Monday, April 25, 2016

Up Her Highway, Path Plowing, Working in the Mines

Days in the Life...

Monday morning I was determined to start the week strong and get up early despite not sleeping great. I did. Coffee helped. I had my Bible time first thing, then did Cize all by myself in the bonus room so I would not wake anyone else up. It was fun! When it ended, though, I was behind schedule (because I'm an UGS) and had to race to take my shower and get ready for the day.

Aron came for breakfast and played ERS with everyone except Dad (who was meeting workers at the little house), and Mom and Chloe (who both prefer to watch). That was the longest game of ERS I have ever played. I went out 3 times and 3 times I slapped back in and each time I slapped back in one of the others kids went out and couldn't get back in. Finally only Aron and I were left and then it took quite a while for me to get second place.

The kids got started on school while Mom and Dad visited.

I started preparing to take the College Composition CLEP test.

The view from my room that morning.

In the afternoon I had errands to run for Dad and needed to buy groceries and make some phone calls. 

Chloe worked all day at a horse photography shoot which she greatly enjoyed all aspects of aside from missing lunch and the intense humidity. Her job was very hands-on with the horses, driving right up her highway(?). Pretty sure I horribly butchered the correct phrase... 

I babysat in the evening and 
came home to this and everyone else in bed. 

Tuesday morning Kate arrived early. We did not have Sofia at all this week. Kate asked for her all day. *sad face* 

When Kate took her morning nap or when she was in bed supposedly sleeping I also took a nap as I didn't sleep well again. All week Mom, Dad, and I have had a hard time sleeping. One possible factor is the full moon right now. 

Why not play blocks on the trampoline? 

The kids enjoyed playing with Kate whenever they had opportunity to. She had a long nap in the middle of the day and then didn't sleep again so I was grateful for their help. 

Chloe worked for several hours in the afternoon and I feel like other stuff happened... Oh! Mom and the littles went to Crazy Town Bubble Land it was crazy which was slightly crowded. 

Kate demonstrating "Happy Baby" which is a real yoga pose.

Getting ready to go outside.

Aron came over in the evening for dinner and to watch "Lion King" with us. 

Wednesday I did not get to watch Calvin as he was sick. 

Chloe and Ava babysat for Nana's Bible study. 

Mom took the kids to gymnastics. 

In the evening I took Christian to his guy's group. 

Thursday Chloe had a stress breakdown expressed appreciation of any form of effective distraction, so the two of us went to see "God's Not Dead 2" early in the afternoon. 

If you thought the first one was good, this one is amazing! I found it hard to watch because I simply don't understand people who disregard logic and are just so so mean! BUT it was still good. It's not a sit-back-and-relax movie, however most people probably would not find it as hard to watch as I did. I'm very glad we went to see it and I would watch it again. 

I had dinner with a friend that night. 

Something to be aware of, if you are a server and you take your customer their order and they tell you that it does not look like what they asked for, you do not tell them they are wrong. Also, if you spill their coffee you should offer to remake it, even if you only spilled a little bit. We let it go and were able to chuckle about it, but we were not impressed. 

Friday morning Mom, Chloe, and Christian all left for the last Debate tournament for this school year and Kate arrived. 

The tournament day was long. They had check in at 7:30 and then were scheduled to participate in 4, hour and half long, debates in one day. That would be why Chloe almost had a panic attack and Christian was ready to get to it. 

After their first morning round they received a BYE, which meant they did not have to debate because there was an odd number of teams and the round was counted as a win. It was a huge blessing, especially to Chloe. 

Nana got to go watch their first afternoon round and came home to give a fabulous report! 

Their last round ended about 7:30 in the evening and they made it home in good time, surprisingly not as worn out as I thought they'd be! 

Mom did some judging. 

Meanwhile at home, Kate had a stuffy nose and was completely off her schedule, though, of course, still as sweet and darling as ever. 

She ended up taking her one sort of nap, late morning, and spent a long time just talking in her bed both in the morning and the afternoon. By 2:30 she had eaten all the food sent with her and after that ate ours. Hungry girl! 

Pretty sure she knows she is cute. 


I think she was probably teething. When babies are getting teeth they tend to drool quite a bit, put their hands in their mouth, and get a stuffy nose. Sometimes they will also get a mild fever. She greatly enjoyed putting her hands in her mouth and then rubbing them all over her face... 

The littles all enjoyed playing with her every chance they got. I love watching them interact with her. 

We got to give her a bath before she left. She pointed at herself in the mirror and said "baby!" 

We ate a late dinner and the kids started "Star Wars." Mom and the others returned and gave the report of their day. Chloe joined the kids and Christian spent 3 hours improving their debate case. 

Saturday nobody had to get up super early. 

At 10:00 Mom, Chloe, Christian, and I all left for day two of the tournament. We met Aron there as he also wanted to watch the debates. 

The first round of the day started at 11:00. I'd not seen Chloe and Christian debate in a long time and was extremely impressed by how much they have improved over the course of the year! After Christian gave his first speech, and then killed it in cross-examination, I could not stop grinning. 

Lunch was after the round and we got to visit with people and then watch other types of debate while waiting for the final Team Policy round. It ended up starting very late and Aron and I had to leave early so we missed most of it. 

Aron and I got to church in time for the pre-service worship and prayer time. Mom and Dad did a switch off so that Mom could take Ava home and Dad could come to church with the others. (Ava had a slight fever. No, she was not teething.) 

Church was really good. I cannot imagine not having that time of corporate worship, encouragement, and fellowship every week. 

Sunday Mom stayed in bed all morning and into the early afternoon with a headache. By the end of the day she was much better, though. 

Dad hurt his ankle chasing chickens the previous afternoon and so took Christian with him to Costco after brunch so he would not have to walk all over the entire store. 

The littles played outside a good part of the morning and afternoon. 

Chloe recharged in her room by reading for a long time and then went to ride horses later in the afternoon. 

Chloe and Christian ended up placing last out of 17 Team Policy teams in the tournament. They were one of two novice teams and most of the rest of the teams were already qualified to go to nationals next month. All that's to say, the competition was tough, but Chloe and Christian got to get lots of good experience and learned a lot from the rounds since they were hitting teams that were so much better. Neither of them were overly upset about their placement. Chloe is glad it's all done and Christian can't wait to do it all again next semester. 

My early afternoon. *heart*

Aron arrived around 2:00, just as Dad and Christian returned from Costco. We all unloaded the truck and I got a 6 pound roast in the oven for dinner as fast as possible. (It still didn't end up being ready until 8:00.) 

The kids played outside with Aron for a while and then came inside to shower and have rest time. 

Aunt Cendei joined all of us to watch "Beauty and the Beast" and eat dinner. 

It was a good end to the very long week. 

The Herd: Quoted 

"So you get to continue in your path plowing ways." -Me
"Trail blazing, maybe?" -Mom
"Yeah, that." -Me

"Showers are not a recreational activity at our house." -Mom to a child who enjoys 30 minutes under the water.

"You are just too old to be able to see that kind of thing, Mom." -Gabe

"Christian said I could be a minor, but I don't want to be, it's just too much work." -Mia
"You are a minor, Mia, being a minor means you are under the age of 18." -Dad
"Oh! That's what that means! I thought that meant I had to go work in a mine." -Mia
"That's what I thought too!" -Gabe

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fending for Myself

Days in the Life...

Monday was very quiet for the most part. As quiet as a house full of 8 people is normally.  In the afternoon I went out to try to register for classes (but there was a 3 hour wait, so I couldn't) and to buy groceries and to deliver some stuff for Dad.

I babysat that evening and it all went very smoothly.

Tuesday morning Kate and Sofia arrived as usual. They were happy to play quietly with me in my room until about 7:00, then Kate was hungry.

The littles all made their way downstairs pretty quickly, ready to get a good start on school and play with the girls. I was happy to have help.

Ava especially has been very good about getting up a little before 7:00 and completing a majority of her schoolwork on her own before breakfast.

They both went down from naps within 30 minutes of each other and I was able to get a lot of stuff done before Sofia woke up hungry. 

No, I wasn't tired...why would you think that?

Sofia went down again right as Kate woke up, also hungry. Then she was excited to play with the kids while I watched. 

Sofia got up eventually to eat and then we all played with the girls in the living room and listened to music. 

They both went down for a nap at 2:00 and Sofia left at 3:30. Three weeks in a row, I got both their naps to overlap... *wink* 

Kate got up some time later and ate guacamole with her hands with her dinner... 

She left and we all got ready for small group. It had been a while since we'd met! And this time it really was a pretty small gathering, but it was still almost just as good (we missed those who couldn't make it!) and lasted just as late. 

Wednesday Calvin was off on his schedule, so he was asleep when I arrived. 

My check engine light had come on on Monday so Dad and Chloe took my car in on their way to taking the kids to gymnastics and I drove our family truck to work. I feel so small when I drive that... 

I was able to get some good work done in preparation for graduation next month while Calvin slept and then enjoyed taking a nap next to him while he played on the floor playing with him on the floor. He went down for another nap right after lunch and I got back to work. 

At home I got to cuddle Sofia and then mix up meatloaf for dinner before going next door for a much needed massage. 

Dad had one the day before and Mom had one after I did. The massage Dad had was the most intense one the masseuse had ever given in her life. When she touched my back she was shocked that I was so tense at my age. Mom is calling me "rock back." Yup, it's apparently that bad... 

The rest of the evening was pretty quiet. 

Thursday Mom and the littles went to Bubble Land after school work in the morning, taking Sofia with them. 

I decided to go through all my "memory" stuff and get it better organized and all that. 

I found this picture I drew of Gabe while in the car when I was probably 10. I've improved so much, but really, this is not a bad drawing! (At least, I think so...) 

I promise, I knew exactly what was in each pile 
and now it looks WAY better than this. 

I used to wear glasses.
My eyes corrected themselves, though, 
so I have not needed them in years. 
I'm so grateful! 

I had to stop mid-organization project to leave with Dad, Chloe, and Christian. First we went to get my car, then we drove to the college to get all of us registered for classes. 

We all were home by 4:30 ish. The littles went next door to help Nana with something and the rest of us updated each other on our day and discussed classes. 

Dinner was every man for himself (I don't remember really eating...) and we all watched "Little Big Shot." 

Friday I had Sofia all day. 

This was what we woke up to:

So stunning!!! 

Sofia had a pretty good day. She didn't sleep quite as much as usual, but she was very pleasant. 

Too adorable! 

Sleepy girl. 

Mom had a hair appointment early afternoon, I believe. 

When Sofia left I needed to blog and journal so I cleaned the inside of my car. 

Mom and Dad went over to check out things at the little house and then went on a date. The rest of us ate dinner, cleaned up, and watched "Nim's Island." 

Saturday morning everyone got up a little earlier than we usually do on the weekend (so at 8:00) and, after breakfast, left to work at the little house. 

Chloe and I stayed behind to have Bible study. It was so nice to have the quiet house! 

After study we packed a lunch to take to the others and worked for a while as well. They had been pulling first paneling, then dry-wall, and finally wallpaper off the walls to get down to the ship-lap underneath. There was trash and dust everywhere. Chloe and I mostly worked on bagging all that stuff up and sweeping. So much progress was made! 

Everyone cleaned up for church and Christian, Ava, and I left a little before the others for the worship and prayer service. Once the Costco run was taken care of, they joined us there, as did Grandpa. 

After church Mom, Dad, and I had another graduation meeting to attend. 

Sunday morning Dad and I worked on brunch and Christian and the littles played poker. 

Dad was not feeling well and spent most of the rest of the day in bed. I got a roast in the oven for dinner and we all enjoyed the restful, stormy day, with some reading and tv thrown in. 

Ava also treated us to cookies. 

I've been Pondering...

When I was very little my grandparents purchased a piano. 
I loved to go to their house and, after asking permission, bang away on it, trying so hard to make pretty sounds. I always finished and asked how everyone liked "my song", but usually after only 5 or 10 minutes, I was bored and left it behind because the sounds I made were not pretty, even to me. 
As I got older I began taking piano lessons. Playing became more fun for a little while, but the songs were simple and boring, I was frustrated that I did not master it over night. It was a chore to practice. I eventually stopped. 

Off and on I took lessons. But it was not until I was 14 (ish, I think) that I finally began to love playing the piano, reading music on my own, teaching myself, memorizing more difficult pieces, writing my own, truly coming to own the gift. 

Now piano is a joy for me. It's therapy for me. Playing helps me to process things, lifts my mood, and is one way I love to worship the Lord. 
Today, as I processed while playing, I realized my spiritual journey has been similar to my musical one. 
I met Jesus at a very young age. I honestly can't remember the time before I knew Him as my savior. 
But I didn't know Him well. 
I was still a spiritual baby and my hunger to know Him more was not strong. 
I did my best, though, because what I did know was that I should want to know Him more. 
So as soon as I could read, I began reading in my Bible every morning. I read through the whole thing many times over as I grew and I memorized many scriptures. I told myself I liked church. I prayed even though it was hard. I knew it was what I was supposed to do, so I did it. 
But it did not give me the same joy I observed in my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. 
I didn't understand. 
I wanted what they had. 
I kept seeking God. 
I can't pinpoint when it changed, just liked a parent can't pinpoint the day their child grew up. 
As I was faithful to seek God, He was faithful to reveal Himself to me. 
Now I love Him with everything that I am. He is my constant source of joy and delight. 
I eagerly read my Bible, I pray thrilled by the fact that He hears me and speaks to me in return, if I could be in church every night I would be. 
I'm so amazed by His love for me, the fact that He delights in me, cares for me, and desires to give me good gifts. 
Keep pursuing Him. It will not always be easy. You will go through dry, silent, tiring times. But He is still with you always. 
Seek after Him and He will be faithful to reveal Himself to you. 
Trust Him and learn to love Him more. 
Allow Him to love you, allow yourself to fall in love with Him. 
There you will find your joy.

That Moment When...

The baby starts waking up just as you are about to get in the shower.

You stack tupperware together and get your braid caught between them.

You connect the dots for the first time ever and finally understand the Dr Seuss phrase, "A person's a person not matter how small."

The Herd: Quoted

"We should buy a ton of pairs of the earrings you are wearing, Lydia, and use them for the tile on our pool." -Gabe

"When are you going to start fending for yourself, Lydia?" -Gabe

Sunday, April 17, 2016

We live with Superman and Shine

Days in the Life...

Monday morning I received both Kate and Sofia early and Ava was downstairs ready to help me at 7:00. She is a huge helper!

We were sort of awake.

Dad had breakfast with someone and Chloe took Ava to art classes. 

While Mom and Dad visited later in the morning I helped the kids with math. (This would have been during the time that Kate and Sofia were both asleep. Yup, I got their naps coordinated again.)

The fact that I told him the wrong numbers 
probably meant I should drink coffee or take a nap. 
(I ended up doing both later in the day, when both babies were asleep again.)

When Ava returned I was grateful for more help. I do enjoy the challenge of caring for both babies by myself some too, though. 

Ava and I both went to babysit for group in the evening. 

 Tuesday was my one day of the week to have a more relaxed schedule. I stayed in my pajamas most of the morning and had a long Bible time sitting next to an open window with coffee.

I got plans nailed down for the rest of the week and did some organizing.

I totally forgot that I was supposed to make dinner, but in the time that it took to play the songs "When Can I See You Again" and "I'm Coming After You"  it was in the crockpot. *pumps fist*

In the afternoon I took Christian to run some errands after he and Dad returned from meetings.

After dinner we watched "Little Big Shot" which is becoming a favorite with the kids. 

Wednesday morning I left at 8:00 to go watch Calvin. He was so sweet that day! (Not that he usually isn't, he was just even more so.) 

Meanwhile, at home, Mom was in bed sick again, Dad had left for the day not feeling well, Ava was having to take care of Sofia by herself, and Chloe was taking Gabe and Mia to gymnastics. 

By the time I got home Sofia had left and the report was that Ava had done a great job with her. Mom was asleep and Dad was still gone. The others were doing their own thing quietly. 

I showered and left with Christian as soon as we were ready. We needed to go to Clothes Mentor for me to find a dress for graduation. We were in and out of the store with a beautiful White House, Black Market dress for $14 in less than 20 minutes. It was a record. 

Then we picked up dinner for me at Chick-fil-a (otherwise I'd have forgotten to eat) and shared a milkshake on the drive to drop him off for guys' group. 

I enjoyed a DECAF coffee and caught up in my journal some until it was time to go pick Christian up again. 

Thursday morning I got up to receive Sofia as Mom was still in bed sick and cared for her until I had to leave with Chloe and Christian at 9:00. At that point Ava took over again. Thankfully, Dad was not feeling too awful after a good night of sleep.

I dropped Chloe and Christian off at the college to take their TSI tests for reading and writing, then went to Starbucks to journal and sip coffee. 

They finished about 11:00 and I went back to get them.They both did great!

From there we went to Aron's apartment to help him pack as he was moving that week. 

First things first, though, we arrived and then went with him to buy medicine for Mom and pizza for our lunch. We ate all but one slice of two large Papa John's pizzas. I guess test taking makes you hungry. (Actually, I already knew that from taking my test the week before and using all my mental energy, etc. As I had not taken a test, I only ate 3 slices. *wink*) 

Chloe and Christian got the entire kitchen packed in almost no time flat. Aron and I worked on sorting stuff to pack, throw away, and get rid of, and got stuff in boxes. 

We finished with enough time to play a fast Texas Hold 'em poker game before leaving to get Chloe and Christian to Debate. I got third! Chloe didn't play.

I met a friend for coffee (except I didn't get coffee) for part of the time while they were at club, then journaled more. (I was still behind, but I'm pretty sure I got completely caught up that night and as I write I can tell you I am current!) 

Friday I had Sofia the whole day and Dad took Mom to Care Now. Turned out she had three different "itises." No wonder she had been in bed all week! 

I think she has out grown that bed... 

Coffee while she slept!

After lunch Chloe took Ava to the library for a couple of hours as a treat for taking care of Sofia so much while Mom was sick. 

I had to leave with Christian at 2:00 to take him to meet Uncle Phil at a disc golf park near Dallas. He spent the weekend with Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil in honor of his birthday which is in November. 

Meanwhile, Dad was home with Gabe, Mia, and Sofia, the latter who had decided she didn't want an afternoon nap. 

Superman set the kids up with music and kept up with work while monitoring them. He is amazing!

Chloe, Ava, and I all eventually made it home. Then Chloe left to go pick up food from Babe's for dinner. While she was gone I did a month's worth of menu planning in less than an hour. That felt good. I am in charge of the planning, shopping, and cooking again this month.

Chloe and the littles watched a Tinker Bell movie, Mom and I watched "Hitch," and Dad worked and dreamed about the pool we'd like to put in. 

Saturday Mom was some improved, thanks to drugs, but still needed to be in bed. 

Chloe and I left to go to Bible study in the morning and Dad and the littles worked at the little house for a while. 

We all got ready and left for church (except for Mom, of course) and the others made a Costco run while I played piano during early worship. 

Sunday I opted to wake up early and make coffee and enjoy the quiet instead of sleep in. It was a good decision. Seriously, the times our house is really truly quiet are rare. And I love quiet. If you get up at 6:30, though, and do not eat until 11:00, you are going to likely be very hungry. 

After brunch Dad and I put a roast in the oven and the others had rest time while Mom, Dad, and I visited for a couple of hours. 

Aunt Lauren and Uncle Phil brought Christian home and stayed to visit for a bit before going next door to eat dinner. Mom felt well enough to get up to see them! 

Aron came for dinner and Mom got to eat with us for the first time all week. We were all very grateful to have her "back." Everyone stepped up in amazing ways while she was sick, and everything got taken care of, but we missed her! 

After dinner we all watched the more recent version of "Yours, Mine, and Ours." 

Compared to the week before, this was a much more quiet week! Sorry if it was kind of boring...

I've been Pondering...

This is why I want to be a ray of sunshine. 

I don't want to shine so people look at me and think I'm something special. I want to shine so that people look at me and see Jesus in me and know that it is He who has made me all that I am. And I want them to know that just as I am special and loved by Jesus, so are they. 

Any light that I generate on my own is not worth the attention it could receive, because without Christ I am nothing. He is my everything. So with all of me I want to point back to Him. 

The light He has placed in me is all that I want shining forth from me. That is the light worth seeing. That is the light that glorifies Him. That is the light I want others to see.

That Moment When...

Christian exclaims that something is in his mouth and in shock pulls out an inch worm.

Chloe begins setting reminders on her phone to text me that I need to eat at every meal and get decaf coffee at night.

The Herd: Quoted 

"What?! Oh, I read that wrong." -Me reading the start of one of Chloe's novels.
"Pay attention! That was so obvious!" -Chloe
"I just wasn't paying attention to what I was reading." -Me
"You are reading my story, why on earth would you read it and not pay attention to what you are reading?" -Chloe
"I was paying attention!" -Me
"You just said you weren't." -Chloe
"I said that?" -Me
"Yes!" -Chloe
"I just said I wasn't paying attention to what I was reading? I don't remember saying that!" -Me
"Drink your coffee." -Chloe

"He was definitely foreign. I think. Probably." -Me
*Christian repeats me*
"I said that?" -Me
"Yup." -Christian
"Just now I said that?" -Me
"Yup." -Christian.

"Please help Mommy to find her voice again and please let it be the same as the one she had before." -Mia praying over Mom who had lost her voice while being sick. Mia has been praying over different ones of us whenever we say we have a headache, or backache, or are sick, etc. She is precious and in so many ways, a real inspiration to me. Prayer should always be our first response!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The never-ending post, seriously, you may never finish it.

Days in the Life...

Monday morning Sofia was passed all around. Everyone in our family adores babies. Everyone.

I cared for her some in the morning so Mom and Aunt Lauren could visit while the kids worked on their school and chores. 

When she returned to Mom, I did another practice math test. It went eh. I didn't do as well as I had hoped. After lunch I looked at it again and started some review. Then decided I was going to need help. 

I was so grateful that Aron was available to come later in the afternoon. Meanwhile I blogged (that was probably the last time I its been a while...sorry), went to the bank, and did a little ironing. 

Math in the afternoon, following over an hour in the morning, when I was tired, equaled going over one question repeatedly for at least 20 minutes and needing chocolate and hugs. Also, 7 times 12 is not 48. And if you correct yourself and say it is 48, that is still not right. (Its really 84.) 

When Aron left I was completely braindead, but the time had been extremely helpful and we did figure out a majority of my issues. 

As you know, I was exhausted, so I was definitely ready for bed by 10:00. Of course, that meant I lay wide awake for an hour. 

Eventually I got hungry (I don't think I forgot to eat that day, but, knowing me, it is possible...) so I got up to eat something, which woke me up even more, and then I was hit by poetry inspiration and spent the next hour writing You are Loved. After that I was able to fall asleep. Ish. Sort of. 

Tuesday morning my alarm went off at 6:00 so that I could receive Kate and Sofia for the day. From the moment Kate arrived she was asking for "baby." And all day she kept telling Sofia "shhhh." Getting just four *ducks* hours of sleep was worth it to spend time with the two of them. 

Kate got hungry about 7:00 and Ava came down to help me. All things considered, Kate and Sofia were very quiet! 

Arms and heart = full. 

We tried to go outside to watch the sunrise, but that only lasted about 12.3 minutes.

My breakfast or Kate's second breakfast? 
(After she coughed on my spoon I left her finish it.)

This was my first time to have Kate and Sofia together, by myself, the whole day. I was sure that I could just coordinate their naps so that I could get things done. Mom and Dad laughed at me! So of course I proved I really could. 

Picture proof: Kate was also asleep and 
I got to sleep for an hour and a half right along with them.

After morning naps, fed, changed, happy,
and me (not pictured), slightly more rested.

Kate ate my lunch in addition to hers. At least I'm trying to eat... Then she helped me put dinner in the crockpot.

I was able to overlap their naps again in the afternoon and got to sleep another 45 minutes. 

After Sofia left and Kate was up, I tried to give her chicken from her food. Kate does not like chicken. So she wouldn't eat it. I was hungry seeing as how I didn't get to eat all of my lunch... and so I pulled chicken out of our fridge and started eating it. Kate came over and wanted it because I was eating it. So I gave her a few bites of mine and then started giving her her own chicken. She ate it all.  

Chloe worked from noon to 3:00 and then came home to play dance music for Kate.

Mom and the littles went to Bubble Land for a good part of the day. When they got back, though, they were all eager to play with Kate. 

When Kate left, even with two naps, I was tired. I did feel accomplished keeping two babies alive and happy, getting dinner in the crockpot, and getting two naps, even if I never did get out of my pajamas, or exercise, or do school, or anything else significant. I actually had realistic goals for my day! Okay, so coordinating their naps wasn't a super realistic goal according to Mom and Dad, and I know that when it's my own kids it will be even more unrealistic, but I still did it, so it was not an UGS day! 

Mom and Dad went over to the little house and the others had a little quiet play time after Kate left. 

Then I was able to exercise, shower, put on different pajamas, and finish dinner. 

After dinner I was kindly encouraged to do some math review and sat down to work for about an hour. I was glad I did (so, thanks for the motivating texts...) because I was able to make even more sense of the concepts Aron and I had worked on the day before. 

I went to bed at 9:00 and had absolutely no trouble sleeping almost 11 hours straight. 

Wednesday morning I was able to complete yet another math practice test and I did better than I had ever done before! I was very grateful since my real CLEP test was scheduled for the next morning. 

I cared for Sofia some while Mom and the littles went to gymnastics, and Chloe and Ava helped Nana with Bible study, and Dad had meetings. 

Before Mom got back I did about 15 cartwheels she was spared a heart attack over my foot since she was not there to see me

While Sofia slept I drank a decaf espresso and tried to get my journal caught up. I was days behind. Which I do not like. To some people who journal, being 5 days behind is totally fine. But when I journal, sometimes I spend as much as 30 minutes or an hour on one day, if it was a full/exciting day. So being 5 days behind meant I had at least 2 to 3 hours of writing to do... 

I made a little progress. Lately so much has been going on and I have had a lot to process. 

Aron arrived about 2:00 to go over my mistakes from the practice test. We got to watch a storm roll in while we worked at the kitchen table. Towards the end of our three hours of math, Mom came and put the cookie jar in front of Aron. She was very grateful to not be the one helping me with math. 

When we finally finished I was exhausted. (There is a reason its called "mental energy", you definitely can use up all your energy, even when you are sitting in one spot.)

Aron challenged me to Chess. I lost twice and then Mia wanted to try. Aron didn't think it would take too long and so agreed. She lasted longer for one game than I did for two games, but still lost. 

I lost more games of ERS after that, but always managed to get second! We won't talk about how for most of the games only Aron and I were playing. Not all of them, but most of them. 

Mom, Dad, and Aron all had a church meeting to go to in the evening and the rest of us stayed home to eat, clean up, and watch "Little Big Shot." 

I journaled more after the others were in bed, but went to bed on time (instead of getting all caught up) so that I would have plenty of rest before my test the next morning. 

Thursday morning I got up after a pretty good night's sleep and got all ready to leave. Before I headed out the door everyone gathered to pray over me. Then I went next door for Nana and Grandfather to also pray with me. 

It was a gorgeous morning. I listened to worship music in the car and did my own praying. Really, I felt very at peace. 

Math is not my strong suit and I really have to work at it (as evidenced by all the study sessions with Aron that lasted for hours). I really wanted to pass this test because it would take care of all my college math credits. I know my peace was not of myself and I could literally feel the prayers of all those who were lifting me up that morning. 

Aron's apartment is a couple miles away from UNT so I parked my car there and he drove me to the college. (Last time I took a test I spent two hours looking for parking, missed my test, and had to reschedule for the next day and have someone drop me off. I did not want to repeat that experience.) 

We were able to purchase a parking pass so I didn't have to walk in alone. (Another thing I was grateful for, walking around the college alone previously made me uncomfortable.) 

I was on time for my test and a tiny bit nervous, but mostly just very focused and ready to do it. 

During the test I was so incredibly focused. I had no distraction, no fear, no nerves, no nothing. About 2/3 of the way through I realized all of that and that's one of the points I could most strongly feel the prayers. Then I went right back into my focused zone. 

I used all the time on the clock, save for 3 minutes. It was close. By the time I was actually hitting submit I was a little nervous. If I'd failed, I would not be able to retake it for 3 months. Finally the results screen loaded. 

I passed with a scaled score of 60! (The range is 20 to 80, a passing score being 50 and above. For my literature CLEP test I passed, but just barely, with a 54.) I did better on a math test than on a reading test! 

I think I sat in the chair with my hands over my mouth in shock, trembling, for at least 3 minutes before I was able to compose myself enough to walk out and get all my forms from the people who run the testing center. 

Then I was able to walk out to the crowded hallway and tell Aron. I was so excited that I had passed, but almost equally excited that I would not have to go out trying not to cry because I'd failed. I was still trembling by the time we got to the car and I got to call Mom and Dad and begin letting everyone who was praying for me know my results. 

If I had failed the test I would have been disappointed and a little discouraged, but I would have been confident that for some reason it was not a part of God's perfect plan for me to pass the test and I could trust Him for the next step. 

Back at Aron's apartment I got my car and headed to Target to purchase a new journal. I was running out of pages and was far enough behind that I would fill the old one before getting caught up. I was indecisive in the journal aisle and still trembling with excitement, so I ended up sort of organizing the whole aisle before deciding on one to buy. 

Then I went to Chick-fil-a to get lunch. (I did eat breakfast before leaving for the test, but I was very hungry when it was over and by the time I'd gotten the journal it was after noon.) 

Chick-fil-a was very crowded, but the line was not too long. As I got in line, I observed a man walk in a side door, wearing a knit hat and sunglasses, neither of which he removed upon his entrance. I thought that was kind of weird, but didn't think about it that much. 

He quickly got in line right next to me and commented to me that he must have picked the wrong time to come eat there because the line was so long. I said something to the effect of, "Don't worry about it, they are fast." and he promptly stuck out his hand and asked for my name. I had no idea what to do, so I swiftly shook his hand and just answered "Lydia." No last name. He said his name and that it was nice to meet me. 

At that point I turned away and moved very close to the woman in line ahead of me. Something did not feel right to me about the exchange and I did not want to talk to him anymore. Not being able to see his face because of the hat and sunglasses made it especially weird. 

After I ordered I did not see him again. 

I chose a seat that allowed me to see most of the restaurant and that was surrounded by other "safe" people (couples and ladies), engaged myself in conversation with one of the older managers, used hand sanitizer, and then kept myself on the alert while I ate. (I was not very hungry anymore...) 

When I left I went to the window to see where my car was and checked the parking lot. Thankfully I was parked right next to the door. If I had not been, I would have asked a worker to walk me out. I had my keys in my hands and walked purposefully to the car. Once I was inside I locked the doors and did not wait around. 

I have no idea if that man had evil intent or was just being friendly. But what I do know is that I was uncomfortable and I was right to listen to the cautioning of the Holy Spirit in me. Being alert and aware was the best thing I could do. 

In the future I would probably not accept the handshake and would let a manager know that I was uncomfortable. Its hard to know what to do, especially when something like that has never happened to you before. If I were with someone else, I would have felt "safer", but I wasn't so I needed to be even more aware. I'm sad that this is the type of world we live in, but I don't want to regret one day that I did not keep myself alert. 

At home everyone wanted to hear about the test and then I went and lay down on my bed for about two hours, I was wiped out. After that I got to snuggle Sofia and visit with Mom and Dad some about work before leaving to take Chloe and Christian to Debate and meet a friend to visit over coffee. 

My friend and I had a wonderful visit and the coffee was very good. About 8:00 I looked down at my almost empty cup and realized with horror that I forgot to order decaf. 

It was such a good latte. Almost worth it. But not quite.

I am very sensitive(?) to caffeine. Normally I only drink it in the morning, if at all. When I have it in the afternoon I have trouble getting to sleep at a normal time. 

I was going to be awake all night. 

Driving Chloe and Christian home I was already feeling energized and wide awake, but I was still mentally tired from my test that morning and was mixing up my words. 

My plan had been to get up at 4:30 the next morning to wash my hair, but since I was going to be up for a while I went ahead and showered. I read until my hair was dry, packed my bag for the next day, and then began catching up my journal. 

This was taken about 12:30. 
Obviously, I was still wide awake.

About 2:00 am I was mostly caught up in my journal, and still very much awake. I remembered that I had forgotten to eat dinner and so crept downstairs to get something. Then got in bed to try to sleep. I think it was probably close to 3:00 when I finally dropped off and my alarm went off at 5:00. 

Friday morning we all got up very early to get into the family truck with Aron and head to Waco for the day. Everyone except Dad and Christian went. I actually didn't feel that tired when I got up and I was the first one down ready to leave at 5:30 when Aron pulled in. 

Mom went to get gas while the others got out of bed and we pulled out of the driveway at 6:00 am. 

Aron used to live in Waco so the idea for the day was to see and do the things he enjoyed there. 

The drive lasted about two hours and was rainy. Everyone was pretty quiet, but nobody slept. 

Our first stop was Cafe Cappuccino for breakfast. Everyone ordered either hot chocolate or coffee (I needed coffee...) and then whatever they wanted for breakfast. Some got pancakes, some waffles, and I tried eggs benedict for the first time. It was good! 

As people finished eating, Mom, Ava, and I all got our hair braided by various other persons at the table. 

It was still raining when we left the restaurant, so Aron drove us all around Waco and showed us where he liked to eat, places he lived, where he went to school, his old church, several parks, and an old railroad bridge over water that he used to climb up and sit on. (I wanted to climb out on it while we were there, but the idea was vetoed. Partly because of rain, partly because the littles couldn't, and partly, I'm guessing, because it wouldn't have been that great of an idea... Still sounded fun to me.) 

After the tour, during which we listened to Toby Mac and Owl City and Aron's tour guide voice, we stopped at a second hand disc golf and board game store. The littles went with Aron to look around and Mom, Chloe, and I sat at a table to rest for the 20 minutes we gave them. 

Then, because we never get to go to Target at home (not), we went to Target. Some people had difficulty avoiding the battery stand without assistance. And what do you know, they had the same journals that our Target has!

By the time we finished there, we were ready to eat burgers, french fries, tater tots, and (for some) Coke, at Captain Billy Whizbang's. I just spelled 'Coke' incorrectly 4 times in a row. Can you tell I never drink it? Or maybe you think that I'm tired. 

None of the littles had ever had Coke before. Only Mia liked it. I have had one Coke and that was in Haiti. (Two year missions trip anniversary post to come next month.) I had a sip of someone's at lunch and did not like it. If I drink soda (which is almost never) I prefer Root Beer, as does most everyone else in our family. 
They could not spell 'Chloe'. 

Mia tasting Coke.

After lunch Mom and I needed caffeine, round two. We went to Common Grounds. If I lived in Waco I would be at that coffee shop often. It was so cute! And the coffee was good.

The inside was too crowded for all of us to be able to sit down so we went to the covered patio to sip for a few minutes. 

It was a little chilly so Mia and Gabe got cozy. 

As it was still raining, we decided to go see "Miracles From Heaven" at the movie theater. (That really was a treat, we don't usually go see movies that have just come out.)

Oh. My. Goodness. Could I have cried any more tears or sobbed any harder? It was extremely good. I definitely recommend it. But be prepared to cry all the tears you had no idea you'd been storing up for decades. I'm pretty sure what little makeup I'd put on that morning was gone and my shirt was most definitely wet. But I promise, it was good! Please, go see it! Just take tissues. We didn't. Only Chloe and Mia did not cry. We decided they have hearts of stone.

As one would expect after such a touching cinematic experience, we were all rather emotionally drained upon our exit of the theater. Hugs helped, but we decided we needed chocolate too.

We picked up cookies and drove to Lover's Leap to eat them while standing on a bench to look out at the view. It was windy, but gorgeous. (None of us had to leap.)

Sweet picture, check.

Silly picture, definitely check. 

The rain had stopped and the sun looked like it might actually make an appearance, and Aron the littles had wiggles to get out, so we went to one of the parks we had driven by earlier. 

Aron and the littles went to play Lava Tag on the play set and then threw discs, while Mom, Chloe, and I checked our phones, talked about the movie, and got the update from Christian and Dad who were at home taking care of meetings, school, and work at the little house. 

After about 30 to 45 minutes, Chloe and I decided to run and catch up with the others, who were just about done throwing discs. We threw with them for a few minutes then headed back to the play ground. The swings were high enough up that Chloe and I got to use them! I love swinging. I still have a tendency to scream while on them, possibly, occasionally, when I'm really high, or not. 

Then we all played a round of Lava Tag, in which I was tagged by Mia (no, I was not going easy on her) and then could not tag anyone else. So we switched to All It which I am much better at.

The sun was out and it warmed up slightly so we ended up staying past 7:00! 

But it was time to hit the road gently

Everyone was appropriately worn out. (I actually was not overly tired considering I'd not slept. I'm sure caffeine helped, but I really was surprised at how much energy I had. I never felt like I was dragging. Also, my foot never hurt while playing the games even though it was the first time since I'd hurt it that I ran around!) 

About 8:00 we drove through Chicken Express (there was no Chick-fil-a) for dinner. Most of us had never eaten there before. 

It was just after 10:00 when we pulled in our driveway and everyone pretty much headed straight to bed. 

Saturday everyone slept in and I didn't hardly move until 10:00. We had a pretty normal Saturday. Mom woke up not feeling great and stayed in bed. Dad and a couple of the others went to work at the little house, and I took an afternoon nap before church. (Not sleeping Thursday night started catching up to me.) 

Everyone except Mom left for church at 4:00. Christian and I played for worship while the others went to Costco. 

After church we visited for a few minutes, but then left with a couple of others to go eat dinner at Rosa's. 

Sunday I slept in a ton again and after brunch took two naps that went into late afternoon. I had a headache and my back was hurting, so it was not hard to decide that I should rest instead of blog. (And that would be why this post is so late...) 

Mom stayed in bed all day and the littles worked on going through their stuff to find things to get rid of. In doing so, they earned ice cream. 

In the evening I felt some better. We had leftovers for dinner, watched "The Willis Clan," and ate ice cream. 

I had not trouble sleeping that night.

That Moment When...

You realize you are going to be up all night because you just drank an entire cup of caffeinated coffee at 8:00 and totally forgot you needed to order decaf.

You are still wide awake at 1:30 am.

The Herd: Quoted 

"How is your foot, Lydia?" -Christian
"Just fine." -Me
"Jump." -Christian
*I jump*
"What are you doing?! Don't do that!!" -Mom

"Are you ready for your Bible, Sofia? Wait...I mean, bottle. I promise I slept 8 hours last night!" -Me

"They will be at Bubble Land for her second birthday." -Mom
*Make a sad moan*
"No! You can't load up Kate and Sofia and go with us." -Mom
"I was going to ask that..." -Me making a face.

"You are still in your pajamas?" -Chloe at 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.
"Of course! I've been keeping two human infants alive all by myself all day." -Me

"Okay, I'm going to stop now. I'm getting hot." -Me
"But you are always hot." -Ava
"My body temperature has risen." -Me

"I was looking at a yellow flower I'd never seen before and there was a bee on it and it was sucking all the chlorine out." -Mia

"Just because I am awake does not mean I am cognate." -Me

"Thingy!" -Me
"Yes, I got it." -Chloe

"The other day I could not remember if I was 18 or 19. I literally sat there for 5 minutes trying to remember how old I was and I was almost freaking out because I really didn't know!" -Me
"You could have just thought about what year you were born and figured it out that way." -Chloe
"I couldn't remember how old I was, do you think I would remember number one, what year I was born, and number two, that I would need to subtract that year from this year, and remember that I'd not had my birthday yet this year?" -Me
"Yeah, never mind." -Chloe

"Can I quote you?" -Me 
"No." -Mom
"I knew the answer." -Me 

"If x equals your love, and you say that you love one person 1.5 times, and another person 1.25 times, and that those times are equal, then x must equal zero. Times meaning times your love." -Chloe administering a third degree burn.