All I can say about that is, Thank you, God! The Holidays are so stressful. We started out with Elliott’s birth, then Todd’s birthday. We followed that up with Christmas, which we were planning on having at Donna’s parents, but since her dad had the flu we ended up staying home. We got to see my brothers, his wife and son, and my other brother on Christmas Eve. We actually got to go to our own Church’s Christmas Eve mass, which was kind of awesome. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we had Donna’s dad’s Christmas Party. Her dad was better by then, and so we all went and had a good time. It turns out that Todd had the flu all that time, and so we ended up making my brother and his family, and then my family in Michigan sick with flu…. Ugh. Then I ended up getting the flu, and so we ended up staying home for New Year’s and Preston’s birthday… Then we had Christmas with Donna’s parents the following weekend. I had a sore throat the entire time…turned out to be strep. We finally all got better. Then we had Elliott’s baptism, which was nice, but Russell was a toot for family pictures earlier in the day. Turns out he was getting sick. He had strep the next day. Followed by flu later in the week. And then Preston got the flu and strep at the same time that weekend… Let me just say, this is getting old!  Oh, I forgot to say.. Elliott had the flu at around the same time that I did.  He actually didn’t do too bad with it.

I’ve been really lazy with my updates this last year. Sorry about that! It’s been a pretty interesting year, to say the least. My Father-In-Law had a liver transplant a few weeks ago. That has been a real blessing for our family. He is doing much better than he had been. I’ve been really excited to see how much he has progressed!

God has really been blessing our family.  We were getting a little frustrated with some things at church, and as is our modus operandi, decided to try going back to the Catholic Church.  Well our priest at the Orthodox Church, Father Peter, stepped in and set us straight!  Instead of running from our problems, he has been helping us talk them out.  I am really thankful for him.

Preston and Russell have both continued to serve at the altar at church.  Preston has really taken to it!  He knows how to do most of the liturgy already, and I’ve heard him asking to learn how to do other parts!  I’ve been singing for the church choir, with the most important part being the Propers.  It has been challenging, stressful, fun, and completely fulfilling!

Todd still doesn’t like to eat much (except for candy, bread, and other junk-type food), so he’s still a tiny little dude.  I’m sure he’ll get better, though.

I’ve started a new diet as of one week ago.  My cholesterol has been a bit too high and my doctor keeps wanting me to take statins.  I have taken them before and don’t like the way they make me feel, so I think I’m going to try taking this low-cholesterol diet thing seriously this time!  I’ve also decided to experiment with going gluten-free.  This makes Russie pretty happy.  He is glad to not be the only one!  Let me tell you, my stomach has felt much better in the last week than it has in years!  I’m not sure if it is because of the smaller portions that I’ve been eating, or the lack of gluten, but whatever it is, I like it…  I used to have problems with heartburn almost constantly.  I have only had a couple of small episodes of heartburn since I’ve started my new diet.  Yay!!!

Preston as the Torch Bearer for Pascha
Preston as the Torch Bearer for Pascha

We made it through our first Lent as Orthodox Christians.  I can’t say we did the greatest job at fasting, but we tried.  I think that we did okay, so that’s good.  I know that I can’t expect perfection right at first, but as long as we’re constantly improving in our relationship with God I think that we’re on the right track.

The boys got to participate in the Paschal procession.  Preston was the Holy Torch Bearer (at least, I think that was his title!), and Russell got to carry the Holy Water.

After a fairly stressful week, I decided I wanted to get away.  Years ago, when Donna and I lived in Alabama, we would pack up and drive a few hours, stay at a motel, and just explore the area in which we found ourselves.  It’s a little more difficult to do that around here, since you really need to drive a lot further in order to get anywhere interesting!  So we haven’t done that in a long time.  Well, this past weekend was the one.  I just had to decide where to go….  It was going to be a warm, but really windy weekend.  I figured east would be the way to go, since I could get to the woods, right?  But then, at the last minute, I decided to go west to Carlsbad Caverns.  The wind wouldn’t bother us underground!

We left on Friday after work and drove to Lubbock where we stayed the night at a nice Holiday Inn Express.  The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. They had the greatest breakfast ever!  Freshly made pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, eggs, bagels, sausage, cereal, yogurt, several different kinds of coffees, and juice.  Yum!  We left from there and drove the rest of the way to the cave.

We decided to go down through the natural entrance.  The cave was absolutely stunning!  The trail was very steep, winding for about 1.25 miles down 750 feet, or, as the park ranger said, the equivalent of a 75 story building!  I had to carry Todd most of the way.  He walked some, and Donna gave me a (very) short break.  Preston and Russell were troopers, and made it down all by themselves!  By the time we made it down to the bottom, where the restrooms were, my arm and legs were killing me!  We didn’t make the tour of the Big Room, which was a little disappointing, but I suppose that gives us an excuse to go back!

We drove all the way home that evening, hitting a skunk in the process.  We all piled out of our stinky van and went to bed at 12:30 am Sunday morning.  And yes, we did make it to church later that day!

Once I get my pictures off the camera, I’ll add a few to this post.

Antique Michigan Map
Antique Michigan Map

Next Saturday, June 28th, we will be making a little road trip from Texas up to Michigan to visit my parents.  I’m really excited.  I haven’t been up there in ten years!  I will also get to meet my sister’s husband for the first time and see their new little girl!  As long as the kids don’t drive us crazy, I think it will be a great trip!