Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Culver: Water Skiing

Maddie and Jude loved riding on the boat with Greg and Mandy  
Gearing up - I had never water skied before

Greg's first time, too 

He got right up

Rob was a bit of a show off (look at those bulging biceps!)  
The skis they gave me were actually clown shoes.  (They forgot to get me my own pair, so I had to use Greg's)  I was pretty excited that I got up on my first try - I always thought it would be so much harder! 

Remember that show "My Two Dads?"  

Brotherly love

I love my Mandy.  
Later, we skied with my Dad.  He was also great - but once again, we were all showed up by Rob's wake boarding skills.  Or should I say skillz.  Is that still kool?  

Then we all posed in front of the Riding Hall - Maddie and Jude with their best salutes.

BDEM:  Things have been better today - I only break into tears when someone mentions how sorry they are for us.  But, it has actually been really nice getting so much support.  I have received a ton of messages from you all, and for that I am grateful.  Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, and reassuring me that everything is going to be okay.  We have even been offered places to live should it ever get that bad - but we're keeping our hopes up.  So today's BDEM(s) were reading your messages.  I feel so loved, and blessed.  XOXO

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh, Today......

Man, oh man....I'm only seven days into the best year of my life and the universe has already thrown me a, "How are you going to handle THIS?"curveball.  The day started a bit rough, with Madelyn having a bit of a "first grade is so long, why can't you come with me, I'm always so tired" meltdown.  I really felt for her - I know she feels like she's missing out on all of {often referred to as "boring"} things we do at home.  After a pep-talk, hugs, a lunch note and kisses, she happily ran through the school's front doors.

At home there was an instant message waiting for me on my computer screen - Rob wanted to know if I wanted to meet him for lunch.  It was a welcome break, and the kids had a great time.  Little did we know it was the last time I'd drive up to his office and pick him up.  I was excited when he came home an hour early, but immediately knew what happened when he told me to sit down.  His company has been doing layoffs for many years, and Rob has escaped them all - except this one.

I have known it was coming - in some form or another for the past month or two.  I have been in a constant battle with the feeling of, "something big is about to happen." But I never could quite place it.  The good news is that lately we have been questioning the direction we wanted his career to go, thus familiarizing ourselves with other job options.  Perhaps this is just the kick he needed to get into a job that makes him truly happy. He is the last of all of his friends who worked there to get laid off - and every single one of them has moved onto something bigger and better.  We are hoping and praying that it is also in the cards for us.

I am not taking it as well as he is - I'm a bit of a control freak micromanager, and have spent the day in fits of sobbing riddled with bouts of nausea.  I am scared, angry and unsure.  Everyone says that will be gone by tomorrow, when I realize that it's like summer vacation all over again.  I hope they're right.

As panic-striken as I am, I find so much comfort in the fact that I still have all of my children, and my husband under my roof.  Everyone is safe, everyone is healthy, and what we are going through only pales in comparison to what others have survived.  As I sobbed my way through the dinner dishes, I could overhear Rob putting the kids to bed.  He was telling them a scary story about a monster that lived in the closet {don't get frightened, it was only a toy train with red flashing lights}.  He was eccentric, they were giggly - it was a perfect moment.  I realized that over the next little while, as we search for a better job, Rob will get to live out his one life goal - to spend more time with his family.  And really, who am I to  ruin that time for him?  It will be fleeting, but it will be happy.

So, take that - universe.  I'm thirty, I'm strong, and I'm going to get through this.  Because THIS IS MY BEST YEAR EVER!  (Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

BDEM: I've been thinking about my Best Day Ever Moment for the day - and it's been a bit of a tough one.  I almost have three equally wonderful moments.  One:  Sitting at lunch with my husband, eating ridiculous amounts of fried food (I mean, how much beer-batter can one small fish fillet get dunked in?!)  I was so happy to be spending his lunch hour with him.  Two:  The realization that Rob will NOT be going out of town in two weeks.  Three:  The peace that comes when you realize that you are not this guy:

Pruning sheers through the eye socket?  NO, THANK YOU!  (See - and even this guy survived...and he was 86!) 

Monday, August 29, 2011


I once saw a documentary on how life changes after weight loss.  It was moving, inspiring, and really got me thinking.  It was about this lonely girl who had lost weight, and had no idea how to dress herself after. So she held on to all of her clothes that were too big, and always got depressed while looking at a closet full of clothes that didn't fit.  Then, out of the blue a very sassy brunette and a tall, well dressed blonde male showed up at her door and offered her $5000 to throw away all of her old clothes.  She lived happily ever after.  

Okay, so maybe I don't watch documentaries, but I do remember that in this particular episode Stacy and Clinton talked to this girl about the negative effects of keeping clothes that don't fit.  They talked about how keeping your skinny jeans is terrible on your self esteem, because it is a constant reminder that you're no longer the size you once were.  They also said that keeping clothes that are too big is a bad idea because you can easily slip into those clothes again, rather than rethinking diet/exercise choices when those pants get a bit snug.

I've been thinking about purging my clothes for a while, but it was really hard for me.  I'm sure a lot of you moms out there know what I'm talking about when I say that I felt guilty.  {For all you non-parents out there, it's not that I don't think I deserve new clothes, it's just hard to justify when your kids also need new clothes} And I knew that if I actually purged, and had to visualize the only clothes I was wearing, I might get a bit depressed.  (Which is probably how all of you feel after seeing me in the same four outfits all summer long!) 

But now that summer is coming to an end - it was time.  Time to see where I was starting with my fall wardrobe. 
I grabbed a big black garbage bag and filled.  

 I was left with this: one sweater, two shirts, a skirt, and a pair of jeans.  Oh - and a wedding dress.  I'm SURE I'll be getting that out soon.  

Then I fell to the floor, and debated unpacking, and rehanging all the clothes.  The Ella on my back only made this harder - so it was all donated.

There you have it.  A skirt, a pair of jeans, two shirts, a sweater and a wedding dress.  Where do I even begin?  No....seriously - where do I begin?  Where are all of you shopping?  I have so much to buy - on little funds.  What are your "staple" items, and where do I buy them? Oh - did I forget to tell you I have no style?  Silly me.  The last time I went shopping, Rob picked out my clothes.  I then overheard the sales women telling him that I was lucky he was with me - I wouldn't have picked anything good without him.  He was flattered.  I was mad.  I will take any and all suggestions.  I will also take Stacy and Clinton, should you know them personally....because, like all of you, I'm SURE that Clinton and I would be best friends.  

BDEM:  I decided to make shepherd's pie for dinner.  Nobody told me this was best made when you have leftover meat, potatoes and carrots.  It ended up taking a really, REALLY long time.  Looking at the casserole in the oven, I thought about how dumb it was of me to spend so much time making such a boring dinner.  At the table, the kids raved and even clapped for my meal.  Rob ate two servings and said, "This one is a keeper!"  (Probably not, but still a BDEM!)  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Culver

Rob getting his harness on for the Pamper Pole (I'll post the sideways video of this tomorrow) 

Climbing up to the zip line

Weeeeeeeeee (I think he actually said that - but I'm sure it was in a very deep and masculine voice) 

Shot Guns 

First Family Sail (NO WIND)
The day I taught Rob to sail - GREAT WIND!  

These boats are called Sunfish, and they are Culver's smallest sailboats.  They are really easy to learn on - and super fun!

Some of Culver's larger sail boats.  This is where I used to teach.

Pretty - but not me.  

A better view of The Ledbetter 

Evenings around the fire.

BDEM: Maddie "learned" to ride her bike earlier in the summer, but has been too scared to get on again without Rob's help.  He has been insisting that she get up and try it herself, but she just cries and complains that she can't.   Today, out of complete frustration - and "well, hmph, I'll do it myself"-ness, she jumped on her bike and took off.  She just kept laughing, "I can't believe I'm actually doing it!"  It was amazing.  Then to add insult to the fact that she has ignored her bike all summer, Jude decided to take off his training wheels and learned to ride too- in a matter of about three minutes.  This morning I had zero two-wheeler kids.  Now, I have two zero-training wheel kids.  (Did you follow that?)  I'm a proud mama - so it's definitely today's BDEM.   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Choices, Choices...

I need some advice.  Do any of you out there in blogger land have any experience switching from iPhones to Androids?  My contract with AT&T is up, and I'm getting ready to switch over to Sprint.  (I'm seriously so sick of having to pay for texts - when I'm already paying a gazillion dollars for my data plan...yes, yes, they are separate - I know....but COME ON!)

Anyway, there are rumors out there that Sprint will be getting the new iPhone 5 - and for that I'm super stoked!  But, that means I'll probably have to wait till November/December before I even get my hands on one.  So tell it worth the wait?

If I had to switch over, I'd probably go with this phone - anybody already have it?

BDEM: I always buy my jeans at Old Navy - and truthfully, I never like them.  Deciding that today (as a weight loss reward) I'd go to Gap, and just see if there were any pants I felt I could splurge on. As we walked up to the store a sign out front says, "All Women's 50% off, today only."  Guilt-free hot pants?  Yes, please! I now have a single pair of jeans hanging in my closet.  (One step at a time, people!) 

Friday, August 26, 2011


Remember the cool cuff/every day bracelet that I mentioned I was looking for?  Rob nailed it!  Exactly what I wanted - good work, babe!
Then I got the new photoshop cs5.  I can't wait to familiarize myself with it. And by familiarize, I mean - learn photoshop.  Yes, I am one of those old ladies that doesn't know how to use it.

The other new thing I'm starting is called BDEM (Bee-Dem)  It stands for Best Day Ever Moment.  Since I'm trying to make thirty my best year, I'm going to try living on the philosophy that every day has potential to be the best day ever.  At the end of every post, I'm going to add a BDEM.  It is there to make me reflect on the day, and pick out one moment that made that day amazing.  It can be big, it can be little - but it is something that I experienced that made that particular day exceptional.  Not only will I then have a reminder of all these wonderful moments - but it will make me more aware of them as they are happening around me.

BDEM:  Claire woke up crying in the middle of the night - which is abnormal for her.  I tried to calm her, but she wasn't having it.  After using Sesame Street to distract her for a few moments, she quieted, and we made our way back to her room.  I rocked her, and she hummed quietly into my ear while playing with my hair.  She was sooo squishy and lovable, and eventually fell asleep in my arms.  I didn't want to put her down.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


There are three miracles happening at this house right now.

One:  Jude and Ella (lovingly referred to as Fire and Gasoline) are outside, TOGETHER, painting puppets.  There is no blood, no screaming, no biting, no pulling out of eyeballs.
Two: There is a loaf of freshly baked bread sitting on my stove. It is not concave, it is not burnt.  It is not lumpy, or smelly.  It kind of has big hips, but who am I to judge?!
Three:  There is a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough sitting in my fridge just waiting to be turned into a pizookies (a cookie bar baked just enough to be firm on the outside and doughy in the middle - then, while hot, served with vanilla ice cream and carmel - totally disregard yesterday's post....)

Is this what happens when kids go back to school?!  It's like this day has no limits!  Or maybe it's because I'm thirty....and it's the best year ever. 

Oh, that reminds me.....I'm doing something else.

I'll tell you about it later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Birthday Break

Me on my 30th!  
I'm going to take a little break from my Culver extravaganza, to post about this day.  I am 30 today.  Yes, yes....happy birthday to me!  I'm pretty excited about this one - because I've wanted to be 30 since I was about 15.  Perhaps I give Maddie too much grief for the constant "I'm pretending to be a teenager" bit.  Usually my birthday is a monster sized event in this house - but since we just got back from Culver, Rob wasn't able to take the day off.  So, it's business as usual around here.

BUT to make today better than usual, I'm going to post about something that I have been working on for a while.  Back in January, I was nine months pregnant and realizing that I was turning the big 3-0 this year.  After having put so much pressure on 30 (imagining it to be the best year of my life) I realized that in order for it to be the best year, I was going to have to make it the best year.  I thought long and hard about what would make 30 great for me.  What I decided was that I wanted to have my pre-baby body back.  I set a goal to lose all the Claire weight, plus 30 pounds by my 30th Birthday.

I had reached that goal by the end of April - so I decided to take it one step further.  I wanted to be the weight that I was when I graduated high school.  A few weeks ago I hit that goal - and through a lot of hard work and discipline, I have managed to lose almost 50 pounds.

I normally wouldn't talk about it, because I don't think weight loss is something that makes anyone a better person - or even is necessary for happiness, but it was a goal that I set, and accomplished.  For that alone, I will celebrate.

I'd still like to do a bit more - so we'll see how that goes.  But for now, I'm proud of myself AND my husband who took on the last little bit with me.  He started the Insanity Program with me, and looks AMAZING!  He didn't have much to lose, but he's finding muscles he didn't know he had and is feeling so much better.

I have seen a lot of joy in the past decade - including forming my own little family, and I can only imagine what great things the next decade has to offer.  So, here's to you, thirties. I'm looking forward to this next step in life.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Explanation

I'm sure that a lot of you weren't phased when I said that I took part in a drill-down (aka, a marching competition) but for some of you, that may have seemed a bit out of the blue.  So, today, along with a few pictures, I'm going to explain where I was and what I was doing.  Ever since I was little my family has spent our summers at a place called Culver.  It is a tiny town on a big lake in Indiana.  And although there's not much to do in this tiny town, it is also home to a highly accredited school called Culver Military Academy.  In the winter it is a high school that is based around inspections, marching, uniforms and rank.  In the summer time, this same campus is used as a six week military camp for kids ages 9-18.  I went to the camp for five years, then taught there for three summers.  I'm sure the next question is: why would you go to Military Camp?  Were you a bad kid?  The correct answer to that question is yes, but it's not why I went there.  I went there to do things like horseback riding, jet skiing, play any sport you can think of and it's where I learned to sail.  I learned how to be a leader, and be responsible for myself. I made some of the best friends I have ever had at Culver (kids come from all around the world) and can honestly say the eight summers I spent there were the best summers of my life.

Now....after the six week camp is over, they open up the campus to families.  You are able to stay on the campus, eat in the dining hall, and enjoy all of the activities you did when you were a camper.  So this summer my dad flew all the kids out to Indiana, and we lived like campers for an entire week.  It was so amazing.

Now - on with the photo parade:

We started Monday morning with a high ropes course.  It looks as though I didn't make the photo-cut, but I DID do it.  And really enjoyed it.
My brothers Dan and Derek getting started

Me, realizing how high the course actually was

Rob and the instructor.  NOT posed.  I'm glad Rob is not AS Peter-Panish as the other guy.

Rob making it look easy

My sister in law, Jessica, finishing up

Family Catch

Our cabin for the week 
Jude, Aunt Mandy, and Lego man.   

Maddie and Aunt Marissa

Taking the kids kayaking

Pretending to be pirates at the Naval Building
 That night, we went out on the Ledbetter (insert trivia: the only three masted rigger on fresh water in the U.S.) I had to teach on this boat when I was a sailing instructor.  It's like driving the world's biggest mini-van.  Rob didn't come that night due to a sick stomach.  I believe it was also the night Madelyn accidentally drove the golf cart and sent Jude flying off the back.  In hindsight it was hilarious. Whenever mentioned, she still says, "I don't ever want to talk about that again."
Greg and I waiting for the cruise to begin

A view to the top

Pretty Lake Houses

Another Beaut
Cousin Brad,  my brother Johnny, and sister Sarah

Sunset over Lake Max

My dad and Bonnie
Brother Dan and his wife, Marissa

Sunset view from back at camp

Crazy Uncle Dan and photo-bomber, Derek. 

Derek, Jessica and kids.  Abby (left) spent her summer at six week camp - and then stayed with us at family camp.

That wraps up day one - but if you're interested in learning more about Culver Military Academy, or the camps offered - click HERE.