Life Is...

I'm not confused. I'm just well mixed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm Glad It's Over

Well it's the day after the test and I'm beyond sore. Not too surprising since I spent over 5 hours pushing my body physically and mentally to the limit.  This was a seriously hard test.

The test was scheduled for 3 in the afternoon.  Since the loving husband is an instructor for our school, he went up to Brookings earlier in the day to help hold pads and support our students testing.  My very wonderful Brother in Law and Sister in Law drove up from Yankton to watch the kids for us.  Once again, thank you guys from the bottom of my heart.  The kids had a great time playing with their cousins.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  I had spent hours and hours of practice time trying to learn all that I needed to know in order to pass this test.  Let's just say that I was cleaning bathrooms on Saturday morning because it was something that I knew would calm me down and take my mind off of the upcoming event...yeah, I was that stressed out.  Matthew was our dedicated "quiz boy".  he would read our oral testing sheets off to us and we would answer the questions.  We had to know Korean words and names of different body parts along with other pertinent items.  Saying the word "um" was not allowed unless we were referring to the center circle of the Korean flag which is known as "eum yang".  Oh and there was that 5 paragraph article that we were supposed to memorize to repeat word for word. 

The drive up to Broookings went fine and I arrived about 15 minutes before I needed to start.  That gave me enough time to change and get ready for the physical fitness part of the test.  For the physical fitness part, the loving husband and I had to run 2 miles, do 1 minute of push-ups, sit ups, squats, and 2 minutes of wall sit.  This was the reason I was hitting the gym on such a regular basis.  The better you do, the more do-overs you get later on.  The trick is to do the run and leave enough so that you can do the rest of the test without collapsing from exhaustion.  Remember, that's just the first part, there is still a lot of test left.

I started my run and adopted what I thought was a nice pace.  Fast enough to get a decent time, but slow enough I didn't lose my lunch.  I did have to drop to a walk a few times just to catch my breath but I wanted to run as much as I could.  As I got to the last quarter mile or so, I was getting tired and my legs were getting sore.  About that time, one of the Black Belts not testing ran back out on the route and encouraged me along.  Oh,  I wanted to slow down so bad but he kept up the encouragement.  "Just give me 5% more, Just give 10% more, you are almost there, keep going"  There was no way I was going to quit on him.

I managed to make it back to the gym and my time was 19:21 which was actually 20 seconds faster than the mile and a half I ran three years before.  Of course, all I could think of was "don't throw up don't throw up, please don't throw up"  I then got a few minutes to change and get ready for part  2 of this test.  I walked into the changing room and collapsed on the floor and put the cold washcloth I had brought with me on my neck and took my shoes off. I had a protein drink with me so I had a few sips and ate a few energy beans before changing and heading into the rest of the test.

Because I finished last, everyone else was waiting for me before beginning the timed part of the test.  Push-ups were first.  I had a Black Belt in front of me and his job was to make sure my chest touched the kick pad on the ground in front of me.  In order for the push-up to count, the chest must touch the pad and the arms must be in the locked position when finished.  We had the option of doing knuckle or flat hand.  My Black Belt pointed to his knuckles and once again there was no way I was gonna wimp out.  My arms shook with exhaustion each push-up and I had tears streaming down my face but I managed 20 on my knuckles before I had to switch to flat hand.  The last 5 I did were probably the hardest push-ups in the history of me doing push-ups.  The only other female testing that day is 13 years younger than me and I beat her by 1 push-up. Not that I'm competitive or anything.

After that we went right into sit-ups.  This was someone  holds your feet and back must touch the pad keep your arms crossed at all times or it doesn't count.  I think I did 35 of them.  Squats were next.  For the squat to count, the butt must be below knee level and you must stand completely straight before stating a new one.  I had 35 or 36 of them.  I really did not want to get too many squats since I still had a wall sit in front of me so I just kept a steady rhythm.

The final obstacle was the wall sit.  To pass, I had to sit against a wall with my knees bent at a 90 degree angle and hold it for 2 minutes.  I could not move up at any point but I could move down as long as my butt was not on the floor.  Remember, I had already run 2 miles and did a minute of squats so my thighs were rubber.  We sat down and put our arms up and our Master Instructor started giving us instructions.  At that point I was thinking that this was really gonna suck if he hasn't even started timing us but then he announced that we were 15 seconds in.  My feet were really sweaty and it was really hard to keep them from sliding out from under me. I also have to mention that there were a lot of people in the audience so we had clapping and cheering while we were doing the test.  The Black Belts that were not testing were standing near us giving encouragement.  I was in survival mode.  I don't remember when the 1 minute time was called because I was trying to breathe and not vomit.  At about a minute thirty, my vision began to dim and the voices became fainter and I started to get light headed.  My butt had slipped off the wall and only my upper back and shoulders were supporting me.  I heard voices talking to the loving husband and I heard someone telling me to push my shoulders and head into the wall.  I then heard the 10 second countdown and that was the longest 10 seconds of my life.  All I could think about was "I am so not gonna fail with 10 seconds left"  When time was finally called, I slid down to the ground, completely exhausted and totally unable to move.  We were then given a break before the official test began.  I  needed it.

There were a total of 12 people testing, We had kids testing for Jr. Black Belt, Jr. Black Belts testing for their first stripe, Jr. Black Belts testing to adult Black Belt, adult Red Belts testing for Black Belt, and 1st Degrees testing for 2nd degree (that was us).  To make things go fast, our Master Instructor decided to do the Jr. Black Belt test so the kids would not have to stay so long.  I was very happy because that meant I had time to regain my strength. 

After the kids were done, the rest of us got to test.  We went in groups.  The adult Red Belts tested together, the Jr. Black Belts tested together, and the loving husband and I tested together.  That gave us a small break between techniques, and I needed it.  Patterns were first.  I did pretty good, but muffed the seventh one so I had to re-do it later in the test.  There were several of us who had to re-do patterns.

When we went up again, it was for a timed kicking technique.  The only thing going through my mind was "hit the pads"  I know it sounds strange, but it is very easy to go sloppy and not aim the kicks and in a second degree test, hitting the pads on every kick is very important.  There was no re-do so I guess I must have done well.

As the test continued, it became harder and harder to watch every one else.  It wasn't because I did not want to, but I needed to keep my stuff in my head.  I did not want to watch one of the Jr. Black Belts or Red Belts do a technique I did not have to do. I needed to keep my mind focused on what I had coming up next. I'm so glad I had the hubby sitting by me for moral support, and to whisper what we were going to do next so I could mentally prepare for it.

When I was training for this test, both my husband and the other instructor in our school (who is a 2nd degree)  would really get on me for my kicks.  They kept telling me to get my kicks higher or hit the pads harder.  At times it was like a broken record (for those of you old enough to know what a record is) "the kick is too low, get it higher, hit the pads, kick them harder"  All throughout the test, all I could hear as I was doing my kicking techniques was "kick higher, hit the pads, hit the pads harder"  I have to say, my kicks were high and I hit the pads with all that I had.  When I got done with whatever I was doing, I was covered in sweat, barely able to breathe, and had a totally dry mouth.  My yells were loud and aggressive and my intensity was high.  That's saying a lot since I'm not an aggressive person and my demeanor is much more Type B laid back.  There is a much more intense vibe in the gym when a Black Belt test is in process.  We are supposed to take it up a notch and all of us did.  I was not about to be called out for not yelling loud enough or kicking hard enough.  I had to show up the Jr. Black Belts and the Red Belts.  After all, I am a first degree and outrank them.

There were at times mistakes I made.  It is hard to remember everything and when you are expected to do it in a matter of seconds and there are few re-do's it makes for some nasty mental games.  At one point, I was convinced that I was totally failing my techniques and the Black Belts sitting in the audience and participating in the test were wondering why I was even allowed to test. Once again, I had the loving husband next to me giving me support.

About half way through the test, the Jr. Black Belts and Jr's testing for Adult Black Belt were finished with their techniques.  Our Master instructor called the two boys up and then had one start reciting the paragraphs we all had to know.  For the next several minutes, we all watched at these two boys repeated almost word for word what was on the page.  Of course we were all thinking "oh crap, I hope he doesn't make us do this"  Thankfully, the adults impressed him enough that we were not asked any questions.  He does like to quiz the kids just to make sure they are studying.  After the paragraph, the kids did their breaks and those that passed got their belts.

Our instructor was not able to make it to this test so that created a few minor problems.  Because we were testing for a 2nd degree, we had material that was different than everyone else.  There were few there that knew how to hold the pads for our techniques.  I was eternally glad when a skinny teenage Black Belt stepped up to hold the first 10 of one set of techniques.  Technique #9 involves an attacker putting me into a half-nelson head lock and the only way to get out of it is to reach behind my head, grab my attackers head, drop to one knee and flip him over my left shoulder.  I've done it with the loving husband and was not looking forward to having to do it with the Brookings instructor who weighs about as much as the loving husband.

At another point, due to lack of holders, our Master Instructor stepped out and partnered with me.  A bit intimidating, but that stuff happens.  There was one set of techniques we were supposed to put boxing gloves on so we could hit our opponent.  That was difficult since I don't like actually hitting people and I was supposed to hit the 4th degree instructor who was testing me. 

We ended up getting a free pass on the sword techniques.  It turns out we learned them different from the way he wanted them taught.

After techniques were finished, we were then allowed to re-do the missed techniques.  It was a bit difficult finding someone to help me out since many of the Black Belts did not know our techniques.  I was able to re-do and pass everything. I'm very glad he forget that I needed to re-do my nunchuck pattern.  I goofed up the ending the first time.

Breaking was the last thing we had to do.  I am not a good breaker, so this was probably the most difficult  part of the test for me.  My first break was a double round house with my left leg.  I stepped up and with two kicks, broke the boards.  As I was mentally congratulating myself, I heard the Master Instructor say "you didn't yell"  Drat!  If I don't yell when I break, it does not count.  My next 2 attempts were not successful. 

Of course my next break was the dreaded self-hold knife.  I hate that break.  My first two attempts were not successful.  I could not remember how I was supposed to do this break.  On my 3rd try, I changed a few things and gave it a whack.  The board broke in half and the top part flew up and I reached out and caught it in my right hand.  Hubby clapped.  The comment from the Master Instructor was "Impressive, but it won't get you any extra tries"  At this point my test was done...I could miss every other break but I got the one I wanted to get.

My attempts and the twin kick land and hammer fist through the 3rd board were not successful.  I have to be able to jump in the air and kick both feet out at the two boards and break them then bring my fist down through the board right in front of me.  Gotta practice that one.

The 540 backspin break was successful. It's called that because the jump and spin is 540 degrees  The heel of the foot is what comes through and breaks the board.  I've never done that break before.  My 360 hammer fist was also a successful break.  I had to spin around and at the last minute throw my fist out sideways and break the board with the meat of my hand.  I've never done that break before either.

My in the air turning side kick through 3 boards was another tough one.  I'm supposed to jump and turn myself in the air and kick my foot out to break the boards.  Kids get 1 board,  Adult Red Belts get 2 boards, Black Belts get 3.

Then they took out the cement.  Hubby got 3 bricks.  They are cement pavers.  He stepped up and smashed them.  I'm not kidding, there were pieces flying and dust everywhere.  I got 2 bricks.  Once again, I could not remember how to do this break correctly.  I tried, but only ended up smacking my hand really hard.

My last break was a combo break.  Turning side kick, step forward and left leg backspin.  This might have been a fun one to do if I would have been able to actually hit the board for the first kick.  At this point, we had been there for over 5 hours and I was pretty well spent so what should have been 2 very easy kicks was very difficult.

After everyone was done breaking, we got to re-do our missed breaks.  I got my double roundhouse break, missed the twin kick break, and smacked my hand on the cement really hard again.  On my in the air side kick break I flew through the air and hit the boards with a resounding smack and felt all of them break....and remembered that I forgot to yell as I hit the ground.  Yep, did it again.  Sadly, my second attempt was a great hit but no broken boards.  Of all the mistakes I made that day, this is the one that I'm mad at myself for.  I also was unable to get the combo break.  I got the first board but missed the second one.

The final thing hubby and I had to do was blow out the candles.  In our sword techniques, the last one requires you to swing the sword across 2 lit candles.  As many of you know from my most recent Facebook posts, I have had trouble with this one.  Hubby blew his out on the first try.  I swung too high the first two times and on the third attempt I went too low and broke the candles.  Oops.

So at the end of the day, both hubby and I were exhausted and he is one break away from his stripe.  We are allowed to re-break in 3 months at the next color belt test.  Of the 5 adults who tested, 1 passed so this is not a very easy test.

We drove home that night, exhausted, but happy.  If someone had told me 10 years ago that I'd be testing for a second degree Black Belt  in Tae Kwan Do I would have told them they were crazy.  Three years ago I wasn't even sure I wanted the second stripe.  I can now say that I am glad I trained and went through it.  However, I'm Glad It's Over!!!!!!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The FInal Countdown

Well the day has finally arrived.  That moment I've been working my tail end off for.  The Test.  My body is in a constant state of sore and my mind is a Slurpee of jumbled up information just waiting to be poured out.  Ok, maybe I need more sleep too.

Even though I've known about this for close to a year, it's really been the last 6 months that I've really started to get motivated and the last 6 weeks have been kick it in high gear and go go go time.  What was a light workout maybe a few days a week has turned into a intense sweat session on a daily basis.  There have been laps around the track, outdoor runs, elliptical, recumbent bikes, treadmills, free weights, weight machines, wacky exercises, you name it, I've done it.

One of the nice things about doing Tae Kwan Do with the loving husband is that I have a training partner to help me out.  Seriously, I don't think I could have done this all by myself.  There have been times when my motivation level has been located somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere and he's been the one to knock it back where it belonged.  Actually, he told me months ago that if I wanted my 2nd degree then I had to want it for myself, he couldn't want it for me.  That is very true.  I do admit, there have been many times when what I really wanted was to tell him and everyone else to take the belt and shove it.....but I was grown up enough to realize I was being childish and petty.  I had a heart to heart with myself and did decide that yes, I did want to do this. 

So for the past six weeks or so, we have been scheduling kicking time together and attempting to learn our material.  Unlike the first test, there was a lot more out of classroom practice time required.  And I also had to step it up a bit and practice on my own....not something I like doing.  But once we set up the very nice practice studio in the garage, I was able to make the commitment to practice my stuff on my own like a big girl.

There has been a lot of sweat and a few arguments involved, but we always found a way to have some fun and get a few laughs in too.  During the weekend practice sessions, we were able to bond with the Red Belts who were practicing for their Black Belt test and a spirit of camaraderie was born.  I will fondly remember the garage sessions with the husband who with almost saintlike patience helped me with those techniques that eluded me (swords anyone?) and the Skype sessions with our instructor. I ended up with a lot more bruises this time around but I guess they go with the territory.

I have no idea what the Test will bring.  I only hope that I have trained hard enough to earn this belt.  My chances of actually passing everything on the first attempt are slim, but I'm gonna give it everything I've got.  One thing I do know for certain is, I'm gonna be very very very sore the next day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Getting Ready

For those who have been following me on Facebook, you all know I have my 2nd degree Black Belt test this Saturday.  It has been three years in the making...and several weeks in the panicking.  Not that I have anything to panic about.  Yeah right, this is me.  I can make a mountain out of a molehill if I decide to put it on my obsess and freak out about it list.

Anyway, I have known that the test would come.  We were eligible to test last December but decided that since the loving husband had to devote so much time to his Hapkido test in August and with his fall work schedule full of out of town trips, a December test would really be difficult to get ready for.

Why?  Well that would be because while it is fairly easy to get instruction/kicking time as a color belt coming up the ranks, the advanced techniques required for the next Dan (rank) are only taught to those with a Black Belt, usually in a separate class.  Since the loving hubby and I live in the Sioux Falls area and our school is based in Brookings, that meant special trips when said classes were held.  We have childcare at the gym in Sioux Falls, there is no child care in Brookings.  There were quite a few times when one of us would make the trip for class and the other would be home with the kids.  The other factor was that our instructor lives in another state so she would only hold the classes one or two times a month depending on her schedule and the weather.

Fast forward to about six weeks ago and the loving husband and I were in one of those wonderful Black Belt classes when the head instructor of the Brookings gym (not our instructor) announced that the date for testing would be May 12.  Yep, panic time.  Thankfully, we had started to practice our stuff so it wasn't like we were totally up a creek. 

As far a practice goes, well that has been a more interesting route.  When the hubby and I were color belts, we got a lot of kick time during class and only needed a few outside practice hours to get our stuff down.  As our Black Belt test neared, we spent as much class time as we could kicking and asking questions from our instructor.  There were still quite a few outside hours we spent though.  Fast forward 3 years.  The loving husband is now one of the class instructors and I am a loyal and faithful helper.  He spends his class time teaching techniques and holding pads.  I don't have to teach, I just get to hold pads.  We now spend very little class time kicking and a truckload of outside hours practicing. 

Since I knew there was going to be a May test, my goal this winter was to start getting into shape.  I had grand plans and great intentions.  I confess to spending January and most of February happily munching on chocolate and forgoing anything that would constitute exercise.  Well, I did do a little here and there but there was no intensity to my actions.  I was fat and out of shape and knew it.  By the end of February, I decided that I needed to pick things up a bit or I would not be ready in May.  I did decide to try Zumba and that was a lot of fun.

One of the reasons for my work out reluctance was the fact that I am not a huge fan of running and while I was trying to get my run on, it was very very uncomfortable.  I switched over to elliptical with the plan of training my body to exert itself without the abuse of running.  That did seem to work but by mid March, I was really really struggling.  The harder I pushed myself, the more sore I became. Both muscles and joints were in a constant state of sore and it got to the point that even a few minutes on the elliptical felt like I had done a 20 minute workout.  I also had incredible fatigue.  The soreness and fatigue started to affect my attitude and I was really struggling to focus on learning the stuff I needed to learn.

Fortunately, I had made an appointment to get my hormones re-checked.  I had a problem a few years ago with wacky hormones and figured that it might be a good idea to have them checked again.  The initial blood tests showed I was very low in Vitamin D.  I started taking supplements and added a multivitamin and that really helped me.  I also changed up my workout routine and focused more on strength training and less on the cardio. I purposely gave up Coke for Lent and cut the chocolate out almost completely.  Those seemed to help quite a bit.

Last week, I finally got the rest of my test results.  I do have a hormone imbalance and it was a main cause of my workout woes.  Thankfully, I now have the medication to correct the problem.  I'm hoping that in a few months my body will be back to "normal".  I will also try harder to keep a work out routine.  Maybe not as intense as I have now but I admit to feeling better when I leave the gym than when I entered.  I still hate running and sweating though.

Oh and for those who are wondering where I am finding all this time to work out.  I have three free hours Monday through Thursday when the kids are in school so I have been using that time to work out. I squeeze it in between grocery shopping and other errands. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Hi Everyone

First I would like to start off by apologising to those who will not be receiving the "bad letter" this year. I was planning on putting out 2 letters like usual but unfortunately suffered from both computer and printer problems so this is Plan C.

Anyway, it has been a wonderful year for us. Of course any year that ends will all 5 family members happy and healthy is a good year. I know this will sound bad, but I was really liking our brown Christmas this year with the 50 degree high after the past few years of either feet of snow or temps that made the North Pole seem like a Florida vacation.

Speaking of vacation, we did find time to take a few of them this year too. In July, we went up to the Mall of America and Como Zoo. In September, we met my parents up in Bismark, ND and James and I attended the wedding of one of our Tae Kwan Do friends while the grandparents took the kids to the zoo. We headed back to Minnesota for an early Thanksgiving with my Mom's side of the family. Later this week we will be once again hitting the road as we travel to Chamberlain to meet my parents for a Christmas get together and then Yankton to to the Schwarz family Christmas.

Matthew started 3rd grade this fall and really loves it. He's got a great teacher and is doing excellent in math and reading. His study skills have also improved too. When he's not in school he's out riding his bike or playing video games like any typical boy his age will do. He is still taking Tae Kwan Do and has earned his purple belt.

Carolyn is now a big first grader. It took a few days for her to get used to having to get up early and catch a bus but now that she has things all figured out she is one happy camper. She ended up with the same teacher Matthew had for first grade so it does make it a little easier for me to help with the homework. She is my little reader and when she is not reading some sort of book, she is playing with her stuffed animals or a computer game.

Andrew is in his last year of Early Childhood. He turned 5 in November so he will be going to Kindergarten next year. He is also a reader and loves to watch alphabet videos on the computer or play with his cars. No matter what the weather, he is outside shooting baskets or riding his bike.

James is still with Poet. He really loves his job and all of the challenges it brings. When he does have spare time he's usually out doing something with the kids. He also found time to run several 5 k races in the area. He is still teaching Tae Kwan Do classes and also Hapkido classes on occasion. He tested for his Black Belt in Hapkido this past summer and will be testing for his 2nd degree in Tae Kwan Do this spring.

I'm still at home managing the Schwarz household. It does get easier now that the kids are older. This is my last year in MOPS so I am having fun while it lasts. I have been taking Hapkido classes and have earned my green belt. This spring I will test for my 2nd degree Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do.

Well I think that is about all there is to write about. I hope every one of you has a happy and successful 2012 and hopefully I'll be sending out real letters too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

North Dakota Fun

Hi everyone. It's been a while since I last posted but I just thought I'd fill you in on the incredibly fun weekend we just had.

A few months back we received a save the date card for a wedding in Bismark, North Dakota. Our Tae Kwan Do instructor and hubby's former co-worker was getting married Saturday, September 24. Miss Jen (our instructor) had told me that she was looking into hotels with water parks/pools and that kids were welcome so I knew this could be a possible vacation for us.

When the invite came with all the information, I decided to give a call the my wonderful parents and ask them a huge favor. Would they like to take a trip to Bismark and spend time with their grandchildren while hubby and I attended a wedding? Mom was able to get the weekend off so I made hotel reservations.

So this past Friday, I packed up the van, loaded up the kids and we headed north. The kids were totally excited about staying in a hotel and seeing Grandpa and Grandma. I was excited both to see the parents and to be able to attend a wedding without the 3 kid distraction.

The first highlight/ funny moment of the trip was when we were just north of Brookings, SD going about 80 on the interstate. I noticed a van on the other side of the road parked funny and it looked like there were people walking about. My first thought was they had car trouble or blew a flat and I was hoping someone called for roadside assistance. As we got closer, I saw a Highway Patrol car parked behind it with lights flashing. I though oh good, they have help. As we were passing the area, I saw another patrol car with light flashing, stuff scattered all over the spot and a large dog, possibly German Shepard, wagging his tail like crazy. Ummm, I don't think the van had car trouble. Both hubby and I laughed as we thought about this being one of the few times a person would not want to see a happy puppy wagging his tail. The "what's in your suitcase?" jokes followed.

After stopping and eating, the loving husband learned of my intentions of just driving though to Bismark and he wasn't too thrilled. I admit, it did sound like a good the 7-8 hours that night. The kids would sleep in the car, and we would have the whole day to spend with the parents and more time to get ready for the afternoon wedding. By the time we hit Fargo, it was after 8 and we were tired, and the kids were not gonna just fall asleep. And we still had 3 hours to drive. Ok, not the best of ideas but I did however see one of the most beautiful sunsets as we were driving to Fargo. I'm also glad that we had a DSi, portable DVD player, and a IXL (DSi like) to keep the kids occupied so I only had to listen to "Are we there yet?" 50 times instead of 200 times.

We finally got to our hotel sometime after 11 and as I was checking in, I was told our room was double booked so they were gonna give us a poolside room for the night and discount coupons for the restaurant. The room was just down the hall from the entrance and on the 1st floor so all we had to do was open the sliding glass door and presto...water park time. I decided to keep the room for the second night since there was no real reason to switch. We were not gonna get any more of a discount and we weren't going to spend a lot of time in the room during the day when it would be the loudest so why pack up and move to a room farther away.

Saturday morning the kids were up early and ready to start the day. I took the kids over to the fancy (their words, not mine) restaurant and we ate breakfast. They got to use all those manners we have been practicing at home. Afterwards we went back and changed into swimsuits and hit the water park area. This hotel had 1 really big slide and 2 smaller ones and a little baby shallow play area. The kids had a blast going down the slides. The only bad thing was the 2 shorter slides were located in the deep end of the pool so hubby had to be the one to supervise since he could touch and the kids are not the best swimmers.

After swimming, we all headed out to get something to eat. My parents were planning on taking the kids to the Bismark Zoo so we drove over there. The zoo is located in a very nice park near the river. We had about an hour or so before we needed to get ready for the wedding so the kids played on the park equipment first and then went with Mom and Dad after we left to go back to the hotel. Later we found out how much fun they all had. One interesting moment occurred when Andrew threw a fit in front of the Mountain Lion cage. I guess the kid was kicking up so much racket that it caught the attention of the big male lion. According to Mom and Dad, the lion went into the crouch/hunting pose and stared intently at Andrew for the duration of his tantrum. Even passers by were commenting on the lion and what he was doing.

The wedding itself was great. It was more contemporary than what I've seen but the service was heartfelt and the bride looked absolutely gorgeous. We were sitting in a back row with other Tae Kwan Do members who came up to celebrate this day.

After the ceremony, we went back to the hotel to relieve Mom and Dad since we had a few hours before the reception was supposed to start. Of course that meant getting the suits on and swimming. We got a pizza for the kids and Grandparents and Andrew fell asleep in the car so we just put him to bed and Mom and Dad got to play with the other two kids for most of the evening. We had decided we would get something quick to eat and then head over to the reception.

Earlier in the day we had passed by a place called Space Alien Pit BBQ. Of course the husband was curious so I asked the hotel staff about the food and was told it was very good. Hubs decided we should go up and check the place out and see if it was any good. We parked out in front of the building and as we were going to go in we saw a sign that said it was closed for a private party but would open on the 27th. There were people on the patio but we were still confused and the door was unlocked so we thought we would go in and check any way. A very nice man met us at the door and asked if we were part of the party. We said no, we were just passing through. He then told us that they had less people show up than planned and if we wanted to we could come in and he'd feed us for free. Gee, twist our arms. As it turned out, the guy was the owner of the restaraunt franchise and this place was set to open up on Tuesday. This was him getting his staff used to cooking the food and making sure everything ran well. He spent about 20 minutes or so chatting to us about his restaurants. He owns the Space Alien Bar and Grills and this was his first venture into smaller more specialized BBQ places. As far as the food went.....OH YUMMY!!!! If you ever get to Bismark, ND you gotta eat at this place. We waddled out of there and headed over to the reception.

Of course since we got there late, we missed the free drinks and all the other "wedding" stuff. We got to spend time talking and laughing with friends and enjoying the beautiful fall evening. We were there when they did the garter auction. There was a twist though. It was done as a scavenger hunt/musical chairs thing. The participants had to run to the crowd for items and then run back. Each time a chair was taken away. One of the items was a man wearing lipstick. The lady sitting next to hubby (fiancee of one of the TKD folks we knew) tossed him her lipstick and said "here, put it on" The reason was her finance was one of the participants in the game. Hubby with lipstick and sitting on a guy's I did not get a photo but it was funny.

We left soon after and went back to the hotel room. I stayed behind with Matthew and Carolyn and hubby took Andrew and went back to the reception. I got to spend some time with my parents chatting about the day's events and other things too. We figured since Andrew slept all night he'd be wide awake and I would have a hard time getting the other 2 asleep. According to the loving husband, Andrew was a total hit. He danced and played cute for all those around him. The noise level from the pool area died down just after 11 so the kids were able to fall quickly asleep soon after.

The next day we packed up (after swimming of course) and said our good byes. Matthew had the moment of the day as we were driving out of town. The route we took passed by a large prision. Hubby asked Matthew if he knew what that large building over there was. "The Capital of North Dakota!" was Matthew's enthusiastic answer. No, Matthew, that's not the right building.

The trip back was pretty uneventful. We made good time and when we got back home the kids were able to ride thier bikes and play outside for a while. It was a fun fun weekend.

Monday, July 18, 2011


So I have yet another "cartastrophie" to add to my already long list of cartastrophies. I'm not sure why I have such bad luck with motor vehicles. Maybe I just have bad car-ma.

Here is a brief and shortened version of my motor vehicle mishaps so far...

Missouri: I had just moved down there and managed to blow up the clutch of the loving boyfriend's (now husband) truck as I was job hunting 30+ miles from home. I had to ride back in a smelly tow truck with a greasy driver and his half-eaten lunch.

Michigan: First time was the flat tire I got on the way to pick the loving fiance up from his new job. I had to catch a ride with a very nice trucker to the salt plant he worked at so we could go back and change it. The second time was when the loving husband was out of town and took the "good" car. The one I was driving decided that it needed a new alternator and stopped on the side of the road as I was on my way home from work. I got a ride home from a good Samaritan and called a co-worker of the husband to tow my car. Unfortunately, the county decided it was a road hazard and towed it for me--without bothering to inform me--and I had to pay $200 in towing, impound, and car rental fees.

South Dakota: This happened when we went back to visit family while we were living in Michigan. I was driving to Rapid City from Yankton when the transmission went out. I got to spend a lovely few hours at Do Wah Ditty's Restaurant in Kimball, SD while waiting for my parents to drive out and pick me up. The husband ended up buying a car in Yankton and driving out to Rapid City to get me and we managed to get the other car back to his parents farm where we left it.

So as you can see, the list is impressive and does not include the minor stuff like speeding tickets, crashing into a traffic light signal box due to icy conditions, backing into things or misjudging the space between the van and garage door. Yes, I am a car klutz.

The latest "incident" was pretty innocent really. Last Friday night we decided to go to Jazzfest. Jazzfest is a 3 day concert event featuring some really great Jazz and Blues artists. The loving husband had to go to Brookings for Hapkido class so we decided to just meet down there. We parked in a nearby parking lot and walked over to the festival 3 kids in tow. It was a really hot muggy night so we opted to go to the later concerts. I had my big bag of everything with me and my van keys safely tucked inside. At some point when we got to the concert area, Carolyn wanted to sit down but we didn't bring the blanket with so I put my bag down and told her to just sit on that. Note to self...make sure big bag of everything is zipped before laying it down on the ground.

A little later we decided to head back home and trekked back to the vehicles. It was there when I noticed my van keys were not where they were supposed to be. I dumped my bag out on the ground and everything-except keys- fell out. It was now 11 in the evening, we were hot, the kids were tired, and it was dark out. It was a very quiet car ride back to Brandon.

We got home, put the kids to bed and turned the house upside down looking for the spare set of keys. No luck. The next morning I called the car dealership to ask about getting a spare key. I was told that to do that they would have to tow my car there to make a new key--OUCH. I then decided to go back to the scene of the crime and look for the keys myself.

I had posted a status update on my Facebook page about my lost keys and my dear wonderful friend Tobi called to let me know she had metal detectors. I met her at the park and we spent about an hour looking for them. As I was sweating like crazy in the hot sun I promised God that if I found/got my keys back I'd get up and go to 8 am Mass the next morning. No luck. The lost and found was not open so I had to go back home.

Thankfully this story does have a happy ending. I went back a few hours later and indeed someone had found them and turned them in. My van was still where I parked it and I got up bright and early the next morning and headed over to Church where I celebrated a Mass of thank you thank you thank you God.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This might be my last blog post

Hi everyone, are you spending your last hours on Earth with loved ones saying your good-byes and farewells? Or are you doing the same old same old?

If you are scratching your head and have a puzzled look on your face as you read this ...I'll help you out. The world is ending. Tomorrow.

Yep, that's right, tomorrow is Judgement Day, the day when we are all judged and if found worthy, taken straight up to Heaven, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Eternity awaits the faithful servants of the Lord, the true believers, the chosen ones....OK, you get it. Those unlucky enough to be left behind face 5 months of death, destruction, and despair with everything ending October 21.

I'm not making this up. Some guy in California did some "calculations" based on various bible verses, specifically Acts 17:31. He concluded that the world will end exactly 7,000 years after the Great Flood. Hmmm, I didn't know that exact dates of the Great Flood were written down, since everything was destroyed and the current calender we now use wasn't invented yet.

To make things even more interesting, this same person thought the world was ending back in the early 90's but when it didn't happen, he backtracked saying his information wasn't complete. Well gee whiz...imagine that. Everyone had a good laugh and life continued.

Now I'm pretty sure that with the way things look today, it might be easy to believe that what is written in the Books of Acts, Daniel and Revelations is coming true and that God is trying to tell us to prepare for the end. I'm not doubting what is written, but I don't want to spend my life living in fear every time I turn on the TV or log onto the computer. There has always been some calamity befalling mankind that has had people speculating the end was near. Wars, famine, outbreaks of deadly disease, mass murder of innocent people, and natural disasters occur throughout history. There have also been many people who have written or prophesied the end of the world. We are still here.

So basically, I plan on waking up tomorrow and going about my business as usual. Tonight, I will say the same prayers I say every night and tell my husband and children I love them like I do every night. If Judgement Day is tomorrow then I guess I'll be judged like everyone else. I can only hope that I will stand in favor and spend the rest of eternity in Heaven.

I'll leave you with this final thought
"Of that day and hour, knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only." Matthew 24:36