Family Fun

Thanksgiving Week!

This week marked our ninth Thanksgiving in Texas. Over the years, we have celebrated with Friendsgivings, potlucks at the Yogi Bear campground, and small gatherings with my parents. Last year, we have a socially distanced meal with my parents, and it was the first time we had them over since the start of the pandemic.

Our week began with a trip to the Shard Yard with our friends from Michigan.

We had a great time creating our masterpieces!

For Thanksgiving, my parents decided to do their own thing and go camping, so we created a feast for three.

I’m pleased to say it was a resounding success, and produced so many leftovers that I will not have to pack lunches for the next week!

Everyone relaxed while I cleaned up, and then I surprised them by bringing in all of the Christmas decorations!

We enjoyed this year’s matching pajamas!

We put on some final touches…

And had some fun taking selfies!

Since my job keeps me busy, Christmas involves a lot of planning ahead. I finished all of my shopping before Black Friday, and I bought enough activities for Iliana and me to do one each day, from Black Friday until Christmas. The first activity she chose were ugly sweater cookies.

The next day, we made chocolate candies!

Every year, we have intended to send out Christmas cards, but last year was the first time it actually happened. I had discovered Postable, which prints and mails your cards for you. I like to send postcards, with a short message. It’s a good way to update everyone without having to write a long Christmas letter. Unfortunately, none of our digital cameras were working, but we used my phone to take some fun pictures!

And the winner….

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you have a joyful holiday season!

Family Fun

Fall Adventures!

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all!

Since it has been awhile, I thought I would share some pictures from our adventures this fall. It has been another whirlwind of a school year, and while I usually do a good job prioritizing self-care and family, while still getting the important things done at work, at this point my writing has not made the priority list. But things have been going well.

One of the newest additions to our life this fall, is Rob’s wind surfing board!

For Halloween, Iliana made multiple costumes for herself, and she enjoyed some independence at a lock-in at the library!

And of course, none of us are too old to carve pumpkins.

Last year, Ili decided that she was too old for trick-or-treating, so we drove to Clear Lake Shores Island and handed our candy from our tailgate. This year we did the same, but Iliana noticed that many teenagers stopped by for candy. So she left Rob to hold down the fort and did some trick-or-treating of her own!

And in case you are wondering, I went as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!

I did some thrift shopping, and Iliana was happy to borrow some of my finds…

I found myself a lovely non-alcoholic wine that is only 1 smartpoint per glass…

Iliana spent a month designing a mouse trap car that ended up winning first place for distance!

And finally, right before break, Iliana’s class put on “Colonial Day” for the school. Ili was the schoolteacher, and she used hornbooks to teach phonics. She had fun but decided that she will leave the reading instruction to me!

So there is a quick update on our fun! I will do a Thanksgiving/gratitude post at the end of the week.

Family Fun

5k’s and a Brief History of my Running Habit

In first grade, I learned that I was a slow runner.

We were in P.E. class, playing a game called “Snow White.” One person was Snow White, and they stood in the middle of the gym, while the class ran across. Snow White tried to tag as many people as possible, while avoiding getting tagged by the Wicked Queen.

I was a lanky, energetic 6-year-old, and of course I raised my hand eagerly when the teacher asked who wanted to be Snow White. It surprised me when the entire class burst out laughing when I was chosen. The teacher said, “Now, just because someone isn’t fast, doesn’t mean that they can’t be tricky.”

I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t fast, and that apparently this was common knowledge in the first grade. I was quickly tagged by the Wicked Queen after everyone safely made it across the gym.

And thus began my dislike of physical education class.

In fourth grade, when we did relay races, I was moved to a different team for each round. I was the only one who was moved in this way. And everytime I was put on a new team, the members of that team groaned.

We did physical fitness testing every year, and I learned that I was not flexible. We had to do this v-sit, forward bend, where they would measure how many inches we reached past our feet. The last time I did it, I got -10. My teacher told me that I needed to be more flexible.

Our teacher had a quarter mile track drawn in the grass behind our school, and we would occasionally go out to run a mile. I learned that for some unknown reason, my legs would start screaming at me well before a quarter mile was up. I could, however, walk indefinitely.

Over time my legs became very muscular, but I was never able to run. I even tried a couch-to-5k program in Prevention magazine. I could do intervals of running and walking, but I never could run very far in a stretch.

We moved to Texas, and Rob and Ili rocked her school “Mustang Stampede,” while I took pictures from the sidelines.

And then this happened….

Yoga has changed my life in many ways, and running is one of them. Stretching my hips and hamstrings allowed me to take a larger stride and run without pain. Shortly after I started practicing yoga, I decided to sign up for an untimed 3k “Family Fun Run.” Ili ran the 1k.

By August, it was time to try a real 5k. Rob and I signed up for the “Night Moves Trail Run.” We would run the race at night, then camp in the park where it was held. My training was going well, and I knew I could do it!

We excitedly lined up at the starting line, and everyone was too shy to go to the front of the group. Knowing I would be passed, I marched to the starting line and announced, “I am going to be victorious!”

Once we started, I was in the middle of the pack, and Rob was in a commanding lead. Then we entered the woods, where the trail was poorly marked. After tripping over a few roots, I walked with a group of other runners, trying to find our way with someone’s GPS. I actually stopped at the rest stop and poured water over my head. Then there was more getting lost, until we found our way to the road, just in time for an ending sprint.

Much to my dismay, Rob was not at the finish line to cheer me on. My time was terrible–I had finished my first 5k in 57 minutes. But still, I had finished my first 5k! I marched to our tent to give him a piece of my mind, but he was not there. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.

At this point, I was starting to get worried. We had been given GPS trackers, so I asked the officials if they could track him down. It turns out that the GPS trackers were not working.

Finally, after an hour and a half, a very exhausted Rob ran across the finish line. It turns out that he had gotten lost by himself, since he had been in the lead. At one point he had ended up on the 10k course., and, regrettably, he had not stopped at the rest stop.

I decided that my medal was well-earned! And surprisingly, I finished in the first half for my age group.

September came along and brought with it another trail race, the Zombie Run. This time, it was light out and the course was well-marked. However, we had to wear belts with strips of ribbon velcroed to to them. During the course, we would encounter “zombies,” who would try to pull off the ribbons. Once all the ribbons were gone, we were “dead.” There were prizes for the winnings “survivors” and “zombies.”

This race was a challenge, because we had to sprint everytime we encountered a zombie. It was actually a relief for me, when I was finally “dead.” In the end, I finished in the top third of my age group, with a time under 40 minutes. Rob was a “survivor” and finished in second place overall.

The rest of fall passed without any fanfare, until we were greeted by a chilly December, and my friend suggested that we run in the “Santa Hustle” in Galveston. This was my first road race, and the temperature was in the 40’s.

We ran in a loop, and the longest stretch was into the wind, along the seawall. There were over 1000 runners, and all three of us set personal records, because we were so cold and wanted to get it over with! My time was 34:58, and I finished in the top quarter of my age group.

That was the last 5k I ran, for a long time. The next school year was extremely difficult, and it took me a couple years to get back on my feet. Then 2020 and the pandemic happened. We did a virtual race, the “Social Distancing Run,” but that was hardly scientific.

So here we are, just coming off of a spike in Covid, but still with things returning to normal, especially in Galveston county, where the virus hasn’t been as bad. September 30 is my 43rd birthday, and when Rob asked me what I wanted, the answer was easy.

It was time to start running 5k’s again.

I am determined to eventually run a marathon, but I want to keep doing 5k’s until I break 10 minute miles. Then I will move on to 10k’s, and so on.

So we found ourselves a race in Galveston, and I actually trained a little bit this time.

This race was a road race along the seawall, and it was not officially timed. However, I do know that I finished in 33 minutes (not sure how many seconds). So it definitely was a personal record! Rob finished 4th overall.

After the race, we enjoyed a walk on the beach…

…and a lovely lunch with a view!

We picked up Ili, who was with her grandparents, and she wanted to go sailing. She enjoyed being on crew, so I had an easy time!

Iliana was right at home at the helm!

When we got home, Iliana informed me that she is going to start training for her first 5k, and she asked me how I stretch. She and I have the same tight legs, so I showed her how to do my pre-run yin stretches.

I should have known where this was leading! As soon as her stretches were done, Ili changed into running clothing and said, “Come on, Mom! It’s time to start training for my first 5k!”

She did impressively well, for her first day of training. And I think I will sleep very well tonight!

Family Fun

Back to School!

In the most normal of years, the beginning of the school year is akin to crashing a boat into a dock. But it has been a long time since I have seen “normal.”

The 2017-18 school year began with Hurricane Harvey and ended with me going on medical leave.

In the fall of 2018 I began my break from full time teaching and started subbing in two districts. In the spring, I accepted a long term subbing position, which was interrupted when a factory caught on fire. During the fire, I worked at Odyssey, where I was later hired as a behavioral interventionist for the next year.

I began my new position normally enough in the fall of 2019, and Iliana started attending school at Odyssey as well. Then came March 2020, which was anything but normal.

We began last year virtually, then had a week off for a hurricane that turned and missed us at the last minute. By September I was teaching full time again. The year was a weird combination of virtual and in-person teaching, with a two-week intermission when I finally caught the plague. At the end of the school year, I was offered my new position, which means that I began the year as an aide and ended the year as department lead.

And so, welcome to back-to-school 2021!

Last Hurrah: A Bike Riding Trip in Montrose

The last weekend before school started, we decided to get an Air BNB in Montrose. It was an adorable little historic apartment!

We packed our folding bikes and headed downtown, where we easily found the Buffalo Bayou trail.

Downtown had more businesses open, than they did on our spring break visit. However, there were more restrictions due to the Delta variant.

2. The “D” Word

It hadn’t surprised me that downtown was stricter, but then Ili and I decided to visit Armand Bayou nature center, once of our favorite woods-walking venues. It was beautiful…

But it surprised me that they had tight restrictions! Some made sense, like wearing a mask when you walk up to the payment window. But others seemed overly cautious for an outdoor place. It was starting to make me nervous.

Then our state entered into a weird battle over masks in schools. Our governor has banned schools from enacting mask mandates, but a local judge ordered one anyway and it was upheld in a higher court. Which means that the schools, who really have no interest in taking sides on political things like this, are strongly encouraging mask wearing.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. I am fully vaccinated and have had the virus, and I have researched the chances of me catching it again. It is a small enough risk, that I am willing to take it. I am definitely not going to stay home or change how I am living my life in a major way.

And yet, I kind of get the reasoning behind requiring the masks at school. Most of the students can’t get vaccinated yet, and kids are getting sick with the Delta variant. From what I have read, the chances of me being contagious are small, but we don’t know for sure which adults have been vaccinated, who has had the virus, etc. So I got myself a shield with pink glasses and created a rhinestone tiara above it! And Iliana got a new set of sequin masks.

While I understand the reasoning behind the masks, I am glad that school is being held in-person this year. There has been a very significant slide, both academically and emotionally, from the year and a half with no in-person instruction for a number of students. Right now, with what we know, I think the benefits of being in school definitely outweigh the risks. I will be glad when the children have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

3. Two Cute Iliana Stories

This has been a year of growing up for Iliana. We recently went to our storage unit and found a leopard print parka that Iliana enjoyed wearing for years. It doesn’t even come close to fitting her now! I asked Ili if she wanted to donate it, and she hesitantly agreed, although she wanted to take a picture of it first.

The next day, when my grocery delivery arrived, the young lady who brought them, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that had been on clearance. On a hunch, I asked her if she had a little girl. She said yes, she had a 5-year-old. And it turns out that her daughter needed a new winter coat and loves leopard! So Iliana was delighted that her coat went to a good home, and she enjoyed the flowers in her room.

Iliana is loving school this year, and she is taking an extra science class, as well as attending science camp through NASA. She has dutifully studied her chemistry lessons every night, and on Friday her teacher excitedly told me that Ili had gotten 100% on her test! We celebrated with ice cream, of course!

Have a wonderful week, and I hope your fall is starting out well!

Family Fun, Health

Vacation Adventures (and One Misadventure)

An Early Start!

On the day that the calendar for Elijah’s Retreat opened, it filled up. I was not able to get us our usual spring break adventure, but I did book a few days for us in June.

Usually, we leave right after Rob gets out of work, make the 3 hour drive, and arrive late in the evening. This time, however, Rob had Thursday, the day we were scheduled to arrive, off of work. We decided to leave Wednesday night and stay at an Air BNB in Conroe, which would put us on the other side of Houston for the drive the next day.

We found the most elegant garage apartment I have ever seen!

Ili, of course, had to do her algebra class in the morning.

Off to Elijah’s!

As soon as algebra was over, we made the drive to Elijah’s. Rob and Ili flew balsa wood airplanes in the field by our cabin.

Iliana test drove a couple bikes.

Dinner was hot dogs over the campfire.

And of course I took a walk down my favorite trail!

Friday morning meant one more algebra class. Ili needed to go to the activity barn for wifi, so she settled in, in the sensory room.

Animal feeding time, of course, was a favorite!

It was, of course, beautiful everyday!

Saturday meant feeding the animals again.

Later on that day, Iliana treated us to her baked s’mores!

It was definitely different visiting this time, with Ili getting older. Iliana noticed that she didn’t get as excited about some of the activities, but she talked to Miss Cheryl, who showed her how to lead the horse and told her she can be a volunteer next time we visit, and help the other kids while they are horseback riding. Ili was excited about that and didn’t want to leave on Sunday.

And the Misadventure

We had a few misadventures during this trip as well. I enjoyed having the time to walk and get lots of steps in, and I did a lot of this walking while exploring the woods. After doing some exploring away from Elijah’s property, I came home and took a shower, only to find a tick on my belly. Disgustingly, ticks love my fatty skin, and they always freak me out. I have a lot of moles, but I always look very carefully for ticks. This one blended in surprisingly well and I almost missed it.

So yuck, but Rob was the hero and removed the gross, black bug. It looked like it had just gotten there, which was a good thing.

Then there were my eyes. On Friday at some point, my left eye got really itchy and red. By Saturday they were both red. I figured it was allergies and bought eye drops. They helped a little, then by the time we got home, my eyes were red and angry. I Googled it and decided they must be sunburned. They cleared after a couple days once I was home, although they stayed light sensitive and itchy.

Then there was the heat exhaustion. I have gotten heat exhaustion every year we have been in Texas, and my sore, sore muscles and inability to regulate my body temperature told me that I had done it again. However, this time was worse, as a day of rest did nothing to help. By Wednesday, after we were home, I was beyond exhausted. Wondering if I was dehydrated, I drank Poweraide, which helped a little. I went to bed early and still woke up tired and sore.

And still the allergies! I had the worst sinus headache.

The last straw was the ringworm. On my left hip was an angry red bump, with the telltale white circle and red circle around it. I bought some cream, and in the morning the outer circle was less red, the bump was brighter and angry, and the outer rash had grown a quarter of an inch larger. I put more ointment on it, because it had to be ringworm, right? Nothing else looks like it. How many other rashes look just like a…target?

Oh crap.

Over on my tummy, the tick bite had swollen up, looking just like the angry red bump in the middle of the “ringworm.” And a red circle was starting to spread around the bite.

After a text conversation with a dial-a-doc, complete with pictures sent, I had a prescription for 20 days’ worth of Doxycycline, which, interestingly enough, is also what our dog is taking for her heartworm treatment. So I will not have heartworms and the dog will not have Lyme disease!

Yes, Lyme can be every bit as scary as the Rona, however it has the wonderful feature of being treatable, especially early on. In fact, we will never know if it is Lyme or STARI, which is spread by the lone star tick and not nearly as dangerous. Whatever it is, it is getting nuked by the antibiotics before we even have time to see what it is!

So today I have had my first two doses, and I actually have the energy to write a blog post for the first time since we got home! I even did the dishes and took out the trash, which also had not happened. The angry bumps are less angry, and the bullseyes are barely there anymore.

I have decided to create a new drink, called “The 2021.” It will be a glass of Corona with a lime in it…

Family Fun

Summertime Fun!

In case you don’t live in Texas, I will tell you that you are looking at an armadillo. Our neighborhood is home to the most adorable armadillo family, and they like to greet us on most of our evening walks.

In addition to our new animal friends, we have more adventures to share with you this month:

Birthday Ceramic Painting

When I was pregnant, I didn’t want to find out the baby’s gender until they were born. My friend Jocelyn, however, had a dream that I had to leave her daughter’s second birthday party because I went into labor and had a baby girl.

I never made it to the birthday party, but our daughters do share a birthday! They have always been good friends, and we decided to take them out to paint ceramics shortly after their birthday.

Our adventures included shopping, and I found yet another pain of blingy jeans!

Iliana decided to end the day by baking some cookies, using the teenager cookbook my mom got her for her birthday.

One Last Ronavax Encounter

Okay, we’re a little done with rona in this house! Iliana got her last dose of Ronavax this month, so none of us have to worry about that virus eating our brain, ever again…

It wasn’t a school day, but she wanted to wear her school uniform anyway. I loved her choice of mask!

Iliana made sure to wear her Pride month visor that she made at camp back in April!

When we got home, we found a lazar tag set from her Uncle Chris and Aunt Kelly!

Shopping Trip and Another New Neighbor!

After meeting the armadillos, our dog, Jasmine, was happy to meet another friend on her walk.

Yes, Rob snuck a picture of me into the series!

Iliana has been formulating her own sense of style, especially in the summer when she does not have to wear her school uniform. She and I decided a trip to the mall was in order!

Ili decided that I could go to Forever 21, since I had been good! I found a peasant cropped top that made her roll her eyes…

Otherwise, Iliana is keeping herself busy with her summer algebra bridge class, which she is taking over Zoom. (Since she is going to be taking algebra for high school credit next year, she has to take this class over the summer). Luckily, she enjoys it!

And of course there is more cooking…

And trips to the dog park!

Alligator Camping!

Sometimes armadillos and turtles aren’t enough. Then it is time to spend a weekend at Brazos Bend State Park. Their mascot is an alligator, and the park map contains a section titled, “Alligator Etiquette.”

My parents joined us, in their new camper!

We had our usual accommodations…

I started my day with my usual celery juice.

And we had lots of adventures!

Iliana met a baby alligator and a snake.

We saw a poster explaining that a Jeep running over an armadillo is a part of the carbon cycle.

Oh, and did I mention that it was gorgeous?

So those were our adventures this past week! This next week will bring us a trip to Elijah’s Retreat, which will definitely be fun, relaxing, and welcome.

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer as well!

Family Fun

Ronavax for Ili, End of the School Year, and 14 Years of Awesomeness!

More Ronavax!

Ili is going to summer camp in July, and we received an email recently that said every camper needed to have either a positive antibody test, proof of vaccination, or a negative Rona test a week before attending camp. We thought it would be great to avoid the hassle of subjecting Ili to a nose test the week before camp, so we decided to take the easy route and do the antibody test. It was April, and all three of us had had the Rona back in March. Easy peasy, right?

Some research online indicated that CVS had antibody testing available, and the nearest place listed was in Friendswood, 20 minutes away. I scheduled an appointment with plenty of time to spare before yoga class that night, and we made the drive. After arriving early and killing time in the dollar store, we checked in, only to be told that the computer system was down so testing was not available that day.

After some online research and calling around, I learned that the CVS next to the school where I work (which is MUCH closer to home than Friendswood) offered testing, had a functioning computer system, and had an appointment available in 20 minutes. With just enough time to make the drive we arrived at the store.

After an uncomfortable finger prick, we filled the nurse in on Ili’s history while we waited for the test results. If you remember, Rob and I tested positive at the end of February. Ili tested negative on February 28, but a few days later she started showing mild symptoms (very low grade fever, muscle aches, fatigue). We called the school nurse, who said that it was our choice whether to get a test, but that a positive test would not change her required quarantine days or return date. We decided not to get a test but just assumed she had the virus. So she snuggled with us and we all chilled together.

Well, it turns out that Ili’s symptoms could have been caused by many things…but definitely not Covid.

The nurse said that there was absolutely no way she had Covid back in March, if her antibody test was negative so soon after. So back to the drawing board.

Luckily, I received an email two weeks ago, that vaccine appointments were available for kids ages 12 and up, and that slots were set aside for students at our school that very afternoon. Ili is usually fine with shots, but during that surprise appointment, it took three nurses to accomplish the mission. Now we’re good until dose #2 on Thursday.

End of the School Year

Well, we made it through the year of craziness! This was an especially emotional end of the year for a lot of the kids.

Iliana kept busy. She shared a poem during her class’s poetry slam, and she danced to “Bang” in the school talent show. Here she is, doing some sun salutations to warm up!

The end of the school year, of course, meant state testing. This year, it has been emphasized that the testing is mostly for our information, so that we can see how much students have fallen behind, due to the pandemic.

Well.

One morning, my boss couldn’t wait to talk to me, because Ili’s scores had come in. She had aced the math test, which was no surprise, because she has never not aced the math test. However, she also aced the reading test! So next year Iliana will be taking algebra and pre-AP English. We are very proud of her!

Iliana Turns 14!

The year Iliana was born, I worked right up to the last day of school, then went to the hospital the next evening (she was born 22 hours later!). So that means that every year, her birthday is always right before or right after the last day of school. This year, it was the day after.

We decorated our apartment for the occasion…

Iliana’s big present was Mario Kart Home edition!

And of course, we had to set the Roomba loose on the track!

Instead of a party, Ili wanted to do a weekend get-away at a hotel with a pool. So I found us a suite in the Energy Corridor. We swam, I went thrift shopping, and our high point was playing the Oregon trail card game!

But then of course this happened….

So happy summer everyone! I hope you are having a fun, dysentery-free Memorial weekend!

Family Fun

Ronavax, The Ring, and Happy Easter!

Good morning, folks!

I thought I would share some updates and pictures this week.

Ronavax

Rob and I decided that the vaccination rates would probably go up if they named the vaccine “Ronavax” and had a picture of a dead virus on the bottle.

Ronavax! It kills the rona dead.

So I got my second dose of Ronavax on Tuesday. The fun thing about having actually had the rona, is that they actually know very little about it. I have read that you probably have full immunity after one dose if you have had the virus already. And that you have a stronger reaction to the first dose than most people, because your body goes crazy making antibodies after the first dose.

I got my first dose on day 10, which in the rona world (for those who don’t know) if the first day out of quarantine. I couldn’t tell what symptoms were from the shot and which ones were just from me still feeling crappy from being sick. But I figured that was my big reaction, and shot #2 would be a piece of cake. Right?

Wrong. For me, shot #2 of the Ronavax was worse than having the rona (although much shorter lived). My temperature went crazy over night, just as it did with the rona, although a got a lot hotter. I woke up freezing, with a temperature of 97. My back and legs were on fire, and I knew that going to work was not going to happen. Lots of texts to my boss and my team, and then I headed off to yoga. (Yes, the nice thing about Ronavax is that the side effects are not contagious! I double-checked on CDC’s website, just to be sure).

Yoga, of course, helped with everything. I had some relief from my building brain fog, and I made it through class without any weird muscle twitching or tingling, which was another plus. Just like when I was sick (I did yin on videos then!), yoga bought me a couple of good hours to enjoy the sunny day.

Then I crashed. It was off to bed, but when I woke up, I felt no better. This was a difference from having the actual virus. When I was sick, I could sleep a couple hours, then have a couple of good, somewhat-alert hours before the next crash. This time, I slept all day, until I felt somewhat less crappy in the evening.

The next day the muscle aches were gone, but the twitching and tingling were still there, with a little brain fog. Two more yoga classes finally cured that!

So now I’m back to my normal post-rona self. I get tired a little easier, and if I allow myself to get too stressed, I crash. Otherwise, it is fine, as long as I keep my head on straight! I’ve started eating an anti-inflammatory meal plan, which has absolutely hit the spot. Lots of fish, nuts, and (my favorite!) berries. I’ve got to get myself into shape, because I have a feeling that real 5K’s are going to happen this summer, and I am determined to break 10 minute miles!

My tiara didn’t make it through the race!

The Ring

Back in 1999, Rob and I were 21. He was making $800 a month working at a grocery store, and I was a full time student, substitute teaching a few times a week for $65 a pop. Rob occupied his free time fixing up this 1979 Impala, which was the bane of my existence–mostly because I would much rather go on a date than watch him work on the car…again…

One day, the owner of a used mobile home lot came into the store, eager to rid herself of an engagement ring. Her ex-fiance had bought this ring from a discount store called Best that had since gone out of business. Fortunately, that same day, Rob found a buyer for the Impala. And double fortunately, the price he received for the Impala was also the asking price for the ring!

I didn’t know that he bought the ring, of course. All I knew was that the car was gone, which was already a win for me. And then, at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Rob got down on one knee on the ice over Lake Huron, and the ring set off on its new–and more successful–adventure!

So we bought a mobile home from a used car lot (sadly, not the mobile home lot owned by the previous owner of the ring) for $1000, got it towed to a lake that no longer exists, and began our adventure together!

Fast forward 18 years and 60 pounds, and I found myself needing to have an MRI. All metal jewelry needed to be removed, and my ring was a little…um…stuck. I tried every trick in the book, but my finger just swelled up. Finally, our only option was to cut the ring off. We kept it safe, deciding that we would wait to get it repaired, until I reached my goal weight. Oddly enough, through numerous mess-ups in the medical bureaucracy, I never did have that MRI.

Well, even though I am currently 16 pounds above my goal weight, I am very close to the weight I was at my wedding! My size will not change significantly when I do get back to goal, so we decided it was time to get the ring fixed. The setting for the large diamond needed to be redone, and one of the small diamonds had fallen out and needed to be replaced. But the end result is that it looks better than new, and is quite happy to be back on my finger!

Happy Easter!

I spent a lot of money on Easter 2020. Life was really depressing at that time, we were still in lockdown, and the marina had decided that the bathrooms should only be open from 8:00am-8:00pm. (Because the rona can only spread at night? I don’t know.)

Iliana had 5 Easter baskets, I set up a whole snack spread for the day, and I insisted that we all get dressed up. Of course, it was not the magic I had been hoping for and was kind of depressing.

This year was much lower-key, as Easter usually is for us. And that was just fine. Yesterday, Iliana orchestrated a white elephant auction.

After that, it was time to decorate the eggs. I was much more into it than 13-year-old Iliana!

Following the egg decorating, it was time for the traditional drinking of the blue egg dye. Rob started doing this one year when his mom was still alive, in the hopes of shocking her…It was a rousing success and has been repeated every year since! Here is the picture from last year:

This year, we decided to make a video of the big event.

Of course, the bunny came overnight! There was one Easter basket this year, plus lots of hidden jelly bean eggs.

We concluded our day with a visit to my parents’ house. My mom tried to freak Ili out by eating her Easter grass (Ili did not know it was edible). However, Ili nonchalantly grabbed a handful and ate it herself!

It was a fun visit, and I was able to hug my parents for the first time in over a year!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Family Fun

Week 3 (not really) Away from Facebook: Merry Christmas!

What a fun and crazy week!

This is the seventh Christmas that we have celebrated in Texas, and it was definitely the most fun.

We started out the week by dressing up, decorating our adult tricycle, and piling on it to look at the lights on Clear Lake Shores island. Of course we brought music and hot cocoa!

The next day, we allowed Iliana to open one present early!

At the last minute, I ordered Christmas cards! Then I made one special card, from our Roomba (named Jojo) to my yoga teacher’s Roomba (aka Big Ben). Big Ben appreciated the gesture!

We met up with my friend Jocelyn and her daughter, Ava, Iliana’s best friend, at the Shard Yard, where we made creations out of repurposed glass! It was a wonderful time, especially since we haven’t seen each other since March.

Christmas eve, we celebrated with my parents. My brother, Jon, cooked dinner…

Then we opened gifts…

And then we played a game where we unwrapped a ball of plastic wrap for prizes. It was a crazy fun time!

That night we had a visitor in our apartment! Good thing he wore a mask!

Ili and I wore our matching pajamas the next morning, but Rob had his own style…

I poured us the traditional mimosas (made from sparkling cider!).

Iliana was very excited to find a pair of heelies under the tree!

And we had great fun digging into the mountain of other gifts!

Rob and I took my new camera out to the walking trails later in the day…

And I was treated to a breathtaking sunset that evening!

I hope your holidays were equally as magical! Here’s wishing you the best for the end of such a crazy year!

Family Fun

Week 1 Away from Facebook: Christmas Prep

Wow, so it is Sunday already…

It has been strange being away from Facebook. I have gone off of social media before, but this time I can definitely see how I was using it to numb emotions. And going back to teaching, during a global pandemic, can definitely cause one to have many emotions to numb! I am grateful for my yoga practice and working on sitting with emotions, rather than trying so hard to escape them.

One thing that I have really noticed is that I am becoming more focused on solutions and less defensive. I have been thinking of ways to meet my own needs while still looking out for everyone else. Being away from the polarized environment of social media has led me to begin to stop feeling guilty about taking care of myself, which has in turn led me to get out of the tunnel and stop being so focused on my own needs.

Once we put on our own oxygen mask, we can think more clearly to help those around us.

While it would be a lie to say that our lives have been stress-free, we definitely have been having fun getting ready for the holidays! This will be our eighth Christmas in Texas, so we have had many years of celebrating with just us and my immediate family. While we were sad to have to cancel out on some of our friends and miss out on work and marina parties, overall, we have had to make very few adjustments due to social distancing.

We began the week by getting matching pajamas!

We make a cookie house every years, and I found a pre-assembled one that took the stress out of the project!

We made hot cocoa cookies…

Iliana sang in the school choir! They recorded their performance and wore matching Christmas masks. Ili sings alto, like her grandma.

Iliana has been counting down the days with her advent calendar….

And doing puzzles!

And our week ended, of course, with us buying a piano! Getting it up into our upstairs apartment was an adventure!

So that has been our week! We are now in the last week before Christmas break!

How has your holiday prep been going? Let me know in the comments!