Sunday, July 24, 2016

Saying Farewell

This little blog has definitely taken the back seat the last few weeks as we get Cami ready to go on her mission next week! Between the shopping (not my favorite thing to do) and all the errands, I've barely been able to keep my own head above water with my normal daily chores, yet alone being productive enough to actually be able to blog or do anything else that falls into the extraneous category. 
July 23:  Yesterday we crossed one big thing off our list when we got our family pictures taken.      It was 100ยบ.    


I spent far too much effort and money on procuring the "perfect" matching outfits, but since it has been four years since our last family pictures, I was committed to give it my best shot.   In the end I did like the way we all looked together in the blue and gray, so here's hoping that they actually turned out well.  I'll post the actual sweat soaked photos when we get them back from the photographer.  



July 24:   Today, Cami gave her farewell talk at church.  She did a fantastic job and managed to quote "Les Mis", the Book of Mormon, and the BFG, in addition to other sundry of general authorities.    


We had a big crowd turn out in support of her and it really was a special day.  

We finished the day with a little family dinner, a hilarious game of telestrations, and one of our last family home evenings before Cami heads off.   
We will miss this girl! 


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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reliving a Nightmare

June 23:    My sister, Kristina, really wanted to see Cami before her mission and offered to pay for a ticket out to visit her in California.   As cool as it sounded, Cami did not leave much open time in her schedule this summer and the only open week she had was while I was at YW camp, which meant that she was on babysitting Ellie duty for the week!  I thought it would be a deal breaker, but tickets were actually super cheap and Kristina just invited Ellie to join them as well.  

So this morning, I dropped them off at the airport, giddy and excited for their cross-country adventure together.  Some of you may remember that  THIS happened to Cami a couple of years ago.  Because of that nightmarish experience, I was definitely  a little nervous sending them off, but took heart in the fact that it wasn't wintertime, so any potential storms out there should be more quickly passing than the giant snowstorm that stranded her before.   Plus, I've never been stranded in an airport in my entire life, certainly my 18-year-old wouldn't be so unlucky as to have it happen to her again.

<sigh>  I was wrong.     <double sigh>

The trip out there turned out to be one grand misadventure after another.   First off, their original flight out of BWI got cancelled.    We called the airlines and quickly got her rescheduled on another one that left out of IAD, which is closer to home anyway,  so we didn't mind that change.   Then I dropped them off and took heart in that the flight left on time and everything seemed to be going smoothly.    Smoothly that is  until instead of calling from their scheduled layover city of Denver, they called me from Rapid City, SD.

Apparently there was a storm in Denver that prevented them from landing there, so after circling Denver for a while they flew to Rapid City before they ran out of fuel.   Rapid City.  We've been there.  It's a great little town not far from Mount Rushmore, but weirdly it is not a super happening place  and the quaint little regional airport was already closed for the day.    That meant no dinner options (the restaurant had run out of food, except for bowls of cereal and United certainly didn't even offer a snack or anything).   There were no back-up pilots nearby, so they had to be flown in from Chicago.    Basically it meant that Cami and Ellie got to wait, wait, wait, with nothing to do and nothing to eat for hours.

Eventually (after several hours there) the back-up pilots arrived and they got on their way to Denver.    They were getting into Denver about midnight (2am to my girls) and I knew there was no way they would be catching any flights to California that night.  We called United several times and were met with rude, unapologetic people who would do nothing for them.   The only thing we managed to accomplish was to get them scheduled on a flight to California at 8am the next morning.    All the nearby hotels were booked, so Cami got to spend her second night of her life on an airport floor and Ellie her first, which is still one more than me.

All the restaurants in Denver were already closed, which meant still no food, but worse than that...they were absolutely freezing.   They were dressed for summer weather, not for sleeping on cold tile.  They asked United for a blanket.  They said, "no way" and seemed more than happy to let an  18-and 11-year-old that they had stranded for many hours without food or accommodation of any kind just freeze.  #unitedcustomerservicesucks

At least they had each other though.   And I think that meant a lot to both of them.

The next morning, Cami, in her freezing, sleep deprived state-of-mind, didn't notice that they'd changed the gate of their flight out and they missed it by 5 minutes.   Eventually around noon, they finally got to take off.   All in all, it took 27-hours for them to reach their destination.  

And once again, Cami handled it with better humor and attitude than I did.   I wasn't quite as emotional as I'd been a couple of years ago, but I definitely didn't sleep much and our words for United after the ordeal was done were none too kind.   On the bright side though, they did end up getting a travel voucher out of the deal, which meant that Cami got to extend her trip a couple days and visit her "friend" in Utah.  






Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Catching Up!

We are trying to take the reins on our house this summer, which means that this blog is taking a backseat for a while.  I'll try to get a little catching up done through June 30, so I can at least say I made it half-way through the year on the picture-a-day.  After that though, you can just assume that every picture would be about the same---either  reorganizing a closet, scrubbing something, or just in general delving into some forgotten corner of 15 years of accumulated stuff.   Either that or a picture of bucketloads of kids, since Cami is currently watching my brother's four kids while he and his wife are adventuring in Australia.    Life is good.

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June 18:   Today Glen, Emma, Adam, and I  hiked from Carderock to Great Falls, via the towpath and  Billy Goat A.    We estimate that it totaled about 8-miles.

I really enjoy pushing myself on these kinds of hikes....

If you were to ask me what an ideal day would entail for me, there would definitely be a family hike included!  

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June 19:  Emma made a delicious Father's Day breakfast for Glen....

We went to church which included Cami's roommate and BFF, Katy's, mission farewell, as well as musical numbers by the primary kids and the youth ("Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy").  



After church we went for a pleasant stroll around the neighborhood...
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June 20:   The beginning of our house projects begins by getting a dumpster delivered in front of our house.     We are cleaning out the attic and garage.   Oh joy!  

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June 21: Attic cleaning has commenced.   It's HOT up there, so we are trying to get most of our time in the attic done early in the day, then spend the time in the AC organizing and determining what belongs in the cavernous dumpster in front of our house.    

I also decided it was high time to get some mission shopping done, so Cami and I headed to the mall and had a great day at Sears and New York & Co.   




The girls made chicken mango rice salad for dinner! 

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June 22:   Today we cleaned and sorted stuff from attic....again!   Then I started selling things that we didn't need anymore.    And Adam and I played Scrabble.   He beat me.   



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

UGH!

June 15:  
It was a crappy day beginning to end.

My four hour sleep on Monday night caught up with me today, as did my monthly hormones.

It did not bode well for me.

I got the tire from Monday's fiasco fixed at Costco and when the cashier mentioned that the ambulance right outside the door was there for a customer who'd just had a seizure, I lost it.   It was an innocent comment on her part, but  I went to the car and cried and cried and cried some more.   My baby has not outgrown her epilepsy and maybe never will.
I'm sure there were more than a few teardrops on my groceries.

I finally pulled myself together and drove home.  Still I ended up having at least a half dozen more meltdowns by the end of the day for a sundry of reasons, some of them stupid, but most of them not.

I spent much of the day feeling very fatigued and very stressed, but did manage to drag my sorry, tired self to the park with Ellie for a bit.

Fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and Ellie smiles are always a good salve to my soul.   

Unfortunately  it wasn't quite enough to shake it yet.  



June 16:
 It was another bad day where I barely functioned and got caught in bad traffic to boot.
  

June 17:  I woke up today feeling MUCH better.    My mental state has improved immensely, my energy level was almost normal, and I actually got things done.

Cami's schedule for today
7:40-8:30am babysitting job
9-12 work for Marilyn
1-3 babysit
8-11  hang out with "friend"

WE had friends come over, I made homemade pizza, and Cami brought her "friend" to our house to play Telestrations.  



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Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Summer Tradition

Every year when school got out, we knew we could count on a few things.   One, that freezer pops would magically appear in the freezer, two, that a new chore chart would soon make its appearance, and lastly, that we would be loading up the van and heading on a road trip soon!

And, if you know the Crains, you know it wasn't just a road trip a few hours away, but it was always some cross-country adventure that involved zigging to out of the way places, so we could say that we'd been to somewhere new.    In my childhood, we criss-crossed the country hitting all 48-contiguous states, Canada, and Mexico.  

But almost as much as it was just trying to cross a border, it was about the people.  My dad LOVED connecting with relatives and old friends and we surprised many a person by showing up at people's doors to say, "hello," unexpectedly.   I imagine that nowadays he might call them on his cellphone first, but back in the day, he would have his address book, a map (although the map didn't stop us from getting lost on a regular basis), and a plan for how we would surprise them.   Sometimes a kid would go to the door first,  sometimes he would feign an accent and try to sell them something, and one time I even remember them donning missionary tags for the occasion, but success was always determined by how big the reaction was and whether we got invited in for at least a quick chat (and a chance to use the bathroom)! 

With there being ten of us, making the trip as cheap as possible was always one of the top priorities.  We ate a whole lot of PB&J's,  and our camping experiences are a series of escapades that could fill a book in and of themselves.   We've camped during raging thunderstorms,  tornado warnings, swarms of insects, and sometimes all that with missing tent poles.   I'm sure there were some smooth camping experiences in there, but I don't remember any.  It was always some misadventure or another! Every once in a while my parents would give in and get a motel for the night, so we could shower (or stay dry after several nights in a row of rain), but even then it would be all of us in one room camping all over the floor!

But we did it.   

Most people with eight kids and limited resources would just stay home, but I love the fact that our family has been all over this beautiful country together.   It meant a lot to my parents that we kids see places and do things that broadened our horizons and they made it happen!   It wasn't always easy or comfortable (is it even possible for  10 people in a van to be comfortable?), but I am so grateful for the opportunity we've had to explore national parks, see many great cities, and visit landmarks that many people only dream about going to.    

And it's a tradition we've continued in our own family.   Our van isn't quite as crowded, we don't camp very often (bad memories!),  and we definitely watch a few dvd's mingled in with the hours of alphabet and license plate games, but when we zig 40-miles out of our way so we can cross North Dakota off our list, it's an instant flashback to the road trips of my childhood and I know the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree!  

Happy road tripping! 


1982?

Friday, June 24, 2016

The EEG

June 14:  After 6+ years of having dozens and dozens of absence seizures per day, the last few months Ellie's seizures have dropped to almost zero.   Even in Europe when our routines were off and she was often very sleep deprived, we hardly noticed any.   The neurologist was hopeful that she was finally outgrowing them (the normal course of her type of epilepsy).  This thought got us very excited and we started having grand visions of her having a normal EEG today and us starting to wean her down from her anti-seizure medication.  

Alas, it was not meant to be.   She still had at least two seizures during the procedure, which means that, yes, her medication is more effective than it's been in the past, but she still has childhood absence epilepsy and it's not time to wean her from the medication yet.  

<sigh>

After that it was time to go home and deal with the car.   Glen actually stayed home from work to help the process.    It was a looooooooooooooong day of ongoing car issues and other worries.   

In the meantime one of our favorite missionaries was in town visiting with his mom and asked to come visit.  We felt very honored that he would choose to come visit us and I was disappointed that I could not be home when he came.   

We love Elder Perkins!   

The evening  was one of extreme unpleasantness that I shall  refrain from recounting in this public forum.   Let's just say that it was rather hellacious and it, combined with my extreme lack of sleep from the night before, meant that I was not in my best form for dealing with it all.  


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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Good, the Good, the Bad, the Bad, the Bad, and the Bad



June 13:  
 Good:  I went to a visiting teaching brunch with some awesome ladies.  The food was delicious and the company even better.

Good:  Ellie and Adam had a piano recital and they both did great!

Bad: Spencer crashed the car (yes, that would be the second  crashed car in the last couple of weeks).   The struts were damaged, the tire shredded, the passenger side mirror shattered, and the front passenger side body banged up.  We only repaired what it took to get the car moving again, completely ignoring the damaged body and mirror, which meant it was only $450 down the tube.....  


Bad: It was a HUGELY stressful evening sorting out the details of everything that happened. 

Bad:  Because of the stressful situation at home, Glen had to take the metro home from the airport tonight.   It took 2+ hours. 

Bad:   Cami backed out of her commitment to stay up late with Ellie, so that Ellie could be properly sleep deprived for her EEG in the morning.    That means yours truly got to stay up until 2:15am and wake up at 6:30am.   Yay me. 

Bad: Sleep deprivation and stressful circumstances  are not the ideal set-up for proper mental functioning.  


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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stake Conference and Missionaries x2

oops!   I was trying to schedule this for a future day, but messed up and accidentally published it too soon, which is why you've seen this in your feed before!

June 11:
At stake conference today,  Cami and her roommate, Katy, ran into one of their good friends from BYU, Ty, who is now serving as a missionary in our stake.  They were very happy to see each other, but  said it was very weird  not being able to give him a big hug.

Emma also had her voice recital today.  I missed her first performance, but was able to see her performing, "Hark, the Echoing Air".  The camera's sound quality is very poor and does not capture the clearness and the beauty of Emma's voice very well, but hopefully this will give you a glimpse of the difficulty of songs she performs.   I love hearing her sing!  


June 12:   Speaking of missionaries and stake conference, today I ran into the missionaries serving in our ward at stake conference and spontaneously invited them over for dinner.    We made lasagna, breadsticks, salad, and this cake.   It looks all fancy, but it's actually just an overcooked cake mix cake on the inside.   I may or may not have eaten more frosting than actual cake.   


It was a lot of fun to have the missionaries over.  We saw some cool birds on our deck during dinner (a bluejay and a ruby-throated hummingbird).  We ended up playing Telestrations with them and they shared a message about redemption.  

Other than Glen being out of town, it was a great day!


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A Lump

June 10:
Today Glen had a "giant lipoma" removed from his back.


 Because of how large it was, the surgery had to be done in the hospital.

Lipomas are almost always benign, so the doctor isn't worried too much about it, but they are doing a biopsy on it just to be on the safe side.    The surgery took about an hour and while he was under I went to visit the pediatric hematology-oncology floor.   They recently built a brand new wing of the hospital and it's now on the tenth floor of the new wing.   I only ran into one familiar face (Holly from ChildLife).   It's crazy how much things change in four years.   

Between the surgery and the visit to the hem-onc floor, I was surprisingly worn out, and later forgot all about a birthday party that Ellie was  invited to.  Eventually (after a phone call from the mom of a girl I was supposed to pick up along the way)  I dropped her off late when I took Adam to his flag football game.  
It was a long day, but this sunset was a beautiful finish to the day.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Night at the Temple


June 9:   With my kids ages 11-21 now, I don't have to find babysitters very often anymore.  The one exception to that is when we go on youth temple trips.    It involves everyone in the family except Ellie.  At 11, she's well old enough to be on her own for a while, however because of her seizures, we aren't quite there on leaving her the several hours a temple trip takes.   It's an extra pain though, because all the teenagers we know well usually are on the temple trip too (or are  busy with something else that makes it so they can't come), and asking adults makes it feel more like a favor.
This time we called several people, none of whom could take her, and I was beginning to think that either she might just have to stay by herself or Glen or I might have to stay home from this trip.  At the last second, we finally got it taken care of, and we had a wonderful night at the temple.

Because of the timing, it was our lowest attended temple night in a long time, but it was still a good-sized group of youth.  About 90% of the names done were family names that the youth had found themselves, many of which were found by my kids!   It was an exciting and special experience for them!

 I drove a carful of 12-13-year- old girls and I got to hear a whole lot of giggling and the low-down on all the crushes.     Afterward we went out for ice cream and the silliness only increased. 

I've been in this calling (as YW president) for about four years now and going to the temple with the youth is still one of my favorite parts of it.  These youth are so busy and still they take time from their lives to come to the temple.   What great examples they are to me!

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Success!

June 8:   I am not much of a shopper, especially for clothes, so I've been somewhat dreading the whole  shopping for the mission experience with Cami.   I had the sound excuse at first, that I couldn't really do anything else until our trip to Europe was done, but, alas, that excuse is gone and it's time to get to business.

  Today we headed to Potomac Mills outlet mall and spent most of our time at Burlington Coat Factory.   She didn't find much, but did come home with this very cute outfit.

It's not a lot, but I will take whatever success we can find!  


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A Day at the Beach

June 7: Today we gathered with Ellie's little girly book group, who had just read a book about Mary Anning and her fossil finds,  and headed to Flag Pond State Park in Maryland for a day at the beach.
Zoe E., Ellie, Simone T., Miriam P.

After a stressful couple of weeks since returning home from our trip, this was exactly the laid-back, social kind of day we needed.   

And it was just as social for me as it was for Ellie!   
 Martha E., me, Katherine T., and Sarah G.

The kids were finding fossilized shark teeth, cool seashells....

and even jellyfish!

The weather was exceedingly lovely (low 80's and sunshiney)...

and it ended up being a perfect day....

for everyone!
Priscilla G, Simone T, Zoe E, Haven T, Abigail G, Lydia G, Ellie, Hannah G, Miriam P
 The only downside is that we apparently are out of practice on applying sunblock on a frequent basis, because Adam, Ellie, and I  all ended up with a little sunburn, despite a good slathering of it at the beginning.

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Gravity Cake

June 6:  My sister, AnnaLisa, asked for Emma's help to make a cake for her FHE group.  Me?  I would have used a cake mix and slapped some frosting on, or maybe made my favorite carrot cake, which is delicious, but decidedly not very pretty.

But that's not Emma.

Here's her labor of love:   The Gravity Cake!

Not surprisingly, it was a huge hit among AnnaLisa's friends!   

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