James and Pilates

James and I are yet again embarking on a new journey.  He is now attending College full time for the “ministry”. “Ministry” is in quotes because we believe that every person who claims faith in Jesus Christ is automatically enrolled in full time ministry.  Anyhow, here we are in our still-newlywed-ed state of bliss; and he has resigned from his job to attend college.  This has been our one week of preparation before classes begin.  I thought it would be wisest to jump right in with our new routine as soon as we brought the kids to school.

I had this beautifully romantic notion about us on our little matching mats doing synchronized Pilates as the unity of our souls permeated the Living Room.

Reality is never like the movies….unless you are into dark humor comedies 😉

We were barely begun when we realized that I had to swing my arms over my head while towards the front while he swung his towards the back so that we could avoid (another) collision.

We giggled, and as the instructor on the DVD calmly intoned, “Cross your feet at the ankles, as you gently and gracefully float to the floor.”

“Hummmph!  That’s never going to happen!  I have no grace at all when I sit down! How about ‘clumsily fall over and try not to break anything?'”

I couldn’t help but laugh at James and his sarcastic comment!

I kept hearing the oddest noises emerge from his general direction, so finally I asked him if his stomach was upset.

“No, I took my shirt off but now my back keeps sticking to the mat.  Sorry for the noises…”  We giggled again.

Next we were told to do an exercise that involved straightening out our legs one at a time in the air.

I heard James mutter, “Not this guy!  These legs weren’t designed to go straight like that…I’ll stay a sarcastic inflexible man, thank you very much!’

By the end of the session, my stomach felt ripped…from all the laughter at the sarcasm king and his one liners.

I decided that in the future, comedy Pilates would ensue whenever done with James; and if I wanted serenity Pilates I would  need to get up before the rest of the household was out of bed.

Oh well…at least I burned off extra calories through laughing 😉

James & I (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

James & I (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

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Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful for random photo-ops, and an off-beat view of life.

gnarly dude (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

gnarly dude (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

 

Alien Gazebo (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Alien Gazebo (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

What say you? #ThankfulThursday

Pilates & Children

pilates & children I embarked on a new adventure today!  I invited the kids to join me in my pilates routine.  The following is a loose interpretation of the transcript:

Me: Okay, the mats are set up, the DVD is in; which workout would y’all like?  The “get moving in the morning”, “the cardio”, “the strength building”, or “the intro”?

Rex: “Get moving in the morning”

Me: Let’s do it, then! (Peaceful music plays on the screen, and the instructor launches in full throttle with marches, jumping jacks, scissor kicks, etc)

Rex, David & Ruby: (panting) Who is she? I think she’s a general or something!  She’s NOT even talking…the voice is a recording! That’s NOT FAIR!  Mom! WE-Can’t-Do-this! 

Me: (stopping the DVD) Which one should we do instead?

Rex: Not the cardiAC one!  It will give me a heart attack!

David: Let’s try the strength building so we can move on quicker to Daddy’s exercise program instead of “pi-lahhhh-tees”

Me: (switching episodes on the DVD), Here we go! (After 20 seconds of it)

Ruby: Mom!  This is crazy!  They go way too fast!

Me: Huh, I do this all the time…are y’all telling me that pilates is harder than you thought and your momma is tougher than you thought?

ALL 3: Nooooo, nope, uh-uh….nooooo….it’s just, um, early….yeah; early in the morning! uh huh!

Me: (flipping over to the intro) This time we are NOT stopping…we WILL do this; just go at your pace. As the intro starts, I begin rotating among the kids to ensure proper core tightening.  Rex crumbles into a human ball of giggles as soon as I get within 12 inches of his stomach.  Pretty soon I pause it so we can all finish laughing.

I restart the DVD and things go smooth for a bit.photo 1 (3) (The instructor starts the pelvic thrusts for strengthening)

ALL 3: Oooooooh….gross! Why is she humping in the air like dogs do in the spring? MOM! What kind of exercise is this anyway?!?!

Yup, Pilates & Children = a strong desire to have a beer and chocolate donut for lunch.

“Golf-ish”

“Golf is a good walk ruined.” – Mark Twain.  I loved repeating this quote once upon a time.  Now, however, it’s  obvious that I must recant publicly of that.  The reason? Today, James took me golfing. He set up the tee time; (which I knew ahead of time was different from TEA time), and we flirtaciously texted  each other throughout the day about our “date”…no kids, free golf, not a family member in sight, and an afternoon to golf.  James, being an avid golfer, was rather excited.  I was nervously excited; and very thankful that the man has a sense of humor, since I am well aware that athletic agility is not always my forte’.

This is as "golf-ish" as I get

This is as “golf-ish” as I get

First, I went to google and searched “hip golf outfits for modern women”.  I am not joking.  Why must they all wear spandex or skorts? I’m sorry, but it was humid today; what would ever possess me to wear extra  layers between my thighs?  I was also confused by the plethora of polo-styled shirts, again, it’s a question of sweat.

It was so humid that I made an executive decision and skipped most of my make-up, mostly because I don’t buy it to wipe it on the back of my hands…but today it would have melted in streaks; leaving me to look like a strange warrior of golf.   I decided to wear a nautical inspired tee shirt and a comfy skirt which I could freely exercise in.  (For the record, my tee shirt had an animal on the pocket…although I still am unsure about which animal it is…it’s definitely NOT a horse).

Second, I packed the golf clubs as James had directed.  I packed us each a sports drink, and I even changed into tennis shoes instead of sandals.  Away we went! We arrived, checked in for our tee time, and James walked me over to the first hole.

My first moment of confusion happened after James explained that I got to tee off between the front markers. (PS I just learned that they are the same color on every course; that’s thoughtful of the golf course designers to color-code!)  I thought that I had to hit off the top of the concrete part…mercifully I was stopped before that disaster! My first lesson in swinging a club while on a course commenced; and we were on our way.

We eventually found a comfortable rhythm which consisted of James reminding me “Remember, baby, it’s golf and not baseball….swing your arms like a pendulum between 2:00 and 10:00.”  I did pretty well, all in all…especially once I found my “golf song mantra”.  I kept singing, “England swing like a pendulum do, bobbies on bicycle two by two, WestminsterAbbey, the tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children.”  (Roger Miller 1965). The cockney accent helped me remember to swing my arms properly like a proper British person; and the Big Ben part helped me remember the clock positions for my swing.

I was just starting to feel rather pleased with my progress when James grinned and said, “C’mon baby…hit that golfball!” I did…and somehow managed to chip it backwards photo 2 (2)between my legs.  I am NOT kidding.  I looked over to see James doubled over.  He gasped, “All-my-years, never-seen-that-one”. We laughed, and kept on.

One of the holes, I chipped it beautifully….into the mud bog.  Another hole, I drove it about 75 yards…across the two lane road next to the course.  My favorite, though, was the hole with the quaint little creek that  ran under a footbridge.  I didn’t land my ball in the water once; nope…I did it twice.  From the same spot.  See? I have MAD golfi-sh skills!

About this time, we were laughing and feeling rather romantic from all of the goofiness.  We had just mildly made out, and we looked up at the people on their golf cart a few holes behind us.  “Huh! That looks like my parents,” I said.  It was my parents.  Yup.

James quipped, “Well, I was going to sneak you out to the woods over there…but your parents are behind us!” What are the odds? Overall, it was a fun day just chitchatting and having fun frogging around without (mostly) any supervision.

Sometimes, as parents; we just need an escape from “normal life” and we just need to be a “normal” couple on a date. I can’t wait for the next tee time! photo 3 (1)

Spring Fever

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Have you ever bounced a Superball® in a hallway?  That’s what it was like watching three of our children wait for the bus this morning!  They could not sit still for the life of them!  They were seriously engaged in a samurai-inspired slow motion tableau involving three backpacks, a medicine bag, and a plastic hanger.  I am NOT kidding; I didn’t know whether to laugh louder or hide all traces of sugar from the cupboards!

In addition to their exploding anticipation for the holiday weekend; Rex had to take an extra dose of antihistamine this morning due to his allergies.  Most children would get sleepy or lethargic with said medicine; but Rex becomes more hyper!  He seriously lets loose like a bottle rocket!

In speaking with David’s Middle School teacher about our children’s inability to focus lately; she explained the phenomenon.  Her mentor had divulged that in Middle School after Spring Break, all of the developing hormones and the weather form a sort of “emotional tornado” that appears at random times throughout the day in the classroom.

It appears at home, as well!  Our 5 youngest range in age like stair steps; and it is Spring!  I spoke with Rex’s former teacher the other morning to tell her that I was praying for her and her colleagues throughout this Spring.  She quipped, “If they haven’t learned it before Spring Break, they’re not going to learn it!” and we laughed.

My beloved theatre professor, Dr. H, used to say, “Springtime is when the boys start thinking about what the girls have been thinking about all year!”  This was, I’m fairly certain, followed by a muttered prayer under his breath.  I have recently begun the same practice of muttering prayers for sanity under my breath…(and also prayers for calorie-free chocolate!)

I’ve been trying to figure out what they’re even thinking; and the following is the best I can do at deciphering their springtime train of thought:

“Yay, it’s warm outside so I can wear shorts! Oh we have sugar cereal! Woohoo only a few more days til school is done! Wow, I’m hot! The girl/guy I like thinks so too…hahaha, just kidding. Hey I should say that out loud, but wait, is that a squirrel in our tree?  That’s so hilarious how the squirrel eats with its paws! Oh, I should eat. I think mom is talking but I’m too busy trying to remember what I was going to say out loud. This food is good. Hmm…hanger or sword? I can’t stand still!  How many days til summer? I am so glad it’s warm!  Is that the bus?”

Seriously, I think their thoughts in the springtime are like a fast-moving train on tracks.  You can try to catch a glimpse of their thoughts; as if they were flowers on the other side of the tracks, but the train (like their thoughts) is a blur.  I say it again, Lord have mercy, and God bless the teachers everywhere!


Random Humor for Giggles

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This post is utterly, selfishly because I need to laugh.  Seriously, I want to laugh until tears stream down my face.  Here goes…in no particular order.

In college, I had a friend named Matt.  There was a residence hall on campus which
was a fraternity by default.  I say default only because frats and sororities were “forbidden” at our university.  That being said, the two floors in this particular hall were the closest to a frat house that we got.  It was one of the first weekends of our freshman year, and this “frat” group was playing “shoe golf”.  The guys would kick their shoe through the air, and see whose shoe had gone the furthest.  Then the game would proceed with the farthest kicker starting, and so on and so forth.

Well, Matt came over and watched the guys for a round; then asked if he could join them. They obliged, Matt bent over to “untie” his shoe; straightened to put his full strength into his kick…and fell on his back as his prosthetic shin and foot (complete with shoe), went flipping gloriously through the air. More than 30 young men stood in horror with eyes wide and mouths agape as they realized that an entire lower leg had just gone flying off of its owner.  They turned in slow motion to see Matt on his back, crocodile tears streaming from his eyes.

“Ummm, dude, are you ok?” managed one of the guys.

Matt gasped, “Ok?!…The looks on your faces are priceless!”

They all joined him in his laughter, and he was unanimously voted to be an honorary member!

Another fun memory was made on the night that I joined my friend Ken for a night out at the movies.

2014-04-21 19.23.18A local theatre had been built for silent films; and it was ornately decorated with marble flooring, gold leaf ceiling, plush velvet curtains; the whole bit.  They were offering a movie marathon for one low admission price; as well as a concession deal which was $1.00 to fill your own containers with pop and popcorn.

Ken had dutifully gone into town to scrounge the stores in hopes that he would locate the biggest (and slightly eccentric) containers.  To this day, I have no recollection of what he used for his pop.  I very vividly remember his popcorn holder.

He had purchased a plastic donkey planter which was about 18 inches from front to, uh, back.  We walked into the opulent theatre lobby and joined the throngs of locals who were dressed as if they were at a Country Club Brunch. People were in their little groups, chit chatting while awaiting entrance into the theatre proper.

At this point in the story, it is necessary to tell you that Ken has a voice which could be a dead-ringer for Jim Carrey. Ken walked up to the counter, and in his loudest voice (which was heard over everyone else), he asked, “Ex-x-x-cuse me…would you please fill my ASS with popcorn?”.

Dead silence.

The concessions attendant said, “Hmm hmm, what?”

Ken slowly and loudly repeated, “Would you please fill my (as he slid the donkey onto the counter) ASS with popcorn?”  Everyone lost it.  It no longer mattered that people were wearing pearls and three piece suits; the whole place erupted in laughter.

Hopefully,  this provided a respite from the mundane of life…and you laughed.

 

“Repairs”

repairs photo

“Repairs”

By: Gracie K. Harold

Trigger Word Warning: cold drinks, $#*!, expletive.

I have very vivid memories of home improvement projects throughout my childhood. One of my favorite photos shows me at age 2 holding a hammer and beaming proudly as my father builds me a toy box. I was always that girl…you know, the one who could check her own oil, change her blinker bulb, and of course, unclog a toilet!

Growing up in our clan meant that if there was a deck to be built, uncles and aunts and cousins were sure to be on hand with their tools, cold drinks and a crockpot full of barbeque.  Over the years, though, our projects did not always go according to plan.  The home that I grew up in had a half wall, complete with wooden spindles. That wall lasted maybe 2 years tops after we moved in.

First, the spindles were removed.  Then, my parents decided to remove the half wall and open up the doorway.  Since they reasoned that this would be a “simple” project, only one uncle was called over to help.  The men started first thing in the morning that fateful Saturday.  My brother and I stood at a respectful distance as my father began to saw through the half wall.  The electric buzz resonated melodically through the air for the first few seconds, until the unmistakable zing of metal on saw blade was heard.  My father jerked the saw out of the wall, and a hasty demolition of the drywall ensued (by hand).

Apparently, the home builders had been possessed when they ran the water pipes from the upstairs bathroom down to the basement.  Instead of simply utilizing a straight line; they had installed a pair of 45˚ angled pipes, snaking right into the half wall before angling down to the basement.  So, my father, uncle and mother set to work hand demolishing the rest of the wall.  A plan was drawn up; and the work commenced.

Obviously, the water was turned off for most of the day while they re-routed the pipes.  Late that afternoon, the adults were celebrating their accomplishments when I went upstairs to use the bathroom.  I expected the bathroom to be very cold as it was wintertime.  I walked in, opened the toilet lid, and was greeted with a cloud of steam.  I attempted to wash my hands, but discovered only cold water in the sink.  Realization dawned, and I hurried downstairs to my parents.

“Guess what?” I asked with the triumph of one who has an important announcement. “There’s HOT water in the toilet and COLD water in the sink!”  The adults fell silent as their celebration stopped. “Gracie, that’s not funny.”  “It’s true! I opened the toilet lid and steam came out!”  I heard the pounding of my dad’s footsteps up the stairs, followed by a muttered, “Aww…$#*!”

The wall was torn back apart, the pipes were uncrossed; the wall was deemed to be “good enough” for now; and the sun was long set when I decided to get one more snack before heading to bed.  My father, in his fatigue; had left the power drill plugged into the freshly moved electrical outlet.  I opened the fridge at the same moment that my brother noticed the power drill unattended.

“Hey, Jay, look!   The refrigerator light won’t turn on!” At that moment, he had picked up the drill like a tool aficionado and pulled the trigger.  The drill bit spun, and the fridge light came on. We looked at each other and started giggling. He let go of the trigger, and the fridge went black again.  We were outright laughing as my mom turned the corner into the kitchen and asked what was so funny.  We demonstrated our discovery, and she exclaimed, “Oh, no! Oh, $#*!” My Father took one look at our new trick and silently went downstairs.

We sat there, stupidly running the drill in order to keep the fridge running.  Dad returned with a cardboard box and electrical tape. He removed the drill bit, taped the trigger down so it would stay on all night; and placed the drill into the box.  I don’t remember which one of us snickered first, but I do remember the stomachache from all the laughter.  I know we slept the blessed sleep of the exhausted that night.

The next day, my uncle dutifully returned, the wires were uncrossed and the wall was refinished.  The doorway was enlarged; and we had gained yet another funny story to share about our adventure as a family.  We wore our home improvement mishap as if it were a badge of honor.

Recently, when James and my brother-in-law set out to teach me how to change the brake pads on our car; I remembered the hot water in the toilet and I shared it as a means of encouragement. I have quite a knack for pep talks, huh?

We actually did quite well. Granted, we had to drive out a ways to gather all of the tools that we had forgotten; but I decided that helped us get into the brake-changing mindset.  Really, there was only one comic mishap that occurred when my brother-in-law was loosening the lug nuts with the 4way. Apparently when we bought the tires, they were put on with a LOT of torque! Well, he leaned into the 4way; put all of his weight into it…and promptly snapped it in two pieces!  He stood there wide-eyed in astonishment, opening and closing his mouth…completely speechless.

I tried to suppress my giggles, but I couldn’t. James was working on the other tire until he heard my laughter and noticed that his usually talkative brother had absolutely nothing to say.  He saw the newly renovated 4way, and we all chuckled.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon. We worked hard, but we had all had a good time simply enjoying one another’s company.  It means so much to me that James respects me enough to gently teach me how to participate in the projects that he takes on. In our marriage, we have been intentionally focusing on establishing the “we” first.

Since we each brought three into the marriage, this means that we have six little people who all think that they should be the first priority in our lives.  The last months have consisted of us gently yet firmly teaching and showing the children that the following are our priorities: 1st, our faith and love for God. 2nd, we the parents are a team; and we will function in unity and love. 3rd, we love our children so much that we will teach them that their choices have consequences. 4th, we want to love others around us as we have been loved.

Adjustments aren’t always easy and repairs don’t always go as planned.  We have hit some snags along the way, and we have our moments when we lose our cool, and maybe even *gasp* we’ve muttered an expletive or two…or five.  (Not in a way that demeans each other or attacks each other or insults, but as a means of describing a crappy situation.)  Overall, my hope is that someday, we can giggle together over our mishaps and eventually wear them as a “badge of honor”.