh food.

How snowed in are we? Well, chains are required on all the roads around here. I'd definitely need them to get anywhere, even if they weren't required. However, even getting to the ruts in our street would be challenging. The snow is high. Our driveway is shoveled, but the street is not plowed. I could chain up and give it a go. More shoveling would probably be necessary. I could do it. The question is, do I want to? Is it worth it?

We've discussed with the people we celebrate Christmas with the possibility of canceling. Well, postponing. We'd move it all to New Year's. New Year's Eve dinner at my MIL's, New Year's Day at home with my parents, doing the usual Christmas stuff. Of course, there are downsides to this option. One is that it's quite nice to do Christmas at Christmas and the waiting would be difficult for Davan, particularly.

The other reason is that we're supposed to be staying in a yurt at the coast over New Year's. We'd already talked about the possibility of canceling that trip due to some issues with gymnastics. So, we could just cancel and do Christmas then. But...

What do I need to go out for if we're doing Christmas? Food. I'm supposed to take a veggie tray and a cooked veggie dish to my MIL's plus we're taking a dessert because we don't like the dessert that is traditionally offered - plum pudding. And rolls. No one else is taking rolls and they are Davan's favorite part of Christmas Eve dinner. We could make rolls at home. We could make a dessert. Both could be made from what's on hand, but they'd be different than we'd been planning. Not necessarily bad, but different. However, the 4 carrots I have on hand won't make much of a veggie tray nor a cooked veggie dish. I could delve into frozen for the cooked veggie dish, but well. I'm a little non-pulsed by that idea. It could be done. Additionally, I need one item (that I could probably substitute something else for) for food gifts I'm planning on making.

There is more than food I need, though. There are a couple of gifts that I still need to acquire. I don't have a gift for Anthony. That I could probably get by walking, but I'm not totally sure. Davan, when she needs them, gets a new pair of footie pjs on Christmas Eve. We didn't get her any last year because she had a bunch handed down from a friend that still fit. This year, though, those are looking quite stretched on her and many of them have holes. Could she live without new footies? Yes, but. I need one more family gift, as there are usually two. I do have one and we could live with that. We see a second cousin on Christmas Eve for whom I usually get an Old Navy shirt. I haven't gotten that yet. That could be a walking errand.

Walking, by the way, would be challenging in and of itself, as no one has shoveled their sidewalks. I shouldn't say no one. We did and on other house on our street did. For the most part, though, it'd be walking in deep snow.

We're supposed to get more snow tomorrow. Today, though, it's just cloudy.

The question is - chain up and give it a go? Walk and get some stuff, but not everything? Be a strong proponent of delaying? Wait until tomorrow to try to get out and then decide? I don't really know yet. I'm still mulling it over.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Davan Gets Stuck

Davan has a tendency to get stuck on something. For example, in DisneyWorld, she decided that she did not want to ride on Splash Mountain even though it was her most favoritest ride ever on previous trips. Why? Because she'd get wet and it wasn't warm enough. This persisted until Wednesday when we had an over 80 degree day. I informed her that I believed her to be holding on to a no longer true premise and let her know I thought she was shooting herself in the foot by continuing to believe that she did not want to go on Splash Mountain. She finally decided to go. She had a great time. She begged to go again.

This sort of behavior happens again and again. One day she wasn't in the mood to do yoga and, ever since, she's opted not to do yoga. Actually, I talked her into it when we were in California in November and she wanted to keep going when we got interrupted and had to stop. However, even that hasn't gotten her going with it again. Nope, in her mind, she doesn't like yoga anymore. Go figure. I'm of the mind that she has a lot of other physical activities to do and if she doesn't participate in yoga, it's not a big deal, so I haven't pushed this one. Still.

We've been talking about going sledding from the beginning of this batch of wintery weather, which was just over a week ago. We didn't end up going out at all that first Sunday when there probably was enough snow to sled because it was also seriously windy and we were just back from our trip and happy to veg out in the house all day. Anthony made the comment that day that it wouldn't be any fun out there in the snow and wind.

Davan has, other than the one day that it was sunny and had very little snow, refused to go out and sled or go out at all in the snow. She's got herself stuck in the idea that it's no fun out there. Today, though, I let her know it was another Splash Mountain and, while she didn't have to go out, I felt she should.

We all went out sledding. We had a nice time. We worked up a sweat while, at the same time, having our faces go numb (it's still windy!). Davan was glad she'd gone.

Every now and then, she needs a push. This is definitely part of her personality. When she was a toddler and just learning to walk, she wouldn't walk without holding onto a hand. She started walking while hand holding - just one hand - at 9 months, but didn't let go until she was 14 months. She was more than capable of walking, but she was stuck. The breakthrough finally came when she wanted to walk to where I was and Anthony refused to help her get there. She came after me, crying the whole way at the injustice of having to walk on her own.

She does it with food, too. Right now, for example, she's convinced she doesn't like any nuts except for roasted almonds. I believe she had a bad nut and that got her stuck.

She's an interesting person, my young Davan.

Forced Vacation

The same weather than kept us home from Safari Sam's on Saturday caused the wedding reception we were supposed to attend yesterday to be postponed and Anthony to not make it into work this morning. He got up, brushed his teeth and all that hoopla, then looked out the window and came back to bed.

If he'd wanted to go, he'd have had to wade through snow with drifts up to about 3 feet for about a half a mile to get to the bus stop where he'd be waiting for a bus that may or may not be stuck in the snow someplace, as many of them are this morning. Or he could have walked a mile to the MAX (light rail) stop. The trains are, apparently, running today. So, he could have gone, but it would not have been a fun experience.

He called this morning and one of his drafters did make it into the office. As there are only three other employees there, the receptionist and two engineers from other departments, there isn't a lot for this drafter to do. However, said drafter has vacation time scheduled. He's supposed to fly out on Wednesday, which isn't looking promising, as there aren't any flights going out just now, but, if he is able to go in his vacation, he needs his vacation time.

Early last week, when the weather started going all wintery on us, Anthony's office sent out an email saying, "Hey, feel free to take a vacation day if you can't make it in, but we're not closing the office and giving free days off," more or less.

Anthony made it in all last week, as did many people, as the weather was wintery, but not impassable last week. However, there were also many people who didn't. Part of the problem was that the schools were closed and many people had child care issues. Kids home with no one to take care of them if the parents went to work.

Some people, though, who took time last week, are not in a position where they have no vacation time left. One of his drafters who didn't come in today will be taking the day with no pay. Other people in the company are sure to be in the same boat.

I must say that I'm really glad that we're a single breadwinning family. Anthony was able to go off to work last week without worries. Although, we did talk about that if Max were still with us, he might have had to take a day or two last week because otherwise things may well have fallen miserably apart at home.

This week he is only scheduled to work two days. Christmas is a holiday, it's his Friday off anyway and he was taking a vacation day on Wednesday to have Christmas Eve off. So, even if he takes tomorrow off, too, he'll only be taking two unplanned vacation days. That's not too bad. He has them, even with having just gotten back from Florida and planning on time next week, as well. He doesn't call in sick. Ever, really. And he went in all last week. Whew.

So, this morning we got to wake up slowly and cuddle. Davan jumped for joy when she saw that Daddy was home. Anthony helped us with chores, which let us get extras done for the chore break that is coming for Christmas time. We have another together day stretching ahead and that's a good thing.

A not so good thing is that I finally decided over the weekend what I wanted to get him for Christmas. The chances of going out to get said item before Christmas are looking worse and worse. Yikes!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Davan's Modified Birthday Bash

The weather, indeed, was really bad here yesterday. Basically, no one was out and about. It's just as bad today, if not worse because we're getting freezing rain now on top of the snow. This is what our backyard looks like today:


If anything, the street is worse with the drifts. People keep trying to go places and getting stuck. We were out shoveling this morning and pushed a couple of people along. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the drifts are a good 2-3 feet and crusted with ice now.

While we'll still go to Safari Sam's another time, we still spent all of yesterday celebrating Davan's birthday. She got to chose most of the day's activities and we had a feast day.

We started the day off with an obstacle course that we all helped set up, navigated and then helped to dismantle.

Davan crawling under the rope obstacle:

Me, making my way across the precariously balanced balance beam:Davan and Anthony working on solving the string obstacle. I took a break to snap the picture. The cats were in raptures about all the string.

Then it was time for homemade cinnamon rolls. We use biscuit dough to make them, so it's pretty fast to do them. We also had soy peppermint hot chocolate, garden sausages and pomegranate seeds. Over breakfast we had a nice discussion of everyone's most memorable birthdays.

After breakfast, Davan open the advent calendar for the day, which started her on a clue search around the house, leading her to a birthday letter I'd written to her, the piano to hear "Happy Birthday to You" played and sung and to her present. I'd gotten to the web page where the grips we wanted to order were and she got to pick out the exact ones she wanted and then we ordered them. It wasn't as good as if they'd been there to open, but it went okay. She was pretty excited about getting them. I didn't mention the Do Jump class that wasn't.

Then it was on to games that Davan had picked to play, giving us some more great (we think) action shots.





Once we'd played games, it was time for more food! Davan picked Tings to eat next. A game developed where we each said "someting" we enjoyed about life each time we ate a Ting.

We opted to chill out with a movie next. Davan had picked two movies to watch yesterday, if we felt like it, and the first was Duma. It was decent.

Next it was time to make the cake! Davan picked a dark chocolate cake to which we added chocolate chips. She's not a frosting lover, so we didn't have any.



While the cake was baking, we helped Davan set up an indoor playground, on which she played avidly for a while until she was ready to eat cake. It spread across the living room, toy room and down the hall, with things to balance on, climb on, jump on, go over and/or under and roll on.




When we'd all finished stuffing ourselves, we did another obstacle course on the playground before taking it down and watching the next movie - Prince Caspian - which we also found to be a decent movie. We don't watch a lot of movies and often find them so-so, but they were a nice chill out treat for yesterday.

After a little wrestling, it was time for bed. Davan had a great day, even though it was different than what had been originally planned. Anthony and I had fun, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Elfing

Yup, yet another post this morning. Just 'cause Davan is so cute. She's busy in her room, elfing this morning. She's being all secretive and wearing this:


She knew I was taking the above picture, but here's the surprise picture I took when I just knocked and clicked:

In Which I Whine Again

Not only are we needing to cancel Davan's big birthday bash plans tomorrow, but there are a couple other things I need to whine about, as well.

1) I'm having my period. Yes, that's to be expected once a month or so, but this one came less than two weeks after my last! That just plain sucks. At least it bracketed our Florida trip - just before and just after. Sigh.

2) Davan's birthday present fell apart suddenly yesterday. We'd signed her up for a winter break aerial dance clinic at Do Jump. Yesterday afternoon a phone call came in. With all the unpleasant weather here, a radiator pipe burst at the Sunnyside location where the class was to be. They had to cancel. They offered to move her to the class the following week, but that conflicts with gymnastics, so we couldn't do it.

We've decided to give her grips instead, which was something we'd been thinking about before. Her coach is saying she should have some to start breaking them in because she'll be working on skills within the next couple months that will require them. So, that's okay, except that she won't actually have them to open as a present tomorrow. I'm thinking of creative ways to have her have a present to open. Ideas are percolating around. Something will rise to the surface.

I'd been thinking we'd tell her about the whole Do Jump class thing, but something my mom pointed out made me think that would only make me feel better, while making her sad at not getting to do it. So, we're just going to tell her we didn't order them because we wanted her to be a part of it. And that will give us another thing to do tomorrow for the now-at-home-all-day-birthday bash.

Alrighty, then, it's off to finish up my warming tea and apple cinnamon oatmeal and get bundled up for the winter wonderland walk.

Watching the Snow Pile Up

We've canceled our Safari Sams plans for tomorrow. The snow is piling up like crazy and is supposed to pile up even more starting tomorrow afternoon. Driving to a place that takes an hour to get to in good weather tomorrow in the nasty weather doesn't sound like a good plan. Davan was a sad, sad girl to hear it, but is doing fine now.

I'm off shortly to procurer the necessities for celebrating at home. We'll still do Safari Sams another day, but tomorrow will still be special with the food Davan wanted, games she'd wanted to cram in around Safari Sams and probably a movie.

While I'm guessing the more main roads are doing okay, I'm reluctant to take the van out, so I believe I'll be walking for today's errands. It looks like a winter wonderland out there, so it'll be nice to walk in, I'm thinking, seeing as how I have stuff like ski pants. Otherwise, I'm thinking it wouldn't be so fun to walk in.

Davan and I may, finally, get that sledding in that we've been talking about today, too. Tomorrow the weather will be too icky for it with wind gusts up to 50 mph!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Play

The snow stared melting at midday, just after the local school district decided to send their kids home early. They are having a time of it, figuring out what to do about school this week here. I'm glad we're well out of it.

Davan and I did go and play for a while this afternoon in the dwindling snow. The sun had just gone down when I took these pictures, but it wasn't as dark out at it looks.


She was obsessed with eating snow today.

The Snow is Back

We've got snow again and this time it looks like it'll be good snow for playing in. We've been having strange (for us) weather starting on Sunday and, so the weather forecasters tell us, going on through this weekend. The schools have all been closing, but many decided to open today after the local schools totally could have gone yesterday and even Tuesday. And then it started just dumping snow. I know our local district has announced and early release to try to get kids home while they can.

We are out and about in the snow today, as Davan had her preschool reading this morning. As it was the holiday party, she really didn't want to miss. I'd wished I'd gotten my act together in time to walk over, as it's so pretty today and it would have been a safer journey. However, I didn't, so we just took it slow and easy. I saw lots of other people slipping, but so far, so good for us.

Davan is reading and I'm hanging out at the library to minimize the driving for taking her home. I've canceled game day for the afternoon and am hoping that Davan and I will be able to get some sledding in.

Sadly, gymnastics will probably be canceled for the evening. Davan would much rather it wasn't. She missed all last week and they are closed next week for Christmas, so it'd be better to go this week. But, if the snow keeps up, it'd be a tricky drive home on icy, snowy streets in the dark.

If the forecast I heard is right, we should still be able to do Davan's birthday bash on Saturday - Safari Sams and out to dinner - as the snow isn't supposed to start up again until Saturday night. We shall see!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And Now or, Rather, Yesterday

Davan in her new hat, thanks to a couple of really great people:


Davan, looking a little disheveled after gymnastics:


Davan's birthday was a really good day. Our plans came off mostly without a hitch, although my parents did hit a late rush hour coming to brunch, causing a bit of a wait then, but it was a minor thing. In addition to the plans I wrote of yesterday, we had two things happen that really made Davan's day.

One was that in a carefully planned surprise, friends came by and delivered the hat you see her wearing in the first picture. So far she's only taken it off for gymnastics and sleep. She was blown away that they managed to catch us, too, with all of our activities yesterday.

The other thing is thanks to another family who are friends of ours, I'm fairly sure. :) We came home from book group to find a letter sitting in our wreath on the front door. The envelop was addressed, in green ink, to Miss D. (our last name), The Northwest Bedroom (our address) and was sent via International Owl Post. The two papers enclosed informed my just turned 11 year old that she was accepted to Hogwarts and listed the supplies she'd need. It was very well done and Davan is now debating which of our pets she'll be taking with her. After all, she can take an owl, a cat or a rat. We're only missing an owl choice here.

We're not done with birthday celebrations yet, either. Davan chose to go to Safari Sam's with just her family rather than have a party this year, so that's the plan for Saturday. Of course, the other plan for Saturday, according to the weather forecast, is snow or freezing rain. So, it's possible we'll need to reschedule.

Then (11 years ago)

Her first night.
My little jaundiced baby. And look how young I look, too.


I just love this picture. She was so, so little - 5 lbs, 14 oz. When my mom first saw this one, she said, "What where you trying to do to that baby? Smother her?"


Anthony sunning her in our living room to help with the jaundice. No gray.



And, okay, this one isn't newborn, but so pretty I couldn't pass it up. She was about 1 1/2 for this one:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

11 Years

It's a very, very cold winter morning (at least for our neck of the woods). I ducked out about 5 minutes ago to take out the recycling and my hands and still stiff. It's very pretty out, though, with the sun not yet up, but getting there and the moon still in the sky.

This picture does not really do it justice, but I tried for you, getting even colder hands in the process. :)


It's good that it's not snowing. That means we should be able to get out for today's activities. That's pretty important today. Why? Because it's Davan's birthday! Today, 11 years ago, she was born. It snowed that day 11 years ago after she was born, but it was not this cold. Nope. Record lows today.

When Davan gets up, she'll be greeted with a hug, a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" and no chores for today. We'll meet my parents and Anthony for brunch and then go to book group this afternoon. She has gymnastics tonight. At this point, everything seems to be going, but we may yet get notices that things are canceled. Davan is really hoping they won't be. She wants to do everything. I know our brunch plans are on because the roads aren't any worse than last night when Mom and I agreed to go forward with the brunch plans.

I'll be taking her her dinner at gymnastics tonight and spending break with her, as it is her birthday. Anthony will probably come, too, unless he has to work late. He did last night, but it sounds like he probably won't have to tonight.

Here is Davan on her birthday in 2004 - she was turning 7. It was the first year we had a digital camera. She really wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll that year and Oma delivered.



Okay, actually, two. We still had a swing in the doorway, rather than the rings we have now. She was a money then, too.



Here she is on her 9th birthday, two years later, all bedecked in braces:


I'll post one of today later. Or maybe tomorrow, depending on how the day goes. I hope you all have a very merry Davan's birthday. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vacation Food

I know that the question on everyone's mind is how did food go on the trip? Lucky you, I'm going to address that very issue. Overall, I'd say it went well. I came home up 1/2 pound and Anthony came home up 2 pounds, which was less than half of his previous trip gain. I'm going to talk a lot about what we ate, specifically, to help me remember for future travel food opportunities. Feel free to skip this post, if you're not interested. Of course, you can always do that!

We ate what was served on the plane on the way there and back, which was very cheesy pasta dishes both ways for me. Davan, the anti-cheese girl, didn't eat the pasta on the way back because it was too cheesy. She ate it on the way there because I don't think she realized that there was cheese melted in the sauce. Both ways, I gave her my roll to eat. Anthony got chicken on they way there and steak on the way back. We all indulged in the dessert that was offered, as well as Sunchips and Biscoff cookies as they were offered.

Our other not so healthy meals were the birthday/memorial, the character meal and one other dinner at the park, which my parents treated us to.

Other than those meals, we did pretty well by our standards for healthy food. I packed a few food items - oatmeal, a jar of creamy peanut butter, flax meal, hemp protein, trail mix with raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruit, freeze dried strawberries. My mom packed a muesli that she, Dennis and Anthony like, more flax meal, a few bars (mostly nuts, fruit and honey sorts of things), coffee and a couple of apples. We ate Sunday breakfast out of that food, then Anthony and I went grocery shopping.

We ate breakfast at our room every day. We packed lunch and snacks every day to take with us and usually ate every single thing we packed. Every day's packed food included apples, oranges, grapes, trail mix and bars. In addition, one day was hummus, mini whole wheat bagels and carrots. Two other days' lunches were peanut butter sandwiches with or without cucumbers, depending on liking with extra cucumbers on the side and, one of those days, lightly steamed green beans. One day we had whole wheat pitas and carrots with mashed avocado with tomatoes or hummus to dip. We took leftover soup one day in containers I'd brought along from home. The remaining lunch was tortilla wraps with refried beans for everyone, plus salsa and spinach added as desired. Everything but the soup was easy to eat as we stood in lines, although we sometimes ate sitting down, as seemed appropriate for the day. Mostly, though, we grazed our way through the snacks in lines throughout the day.

In the evenings, we ate really easy stuff, as we were often not back from the parks until around 7:00. We had salad every night with salad in a bag (not including the dressing). We had whole wheat pasta with jarred marinara sauce one night. We carefully shopped for marinara sauce with no high fructose corn syrup at all and little or no added sugar or oil. That night we also had some frozen veggies - broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Another night was taco salads and burritos. The earliest night we were back from the park, I made soup with canned beans, frozen veggies, broth, left over salsa and whole wheat pasta. This is what we took for lunch one day as leftovers.

Three nights we ate elsewhere, but I'd planned one other meal that we didn't end up eating. That night was to be canned lentil soup over boil in a bag brown rice. I brought those things home, sense we hadn't used them.

I made blueberry smoothies every morning, which was kind of expensive. It was a little frustrating, too, working with the blender on hand, rather than the Vitamix, but we did come to an understanding, the blender and I. We had spinach in our smoothie every morning, helping to keep up our greens. I made smaller smoothies than I usually do at home and we supplemented with either Cheerios, which are rather a treat for us as I don't buy them for at home, and/or peanut butter oatmeal with apples.

I was pretty happy with how the food went, but next time, I'd take spices. I didn't even have cinnamon and I really missed it for the cereal. Seasonings for the soup beyond the broth and salsa would have been nice, too.

We did food for five with every meal because my mom asked me to shop and plan food for her and my step dad, as well. Food seemed to be more expensive there than in Oregon, but we spent about $220 dollars for the week for the five of us, not including the meals we ate out. Of course, we probably took a good $40 worth of food, too. We ate lunch on the way home off of what we'd bought, as well, so we ate 17 meals total from that $260. That breaks down to about $3/meal per person.

We'd have done better, honestly, if we didn't do blueberry smoothies every morning, as just the blueberries accounted for about $50 of the grocery money. Yikes! Figuring that out makes me want to be a lot more cautious about our blueberry consumption, which sucks because they are so yummy and good for you. But, geez, if we'd done something else, say apples and oatmeal, it would have been more like $220, which would make it more like $2.50 a meal. Is it worth it? Something to think about.

We did have some food left that was brought back home - a little trail mix, the rice and lentil soup, a couple of spray dressings we'd gotten to try out and a little bit of Cheerios. We ate all of the perishables and only threw out some CoffeeMate (my parents' addition) when we left.

We also freely shared with my aunt and uncle at the park. They didn't eat too much of what we'd packed, but I'd say that sharing with them accounted for another couple of meals for each of them, thinking about it, over the course of the week.

All-in-all, minus the expensive blueberries, I'm pretty pleased with the food and I was really glad we had a place with a kitchen. Even if we'd tried to make good choices, if we were eating food at the parks, it would have been very difficult. They did have whole fruit available some places and salads (most with chicken, though) at most restaurants, as well, but it still would have been very difficult to make the right choices and it would have been much, much more expensive. Even eating fast food outside of the parks would have cost more. Of course, feeding us all on ramen noodles would have been even cheaper, but not very healthy. It's all about trying to find the balance.

Meanwhile, I watched a short video today that made me want to go back organic produce. Sigh. It's really out of our budget. I try periodically and am shocked by how much more expensive it is.

I also watched this today. Davan and I watched it together and had a good discussion about it after. With my mediocre connection, I found that it was very stop and go to watch it at the home site, though, so I got it in chunks off of YouTube. Go check out the original web site, though.

We're Home!

We got back Saturday night, just beating the snow and cold snap home. I ran out to the store and got some food for the week real quick before bed. Luckily, it wasn't too late when we got home, although 8:30 (when I left for the store) here is about 11:30 in Florida.

With the wind howling and snow coming down, we just hung out at home except for a brief outing at the very beginning of the storm to retrieve Ari. We spent part of our day decorating:



As for our trip? It was fine. I'm feeling really done with amusment parks, but we had a pretty good time. We enjoyed spending the whole week with my parents and spending quite a bit of time with an aunt and uncle of mine, as well. I enjoyed our day at Animal Kingdom, never having been there before.

We actually didn't take a ton of pictures. We did have a few of Anthony, Davan and I taken together, but none turned out very well. Here's one of my mom, Davan, Bunny and I just about to sail through "It's a Small World." Yes, my daughter is 11 tomorrow and still carries around a stuffed animal. We choose to think of it as cute.


Bunny, as it happens, had an adventure. We were riding on the Buzz Light Year ride when she swan dived out of Davan's hand onto the track the carts go on. She was recovered by a worker after we got off the ride, but it was a tense and unhappy 15 minutes or so while we finished the ride and waited for her to be returned. Bunny has been Davan's main companion for years now. Davan sleeps with her and everything. She's not always the one to go out in the day, but she's necessary. It would have been tough to loose her. We were all very happy to have her back, safe and sound. After all her adventures at the parks and at the airport, Bunny had a bath when we got home and is surprisingly pink now.

I really enjoyed flying first class, as far as flying goes. There was a lot of room. Beverages and food came regularly. Very nice, if one has to fly. I admit not to enjoying the whole flying thing that much, though. I sometimes get nauseous and, I'll tell you what, airport/plane air just plain stinks.

Anthony, Davan and I spent part of yesterday making a list of vacations we'd like to take and ranking them. It was an interesting and rather difficult process, but we've got our summer vacations plans pretty much figured out. We separated the list into cheaper, low medium, high medium and expensive. Later we thought we should have made one category called really expensive, as one thing we want to do is really, really expensive, which is an REI adventure tour. Because of the help we got with this trip, we would have put this one into either low medium or high medium - probably high.

Anyway, because we just took this trip and have other things going on with our money, we're doing cheap this summer. We'd been planning on two trips this summer - one backpacking around Mt Hood and one bike riding down the Oregon Coast. Backpacking around Mt Hood didn't score as high as we thought it would, though, so we're probably not going to do that after all. I'm feeling a little wishy-washy about that, though. We might reevaluate. If we don't go around Mt Hood, we'll probably either go to Kah-nee-ta for a couple of nights or spend a week or so in a yurt in addition to our biking down the coast trip.

No where on the list was an amusement park. Whew.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Car Full of Screeching Girls

I took Davan and five of her friends to see Home for the Holidays, a Do Jump show. It was a school performance and, thus, shorter than the regular evening show, but still quite entertaining. Davan got to see at least one of her instructors in the performance, which was fun. There was a question and answer period after, during which the main question was, "How did you do that?"

The show was fun, but the real adventure was herding around six girls ranging in age from 10 to 15, which was enjoyable, too. The girls started showing up at 9:15 with the last two showing at 9:30, causing me the most stressful minutes of my day, wondering if we were going to make it on time. When the two sisters arrived, I threw them in the already warmed up van and we were off to pick up our last girl in exchange for Ari. (She - the one we picked up - is watching Ari for Davan while we're in Florida.)

I drove as quickly as I could without being too much of a maniac and we made it at exactly 10:00. We were not the last group to arrive and, contrary to the information I'd received when I signed us up, they did hold the show until all were there.

My girls were polite waiters and show watchers. We chose not to battle the crowds leaving, instead lingering for a few minutes talking about the show while the school groups worked their ways out.

Both the car ride to and from were loud, cheerful events, reminding one passenger of her brief stint as a school bus rider.

Once back home, I hit the kitchen to make lunch for everyone while the girls commenced to playing. They played on Davan's trapeze, out on the trampoline and, in one case, sat at the kitchen table and drew until lunch was ready.

After chowing on pb&js, fruit and veggies, they were off again, this time to the living room and toy room for piano playing, dancing, balancing on the exercise balls and then onto games such as people knot, where you have to get untangled without regrasping hands or, in this case, rags in lue of hands, and telephone. Then it was back to the trapeze followed by the trampoline. After all, they were inspired by the Do Jump show.

I, meanwhile, got ready for the trip tomorrow. I finished folding clothes, got some food ready (we'll be buying most of our food there, but there were some things I wanted to take) and packed my bag. I'm all ready with the exception of my book and toothbrush, to be added in the morning.

The girls were gone by 2:20, leaving Davan and I to snack on the leftovers and to get Davan's packing done. She packs herself for trips, but asked for my company while she did it today. She is also now all ready except for her book, toothbrush and bunny, to be added in the morning, or carried, as the case may be.

Everyone needed to go because Davan did need to get her packing done and soon it will be time for gymnastics, but I sure enjoyed having the extras today. I know having a big family isn't the same as having a gang of friends over, but, strangely, for having a single child family, I sometimes yearn for a large family. The problem is I get very stressed out by baby/toddler hood and, as anyone who reads here knows, the whole getting them when they were already older thing didn't pan out for us. Ah, well. It was fun for today.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Ghost of Christmas' Past

I'm feeling holiday-ish. We've got the Christmas CDs in playing. Our advent calendar is up and going. I've borrowed a Christmas book from Davan to read. Davan picked out Christmas books to read to her preschoolers at the library yesterday. I went back in the evening by myself to pick out Christmas picture books to read for advent activities (I wrap the book, so she gets to open it like a present on the days that's our advent activity).

It's gotten me thinking, though, about last Christmas. We were getting ready for a Disney trip last year at this time, too. We went to Disneyland and visited family in California. Max was living with us. He was in school, which he missed several days of for the trip. Things were by no means easy with him, but last December might well have been about the pinnacle of good times with Max. I hope Christmas is good where he is. I know our Christmas will be much easier and more enjoyable with him elsewhere, but that feels selfish, ya know?

The year before we had yet to meet him on the 3rd. We were getting close to it, though, and it was very exciting. We were finally adding to our family through adoption, something we'd been working on for two years at that point. We wanted so much for it to work. We knew there were going to be challenging times ahead, but we didn't foresee how challenging. We didn't foresee the lack of a bond or any sort of connection. We were full of hope. That dream is gone now.

This isn't last year or the year before, though. This is this year. I love and enjoy my little family. I'm looking forward to snuggling up with Davan on the couch in a few minutes and reading "And Elk Dropped In." We'll be able to read the whole, lengthy picture book and we'll finish feeling more connected. No one will get sent to their room. No one will suffer through trying to snuggle with a porcupine who wants to snuggle, but still can't help the sharp quills. It's this year and I have a lot of fun things to look forward to this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I'm pretty excited about it, as it's the first time I've been tagged, I do believe. Ami tagged a bunch of people, though, so maybe it's not all that special...


At any rate, here we go:


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Whatever. We use wrapping paper, old gift bags, homemade out of grocery bag gift bags, boxes, anything we have on hand. I try not to buy too much in the way of packaging.

2. Real tree or Artificial?

Neither this year or last...We were out of town for two weeks at Christmas time last year and will be out of town for a week this year. Instead of a tree last year, we put the lights up all over inside the house and hung the tree decorations from them. Davan says it's like living inside a Christmas tree and was quite enamored. I liked not dealing with a tree. This year we'll add pine boughs from my MIL's place to give it that Christmas tree scent, though.

As if that weren't a long enough answer, I'll also tell you that we've done both real and artificial in the past. We had an artificial tree for three years and, while I liked the idea of not killing real trees, I didn't like the artificial tree. It was a pain to deploy and put away again and it still shed during those processes. It wasn't a cheapie tree, either. We went back to real and maybe we'll have a tree again when we'll be around to care for it in future years.

3. When do you put up the tree?

If we're putting one up, we put it up sometime in early December. Davan's birthday is on the 16th and I used to wait, but she likes having Christmas decorations up for her birthday.

4. When do you take the tree down?

Whenever we get around to it. Usually by the 1st if not sooner.

5. Do you like eggnog?

It astounds me that people do.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

Does 17 still count as a child? If so, it was a car. I got the keys in my stocking and everything. It was very cool. Of course, it was a quite well used car, but still. A car.

Prior to that, it would have been a doll in a basket with a whole set of clothes the year I announced that I wasn't too old for dolls yet.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

Anyone not in my immediate family, really.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

I don't know that she's easy, but my favorite person to buy for is Davan.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

Nope. Well, not me personally, at any rate. Davan owns one that my grandmother gave her last year. It's big, too. Thanks, Grandma. I love storing stuff.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

I like receiving Christmas cards in the mail with news from the sender. I don't actually do it myself, though, so I can't complain.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

I dunno - it'd be hard to say. Sweater sets from Grandma? Anything that requires dusting on a regular basis? The choices are endless.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

I don't think I have one right now. We just read "When Santa Fell to Earth" and enjoyed it very much, so that might be my favorite Christmas book at the moment.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

This varies a lot. Usually in November, though, I'd guess. Although, this year, I got a couple of small things this summer that are tucked away for a certain someone's stocking.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Oh yeah.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

I'm feeling stumped by this one. Chocolate, probably.

16. What decorations are on your tree?

A wide assortment of homemade, inherited ones from Anthony's and my childhood (more his than mine) and ones given as gifts over the years. My MIL always gives an ornament at Christmas. Plus we have several given by a certain favorite Girl Scout leader.


17. Favorite Christmas song?

Oh...I love Christmas carols. My favorite, though? I have sentimental ties to "Silent Night" as it was what my mom sung to me when I was a baby, being the only lullaby she could remember the words to.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?

My ideal? We'd live in a place with snow and not have to go anywhere. We'd go out for a snowshoe or cross country ski to visit a relative on Christmas Eve, then just stay home on Christmas day. Friends and family would be welcome to drop by for visits on Christmas day after about noon.

In reality? Travel gets us away from having to run around at Christmas (MIL for Christmas Eve, FIL Christmas day, ect) and is kind of fun. These days, though, as Davan has gotten older, I don't mind my MIL's for Christmas Eve, but I want to stay home on Christmas day.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? Rudolf the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose...

20. Angel on top of tree or star?

Santa.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Christmas morning mostly, but we do presents with the in-laws on Christmas Eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Exchanging gifts with people outside of my immediate family. Save your money and buy what you'd like for yourself rather than try to guess what I want. And giving cash? Really, if we're just going to exchange money, why bother? I find it very stressful to buy for cousins and grandparents.

23 What theme or color are you using when you decorate?

There's supposed to be a theme? I guess it'd be eclectic and mostly homemade, then.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?

Ah! We do something a little different. We've done it for years now. Each person (that'd be me, Anthony, Davan, my mom and my stepdad) picks about two items to have for Christmas day. We get enough to share. Anthony always picks Coco Pebbles and Cream for one of his. There is usually pepper bacon. We also have things like fruit on hand. We eat on this stuff all day. This year we're each picking two junk food (in our opinion) items and then also having a few other things around. My choices this year are Costco muffins and turkey bacon. I'll also make sure there is some Dave's Killer Bread, cuties, avocado and stuff for chocolate cherry smoothies on hand. Yum.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

I have a whole list! My magic gift would be to wake up Christmas morning in an ideal condo with everything moved (or cleaned out as necessary) and have the mortgage be a little less than what we're paying now. That'll happen, right?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ambivalent

I'm not really excited about going to DisneyWorld. I wish I were. It's not that I'm anti-Disney, particularly. We've done a lot of Disney-ing in the past. We've been to Disneyland more times than I care to admit. Davan and I went to DisneyWorld once before. Anthony didn't join us because he couldn't get the time off to join us when my parents got a time share there about 5 years back. The three of us went on a Disney cruise for Anthony and my 10 year anniversary. We've been big Disney supporters.

However, I'm not excited about this trip. I can't seem to get pumped up about it. There are reasons. One is that my best friend was going to come, but now she can't. She has medical expenses and appointments that are preventing it. Hopefully everything is fine with her, but she needs to make sure. Not only am I sad that I won't get to see her, but, while I'm mostly feeling like everything is fine, I can't help but worry a bit.

Additionally, I'm feeling a little sad about my Grandpa. It seems to have taken some time to sink in. I'm still doing okay, but there is a bit of a damper on my feelings just now.

Another reason is that we had decided we were done with Disney for a while after our last trip, which was just a year ago. We went to Disneyland for Davan's birthday and part of our Christmas. We were supposed to go again in February before our annual passes expired, but we just felt done after that trip. We'd been a lot. We'd decided we wanted to spend our vacation money and time doing other things now. Davan is older and interested in a lot of different things. Now is our time for some great family vacations like bike trips on the coast or even going to Europe.

So, why, if we were feeling done, are we going again? I think I've addressed this before, but in case I haven't, it's because my cousin was supposed to be getting married. My mom got us plane tickets with frequent flier miles and got us an extra time share because it was for a family wedding. We're just paying for park tickets, a rental car and food. But, guess what? My cousin never planned the wedding. She and her fiance don't always get along and they just never got around to planning the wedding that three aunts, two uncles, a grandmother, a cousin, a cousin-in-law and a second cousin once removed all made arraignments to go to rather than doing the previously scheduled family Christmas. Yeah, I'm feeling a little bitter about that.

But, here's the last reason. I think that, along with going against the grain food-wise, transportation-wise and TV-wise, or at least trying to, it's time to give up the sanitized vacation. It feels too much like watching TV in the evening, rather than reading or playing games or going for walks. I don't mean that the actual day of being there is lazy - au contraire - we will be physically tired at the end of each day. It's just that it's not real. We're not learning to hang glide, scaling mountains, or scuba diving. We're not using our imaginations to pretend to be saving the galaxy, flying on a magic carpet or blasting off into space. We're not traveling to distant countries or going on a real safari.

I'm trying to get pumped up about it. After all, it is our big vacation this year. I do like roller coasters. I've never been to Animal Kingdom and that does seem like it might be cool. I did quite enjoy Epcot the last time I was there. The Magic Kingdom does feel magical at times. It should be fun. I will have fun. I will have fun.

Trip Eating

I fully expected to step on the scale and find horrors after this last week of being away from home. There were a lot of foods eaten that don't fit within the healthy guidelines we've tried to set for ourselves. A couple of standouts include three different pie binges bordering on a half a pie each - that's just my consumption - and the Costco muffins that found their way into several meals. That all of this was preceded by my birthday feast day caused me to expect the worst.

However, the scale reading did not suffer much. I was only up a pound from the reading of the week before. And, oddly, my body fat was down. Now, I did/am still suffer/ing from other effects...tummy trouble, hot flashes and ongoing cravings. My stomach feels bigger - perhaps there is bloating? But, the scale isn't alarmed.

I attribute this to a few things. One is that I ran or did another cardiovascular workout every day except our driving days in addition to a couple of sessions of yoga, general stretching and walks. Another is that, the above mentioned large indiscretions aside, I did make good food choices many, many times.

I'd say that at least half of my meals were healthy by my standards. Plus another good quarter were almost totally healthy with small additions of not so healthy selections. I made my apple cinnamon two different mornings, with enough for leftovers for Davan and I on two additional mornings. I made my African Bean Soup on the first day we were there and had it as leftovers for two more meals. I made huge batches of each recipe so that there would be enough for my extended family to partake, if they desired. I made orange/spinach smoothies two different mornings. When we were going to be out of the house and I figured we'd get hungry, I packed up snacks from the house - some or all of the following - this being what we had on hand: apples, carrot juice, sugar snap peas, baby carrots, Lara bars, Cuties, pita bread, hummus, waters in bottles (we really don't care for the tap water in CA).

I went shopping with my grandma the first day we were there to insure there would be food on hand that we could eat. In addition to the above mentioned foods, I stocked up on pomegranates (which were great for seeding while sitting around chatting, especially when others were eating things I didn't want to partake in), spinach, Superfood (maybe not the best ever food, but with some greens), and broccoli. We ate the broccoli raw, steamed and in the soup.

We only ate one meal out, which was dinner on they way home yesterday when the food I'd scrounged to take along was gone.

I decided where I wanted to splurge, which was mostly desserts, other than stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, and avoided splurging in other ways that would be less enjoyable for me.

All-in-all, considering the circumstances, I think I did okay. I'd have liked to have been even better, but I don't feel too horribly about my choices.

Anthony, on the other hand...well, his scale reading is less forgiving. He chose to indulge a great deal more than I did. Will that change the choices he makes for the next trip? I don't know, but we'll find out soon.

We leave for WDW on Saturday. This trip will be different, though. We're flying, not driving. We're flying first class, thanks to Mom and her frequent flier miles, so there will be food on the flight and we've already decided to eat it rather than pack food. That will be a check in the not so great column. That will be on both the way there and the way back. We have one scheduled Disney dinning experience, which will be a serious indulgence. There was supposed to be a wedding...but that's not going to happen, however, there will probably be a family get together the day that was supposed to be the wedding and, if so, I'm sure that will involve food.

Tallied on the "we could make good choices here" side, we'll be staying in our own place with a kitchen and we will have a rental car. We can shop and keep only good foods on hand. We're planning on packing in lunches when we go to the parks and eating breakfast and dinner at "home." I won't have all day to be making food, so food won't be the same as at home, but there are some fairly quick things that aren't too difficult to make. I am also seriously thinking of packing some food from home for insurance.

I plan on having on hand - apples, bananas, other easy fruit, baby carrots, natural peanut butter, healthy canned soups, broccoli, salads in bags, brown rice pasta, decent marinara sauce, pitas, bread (preferably sprouted), hummus (which we use as a travel food rather than as a staple at home), Lara bars, Boca burgers, and...I don't know. That's all I've thought of for sure.

It could go well, food wise, or it might be very difficult. I'll give you the report after!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Still Here

We debated going home a day early because we arrived early. However, we opted to stay. A lot of times, it's stressfull to spend a lot of time with my grandma. She's kind of like a little kid in a lot of ways, but a little kid who is an old person we're supposed to honor, respect and find the fount of all wisdom. At least, she thinks so.

In her favor, she is a generous grandparent and loves to play games. So, those are nice things.

However, she was not a generous parent. Her children bore the burden of being her kids. She's not always nice and, when they were kids, often not affectionate. That's sort of funny because she's almost overly affectionate now.

I didn't get along with her very well as a child, but then I did fine with her as a young adult. It was easy to put her in perspective. After all, she was only my grandparent and I could accept her foibles. They didn't play a large part in shaping who I was.

Once Davan was born, though, I had a hard time with her again. Well, it started more like when Davan was a preschooler and I felt the need to sheild her. Now, it's just starting to get a little easier. Davan is older and coming into her own to some extent. I still don't want her damaged, of course, but she's less easily damaged now.

My aunt, this trip, has, independently, brought up the need to shelter Davan from Grandma. Yeah, true, but for me, the need isn't as pressing. Mostly Grandma feels like she doesn't have a lot of teeth anymore to me.

My mom and aunt are both stressed. They are stressed by the death of their daddy already and Grandma still isn't easy to be around. Actually, my mom feels more or less normal about Grandma. I really think my aunt is mad at her about how things went at the end. Either way, both are ready to leave, but feel obligated to stay until Sunday.

Me? I'm okay. My family is okay. We're not too stressed. We're going to stay and help be buffers. It's something we feel like we can do. Even though it'll be tough to drive all day and then have Anthony go to work on Monday and work a full week before we leave for Florida on Saturday.

I've run every day except for Thanksgiving day and today, so far, but I still plan on going. On Thanksgiving, I did DDR for about an hour, so I got in a workout then, too. I've done yoga on two different days and I've gotten in some stretching most other days. In addition, "my" family - Anthony, Davan, my mom and stepdad and I - have all gotten out for a walk twice. I feel like the exercise has helped to keep the stress down.

Anthony and I also took Davan out to play mini golf yesterday afternoon, which was a fun interlude.

So, we're still here and we're still doing okay. Grandma will leave for Florida (and an aunt's house) shortly after we all leave for our respective homes. For those few days, she'll have the support of her friends and neighbors, whom have been stopping by and, as Grandma tells us constantly, have offered any help she needs.

Everyone will get through.

I finally felt sad last night. I was thinking about Grandpa's card money. He and Grandma used to play a family game that is similar to Skipbo every afternoon for small money - coins such. Grandma loved the game, but Grandpa seemed to mostly play for Grandma's sake, although he'd say that it kept both their brains sharp to play. He'll never use his card money again. He'll never fed the birds again, which was a great joy to him. He'll never order ribs without sauce again.

We moved into the back bedroom from our tent yesterday. The back bedroom is where Grandpa was, where we kept vigil. Davan hadn't been in there since he died. Anthony and I took her in there before we moved in and she cried. I think that's what started making me feel sad.

It's mild, though, really. He was 87 and had been going downhill for a while. It was his time. I can live with that and know it's really okay.