Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cruise Prepping

I did just a few things to get ready for our cruise in the weeks leading up to it: packing (lots of packing), getting care for our pets, having the mail stopped, and a dozen other to-do list items. But there were some parts of preparing for the cruise that were a lot more fun...

I ordered personalized magnets on Etsy for our stateroom door. They were cute!

I bought a leather Fossil bag that I'd had my eye on for awhile. It was bigger and roomier than my Kate Spade bag, which made it a good purse for traveling. 

It was and is a good bag, but it slouched and wouldn't stay upright and it didn't have individual compartments, so it was much harder to keep organized, which drove me nuts. I've gone back to my trusty structured, compartmentalized Kate Spade. I'll still use this bag for traveling because it holds a lot and it's a comfortable bag. This summer when I'm back East I'm going to look for a bigger structured Kate Spade bag that doesn't flop over. Floppy purses are my pet peeve!

Don't let the picture deceive you; this purse is great but it has poor posture! 

I got a pedicure so that I'd have pretty feet and toenails for the cruise. The last time I got a pedicure was on our cruise two years ago. So apparently I only get pedicures anymore when I go on a cruise. I guess I just need to go on more cruises, for the sake of my feet! :-)

And speaking of feet, I bought new black flats to replace my old ones from Target that I had bought two years ago for our cruise then. Those ones were okay, but definitely on the cheaper side. They didn't have great shape and they fit my feet kind of funny. These ones are much nicer and they feel great on my feet. I ordered them online from Talbot's. I like flats like these because they can be dressed up or down. I wore them on Semi-Formal Night, I can wear them to church, and I can also wear them with jeans. How versatile!

See? Preparing to go on vacation can be fun after all! 

Sinful Eating Versus Virtuous Eating

Peter went on a business trip to Las Vegas and brought us back these "Sin City Suckers."

The very next picture I happened to take was of a veggie plate that I was snacking from. I like getting these from the grocery store because it's one of the only ways I can get myself to eat fresh vegetables. I'm too efficient/lazy to cut up veggies on my own. When it's already done for me, I'll eat 'em right up!

The contrast between the two pictures was funny to me. They symbolize the struggle I often feel between choosing to eat "sinfully" or "virtuously."

Here's another example from my camera roll. One of my favorite dinners to make is pictured below: tilapia fillets brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a special seafood spice blend that we get on the Cape, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Yum, yum, yum!

And here we are at The Cheesecake Factory enjoying some very indulgent desserts that were sinfully delicious! 

 As with most things in life, there should be balance when it comes to nutrition. In my opinion, eating virtuously often and sinfully sometimes is an ideal balance to strike. It really does give the best of both worlds!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Human Hamster Ball!

At the beginning of March when the boys and I were at Costco, they spotted this giant inflatable human hamster ball, and John really wanted to get it. John rarely asks for things, and it was almost his birthday, so I bought it. Conveniently, that weekend Peter's parents came to visit. Grandpa inflated the ball for the kids and oh what fun they had rolling around the living room in it together (the kids, not the kids and Grandpa. Ha ha!). The ball can be used outside but there was still snow and ice on the ground at that point, and that's not very hamster ball-friendly.

The fun lasted for a few weeks.
Sam liked for me to put the ball with him in it onto the chaise lounge and push him down it so that he'd roll onto the floor. 

Meanwhile, I tried to figure out where to put the darn thing, and came up with no solution. We had finally just taken the Jungle Jumparoo down to the playroom after it had been sitting in the living room since Christmas, and now there was another big thing taking its place. I wanted the living room/library back!

(Un?)fortunately, a solution presented itself when the hamster ball got a hole in it and wouldn't stay fully inflated. The kids used it as a giant rocking chair until it flattened out too much even for that. Now it's sitting in the garage, which is pretty much what is to be expected with toys like these. It's too bad we didn't get to use it outside, although it never would have lasted. If it could get a hole in it inside the house, it probably wouldn't have lasted more than five minutes outside.

Toys. They help keep the economy going, our children entertained, and our landfills full!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

John's First Gymnastics Competition!

One month ago today, on March 28th, John competed in his first-ever gymnastics competition. It was the annual state meet which is held in Des Moines. It was fun! John did quite well and he had a good time. He was nervous before it started but once the competition got going he was fine. This has been his first year doing team-level gymnastics. He started in the fall and he really enjoys it. It plays well to his natural athletic strengths and abilities. 

John's best and favorite event is rings.
Here he was waiting for the green light to get started on his routine. 
(I took videos of him on most of the events so there aren't a lot of pictures.)

I'll include one video in this post; this is John's rings routine from afar.

Getting ready to compete on vault. John is the second one sitting down on the left.
(This photo has a vintage, old-fashioned feel to it that I like.)

His hardest events are pommel horse and mushroom, and floor. 
He did okay on them, but there is definitely room for improvement, which I'm sure will come with time and practice.

This is John and his coach Zach and some of the boys on his team. 
I like to think that I know my son from any other kid, but these boys look a lot alike! Four blondes all about the same height and size with similar haircuts. It could get confusing when they were competing all the way across the room!

The "arena."
High bar was one of John's best events. 
These pictures were taken by a professional photographer who was up nice and close to the athletes.

At the end of these meets, they hand out medals and have a podium and do the national anthem and everything. It's like a mini-Olympics! It's because it's done through USA Gymnastics, which is the official organization that sends gymnasts to the Olympics. (An interesting note; one of the gyms that was competing there was the one from Des Moines that trained gold-medal winners Shawn Johnson and Gabby Douglas. I thought that was cool!)

John did very well at the competition, especially given that it was his first one ever. He tied for second place in the state in rings and vault for his level and age group, and he got fourth place for high bar and parallel bars. We're very proud of him and his hard work! He was proud of himself too, and happy with the results. 

He looks serious and solemn, but he was happy!

We're looking forward to the next meet! 
(Which unfortunately won't be until early next year. By then John should be at a higher level and more advanced and improved. Fun times ahead!)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Happy Joy Boy

Sam is a happy, joyful boy, and he makes his mom very happy. He is such a blessing in my life!
(Although, in the interest of full disclosure, he was not a happy joy boy this morning. He has his moments! But most of the time, he is a happy and content, sweet-natured child.) 

Some pictures around the house of our happy boy last month...

Being a tunnel for his train. 

Sam discovered the fun of a training wheels bike last month. 
Time to move up from the tricycle! Finally!

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Sam enjoyed burying Peter alive while he rested on the couch.
How diverting!


Circling the books he wanted from a book order.
(Book orders are the best!)

His mostly clean bedroom (thanks to me) is a happy place.

Conked out on the couch after a day of fun and happy things.  

 "Take a picture of me Mom, I'm scary."

I'm already mourning the loss of my little boy Sam and my baby Sam as he grows older and older. I absolutely loved the baby, toddler, and young preschooler years. Some of the happiest, most peaceful moments of my entire life consisted of sitting with him on an armchair after his naptimes as he sucked on a pacifier and sleepily stroked my wrist as I cuddled him and snuggled his warm little head up against the curve of my neck. It was pure heaven. As was scooping him up and tossing him in the air and bringing him in for a hug, And kissing his plump, soft little cheeks. Living life without this little joy boy at those ages makes my arms and my heart feel a little empty. Don't get me wrong; I want him to grow up and I love him just as much if not more the bigger he gets, but there is something so special about those baby/toddler/little kid years that can't ever be repeated, not even quite in the same way with another baby. I wish I could have frozen him in time and kept him as a baby, a 1-year-old, 2-year-old, 3-year-old and so on for many years at a time. 

As the sweet book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch says,
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

I'm going to keep on holding on to my joy boy and cuddling with him every day for as long as he'll let me!