Monday, November 09, 2009

Pushing My Buttons

Some days these kids know how to push every button I have... until Mount Vesuvius blows! And boy can I get mad!

I am blessed to have a wonderful boss who lets me bring Hunter to work every day. I teach gymnastics two mornings a week during the week, and I pick up some Saturdays when she needs me. My first morning class is a "mom and me" type of class. It's called Wiggle Worms. I set up an obstacle course, we stretch together as a group, then moms and kids take off and practice their gymnastics skills in the obstacle course. Or, the kids just run around crazy making their parents wonder just *when* they are going to learn actual gymnastics skills. Hunter gets to participate in this Wiggle Worm class. He runs around with the other kids and sometimes sticks a few skills in there to make Mama happy.

My next class is an instructor led, Level 1 gymnastics class for ages 3 & 4 called Inch Worms (see the pattern? Kids 5 and under are called "Gym Bugs"). That class is difficult in itself. Getting so many 3 & 4 year-olds to sit and listen for 45 minutes, and learn a few things in the process, is hard. It tries my patience many days. Add Hunter, who is not supposed to be in this class, jumping in and out wherever he pleases. We have 4 skills to get through in 45 minutes. Beam, bars, floor (tumbling), and beginning vault skills. As well as stretching and warming up. The days that Hunter doesn't sit in the waiting area and play with his toys are difficult days. Today was one of them!

I feel bad when he's running all over the gym, causing havoc, while all the parents are sitting there watching me chase him around instead of teach their child. I should be putting 100% of my focus on the paying customers, the children who are there to learn. Not chasing Hunter around, getting him out of the chalk, stopping him from climbing up on the "big boy" high bar, etc. I also find myself losing patience with the class easier when Hunter is having one of these days. Although I can hide it better with the class, and keep smiling. With Hunter, I can't smile. I want him to just SIT and BEHAVE!

I will miss my job so much when we leave, and I fear I may never get to teach gymnastics again because I'm not actually a gymnast. But if we were staying here, I'd *have* to figure out something to do with Hunter!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Waiting... waiting.... Playing the waiting game

We are moving to Fort Drum, New York!!

Maybe.

Husband was offered a job there instructing a school... something about moutain and rifles and... I'm sure I'll know more when we get there! But it's a school he really enjoys, he teaches all his guys here everything he learned when he went to that school, so he will (should) have fun with it. And that will make him non-deployable for the two to three years we're there. Bonus!

However, we don't have those pesky official orders yet. In the military you can't go to the bathroom without orders! Mostly ;) You need them to do just about everything, though. You have orders for where you live, what base you're stationed at, when you're on leave, when you're deployed, etc. We can't give our 30 days notice to housing without them, we can't set up our transportation (moving our stuff) without them, and we can't really look for a house in New York without them. Orders, you see, have a way of getting lost... or overturned. As has happened to us in the past with certain drill sergeant orders.

I'm confident we'll get the orders and get moving soon. I really feel our time here at Fort Polk is done. Husband has been with this unit since March 2006. That's long enough! Two deployments later, it's time to get out of here and try something new. That's the fun of being a military family, all the new places you get to explore. I've never even visited the Northeast before, except the one trip to Niagara Falls.... I'd like to get up there and have some adventures. Also, we'll be a hop, skip, and border crossing away from Canada.

I'm not, however, looking forward to the cold. My body has climatized itself to the south. I may have grown up in Wisconsin, but my body has become Southern!

For now, we play the waiting game.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thinking

The kids and I were running late for school this morning so I had to sign them in. It gave me a chance to see all the flags posted around the school and appreciate why they were there.

Thinking you today, Mr. John. Your family, your son's family, and all those lost 8 years ago.

Here's my story Glimpse, from last year. I can't say more than I said last year!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Chaos Family

I made this Chaos Family plate at the local paint your own ceramics store. I think it turned out pretty nice.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another summer...

Another summer in good ole Louisiana. Hot. Sticky. Louisiana. We said good-bye to Husband again last night as he left for the summer to an army school. So now I have the oh-so important job of coming up with things to keep the kids busy this summer. Low-cost, of course. You know, in these times, we need to save not spend. Right? Always easier said than done.

We have our local swimming pool to help keep us cool. If only getting myself in a swimsuit were easier! The kids have fun, though. And it's free. So I can't complain.

There are also a few inexpensive local attractions like the zoo and children's museums that are about an hour away. We will definitely need to hit those up.

And parks, you can't go wrong with playing at the park. In 100 degree weather. :)

I think much of our summer will be taken up with cooking, crafts, and playing Wii! The kids could play Wii all day if I let them. What's funny is that they don't play all the expensive games we've bought. They play the Wii Sports game that came with the console. So for anyone looking to invest in a Wii, the kids will have a blast just bowling and boxing and playing tennis on the game that already comes in the box.

And now we're off to the pool to enjoy this hot summer, without Daddy, the best we can.


Monday, May 11, 2009

The Good Deed is Done!

Saturday. Wow, well.... what can I say? It exhausted me. I worked harder than I thought I would. I learned many lessons. The girls learned not only learned lessons about taking on big projects, but also about themselves and their limitations.

I know we did a good deed and that for the most part the deed is done and over with. But wow! I had no clue what work it would be. And I don't just mean physically. Two Girl Scout leaders directing 7 girls painting 2 rooms is mentally exhausting. My co-leader and I were completely spent at the end of the day. These girls are 4th and 5th graders, and we had to really get them to understand that quitting this project halfway through was not an option. Sitting on our butts taking a rest every 10 minutes really wasn't an option either. We painted for 7 hours with a 30 minute lunch break. Each girl took her turn painting with brushes, rollers, standing on the ladders and painting up high, being on clean-up duty, and of course sitting around taking breaks.

We still have to go back and paint one of the two bathrooms and put the bedding, curtains, and finishing touches in the rooms. I'm excited to get some decorations in there. As we were painting my co-leader and I were envisioning pictures we'd like to hang on the walls! I'll finally get to have the satisfaction of a job well done when we are finished with the project and families are truly enjoying the rooms and all of our hard work.
{Louisa painting the *bright* apricot-yellow room!}

{The blue room all finished!}


{Louisa and I after we got home. All covered in paint from a day's hard work!}


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Girl Scout Community Service

Around Easter time my Girl Scouts and I were looking for a community service project to cap off the year with. We needed something the girls could plan on their own as part of a badge they were working on. I decided to call the local women's shelter to see if there was anything they needed done.

At the time, the lady I talked to said their most immediate need was a few Easter baskets for the kids who would be with them Easter morning. Ok. We could do that. The girls were excited and we assembled 12 baskets for the shelter.

That wasn't enough for us, though. The girls didn't actually get to plan that project, and although they felt amazingly proud of what they did, they wanted to do more. (Girls after my own heart, for sure!) The lady from the shelter came to one of our meetings to pick up the baskets and talk to the girls about what the women's shelter does. As she was talking about how grateful they are for the Easter baskets, one of my Girl Scouts whispered, "I have a really good feeling in my heart right now." Me too. But for a whole different reason.

After our new friend from the shelter was finished talking a few of the girls asked her what else we could do for the shelter. She seemed a little surprised so we explained to her that the girls wanted to do a project all their own. Something where they did the planning and the deciding. She suggested a few things that she needed done around the shelter and the one that the girls got excited about was "Adopt a Room". Basically we would choose a room to paint and decorate.

The Saturday after Easter we went to tour the shelter. It needs a LOT of work. Last summer's hurricanes did some damage that hasn't been fixed yet, many of the rooms are drab looking, they've had some roof leakage that has caused a lot of water damage inside the building.... To break it down, they need more money, and more help. Pretty much *anything* we choose to do will be greatly appreciated.

The girls thought about which room they would like to adopt and, of course, chose the biggest. The shelter is in an old hotel, and the room they chose is a "suite" style with a door between two rooms that opens up for larger families. Each room has a bathroom, so not only do we have two rooms to paint and decorate, but also two bathrooms. I said, "All right, girls, if this is what you choose that's fine. BUT, we need to get on the phone and get donations!" And they did! Well, they got on the phone. Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of donations.

One local business really came through for us and we are so grateful to them. I can't thank them enough. Louisa was in charge of calling a local store called Stine's. They are like a small Home Depot. She talked to a very friendly assistant manager who said, "Sure, anything you need! Come on down and let's talk." Louisa and I went in one day after school and he was just as friendly and helpful as he was on the phone. He told Louisa he'd give her all the paint she needed for this project. Considering how much we have to paint, this is an incredible donation! He said he's been to the shelter before and he knew which room we were talking about. I hate to admit I was a bit skeptical. I wish I wasn't so on-guard all the time, but I am. I can rarely look at a gift as something pure with no strings attached. And although I do see the small strings attached to this gift, such as positive publicity for the store, I mostly see really good hearts who just cared enough about our project to help us. And I also see that out of all the major national chain stores we have around us (I won't name them), the people who really came through were the small town locals.

The assistant manager gave Louisa ALL the books of paint swatches that he had and that week at our meeting the girls picked out two colors. I wasn't sure if Stine's would indulge the girls or not, but they did! Again, my skepticism showed through. A few of the Girl Scouts and I took the paint swatches they had chosen in to Stine's one day and the assistant manager hooked us up with the paint specialist. Who was amazing. To say the very least. She gave the kids paint safety, and painting tips. She was just as excited as the girls were about their project. She told the girls they did a great job matching the two paint colors because they are somewhat odd colors. A sort of teal, and an apricot-ish. But they do look great together. The paint specialist also gave the girls hats to wear when they are painting (and gave hats to Drew and Hunter because they had to tag along), and she told them how proud she was that they chose such a worthy cause. She even thanked them for being volunteers!

We left Stine's that day with 8 gallons of paint (4 of each color), rollers, paint pans, paint brushes... and a renewed sense of just how beautiful humanity can be.

Since then, we've been in the newspaper (on the front page with a color picture, no less!), and been talked about on local radio. My girls are doing something good, but even better we're helping to raise awareness that the shelter needs so much help right now.

Tomorrow we'll suit up and step into our adopted room to begin the transformation. I don't know what to expect tomorrow, but I know each of my girls will learn what it's like to get their hands dirty and do a good deed. They'll learn that anything they do will make a difference. And I can only pray they take this experience with them and grow from it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hunter and his Easter egg

Hunter decorating an Easter egg, take 1:

video

Hunter decorating an Easter egg, take 2:

video

Monday, April 06, 2009

Marriage Retreat

Husband and I went on a marriage retreat to Houston this weekend. It was great! The army paid for our hotel and all the food we could eat. Even better, husband and I really got a lot out of it and it opened up some good dialog between us. Not that we don't already talk eachother's ears off. The kids got to come, too, but they were in a child care room while we were in session. We had one session Friday night, two Saturday, a date night Saturday night, and then a quick session in the morning on Sunday.

The seminar was called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and it's by a pastor named Mark Gungor (he wasn't there personally, although that would have been fun). We laughed so much! Here's one video that we watched. You have to watch the whole thing. It's so funny and just 100% true!





If you've ever read Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Ferrel, you'll recognize a lot of what Mark is saying. Husband and I joke about the "nothing box" all the time! My problem isn't that I want to be in the nothing box with him, my problem is that I want to stick the kids in it! He's watching TV, obviously in his nothing box. I say "Honey, the kids want to go to the park." ....... no response. "Honey, can you go out and play ball with Hunter?" ....... no response. Then I tell Hunter, "Go jump on Daddy's lap and ask him to take you outside." hehe. That works, but not always very well!

Here's another video we saw from Mark:






I loved this video! Husband and I laughed SO hard! This is all just so true, but it's very funny. Husband and I are awesome about making a joke of everything, laughing things off, not taking eachother too seriously. So this marriage retreat was right up our alley.



On Sunday we went to the zoo in Houston because it was free for military families. (Thank you, Houston Zoo!!) There were babies gallore at that zoo! Baby elephant, baby giraffe, baby tamarin, baby bongos, baby lemurs... I could go on! Hunter took this picture of the baby giraffe.



So check out more Mark Gungor stuff. He's great! And I think it really helped a lot of couples open up that communication. Here's the website for his Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage seminars, and his radio show.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Yummy April Fools

I got the kids pretty good yesterday. Well, I got Drew. The other two weren't really "fooled". A few weeks ago I came across these Hamburger Cookies on Allrecipes.com. I thought it would be so funny to play a trick on the kids with these on April Fools day. Our April Fools days usually just consist of "There's a spider on your shoulder! ........ April Fools!" So this year I wanted to get a bit more sophisticated.

Husband distracted the kids while I put the mini-burgers together. I used two 'Nilla wafers for the bun, a Hershey's Almond Joy cookie for the burger (they were out of chocolate mint cookies like the recipe suggests and for some strange reason all of our Thin Mints are gone), red frosting for the ketchup and yellow frosting on the bottom for mustard (or cheese on Louisa's because she doesn't like mustard! ha!), and green tinted coconut for lettuce. To make the sesame seeds stick I added a touch of corn syrup to some warm water and sprinkled it on the top "bun".

I put two on each plate at the dinner table and called the kids in for dinner. Drew ran to the table and gleefully yelled "All right! Mini-burgers!" He paused for a moment and stared at the burgers. Finally he says "What is this?!" I didn't say anything until Hunter and Louisa had a chance to look over their "burgers". Louisa figured it out right away, and Hunter just didn't care. The fact that there was a cookie, and more than that, two big cookie sandwiches on his plate at dinner time gave him the excuse to eat first and ask later. You just don't question an event like that! Louisa was worried because she gave up chocolate for Lent. I told her it would be okay this one time.

Real dinner was super yumm-o pork tacos. The kids got to eat one buger before dinner and one after. I told Hunter he had to eat one taco before he could have his other burger. He ate one taco and when we asked him if he'd like another he just jumped off his chair and headed straight for his burger. He's like an elephant, especially when it comes to food. He does not forget.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finally!

We're out of diapers for good! For the first time in 11 1/2 years I don't have to buy diapers, change diapers, smell diapers.... I'm so excited!

And it happend so easily. Now, before you going saying, "I'm so jealous, I've been trying for a year, how did you do it so fast?!" I'm going admit something. I waited until Hunter was ready. I didn't push, I didn't fight. I just waited. I pushed the older two kids and struggled for a year with both of them. This time I wanted to be more laid back and let Hunter lead. He wasn't ready until now. So, at 3 1/2 years of age, he was finally ready. It just clicked! He's been in underwear for a week now and so far we only had one accident. That was because we went for a hike and Hunter decided it was better to go in his pants than in the bushes!

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Those days"

You know those days when the kids do something that just makes you shake your head and sigh? Ya, that was today. Well, it's actually most days in my house, but today was a real head shaker.
Hunter is in full force potty training. I call it Boot Camp. I took away his diapers completely (except at night), and he's just in underwear. He has to go to the potty or pee his pants. And he's already decided he doesn't like peeing his pants just for the fact that he has to change clothes and get washed down in the tub every time he does it. So, we've come to an agreement that he can go potty on his own, standing at the toilet (will not even consider a training potty), as long as he doesn't play in the bathroom. Who am I to be picky? I just want him out of diapers for good, so I'm willing to bend.
That brings me to our episode today. The head shaking moment that added more work to my day. I heard Hunter going potty, the flush, then run the water. I assumed he was washing his hands so I didn't pay attention to him after that. I noticed after awhile he wasn't coming out and he was being very quiet. I went in to the bathroom to find my sweet, helpful Hunter cleaning the bathroom with a sponge..... and using the toilet water. So I assume. And I'm going to assume that because the lid was open and a very wet towel lay next to the toilet. I just assumed, and scrubbed the bathroom top to bottom. Shaking my head and sighing. What else can I do? He was trying to be helpful! Just using the wrong kind of water.
Oh, and we did have a long talk about why we don't use toilet water to wash the bathroom with. Hopefully it won't happen again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Springy, springy, spring

Spring has sprung in Louisiana! The trees have buds on them, flowers are flowering, bees are buzzing, and babies are being born.

Hunter and I took a nature walk a few days ago. We saw a studly bird making quite a ruckus. He was pretty funny to us, but hopefully he was charming to some young missy bird. He had a stick in his mouth and was showing it off, obviously saying "Hey pretty girlies, I can make a mighty fine nest! Any takers?!" Hunter noticed how the bird was making all sorts of different noises. I'm guessing if puffing out his chest and making a tweeting noise didn't work, he moved on to the next tactic; showing his throat and making a deeper whistling noise. After we watched him for a little while I told Hunter we needed to move on. He wouldn't have many chicks taking him up on his offer with us standing there!
Hunter and I also visited a nearby pond. We saw tons of baby turtles. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love turtles, frogs and lizards. Most of these turtles were red ear sliders, and box turtles. They were *so* cute and I was in love. It was beautiful to watch them in their natural habitat, playing and interacting with eachother. I didn't have a camera on me, and it was almost time to get Drew and Louisa from school. Hunter and I went home to get the camera, and after we got the kids from school we came back to show them.

Here are just a *few* of the pictures I took:
There were three babies playing with their mama. They followed her around for awhile, and one tried to climb on her back. She didn't seem to like that because she swam faster until it fell off! Don't we all wish we could do that sometimes? Walk just a little faster till the kids get off our heals!

And there was a small group of turtles that seemed to be playing tag with eachother. One would swim up and touch another turtle's shell, then that one would take off and touch another turtle, and it went on for some time.

Today we took the kids to a nature trail so they could get the cobwebs off their bicycles. Tires needed to be filled up with air and seats needed to be readjusted since it's been a few months since we last rode. Louisa just needs a new bike altogether. Even with her seat adjusted, her knees came up to the handlebars.

Hunter had a hard time just riding. He wanted to stop and look at everything. He's an observer. He can stand in one spot for a long time, just taking in all there is to see. Drew and Louisa wanted to get on their bikes and go, go, go. So Daddy gave Drew his watch and set it at 2 minutes. He said when it beeps, turn around and come back towards us. That also helped them get more exercise in!

As we were going back to the truck, Hunter got off his bike to look around. He notices the smallest things. Must be an advantage of being so small. He saw a caterpillar and said, "You are going to turn into a beautiful butterfly!" (Gotta love Eric Carle books and Big Backyard magazines!) Hunter told the caterpillar good-bye and said "Have fun being a butterfly!"



Sunday, March 15, 2009

Me According to the Chaos Kids

There's this thing called Facebook, and I recently joined because I kept getting all these invitations from people. I figure, if all these other people are there, it can't be too bad. All these social networking sites are basically the same with a few differences. Some things I like about Cafemom that I don't like about Myspace, or some things I like about Facebook that I don't like about Cafemom.
Anyway, here's a little something I posted on Facebook. I just wrote down the very first thing the kids said. I told Hunter he could have some popcorn as soon as he answered a few questions for me!

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Hunter (3-years-old): yes I can have popcorn
Drew (7-years-old): clean the house
Louisa (11-years-old): I don't know... turn the TV down?

2. What makes mom happy?
Hunter: popcorn
Drew: hugs and kisses
Louisa: umm.... i'm going to say.... the computer

3. What makes mom sad?
Hunter: a bowl
Drew: no hugs and kisses
Louisa: uhhh.... don't write that! (giggle giggle) SpongeBob

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Hunter: hahahaha
Drew: tickling
Louisa: when she writes exactly what I'm saying like that! (giggle giggle)

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Hunter: a tree
Drew: little
Louisa: both good and bad

6. How old is your mom?
Hunter: bird
Drew: 31
Louisa: 31

7. How tall is your mom?
Hunter: hmm..... HUGE!
Drew: a yard long (that's his "estimate")
Louisa: 5 feet, well, like a little more than 5 feet

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Hunter: clean up
Drew: sleep
Louisa: play on the computer

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Hunter: ride in the car
Drew: go to playgroup
Louisa: go to playgroup

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Hunter: peanut butter
Drew: 9 million dollars
Louisa: writing a book

11. What is your mom really good at?
Hunter: watching TV
Drew: sleeping
Louisa: playing on the computer

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Hunter: your hair
Drew: fishing
Louisa: um... um... going to walmart because she spends money

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Hunter: um... car!
Drew: talk to people online
Louisa: take care of kids... you don't get paid for it, but it's a job

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Hunter: pizza
Drew: sugar
Louisa: you have a lot of favorite foods

15. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Hunter: orange
Drew: Betty Boop (or the "Bippity Bop girl")
Louisa: Garfield

16. What do you and your mom do together?
Hunter: clean up
Drew: play games
Louisa: um... um... um.... (giggle giggle) we read together? I don't know

17. How are you and your mom the same?
Hunter: Hunter and mommy
Drew: we're both mammals
Louisa: we're both girls

18. How are you and your mom different?
Hunter: mommy has glasses
Drew: our gender, you're a girl I'm a boy
Louisa: you have red hair and I have brown hair

19. How do you know your mom loves you?
Hunter: mmmm, say "love you" (in soft voice)
Drew: she's nice to me
Louisa: because she makes me laugh

20. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Hunter: house
Drew: walmart
Louisa: playgroup

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stomach Ickies

All week Hunter has had this nasty stomach virus that's been going around. He hasn't kept anything in, and by Friday he looked so frail. I teased him that he turned in to a peanut. On Saturday he felt much better. And his appetite was back, too. He ate everything he could find including the Girl Scout cookies we were selling at our cookie booth!

This morning when I woke up I felt good, but as the day went on my body started to ache a little. Unfortunately, I didn't get to keep my breakfast, either. Now I'm on the couch (gotta *love* wireless!) with hives all over my skin, a fever, an achy body, and the dreaded stomach ickies.

It's going to be a long week!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Rainbow Car Game

Louisa and I have a new game. The Rainbow Car Game. We have to find car colors in order of the rainbow. As you can imagine we get stuck on purple a lot, and I've just totally eliminated "indigo" from the line-up.
It all started a few days ago when we were waiting in line at the checkpoint gate to get on to the army base we live on. For those that have never been on a military post, you have to stop at a checkpoint gate to show your ID (driver's license or military ID). We noticed a bright yellow truck in front of us, and a bright orange car next to us. I said "All we need is a red car and we have the 'ROY' of our 'ROY G. BIV'". Not two seconds later, a bright red truck rolled past. We laughed heartily.

After we got on base we saw a blue car, then a green one. Again, we laughed saying we only need purple to make our rainbow. Yep.... a purple car drove past. It was just too funny to be true.
So, ever since then we have been finding rainbow cars. We've made it three times through the rainbow, but we're stuck on purple again. Let me know if you see a purple car!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

An excuse to procrastinate, or What I've been up to lately

Hmm... so, I guess my husband comes home and I have nothing to write about! Not really, but I'll just use that excuse anyway.
We've been busy and yet we've not. We've had Chaos and we've had downtime. Mostly we've been readjusting to this life with a dad and a husband that he was absent from for so long.

February run-down (in case anyone actually cares!)

1) I turned the ripe old age of 31 this past month. And believe me, 31 is absolutely no different than 30. My youth didn't suddenly disappear, I don't "feel" old, and the last time I looked in the mirror I still didn't have a single wrinkle.

2) We went on a fabulous family vacation to Houston. We saw space shuttles and dinosaurs and lots of homeless people. We stayed in a luxurious downtown hotel, complete with valet service! I'm beyond blessed when it comes to having a family who loves travel and go on adventures.

3) Louisa had a major competition for Beta Junior club. She didn't advance to the next level, but she had a blast doing it. I'm very proud of her for giving it a shot and learning from her.... um.... failure. That's a bad word, I know.

4) My parents and sister and nephew came to party at Mardi Gras with us! We started the Mardi Gras weekend off in New Orleans. It was an amazing experience! Besides being very cold and not bringing the right clothing, we had fun. We saw two major parades in the French Quarter and got a million beads. And technically we walked across Bourbon street in full party mode, so I told the kids they can tell people they've been on Bourbon street during Mardi Gras. Of course, that made no sense to them!
We also saw a local parade here in our town, a parade up in historical Natchitoches, and ended the weekend with a parade down in Lake Charles. Very similar to our Mardi Gras marathon from last year. It was much harder to say good-bye to them when they left than I thought it would be. Hunter cried at the airport saying, "Why they want to get on that airplane, anyway?" Poor baby! He had so much fun with his grandparents and auntie and cousin. My family always likes to go-go-go. There isn't much sitting around for them. The kids get spoiled with tons of love and attention, so I can see how Hunter was sad when they left. I was too!

5) While my family was visiting I had a huge Girl Scout event called Thinking Day to attend. My troop chose to represent the country of Nigeria. We had to make a display board for all the other troops to see, as well as a dish to pass, "swaps" to .... um.... swap, and a skit to perform. We performed a story called Master Man, based on a book by Aaron Shepard. The girls did a great job! It's hard to get up on a stage in front of your peers when you're in 4th and 5th grade.

Here's to the beginning of March! For much of the country it definitely came in like a big roaring Lion with all the snow! For us it came in like a Lamb. We're all looking forward to a beautiful spring that is only 3 short weeks away.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hooray for Vacay!

I love going places and taking trips. We never have the money to go anywhere, but we go anyway. And now that I think of it, we've never saved up money to go on a vacation before. Probably not something to talk about amidst a great recession!

So anyway, we're leaving today for a mini-vacay. A much needed mini-vacay for all of us! We're going to Houston, which is only about 3 hours away.

Oh, and did I mention we're not even packed yet?! HA! Such is the life of a procrastinator. We always get it done in the end.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Daddy & Hunter

I love those pictures where there's a little guy and his daddy, and because that little guy has his daddy all is right with the world. There's nothing else he needs. Hunter has spent most of his life without his daddy, so he knows for a fact that all he needs is a sunny day, and his daddy's hand. And Daddy knows, from spending so much time watching his son grow up through pictures, that all he needs is a small hand wrapped around his finger, and the biggest most adoring smile his little guy will ever give anyone. For one moment, all is right with the world.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Homecoming Sweet Homecoming

It's been a week and a half and, lawd I haven't said a word about it. (Yes, I'm slowing and stubbornly turning southern. I apologize.) Saturday January 10th was the day. Kind of. The kids and I spent all day cleaning and running errands and being very excited and all the normal things we do and feel when Husband's on his way home. After the 11 hour delay, we were certain there would be no more delays or blips or glitches.

Wrong.

The eagle was due to land at about 11:00 pm, turn in weapons at the airport, load buses, and make the hour trip home. He was supposed to be in the gym here on post at about midnight., so the kids and I showed up at 11:15 because sitting around the house was doing us no good. Hunter got very excited when we arrived because he thought we were actually going to 'Raq to see Daddy. He was jumping up and down asking when we were going to get on the plane!

At 11:45 we got word the guys hadn't even loaded the buses yet. At 12:30 am we were told the guys had loaded buses and were finally on their way.

A whole hour longer to wait! It 'bout near killed me, I swear. Drew and Hunter spent the time running all over the gym. In the front of the gym they had rows of flags set up, along with two projection screens that had videos of the guys when they were in Iraq. Several times Hunter came very close to knocking something over. I could just imagine the rows of flags going over like dominoes. Thank goodness he petered out before anything actually did happen.

The gym was packed with family and friends waiting to see their loved ones. It really was something great to be a part of. I've had friends tell me how awful it is and what a horrible wait it is, and I have a few friends who don't even go when their husbands come home. I wouldn't miss something that like for the world! I didn't get to do a big ceremony like that when Husband came home from Afghanistan, so this was very special. There was so much energy and electricity in the air. Even when they told us about the last delay, we were just still so excited to finally be at that point. Our men (and women) were THAT close to us!!

At 1:35 am Hunter finally crashed and burned. He layed down on the floor and was out. Poor little guy! I picked him up and tried so hard to wake him up again. Around that time the guys who were running the "show" stopped playing the slideshow of pictures from Iraq, and started showing video of our troops getting off the plane just a few hours earlier. I didn't actually see Husband get off the plane, but that didn't matter because I realized the video was just a distraction.... those tricksters! They didn't want us to see our guys (and women) lining up outside the gym. Right there, that close to me, was my husband. Just a door separating us. Someone was peaking through a window and she shouted "they're all lined up!!" Screams of excitement and sounds of joy came from all over the gym.

I can't tell you what song was playing when they started to file in, all I can say is my heart hasn't beat that fast in a long time. I had no tears. I wasn't scared. I just wanted to see his face and make sure he could see mine. They filed in in a single line. One after the other. Walking down, standing at attention, eagerly searching the crowd for their loved ones. Soldier after soldier walking past, the crowd cheering, pictures flashing. I didn't see him walk in and I was so worried he'd already passed by me and I didn't notice. My friends saw their husbands and waved. I pointed out a few guys here and there to someone who had just come to take pictures for us.

287 soldiers walked past me before I finally saw mine. I know that because there were 288 total, and mine was the last one in the door. He caught my eyes right away and again, there were no tears. Just smiles bigger than I think I've ever smiled. He saw Hunter fast asleep on my shoulder and gave me a quick little smile/giggle.

The post commander stood up and gave the briefest speech I've ever heard, followed by these four beautiful words, "Soldiers, you are released."

The song "At Last" by Etta James blasted over the speakers and I was finally in his arms again. Still no tears, just the greatest flood of relief you can imagine. He hugged Drew and Louisa, and we tried to wake Hunter up. Hunter, who'd been waiting *so long* for that moment, would not be woken.

We had to go outside to find his rucksack, and then headed to the truck to take our hero home. (He doesn't like being called that, by the way.) Once we were at the truck Hunter opens his eyes and says, "Oh HI, Daddy!!" He gave Daddy a big hug and asked if he was home now. We buckled him in his carseat and he says, "Daddy, can we go home and go to sleep now?" hehe.

A week and a half later and we are well adjusted. Friday is a big re-deployment ceremony, and then he's on leave for 30 days. We get to sit around the house and be bums and relax. He's earned it.

We've both had an incredible amount of support during this deployment. Family, friends, and even strangers have given to us more than we feel we deserve. We don't feel we do anything special by living this life, but we thank everyone who recognizes what hard work it is. God has blessed us in many ways and we are so grateful for everyone who's helped us. God couldn't have given us a better extended family than all of you who prayed, sent cards and packages, gave love and support, and let me lean on them when I needed it. God gives us all our obstacles, but He also gives us support when we feel we can't get through.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Hurry Up!!! ........ and wait.

So, I have this husband, and he's trying to get home from a 14 month deployment in Iraq. While I do understand that *worse* things can, and have, happened, I'd really like for all the delays to stop so he can just get here. We miss him, and he misses us. 14 months is a l-o-n-g time.

We were planning on a reunion tomorrow afternoon around 2:00. The kids and I were all set. T-shirts made. Banners hung. House clean. Ready. To. Go.

I got a call tonight from a sad soldier in Germany. They have an 11 hour layover there. Again, I realize it could be worse. But I feel so bad for him and I feel bad for the kids. We've talked about Daddy coming home all day so it will be a little hard for them to hear it will probably be after midnight.
Here are a few things we did today to get ready for Husband's return.





(Just a side note, thank you to BuildASign.com for *all* the free banners they have provided. Our post is filled with them!!)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My Daddy's Coming Home!

An original by Hunter.
Turn your volume UP! Not sure why, but it's very quiet. And yes, my house is messy. Get over it :)


video

Monday, January 05, 2009

Welcome Home! (preparation, that is!)

Still waiting......

But, we are making preparations. Tonight I let Drew and Louisa make their t-shirts. Here is a sneak peak at Drew's shirt for the Welcome Home ceremony. Whenever that is.

Hunter lended a "hand" (yes, literally) in making some welcome home signs. I also ordered some big 3x6 vinyl signs to hang on the carport, but we want homemade ones as well.

It's so crazy the emotions you go through when sitting around waiting for your husband to come home. If I thought about it, I could probably change my little Punky Moods emoticon on the right side of the page about once every hour. The only emotion I don't have is nervousness. I'm not nervous. Some of my friends have been terribly nervous waiting for their husbands. I haven't felt that. I am anxious, excited, proud (in him, the kids and myself), frustrated & disappointed (because his return date was delayed by two days), joyful... and without a thesaurus I'm running out of adjectives that just generally mean GLEEFUL BEYOND ALL BELIEF! Oh, and relieved.

Today three big units from our base came home and as I was driving across base I saw 4 very large tour buses drive down the street. They not only had a 4-car police escort, but the police were stopping traffic at all intersections so the buses could go right through. It was a magnificent sight! Knowing my friends loved ones were on those buses made my heart jump with such joy. I so badly wanted to reach for my cell phone and call them all up to say "I see the buses, hold on a few more minutes!!"

I have yet to experience the big homecoming in the gym you see on TV so much. The last deployment Husband had the good fortune of coming home early, but that took away the big ceremony that everyone else got. I'm so excited to see the families waiting eagerly together. I heard that they show video of the soldiers getting off the plane at the airport. I can imagine spouses and parents pointing saying "There's my soldier!"

I'm so excited. I don't think I can say that enough. He's coming home soon and we get about 4 months together before he takes off for the summer to do some training.

I asked the kids what is the first thing they want to do with Daddy when he comes home. I wrote down their responses, knowing Daddy will read this. (Oh, and note to Daddy, don't look at the above pictures!)

The first thing Hunter wants to do with Daddy:
"Give him a hug. And a kiss. And then (jumping up and down making karate chop motions) watch Kung Fu Panda."

The first thing Drew wants to do:
"Take Daddy to my martial arts class."

The first thing Louisa wants to do:
"Play Monopoly, or my new Harry Potter Clue game."

The first thing I want to do:
I can't say. His mom reads my blog :)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy 2009!

Can you *believe* it's 2009??!! (and can you believe how many times you've probably heard that the last 3 days?!)
Where o' where did time go? Again, another common cliche lately.

I thought this deployment would drag and drag. I thought it would never come to an end. Yet here we are, mere days from the finale. Most of our unit has actually already arrived. Husband is bringing up... fairly close to the rear. Not quite, but close.

It's crazy to see the mass of soldiers that I never realized were missing. The PX and the commissary shelves wiped clean, the liquore store dangerously low (yes Honey, there's still enough left for you!). When they left in late November/ early December 2007, I didn't really notice the lack of soldiers on post. Maybe I wasn't observant, and I guarantee I was lost in my own little woes of having just said good-bye to my husband. People were curious, with 4000 troops gone, is there a noticable difference? Thinking back, I just don't know. To me, no, there wasn't. But coming in! Wow do I notice! Longer lines, single soldiers walking everywhere with big bags full of food, empty shelves, it's nuts!
The most common topic of discussion right now is "Are you ready?" If you mean, is your house spotless and ready for all the gear your husband's about to dump in it, then I say HA! I don't think I'll ever be organized enough to be "ready". (And I thank God continuously that I have a husband who just doesn't care about that stuff!) But if you mean, are you ready to have your other half home again? Then Yes! I'm ready, ready, ready to have my best friend home again. 14 months is just plain painful.
Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year!! I ask you all to pray hard for our new administration that's about to take office. Even if I wouldn't have voted for them myself, I do pray that Obama and his crew are the change our country so desparately needs. War, economics, jobs, health care, schools, natural resources, natural disasters... our country is facing just as much as it ever has. Sometimes we've had amazingly strong leaders who've gracefully lead us out, and sometimes we haven't. Pray this is one of those times where positive changes are made.