Wednesday, February 27, 2008


: to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole
: to arrange by systematic planning and united effort
: to arrange elements into a whole of interdependent parts

For those of you who can't make it through your house without tripping on something, who can't get ready in the morning without a 10 minute search for... something, keep reading because we may be able to help each other.
The rest of you, take another go round in your living room with your vacuum because you're not going to understand a word I say.
People who have the "cleaning gene" can't understand those of us who don't. It's not in their way of thinking. They see a messy room and instantly know how to make it perfect again. Efficiently they sweep through the room and devour the mess as if it were a chocolate cake. This goes here, that goes there, everything has a place, everything in it's place.
That's not me. I cannot look at a room and instantly decide where to put something. I look at a room, see it's too messy, give up and try tomorrow. Tomorrow the room is even messier, so I take the kids to the park and wait for another day.
Another day comes, I have friends coming over for a playdate, the mess has grown so big that I don't even know where to start, I'm overwhelmed and stressed to a point where I get terrible pains in my stomach.... and I cancel my playdate. Defeated, I crawl into bed and wait for a new day.
Clutter, mess, trash... they rule my life.
In my family there is a saying, either spoken or unspoken. Typical Peggie. All my life, everything I've done, all the procrastination, the messes, the losing things, the being late for everything I go to... Typical Peggie. It gets tiring being Typical Peggie all the time. My shoulders get heavy from the weight of it and my heart gets heavy from knowing what people think of me. Okay, yes, I do realize that what "other people" think doesn't matter. But it does if that's the only thing they see. If all they see is my Typical behavior, and they don't see the good stuff, it does matter. We all have our faults, unfortunately, mind define who I am.
I've had enough. This little red head is ready to move on from being typical, and make the change to ..... un-typical. Ya, I've got no witty word to insert there. Un-Typical will have to do for now.
In my epiphanic moment, desperate for help, I found this website called Seemed to have everything I needed to help get me started. Including all these cool printable charts and calendars.
There is also a book written by the lady who started the website, Cynthia Townley Ewer, called House Works: Cut the Clutter, Speed Your Cleaning and Calm the Chaos. I went to amazon, bought it, and now here I am a few days later, a little smarter on how to organize and get rid of the clutter that's swallowing my house, and with a (somewhat) clean living room I haven't been able to walk in for months.
I didn't expect an overnight change, but I expect to *learn* how to clear out clutter, and keep it out. How to look at a messy area and be able to organize it. This book does that! It's not a miracle worker because we all know that you won't make a change in your lifestyle unless you *really* want to do it for yourself. And I am ready. But this book really did help put things in perspective. I'm not even done reading it yet! It gave me an idea, and I ran to a room or messy area and tried it out. The whole time I'm envisioning myself inviting friends over for lunch on a whim, not dreading the sound of the doorbell ringing, and letting Louisa have all the sleepovers she wants!
This book stresses baby steps, which I intend to adhere to. I'm a baby step kind of person. I may be spontaneous, but I do prefer to approach projects, especially ones this big, in smaller steps. It will also sink in better for me if I go slow. Tackle a project a day, not even necessarily a room a day. Maybe just the out of control entertainment center today, then tomorrow the dining room table, then the next day the counter piled to the ceiling with mail and other odds and ends.
There is hope for someone as seemingly hopeless as me. And when people give me the "pft... ya right!" when I tell them I'm going to change, I have to let it roll off my back. I will change, but I have to be ready.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Growing, Changing, Learning

**Note to my wonderful Nephew, you might not want to read this one. It contains stuff about your little cousin "growing up"! :) You know, like *Girly* stuff!

I'm very blessed to have three kids at such different stages in their lives. It's fun to watch them grow, and compare one to the other.
I don't really have anyone to compare Louisa to, though. She's the only girl in the family, and even though I'm a girl and I grew up with a sister, I feel like I'm headed into uncharted territory with her. In many ways she's just like I was when I was 1o. She daydreams all the time, she likes to be silly and laugh a lot, she's very creative when she puts her mind to it. But many ways she's totally different and I can't relate to her too well. For instance, she would much rather sit inside and read a book, or watch TV, or play video games than play outside. When I was her age, sitting inside for any reason was the last thing I wanted to do. I never watched TV, reading wasn't huge on my list, and the outdoors constantly beckoned me. Although none of her "best" friends live in our neighborhood, so I can understand not having those close friends to hang out with on a daily basis like I did.
So, last week I had a small scare with Louisa. She noticed a hard knot in her chest and we took her to the doctor right away to find out what it was. Turns out, she's just growing up. (sniff, sniff) When we got in the truck after the appointment Louisa says, "See, Mom! I told you I was just growing boobs!"
So, at some point do I get to put my foot down and say, "No more growing up into a young lady!" I mean, it seems like we were *just* playing Dora the Explorer together, and now she has crushes on boys and understands Carrie Underwood songs!
We went to pick up the boys from our friend's house, and then headed straight for WalMart. Bra shopping time! I'd given her a book some time ago about what happens to your body when you hit puberty called Growing Up, It's a Girl Thing: Straight Talk about First Bras, First Periods, and Your Changing Body by Mavis Jukes. Apparently she only read the first chapter about bras and growing breasts. However, when we got to WalMart she already knew what kind of bra she wanted, so that was good. The challenge was shutting little brother up long enough (What are you guys doing? Why are we looking at bras? Louisa doesn't need a bra!) to pick out the bra and get it tried on. The solution: "Drew, why don't you go pick out a new shirt or outfit for yourself over there!"
This is another situation where Louisa is totally different than I was when I was her age. She was not embarrassed at all to look at bras. She took it in stride, grabbed the ones she liked and tried them on all by herself! She didn't hide under the cart or in a clothes rack like I would have done. Now that's a big girl!
Before this whole bra thing, Louisa delighted in telling people she was a tomboy. She didn't like girly stuff (yet she admitted to having crushes on Dylan and Cole Sprouse), she didn't want to wear girly clothes and she even looks a little awkward in a skirt.
After bra.... transformation into a real girl! She spent the weekend putting on make-up and worrying about her hair! Who is this girl? You buy her a bra and the tomboy instantly disappears? Well, I can't say I'm sad about it!
Louisa has her ears double pierced, and last fall one ear got infected so we took all her earrings out for many months so the infection could heal. Her front holes stayed open and we could easily stick earrings back in those last month, but her back holes closed up a bit and I could not get an earring back in without hurting her. Low and behold, on Saturday, she worked earrings back in those second holes. She was bound and determined to be *that* girly again!
As I'm telling Daddy all of this wonderful news, he got a little flabbergasted and wondered just what the heck I'm doing to the kids to make them grow so fast in the 3 months he's been gone. Well, besides feeling them HGH (not!), I'm telling them they all have to be 16 by the time Daddy comes back. At least.
I'm so glad that Louisa is changing into a beautiful young lady, albeit a bit scared at the unknown we're headed in to. Her sassy mouth, her backtalk, the small rebellious gleam in her eye. Like me, yet so unlike me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You Might Be an Army Wife If...

My friend Amie wrote her own version of You Might Be an Army Wife If... , so I thought I'd write one, too.

1) You know your "sponsor's" social security number better than your own.

2) You compare how much of your marriage you and your husband have actually spent together with your friends.

3) You suddenly realize how "typical army wife" it was to stand outside a restaurant with 3 other army wives, comparing tattoos, and showing where you have your husband's name inked on your body.

4) You have friends who come from almost all 50 states, as well as Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and England (the ones who are army brats themselves)

5) You can count on one hand how many times you've talked to your deployed husband in the past week.

6) You actually look forward to those 2 weeks he will be out training next month because you get to have the bed all to yourself, watch all the chick flix you want, and eat Lean Cuisine for dinner every night.

7) Your non-military friends give you a shoulder to cry on, and your military friends tell you to pull up your big girl panties and deal with it!

8) Your kids have been to 4 different schools by the time they reach 4th grade.

9) When you were little, Barbie never married Ken. She married GI Joe. (Or actually, the A*Team, but they were all ex-military so it was the same thing!)

10) Last, at least for my little list, You Might Be an Army Wife If your life is a complete roller coaster, you never know where you'll be living in a year, your husband gets orders one day only to have them canceled the next, and you don't ever.... ever unpack everything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Spring Fever!

Note: For those of you who have the opposite of Spring Fever, that being Cabin Fever, I suggest you either read this post later when you are experiencing Spring Fever for yourself, or sit down and make sure you aren't holding anything that can be thrown at the computer screen.

With that out of the way... Spring Fever has sprung in our house. Along with it, warm walks in the sunshine, a bit of spring cleaning (yes, really!), and the kids' favorite... nature walks!
Monday was one of those nature walk days. The kids and I had Kindermusik in the morning, and then we grabbed some lunch and hit the park looking for signs of spring. And oh boy did we find them! Some of them even found us, such as the bee that decided to land on Drew's hand. I have no doubt that bee and his friends were daring eachother to see who could freak a human out first. This bee won, hands down. Drew's screams could be heard across the park, and even had a few passersby wondering why this little boy was running in a circle screaming and flailing his arms about. Louisa and I just kinda casually looked away.... you know, like we didn't know him.
We also saw a bluebird, which I mistakenly called a blue"jay", and was promptly told that "bluejays are winter birds, Mom! This is a blue"bird" which is not a winter bird so that means it's a sign of spring!"
Oh, ya. I knew that! Really, I did!
As we walked and ate our lunch and stopped to play at the very muddy playground, Drew asked me a good question. He wanted to know if Mud was a sign of spring. Well, I'm not sure. I guess in a way it could be. In the south we have mud all year long, but in the north in wintertime the ground is usually too frozen for actual "mud" (except for the occasional winter thaw where the large piles of snow melt rapidly and mud becomes a bit of a problem).
We continued our walk and found small flowers, dandelions, tadpoles in the stream that wound it's way through the park, as well as leaf buds on a lot of the trees. Every year the kids and I take our spring walk and count all the signs of spring. It's funny to be doing it so early this year, though!
Here are some fun, springy pictures I took the other day, and again, if you're suffering from a severe case of Cabin Fever, you might not want to look.

{Peek-a-boo! Anyone home? Louisa is checking out an "animal habitat"}

{Hunter is enjoying looking at all the little flowers that are growing on the bank of this stream}

{"I did it!" Drew scaled the 15 foot mountain replica all by himself.}

{My All-American kids hanging out on a tank, of course!}

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valens... whatever Part 2: Be Careful What You Wish For

Remember how I was complaining earlier today about not having anyone to take cute little Valentine's to school? (If not, then read the post below this first.) Well ya, guess what? 3:30 Louisa gets home from school and says, "I need to bring Valentine's tomorrow".
Oh Great!
We go for our usual Wednesday walk around the golf course with the playgroup, which was really just me and one other friend, and then head to WallyMart. (aka, the suck-me-out-of-all-my-money-why-do-I-have-20-more-items-in-my-cart-than-what-I-came-in-here-for store)
Do you know what WalMart is like on February 13th? It was crazier than the day after Thanksgiving sale! Big, hulking soldiers carrying around giant $50 teddy bears to take home to Miss Right. Moms fighting and scrambling for the last of the packs of Valentine cards because, like us, they didn't know until today that their child's class was exchanging. And husbands weeding through the measley selection of carnations hoping to find some nice enough to please Mrs. Can't Do Anything Right So Why Even Bother (ever heard of an actual flower shop? they sell "pretty flowers")
So after staying up till nearly 10:00 getting homework and Valentine cards ready (when you have a 2 year old who must "help" with everything, everything takes twice as long!) I'm ready to curl up with a book and prepare to spend yet another holiday... alone.

Okay, okay... so I'm having lunch with friends. Geesh! It's still kinda alone. "Intimate affection-less". How does that sound?

Happy Valens....... whatever

I have to admit, I'm a little blue this year. At a time when, technically, I'm supposed to be Red. Or Pink. Or maybe even Purple. Any of those Valentine-y sort of colors would be best, but nope. I'm Blue.
Yes, I'm spending the big V Day without my husband. That's not why I'm sad. I'm sad because I have no Valentine's to buy this year. Drew isn't in school, so we don't need any for his class (unless I want to give one to myself!). And Louisa's class isn't exchanging them. They didn't have a Halloween party, they had a very small Christmas celebration that she couldn't make it to, and now they aren't exchanging Valentine's!
I do have small gifts for the kids. A book for Drew, a book for Hunter, and a DVD for Louisa. (and after the huge pile of withdrawn books that she just brought home from her school library, I can safely say that she doesn't need any books for awhile!) But I miss that part of school where you get to address little cards and attatch a piece of candy, and the part where you get to help them make a mailbox out of a shoebox or a cereal box, and the part where they come home with the little mailbox stuffed full of cards and goodies and their little faces are so excited to see what cards they got from who!
Not this year.
We did get adorable Valentine's from one of the sweetest 2-year-olds I know. When we went for our walk with our playgroup friends on Monday, one of our cute little friends gave each of the kids a Valentine she picked out for them, along with a bracelet she picked out for Louisa. And the look on her face when the kids opened their cards and gave her a hug was priceless.
I sent Husband a *big* box chock full of Valentine-y fun that he got earlier this week, and we sent out our Valentine's to our family. So I guess that should be enough. And for the most part it is. But those people who have kids in school know how fun it is to see them come home on February the 14th with their little home made boxes, and to share in their excitement when they see what candy they got and what's in the goodie bag they've been dying to open. It's just a normal part of school that even us parents look forward to. Well, I do anyway!
So, Happy Valentine's day. A day to think about those you love, send an extra note their way, and be happy that you have all those people to send notes to!

Oh, and PS, I hope you never get stuck in a school district that sucks all the fun out of the "school experience" like ours does!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Three Parades in Two Days

The big Mardi Gras weekend was one week ago and I have said nary a word about our experience. That's so like me! Weeks have been flying by too quickly for me. Which I guess is good when your husband is deployed and you're counting down the days until his triumphant return. But time flies so fast that I don't get anything done in a week that I hoped to accomplish.
So, Mardi Gras was a blast! On Saturday (the 2nd) we went to two parades. One here in my small nearby town called Leesville, and the other in historic Natchitoches (pronounced Nakadish for some reason... those crazy French!) The parade in Natchitoches was a night-time lighted parade. Some of the floats were these big double decker things and the people threw beads off both the bottom and top. And if you weren't watching for those beads.... look out! Me, my dad and Drew all got clocked pretty good at least once with a wad of beads.
And no, we didn't have to "do" anything for the beads. That's only legal on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and you have to be 21 or older to get in to that section of the Mardi Gras festivities. All the other parades in Louisiana are family friendly.... for the most part. Now, if someone voluntarily flashes you to get some beads because you had been at a parade earlier that day and she wanted the beads that were around your neck then hey, that's just an added bonus! (Not naming any names here, but yes, we were either directly or indirectly flashed at one point.)
Now, when you're at a Mardi Gras parade you are supposed to yell, "Throw Me Something, Mister!" (and then in that one small section in New Orleans we talked about the "mister" yells back, "Show Me Something!" but again, we didn't experience that.... not really.)
Sunday, eventhough I slept in a little, we eventually found our way down to Lake Charles for yet another parade chock full of even more beads and gigantic floats. Were we paraded out? No way! We were ready for more! Bring it on! Throw us something, Mister!
I can't talk about the Mardi Gras funness without posting some pictures.
Starting with the smaller, yet still exciting Leesville parade:

The army has a huge presence here, obviously, and they participate in everything. It was easy to see how much fun the guys were having throwing beads from the tops of their vehicles!

You can't have a parade without some crazy pink wigged flamingo ladies!

Here is our bead count after just one parade. Oh trust me, it only gets bigger!

The kids waiting patiently for the parade to start in Natchitoches.

This parade was put on by the Krewe of Dionysos. A "krewe" is a company or group of people who sponsor a float, or even a whole entire parade like this one did. They are a part of their community and hold fund raisers and things like that.

The feathery creature atop this float is Lady Dionysos herself, who was throwing out silver rose beads which Louisa was lucky enough to catch.

Here's a good example of a double decker float. There was a balcony above us, and the top part of this float was good for getting the beads wayyyy up there!

Most of the floats were themed with something retro. We had a disco Garfield, Zoro, and this one was a rocking Archie gang float!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

30 Years of Me!

Yesterday I began a new era in my life. The era of the 30-somethings! I remember when I was little and that was a TV show. I used to think, wow those people are old! Now that's me, and I'm far from "old". I can't be old because I hate housecleaning and I mess up my bills too often!
Many years ago, in my younger wilder 20-something days, somone told me to wait till I was 30. Just wait, everything becomes so clear once you turn 30. I'm not too sure about that, I know plenty of 30-somethings who definitely don't have life worked out yet. And as I enter my 30-hood, I'm far from having anything become "clear". I know what's important in life, if that makes things any clearer, that's up to each of us individually. Kids, family, having good friends who do anything for you because they love you, and being a supportive wife. That's what's important...... to me. Oh, and don't forget about the whole putting God first thing!

So, my birthday.....
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Husband first, at 3:00 am. He was happy to be the first one to wish me a Happy Birthday. Although, of course that's the only time the webcam didn't work, so he hasn't seen what his wife at 30 looks like yet!
In the morning, after my short three hours of sleep, my parents came over to do a little busywork around the house for me. I went to take a shower and when I got out I was surprised with my Tribute Wall! My parents had made posters of pictures of me throughout the years. There are six posters total. The kids had a blast looking at all the kid pictures of me, and Hunter thought all the little girls pics were "Sheesha" (Louisa).

This one is part of a much bigger collage. I like this little section cause it has a picture of my first steps, and me as a newborn with a Bugs Bunny my dad gave me.

As for presents, the kids made me their usual sweet cards that they always put a lot of thought in. Drew laid out all his Pokemon cards and picked one for me that he thought I'd like. He asked me for wrapping paper and wrapped it up to give to me. Louisa made me a birthday tiara and necklace. My parents gave me a beautiful Jim Shore mother/daughter statue, and a really pretty string of lights that are red flowers made from real leaves. You have to see it to understand what I mean, but it's very lovely.
After gifts we hit the road and headed to Shreveport to an outdoor shopping center called The Boardwalk. Among other things, we rode the carousel and the trolley, ate at Joe's Crab Shack, and had bad customer service at Bass Pro Shop.
My parents are headed back home and I now feel spoiled rotten, or at least, more than I was before. My big problem now is to decide whether I'm going to be a part of the "30 and proud of it" group, or the "29 for the second time" group. I'm kinda leaning toward the first of the two. After all, I don't feel old, I don't look old, and in today's day and age of living till you're 90, I've got a lot of years left in me.