Hi there.
This is me...a happy wife, mom to three awesome boys, teacher to the aforementioned boys (we homeschool), chauffeur to karate, archery and swim team practices, scrapbooker and founder of the Good Grief Blog.
Life is good.




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Indoor Skydiving

In our efforts to focus on experiences rather than things, one of our Christmas gifts to the boys this year was a family package at iFly in Denver. We finally made it down there to make good on that on Sunday. It was a pretty awesome experience. :) 

After we'd checked in and all, we watched other people in the wind tunnel for a bit before our training session. Then we got suited up:

With our package, we each got two one minute flights. The first one helped to just get a feel for it all, and during the second one we added the "high flight" option where the instructor spun/jumped/took us up the wind tunnel and back down again a few times. It was fantastic (and not as scary or motion-sick-y as I worried!). (Micah did decide at the last minute that the high flight was more than he could handle so got spun around down low, which still looked pretty dang fun.)

Anyhow, our package came with videos of one of our flights (our pick). I then also bought these pictures (which were quite reasonably priced!)...

First up was Nathan...

...then Noah...

...and Micah...

...and me...

...and Asher...

Not to brag or anything, but I was totally the best flyer of the five of us. ;) Honest! The boys will even agree with me, and our instructor (Preston...who was fabulous!) told me so when he handed out flight certificates. Regardless, we all had a fantastic time...yay!

After all that, Nathan's parents (who had fun watching us all) and the five of us grabbed some lunch and hit IKEA before heading home just ahead of the storm.

PSA: If you go and if you have long hair, I HIGHLY recommend braiding it or otherwise securing it in some way. It took a good bit to detangle my hair afterwards and I lost a lot of hair in the process, lol. Fortunately, I have a lot of hair and it grows fast. ;)



My mom came for Asher's black belt promotion and was able to visit with us for a few days. :) After she arrived, my brother and his family came up from Longmont and we all went out to dinner. The next day, while Noah was in school, the younger two, mom and I enjoyed the sunshine in Old Town...with some shopping and browsing and lunch...

That afternoon we all went to watch Kung Fu Panda 3. (It was fun!) That night, Nathan's parents flew in while mom, Noah and I were getting the younger two to demo team practice and then having some dinner and pina colada cake. Once we were all home again, there was a good bit of visiting and catching up...then to bed for our big day on Saturday...

We managed to finish all our errands and get Asher to his promotion and enjoy that for pretty much the rest of the day...

Back home again, I finally remembered to get a picture with mom during the daylight hours, lol.

That night, mom headed south with Zach, Marcy and Kenna for the remainder of her visit. Thankfully, she was able to make it out of the Denver airport this afternoon. :) (We had a bit of a winter storm yesterday/today. Lots of cancelled and delayed flights. Pretty much all of the boys' activities (and Noah's classes) were cancelled, though we still went to the archery range and to karate.)

In any case, so glad she was able to make it out to share in Asher's promotion and that we were able to spend some time together! 



So. On Saturday, Asher officially promoted to black belt! It was a pretty awesome day...with family and friends to help celebrate (thanks to you all...you know who you are!). We had an exhibition of skills by the two new black belts, performances by the demo team, cake, food and visiting and congratulating Asher and Jonathan. After all that at Karate West, we headed home and continued the celebration into the night. Whew. :)

I haven't made it through all the pictures I took for editing and such, but here's a decent sample:

Here's Asher before everything got started...goofing around trying to avoid people congratulating him...

Demonstrating some of the forms...

...and combinations...

...and sparring...

(As I said, there was plenty more. I have pictures. I'm not going to wait to post until I have them all sorted, so this will have to do, lol.)

And then new uniforms and belts were presented...

Yes, we were aware that Asher's uniform would be too big. :) We did that on purpose, actually, as the uniforms have a history of shrinking more than normal. For the record, I washed it today and the jacket sleeves no longer need to be rolled.

This is one of my favorite pictures...of Asher with Mrs Yee, who runs the demo team (and the school)...

...and this one, with Mr Yee. The Yees have encouraged and trained and laughed with and helped Asher for the past 5.5 years, and we are so grateful!

And now Asher begins the next leg of his karate journey...building on this black belt and working toward a second degree black belt. It'll take a few years... ;)

Many thanks to all of the people who helped along the way...instructors who had a hand in Asher's training, friends who showed interest in his activities, fellow karate members who made it fun, family who congratulated him along the way...everyone. 



Two quick notes for this Tuesday...

1. Asher finished his black belt testing last Thursday and we got the official word last night that he's PROMOTING TO BLACK BELT! Here he is after class showing off the white stripe on his high brown belt...which indicates that he passed his testing. (There's a whole system for keeping track of things but the important thing is simply the look on his face.)

Folks, I'm also going to take a moment to tell you that my boy definitely earned that stripe. His testing on Thursday was for grab defenses, one-steps and sparring. During the sparring portion, he had to do six 2 minute rounds (with no breaks)...with one of the instructors (a fourth degree black belt!), a friend of roughly the same size and rank, a black belt in high school, that same black belt plus a second degree black belt at the same time, the second degree black belt alone, and then the instructor again. Oy.

For all that I may have been holding my breath, I'm so proud of the progress Asher's made. I can clearly remember when he first started sparring years ago...when he took every touch personally and could so quickly become dispirited. He's come a long ways to being able to handle this sort of pressure and still be able to joke around with his instructor afterward and ask him how to defend against a certain kick that he'd been throwing. 

Whew. So. Now we'll celebrate the promotion this Saturday with an exhibition of skills and such. The demo team will also be performing. We've got grandparents and friends coming to celebrate with us. Life is good. :)

(Incidentally, I didn't take any pictures during the testing. Okay, maybe two. I was too nervous. ;p Fortunately, the same instructor who sparred him took pictures and video throughout that will be available to us after Saturday. Hooray!)

2. Less importantly, our window installation went swimmingly and is all done! The crew was excellent and finished in less than two days with minimal disruption, and so far we're quite happy with the new windows. It took us another few days to get all the furniture and window treatments back in place, lol. And we'll likely now end up replacing some of the window treatments. But. It *was* a good opportunity for cleaning areas that haven't been cleaned in awhile when we shuffled stuff. :)

If you're thinking about getting new windows anytime soon and are interested, let me know and I'll get you their information!



And, perhaps most significant right now, Asher has only one more day of official testing for his black belt!!

Over the past week, he turned in all his required paperwork (official checking of things and report card and an essay). Last night, he had the first of two nights of testing. (He's been "testing" since September...with specific checks for technique and such and weekly training sessions, but these two nights of testing are the determining factors for getting his black belt.)

Yesterday were the forms and combinations tests...ten (I think) different forms that he's learned over the last 5.5 years (each with roughly 20-30 steps) and 24 different combinations along with a weapons form that he learned just for this (he had to learn a new one because he already knew the traditional ones too well from demo team). Each form was performed at least two times (not always in order and sometimes while the other person was doing a different form) and each combination was performed 10 times (five on each side). 

Folks, I'm so stinkin' proud of my boy. Obviously I'm biased, but I've sat through enough hundreds of hours of karate to know that he did great. :) His technique is so crisp and his memory is amazing. I know that sometimes Asher feels that his brothers' recall is better than his when we're doing schoolwork, but I hope he can see that his physical recall is astounding. He's got all of those things I just listed stored in his head to be performed at will...plus all the grab defenses and one steps that he'll test tomorrow...plus all the demo team performance routines (some of which he knows multiple positions for) and all the weapons forms he's learned through black belt club. Whew.

On top of that, he's really been working on his conditioning and on learning from and moving on from mistakes. I felt like both truly showed last night. The kid is in darn good shape. The 1.5 hours of intense testing didn't phase him (after 1.75 hours of gymnastics earlier in the day) and he was bouncing around again early this morning. And the times he missed a step or whatever, he did a fabulous (for him) job of brushing it off and moving on. Even a couple of years ago, this would have been a struggle...being okay with not performing perfectly was/is a challenge for him. (This is part of why he chose to stop going to archery tournaments. Refocusing after a bad shot wasn't working.) Especially through the black belt training since September, though, he's really worked on seeing mistakes as opportunities to improve rather than the end of the world. So, regardless of anything else, I'm thankful for that. 

And now I must go take him to get a haircut (because his bangs were annoyingly in his eyes last night, lol). Tomorrow will be more intense testing, as he'll do all the grab defenses and one-steps (with an opponent) and will have to spar multiple people of varying sizes. 

And, then, after these months of training and preparation, we'll know for sure whether he'll be promoting to black belt on January 30. I may be holding my breath until then. ;) 

**ETA: Okay, I forgot to post this before I headed out. We're back now. Asher looks so handsome with his haircut...

(Took almost a dozen pictures and he's making a different face in each of them, lol.)

And, now I'm off to get Noah to calculus...