Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Pathetic Attempt at Kid Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, one unseasonalby warm (okay, hot and sweaty) afternoon in November, I dressed the kids in planned, coordinating, fall outfits and dragged everyone to the park in hopes of getting a decent picture for a Christmas card.  Last year featured Brandon and me as Santa and a (scantilly clad) Mrs. Claus pulled in a sleigh by four familiar-looking reindeer, with detailed illustrations and heads cut out from pictures.  So this year, creative control is mine.  I just want ONE YEAR with a normal-ish Christmas card.  Just ONE YEAR. 

Someday I'll tell a little story about the Christmas Cards of Mandy's Past.  It's a sordid tale of denim jumpers and 80s perms.

I was given about 30 minutes of picture taking with semi-cooperative children and a semi-cooperative camera, and came away with 114 pictures. 

9 of them were in focus.


3 of those actually featured all 4 of my children.

Brilliant.  But look how in focus those pretty red trees are in the background?
Please, please someone take the camera out of my hands and never give it back to me.

The other six featured these cuties,

and my boys up in a tree:

So if you're holding your breath waiting on the annual Christmas card from our house, you may be waiting A. While.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Frequent Wedding Goers

The weekend before Thanksgiving (deep breath, I'm only 1 MONTH behind on blogging now!) our little family headed up to the Dallas area for a wedding.  Little known fact, we have become Frequent Wedding Goers.  And Brandon has become Frequent Wedding Officiant.  He even had to get a new suit a couple of months ago thanks to all the "running" and "not eating crappy food" he's been doing lately (his suit size has gone from a 50L to a 43L in 10 months). 

Where was I?  Wedding in Dallas.  Remember Tommy?  This Tommy?  His oldest sister got married last month, and Brandon had the privledge of preforming their ceremony.  The kiddos hung out with my parents over the weekend (fort building and pizza making won out over "hey Aidan, want to come to a wedding with us".  Can't imagine why) while Brandon and I caught up with old friends and squeezed in a James Bond movie.  Daniel Craig needs to play James Bond forever.  And he needs to be James Bond in every movie he makes.  The End.

Look!  It's Brandon and Mandy at a wedding!  Every picture we have together lately features Brandon in his suit, and me in one of the two dresses I own.

 And Brandon and I with Rhonda and Tommy, friends we have had for about *cough* 20 years.  Except that surely we are not old enough to have friends for 20 YEARS.  OLD PEOPLE talk about having friends for 20 years.  Not us.
A great time was had by all, and we rushed home just in time to pack, cook, and load up for Thanksgiving at Grammy and GranDoug's house!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Free Zoo Day

November 6, 2012 started out as just an ordinary day.  I had worked a night shift the night before, so I came home and slept till noon or so.  I purposely avoided any and all news/facebook/internet so I wouldn't hear all about election day.  Then the day took a turn for the better. 

Because it was Free Zoo Day.  On the first Tuesday of every month, the zoo (normally $15 a head) has free admission after 2pm.

So Brandon left work a few hours early, and we scooped the kids out of school a little early (YES WE DID) and headed down to enjoy a few hours of free zoo.  And it was perfection.  The weather was perfect, it wasn't too crowded, and it got dark about 3 hours after we got there.  Just the right amount of time for us to enjoy the zoo, without the kids getting super tired and cranky. 

We saw the elephants,

Monkeyed around...

Illegally fed the giraffes
(Houston zoo needs to take a page out of the Chinese Zoo Giraffe Feeding Policy, they FREAKED OUT when they realized all of the people were just feeding the giraffes leaves from the surrounding trees.
And I did not zoom on this picture.  I really was that close.  The giraffe almost ate my camera.

And pet a few goats.

After the zoo, we realized we were downtown at rush hour with tired and hungry zoo goers.  So we did what anyone who hates sitting in traffic did:  headed over to House of Pies.  Fortunately for us, it was also 'House of Happily Splitting Milkshakes Into Lidded Cups for Children Who Have Not Yet Developed an Appreciation for Pie'.  It's probably best that the little diner with 30+ options of pie-by-the-slice, open 24 hours a day, is far, far away from my house.

So, despite the fact that November 6, 2012 is a day whose implications I will hear about from my father for the next four years, it was a great day for my little family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gritty Goddess

Every January, I make the same New Year's Resolution as most of the country:  this is going to be the year that I get healthier and make lifestyle changes so that I don't die of a heart attack when I'm 50 and/or end up an old lady taking 22 different medications a day in a vain attempt to correct all of the damage I did to my body during the first 3/4 of my life.  12 years as an ER nurse has taught me a lot about how I want to grow old. 

This past year, I decided to take a slightly different approach.  The health of your physical body is a gift from God.  Along with the other blessings in our life, our physical well being is a gift of itself.  Ask anyone who spends life from a wheelchair.  This year, I made New Year's Resolutions about stewardship.  I became determined to be a better steward of the physical health I have been blessed with.  Brandon and I started eating a LOT better, and spent the first half of this year changing a lot of our eating habits all at once.  Gone were the sodas, sweets, snacks, fast food, and basically anything we enjoyed eating, replaced instead with LOTS of fresh fruits and vegetables and protein.  Over the last few months, we have settled into more practical eating habits, but we are still eating heathier than we used to. 

Apparently, someone a few years ago decided exercise was healthy.  I want to shoot that person.  So I, who for years said I would only run if a big dog was chasing me, decided to slowly start a running program.  At the end of July I began a Couch-to-5k running program, designed to take non-runners and have them running a 5k by the end of 9 weeks.  Well.  Five months later, I have finally finished that 9-week running program.  And last month, some friends and I ran (okay, fine, we walked most of it) my first 5k!
The Gritty Goddess was so much fun!  It was in Galveston on a Saturday morning, so the girls and I decided we needed a prep-day for what was sure to be a very taxing run, so we got there Friday evening and stayed at a lovely hotel after enjoying Mexican food and mommy beverages the night before.  Which is what all the serious runners do, fill up on heavy junk food the night before the run, right?

The run was un-timed, and very casual.  At some point, it was decided that we would walk most of the run, because with obstacles every quarter mile, it was difficult to get in a good rhythm to run.  Or something like that.  And it's hard to take cute pictures when you're running.  Like this one at Mile 1:
Don't we look cute?  We were so tired and needing refreshment by this point, so we were very happy to see the "recharge station" passing out water and chocolate chip cookies.  In the middle of the race.  Right next to the ocean and these comfy chairs:
If I had to design a run, there would absolutely be a nice man passing out cookies right in the middle of it.

Mile 2:
And taking a little time-out:
Did I mention the obstacles?  Throughout the run, we made time to climb over, under, and through lots of things, (one of our "obstacles" was walking through part of the Lazy River at Schlitterbahn...a bit chilly in November) and even slid down a tube into a vat of mud.  Very gritty indeed.

I don't know how many times I have washed these tennis shoes, but I still have sand between my toes after I run.  Cannot get it out.

The final "obstacle":
And...finished!  In an impressively slow time due to all the walking and picture-taking. 
And while I did all of my "couch-to-5k" training, Brandon has an actual marathon in his sights for 2013.  Ummm, I'll just stick to the 5ks, thanks.  And I can ever be expected to run a whole 5 kilometers without a prep day with the girls at a hotel beforehand ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Up From the Grave

All bloggy evidence to the contrary, we are alive and well at the Outnumbered house this holiday season. 

The month of November found me running (yes, running), traveling, administering breathing treatments, eating Mexican food, a little more traveling, seeing family, working, reading lots of books, Christmas shopping, and spending time with my five favorite people.  But not blogging.  I'm going to (try) to spend this next week throwing a few posts on my long-forgotten corner of the interweb.  Hope your Christmas season thus far is merry and bright.