Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Two Christmasses in a row without your husband really starts to wear on a person. Even the strongest of us! Last year he had *just* left, and I was at my parents house. I did ok, but he struggled. This year, as hard as it is for him, he's too busy to think about it and I'm the one with all the time at home by myself to mope.

Time is getting closer. It will be so good to have him home. 14 months is a long time and I know many wouldn't get through it as easily as we have. I don't feel I did anything special, and we'll gladly do it again the next time around. Ok, maybe not "gladly"! But we'll do it just the same.

Christmas Eve we always let the kids open a few presents. They always get new pajamas right before bedtime. By the way, if your daughter isn't into High School Musical or Hannah Montana, it might not be a good idea to go PJ shopping at Walmart. I didn't have much of a choice. Luckily the lady next to me found Tinker Bell and asked if my daughter would like that. Yeah! Hunter got Kung Fu Panda, which he says so funny I can't repeat it, and Drew got Transformers PJ's.

I also let them open one of their gifts from Nana & Gramps. My parents like to give one big present for all three of them, which I appreciate. It's nice because they don't play with toys and whatever my parents buy them they have to share. The kids are usually good at sharing in the first place. Last year they got a Wii and it's been put to good use. So this year my parents surprised the kids with their very own laptop! And I was grateful that I don't have to share mine because I'm not as good at sharing as they are!

After that we found ourselves at a friend's house. We spent Thanksgiving at her house, and we'll probably spend New Year's Eve there as well. And when I think back over the year as far as holidays go, the same friends have been there for almost every one. That's comforting when I think of the turnover rate I have for friends. At least I've held on to the same ones for a year!

We let the kids open one gift at our friend's house. I gave Hunter some HotWheels I meant for his stocking. And Louisa has been begging me for these bangles they sell at Walmart. Everyone in school has them (which yes, a lot of girls do), so I gave her some rainbow ones, and lucky her... Santa gave her blue bangles in her stocking! While roaming the store one day I found this really cool deck of Star Wars information cards. I knew Drew would love them, and he did. He didn't put them down for the rest of the night.

Yesterday morning the kids got to open gifts their family sent them, but had to wait to open their Santa presents until Daddy got online. He wanted to see them opening their presents on webcam. Oh blessed webcam! Daddy was happy to see the frenzy of wrapping paper, and the kids excitedly held up each gift in front of the camera for him to see. They each got three presents. They don't need more than that. They got exactly what they wanted and we don't have a lot of excess that they won't ever use. Less is more!
Christmas evening we ran over to Andrea and Colton's house. Another staple in our lives the past year. The best friends a gal could ask for. We had gifts for Colton, and they had gifts for the kids. We weren't planning a dinner with them, and I don't know why, but I didn't plan a Christmas dinner at all. I think I had been so focused on Christmas Eve dinner, and the 5 other projects I have going on right now, that Chirstmas dinner just escaped my mind. Silly me. Another crazy chaotic moment among many.
Because everything was closed except the Chinese buffet, we settled for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. If you don't know what that is, watch this.



(You can fast forward to 3:05 to see what I'm talking about, and yes, that's really what we had, minus the jelly beans!) Hey, it happens. We all get too busy sometimes. I'm busy with several huge projects right now that take a lot of my time. God is putting me in certain places to do certain jobs. And He's blessed me with children who love to live life outside the box! I'm sure we couldn't get away with this in more structured households.

In closing, I leave you with one of my special children who is extraordinary in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

After 12 Days of Christmas... Chaos Mommy goes Insane!

The kids and I came up with our own version of 12 Days of Christmas. And really, any time of year Chaos Mommy is lucky to make it out each day with sanity in tact, but Christmas backed up with Husband finally coming home make life much crazier! You can go ahead and fill in all the extra verses because that's just too much typing for fingers that have been wrapping presents and baking pies all night.

On the first day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with one pair of Missing Keys!

On the second day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with two trips to Wal-Mart.

On the third day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with three letters home from school.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with four poopy diapers.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with five after school activities.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with six broken ornaments.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with seven party invitations.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with eight loads of laundry.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with nine bills to pay.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with ten Sponge Bob re-runs.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with eleven crabby neighbors.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Chaos Mommy went insane with twelve More Months of Deployment!!! (just kidding :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Getting Ready

Can you believe there's only 4 more days till Christmas?! Where o' where did time go? Not only did December fly by, but this whole year flew by quicker than a jack rabbit on fire!

A year ago I didn't think I'd ever get through all these holidays without Husband. I dreaded an entire year away from him. I was sad for all the things he'd miss. Now, here we are. Mere weeks away from our reunion. Christmas is knocking at the doorstep. We've almost made it! But where did the time go? What did we do? Does it even matter?

I tried to make this a year the kids could look back on and say, "Mom tried her hardest that year to make us happy". On the other hand, I wonder if we left Daddy behind. Will we pick up right where we left off when he comes home? How could we? We've all changed and grown so much since he left. Even he's changed. He has a higher position at work (which shortens the list of families we can hang out with when he gets back), he's been living in a foreign land where a white Christian is in the minority instead of the majority. He has to come back home and adjust to our culture and time zone and being able to drive faster than 5 mph! (Yes, really, they can only drive 5 mph through the neighborhoods.)

We'll make it work because we always do. We have great communication skills (namely teasing and sarcasm), and we love to laugh and have fun. Husband is good at separating work from home. And we're good at helping him to adjust (and by "adjust" I mean throwing all three kids at him as soon as he steps in the door and running like hell to the grocery store... BY MYSELF!!!) Ha! I wouldn't really do that to him....

Or would I?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too tired to think of a clever title!

I did not get all those ornaments made. Not even close. I giggle now, thinking about it. Trying to make 11 of those recycled greeting card ornaments in one night! HA! The results are worth it, but if you want to make those for friends or family, do it very far in advance. And leave plenty of time to perfect your style and work out the kinks.

In the end I made two. One for Louisa's teacher and one for Drew's teacher. The kids were happy with them and excited to give them as gifts and I was happy that I'm crafty enough that I can whip together something nice whenever I need a gift.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Procrastination... again.

I was going to make these ornaments for my Girl Scouts. Besides cutting out a few circles from some greeting cards, I don't have too much done yet. I went to read the directions just a minute ago and it says that each ornament takes about an hour to complete. I need to make 11 ornaments and our last meeting before Christmas is tomorrow evening. Oops! Talk about procrastination!

Um... either I start cutting out the rest of the circles now, or I give up. I can't buy them anything because my Christmas budget is shot. I think I need to get cutting and gluing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elmo is not in Hunter's ear...

... but a piece of candy wrapper is!

Last night Hunter kept waking up crying, saying his ear hurt. I assumed he had an ear infection. Twice I found him balled up on his bedroom floor on a big pillow. Finally I gave him Tylenol and took him to bed with me. He slept like a rock in my bed, go figure.

This morning I call the family practice clinic and get an appointment for him. When we got there, the doctor, or PA... or whatever he was... seemed a bit loopy. Long day? Or maybe he's just always that way?

He bounded into the room and said "Hailey?!" I say... "um.... no. We have a Hunter." Doc says "Ok, that'll do!"

No, not That'll do! He left the room for a second and I checked the file to make sure it was Hunter's!

He checked Hunter's ears and asked the usual questions, when did the pain start, how much pain was he in, does he have a cold, has he had a fever???

When Louisa was little, her pediatrician used to find silly things in her ears, like Elmo. My ped used to find potatoes in mine. So now I always tell Hunter that Elmo is in his ear. He says, "No! Not!" When this doc looked I asked Hunter if the doc would find Elmo, but apparently it wasn't the time for joke making. Hunter sat very seriously because, well, there's an otoscope in his ear.

Finally the doctor made the announcement that it was not Elmo that was stuck in Hunter's ear, and it wasn't an ear infection either..... it was.... (he paused for dramatic effect)... a Hershey Kiss wrapper!

Huh??

I am still wondering how he knew it was a Kiss wrapper! That in itself amazed me. It was the tiniest little thing, stuck way down in Hunter's ear, and it was the green mint kind. So it wasn't even silver.

He got it out with the skinniest tweezers ever. Hunter is Kiss wrapper free. For now. I asked him not to stick things in his ears anymore and he immediately points to his nose. No! Not in your nose, either! I had to deal with that when Drew was 2 and stuck a popcorn kernel way up his nose. I think we're done sticking things in facial holes for awhile.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Aprons for Girls

I previously wrote that I was thinking of buying Louisa this apron for Christmas because she is having fun cooking and wanted to look the part. However, the other night I got caught up in one of my favorite pastimes, cruising Etsy.com, and found this apron. I emailed the shop owner and asked if she could make it in a bigger size for a preteen. She said yes, she has "Big Sister" sizes. Perfect!! But... she's out of this material. Louisa is very into Asian culture, which is the main reason I got so excited over this apron. The shop owner did say she creates these aprons from her fabric drawer and she does have other kimono style fabrics if that's ok.

So now I'm excited because Louisa will have a special apron that's made just for her! We're not exchanging family gifts until after Husband gets home, and something this great will definitely come from Me, and not Santa. So the shop owner has a little more time to get it made since she won't have to ship it to me by the 25th.

If you need a special gift this year for a hard-to-shop-for person, check out Etsy.com. It's addictive and amazing!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cooking with Kids

All three kids love to help me in the kitchen. Which is great when you have a normal sized kitchen. Or even just extra counter space. My kitchen is small with very little counter space. It can get crowded fast. I always move them to the dining room table (except the dining room has carpet so spills are not always fun to clean up).

Lately I've been letting Drew and Louisa take turns choosing meals out of their many children's cookbooks, making a shopping list (then shopping, obviously), and then getting to be the head chef. They enjoy creating delicious meals. Sometimes we do a three course meal, sometimes it's just the main entree. Either way they are learning valuable skills.

Hunter helps me with anything that needs to be measured and stirred. He's good at measuring (with help) and he's very good at stirring and mixing. Again, the little counter space makes for a cramped kitchen, but he's the right size to stand in there and help me.



Some fun stuff we've bought to get the kids in the cooking spirit are: Monkey Measuring Spoons, The Little Cook Tool Kit, and The Better Homes & Gardens New Junior Cookbook.

For Christmas I'm going to get Louisa this apron. It's SO cute and she has been wanting one for awhile. But I also love this apron set. Excpet that Louisa is just not a "pink" girl anymore. However, if you have a little cook you are buying for this Christmas and need a last minute idea, it's very cute. I thought about getting this Mommy & Me set. I'm not sure yet. It's a great price for all that comes with it, even if it is a little more Christmassy. I love Gooseberry Patch. It's so hard to decide.

This past week we bought this cookie decorating kit from Crayola. The kids had a blast and did an amazing job. I took pictures, of course!

Louisa and I watch the Food Network all the time. We love Iron Chef America, Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri (which goes to show you that some of those reality series winners DO make something of themselves!), and Ace of Cakes. We just can't get enough of that stuff. Louisa is trying to take some of what she learns into the kitchen. I really hope this turns into something for her. Not necessarily culinary school, but just a love for the art of cooking. I'd love to go to her house for Thanksgiving some day and have a beautiful piece of art laid out for us to chow down on! Then I can smile and say, "All because I introduced her to the Food Network!" :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Playgroup Makes Me Fat!

Seriously, playgroups are a bad idea if you want to lose weight. Very bad. Every time we meet up we have food. Lots and lots of carb and sugar-rich food. Take this past Wednesday for example. I had some playgroup friends over at my house to make Welcome Home signs to hang in the barracks when the guys get back. I had made some cookies for the little ones to snack on and bought juice boxes. Another mom brought donuts, and another mom brought more cookies. Hunter went in the kitchen to get some food and came back with a plate full of cookies and donut. So, he sat and ate cookies and donut.

Of course, they left all the food when they went home, so I ended up eating 3 donuts that day! I can't just let them sit there! Ugh. Playgroups not good.

Last night we had a cookie exchange for Girl Scouts and I had to take all the leftover cookies that people left there. Today we're having a cookie exchange for playgroup. Maybe it's just Christmas time in general, but wow am I eating a lot of junk food lately. So are the kids. Hunter seems to be on a 24/7 sugar high. Trying to get their Christmas pictures taken on Wednesday night after the major sugarfest he had all day was quite a task. We got one nice picture after... I don't even know how long. Well, at least we got one, I guess!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Update on Flash

And apparently we have a dog again... long story. He's back and here to stay. He's had a long week and he's obviously glad to be back. Hunter is very happy as well.
Oh, and he has Lyme's disease. Poor puppy. Just a bottle of pills and I guess he'll be fine. That had nothing to do with his adventure away from home, though. He got that awhile ago. The shelter we picked him up at wouldn't release him until they updated his shots and gave him a blood test, so that's how we found out. It causes soreness in the joints, which totally explains why he can't walk well some days. And some days he just has trouble getting up in the first place. Hopefully the meds will get rid of all that achy-ness.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Separating the Holidays

Isn't it crazy that as soon as Halloween is over, like on November 1, all the Christmas stuff goes up in the stores? Sometimes stores even get their Christmas section started before Halloween. I get how stores and companies make more money the longer Christmas decorations are available for us to buy. But why can't comsumers fight back? Why can't we boycot buying any Christmas items at all until after Halloween, at least? Let's have one holiday at a time here.

Or we can all put up one of these signs and be done with it.

I've always been taught to take each holiday as it comes. The Christmas decorations never came out until Thanksgiving was over, and each holiday was decorated with that holiday in mind. For instance, we didn't put our Christmas tree up just because we were having guests for Thanksgiving. Which to me is just plain weird. I know plenty of people that do it, though.

In my house, now that I'm a grown-up and I get to make the rules, we don't write letters to Santa until after Thanksgiving, or put up Christmas decorations, or even shop for anything holiday related. Christmas gifts being the exception, of course. Obviously, with the rising cost of... well, everything, and the number of people most families have to buy for, it makes sense to spread that out over several months.

So, my point here (I think I had a point...) is that sometimes we can slow down and take one thing at a time. Let the kids enjoy and learn about each holiday. Fall and winter have some amazing holidays, but each one has separate meanings. It's sad to see kids who have no idea what Thanksgiving is about.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We've Made it a Whole Year!

One year. Wow! So much has happened. So many people have been in and out of my life, so many experiences have changed me. I would love to say I've accomplished all my goals. I wish I could say I've learned to be more patient. And more than anything I'd like to say we have all sorts of money saved up and I've been a good steward this past year.

I can say that one year ago, I looked at the road ahead of me with little hope of being able to make it to the end with my sanity in tact. 15 months with just me and the kids by ourselves. It's not been easy. We've all had many days we wished Daddy was here to be the buffer. Take the kids to the park so I can have some quiet! Help Louisa with math that I just do not understand. Take Drew to his martial arts classes. Play with Hunter because sometimes he just needs his daddy.

We've still got a little longer to go, but I wanted to acknowledge today. One year. One year since we left him in the parking lot in front of his company office building. One year since we saw all
those duffel bags and ruck sacks piled higher than the kids.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Drew stuff

Yesterday I was sitting here, on my computer, fiddling with the virus yet again when I heard a horrible scream from outside. I guessed it was Drew and jumped up to see what happened. He flew in here holding his finger up. Blood and skin were hanging all over. Very gross. He had pinched his finger in the stroller while he and Hunter were taking turns pushing eachother. When he yanked his finger free, he ripped the pad of the finger tip off. Kind of. It was hanging there still. Again, gross. I can not handle this stuff. There's a reason I never became a nurse like my mom.

We ran next door to ask the neighbors if they'd watch Hunter and Louisa, and Drew and I took off for the ER. Much unlike our last ER experience, we got in right away. They X-rayed his hand since his finger had been pinched. They told us a small piece of bone could break off and he'd never even know it. Luckily, no broken bone.

I think the absolute worst part of the whole thing was when the nurse was washing his finger. I held him to me very close and he screamed and cried. I can only imagine how horribly painful that was. She had to really get in there, under that flap of skin, and clean it all out good. My finger hurts just thinking of it!

The doctor came in (the same one I've had terrible experience with twice before!), and said "Oh, this won't need stitches! Just some glue!" The look on Drew's face was too funny. Glue?! On his finger?! LOL! And yes, they glued the skin down. I liked that. It was painless, and now dirt won't get in there. They gave him a bandage and we were on our way.

When we got home he had to run all over and show his friends his glued finger. He had stitches when he was 2-years-old in his head, but he doesn't remember. I'm so glad we didn't have to do that this time. He wouldn't have been near as willing as he was 5 years ago.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Antivirus 2009

Heard of it? If you have, you know how evil it is. If you haven't, update your computer's virus protector now, and don't buy the "protection" the virus tries to sell you if you do get it.
Here's what it is: Antivirus 2009
I'm praying it didn't do too much damage to my computer. It's still not all gone yet. And yes, totally my fault for not updating my virus protection. Stupid, stupid me.

In the meantime, the kids and I have a long week off school for Thanksgiving break. We've got lots of fun planned, starting with haircuts for all three kids today! Finally! I'll post a pic as soon as this nasty virus goes away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bye-Bye, Flashie

We loved him and played with him, but just couldn't train him like he deserved. So, because we loved him so much, we let him go. Hunter was the most sad of all of us. He cried and asked why Flashie didn't want to be with him anymore. I said Flashie loves him, but there's another family who loves Flashie just as much, and he'll have a doggie brother to play with now. Hunter seemed to accept that as okay. We went and met this new doggie brother and Hunter saw how well the two played together.

I'm sitting here staring at the empty spot where Flash's crate sat, knowing he's going to be just fine.


Bye-Bye, Flashie!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More "Things we do for our kids"

I'll just post a picture... that's all you need to get the point :)


Me with turtle shell on my back to show Hunter it wasn't scary.... Hunter wasn't even looking! ha!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The things we do for our kids...

I think that Sleep Deprivation has to be the #1 thing we do for our kids. Staying up late baking 4 dozen cupcakes for school, waking up early to finish painting the Humpty Dumpty costume, getting up numerous times in the middle of the night to fend off nightmares, take them to the bathroom, clean their throw up...
Friday night I had the Girl Scouts at our on-post Girl Scout Hut for a sleepover. Need I say more? Sleep Deprivation done with a smile just to see that smile on Louisa's face. And I'll do it again, and again, and again... for all three of them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Tragedy Strikes, the World Keeps Turning

It's so strange to think about how one family suffers tragedy too big to comprehend, and everyone else keeps moving. Their life has stopped, come to a complete standstill, while the rest of the world goes on with their daily business. And you think, How can you all keep moving?! Can't you see this family suffering?

I think about far away events like the collapse of the school in Haiti. All those families who have lost children. Some families lost more than one child, and nieces and nephews, and family friends, and.... Yet the world keeps turning.

Or tragedies closer to home like my sister's friend who was murdered a few nights ago. He knew there was trouble around. He knew someone had targeted his brother and brother's girlfriend. The police knew someone had targeted the couple, and were keeping in contact with them. But I don't think anyone knew it would be my sister's friend who would end up dying. All he did was open a door, and walk into the house first. The killer sat and waited for them. Did he look to see who he was shooting, or did he just shoot? He had no value for human life, having already taken it a week before on a killing spree across southern Wisconsin.

Yet the world keeps spinning. My life keeps moving. I still look forward to my husband's calls, letting me know my life is still the same. My small part in all of this is only to check in on my sister. She had just been with her friend a few days before he died. She took him out to dinner for his birthday. She looked forward to their re-kindled friendship. She spent hours on the phone talking about old days and future days. "What do you want to do next weekend?"

When my sister-in-law Tabitha died 4 years ago, I was an outsider watching a family in pain. I didn't get to be included. She wasn't my family. I didn't heal well because I didn't feel I was allowed to grieve. So my life kept moving. I got pregnant with Hunter around that time. I looked forward to the new life God gave me, and buried my grief. It wasn't mine to have. Since then I've allowed myself to feel that pain and acknowledge that I lost someone, too. I lost an old friend that I could have had a future with, even if our past was clouded with jealousy and anger. Instead of past memories, I lost future ones. And although I'm still amazed at how quickly her husband moved on, no one else in the family has moved on. It's as if they are waiting for Tabitha to come back and pick up where she left off. Halloween night, trick or treating with her daughter, she'll be back.

I think my sister's friends will be waiting for their son and brother to come back for a long time, too. When you are with them and smiling and laughing one second, and they are gone in the next, your world doesn't get to keep moving. Your world stops.

**Craig Finley, died November 6, 2008. For full story, read HERE.

Friday, October 31, 2008

This is Halloween...

The party for playgroup went good last week. As far as I know! Everyone seemed to have a good time.
I did have a very adventurous day leading up to the party, though. A member gave me a certificate she had won for a free kids jumper/bouncy thingy. I had to drive out and get it since I'm one of the few members with a truck big enough to haul the jumper. The place renting the jumper was really a couple's house. They live waaayyyy.... out in rural podunk, so I had a difficult time finding the place. I got the directions from the man, but didn't read them carefully. After driving around awhile, I turned into a driveway that went way back in the woods. There was a sign that said it was some type of camp, but the jumper owner guy mentioned this sign in his directions, so I assumed I was supposed to turn there. Looking around, I got a creepy feeling that Jason Voorhees would jump out at any moment. Even in broad daylight. It looked like the type of camp he would have haunted. Broken swings on the playground, run-down, shabby looking cabins, very old trees that creaked in the wind... I just wanted to get my jumpy and get out of there.
I drove around to a building that had people in it, so I parked and started to walk up to it. There was a note that said "Please use front door" with an arrow pointing, well, to the front I guess. I walked back to the truck and started to open the door when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Naturally, I jumped out of my skin. Knowing with every bone in my body that Jason was standing beside me, I made the typical horror movie mistake. I turned around. Duh! Get in the truck and drive like hell, woman! Don't turn around!!! (I know I'm not the only one who yells at the screen when watching a horror flick!)
There was an old man standing there. Ok, so Jason's aged a little! I mean, his first movie came out in 1980, and he had been dead for awhile when it came out, so it's possible. The old man says "Aren't you going to come in?" I thought.... um... No! I showed him my certificate for the jumper and told him that I was here to pick up the kids jump. He had no idea what I was talking about, but asked us to come in and have lunch with them. Again... NO! He told me they were on a church retreat. Personally, I think they should ask for their money back because that camp did not look like something any church I know of would book! But whatever. After more insistence that we come have lunch, and more, "No thank you, we are really running behind for a party today", I got the heck out of there. Oh, and I was in such a hurry I backed the truck in to a fence. That was not good.
When I pulled out of the long driveway I noticed that I was only one driveway away from the correct one. That figures. The people who owned the jumper live on a farm where they raise goats and pigs and ponies, and all sorts of animals that they rent out, kind of like a traveling petting zoo. About 15 dogs ran up to my truck, so I stopped short, afraid that I might hit one. The guy put some of the smaller ones away, then asked me to back the truck up to the jumper, for easier loading. I had Louisa jump out to warn me in case I was about to hit any of the doggies left running around. The guy says, "It's okay, they'll get out of the way!"
We loaded up the jumper with no problem. I was about to take off when I realized that he never took my name or number. Here I am, renting one of his jumpers for free, and he didn't have any information from me. I could have easily kept it. Except that it was a big purple castle and I really didn't have much use for it.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Well, besides the party. It went well, we had fun, and I stressed out for nothing! As usual.

After everyone left the party, the kids and I went for a walk along the lake, watching the sun set. Our favorite time of day. Drew said, "How come everyone else gets their daddy and I don't?" I told him there were a few other kids in playgroup whose daddy's were deployed, too. But I know that's not what he wants to hear. I can't make Daddy come home any faster. Daddy hasn't missed a Halloween with us since Drew was 1, and I know Drew doesn't remember that. It's hard to go through all these holidays without our daddy, when we see so many other kids that get to have theirs. All I can say is, he'll be home soon.

Happy Halloween! I hope everyone gets lots of candy and keeps those dentists in business ;)

And Happy Birthday to my one and only sister!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Party Planning is Not My Forte'

I'll admit it openly and freely.... I'm NOT good at planning parties. I either over-plan or under-plan. I never evenly, perfectly plan wonderful parties. I guess I just don't have the gene.

Why 'o why, then, do I take on such big party planning projects.... on a continual basis?! Am I just a glutton for punishment? Do I enjoy scrambling around to get things done, spending far too much money, and finding myself pulling my hair out because I procrastinated too long? I don't think I do. At least, my outer "being" doesn't enjoy it. Maybe my inner being gets some sick enjoyment, and that's what speaks up whenever someone says "Who wants to plan this party for us?"

Last year the playgroup had an awesome 1st Anniversary/Halloween party. The organizer planned it well (she was *much* more organized than I) and everyone had a great time. So this year I wanted to plan something just as spectacular. I wanted it in the same building, with all the same stuff. I wanted everyone to experience the fun we had last year.

Things never work out as we plan.

Talking the party over with my assistant organizers, one of them says "Let's do it at the park by the lake where we had our spring family picnic. I think that would be more fun." But... but.... then it won't be like last year! Changing venue is NOT an option! Ok, in real life, I'm not that forward, so I utter a sheepish "Um... okay... I can check into it". Feeling a bit defeated I check into having it at the park. Rental wise, building versus park, it's the same price. Set up, time, and planning-wise, the park is a better option. Slowly my stubborn side gives in and I see how much better it will be at the park instead of inside the building we had last year. More room for the kids to run and play, I don't have to worry about all the decorations, set up and take down will be much easier.... Okay, let's go for it.

Now I'm excited about the park. A little worried about the weather, but we've had picnics in the rain there before and we all survived.

A lot of people and area businesses donated fun stuff for a raffle, we'll have a costume contest, and someone donated the rental of a kid jumper for free.

My planning was still off, and I didn't get as much accomplished as I wanted to, but I do foresee a fun party.

Wonder how long it will be before I stress myself out with another one...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh no! There goes the neighborhood!

Last night I had a Girl Scout leader meeting. It was long and boring and they went over rules and rules and more rules about all the things we *can't* do with our troops.... Drew comes running up to me and yells "LouiHuntsa'er threw up, you need to come quick!" I have no idea which name he said, it sounded like both of them glommed together.
I ran to the bathroom and, yep, Louisa was throwing up. We cleanes it up, and took our sick girl home.

Now, Louisa is the worst of the three to have sick. She drags everything out, and over dramatizes how sick she really is. But the worst part of her being sick is that she hates missing school. She hates knowing that everyone is going on without her, and that things are happening that she's not a part of. Where that comes from, I have no idea! I used to fake being sick on purpose to stay home!
So last night Louisa is walking around pouting and being sassy because she knows she'll miss school today. And worst of all is that she was *just* elected Secretary of Student Council, a step up from last year, and today was the first Student Council meeting! Oh, Mom! How could you keep her home?!

Today she was just fine, as if nothing ever happened. I can't stand when the kids do that! I get the flu and I'm literally down for the count for DAYSS!! They get the flu and they throw up once, sleep it off, and they're right as rain. How?!
She did stay home because this flu thing is ground around like wildfire right now, and there's no sense in infecting more households.
Around 11:00, when I saw she was pretty much done being sick, I told her that if she was feeling good and kept down her lunch by 1:00, I'd take her to get her very first military ID. Kids are supposed to get them when they are 10, so she's been nagging me for a year to take her to get it. My ID expires this week, so I thought I'd knock them both out. Plus, I don't have to take her out of school to do it since she's already home.

Now, you all remember what it was like to get your driver's license for the first time. Think of how amazingly awesome it would be to be 11 years old, and you just got a Military ID! Louisa is on top of the world right now. Showing it off to everyone, and look there's my Daddy's social security number, and there's the expiration date, and it says I can shop at the commissary and PX (LOL!)
Another milestone, another rite of passage. They're growing up!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Out of the ashes...

Do you ever feel like a phoenix when you're sick? I do. I feel like I'm buring, wasting away, there's no end to it in sight. But when I'm finally feeling better I feel like a new person, up out of the ashes, like a phoenix.

And one great thing about being sick.... those shorts I'm wearing in the picture? I've never been able to fit in to them!! WooHoo!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bring it on!

My motto throughout this deployment has been "Bring it on!" I can handle anything that comes my way. And for the most part, I can. I have found a few things I just can't do on my own, though. Like getting the flu. I just can't do this on my own, over and over. I've had the flu three times since Husband deployed. It's impossible to take care of the kids when I can't even stand.

Poor Hunter's trapped in the house pretty much 24/7 because I can't go outside, and I can't stand long enough to play with him. He's figured out how to put DVD's in by himself and get the movie started. That's not by my choice and it's not something I'm bragging about. Although I am bragging that he can make his own peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. He's only 3. Thursday night, when the flu was the worst and I couldn't get off the couch, he made his own jelly and sugar sandwich. Yum.

Louisa always get the short end of the stick when I'm sick because she has to help me the most. She has to help me with the boys and make food and let the dog out and feed the cats, and... I hate when she has to do stuff that goes beyond normal childhood duties and chores. She shouldn't ever have to act like the grown-up of the house and I keep that to an absolute minimum.

Those who think deployments don't affect families can come spend a day with children who've done this a few times. People often times mistake their independence and intelligence as some sort of "gifted" quality, when for them, it's survival. They need to be independent. They have to be smart. It's the only way to get through.

I'm so blessed to have the kids I have. They really come together as a family when times like this call for it. Mom gets sick, so everyone knows they have to kick it up a notch. I don't even have to ask. Louisa's right there helping out, Drew plays with Hunter and takes him outside for me, and Hunter draws me sweet pictures to make me feel better. It makes Husband feel better, too, knowing the kids will help me out.

But, if we could go the rest of this deployment , chanting our motto, "Bring it on!" without the flu or getting sick part, that would be great. We have so little left to go! Most people I know whine and cry and die when they're apart from their husbands for 4 or 5 months. I'm so excited about 4 or 5 months that I can't put it in to words! Funny how your perspective changes throughout 15 months apart. When 4 months were down, we were still in the beginning and there was such a long time to go. Now we've got 4 months left until we're done, and I'm saying Ya baby! Bring it on! (except for the flu part! ;)

Friday, October 03, 2008

More Horsie Stuff

Back in June I took the kids to my friend's house to ride her horses. We've been back several times since then, but not to ride the horses. At the time she only had one ridable horse. Now she has two ridable horses.

The other day I took Hunter, and my friend Andrea and her son Colton, to visit the horsies again. Hunter got to ride Prancer, who was sick for a long time and is now finally feeling better, and also a donkey named Smith. He had a great time and I love letting him have these opportunities to get this close to animals.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Long Week

Monday 9/22: Hunter and I were supposed to go to Kindermusik, but it was one of those days where we didn't want to move, much less be ready for a half hour drive by 9:30 am. We stayed home in the morning and went to the park in the afternoon.



Tuesday 9/23: We didn't do much in the day except a lot of house cleaning. In the evening, Louisa had a basketball game at the same time Drew had Cub Scouts. Drew doesn't seem too into Cub Scouts this year so he said it was okay if we skipped it.


Wednesday 9/24: A neighbor took Drew & Louisa to school for me so I could get ready to go to a Spouse's Conference. I dropped Hunter off at child care at 8:00 and he ran off to play without even looking back. I had 4 classes and a lunch break during the day. It was a great day spent with friends and listening to an awesome key note speaker, Ellie Kay. Well, that is, up until I got yelled at by someone I've met only once before. I was sitting in a class about being "Superwoman" and wearing a real actual cape when I heard my name from across the room. I had my back to whoever was angrily saying it, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to turn around. I heard someone else say, "Shh... she's right over there" and that pretty much meant I had to turn around. I faced whoever was displeased with me and it all had to do with Girl Scout stuff. I wasn't patient enough to wait for someone's reply email (I actually didn't have the *time* to wait, I needed the info ASAP), and so I went above her head and emailed someone else. She didn't like that. Problem has since been solved, but it's not a fun feeling sitting in a class having your name said aloud in an upset tone.
When I went to pick up Hunter from child care I saw him rubbing his eyes, rolling his head around, and collapsing on to the mat he was standing on. He didn't even look at me when I picked him up and carried him out. He must have played hard!


Thursday 9/25: Hunter and I went to the park in the morning with our friends. We arrived at 10:30 and didn't leave until 2:00. Yes, really. I talked and talked and talked to my friends for far too long and around 2:00 Hunter finally laid down on the ground, defeated. He needed a nap and we needed to go.
That evening was our first Girl Scout meeting. It was a parent meeting (part of what the oh-so-important email was about), and we finally got to meet our girls and let the parents know what's going on. We're a month behind all the other troops, so we are anxious to get started.


Friday 9/26: 11 years ago I became a mommy for the first time. 11 years ago, at 6:54 pm, I held my sweet little 5 lb, 10 oz baby girl, and haven't let go since.
Daddy and I conspired together to get her the best birthday present, ever. A blue iPod, 8GB (twice the size of mine!), and all hers. Of course that's all she gets :) but she doesn't care. Daddy picked it out online and had it shipped here, so we had him on speaker phone when she opened it up. As you can see from her face, it's the best thing ever!


Louisa's BFF Echo spent the night that night and we also had several friends stop by and sing Happy Birthday. We made pizza, but I had an idea to put the pizza dough in my muffin pan. They came out all puffy like... well, muffins. Echo, who's talent is quick wit, says "oh cool, we made 'muffizzas'!" That girl never misses a beat!

Saturday 9/27: I honestly don't remember. It must not have been too exciting.

Sunday 9/28: Drew had his first martial arts class. It's a mix between Aikido, Judo, and Karate. More Aikido right now than anything else. He put on his little dogi, and headed right in to class like he knew what he was doing. He watched all the other kids for clues of what to do when. Some of the kids will be testing next week for their yellow belt. Drew didn't understand why he doesn't get to test, but I explained that he'll get there.

Monday 9/29: First thing this morning Hunter and I had to get moving. He doesn't like days like that. We had Kindermusik at 10:00, which means getting out the door by 9:30. We got out the door at 9:48. It's a half hour drive. He pouted most of the way there, but I thought he'd be fine once we got to class and he saw his friends. Nope. He layed on the floor and pouted the whole class. Of course we were late, which didn't help.
After class we had to shoot back to the on-base car care center to drop off the truck. Oil change and tire repair, nothing exciting. Across the street is a Burger King with playland, so we hopped over there for lunch. I knew it would be packed, it always is at lunch time, but I wasn't prepared for the mass amounts of soldiers taking a break from training in the field. As I, the lone woman in the whole place, stood in line with my son weaving in and out of the camo-clad legs, I noticed more than one soldier watching Hunter with a smile. No doubt thinking of their own little boys waiting at home for Daddy to get back. Even if soldiers aren't deployed, they take long trips to bases like mine for extensive field training. They could be here for a few weeks or a few months, either way it's without their families.
A friend came and met us at Burger King, so I didn't feel too weird, but being the only woman with a little boy running around does make one a bit uncomfortable.
Finally got my truck back and it was time to go get Drew from school. Louisa had a basketball game after school, her last for the season. We went to get an inspection tag on the truck updated (some Louisiana thing), and when we were finished with that we went home to do homework.
I admit that we didn't go watch all of Louisa's game. I know I should be there to cheer her on, but keeping Hunter still in the stands for an hour is a challenge. We picked her up and went back home. As soon as I walked in the house I smelled something funny. It smelled like burning plastic. I noticed it was coming from the laundry/utility room. When I inspected a little further I found that the water heater was smoking. And I don't mean in a good way! It was really smokin'! I called the housing company and they rushed someone right over. Two hours later we got a brand new water heater. Without the smoke.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wanted: Girl Scout Leader

Job Requirements:
Must be able to deal with parents who are late, forget everything they were supposed to bring, and sometimes just forget Girl Scout meetings all-together.
Needs to be cheerful at all times, even when parents and girls are whiny and complaining. Must have cheerful smile through all circumstance. And be prepared for everything military families can and will throw at you.
Must possess skill to plan activities appropriate to age level, but be ready for activity to not go as planned.
Dealing with pre-teen girls takes special talent and patience, so applicant must be able to handle a group of pre-teens girls with their mood swings and attitude.
Must follow strict Girl Scouts of America rules at all times, even when they don't make sense.
Must also be able to deal with other leaders who are sometimes rude, opinionated, and not afraid to speak out when they feel the need.

If you fit this description, please apply. Otherwise you might be getting in over your head.

..... So, here I go! I think I'm ready. This will be fun.... I know it will!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Major Meltdown!

We had one of those "toddler days" today. The kind where Hunter just melted down, and that was the end of it. We've been running so much lately that he just needed a day at home. Our days consist of getting up much earlier than Hunter would like to take the kids to school, doing some playgroup thing in the morning, coming home for about two hours (to nap, but he never does), getting kids from school, doing whatever activity the older two have in the evening, coming home for homework, dinner, bath & bed.... and start it all again the next day.

Yes, I'm overstimulating him. I realize that. It's hard doing this on my own and finding the right balance. I need to keep the other two happy in their activities, I'm running a large playgroup, I have several other volunteer responsibilities, and I have to keep in mind that Hunter doesn't always appreciate being dragged along everywhere. Some days, he just wants to stay home. So we did that today.

I was supposed to be at the first MOPS meeting this morning at 9:00. It's about a 25 minute drive out there. We dropped the kids off at 7:45, came home for shower and breakfast and the meltdown began. By 8:45 I realized we weren't going to MOPS today. I gave up trying to get him dressed and plopped down next to Hunter on the couch with an applesauce offering. After a few tickles he accepted my applesauce and the rest of the day went fine. He got all my attention for one whole day, and I got some snuggly time with my quickly growing toddler.

I know this time goes fast. It's gone fast twice before. My efforts to make my time without my husband move quicker are effecting my little guy, though, and I know it's best to slow down a bit and just enjoy him while he is little.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Some good old fashioned guilt served with a side of relief

I can't help but feel a little guilty as I sit here at my computer knowing that, yet again, our area has escaped the worst of what a hurricane can bring. Not that we were in the direct path of Ike, but we were close enough to get some good damage if Ike saw fit to bring it. We did get a few tornadoes in the area, and I don't know yet the resulting damage of those, but I can look out my window and see no downed trees or power lines, no broken windows or flooded houses. My power and water are working just fine, as are my cell phone and cable connection. I also had a fairly restful sleep last night. All signs that we didn't get hit near as hard as we could have.

Oh, I do thank the Lord greatly for sparing us yet again, but like I said, I can't help but feel guilty. Millions of Galveston residents will return to the coast over the next few weeks to pick up what small pieces of their lives are left, if any. The people of Cameron, Louisiana, a resort city that was completely wiped off the map in 2005 by Rita, will return to all their hard work washed away.... again.

Guilt and praise today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Glimpse

I was looking through the photos on Yahoo this morning of the ceremony held for 9/11 victim families at "the site" (Twin Towers). I was looking for just a glimpse of my friend Mr. John Napolitano Sr. I knew he'd be there, holding his son's picture high, along with his best friend Lenny Crisci holding his brother's picture high. Every year John and Lenny go to the site and retrace their steps. They see the twisted steel and dust and, well... the many non-survivors that faced them on September 12, 2001 as they joined the search for their loved ones, praying they'd find them alive. Both flashing their retired NYPD badges and getting in to a place where only a few brave souls dared enter.

On that day, Mr. John left a note for his son in the ash on a wall.
Over the next few days, other people who recognized the name "John Napolitano" replied back to John Sr. with notes in the ash.

Now, seven years later, John Sr. talks about his son, firefighter John Napolitano II, and his heroic efforts freely. But not just about John II's actions on September 11, 2001. John Sr. tells of a life well lived. Two daughters well loved, and a father who couldn't be more proud of "his girls". John Sr. talks about a son who was National Honor Society throughout school, who excelled so fast in his fire unit at such a young age that he had the respect of all around him. John wants everyone to know of the Hero who lived before 9/11.

As I was searching through the Yahoo pictures for my one glimpse of a man I've never met, I thought of all the wonderful things he's told me about his son. Just an all around great guy who was doing his job one day. A proud father and husband who hopped on his rig one morning, eventhough he was off duty and could go home. A beloved son and brother who ran into the North Tower of the World Trade Center after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into it. Something we'd all do.... right?!

Finally, I got my glimpse as I spotted a familiar face in a photograph. I didn't know it was John Sr. at the time, but I emailed him and got a quick reply letting me know that was indeed him holding the picture of his son, by his side as always his best friend Lenny, heading down to once again retrace their steps.

Source: Yahoo News- Reuters

2,996 people who lived whole lives before September 11, 2001. I'm glad I'm getting to know one of them.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A New Hat Added

I just recently had a new hat added to my pile. Girl Scout Leader!
I've always wanted to be a Girl Scout Leader. Before this year, I never had the opportunity. But when Louisa went to sign up for Girl Scouts, and the only Junior leader met on a night we just couldn't make it, I reluctantly agreed to join the ranks. "Reluctantly" mostly because it's hard to drag the boys to all these things that don't include them. But it's also hard to ask friends to watch them every single week. The boys are so good about tagging along, though. They rarely complain.

Girl Scout and Boy Scout leading goes back many years in my family, and I always hoped I'd be able to do it just once. My grandmother was my mom's Brownie leader, my mom was both my sister and my Brownie leader, and my sister led my nephew all the way through Cub Scouts. To be able to walk in all their shoes is so exciting to me!

Off to start my new venture!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The End of Hurricane-Ville.... for now

So, as requested, I mean... nagged, by my nephew... here are some pictures of the big hurricane. Please be warned that some of them may be too graphic for younger readers. I mean, when that cow flew by in 95 mph winds, it was just luck that I was standing there with my camera. But when he hit the side of a tree, I mean... I owed it to my public to take pictures of it!

HA! Totally kidding. By the time Gustav joined us here in West Central Louisiana, he had died down enough that only a few isolated areas had much damage or power outage. Some places even today still have power outages, but here on the army base we're doing just fine. I've been through squalls three times as bad as that growing up in southern Wisconsin. The kids and I even spent part of the day playing outside. The worst of it came on Monday night when it was too dark to take pictures. That's when we had a few good gusts of wind that knocked a couple branches off the trees. Other than that, it was very uneventful. And now I have many cases of water and canned food. I guess it will all come in handy if Ike or Hannah or Tina, or whoever decides to take a tour of the Gulf sometime soon. Hurricane season in the Gulf has just begun!



Here's how we spent the day on Monday when the base was shut down and we were technically supposed to stay in our houses.

~When we woke up Monday morning, the storm hadn't really made landfall yet, but we were getting rain from the outer "rings"~

~Throughout the day the rain picked up. By nighttime we had a pretty good, steady rain. "Raining buckets", Drew said when he went to bed.~

~We made Rainbow Crayons to put some color in our gray day. And use up a few of the million broken crayons we have.~

~And we took a nap!~

~And we all painted some boxes we bought at Michael's. Drew has a box that looks like a book, Hunter picked out a triangle, and Louisa has a pretty box. I painted some magazine holders that look like cute houses!~

And that's pretty much all the excitement that came out of our visit with Gustav. He gave us two days off from school, and closed down a 24 hour Super Wal Mart for 3 days.... Although we can't forget that Gustav was a deadly a hurricane. And in all the fun I have with it, I'm very sorry for those whose lives are changed drastically because of it. I thank God that New Orleans was spared, and pray the rest of the hurricane season is uneventful for them. Because they don't need any more water surges to test the levees that aren't even finished yet.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane-ville Part 3

You know, I need to learn to stop listening to people. Just go find out for myself. The Chaos Kids and I trekked our behinds to WalMart today. Our local WalMart. The one that was supposedly out of *everything*. Well, everything was just fine. They had plenty of water. The things they were totally out of, as in... nothing on the shelves (because I have no idea what's in the back) were D and C cell batteries, flashlights, most loaves of bread, and Pop Tarts. Yes, seriously. The entire Pop Tart section was empty save for the brown sugar flavor. Good thing I wasn't there to buy those!

The kids and I got a few things ready today, but really it's just the wait-n-see game from here on out. We got all the outdoor stuff either inside, into the beds of the trucks, or tied down to something. I took all the pictures off the walls just cause... I don't know. I've never done this! Just know that in Wisconsin we get these horrific storms where big wind surges can flatten an entire town. So my pictures will be safe! I put all my important documents in a waterproof bag and have them, along with a bag of emergency clothes, all ready to go in case we need to hit the shelter.

If you want to follow the hurricane with me, here's the RADAR and in Louisiana, we're the small brown spot to the left of Alexandria. At least, that's our army base. And here's the Satellite, which looks much more wicked!

I have nothing left to do to prepare. I feel like I should be doing something, though. Batten down the hatches and all that! Everything's taken care of. Besides maybe taping the windows, I'm all set. We've been on alert since last Tuesday! All this build up and it's still not here yet. I think I prefer tornadoes. Unpredictable, but fast! It would have been here and gone ages ago.

I know my mom and dad and sister and nephew are worried about us. I promise you guys we're fine!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane-ville Part 2

The local WalMart is out of almost everything that is on my supply list. As is another WalMart about 20 minutes away, the PX and the on post commissary. I still had no supplies as of this morning. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I decided to make the hour trip to the Big City and see what they still had left. They are directly west of us, so if we got hit, they would get hit almost as hard. I'm guessing, anyway.

First we had to go to the post office to mail a Daddy Box overseas. The line. Was. Long. Very. Long. And there was only one person open.

Finally we get our friend Andrea and her baby Colton, and hit the road to the Big City. I got it in my head to go to Sam's Club, eventhough I don't have a membership there anymore. The $40 fee was worth my sanity! Sam's had the usual Saturday crowd, but not mobs upon mobs of people fighting for one case of water. They were low on a few items, but nothing significant. One lady even asked me why I was buying so much water. She was giggling at us for being so worried! She said "Are you stocking up for a whole week or something?" Well... ya. That was kinda the point!

Then we went to lunch at yummy IHOP. One last treat before a week of blah! And also hit Michael's so Andrea could get scrapbooking stuff and I could get some crafts for the kids to do in case we have a few days with no power. I decided to stop at WalMart there in the Big City on the way out of town to pick up a few last minute things. They were fairly low on water, the paper plate aisle was empty, and bread was almost gone. Candles were picked over, too. A few stinky ones were left and I was about to give up when Andrea said "Do you like black cherry?" Yes!! Thank goodness because I had no candles and only one flashlight. The funny thing about both Sam's and WalMart in the Big City was that people were shopping like it's a normal Labor Day weekend. They had hamburger meat, buns, chicken, paper plates, the usual BBQ fair. It's not like that here in our town! No one is worrying about backyard BBQ's.

We brought our truckload (literally) of purchases home. Tomorrow the kids and I will get the outside toys inside, pull the stuff indoors away from windows that we don't want destroyed, and just general preparations. Kinda wish I had Husband here to help, but can't dwell on it. We're big kids! We can figure this out on our own.



Friday, August 29, 2008

Adventures in Hurricane-ville

The kids and I took a walk tonight and I noticed everything outside is so calm. I wonder if the birds, and trees, and insects know what's coming. The can't flip on The Weather Channel, but they should have a "sense", like everything is nature does. If not today, they will in the next few days. They call this the "calm before the storm". I've seen it many times in Southern Wisconsin were the big storm cells from Iowa roll in. There's a sort of quiet balance before nature unleashes it's fury. And oh what furious wrath can be brought down in those storms!

I have yet to experience all the glory and wonder that is a full-grown hurricane. Moving here to Louisiana, doorstep to the Gulf of Mexico, I knew our time would come. And come it may. A deadly Gustav may, or may not, bear down on us in a matter of days. The locals don't care about the "may not", they are buying supplies off the shelves as if they'll be stranded for weeks after. It's happened before, and many people here remember it. A week after Katrina made thousands flee from New Orleans, to our neck of the woods, Hurricane Rita slammed us from the other side and left our town and army base without power and water for at least 10 days. That's no power, in 100 degree weather. No air conditioning, no fans, no ice, no way to cool ourselves down. Well, themselves, as I didn't live here. So the people here know. We may be "Central" Louisiana, but we can still get hit hard enough to suffer. No one here is taking any chances.

On Wednesday a friend called and told me if I needed gas, to go now because they gas stations were limiting purchases to $30. Apparently there was a run on gas and people were filling up all their vehicles, as well as multiple gas cans. Thursday all the gas stations on post were out of gas. Go figure. Today I went to fill up and they had only re-supplied low-grade. No mid, or premium. Not that I use anything but low, so it didn't matter to me! There's also a run on everything you'd need to hunker down for a hurricane, followed up by a potential 1 week power outage, such as water, batteries, coolers, flashlights, propane, canned food..... I have not been to many stores yet, but the one I did go to today had lines so long I just left my cart and walked out. I hear that is common right now in most of the local stores. I don't have time to stand in line for 30 minutes, or the patience to sit with Hunter while I do.

I have lists and checklists and all sorts of advice on how to get ready for Gustav. I'm praying hard that it peters out over the Gulf, or moves somewhere else, but if it does come our way we'll be ready. I'm not going to panic about it, though. People made it through Rita, I can make it through this!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just 4 U

Just 4 U I ate chicken nuggets with ketchup because you wanted us to have the same lunch. Even though I can't stand the taste of chicken with ketchup.

Just 4 U I stayed up late telling silly stories because you were scared and couldn't sleep. Even though I had a long day and wanted to sleep so badly.

Just 4 U I cleaned the house as fast as I could, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes, doing dishes, because your best friend was coming to spend the night at the last minute. Even though all I wanted to do was sit and eat chocolate ice cream and watch a movie.

Just 4 U I went to the swimming pool because the thermometer read 99 and you were hot and sweaty. Even though I had a migraine and wanted to lie down.

Just 4 U I got up very early in the morning, and dragged everyone else up, too, because you had a field trip far away and the bus was leaving at 6:30 a.m. Even though I didn't fall asleep until 3:00 a.m.

Just 4 U I drove all the way across town to drop you off at your sporting event, then drove all the way across town to drop the other child off, then drove back to pick you up, and back to pick him up. Even though I needed that last little bit of gas to get to the grocery store and it was days until pay day.

Just 4 U I spent my last few dollars on some special things you wanted to have. Even though that meant I went without some things I needed.

Just 4 U I cook, bake, clean, wash, fold, drive, cheer, scold, love, hug, and kiss because U make it all worth it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Three Years Ago Today


Three years ago today, at 9:44 am, my sweet little Hunter Steven made his entrance. A day late. But that says nothing about his future personality because he's far from a "day late" kinda kid. He's spunky, and silly, and full of enough energy to power a small motorboat.

Hunter is going to show us big things some day. In his three short years he's earned the title of "all around boy" in our family. He's smart, picks up on things quickly, is athletic, artistic, his motor skills are awesome, he gets along with any kind of person you put in his path. He's stubborn and throws fits and likes to have fun and laugh and tell jokes (especially the knock-knock variety). He's such an all around kid. There's nothing he won't try or do. He's not scared of anything, he's very laid back.

Life with Hunter has been an amazing adventure. Just when I think I've "been there, done that" with parenting, along comes this little boy so full of life and energy, he challenges me on a daily basis. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today we make the big transition from baby-hood to boy-hood. My little, big three year old.

Happy Birthday, Bubba!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Visiting Family

On Friday my inlaws came in to town to see their son. And brother. My SIL and nephew came along with them.
I just have one question. What is it about inlaws that makes us so insane with cleaning? Friday morning I find myself on my hands and knees with a toothbrush. Seriously. Why? I'm near-tears, trying to finish everything up, so upset that it's not going to be good enough. Why? I don't do that for my parents.

Yesterday we took them to a local Alligator Park. It was so neat! We saw 50 alligators huddled around a boat in a small pond, waiting to get fed. A guy hung big hunks of chicken over the side of his boat while the gators jumped up to get it. You could definitely tell which gators get the chicken more often!

I think the best part of all was this right here:


Cousins who rarely get to see eachother, spending some much needed play-time together.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Reunion

It's okay, I can be on the computer, he went to the gym! Being home doesn't stop him from his strict workout routine! :)

So, yesterday. A wonderful, blessed day in which we welcomed Andrew home with big wide open arms!

At 1:00 am Sunday I got a call from him saying he'd be at the airport at 4:00 pm Monday. But when he hung up he said "See you tomorrow", and since it was like 10:00 Sunday morning for him, he would see us "tomorrow". But to me it was still Saturday night, so "tomorrow" was Sunday. Needless to say, I completely freaked out for a minute on Sunday thinking he was coming in and I wouldn't be there. I called our family group leader to see if it was indeed possible for him to leave Kuwait at 1:00 am and be here by 4:00 pm. Technically, he could do it. But chances were, it would be cutting it far too close, with really short layover times. So I calmed down. For some reason the "see you tomorrow" stuck in my head and not the "Monday at 4:00"! LOL! But in my defense, he did wake me out of a dead-sleep. How am I supposed to remember important details like that?!

Monday morning, I had all sorts of last minute cleaning and errand running planned. We got up bright and early, started cleaning the last things that needed to be done (which really added up to a lot), and the phone rings. He says in a very sad voice "I'm in Atlanta and didn't get a seat on the 3:00 flight."

"Um.... ok. So we see you late tonight, or tomorrow?"

"No, I got a flight on the 11:00 plane, I'll be there at noon!"

AAAHHHH!!! No! That's too soon, I have too much to do!

It was 9:30 and I hadn't taken a shower, I had errands to run, I had some more cleaning to do! The airport is an hour away so we had to leave by 10:45. I finish up some stuff, hop in the shower and..... power goes out. Well those last few things I was doing included laundry and washing dishes. I end up taking a freezing cold shower (and of course I have to shave, right?!) in the dark with the one candle I can find. I'm a candle freak by nature, so no clue how I've let myself get down to just one! By the time I get done, dressed, kids loaded in the car, run back in for the camera, run back in for diaper bag, run back in for meds (have some I can't leave the house without), it's 10:55. Crap, crap, crap!!!

We're driving along, listening to Carrie Underwood to help calm my nerves, trying to laugh and make fun with the kids when inside I'm
FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!!!

I call my dad because, well, I need extra help calming my nerves and he's good for that! Someone beeps in on my phone so I say good-bye and click over.

Andrew says "I'm here, how far away are you?"

NNOOOO!!!!!! Shoot, shoot, shoot!!! We didn't get to see him get off the plane! I told him we were about 10 minutes out yet. So I step on it and scream at every car that gets in my way! Louisa's laughing at me, telling me to calm down. I said "Calm down?!! My soldier just traveled for 4 days and 7000 miles and we didn't get there in time! How can I calm down?!"

Really, he didn't mind that weren't there. He said it gave him a minute to calm himself from his very frustrating trip.

He met us in the parking lot, and Drew and Louisa ran up to him with big hugs. Hunter kinda looked at him for a second. We've been building this up SO much, and Daddy has been this really cool enigma for SO long, that he wasn't quite sure what to do with the real thing. He tentatively gave Daddy a hug, then stuck his finger in his mouth and stood at a distance. I'm sure it was overwhelming to him. There's this guy who you talk to on the phone, look at pictures of, and have a really vague memory of, and all of a sudden he's here. Where did he come from? How did he get here? He was in some place called 'Raq, but what does that mean?

Eventually he let Daddy pick him up. It was a hesitant moment. We were all waiting for Hunter to react. To do something, and finally he smiled. That was it. He hasn't let Daddy leave his sight since. (Except for now when Daddy went to the gym, but believe me, Hunter didn't let him go easily!)

Finally, after all that, I get my turn. Louisa took a picture of our first awkward kiss. We were giggling more than kissing.

So now he's home. 18 blissful days, and then he goes back again. We're so grateful for this time with him and plan on making it stress-free and relaxing!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Update to Yesterday's Freak-Out

I got a call last night at 1:00 am. He'll be here tomorrow. Which means the kids and I need to kick it in high gear today! Lots to do, so little time! But that doesn't matter, cause tomorrow he'll be here!!!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Anticipation is Killing Me!!

AAAHHH!!!! I'm going out of my mind! The last time I talked to my husband was on the 30th. He told me he'd be heading out to another base, and after that it was homeward bound. Haven't heard from him since, and I have no clue when he'll be home! I'm excited, nervous, scared, overjoyed, thankful...... Freaking Out!
What if I don't have the house clean on time? Yes, I know the house isn't the biggest thing on his mind, but in my opinion it's just respectful for all his hard work to let him come home to a clean house. Not the tornado ridden disaster it became while he was gone. I did NOT clean the last time he came home from deployment and I felt horrible for it.
I need to go buy his favorite foods, and some beer! Cause Lord does that man deserve a beer! :) I need to do a million and one things before he gets here. I need to know what DAY he's actually getting here!
We worked our tails off today preparing for his arrival. Cleaning, straightening, organizing, purging, donating. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking of it! I still need to clean the carpets and the oven and the bathrooms and.... Oh gosh! A million things!
It's been eight long long months. Eight months of missing him, and he will be here so soon I can actually feel it! His hugs are actually real to me right now! Not some imaginary thing of the past that I day dream about from time to time.
Unfortunately, he'll still have to go back for about 6-7 more months, but at least we get this little taste. It's enough to keep us going for the rest of the time!
But I need to know what DAY this joyous occasion will happen! I'm dying here!!!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Moving on to 2nd Grade

School makes me very nervous. It shouldn't. I should trust the school, and trust that they do what's best for my child. But I don't. I do not trust the school system here. I will be diligent in checking up on them this go-round. I won't let another school do to Drew what his last one did.

On Monday we went to his new school for a placement test. I was so worried I hadn't done enough for him during our homeschool stint. We didn't really do a lot of worksheets and sit-down activities. It's just not how he learns best. We came up with our own unconventional method of doing math at the grocery store, and discussing literature over lunch. It worked for us at the time, but when he needed to take a big test to see where he was academic wise, I panicked.

I should have known, though! My little Bear! My smartie pants. He passed that test with flying colors, scoring a 92%. They gave him the end of they year test all 1st graders got. He scored in the 4th grade level for reading, and right at 2nd grade level for math. See, I should have known.

Another adventure brings us to a new school in the 2nd grade. Drew is exstatic to be going back to school! He's matured tremendously. The teacher who gave him the test said he was a very well behaved, smart kid. She said he'll make a strong 2nd grader. Of course.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flowers

Distance has never once hindered that boy from making me feel special and loved! Flowers, small gifts, sweet emails. He hasn't missed a Christmas, birthday, Valentine's day, or anniversary. Gotta love a guy who doesn't let a silly thing like 7000 miles and a combat zone stop him from showing some love to his wifey!


Thank you, Baby!






Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday's Final Finale

On Friday night I tucked my dearest darlings in their little beds, kissed their sweet little cheeks, and sat down to write a blog all about my day. The long day I had getting the kids to dress rehearsal at 10:00 am, coming home to clean for a few hours, going back to the first show (with Hunter and two neighborhood kids) at 2:00, taking Hunter and the neighborhood kids to Burger King for an ICEE after the show, taking neighborhood kids home, taking Hunter to Louisa's best friend Echo's house so he wouldn't have to sit through the second performance, going back to the theater for 2nd performance at 5:00, picking kids up about 6:00, returning their costumes, going to pick up Hunter from Echo's house, going to Dairy Queen for a celebration dinner and ice cream...... {breathe in, breathe out}

After I got all that written out I.... I dunno, probably read a book and went to sleep. But when I woke up Saturday morning there was, sitting in my little comment section, an annoying comment that rubbed me the wrong way. In my annoyance, I deleted the whole thing and pouted.

See, the thing is, this here is my blog. I set it up for many different reasons, one of the most important is because I like to have a place to talk about all those frustrating parenting moments we deal with on a daily basis. Whether it's trying to get the house clean for my husband to come home in one week, or it's the fact that every time my toddler sits on his potty he tells me his boy part is broken and won't go, or even those frustrating times where people make a commitment and then don't follow through. Any way I look at it, this is my space to vent my frustrations. And after I saw my little annoying comment and deleted my whole blog, I wrote a long ranting and raving post all about how I have every right to write what I feel without criticism and blah blah blah..... I don't even remember! I deleted that one, too, since I realized it served no purpose.

Point is, I have to check myself in so many areas of my life. Watch what I say and how I act and who I'm seen with, that I like to have one place where I don't always have to watch it. Maybe I can say I'm frustrated with this issue without someone jumping down my throat accusing me of harsh things like belittling a 9 year old. A 9 year old who I've never even seen before, who was in a play along with my daughter and son, who just didn't have her lines memorized. If what she did up on the stage was her absolute best, then I totally applaud her.

What really truly matters isn't what I say about her, it's that I'm so proud of Drew and Louisa for getting up there and giving it their all! They really worked hard and it showed. I got so many compliments on their job well done. They had two shows in one day, they had about 4.5 days to rehearse, they had very hot and heavy costumes that they didn't get to take off all day long (almost 8 hours!), and I couldn't be prouder! That's what matters.


{My little Seahorse. He was so proud of what a good job he did!}
{Sea Scout. Like Girl Scout, but their leader is an ocean explorer.}

Monday, July 21, 2008

Please give it up for my Seahorse and Sea Scout! Hooray!!!

Every summer, the Missoula Children's Theater touring show comes through Fort Polk (and many other towns), with everything needed to put on a musical. We went this morning to auditions, and two hours later my little fishies were cast in a role! They are performing The Little Mermaid (original, not Disney). Drew is very excited to be cast as a Seahorse. He'll have a song and a dance, and the directors say the Seahorse costumes are the best of all!

Then we have Louisa. A disappointed Sea Scout. The Sea Scouts have even more songs and dances than the Seahorses do. A lot of the 9, 10 and 11 year olds were cast as Sea Scouts. But Louisa, Prima-Donna, was positive she'd get a starring role. She didn't necessarily want the Little Mermaid herself, but she was sure she'd get Queen, or one of the mermaid sisters, or something important like that! Problem was, when they were auditioning, she wan't very loud. And she didn't follow directions. They asked her to say "Everyone come get some ice cream!" with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. She said, "Hey, everyone! Everyone come get some ice cream right now!" That wasn't what they asked for. And although I haven't worked in theater extensively, I have enough knowledge that I know when directors are casting they want to do it efficiently. They want their starring roles to not only be loud, which Louisa wasn't, but to know they will listen the very first time they're told. Louisa is a great listener, but she was trying too hard. I saw her face when they called her name for Sea Scout. I knew she was upset.

One lesson about parenting I'm learning the hard way is that we can't protect them from everything. I'm the one who steps in when they are arguing with their friends to smooth is all over, I'm the one who whips up some hot cocoa (or kool aid!) when Drew gets his little feelings hurt, I'm always there to pick them up when something happens. I know, I know, I need to sometimes just let them be disappointed and get over it on their own. I'm getting there!

So this time, Louisa will have to live and learn from her experience. Next year when the theater group comes through, she'll know what to do and what they are looking for. And I know once she sees what fun the Sea Scouts have with their multiple songs and dances, she'll forget about being sad! She's usually pretty good at realizing what she does have, after that initial disappointment is over.

**UPDATE~ Right after I posted this earlier today I ran to pick Louisa up from her first rehearsal. She was so much happier with the part she'd been given (can I say I told her so?!) She said the Sea Scouts are like the comic relief, and that she had fun practicing. See, I knew she'd be fine!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Marriage and Deployment

Marriage and Deployment are not two words that fit well in a sentence together. They don't sound good together, you know? They don't roll off the tongue the way "peanut butter and jelly" does.
Do a favor for me. Take a few minutes and read this article I found: As wars lengthen, toll on military families mounts
It's a bit long, but it's so important for civilians to know what we go through. Throw what you see on Army Wives out the window. When we really get down to it, deployments suck. They don't last two months like they do on that tv drama so many people are in to. It's not romantic when he comes home. It's work. It's struggle. It's him looking around the house wondering why you spent money on that new chair that you obviously didn't need. Or the new bikes for the kids when their old ones were perfectly fine. After all, he didn't get to run around buying fun stuff with the money he was earning.
And it's not just money. It's the fact that the wife and kids kept moving on. The kids grew up (without his permission!), the wife cut her hair and lost a few pounds and started wearing nicer clothes. The kids and wife have their own routine down, and it doesn't include Dad. The chore chart on the fridge (that wasn't there before, mind you), doesn't have a place for Dad's name. The getting-ready-for-school-and-work routine in the morning has no room for Dad in it. And how come the 3-year-old keeps going to Mom for everything? Before Dad left they were best buddies. Inseparable. Now he acts like he barely knows his own dad!
On the flip side of that coin, the wife has her husband home. Who keeps asking her questions. About everything. Why didn't you pay off this bill like I asked you to? When did you start letting Billy go to the park by himself? Doesn't Sarah need her helmet to ride her bike? The wife thinks, "I've got this all under control! I've been doing this for 15 months on my own!" But all of a sudden she's got someone to answer to again.

Like I said. Struggle. The husband is changed from what he saw/did overseas. The wife is changed from a year of dealing with ALL household issues on her own. Instead of changing and growing together, like normal couples do, the military couple has changed and grown apart. The kids aren't used to listening to Daddy. There are mixed feelings about him being home.

What all this boils down to is repeated, long term deployments. Although this is "only" my husband's second, many many of our friends are going through #3 and yes, even #4! Since late 2001, these troops have been deployed over and over, sometimes living in horrible conditions, many times sleep deprivation is the norm, the sweltering climate with a hundred pounds of gear strapped to your back 24/7.... how can that NOT take a toll on you? How can that NOT stress a marriage? Even a normal marriage, sans deployment, has it's fair share of trials and tribulations.


Husband and I are lucky. We talk. A lot. We get our frustrations out. We don't keep much in. "Experts" tell us spouses back home not to overwhelm our guys overseas with our problems. We're told to keep somethings to ourselves and that there are plenty of outlets on our bases to get stuff out if we need to. I say "HA!" My best friend is 7000 miles away. The one I talk to about everything under the sun, and I'm supposed to clam up and not talk about my problems. Sure sometimes I get a, "What am I supposed to do? I'm too far away to help you". Most of the time I get what I need, a shoulder, a pat on the back, a "it's okay, honey". Then I'm recharged and ready to face the rest of the week.

The article talks about families being stretched thin from multiple deployments. Add in to that all of the divorces, domestic violence, and PTSD resulting from those multiple deployments and I say, well DUH! Of course we're stretched thin! The last time I checked, 15 months in a *combat zone* wasn't anyone's idea of a Beaches Resort vacation.