Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 is Here!

Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels time is actually moving faster! The years seem to finish so quickly anymore.  Being a highly introspective introvert, a new year always gives me a reason to ponder on...   well just about everything.  Especially on my progress and how my family is doing.  I'm a goal setter so I work on those, though I wish I could also say I'm as good at achieving goals as setting them. 

We've had some serious issues with children this past year that honestly are heartbreaking and sometimes make me feel that I am at the limits of what I can bear.  The hardest part of being a mom isn't nighttime feedings, a messy house, potty training, or even driving kids everywhere. It's not being able to fix what's hurting one of your babies, no matter how old they are.  

We have endured unemployment, financial stress, cars that have been in the shop more times than I care to count, illness, and disappointments in 2013. It was the same in 2012, and it'll be the same in 2014 because unfortunately that's all part of life.  

But we've also had blessings and tender mercies.  We became grandparents to a deliciously wonderful baby boy, watched some of our children shine on stage, watched others shine as they struggle and persist through hard days and don't give up, had kindnesses shown to us, received inspirations that guided us, made family memories while camping and swimming and watching movies together, ate together, and laughed together.  And I hope and expect to have more of these experiences also.  

For 2014 I have enough to do and face that I'm sure I'll feel I'm just hanging on by my fingertips.  Again. You can probably relate.  I won't share all my goals, but here are a few. I'm printing them off and posting them in my life book today. And several other places as well because I don't know about you, but if I don't see them daily... um, I forget I have goals.  At all. Which is why unfortunately many of these are carryovers from the past several years. 

1.  I'm going to read the Book of Mormon all the way through in the next 6 months, keeping a notebook where I write down the principles I find in each chapter. And then I'll do it again.

2.  I've lost a few pounds lately and I want to keep going.  I desperately want to take up running, but with my knee, that won't be possible unless I take a lot of weight off first.  Ironically backwards, isn't it?

3.  Finish my BA in anthropology by December 15th of 2014.  

4.  I want to make it a solid practice and habit to talk about my joys significantly more than my disappointments.  That includes Facebook posts and conversations in general.

5.  I will work harder to build up my children and create better relationships with them.

6.  I am determined to play the cello.  Never mind that I don't own one, can't afford lessons, and don't have the time for lessons or practice.  It's been on the top of my bucket list for years and I need to do it.  Positive intention set! Now if someone could just deliver me a cello...

I hope you feel that 2013 was a great year and that 2014 will be even more wonderful.  Blessings to you and your families as you journey your way through this life!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camping, Part 2

Sorry part 2 is trailing so far behind part 1.  That's because my personal photographer and photo editor was exceedingly busy with a 3 week summer intensive ballet program and only recently got the photos finished.  She takes amazing pictures and edits really well, and yet I was still a bit disappointed when I saw them.  

I think it's because although the beauty of the things we saw is evident, you cannot experience the scope of it all in the photos.  You cannot feel the soft, cooling breeze and the spray of the waterfalls.  You cannot hear thunder of glacial water rushing over the boulders.  You cannot know what it feels like to stand somewhere so majestic and so grand that in comparison you feel your life and your problems and your worries are so insignificant.  Hopefully you have been somewhere like this at least once.  If you have, maybe you can feel these pictures.


For our first hike we went up to Sunrise.  The elevation there is about 6700 ft. It's the highest spot you can drive to in Mt. Rainier National Park.  We went on an easy hike, nearly all level, and had the view of the summit almost the entire time.  We were also there for the only couple of hours all day that the summit was not obscured by clouds!

Thank goodness for big brothers when your little feet tire out.

The meadows were bursting with wildflowers.  It was so beautiful I told my kids I wanted to build a house, right there on the top of that little ridge because I was going to live there forever!  I get a little carried away when I'm in such places.

I'm seriously agonizing over which of these photographs to enlarge and hang in my house.  

Do you see that green speck at the bottom of the valley?  It's this amazing lake we saw from the trail at Sunrise, not far from the White River.  And we kept wondering where on earth that was and if there was anyway to get hike to it.  But we couldn't find anything about it. 


The trail head for our next hike was just a few spaces away from our own campsite.  We were headed up to an overlook to see the snout of the Emmons glacier, and the beginning of the White River which flows from it.  This was billed as an easy hike.  Perhaps this was optimistically labeled easy by some professional mountaineer.  While it was "easy" to walk, no climbing gear and roped needed, it was 1.5 miles of straight uphill. When a walking trail needs switchbacks...  easy if you're not old and out of shape.  But SO worth the effort!

The information about the trail neglected to mention the MANY waterfalls right along the path.  At least 6 or 7 that I remember.  And each one got bigger than the last.  

This one went up much higher than we could photograph...without falling off the trail where it continued

under our path, crashing to the valley below.  Awesomeness.  

Zach just had to try going across this.  Which he did successfully.  But Alyssa almost cried before he was done because she was sure he was going to fall to his death.  

After crossing over the White River in a lovely spot, the trail continued.

Or what's left of the trail.  There was a warning that the train was eroding and to be careful.  The "trail" was about an 18" width of soft dirt with a drop off on the left.  It was worse coming down.  So glad we continued because at one point, Zach strayed just off the trail and called for us to come look.  

It was the lake!  The same one we had seen from Sunrise!  We couldn't find any safe path down to it, but WOW!  What a wonderful surprise to discover. No amount of editing does justice to the brilliant blue-green color of the water. They could have left me there and I would have died happy.  

We went a little farther and could see the valley below, the evidence of the 2006 flood, the White River, and to the far left of the photo...the "snow field" you see is really the end of the Emmons Glacier.  

We all had pictures taken here.  The scenery was so stunning, and the scope so huge, that I felt like we were posing in front of some fake backdrop. It was almost surreal.  And, again with this hike, the two hours we were exploring was just about the only time all day that the sun was out and the mountain not totally hidden behind clouds.  The poor people headed up while we were headed down missed this.  How blessed were we?  

So where to next year?  Back to Mt. Rainier and trails we haven't taken yet? Olympic National Park looks amazing as well, and we've never been there.  So much beauty, so little time to see it all!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Camping Part I

After two years of not camping, I was so ready to go! 

This wasn't even all our gear.  I think the neighbors thought we were moving.

I can't explain it exactly, but something in me NEEDS to be in the mountains, surrounded by beauty, at least once a year.  This was only our second camping trip in about 5 years.  It was a little disappointing that we couldn't all go since two of the boys needed to be home for jobs etc, but we went anyways.  Since we haven't been to Mt. Rainier since before Chloe was born, that's where we needed to go.  I ♥ Mt. Rainier. 

The day before we were leaving, Ken found out that he lost his job. As of immediately.  Well, pretty much every employee of that company in the state of WA was "eliminated".  Wow. Hey good news, that vacation time is approved!  Thank goodness we were able to get away and commune with nature a bit and put things into a better perspective, and most of the time simply not think about it at all.  

We had a few other minor things like injuries, our car battery dying the night before we were heading home, and one ridiculously cold day 

(high of 58 and steeped in fog) but...  we survived.  Sort of.  We sat around in our jeans and sweatshirts desperately trying to stay warm while most of the other campers walked around in their mountaineer leggings, wool socks, hats, and extreme weather vests as if it were as comfortable out as a June afternoon.  Overall the good parts outweighed the bad (except for that stupid job thing).  

We stayed at the White River campground for the first time (because we were too late to make reservations elsewhere).  In the past we've stayed at Ohanapecosh (LOVE) and Cougar Rock (meh). We ended up loving White River and the Sunrise area.  SO AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL.  Ohanapecosh gives you hikes with forests and waterfalls.  Paradise gives you mountain views.  White River gives you both.  

One thing we love about Mt. Rainier in general is the Campfire programs held nightly Th-Su where the rangers speak about different topics related to Mt. Rainier.  Family friendly, educational, and fun.  We learned some fascinating things about Black bears for sure!  They have a Junior Ranger program where kids of all ages can earn patches, badges, and a lot of great wilderness information.  They meet for an hour most mornings and Natalie and Chloe LOVED it as my other kids did when they were younger. (Hmmm...maybe I need to imitate this for homeschool).

We also visited the Sunrise area, about 10 miles past and 2000 ft higher than our campground.  Stunning, and not so crowded as Paradise.  We went on two hikes during our trip. Words cannot describe what our eyes saw, so Part Two will have a few words, and lots of photos. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marathon time! NOT.

So I've finally gotten started on a regular exercise plan. Again.  One of my children (who says she never gets enough time alone with me), also needs the exercise.  So we started walking together each morning.  Nothing huge.  We started walking a 2.5 mi loop. I could walk a bit faster if I walked alone.  She's less than thrilled with the idea of working hard as opposed to strolling, so I have to stop every so often for her to catch up.  I end the walk by picking up the pace to a jog (most people walk faster than I "run") as we cut through the cemetery near our house.  I chose the cemetery mostly to protect the eyes of the motorists out there so as not to cause any accidents due to the spectacle I'm causing, heaving my not small behind into a run. And the cemetery is prettier than the busy street anyways. I have this cool Run Keeper app on my phone that tracks our mileage and pace, which is fun to use.  

I've been drinking 8-10 cups of water a day, which is a BIG improvement.  I've cut back on refined carbs, and increased the lean protein.   

I feel okay when I'm on the walks, and I've been really surprised that my feet and legs aren't sore at all.  My knee hasn't bothered me at all, even with the little bit of jogging, which I've increased little by little.  Even my hips, which have tended to bother me a lot for almost any reason, haven't been a problem.  In fact, sometimes they hurt before, but not after. 

But... after getting home, eating, breakfast, and showering, I am pooped.  Fatigued.  Done. Wiped out for the rest of the day.  I feel a total energy zap.  Which is the opposite of what exercise is supposed to do for you, right?  And, to make it worse, I get body aches.  Not sore muscles like I might expect.  Body aches all over from my shoulders to my upper thighs, including stomach aches.  Aches, pains, twinges.  That lasts ALL day until I finally take Advil before bed.  Not the awesome high I was hoping to get.  

And... even worse.  Not a single lb lost.  Not even part of one.  Not 1/4 of an  inch lost.  Nothing.  Nada.  I can honestly say I'd be totally willing to put up with all the fatigue and aches and pains if I were seeing results, no matter how small.  But it's pretty lousy to have no positive results AND to feel worse after exercising.  

I'm trying to stay positive and hope that for some unknown mystery of body chemistry, it's all working towards a great result that's just around the corner.   And maybe if I keep going, the aches and pains will settle down too. Natalie and I have a goal of running in a 5k by next summer..  something super fun like the Run or Dye event.


I decided that maybe, since I'm not so young anymore and I have some health issues that like to complicate things, we'll try things a little differently. First, we'll reserve M, W, and F for our outdoor exercise.  We shortened the distance to about 1.5 mi, but after a short warm up, we jog on and off the entire way (which is bad news for passing motorists).  On alternate days we'll do yoga and upper body weights.  Plus, I decided to try some carbs for breakfast (granola and milk with walnuts), rather than only protein (omelet).  I've felt MUCH better so far today.  Much less fatigue and hardly any aches. I'll keep playing around and fine tuning the specifics so it works...  which hopefully translates to lost lbs.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Addiction

My name is Julie, and I'm addicted to spray paint.  No, no...  not huffing it, just using it on anything possible.  Spray paint offers those of us with limited budgets (both financially and artistically) to produce something pretty cool.  

It started when I found out you can spray paint shoes.  What?!  How awesome is that?  So when I decided I had nothing to wear my brown shoes with anymore, I just spray painted them silver.  Problem solved...  a "new" pair of shoes.  (Note: do not try this on real leather shoes).

If you don't want to become aware of the countless ways you can use spray paint to transform your surroundings, do not go on Pinterest and enter "spray paint" in the search box.  You've been warned.  Spray paint old metal folding chairs pretty colors?  Never would've thought, and yet now it haunts my thoughts because I have 4 ugly ones.  

My recent obsession started with this lovely product.

I actually bought this about 2 years ago to touch up some spots on a horse trailer.  It never got done, and we no longer own it.  What we do own are quite a few items the previous owner of this house left behind.  Many outdated and ugly, but free nevertheless, so here they have stayed.  Then I had an inspiration.  What if I took that can of Hammered Bronze spray paint to the very outdated brass lamp?  What if?  

I'm in love with the way this lamp turned out!  It now looks like a lamp I'd actually pay money for, but don't have to...because my friend spray paint came to the rescue.  Since then I have done 2 more lamps.  And a few heat registers.  And the cold air return vent.  I spend my days wondering what else I can spray with Hammered Bronze.  I have a few light fixtures that aren't bad, except for the gold accents.  Well their golden days are numbered.  I also have very old kitchen cabinets I cannot replace yet, but the hardware?  I see Hammered Bronze in their near future!  

I have also found that spray paint of any color turns canning jars into things of beauty that can be used as vases, candle holders, etc.* 

It also transforms ugly picture frames in just seconds.  I had a collection of family photos in a total mishmash of frame types and colors all together in one spot on the wall.  Now the frames are all a black matte color and look like they belong together.  It was about an hour of work including putting the photos back in and cleaning the glass.  

We also took a large, brown framed wall mirror that had been left in Alyssa's pink and black bedroom and painted the frame black with an overlay of glitter.  Fabulous!  

*Just a quick tip for those who would like to try spray painting.  I'm lazy and impatient and hate taking any extra steps so for the lamps, picture frames, shoes, and most items, I have not used any primer first.  I did find that the glass jars don't work well without a thin coat of primer. And of course if painting a light color over a dark finish, primer would be helpful. When in doubt you could always prime.  You can buy a paint and primer in one but I think you get a better value for your money with separate primer since it isn't always needed. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Overdue update

And then I got busy with school.....................

And lost all time to comment on anything.  At the same time, I wish I had more wonderfulness to report. I have done better in taking my afternoon supplements.  I did better with waking up earlier and going to bed earlier.  I haven't had any diet soda, and though I still have some Crystal light type drinks, I make them with double the water now, so less chemicals. But I still need to drink more. Any actual weight loss has been frustrating and full of road blocks. I got sick multiple times at the beginning of the year.  I'd recover, determine to start exercising...   then get sick all over again. 

I have however gotten much more control over my eating portion wise.  This has been a "two steps forward, one step back" routine, but getting better all the time.  I can honestly say over the last month or so I've eaten less each day than in a long time.  And yet, not a pound has left.  By less I mean that before the next meal or snack, my stomach is truly honestly growling. I've had my off days, yes.  But many more on days.  Even on my "off days"....   church party, birthday, etc..   though I ate more than my new slimmed down portions, I still ate less than I would have at an event like that before.  So, frustration is the key word right now.  I had hoped to lose just 5 lbs before my vacation next week.  But no.  A few years ago, I lost 17 lbs just with cutting back portions, but I also found out I was on too much thyroid and as soon as my dose was adjusted....   weight loss over. 

I honestly feel jealous of all those joggers I see on the street (never thought I would say that).  Because I would LOVE to go out and burn off a bunch of fat like that and feel like I had done something amazging for my body.  But I don't think my body could handle it.  It is my biggest obstacle right now.  I think to myself, "I'm going to do yoga tomorrow", then I wake up with this terrible pain in my wrist that does leave for 10 days.  Why?  I wish I knew.  Did I overuse it?  No.  Did I injure it?  No.  It just shows up with no reason, and leaves as suddenly as it came.  Ack!   And I never know when these will attack me. 

So I've come up with a rotating schedule of types of exercise based on how I feel when I wake up.  If my thumb or wrist hurts, then I can walk.  If my hips hurts, then yoga or upper body weights, and so on.  I might just have no other choice but to try and outsmart my body this way and be flexible (gosh I hate being flexible).  I am determined to be healthier and stronger. 

You never know what you've got til it's gone, right?  When my body was stronger, I was too focused on surviving the day with a bunch of kids, or I exercised, but still ate too much so I never saw results.  Now that I've got it all together mentally...  my body has fallen apart. I will not let my frustrations side line me though.  I'll keep finding a way to work around the obstacles. I don't even wish weight loss were easier.  Just that I could DO what I want to be able to do to accomplish it.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

So far, so good

So far, so good.  Of course that lovely stomach bug helped a little.  Not in losing any weight amazingly.  You'd think 3 days of not eating might have an effect.  Such is my life. did help "reset" things a little.  I admit I got into a really bad habit through the holidays of just grabbing whatever, whenever to eat.  Having no appetite for several days (why couldn't it stay gone?) helped me to get back to smaller portions, eating when my stomach is growling rather than when I feel like it, and detaching from the need for sweet.  

I have done pretty well with my first round of goals.  I am drinking more water.  I am getting up earlier (though it's closer to 6 than 5:30...still working on that). I am remembering my supplements.  And I did yoga twice this past week. It'll be 3 times this coming week since I'm feeling well.  

One of my future goals is to cut out sweet, both real sugar and artificial.  I think being too hooked on the "sweet" flavor just isn't good, even if it's a zero calorie sweet.  I've stopped drinking diet soda (1-2 a week).  I still have some crystal light type drinks, but after I make some I add about 2 parts extra water so it has that watered down "sports-ade" type taste.  And I'm fine with that.  

This next week school ramps up a notch with writing new kinds of papers in a new kind of way.  But I'll keep up with these goals and work on pulling round 2 together!