Friday, November 30, 2007

A Makeover, Antique Pics, and Christmas Cards

I'm so excited! We're getting a makeover! Not like the Mary Kay kind, but the blog kind. I was looking around at different blog designers and found Goofy Girl who did my friend Nikki's blog. (Yes, Nikki, I just linked you again!) I checked out Goofy Girl's portfolio and liked what I saw. Also, her prices weren't overly unreasonable like other blog designers I looked at. So, we're working on it, but soon we're getting a whole new look!

About two months ago, one of my playgroup mommies announced that her MOPS group was doing a fundraiser. For $10 we got a sitting with this Antiquities photography place, and a 10x13 size print. A lot of the playgroup mommies snatched up the opportunity. All of us strongly stating that we were ONLY getting the free 10x13. That was it. No packages for us. Just the free one.
Um..... I don't think many of us stuck to that. When I went to see the pictures on Wednesday, there were 4 poses of each kid, and two group poses. The photographer chose the nicer of the two group photos to be my free 10x13, but I, of course, needed to have at least one pose of each kid. But I had to buy the whole package that came with that pose. Needless to say, I spent way too much money, but it was worth it. How often do the kids get to get dressed up and take such fun pictures?
Louisa was a little apprehensive when she saw the sea foam green, lacy dress they gave her to put on (she's *not* a dress person). Once she got changed and saw the background she got excited. Although, when the photographer gave her a red velvet hat to put on, she ran over to me and said, "Mom, this doesn't match my dress!" I showed her samples of the sepia pictures the photographer had, and then she understood he was using contrasting colors because it would show up better in the picture at the end.
{This is the free 10x13 print}

Now I'm trying to work on getting Christmas cards ready. I usually don't like to send them quite so early, but we have a busy December coming up. If I don't get them done now, I'll probably forget. Then the 20th will sneak up on me, I'll leave for our trip to Wisconsin, and come home in January to a big stack of cards that never got sent.
My list of people I'm sending to grew much bigger this year. Not that I'm complaining because it means I'll *get* more cards! The first year Husband and I were married, I think we got about 10 Christmas cards total. And I gave about 30. The next year I only gave 15 or so. I have no idea why I remember this kind of stuff!

Oh, and if you get bored and have nothing to do (ya right!) go Elf Yourself! It's quite entertaining.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Long Way from Home

I have to thank the *Angels* who took pictures of our guys for us when they were on a short layover in Maine the other day. The Freeport Flag Ladies, and the Maine Troop Greeters greet every incoming military plane. They personally shake every servicemember's hand, and take pictures of everyone they can. Then they post the pictures online for families to see. We were all very excited to wade through the pictures of "our guys".
May God Bless those who give our troops such incredible support.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas list thingy

I've been tagged by Snowflake.
In turn, I'm tagging Jen, and Nikki.

1.) Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate, but it must be made with milk.

2.) Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa, who is very evil because he takes the credit for all my hard work, wraps them. But honestly, would it matter? Do the kids even notice they are wrapped?

3.) Colored lights on tree/house or white? Gotta have color!

4.) Do you hang mistletoe? no, I've never hung mistletoe

5.) When do you put your decorations up? they usually go up the first weekend after Thanksgiving, but this year the kids and I are driving ALL the way up to Wisconsin for Christmas, so we aren't decorating here

6.) What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? um.... excluding dessert? I don't think I have any besides desserts! I love these cheesy potatoes that we always make for holidays. My grandma used to get this really yummy colored, braided bread for every holiday that I miss

7.) Favorite Christmas memory as a child? my sister and I sneaking down to check under the tree long before we woke our parents up

8.) When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was about 9 and my mom suggested that Santa might like Diet Coke instead of milk with his cookies. Also, "Santa" gave me a couple of shirts that I saw in my mom's closet one day.

9.) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes, I always got to open one when I was little, and I let my kids open a gift on Christmas Eve now. It's almost always PJ's and an ornament, though. I like to give them the "boring" gifts so that the meaning isn't overshadowed by all the fun stuff on Christmas morning.

10.) How do you decorate your Christmas tree? we have a potpouri-type of tree. there are all sorts of ornaments on it and they all mean something or have a story behind them.

11.) Snow! Love it or Dread it? I have never liked snow. Eventhough I grew up in Wisconsin, I have always hated being cold, and I don't like being in the cold snow. It is pretty to look at while I'm in my warm house, though!

12.) Can you ice skate? I've been known to throw on some ice skates from time to time. I was probably much better when I was younger because my friends and i would either go to the roller skating rink or ice skating rink every Sunday.

13.) Do you remember your favorite gift? when I was 6 I had to have something called an Air Jammer Road Rammer. I used to say it so fast my parents had no clue what I was asking for. It didn't matter to me because Santa knew! I did get it and I think it was one of my favorites.

14.) What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? remembering that our Savior was given to us (eventhough it wasn't exaclty on Dec. 25th!), and giving gifts to people I care about to let them know how much they mean to me

15.) What is your favorite holiday desert? is chocolate a holiday dessert? I like pie, and Christmas cookies, and just about any other holiday thing with sugar in it

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? decorating the tree, and putting up the Nativity with the kids. We have serveral that we like to put up and we talk about each "character" as we place them in their spot

17.) What tops your tree? A star

18.) Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I like to get tons of gifts every year! Nah!! Really I love shopping for people, finding the perfect gift, and hopefully seeing a happy face when they open it (if all goes well!)

19.) What is your favorite Christmas Song? I like "Silver Bells", Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", Beach Boy's "Little St. Nick", Burl Ives "Holly Jolly Christmas"... I could probably go on and on with favorite Christmas songs

20.) Favorite Christmas Movie? like songs, there are just way too many movies that I HAVE to see every year. Besides the classics like A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Miracle On 34th Street, Christmas Carol (preferably the Muppets version), and It's a Wonderful Life, I also love the newer ones like Santa Clause, Elf, Grinch, etc.

21.) What do you leave for Santa? usually the standard cookies and milk

Monday, November 26, 2007

One down, 454 to go

Actually, we can't really do the countdown thing with this deployment. This unit is so crazy. They change their minds a dozen times, and when we think we know for sure what the plan is, they change it up on us again. So I refuse to do a countdown, except maybe quietly in my head.
It was so hard to know what to do yesterday. Our last day with Husband, luckily, went slow. The clock ticked each minute slowly as if it knew we needed the extra time. But I found myself wondering what to do and what to say. How do I fit in enough "I love yous" before he leaves? How do I make sure he has enough hugs and kisses to last until we see him again?
Try as he might, Husband found the smiles a little difficult to form. His eyes were not happy. His mouth was turned down. Not enough for the kids to see, but wives see everything. He watched the kids play, and tried to be with them every second he was here. His heart was very heavy, though.
He checked his packing list about 15 times. He felt sure he was forgetting something. Besides trying to figure out how to fit the 4 of us in a side pocket on his already 120 pound rucksack, he had everything on his list.
When midnight came, and we pulled in to the parking lot near his office, we saw rucksacks and duffel bags stacked higher than you can imagine. Wives hanging out their car windows grasping for their husbands one last time. Kids with their arms wrapped tight around their daddy's legs. Strong soldiers who found that one thing that can make them weak; their wives' and kids' tearful good-byes.
I walked over to our friend Richard to tell him good-bye. He was sitting in his car with his 3 year old bouncing off the walls in the backseat. Newborn baby James was wrapped tight in his daddy's arms. Richard looked at Husband and said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of him for you!"
4000 men who would rather be home for Christmas, doing their duty, serving their country, and waving good-bye to their families. Families who can't do much more than clasp their hands and pray.
I wasn't sure how long to stay with him. A lot of wives were determined to sit in their cars until they saw their husbands load the buses at 5:20 in the morning. With three very tired kids, I couldn't wait that long. And anyway, Husband is high enough on the totem pole that he really shouldn't just sit around and visit with us. He has to attend to his soldiers, check and double check to make sure everyone has everything, and that the buildings (offices and barracks) are all cleared out. So we wouldn't have seen him much anyway.
The kids and I got home at 1:00 am. Hunter had already had a 3 hour nap prior to taking Daddy to work, so he was up and ready to play. Drew and Louisa grabbed their pillows and blankets and headed to my room. I tossed Hunter in bed, and was relieved when he fell asleep quickly. The other two kids were all snuggled in, so we read a story and tried to drift off to sleep.
Before Daddy left, Louisa wrote him a note to tuck in his pocket. The note said, "Daddy, I know God will protect you in Iraq because I asked him to."

Sunday, November 25, 2007


We're sitting around waiting for midnight to come. It's a strange feeling knowing that my husband is leaving tonight on his deployment, and we're just sitting around waiting for him to leave.
We don't want to stress the kids out by talking about the deployment over and over, because there is plenty of time for that after he leaves. And really, they know what to expect. We've done this before.
So instead of focusing on the obvious, we are making today a normal Sunday. Watching football, watching a few movies, playing video games (it's rainy today if you can't tell), going out to eat, doing a little shopping, just taking it easy and giving lots of extra hugs and kisses along the way.
The clock is ticking slowly, but I'm sure once midnight comes along I'll think it went too fast.
So for now, we're just waiting for our 455 days to begin.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One of Those Thankful List Thingy's

I'm thankful for the way Hunter's face lit up when he saw the Sesame Street float in the parade on tv this morning.
I'm thankful for Drew who was the first person to give me a hug and kiss and say "Happy Thanksgiving, Mama!"
I'm thankful for Louisa who played with Hunter today so I could sit and have some "adult time" with my friends.
I'm thankful for the look on my husband's face when he took the first bit of pumpkin pie I made for him.
I'm thankful to have friends who will be in the same boat as me for the next 15 months.
I'm thankful to be around so many heroes who are about to leave their families for an ungodly amount of time.
I'm thankful that I have the right to vote for the person I believe will clean up this mess in a way that's best for all of us (even if it's still a year away yet).
I'm thankful for family who puts up with the ebb and flow of military life right along side us.
I'm thankful for my nephew who is always good for a laugh, and cheers me up sometimes when he doesn't even know it.
I'm thankful for my mom who had to let me go this morning because the Packer game was about to start! (but did call me back later to talk about our Thanksgiving days!)
I'm thankful for my dad who would willingly battle the crowds tomorrow if I needed something for the kids that I couldn't get here.
I'm thankful for my sister who has a habit of calling me and giggling for 20 mintues straight.
I'm thankful that my kids and I are well taken care of.
I'm thankful for three happy, healthy, smart kids who love to have fun and make my life very chaotic.
I'm thankful God placed us at one of the most rural, boring bases in the army, because it forced me to get out and make friends.
I'm thankful the Lord has blessed me so I can make a list of all the things I'm Thankful for.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Random Act of Kindness, or Saying Thanks to a Deploying Soldier

Everything we do with Husband right now is put under the "one last time" category. One last time the kids see a movie with him. One last time we play at the park. One last time he gets to eat at Texas Roadhouse (his favorite restaurant). Obviously, it's not "one last time" forever, but for about 15 months or so. To the kids, that's forever.
Saturday we headed down to the "big city", aka Lake Charles, to have some dinner at the previously mentioned favorite restaurant, and play at a nice park they have there. When we were in the car, I noticed that some odd number with an area code I'd never seen had called me several times. The last time they left a message, so, of course, I listened.
"Hi Peggie, this is Kim from CafeMom!" Holy cow! I went into shock! I talk to this woman daily online, but had never given her my number. She said she had some exciting news, and could I please call her back ASAP.
When I called back, a happy sounding Kim asked me if we were going to the Texas Roadhouse in Lake Charles. No, she didn't read my mind. Earlier online I had told a few of those "online friends" that we were going to Texas Roadhouse "one last time" in the "big city". Kim did some legwork and figured out that we were heading down to Lake Charles, since that is the only Texas Roadhouse within driving distance of the base.
Her exciting news? She had called the restaurant and arranged with the manager to pay for our entire meal! She explained that she admires what we go through, and she wanted to thank us for our sacrifices. I sat there for a minute, just completely amazed. There are some people in this world who always have to work hard for what they have. They don't always make ends meet, they have times where they wonder where they'll get the money to pay all their bills, and they have times where faith in God is all that gets them through. At times, that's Kim and her husband. I was raised by parents who decided to go to college when they were in their 30's and had two girls to take care of. We never went "without" but there were times I'm sure my parents worried. So I definitely understand how BIG of a gift this was from her. But, when the Lord speaks, we listen. The Lord spoke to Kim, and she was filled with an excitement to help us, to thank a soldier and give his family a nice meal before he leaves.
Sometimes we encounter random acts of kindness that are small in nature, but big in thought. When Hunter was a small baby, and we still lived in Wisconsin, I had to run to the grocery store quick to get one gallon of milk. It was very cold, and I had to drag all three kids with me because Husband worked till 9:00 almost every night. Standing in line with my one gallon of milk and two kids begging me for a treat and only $3 to my name, the lady in front of me asked if she could pay for my milk. She said that a few weeks before, a nice lady paid for her sister's grocery bill out of the blue, and so she wanted to pass that kindness on. Later, I passed it on by paying for someone's coffee who was standing in line behind me at the convenience store. I hope that he in turn passed it on. That's a random act.
What Kim did was so much more. It took thought, and legwork, and she was almost late for work because she was looking online through our circle of friends to try and find someone who knew my phone number!
We had an enjoyable dinner. The waiter seemed to pay special attention to us. As we finished up and were putting our leftovers in the to-go box, the waiter said "My manager would like to treat you to a complimentary dessert". Our eyes got very large as we were all stuffed to the brim. But, you can't turn down free dessert! Louisa had already memorized the dessert list and told us to get the brownie. So we shared a brownie with ice cream. That was a random act of kindness on the restaurants part. Kim had told the manager our story, so he was, in his own little way, saying Thanks as well.
Louisa's exciting news from the night is that she's no longer a "child". The hostess only gave us two kids menus, for Hunter and Drew. The waiter brought her a full sized soda instead of the kids cup with a lid. She felt very grown up, but still ordered off the kids menu!

Thanks, Kim!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Three Years Ago Today....

....I breathed the biggest sigh of relief in my whole entire life.
Three years ago, Husband adopted Louisa. She loves that she has a daddy who *chose* to be her daddy. He didn't have to. She loves that she has a daddy who wanted it *official* more than anything. He didn't have to do that, either.
Louisa vaguely knows about another father, one who long ago made the decision that Husband would be a much better daddy for Louisa than he could be. That small fear always sat on my shoulder, though. If anything ever happened to me, she'd be taken away from the only daddy she new, and the brother who is her best friend, and thrown into a life with a bio-daddy that she barely knew.
That's why three years ago, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief of my life. If anything ever happens to me, Louisa will stay right here with her *real* daddy, and the two brothers she adores.
Every year on this date, Louisa and her daddy go out on a date. She loves that she has this day to celebrate that special relationship that only they have.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fried Alligator and Frog Legs

We decided to treat ourselves to some traditional Louisiana cuisine last night. We ate at a restaurant called Catfish Junction, and there was plenty of catfish. My mom would have been in fishy heaven.
As we perused the menu, trying desperately to find something that wasn't *too* risky, yet still somewhat local, Drew's eyes fell on one of the two items I was hoping he wouldn't see.
"I WANT ALLIGATOR!" *dang it* he saw it.
After me repeatedly telling him no, and no again, and no a few more times, Daddy compromised and ordered him the "sample" size. We asked the waitress what it tasted like and I'm sure you can guess what she said. "I've heard it tastes like chicken". Seriously, *everything* does not taste like chicken. In fact, I've come across a very select few things that actually taste like chicken. And usually it's something like chicken nuggets, chicken fingers, chicken fried.... chicken.
Anyway, the waitress was trying to take Drew's order when his eyes fell on the other menu item I was hoping he wouldn't see. "I want frog legs! Wait, what are frog legs?"
"Drew, frog legs are actual Frog Legs."
"Oh, I don't think I want that."
He eventually settled on stuffed crab. That he didn't eat.
As for the alligator, he did like that. He got a small dish with about 6 pieces of fried alligator. And no, it didn't taste like chicken. I guess it was a tad fishy, but I didn't try it myself. Husband, Louisa, and Drew tried it. Hunter entertained the other diners by standing in his high chair and singing at the top of his lungs. I assume he was singing something by Ozzy. I wanted to put a hat out on the floor next to his high chair, but no one else thought that was a good idea.
So when you're in Louisiana, try the fried alligator. You might be surprised. And be sure to tip the singing toddler. It's probably us. And yes, he does take requests, as long as it's something on my iPod.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Little Cry

We have very few days left before Husband is gone for a really long time. I don't need to dramatize it because it is what it is. He's deploying on an unspecified date that is getting closer and closer as each day passes. I know exactly what that means. I will be mom and dad for 15 months. No partner to ask watch the kids so I can run to the store. No friend to talk to when I've had a hard day. No lover to be with as I trudge to bed alone every night.
The kids, on the other hand, don't know exactly how long 15 months is, or what exactly it will entail. They've been here before. This deployment thing. We went through it for 8 months last year. But that was last year. In "kid time" last year was a really long time ago. The memory of not having Daddy here every day is very faded.
Drew and I looked at the calendar today to see just how many days we had left with Daddy. We don't have an actual date of departure yet, but we can estimate. We counted the days and Drew said, "Well, we're lucky that we get him home for a few weeks still".
I went back to doing my dishes and before long Drew walked by me, sat at the dining room table, and put his head down. I kind of assumed he was crying, or upset, but I tried to joke with him to get him to look up at me. He didn't look up.
I walked over and put him on my lap and gave him mommy hugs and mommy kisses. He cried for about two minutes or so. And let's face it, so did I. He's hurting. He adores his daddy. They play football and wrestle around and go to movies and work on the truck and do any number of countless things that daddies and sons do.
Just like that, Drew saw a pile of Pokemon cards sitting on the table that he is going to send to his pen pal, and asked, "Do you want to see what cards I picked out to give to him?" And that was it.
Sometimes we just need a little cry, and then we can get back to life.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I don't think I've been this tired in a long time. Okay, well, maybe last week. And the week before. But really, it's been awhile since I've had this sort of exhaustion from just running non-stop. I have a lot of stress that has settled in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. It's tight and painful and as soon as I am done writing this I'm off to bed to snuggle with my heating pad.
Husband has one of those all night training thingys that he does tonight, so at least I won't have to fight for the blanket. His job is just to mostly run around and yell at people a lot to make sure they're doing their job, as far as I can tell. Isn't it nice to know that your husband (generally speaking) is the one who is good at yelling at people all day long? But it's good, he gets it all out at work and comes home happy. Mostly.
We started today off by doing some school work with Drew. When Hunter woke up, the chaos started. Feeding the zoo animals, taking a long walk, playing in the park, chasing the escaped dog halfway around the neighborhood (much to Hunter's delight). Now that Drew is home every day, Hunter has someone to keep him entertained. And Drew has a mini-me who follows him everywhere, and does everything that he does.

As soon as Louisa stepped off the bus, we shoved a snack in our tummy's and headed off for a long night.
Louisa's cheerleading coach asked us to get our girls black and red bows for their hair. One of the playgroup mommy's makes beautiful hair bows for her little girl, so I had asked her to make one for us. We drove over to her house to pick up not one, but three very cute bows that Louisa was really excited about. Eventhough Louisa and Drew aren't an active part of the daily playgroup activities, all the ladies really like them and are so nice to them. I really appreciate how kind they are to my whole family.
We arrived at the Youth Sports Complex a little before 5:00, so I let the kids play on the playground for awhile. I thought that Drew had flag-football practice at 5:00. We waited, and waited, and 5:15 came around. Apparently he doesn't have practice. Okay, I wasn't 100% that he had practice tonight, but I KNEW one or the other kid had something going on.
Drew had Cub Scouts at 6:00 at a park that is right by the sports complex. We went to play at the park and wait for scouts to start. I just had this weird feeling that maybe it was Louisa's cheer practice that was tonight. We drove back to the sports complex at 5:40 and yep, everyone was there practicing. Good thing they start at 5:30, so she didn't miss much.
Thus begins my scatterbrained pattern that will somehow weave us through a very long upcoming deployment. Last year when Husband was in Afghanistan, I could barely remember to get the kids from school on time, much less their hectic schedule.
I took Drew back to the park where his scout meeting would be. It wasn't long before his leader got there.
I went back to get Louisa, went back in time for the end of Drew's scout meeting, talked with the leader and his wife about homeschooling (to which they were very supportive), and packed up the very tired crew to hit the Burger King drive through. That is a story in and of itself.
Burger King is the only major chain restaurant that is contracted to be on any and every military installation in the world (even Iraq and Afghanistan). Our particular BK has a habitual problem of not being able to find good help. This was one of those nights where the good help was seriously lacking. The kid was not only slow, but made me repeat my order countless times. As we drove up to the window I told the kids that it will be interesting to see what we actually get. Which was followed by many good-humored jokes all at the expense of the poor, slow, young man. I had repeated many many times, "no mustard on the cheeseburger". When we got home and started to dig in, Louisa said, "Guess what's on my cheeseburger?" Since she loves to joke around about stuff like that, I didn't believe her. But yep, sure enough, mustard. Ah well, at least that's all he got wrong.
Now I'm off to bed, only to wake up and start this routine all over again tomorrow. The only difference is that I actually *know* Drew has football practice tomorrow.