Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dragging My Heels

Okay, I'm not going to lie, this month has dragged on. And I'm afraid the same will be true of many months ahead. I'm having a tough time waiting out this period of pre-move. Waiting on orders, waiting on a reenlistment, waiting on finding out when we will leave here (which, by the way, may get changed yet again, which means some anxiety about the orders we supposedly have in the bag)...I'm hoping it's not all going to drive me insane.

In truth, I think I've dealt with it far better than the last time I had to go through this. I've stayed calm, not thought a ton about it, and just carried on. The place where it shows up is in the day-to-day tedium where I feel like I'm going through the motions in an interminable wait.

This is a frustrating way to live, however, so I'm trying to find things to keep me going. Oscar and I have been hitting the books hard, and he's making good reading progress. We signed up for a free month of ABCMouse to give it a try, and I signed up for a homeschooler forum that is hopefully going to give me a chance to demo (and review here) a new online reading program for three months.

I've also been taking the boys out to the park a lot more. A couple weekends ago, I convinced Wyatt to get on his bike again after leaving it dormant in the shed for over a year. Oliver ran up and down the street with him, and he finally learned to ride it sans training wheels after about an hour of work. He was insanely proud of himself, and both boys have been doing a lot more riding around outside since then.

The boxes for our LEGO sorting project finally arrived, and that's been an ongoing job. I'm nearly done labeling them all, and they are proving a huge improvement over what we were using. Not perfect, no, and they require more maintenance than the old system, but building is leagues better, so it's a win in my book.

Finally, for myself, I decided to go crazy in the kitchen and bake stuff that I've either never tried or rarely do. Last week, I made Soaked Wheat Bread, which was so good I think I might actually switch to making that all the time instead of the wheat bread recipe I've used for a couple years now (I make all our bread - the stuff we get here really is that bad).

Yesterday, I experimented with an eggless cake recipe, trying to make it vanilla, and it was far too heavy. That hasn't stopped the boys from eating through it, though. Apparently, you can slap frosting on just about anything and they will proclaim it fabulous.

Speaking of frosting, I also decided to make cinnamon rolls, something I haven't made in a long time and have never really gotten the way I'd like them to taste. I was all prepared to try several different recipes in the search of one I could love (I really didn't think my family would mind that!), and ended up finding the perfect one on the first try. They tasted so close to Cinnabon while still warm, and were still really good the next day. I can't say what they would have tasted like after that because they barely lasted that morning. There's also no picture because I was too busy eating them to think about blogging about them. Here's the recipe if you are inclined to give them a try. Fittingly, it is named, "Clone of a Cinnabon".

Next up: Bagels (anyone have a good recipe they'd like to share? This will be my first time ever trying these!)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And It's Official (Sort Of)

Well, the orders are here. The official, hard copy, "they are really yours orders". That is, about as definite as things ever get in the Navy. We're still not absolutely sure he's going to be allowed to leave shore early, so that's a worry, but hopefully all will fall into place.

We got the orders we want, and while I worry we just signed ourselves up for an insanely hectic year, I'm cautiously optimistic that it will all be a grand adventure. Mostly, I just have to survive the next few months here trying not to let the little things (and people) get to me. Had an awesome powwow at the park with a couple friends who completely get what I am talking about, so I feel a little better for some reason.

Although, I did learn from one of them that we are soon going to have to pay for our flights back and forth from here. Supposedly, it will be a "minimal" cost, but when you have to multiply it by four, "minimal" has a way of growing into "painful". How grateful I am this is happening near the very end of our time here and not the beginning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Running and I Have Had a Falling Out

I've long loved to run. I've been very back and forth about it, but the last two years have been good. I've been dedicated, and have kept up running three or four times a week (minus some vacation time and an injury to my heel that slowed me down for a bit). We even picked up a basically free treadmill they were getting rid of here that has made it far easier for me to keep up since I prefer to run during mid-day when I've got kids to keep an eye on. I've lost most of the weight I need to lose (grr at that stubborn belly fat leftover from two pregnancies...), and I'm proud of myself for really sticking with it.

For the last few months, however, I've found myself slogging through every run. I'm watching the miles, slacking off on the speed, anything to get through it. Sometimes I'm only running twice a week because I am that disinterested. Sadly, it seems running just doesn't do it for me.

Maybe it's because I have never done a race. Doing one requires flying to the States, so that's a hassle, plus I have never been confident enough to do one myself. I don't know anyone else here that runs, so there's no partner to keep me going, either. Maybe that's it. Or maybe I've gotten everything out of it that I can right now. I dunno.

The biggest problem with this is I cannot fathom just quitting exercise of any form. I have to find something to take its place, something that I look forward to the way I used to look forward to my run. I am determined that that baby belly is not going to take up permanent residence in my gut. Plus, I'm just happier in general when I exercise regularly.

So, I finally broke down and bought the Zumba Wii 2 game I've been staring at since November. I have had a love for dance pretty much all my life, but have never really done anything with it, much to my sadness. Last summer, while visiting Oliver's family, my sisters-in-law invited me to attend a Zumba class with them. I'd never heard of it before, but figured why not. It was so much fun.

Unfortunately, aside from a brief period when someone with the DVDs "taught" a class here on base, there are no Zumba classes to go to. I always intended to start going when we moved back to the States, but with my running slump, I need something now.

I'm now in my first week of using the game, and I've found it to be a decent substitute. It's not in any way as fun or good as going to a live class, but it's definitely better than watching a DVD (at least for me). As a game, it's actually terrible, because the Wii is not sensitive enough to really know what you are doing. I'm screwing up half the steps, yet getting five stars for my technique just because I happened to shake at the right time (you wear a belt that holds the remote against your hip). I don't care about that, however, since I'm just doing it for the exercise.

I am definitely looking forward to getting the chance to attend a live class again, but hopefully this keeps me moving and shaking enough to not lose ground on my improved body shape.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Changes Are A-comin'....Sometime in the Future!

Just maybe we've got some orders picked out. Oliver is hopeful we will see them in the next couple weeks giving him just enough time to reenlist with a bonus. The biggest complication is whether or not he'll be able to leave here early or not. Time will tell.

The big news for us, though, is that these orders will result in two moves by this time next year. Despite the craziness of that, and my worry that it will be difficult to find a place to live in for the six months or less we will be in the one duty station, I'm excited about this. It gives an opportunity to live somewhere I've always wanted to live, while still being on sea duty (with its extra pay), yet not deploying because they will be in the shipyard for a long overhaul of some sort.

Part of me thinks I'm crazy for saying yes to another shipyard period - by the end of the one we did in Washington, I was so disappointed that the first patrol ended up being only six weeks long! And, no, this had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted Oliver gone. Life really was that bad.

This, though, is not going to be quite the same situation. We'll be in a much better area, with more to do, and a profound improvement in the weather. We'll be making a better decision about whether or not to buy a second car (still don't want to do that, but we might have to so I don't go insane - if there's  a good bus system, though, we'll totally give that route a try), and I'm not going to be pregnant or whacked out by an IUD. Plus, I'll be homeschooling, which will actually enable to me to get out more than if I were just shuttling them around to public school. I'm absurdly excited about that, and have already begun working on putting together a curriculum for them.

So, we're taking a leap of faith here, but I'm hopeful it will work out well. I'm definitely ready to move away from our island home. It's been a very enlightening, interesting couple of years, and I'm really glad we had the option to come, but all the hard things are kind of in my face lately. Sometimes, it's time to move on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back From Legoland and Other Stuff

We've been back from our trip for a few days now. Wyatt is at school and Oliver back at work. Oscar and I are beginning some more serious reading lessons, and I'm happy to see he seems to be absorbing them.  I do, however, have to deal with some complaining about how "boring" it all is before he will sit down. I'm using computer time as a reward (as in, he gets none until he has his lesson), and when we are doing it, he will ask to do more than I had planned on, so clearly he's enjoying them despite the drama.

Up until now, I've been teaching him rather informally, but we were reaching an impasse with that. So, I picked up the book, "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". I looked at a lot of reading programs, but finally went with this one because of the good things I read in homeschooling forums plus the cheapness of it compared to the pricey, packaged curriculums that I also looked at. I figured if we didn't like it, I wasn't out of too much money.

We do like it so far, however. I'm going to be skipping through the first set of lessons much faster than one a day because he doesn't need the drilling in letter sounds that a true beginner would, but it does seem to be teaching him how to parse words and begin to sound them out. He was doing some of that spontaneously yesterday afternoon, which was very encouraging to me.

As for Legoland, well, it was in Wyatt's words, "better than Disney World". And for them, I'd tend to agree. The entire park was designed with the 12 and under set in mind. The roller coasters are some of the slowest I've seen, and there were very few rides that Oscar couldn't go on. I was disappointed that the Hero Factory section wasn't built yet, despite being on the map. Our kids are big Hero Factory fans, so that was a real bummer to find that out when we tried to find it.

However, there was plenty of other stuff to keep us busy the two days we were there. Here are a couple highlights:

 At the font gate. It was cold that morning! We had to stop and pick up some warmer stuff to wear on the way. Oscar was completely upset that we were making him wear a coat for the first time in two years. We ended up paying a little more for Lightning McQueen one just so he'd stop freaking out and wear it. Luckily, the second day was warm enough to shed some layers.

There Duplo stations where at almost all the rides. Oscar wanted to stop and build at every single one.  We let him do so a few times, but they were all the same and there was a lot of other things to see, so we had to keep him moving sometimes.

 This was by far the fan favorite of the trip. There was an area where you could check out four tires, then go to some bins of LEGO and build your own racer. They had two different types of tracks to race them on. One that had let four or five people line up their cars, press a button for a countdown, then watch them race after the barrier dropped. There was also an extreme, near vertical track that allowed you to test the durability of your vehicle. We spent over two hours here the second day.

 This ball place was so much fun. There were two levels, this upper one with guns you could shoot soft balls down on the people below, and down below there was a giant cannon and this thing that would make the balls pour into the air and rain down on everyone. The balls themselves were pretty nasty, and I was glad there was sanitizer at the entrance, but we all had fun playing in here.

Miniland rocked. Tons and tons of LEGO construction, most of it representing real places. This shuttle was part of the NASA section. They had a countdown, then smoke roared out of the bottom of the shuttle. This was a great place to go for a bit after the park's official closure.

Overall, we had a great time. It was kind of out of the way, and not really that close to Orlando. For us, driving from West Palm, we had to go through orange fields (including a factory that made the air smell like oranges) for not much else, which made the drive rather long and boring. Hopefully, the area will get more built up. There are several hotels right next to Legoland, but most of them are pretty skanky looking. It would have been nicer to stay nearby, but I'm glad we got a much nicer place 15min away.