What?!? A blog post?!? It's only been like 4.5 months. It has been a long, cold, brutal winter, but I'm slowly coming out of hibernation. After the overwhelming kitchen project and falling two months behind on blog posts, I just kind of let things slide. So, what in the world has been going on with us? Lots and nothing.
In mid-November I took some strong proactive measures to help combat S.A.D. (winter blues) symptoms. They included daily light therapy during a morning devotions/quiet time, attending some exercise classes, extra vitamins and even a low-dose anti-depressant. It's a good thing I did! My doctor also finally found a magic combination of medicine to completely eradicate my annual winter cough (10 years running), which started in October this year. Hallelujah!
The holiday season was very relaxing and virtually stress-free for me. We enjoyed time with family and friends, as well as fun little holiday traditions. With the beginning of the new year, we settled into a rhythm of life that was slower and more relaxed. I let things go (like a regular cleaning schedule and the blog) and spent more time just "being". I started spending less and less time on the computer other than necessary bookwork. I even started reading real books again! I experienced a spiritual revival of sorts. And life has been good.
Spring has been slow in coming, but I am hopeful. Lately, I have been trying to go to bed earlier and get up earlier to exercise. My favorites have been Leslie Sansone: Belly Blasting Walk and a pair of yoga DVDs Yoga Journal: Yoga for Morning, Noon & Night with Jason Crandell and Yoga Journal: Yoga for Well-Being with Jason Crandell.
After a prolonged period of poor sleep, I've been using a new iPhone app called Sleep Cycle to monitor my sleeping habits. It has been fascinating.
My other new favorite app is called Paprika. It is a very comprehensive and customized virtual recipe box that makes entering recipes from any online source a breeze, as well as making menu plans and grocery lists. I am entering/transferring recipes as I go, as well as adding all of the "to try" recipes from the new cooking magazines I receive. I am absolutely loving our new kitchen. One of my favorite things to do in the afternoons is putter around in the kitchen. I've needed more people to cook/bake for! I joined a monthly freezer meal exchange group and have also been making one meal a week for my daycare family.
I recently did some reading on sugar and processed foods and have been trying to make some changes in my diet and cooking/baking habits. This has resulted in less sugar (including artificial sweeteners), more fresh vegetables, even more fruit and experimenting with new recipes for healthier, homemade alternatives to some processed foods. I also have had a recent love affair with quinoa. Austin partially inspired the healthier eating habits. The kids will take longer to adjust. :op After honestly evaluating things, I'm appalled at how much sugar and processed foods the kids consume.
A huge catalyst on this road to a healthier lifestyle was when I got braces on February 24. I have always taken pride (too much, apparently) in my nice-looking, straight teeth. However, I have been struggling with clenching my teeth at night for years. The stress of the kitchen project put me over the edge, and I decided the mouth guard I had been wearing for three years wasn't working anymore. So, my dentist referred me to an orthodontist.
The initial examination and subsequent impressions and modeling revealed that my bite is misaligned, causing me to chew with my jaw out of joint and showing wear and tear on the bone. It also showed how the misalignment put all the pressure on my back molars, putting them in danger of cracking (the reason I got a night guard in the first place). The way my upper lip is formed has also caused me to develop an improper swallowing technique, which has lead to a narrowing of my arch, thus not leaving enough room for my teeth. Wow! Isn't modern medicine amazing?
The treatment plan is approximately 18 months of conventional braces, including swallowing exercises, a bar to widen my arch, rearranging my teeth and slightly intruding my molars. Doesn't that sound like fun? I'm all about proactive health measures, so the temporary pain and inconvenience is worth it to cure headaches and prevent cracked molars and TMJ issues down the road. There's my new selfie. :)
Getting braces inspired me to quit gum and pop cold turkey. I have also been forced to eliminate candy, caramel, popcorn, nuts, raisins and dried cranberries. The latter items have been the hardest because of my love for granola. As a result, I have expanded my palate quite a bit and have become more creative with food.
Another big thing that has been going on is Austin & I being on an Investigative Leadership Team to explore the possibility of starting an Orchard Hill Church satellite campus in Waverly. The enthusiasm is contagious, and so far, it feels like God has provided and blessed every step of the way. The initial meeting was last October, and we're meeting about once a month now. There is no official timeline, but we're super excited about the possibilities!
Austin & I were also invited to join a new monthly card club in February (although Austin still questions how old you have to be in order to be in a card club). There are 5-7 couples and we play Pitch. The game was brand new to me, but I have finished second and first among all players at our two meetings. I can be an intense card player! I've also played ENDLESS games of Crazy 8's with Lincoln the last few weeks. Not so intense there. ;)
Right now I'm looking forward to planting the garden and flowers. I'm also looking forward to a somewhat slower summer spotted with just a few scheduled activities. Since the Orchard Hill campus in Cedar Falls is not having a VBS this year, I'm helping out with at least one of the VBS programs in Waverly. The biggest goal of the summer is to spend more time at the pool so the kids get more comfortable in the water and more time on bikes. Emily still rides with training wheels and Lincoln is finally tall enough to comfortably reach the pedals with enough leverage.
So, that's a not-so-brief update on my/our life. I'm planning to try and start blogging regularly again from this point. Meanwhile, when I'm inspired and the time allows, I may try to go back and fill in the gap. If you normally read this blog through a reader or RSS feed, you'll get everything, but it might be in a jumbled order. If you normally read this blog on the actual blog site, I'll be posting under the correct date. Therefore, you'll have to scroll through more recent posts or keep track on the right sidebar for previous posts. Either way, thanks for sticking with me. I really do consider this blog to be our family scrapbook, so I don't want to abandon it completely. Help keep me accountable! That means you, Abbie. ;)