Monday, June 30, 2008

Fun with Pictures

I was re-doing the Playgroup's information page last night and decided to add some "oompf" to it. I wanted pictures of the kiddos playing, examples of the fun we have, without full-on face shots because the information page is public. A few of the pictures do have faces in them, but I came up with a creative way to take attention away from them. It's not an original idea per se... it is colorful, though!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Horsin' Around

Earlier this week we visited a friend and her daughter at the brand new house. They just finished building it and moving in. They are an army family like us, and the dad is in Iraq just like ours is.
Their new house sits on 10 acres, enough room for 4 horses and 2 donkeys to run and play. Drew and Hunter got to ride a horse named Belle. Louisa did, too, but she didn't want me to take pictures of her. She's too big-girl for that stuff now.
Drew and Hunter had a blast, though. Neither one was scared at all. My friend led the horse around and the boys sat on the saddle very well. She went into a full trot with Drew, but he said he preferred the slower pace.
I don't know too many people who can keep up with Drew and his non-stop chatter, but this friend can. Her and Drew and Belle walked in circles for a long time and talked about horses and how to ride them and care for them.
Louisa got to spend the night and learn how to wash and brush a horse. When we came back the next day the girls had braided Belle's mane! She also got to lead the horses.
They have another horse named Waylon who is still a teenager. He's a bit feisty still and they don't attempt to ride him too often yet. He needs to be broken, yet he's part Arabian which means it will be quite a task to break him. My friend loves his wild side and doesn't want to do too much to take that out of him. She told us not to pet him or get behind him, but Louisa with no fear walked right up to Waylon and pet his nose. She talked softly to him and kept petting him. After that he followed her around. Future "horse whisperer"?
Now of course she's begging for horse lessons. We've been around this circle before. Our friend's neighbor does give lessons for pretty cheap.... so..... we'll have to see.

Until then, here's a few pictures of the boys and Belle.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Soul Searching

I taught Vacation Bible School last week at a church we don't even belong to. The program they used sounded amazing, so I signed the kids up. It's run by the LifeWay Christian stores and it was called Outrigger Island (I didn't actually know what an "outrigger" was until last week). After I signed the kids up the director asked if I knew anyone who could teach because she needed volunteers. I said, "Um... I have 7 years of Sunday school experience...." She said, "Oh great because I have no 3rd or 4th or 5th grade teachers!"
I taught 4th grade so that I could have Louisa in my class. (Next time I think I'll teach a different class!) We had a blast! I had 20 kids in my class and they were amazing. The faith these kids had was inspiring. I loved going every day. I enjoyed preparing the lesson plans and teaching them the word of God and that Jesus is God's son! I loved that I got through to so many of them, and how much they all taught me. One boy who I spent time working with told the youth director on the last day that he was ready to take Jesus into his heart. I don't "get" the whole born-again thing, but I can't tell you how happy it made me that this boy knew his time was right! I really felt God working in this church. I left every day just so emotionally drained, so I know God was working in me, too.
Drew, Louisa, and Hunter had a great week as well. Drew was in a class of 1st graders. We knew his teacher because she's in our playgroup, so I didn't have to worry about him. I knew he was going to be fine. He had a friend in the class, and made a few more. I asked his teacher at the end of the week if he did okay and was he up to par with the rest of the first graders. After all, my homeschooling methods were a tad unconventional and didn't consist of sitting at a table doing worksheets. Her reply, "Oh my gosh, he's so far beyond those kids! He was quick witted, he *got* everything I was saying, his reading far surpassed the kids.... He'll be fine in school next year!" Whew! That's a relief! She also said that she could tell when he got bored because he'd act up, so I need to keep on those teachers next year to keep him busy.
Hunter was in a little 2-year-old room. He already knew his teacher as well. She was one half of the couple who were Drew's cub scout leaders this year. We spent a lot of time with her and Hunter was comfortable with her. That didn't stop him from crying when I left, though. He clung to me both Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday the other teacher in the room ran up to him when she saw him and said, "Hunter! I'm so excited to see you this morning!" and that was enough to get him off my leg and holding her hand as he waved good-bye to me. Then Thursday and Friday he gave me hugs and kisses and he was off in a dash. The 2-year-olds had a curriculum just like us older kids did. They had crafts and songs and "dummied-down" verses.

Now my conflict. This church is Southern Baptist, or So Bap as I like to say! I'm from the north. We don't have So Bap churches up there. What we do have is a bunch of ultra conservative Christians running around telling us that my family's centuries old Irish Catholic foundation is wrong. I don't like to be told what's wrong. Especially when it comes from a person and not the Bible, and when it pertains to something that we can trace back for centuries in our family. I may have given up my Catholic ways, but most of my mom's family hasn't. I grew up with a good, Catholic grandmother who I know is floating around in heaven as I sit here and type. But up north, these ultra conservative Christians like to tell us the Catholic faith is wrong. They teach their youth that God doesn't reside in "dead" churches like Catholic and Lutheran. Another faith very close to my heart.
So I come down here and there's this church with the word "Baptist" in the title. I'm not sure because up north I heard so many bad things about Baptists. I'm confused. But this church seems very nice. I know so many people who go here. People from all walks of life, people I've met here on the army base, people I see every day. And the things this church teaches really makes sense. And yes I've given my heart to Jesus, and yes I live every day walking the walk and talking the talk. I minister to children and I talk to my friends and I give to anyone who needs anything and I'm an obedient wife and daughter and .... yes I do all I can do.
So what's stopping me? What is holding me back from just checking this church out and giving it a chance?
I have some praying and soul searching to do. And I need to stop making "Baptist" a bad word in my head.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just Another Day

Well, another holiday without Husband around. So I guess it's just kinda.... "a day". Like any other Sunday. I'm not too worried about missing holidays with him (not like people give us much sympathy anyway!) What I really miss is all the little things. Holidays, birthdays, I could give or take. I just want the small things back.
Him watching the kids while I ran to the store for just one thing.
Or him hitting the store on the way home from work.
Him taking the kids to the park so I could rest, relax, or get a few things done around the house.
Him getting a few things done around the house for me because he works SO much faster than I do!
Us staying up late watching movies together.
Us going out for lunch dates while the kids are at school.
Having someone to vent or complain to any time I need it.
Having someone who understands me so well that so many things can go unspoken.

I could go on for ages with all the small details I miss. I notice them more and more as time goes on. We're not even at the halfway mark yet. It's been 6 months, we've still got 9 to go! Whoever put this 15 month deployment into effect is obviously a sadist. No one else in their right mind would send these guys to a combat zone for that long. Away from families, away from comforts of home.... away from me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

True Heroes Do Still Exist

I have such an amazing story to share! I've received one of the greatest honors ever, and I'm so excited to write about it.
Almost 2 years ago I participated in a blogging event called Project 2,996. A 9/11 victim was randomly picked for me to write a tribute for, and I was lucky enough to get a firefighter named Lt. John Napolitano II. My tribute, while not one of the best of those written that year, struck the heart of one particular individual. John Napolitano Sr.
Last week Mr. Napolitano emailed me saying he's visited my blog, and specifically the tribute for his son, several times. He wanted to thank my family and my husband for picking up the banner where his son left it off. He's shared with me through two emails and a letter that he wrote shortly after 9/11 to a service member about to deploy for the first time, his strong love and admiration for his son and friends of family who died on September 11, 2001. He was friends with many of the first responders who didn't make it back out of the towers that day.
John Sr. himself was part of the crew who, without ever being asked, dove headfirst into a pile of rubble looking for loved ones, friends, strangers, survivors. He and his childhood best friend went back day after day. Helping, praying.
Of all the heroics John II performed in his many years of firefighting, up to his last day, he learned it from somewhere. And I am so honored to have contact with the man he learned it from.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Small people, Big world

Yesterday we took our friend Andrea and her baby Colton to the airport. They live here on the army base with us, but are from Portland so they flew home to be with family for the summer. They'll be back mid-August. We'll miss them! If we're not hanging out with them, we're on the phone. If we're not on the phone talking, we're texting, or emailing.
Not that I don't have a plethora of other friends to hang out with. But Andrea's that one friend that you can call up and she's always ready to go shopping (at good ole WalMart!), or out to eat, or we can come over to her house any time with food, or ordering pizza, watching movies... whatever. So I'll miss that one friend to call when we just want to "hang" and don't need a reason.
After we dropped them off we stopped by a memorial with old WWII to Vietnam era military planes. We've driven by it countless times to and from the airport, but this time we could actually stop and look. They made us feel very small. Small people in a big world that constantly confuses us.
Drew and Louisa are my little sign readers. They take after their Gramps. My dad will stop to read any informational sign he finds. Going to zoos or museums with him can be... um... interesting. And time consuming. Believe me, I'm not complaining. I realize that by inheriting this trait, they'll also become as knowledgable about world events as my dad is. Drew kept running up to me, "Mom, come read about this one it got struck by lightning!", "Mom, come see this one, it flew in World War Two!" (which to him is the time equivalent of the Revolutionary War!)
I had my camera with so I could have a few pictures of Colton and Andrea before they left. Since the camera is an actual extention of my body, it's always ready and able to buzz to life and get to work.
There's not much that makes you feel smaller than a very large aircraft hovering above your head!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mom's Night Out?

So, you mean to tell me that moms actually get away.... withOUT their children? Hogwash! I've never heard of it.
What you're saying is I can go to dinner and a movie without yelling at the kids to eat their food sit in their chair be quiet so mommy can think please don't stick the straw up your nose and no the fork doesn't go up there either no you can't have a large popcorn and soda I have no idea why it costs eleven dollars for one large soda but I'm not buying it and no you can't have a four dollar box of candy please don't tell me you have to pee in the middle of the movie I'm not taking you you'll have to wait I don't care if you pee your pants stop talking so loud you're disturbing people around you stop making the chair next to you wiggle back and forth oh my gosh you did not just spill your eleven dollar soda!!!!!?
Wow! If that's true, and this fantasy night really does exist, I'm going!

And so I went.
Saturday night, Mom's Night Out! I got to sit in a restaurant with other (get this) "grown-ups", and not once did I have to tell them to clean their plate! And I got to talk about things like shaving legs, and mommy 'n daddy time.... I mean "sex" (and yes, I got to say the actual word without whispering!), and oh my gosh all the other subjects that are a big no-no around young'ins who enjoy repeating everything I say. It was fabulous!
And speaking of "fabulous", I saw a movie with the word "Sex" in the title! I got to enter the movie theatre, without chasing anyone off the video games, and sit down.... by myself! Even better.... I watched a movie without missing half of it because someone has to go to the bathroom.... 5 times.

It was heaven!