Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bucket List Update

It doesn't seem possible, at all, that we're anywhere near feeling spring-like, but I just checked my bucket lists from previous years, and I always post a spring bucket list around March 15th. Wha??? Is it possible that in just three weeks it'll be so springy that I won't be able to resist starting seeds and buying herb plants? (The short answer: no. I am not going to try to have a garden this year. I'm too busy and it never works anyway and I'm just going to work hard at things I love doing, that also bring in money, and buy my vegetables at the grocery store like normal people. Case closed.) Truthfully, I haven't even started thinking about my spring bucket list because it's just so glecky out. But I figured I should look over my winter bucket list and see what's left undone, just in case. ;)

So, here's my progress so far:

1. Go star or moongazing - I've been doing pretty well at taking a few minutes each clear night to enjoy the heavens. It's been both aided and hampered by the fact that it's been so ridiculously cold, which means the skies are super clear, but I freeze solid within minutes. I've also been started stopping to watch the sunset after swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays (when I'm alone).

2. Start a summer vacation fund - I haven't started this at all, not a cent. I'll try to get on it right after I get back from Florida. :)

3. Make treats for my coaches - I did! Twice! I sort of set my oven on fire doing it, but hey.

4. Mail "Snow" to Khy - I haven't yet. And I didn't get his birthday gift in the mail on time, either. :(

5. Swim 3X a week - I've been really good at this. I'm getting better (I think?) and even if not, I live for my time in the water (stress relief!).

6. Host a board game championship - I still want to do this, but I'm thinking it might end up being later this year.

7. Go to bed early and fall asleep listening to music - I've actually done this several times. Love it, as always. Good way to "reset," especially in the middle of the week when I'm low on sleep and super busy.

8. Go ice skating - did it! Cris and I took Ruth and Dari and then to the Silver Diner afterwards for vegan milkshakes for the dairy-allergic people, and it was a great day. :)

9. Complete a 30 day decluttering challenge - also nailed it! I'm STILL decluttering, even after the 30 days, but I took so much stuff to the thrift store and it was awesome. I'm definitely overcoming my fear of letting physical stuff go.

10. Do a Whole30 - I haven't done this, but I have been good about making a lot of small changes over the past couple of weeks, being a lot more paleo-oriented, and eating a lot less carbs. It feels good and I hope to keep the momentum going.

11. Cover dinette cushions - I think I might need to wait for spring to do this, just to get any sort of motivation. :(

12. Wash all slipcovers, throws, and pillows - again, doesn't this seem like a good spring cleaning chore?!

13. Read a new book - I have studied so much in the last couple of weeks, it reminds me of being in school. I did read a new novel, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was! (This isn't a reflection on the novel - I remember I really, really liked it - but just that my poor brain is overstuffed with coaching information and can't retain anything else.)

14. Arm-knit a blanket - I put this on my list before I realized that to arm knit, you need like 3X as much yarn as normal, meaning that for the price of the resulting aghan or throw, I could just buy the cute knit throw I've been wanting from Target. When I realized that, my motivation fizzled. Not sure I'm going to get to this one, to be honest.

15. See "Into The Woods" - saw it! Liked it a surprising lot! (Although, to be fair, it mostly made me want to go see the Broadway version with Bernadette Peters again lol)

16. Plan out Brittany's baby shower - still planning, but I have a venue, a date, a theme, and some ideas to focus on, so we're in good shape.

17. Plan a "date" for Valentine's Day - I had a date all planned out with Maggie, but at the last minute we ditched plans to have dinner with the family, which ended up being a cozy and restful evening in. I'm boring lol. But happy.

18. Watch Gracepoint - I did. I thought at first that it was good, but different, and then as the series progressed, I thought it was ok, but not as good as it could have been, and now I mostly just feel like it's crap. (I'm super, SUPER excited about Broadchurch season 2 starting soon though!)

19. Buy new sheets - I did! Orange! :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In Pictures


 I try to make it to the pool to swim laps at least a couple of times a week, usually after I drop Abby off at school. I love the morning when there's nobody around and I don't have to worry about looking like a drowning flounder trying to figure out new coaching drills. (I'm really, really good at looking dumb. Just sayin'.) I think it's just about the most amazing thing in the world that it can be 16 degrees outside, covered in snow, and yet inside it's almost too warm to comfortably swim laps. Amazing.

Maggie came with me to work on Sunday night to play with the triplets. Lucy latched on to her instantly and thought she was the most amazing person ever. :) Lucy's most favorite thing in the world is to be "upside down" - seriously, if I could figure out some way to suspend her like that I think she'd stay there all day! - and I couldn't resist this shot of she and Maggie playing. Just look at that happy face. :)

The sun is just peeking over the horizon when I get to work these days, and for some reason all of a sudden the mornings are extremely zen. The kids are quiet and calm, everyone wakes gradually, and I'm happier when it doesn't feel like I've arrived at work in the middle of the night. On Monday I managed to get Addie's pigtails put in straight the first time. :)

As I dreaded, on Monday we got snow. This is my road about an hour after the snow started - I crawled along our mile-long unpaved road with prayers and trepidation, and managed to get in before the rest of the 8" got dumped on us. I hate snow. (When we drove out very very carefully the next day, Maggie sweetly said, "We should invite our boss to dinner. Tonight." ;))

Since I couldn't get out the next day until the late afternoon, I spent the day studying breaststroke and butterfly and watching ASCA videos. And about mid-afternoon, I broke down and had a good cry because sometimes it feels like I am never going to understand this no matter how hard I try. Seriously, I don't know what it is about butterfly stroke that makes me feel so small, stupid, and incompetent. The closest analogy I can come up with is that it reminds me of when I was in college and trying to get through the required math classes, and I spent hours and hours every single night working on homework, and no matter how hard I worked, I only ever barely passed the courses. (I'd have had a 4.0 GPA if it weren't for the math requirement, which they dropped the year after I graduated. Of course.)  Studying butterfly makes me feel the exact same way.

I'm feeling much more hopeful today, by the way. I spent some time last night in class with a student, working our way through the progression and trying drills that made no sense on paper (and only limited sense on video) but somehow seemed understandable when I was in the water with her. And today I spent some time in between laps trying drills myself to get a feel for how everything worked together. For the first time, I think I might have a chance of conquering this someday. :)

Monday, February 16, 2015


- It's snowing. Looks like this is going to be the big, unavoidable snowstorm that I was hoping we'd skip this year. Eight to ten inches, no thaw in sight, temperatures won't get above freezing until Saturday (and even then, just a high of 35 degrees). Gah. (I hate snow.) The triplet's grandma came early so I could go home before it got bad, and even then, I slid past a stop sign on the way home and chanted, "You're okay, it's alright," to myself for the last two miles, convinced I was going to die. I'm genuinely afraid of snow, people. It terrifies me.

- I did a crazy five-minute grocery run on the way home, though, for groceries, since I had almost nothing on hand. Apparently my idea of emergency snow groceries are: a loaf of bread, sharp cheddar and havarti cheese (grilled cheese, y'all), salsa, tortilla chips, muffins (junk food!), two packages of mushrooms, a big bag of spinach, and a can of beef broth (cuz I want soup). I already have beans, crushed tomatoes, and ground beef on hand to make crockpot chili, which is the thing I do to comfort myself when it's snowing. (I hate snow.)

- The good news is, I still have running water, even though it's 16 degrees outside! Which is rather odd, because yesterday when it was 28 degrees, I did not. I've actually not had water a lot this year, and finally last week I went over the line trying to figure out where my weak spot was, and I pulled out the thermostat on the heat tape and left it exposed, and it's done a lot better so far. But still - the times that I do have water and the times that I don't baffle me. Middle of the night, 6 degrees outside? Water! Middle of the day, sun shining, 30 degrees outside? No water! Absolutely no rhyme or reason.
Also - I broke the drainage pipe that connects the black/grey water tank to the sewer system. This isn't anywhere near as gross as it seems, as the black water tank was closed and so the pipe was just filled with dishwater, but it's still annoying. It had slid off the rack and I went to pick it up, not realizing it had frozen, and it literally just snapped in two. As soon as everything thaws (hah. Like this will EVER happen!) I'll put in a new one.

- Swim was cancelled tonight. I'm both incredibly sad and incredibly relieved. (Because I hate snow.)  The thought of driving was making me sweat, but I miss my kids and I wanted to coach. :( Someday I'm going to have a life where I can coach all day. :)

- Is it time to go to Florida yet?!?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Even More Things I Love

- The end of the week after diving back into running, swimming, and strength training, when all at once your body starts changing. (But I could barely walk there for a few days...)

- The sound of the wind when you're safe and warm inside. (Praying we don't lose electricity, otherwise the girls and I will have to huddle together for warmth, but that's another story.)

- Sitting at the counter of a diner. (Reminder: don't go out to get ice cream with your dad on Valentine's Day. You will get judgemental looks.)

- Coffee. (Always.)

- When you finally get up the oomph to clean the house, and it's not as hard as you thought it would be. (Didn't get the girls' cage cleaned though. Gotta get that done this week.)

- Seeing a shot from Florida in a movie and thinking, "Oh my gosh, I'll be there in two weeks!!!" (So, so excited. And absolutely terrified about missing swim. Equal parts excitement and terror.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sunset, And Evening Star

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

It's been a really, really long week. Not necessarily a bad week, definitely containing a lot of good, but a week that has had more than its fair share of challenges, and really just a long week that feels like it's stretching on and on and on with no end in sight.

And really, I'm not unhappy. Just tired. (Really, really tired.) And a little bit discouraged. I thought I'd wake up with better answers after sleeping on it last night, but I didn't. I have an issue I have to deal with this weekend, and I'm dreading it.  

(Also, I want coffee.  Because for half an hour this week, I'd just like to be fully awake and perky and not feel like I could crawl up on the floor and snooze.)

It all sort of hit me this afternoon, and I sat in my truck in the parking lot of the pool and contemplated whether I had time to have a good cry and hide the evidence before I had to be at work. (No.) 

I climbed out of the pool after coaching, dried off and dressed, and drove the 1/4 mile around campus to the top of the hill, where I was met with the most beautiful of sunsets, and on a whim I pulled over and got out of the truck, to stand in the cold for twenty minutes and watch the sky try on different shades of orange.

Within minutes, the evening star (Venus?) appeared in the sky, and instantly the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson rose in my heart. "Sunset, and evening star, and one clear call for me..." I've tried to memorize this poem a hundred times, always getting my lines jumbled and mixed, and only ever able to recite it with Yoga-esque concentration. And I'm always caught off guard when my voice catches on the last stanza, even though - to my memory - I've never been able to read it without tearing up.

And so it was tonight; I stood in the brutal, painful cold as my fingers turned numb and my face burned, whispering lines of poetry into the wind, and suddenly I was crying, crying with joy and frustration and thankfulness and discouragement all at once.

The wind dried my tears almost instantly, and by the time I got back in the car, a sprinkling of stars had appeared in the sky, even though the night hadn't yet fully enveloped it.

My phone buzzed, a text from my boss, and I retraced the 1/4 mile to the pool to drop off some paperwork. He looked up in surprise when I walked in.

"I hope you didn't come back just for this," he told me.

"Don't worry," I told him, smiling. "I wasn't far. Just watching the sun set."

Sunday, February 8, 2015


- My schedule is much more regular and, by extension, feels less busy and crazy. I work every morning from Monday to Thursday, work three days a week with the triplets (either Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday or Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday), and I teach every night from Monday to Thursday. And this is new - when Thursday classes end, I'm bummed. I go nuts waiting for Monday night to come so I can coach again. I dragged Ruth to the pool today for fun and ended up troubleshooting her strokes. I can't help myself.

- We bought tickets for our trip to Florida next month! Maggie, Cris and I will soon be zipping off on a whirlwind trip to Crystal River to swim with the manatees. I can't wait; I love traveling with these girls and I'm looking forward to soaking up some sunshine and warmth. I never thought I'd catch myself saying this, but I can't wait for summer to come.

- Speaking of summer coming, here's a huge blessing: it's February and I'm not dealing with seasonal depression. Like, at all. I'm not even tired or fuzzy-brained, and I'm feeling happy - buoyantly happy, even - and I'm managing to stay on top of everything and even - sometimes - to get a little ahead. In fact, except for a brief (and brutal!) period around Thanksgiving, I've not dealt with depression symptoms at all this winter. I'm so thankful. There's no explanation except God's grace.

- I'm obsessed with coffee. My latest caffeine of choice is a grande flat white in a venti cup (since I like to add a packet of Sweet-n-low and stir the foam into the cup, plus I'm as clumsy as it's possible for a human to be, thus the venti cup), which comes out right about 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, it comes out as a real venti, and the barista seems to think she's doing me a favor by giving me a venti for the price of a grande. Folks, if I wanted a venti, I'd buy a venti. What I really want is room. I've explained this 100 times. (And don't say "Just pour some out" - that's precious espresso I'd be wasting!)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

January Craft Roundup

The triplets and I didn't do as many crafts this month as we usually do. Part of this was that everyone was sick for a good chunk of the month, part of it was that I never did get quite as organized as I wanted to (ha!), and part of it was that we do a lot more activities now (reading, games, etc) that take up more of our time.

Here's a roundup of what we DID manage to do this month (along with links to instructions, when possible):

Glue relief painting. I'm shocked that I can't find any instructions on how to do this - it's such an easy, fun craft! We do this once a month and change the "secret design" to fit the theme. You just draw a design in clear-drying school glue on the paper the day before, let it dry, and as the kids paint over it with watercolor, the design emerges. These were snowflakes.

Again, super simple craft. I had the kids go nuts with the watercolors, cut out the mittens for them, and let them glue them to the cardstock. This was especially fun since it snowed the day before and they'd worn mittens for the first time!

One Two Three Counting Charts. Doily snowflakes that I let the kids glue on. This was a super simple 5 minute craft when everyone was sick. :( We used the charts to talk about the colors blue and white, and counting and recognizing 1, 2, 3.

Painting with blue paint on blue construction paper. We did this at the beginning of the month to introduce the color blue. We also used kosher salt as "snow glitter" (the kids love glitter and salt is much more forgiving lol).

Snow paint. I was initially unimpressed with this craft, and said so, but it ended up being pretty cool and an activity we'll definitely do again. I was expecting a more "paint" texture, which threw me, but this ended up having a very snow-like feel and dried looking just like snow, which was cool.

Hot chocolate mugs with cotton ball marshmallows and chocolate paint. Essentially it's this craft with construction paper instead of felt. I know I found the chocolate paint recipe somewhere but now I can't find the link! It's the same recipe as the snow paint (above) with a good 2 TBS of unsweetened cocoa powder mixed in. I let the kids go nuts on plain paper and they had a good time doing sensory play with the paint before we did the "real" craft. :)

Paper plate snowmen! I put dots of glue in the right places and gave the kids verbal cues on what to place where.

We also did some new activities this month.

In keeping with our theme for winter ("Snow") we had our first snowfall of the year right on time! The kids loved playing with it, building a snowman, and taking countless long sled rides. It was great that they got to see the real thing before we did so many snow-related crafts.

I made this "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" felt wall hanging for their birthday. Great educational play about body parts, etc.

We made a sensory bin with "tub snow" and it kept the kids busy for over an hour. Best part was that it all washed down the drain when we were done! :)

We also played with the gel window clings I picked up at WalMart. Great for hand-eye coordination and they love them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Running Away

There was a lot going on last week, between people being sick and regular life busyness (and also, I was stressing over something that'd been in the back of my mind for awhile, that I didn't realize was bugging me until I started having stress dreams over it). It was a week with very little sleep, and on Saturday (which is normally the day I sleep til noon and catch up on all the Zzz's I've missed during the week) we had training for swim. I ran errands, I came home, managed to get the most basic of basic chores done, and then I crashed. What was supposed to be a catnap turned into a three hour snooze, and I woke up feeling happier and very, very bouncy. Which is sort of a shame when it's late evening and you have absolutely no plans for a Saturday night.

Just as I was resigned to spending an evening in, my friend Cris called and asked if I wanted to go to dinner together. I did, so we met up at a local sushi place to talk about traveling, life, kids, etc... and turns out she'd had a nap, too, so we were both wired. And honestly, all I wanted to do was swim. (I know. I make myself roll my eyes, even.) And she wanted to get away for a bit and relax. So at the last minute, we decided to go get a room at a local hotel with a pool and a hot tub, grabbed snacks and drinks, and just like that, we ran away.

I just have to jump in here that when Cris decides to run away, she stops by Target and buys a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush, and when I decide to run away I run home for a bag containing toothbrush, pajamas, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, exfoliator, moisturizer, curling iron, heat spray, and wineglasses. (And the only reason "swimsuit, towel, and flipflops" isn't included in that list is because my swim bag never made it out of the truck after training.) Minimalist I will never be.

We spent over an hour, she in the hot tub and I in the pool, and then retreated to our room after midnight to sit on the bed, stretched out like cats, giggling and talking and eventually turning out the lights.

We slept in the next morning, I went down to the pool again for a long swim, and literally moments before check-out we packed up our stuff, went out for brunch at the Cracker Barrel across the street, and returned to real life. I, for one, feeling like a happy puddle. :) I went home rejuvenated, spent a few productive hours doing things that had felt overwhelming the day before and now seemed totally possible.

So far, this week has been vastly better than last! Triplets are on the mend and back on schedule. Swim is going great (everyone seems to have a lot of new energy and positivity and I'm loving it!). Plus, we added even more kids at the last minute (three new students joining tonight, even!) and I officially broke into our second pack of certificate. Which means that we've put over 200 kids through the program (ee!).

Sunday, February 1, 2015

More Things I Love

- The water. I love the water. I love to swim (and let me just clarify, again, that I swim terribly. I am never going to drown, but my technique is crap.). I love rivers, ponds, the ocean. I love fountains and waterfalls. I think maybe I'm really part water creature. (Judging from my physique, that water creature is probably a whale or a manatee. LOL!)

- Kids. I don't think I love anything more than I love children. I didn't always feel like this, and I'm not sure there was a magical "aha!" moment when I changed, but somewhere over the last few years I realized that kids make my heart happy. Even when they're sick, grumpy, difficult, etc. I love watching them learn and grow and succeed and become people.

- Coffee. Nectar of the gods. Elixir of life. Fuel for accomplishments. I'm convinced that nothing of worth gets accomplished without coffee.

- Going barefoot. Something about being barefoot just grounds me. I don't buy into the whole New Age bit about vibes and letting off bad karma and whatnot... but there must be something to it, cuz even God told Moses to lose the shoes. ;)