Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hooray, I Have Visitors!

Well, in a few days I'll celebrate my 30th year... ahem, I mean, my second 29th year. And instead of sitting around by myself, crying that my husband isn't here to see me into that milestone, I'll have my parents here.... next best thing.
A few weeks ago I got a call from my mom:

Mom: So, you don't want us to come down?

Me: Huh???

Mom: Your dad sent you an email last night with our itinerary and you haven't responded yet!

Me: Um.... mmmm.... well.... um......

Mom: Did you even look at it yet?

Me: Uhh... no. I don't think so. My inbox fills up kinda fast sometimes.

Mom: Well, we're coming for your birthday. We already booked the flight and we'll stay in that same hotel we did last time.

Me: Um... okay.

Now they are here. A little worse for wear, but here. The small commuter plane they took from Memphis to Alexandria, Louisiana was tossed around the thunder storm stricken sky like a styrofoam plane on a windy day. I can only imagine them jumping off the plane and kissing the sweet ground! (figureatively speaking of course!)
That was the first of their troubles. They try to call me once they land, only to get a "We're sorry, this number is unavailable" message. Trying numerous times to no avail, and even asking my sister to try with no luck, they got a bit worried. I don't have a landline, so my cell phone is the only way to get ahold of me.
Trucking their luggage to the car rental place to pick up the mini-van they reserved, they find there is no mini-van. The third major issue. As they hop in the Dodge sedan alternative, still not able to get ahold of me, they felt a bit worried and frustrated. Not to mention the green face my dad still had from the turbulent flight.
As for my cell phone, the storm my parents flew through also hit us, knocking out all cable and cell service.
When we finally hooked up at my parent's hotel and the kids talked their ears off for awhile, we decided to go eat at one of my favorite restaurants. It's one of those steak houses where you throw the peanut shells on the floor. However, a big sign on the door said, "Closed until further notice". Hmpf! Now what? Not much to choose from here.
My dad suggested the catfish place we've talked about before. So, off to Catfish Junction where Drew can get some more fried alligator.
Fried alligator, frog legs, oysters, they tried it all. Notice I say "they". Ya, I'm not the adventerous type when it comes to things that live most of their life in water. Now, I've tried ostrich and buffalo and some other various land-dwellers. And I do love seafood. But I'm not too sure about slimey, scaley things that live in the Louisiana swamp lands.
We all jet back to our respective "homes" for the season premier of Lost, and I'm sure much more fun is ahead.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The kids and I went walking with our friends for our "Walk to Iraq" goal. And don't ask me how I'm doing. Someone's tiny hands got ahold of the pedometers and zeroed them out. Louisa remembers what she had, but I have no clue. I was trying not to look at it on purpose so I wouldn't obsess about it. That'll teach me to A) not put them low enough where little hands can get them, and B) keep an eye on how I'm doing in case it happens again.

Here's a picture my friend took of the kids and I. If you notice, I'm wearing my new shirt sent all the way from Iraq for my birthday. I was supposed to wait until my actual birthday, but who can wait an entire week when there's a package from their husband sitting there?

The boys and I are in a music class called Kindermusik. I started with my playgroup friends last year when it was just Hunter and I home in the day. We had a lot of fun, but when Drew started to stay home, he didn't really like coming with us and being in a class with all "babies". So when it was time to start the new semester of classes, I signed us up for a sibling class. He's still the oldest, but at least there's other siblings in this class. Yesterday we went on a "picnic" in Kindermusik.

Yesterday, the kids and I hung up our projects we made over the weekend. We hung up the Mardi Gras masks that the kids designed, and also we hung up our Winter Wall.You may notice that besides our "Winter Words" and our "Winter Holidays", there's also Drew's poem. The snowflakes, snowmen, hats and mittens were made by the kids. Although Louisa focused most of her time on making masks.

Just some more cleaning to do, and we will be all ready for my parents to come on Thursday. They are very nice to come down and spend my birthday with me. Eventhough I refuse to turn 30 until Husband gets home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

For Drew

I woke up this morning to a very nice email. My friend Stef had made this for Drew. She's learning how to do the photoshop thing, so she took the three separate images, the igloo, mouse, and hot cocoa, and put them together, along with his poem, to make this great picture for Drew. Thanks Stef!

We made a Winter Wall, complete with snowflakes and some winter pictures, so we'll add this picture to the wall. I just printed it out. Drew hasn't gotten up yet this morning, but as soon as he does he'll be very excited to see it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Drew's winter poem

Drew and I were doing some fun "January" activities today during our school lessons. We co-wrote this poem together, but really, he did most of the work. He just needed a word here and there when he got stuck:

Igloos are blue,
Noses are red.
I like January when I can ride my sled.
Sometimes it's too cold,
So I sit in my house,
With a cup of hot cocoa I'm warm as a mouse.

Pretty good if I do say so myself!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Some great Support Our Troops ideas!

I was thinking about one of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, and all she did to support the war efforts "in her day". She took a country of housewives, and got them in factories (with federally funded childcare, or course!) She had women saving gas and oil and sparing their tires by walking to the store. Women saved their "waste fat", or cooking fat, to help make explosives. And she had women saving their old nylon pantyhose to help make strong ropes for the deployed troops. I was also thinking about another favorite lady of mine. My granny. My granny, who, at a very young age, left her home in Wisconsin and moved to Akron, Ohio to work at the Goodyear plant, which had been converted into a plant that made airplane wings for military planes. How scary that must have been! This young, extremely shy girl, moving states away to live in a house of other young girls and work in a factory, just because her country needed her to. Well, if she hadn't, I wouldn't be here! That's where she met my grandad, the handsome young ladies man who only had eyes for the shy young thing from Wisconsin!

So, as I was thinking of all these events, and all the ways the entire country helped out, I decided to look up some of those old WWII propaganda posters. gotta love the internet!
I'll share a few that I liked a lot:

{This one is great! If the soldiers can walk and carry their big weapons, I can walk and carry my little ol' groceries!}

{This is obviously nothing more than a good way to get your kids to eat their broccoli. As mom wipes a tear from her eye, she sniffs and sadly says, "Kids, Uncle Bill is fighting for our country, the very least you can do is eat your broccoli!"}

{This is a propaganda poster to urge Americans to get in the factories and help build/manufacture the supplies that the overseas troops need. Now what young 20 year old Miss could resist making bullets for this GI? Sign me up! Oh wait, I have my own strapping young GI. I'll let someone else have this one!}

{I can imagine my granny seeing something similar to this and hearing "the call".}

{War Bonds... War Bonds... War Bonds.... Was this a good idea? Did it work? If it did, why don't we still do it?}

{Because the fear of being known as a communist that spread through this country in the 1940's was so absolute, of course the government exploited it! The last thing you want is for your neighbor to think you're in cahoots with the evil of all evils!}

{Sheesh, first you have your own mom nagging you to walk to school instead of riding the bus, and to save your holy pantyhose, and now you have someone else's mom nagging you not to take a vacation!}

{*Snicker snicker* ~ *Giggle giggle*

I hope this one isn't lost on any of you. It's just too darn good!}
It's so interesting to me how the theme during WWII was "conserve, conserve, conserve!" and the theme for this war is "spend, spend, spend"! I'm sure I'm not the first person to notice that.

One thing I love about having my blog, and knowing that at least one or two people out there are reading it, is that chance for me to spout off about projects that I'm excited about. For instance, the America Supports You website has a great New Year's Resolution idea for everyone in this country. This downloadable calendar for your Outlook, or in .pdf form, has ideas on how you can help the troops all year long! Of course, I'm all for that! I fall into the "my husband is deployed, that's all the help I need to give" attitude way too often when Husband is gone. This is a good way for me to get at least a monthly idea of other stuff I can do. Even us Army and Military wives need to do for others.
This month's idea: got an old computer sitting around? We all know we can't throw electronics in the garbage. So... if it's still got a leg to stand on, why not donate it? Go America Supports You for more information. And download the calendar for monthly ideas on how you can help. (do I sound like a commercial?! i feel like one.)

Another one of those things I like to tell people about is my wristband I wear. Everyone always asks where I get it, and although I bought a few extras to give to some special friends, I didn't buy enough for everyone! So, here's where to get it: Defending Freedom website. And what I like about them is that they are a small military version of United Way where they distribute money as needed to some of my favorite military charities such as the Snowball Express (that took a friend of mine and her girls to Disney the year their daddy was KIA), the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, and because sometimes moms & dads come home, but have to stay in the hospital awhile, Fisher House (just to name a few!)

Lastly, have you heard of A Million Thanks yet? If not, click on the website to find out how to send Valentine's to our deployed troops, and be a part of sending them a Million Thanks!

If for some reason, none of those ideas appeal to you, and you still want to do *something*, go to this list on the America Supports You website. So many great ideas, that it may be hard to choose just one. Many are even free, or asking for donations of stuff that you already have around the house.

{This picture only serves the purpose of being for my friend Snowflake, because her husband is a submariner, and she's a raven haired beauty like the one in the picture!}

{And remember, with everyone's help:}

{Couldn't have WWII propaganda posters without Rosie the Riveter!}

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Just catching up with a few pictures

I keep promising pictures, and then not delivering, so finally I have sat down and photo-shopped my pics and they are ready for posting!

Some Santa's Angels pictures:

{Hunter can't wait to find presents with his name on them!}

{Is this board totally wicked, or what?!!}


The Christmas present from Husband:

{It didn't photo too well, but here it is! And only a little border of "black velvet", so nothing even close to a neon Elvis picture!}

{I hung it on my wall underneath the last family photo that was taken of us, and this is what color the picture actually is.}

And finally, Louisa was in an "all-school" Social Studies fair last month. She chose Bigfoot for her topic. She had to write a report including using categorized notecards, write a 5 minute speech, make a display board, and also be able to answer any questions the judges might have. She won 1st place at the school level in her category, anthropology. That meant she would progress to the "Parish level" which included grades 4 thru 6. Thursday was the competition and although Louisa did not place or advance, she had a very fun time. Drew, Hunter and I had a great time looking at all the amazing displays. Wow do these kids work hard!

{Louisa showing off her display. I made her a shirt that says, "I'm with Bigfoot"}

{Display close-up. It also included a cast of a footprint that I made, and Bigfoot "fur" in different colors.}

Monday, January 14, 2008

How he says Thank You

When Husband buys me a gift, he puts thought in to it. I rarely get just anything he passes at WalMart cause it's the day before (insert holiday here) and he needs something. Even IF he does go out the day before, he still shops till he finds the perfect thing.
For the Christmas before our Disney trip in 2006, he gave me the perfect Mickey watch (that I lost at Disney, of course!) The Christmas after his sister died, he gave me a ring with an amethyst shaped like a heart, to tell me how much he loved me. No words, just a ring.
My point being, he thinks. And this Christmas, he thought hard. Armed with a credit card and the internet, he was looking for something to tell me Thank You. Something that I could look at every day and know how much he appreciates all I do here for him. He found it.
Originally the gift was shipped to my parent's house. It was supposed to be there by Christmas, wrapped by my parents and waiting under the tree for me. It didn't get there until well after we left to come back down to Louisiana. Today, I finally got it. Carefully re-packaged by my dad, the gift arrived safe and sound.
Shaking hands reached for the scissors to cut the tape. Little hands anxiously grabbed the box to see just what Daddy sent to Mommy. Nervously, I opened the box to find... another box. Opening box number two I see an invoice that says "army wife, black velvet". Now, I know I'm not the only person who sees neon pictures of Elvis when the phrase "black velvet" pops up! A little worried now, I carefully flip the framed picture over.
This was no neon Elvis. This was a beautiful picture for me, an Army Wife. Entitled, Army Wife Poem, it reads:

The good Lord was creating a model for Army wives and was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared. She said: “Lord, you seem to be having a lot of trouble with this one. What’s wrong with the standard model?”
The Lord replied: “Have you seen the specs on this order? She has to be completely independent, possess the qualities of both father, and mother, be a perfect hostess to four or forty with an hour’s notice, run on black coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to carry on cheerfully, even if she is pregnant and has the flu, and she must be willing to move to a new location ten times in seventeen years. And oh, yes, she must have six pairs of hands.”
The angel shook her head, “Six pairs of hands? No way.”
The Lord continued, “ Don’t worry, we will make other Army wives to help her. And we will give her an unusually strong heart so it can swell with pride in her husband’s achievements, sustain the pain of separations, beat soundly when it is overworked and tired, and be large enough to say, “I understand’ when she doesn’t, and say ‘I love you,’ regardless.”
“Lord,” said the angel, touching his arm gently, “Go to bed and get some rest. You can finish tomorrow.”
“I can’t stop now,” the Lord said, “I am so close to creating something unique. Already this model heals herself when she is sick, can put up six unexpected guests for the weekend, wave goodbye to her husband from a pier, a runway, or a depot, and understand why it’s important that he leave.”
The angel circled the model of the Army wife, looked at it closely and sighed, “It looks fine, but it’s too soft.”
“She might look soft,” replied the Lord, “but she has the strength of a lion. You would not believe what she can endure.”
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the Lord’s creation. “There’s a leak,” she announced. “Something is wrong with the construction. I am not surprised that it has cracked. You are trying to put too much into this model.”
The Lord appeared offended at the angel’s lack of confidence. “What you see is not a leak,” He said. “It’s a tear.”
“A tear” What is it there for?” asked the angel.
The Lord replied, “It’s for joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness, pride, and dedication to all the values that she and her husband hold dear.”
“You are a genius!” exclaimed the angel.
The Lord looked puzzled and replied, “I didn’t put it there.”

Thank you, Honey. I'm glad to do my part, sacrifices and all, and be your Army Wife.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Santa's Angels

While we were in Wisconsin, I stopped my mail so that when we got back it would all be delivered at once. The day it all came, there was one of those little orange slips saying we had 4 packages to be picked up. Hunter was sick, then Drew, then Louisa, then me, so I popped the slip back in the mailbox and told them to try and redeliver. There was no way we'd be leaving the house for a few days.

Yesterday (Thursday) the packages finally came. 4 big ones. No return address, no postmark. Each one said simply, "From Santa".

We opened one, and there was a poem for each kid, as well as a filled stocking, and a camo bandanna wrapped in star ribbon with an American Flag pin. The letters were from Santa saying how busy Santa is, and that the Post Office was helping Santa deliver a few extra presents this year.

All the boxes had stuff for the kids, wrapped and labeled. As they opened their gifts (and yes, I have pictures to share!) everything they got was something from their list. We wrote Santa letters back in the beginning of December. I almost didn't mail those letters! I'm glad I did.

Hunter got a puppy, and a Diego toy, and Cars toys that he asked for. Drew got walkie talkies, and a skateboard that he asked for. And Louisa also got a skateboard along with a Carrie Underwood CD. All of it was something the kids had put on their lists.

We live in a rural area, so our mail doesn't actually go through our post office here. It gets shipped to a bigger PO and stamped and mailed from there. I addressed the Santa letters to "Santa Claus, North Pole", figuring that it was pretty explanatory where it needed to be sent. I'm sure there's only one Santa at the North Pole! If anyone can find him, the PO can!

And find him they did! Or, his angels found us, which is more likely. I tried to hold back tears as i realized just where these amazing gifts came from. Of course, each Santa letter asked Santa to, above all else, bring daddy home for Christmas. I assume we touched some angels' hearts who were opening Santa letters.

I can't thank them. I don't even know where they are. I myself do so much anonymous giving that I completely understand not needing to be thanked for anything. I never expect/need a thank you for what I give. But I want the people to know the joy my kids had when they truly believed Santa had saved a few more gifts for them to open at home.

The kindness that has been shown us both leading up to the deployment, and during the deployment, is so touching. We don't feel any more special than the next person just because my husband does what he does. The kids and I, and my husband as well, are very humble. We do the job that we have to do because we don't have a choice. God has given us the family we have, He has provided for our family through the job my husband holds in the US Army, and when called, my husband has no choice but to answer. The kids and I, of course, follow. We do our duty because it's ours to do. Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we don't know how we'll make it through, but all the time our great faith in God gets us through. There's nothing we, as a family centered in God, can't get through, and there's nothing greater on earth than all of the angels God has sent to us. Santa's Angels included.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mama's Can't Get Sick

I don't know if I'm all teary because I'm sick, and sick of being sick, or if I'm so proud of my kids that I'm weepy at the thought of how incredible they are.
As previously mentioned, we began this long baton pass of the flu in the car late Thursday night when Hunter decided to decorate my backseat.
Saturday night, Drew came to sleep with me in bed at about 1:00 am, and sure enough, brought me a confetti colored present. (And boy, do I need to teach that kid how to chew!)
Monday, Louisa got the baton! And guess what? She came to my room first! However, she's the only one who loves me because she chose to wait until she got to the bathroom.
Louisa finally started back at school today (yes, they got a whopping 18 days off!), and luckily she was better this morning so she could go.
However, the baton was apparently mine. fun.
I spent an unbelievable amount of time sleeping today, and Drew spent the whole time playing with Hunter for me. When I thanked him, he said he didn't do anything special, he just watched movies with Hunter all day. I don't care if they spent the day wiping boogers on the walls, as long as they let me lay down like they did, they are my wonderful sweet little boys!
Louisa was awesome enough to reheat last night's pizza for the boys when she got home from school.
See, I'm all weepy again. I love my kids.
But I'm still sick. Bedtime.... again.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Long Trip Helped Me Learn a Few Things

You know how once in awhile, you have those epiphanies, or those moments of clarity where you go, Wow! I think I just learned something! ? My long trip from Louisiana to Wisconsin, back to Louisiana again with just me, three kids and a dog, helped me learn a few things, gain some clarity, and smacked me in the head a few times telling me to wake up.

I learned:

1) I really can drive 1200 miles by myself and when you include the return trip that makes 2400 miles.... by myself. No one else to ask to wait with the kids while I run to the bathroom quick, no one to take the wheel when my eyelids got heavy, and no one else to help run interference when the kids wouldn't stop bickering in the back seat. There was no caffeine to help keep me awake, because I can't have any.
We've taken this trip so many times in the past, and each time we do I look at Husband, who drives 7/8 of the way, and wonder how he can do it. How can he sit there that long and drive that distance? Now I know!

2) Anything that is placed remotely near the dog can and will get chewed. If he can reach it, he will chew it/ shred it/ destroy it. He doesn't know the difference between a brand new book, a cardboard box, or a child's beloved stuffed animal. Bring *many* chew toys while on a long trip with a dog. They get bored, too.

3) When you need to sleep in a hotel that is clearly on the wrong side of town, hold your head up like you're supposed to be there. The welcome sign that says "F* the Crypts" wasn't meant for a small white girl anyway!

4) Bribing children is always a good idea when you have to spend 24 hours in a car with them. They will behave much better. And if you have a DVD player in your car, Rock On! Let them sit and watch all the movies they want to!

5) Spending Christmas in a snug, cozy home, while your husband is 7000 miles away in a combat zone isn't as fun as it sounds. *But*, anyone can get through it. I'm still alive, I came out on the other end unscathed, and we're all much stronger than we were before.

6) Seeing the Nutcracker Ballet is a beautiful experience, even if you've seen it almost 10 times before. But it's much more beautiful when you get to see the look on your daughter's face, who is seeing it for the first time.

7) Good friends will find you no matter where you are. And send you gifts, and cards, and well wishes full of much love and support, and make you cry in front of your parents.

8) Parents with grown children miss doing the Santa thing, no matter how much they grumble about it! Stay at your parent's house on Christmas Eve just once so they can share in the joy on your children's faces Christmas morning.

9) Maintaining all the qualities that make up a good marriage is difficult from this far away. It's easy to get wrapped up in the kids, and life in general, and forget there's someone who sits around and thinks about you every second of the day. Marriage doesn't get put on hold just because someone has to be away for a long time, and it takes extra work to keep the communication going.

10) Miranda Lambert is right, everyone *is* famous in a small town. Especially if they are my sister. (and now me by association) You can also become famous if you tip the hairdresser $17 for a $30 cut.

11) The Harlem Globetrotters are just as fun now as they were 20 years ago. Only, 20 years ago they were all a bunch of old men, and now they are all younger than me.

12) It still snows way too much in Wisconsin. Way... way.... too much. It's nice to visit, play in the snow, then get the heck out of there and back to the south where my truck isn't covered in salt for 6 months out of the year.

13) Life goes on, even when you have to leave your loved ones for awhile. Nephews still grow way too tall, sisters still party on with their friends, and parents still live their lives one day at a time.

14) The trip there is always shorter than the trip home.

15) My most important discovery is something I once said would never happen: A family who has been through much pain and grief, and has completely fallen apart from eachother, *can* begin to heal and come together to share a wonderful Christmas. God brings certain people together in ways we cannot explain or understand, but I know He does it so that this family can begin to come together in good times again. I'm speaking of my inlaws, who I had the pleasure of joining this Christmas at my sis-in-law's house. Although, the best part was getting all the grandkids in one place at one time, for the first time ever. Much to my MIL's delight.

16) Perhaps the grossest discovery was that a toddler can indeed shoot projectile vomit all over the backseat when you are so close to being home from a mega long trip that you can almost see your city's lights on the skyline. And, diapers do not wipe up vomit very well. They aren't really absorbant in that kind of a way.

I'm sure so many other wonderful things were learned on this trip, but the big ones will stick with me the most. It's hard trying do the best I can for the kids, while making sure my long-distance husband is happy at the same time. However with about 13 1/2 more months to go, I'll have plenty of practice trying to get it right.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, New Blog Design

It's here! My new and improved blog! Well, not so sure about the improved part, but the design is *exactly* what I wanted! Umm... okay, that's not true. It's not what I "originally" wanted, but it is what I finally decided on. I went in to this little project wanting one of those funny cartoony moms with a million hands taking care of a million things, like my normal life. Then I did a little soul searching (and couldn't find the right cartoony mom picture that fit me) and decided something a little more subtle would fit me best. This is good. This is how I imagined it when I gave Heather the pictures, and told her the color scheme. She did great and I'm very excited. I don't have to come on here and think "oh blah" anymore.
So, it's a new year. 2008. The 30th year of my life. Or, the 2nd 29th year, which is what I prefer. I refuse to age while Husband is gone. Especially since I'll be 31 when he gets back, and he'll still only be 29. Nope, not happening.
No New Year's resolutions for this gal. Don't make them, don't need them. Just point me in somewhat of a general direction that I should head for the year, and let me go. This year that means staying sane with three kids, all their activities, homeschooling, and trying to maintain just a small smidge of individuality. All on my own. Oh, and let's not forget trying to keep my husband happy while he's 7000 miles away.
We're about to leave Wisconsin and head back to Louisiana where we'll begin this crazy adventure of an entire year by ourselves. I will no doubt begin to talk to myself in about a month or so, pretending that Husband is sitting there listening to me. In about two months my brain will short circuit and any short term memory I might have once had will go out the window. Six months down the road I hope to have the opportunity to shower and go to the bathroom by myself at least once a week, if that's not asking too much. Which it probably is.
Homeward bound, happy with my blog, and bracing myself for the year ahead.