Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The eyes have it!

I must hear fifteen times a week how much our girls look like their dad. It's a bit odd, considering how much they really don't look alike, to all somehow look the same. Well, it's their eyes. They all have Daddy's eyes. They've all got that really pronounced "Harker brow", and deep-set eyes, just like Dad (and Opa). All except Jamie. Poor Jamie got her eye-genes from MY side, and try as she might, she just canNOT do the "mean face" that the rest of the kids can do. Wanna see? Oh, and even though I don't have a picture, when Kelsey does this, her eyes nearly disappear!

Here's the original, in close competition with Mr. Potato Head's "angry eyes":
Morgan's interpretation of "mean face":
And Danica's:
And now, Jamie's....she just can't do it no matter how hard she tries, bless her little heart! She's too cute to look mean!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook 9/29/08

Oh, how I long for simplicity! Life is just far too complicated and busy; it's so nice to be able to start the week focused on some of the simpler things instead of poring over that overly full to-do list that just screams at me. I was so thankful to have stumbled across Peggy's blog The Simple Woman...at home and I think her weekly simplicity meme is a wonderful idea! If you'd like to 'play' too, go check out her guidelines and have fun!

Outside My Window... it's cloudless and sunny, and if predictions are correct, today is one of the last days we'll have our A/C running, because it looks as if Autumn is on its way with a cold front tomorrow! We're just starting to see little shocks of color here and there on the mountains, but in our front yard is a tree that is giving in to Fall color-changing a bit early--we already have a yard that needs raking!
I am thinking... that it won't be long before we'll be enjoying some beautiful walks through the nature trails on Monte Sano on cool, crisp Saturday mornings like we've dreamed about for so many years. I can't WAIT for this sticky summer heat to give way; I LOVE the Fall!
I am thankful for... God's provision through Pete's job. As stressful as military life is, and as meager an existence as we're sometimes forced to live with, even in tight times we've never worried about where our next meal was coming from or if he'd have a job next week. I just know too many people who have life very rough right now, and I'm thankful we don't.
From the kitchen... we'll feast on steak and potatoes tonight! I've had a London Broil marinating since Saturday, and my mouth is already watering!
I am wearing... white yoga pants and a t-shirt I borrowed from Pete; it's laundry day!
I am creating... some scrapbook pages from our time in Germany. I'd better get to it before I forget what all of those buildings are!
I am going... grocery shopping later on today after the girls' naps. Eventually, everything needs to be replenished!
I am reading... Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell....again!
I am hoping... that this illness will finally leave our house so we can all get some much-needed sleep instead of having someone coughing all night long!
I am hearing... little baby sounds. Music to the ears! Shelby is finally figuring out how to make little noises on purpose, and right now she's intent on grabbing the dragonfly that is dangling in front of her on her bouncy seat, so it needs to be 'talked to' too!
Around the house... is the evidence of a long-sick mom and the typical busy Sunday--a pile of laundry (thanks to Jon taking over my laundry room this past weekend, I didn't get anything washed!), the remains of a carrot cake we took to potluck yesterday, a diaper bag that needs to be restocked, and a playroom that is in DIRE need of an overhaul!
One of my favorite things... a steaming cup of coffee with creamy chocolate creamer--YUM!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I'm hoping this week to be able to get to the boxes of Fall/Winter clothes to rotate some of the girls' things. It's going to be far too chilly by the end of the week for shorts and tees! I'm also hoping to get to Michael's to pick up some plastic canvas so I can make the girls each a little nature treasure box so when we do get out for those nature walks, they will have containers for their 'finds'! Pete wants me to try out my German goulaschsuppe recipe and to make my first attempt at brotchen too, so with this cooler weather on its way, this week might be a great time to put it on the menu!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...This was a picture I found during my print-to-scrap task that didn't really fit into the sightseeing annals but is such a great reminder to find joy in unexpected places. We'd spent the day wandering through Worms, Germany, among cathedrals and cemeteries that begged to tell their stories, walking through the streets where Martin Luther walked and the Edict of Worms was penned. Reformation history, so serious in nature, was a true bore to Morgan and Jamie, but this little bubbling fountain and the sight of a few birds taking to flight struck their curiosity and they just had to join in. They make their own fun where there is none to be found, and that's something few adults can remember to do! When life gets dull, play in puddles and flap your "wings", you never know how far you could fly!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A peek into our homeschool week

I have been wanting to do something like this for a while, to have some sort of written "progress report" of sorts but just never had the right format--every time I tried, it just looked dumb to me. Lo and behold, Mrs. Cuddles has a weekly meme on her blog Cuddles on the Couch, see?

Neato mosquito! I'll play! Sounds like a great way for me to keep myself in check...not to mention to disspel the myths that all I do is sit on the couch eating bonbons all day long....'tis to laugh!

Kelsey--week 3: Kelsey is finally getting into the groove of what independent learning really feels like. It is SOOOO much easier not having to prod her along, but rather to say, "Here's your schedule, I will trust you to grade your daily math work with the understanding that if you don't pass your quizzes and biweekly tests with flying colors, all grading rights and privileges return to Mom." She's loving it, and so far she seems to be learning BETTER this way! Consumer math, while it isn't really a 'tough' math course, is still rather meaty and full of practical application (something Kelsey desperately needs work in), and once we got past the inevitable "Mom, they're asking me to do something that's not in the book" arguments that have happened EVERY year since the first grade, she did just fine. She is truly enjoying her Starting Points worldview/philosophy/literature/history/Bible course. She says she likes being able to see HOW things make sense. Funny, that's what I've been trying to.....oh, forget it. I'm not going to get into that again. All in all, great week. No fighting about getting anything done, chemistry is not stumping her like she thought it would, and she is finally starting to look like a high schooler, academically speaking.

Morgan/Jamie--week 2: This week went incredibly well, all things considered. Last week, our first "official" week of kindergarten/jr.K, did not go so well, but week 2 was much better. For starters, this week, Mom had a voice and wasn't coughing up a lung every ten mintues! So yes, we actually got our reading DONE! Sonlight's Pre-K (ages 4-5) program is a great fit for us, and I'm supplementing with 'Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons', Horizons Math K for Morgan, and Comprehensive Curriculum pre-K/kindergarten workbooks for Jamie. As I had guessed (and partially feared), Jamie is catching on to writing, while for Morgan, it's a chore she'd rather not deal with. I think for now I might just go ahead and focus on learning to read with Morgan and leave the handwriting for when her fine motor skills catch up. No hurry, she's only 4!

Jamie is continuing to shock us all weekly with the things she can memorize. She can spell the names of just about every family member (we haven't quite gotten Shelby's and Danica's names in the mix yet), and thanks to a couple of really neat PBS shows, she's learned how to spell several other words as well.

She's also the one who will analyze a story, making sure I stop so she can ask WHY the mouse would be so nice as to help the lion when the lion wanted to eat the mouse....while Morgan just loves to listen to the stories. Morgan is not thrilled with the Poky Little Puppy--the injustice of Poky's siblings not getting the pudding, chocolate custard, and strawberry shortcake is just too much for her sensitive little mind! OH the injustice!

Of course, Dani can just not abide with being left behind in anything, so we had to make sure she had some "school books" of her own to scribble on while the big girls are doing their own seatwork! You'll notice, by the way, that she's wearing a pajama top that is not her own, a cloth diaper on bottom, and Morgan's flip-flops. Standard homeschool uniform, is it not?

"Mama said there'll be days like this..."

Every mother knows what I'm talking about. You wake up with a stiff and sore neck because you spent the entire night with the pillow wrapped around your head just trying to squelch the ear-piercing snores coming from your beloved, the kids all wake up "in a mood", fighting about every little thing that could potentially be fought about all day long, the coffee is too weak, you forget to take anything out for dinner, the two-year-old gets into literally everything that you have ever proclaimed "off limits" (spilling powdered baby formula all over the bathroom floor, "digging" in the coffee creamer, unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper, emptying the whole soap dispenser to wash her hands), your attempts at occupying the kids with art projects goes awry when you take one two-minute trip to the bathroom and the two-year-old paints herself, the kitchen table, and her now-screaming three-year-old sister's hair with finger paint (and then drips finger paint all the way down the carpeted hallway to come tell you "Mess, mama"), the four-year-old spills every single drink poured, no matter who the owner of the cup is, and the three-year-old spends the entire day picking up the cat (which, of course, you've told her umpteen bazillion times in the last three months NOT to do) and taking away every toy the two-year-old tries to play with.

Yesterday was one of those "Calgon, TAKE ME AWAY!!!" days for me. By 7pm, I was ready to run away. Thankfully, though, the little balls of mess and energy do go to bed. And thankfully, only ONE woke up coughing and crying in the middle of the night. It was just "one of those days".

Thing is, though, for some odd reason, once you have the third child, people become far less sympathetic. One of the weirdest things I've noticed is that mothers of "many" (whatever that means) are expected to NEVER have "days like that", and when we do, it's inevitably blamed on the number of children. "Bless your heart, you've just got your hands too full," or "Well, of course you're overwhelmed, there's SO MANY of them," is the typical response. Why is that? You know, I've really noticed that my inevitable awful days aren't really a reflection on the number of kids in the house, because I'd have "those days" even with just one child. Kids are kids. They need training...and the days when I completely lose control over everything that is going on around me is more of a reflection of ME--I lose control because I've failed in some aspect of training. I see that with my teenagers so much more as the days progress--their rebellion doesn't have to be considered "the norm", because that "norm" as society knows it is a relatively new development. It's a result of a very child-centered way of life; give the little guys everything their little hearts desire when they're teeny, and what on earth else could you expect but teens who expect to have that same treatment?

Maybe I'm just ranting and raving because I'm reaping the "rewards" of the new way of thinking with regard to child-rearing. It's days like yesterday when I really do wonder how moms like Michelle Duggar, Marilyn Boyer, and Teri Maxwell do it. But then, they did things MUCH differently when their children were younger.

Praise God, "those days" don't come in direct succession. I get to take a long, hot shower after the girls are in bed, spend some time in prayer and studying life's "owner's manual", and I can hope in a new day...one that looks more like this:

Friday, September 26, 2008

And so begins the madness.

Since we arrived in Alabama just a few short months ago, Pete has had to confront a very obvious elephant in the room--his looming military retirement. As we've learned, one can pretty much do an entire military career without *too* much planning. Pete's not a planner. He's a dreamer. He is perfectly content to take life as it comes, and for the most part, that's perfectly fine. But this is one time when it's just not going to happen. There is too much that he/we simply must do--real, live legwork. We live in military housing, so at some point we're going to have to get real about finding a mailbox to put our name on outside the gates of Redstone Arsenal. Of course, then there's another biggie--his post-retirement JOB.

God is amazing us over and over when we see how well 'staged' this move was in preparation for Pete's Army retirement. But there was always the possibility of just riding out the last few years without making any real efforts at making a civilian life until he's pretty much forced out of the Army. We've spent a LOT of time the last few days talking about that, and he admitted to really not even knowing how to go about making that decision. I told him it would be a great idea to go talk to some men who have actually transitioned from the military to civilian life and get their take on things, get advice, etc., but I also asked him if he would rather spend the next few years wearing camouflage or donning civilian clothing to go to work. He finally said it--"I want to be a civilian."

Yesterday, he went and had a conversation with the installation antiterrorism head honchos to ask about the job they're advertising vacancies in. He came home with a TON of paperwork.

And so it begins!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why the fascination?

I don't get it, truly. I struggle to find just ONE outfit to wear every day, why on earth would Dani revel so in the neverending delights of dresser-diving for a new fashion every fifteen minutes? SERIOUSLY, kid......I wonder sometimes why I even put clothes away when all Dani is going to do is take the dresser's entire contents out, turn them all inside-out, and put EVERYTHING on. WHY??????

We already relocated the girls' dresser downstairs into the laundry room so Dani didn't disappear into silent rummaging upstairs where I couldn't at least have a chance at intercepting...plus it makes it easier for me to clean up after her fashion experiments. But so far today, she's put on four different shirts, two pairs of [Morgan's] shorts, a sundress, and three of Jamie's pajama tops. All before lunch. What's next, locking the dresser up? Of course we'd also have to lock up the diaper closet where all the dozens of cloth diapers "live", because her second favorite fascination is dressing her dolls (and everyone else's) in hers and Shelby's diapers. No WONDER my diaper laundry has doubled, yet the diapers seem to be so clean!

If this wasn't so funny, I think I'd be a basket case.

Spoke too soon

God has a funny way of forcing me to eat my words. Jamie and I went to Bible study last night because it's driving me BATTY to be cooped up in the house. I actually felt pretty good, and I told people so.

Today, I'm eating it. I'm just glad I went out and got the last few days of groceries we'll need for the weekend yesterday, because I think I'm going to be stuck in the house for a few more days. This cough is going to be my end, and my much-loved narcotic cough syrup is down to the last few drops in the bottle. No refills for that stuff, it's too highly addictive.

I don't like viruses.

I guess I may actually get some scrapbooking done this weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A crabby crustacean

It was nineteen years ago. Pete and I were on day 2 of our honeymoon in Hutchinson Island, Florida, and even though we were both beach bums, we knew better than to brave the waves that were pounding the sand. Hurricane Hugo was ravaging the South Carolina coast several hundred miles north, but the surf was churned up all over the East Coast of the US! We opted out of swimming in favor of the more "safe" choice--walking along the beach. We were enjoying our leisurely stroll, walking hand-in-hand and dreaming out loud together about the life we were going to live together (funny how absolutely NONE of those dreams ever left that beach!), you know, just doing that newlywed thing. The romance was squelched in a hurry, however, when Pete decided to investigate a small piece of fleshy-looking "something" just under the surface of the sand that we'd come across. With a hurricane brewing off the coastline, we native Floridians knew that *anything* could be washed ashore, so we really had no idea what to expect. It resembled what we knew shark flesh to look like but was far too small to be a buried shark. Pete reached down to "poke" it (why do men always do this? it never ends well...)........and........


Eight inches of very angry blue crab leg came hurling itself out of the sand at Pete, followed by a body and another eight-inch-long leg. Pete jumped higher than I'd ever seen him jump (or have seen him jump since), and somehow avoided getting his pinky TOO caught in the crab's claw. The crab went skittering off toward the water, displaying his claws for the whole world to see as he dashed away from his would-be-poker, and Pete ran behind, muttering something about not letting the crab get away.

We ate at Red Lobster that night. What did we order? Crab legs, of course! Pete wanted his revenge for having the you-know-what scared out of him!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Big expenses?

Pete read a section of the newspaper that caught his interest to me, and it set my little brain's hamster wheels grinding about something I've been pondering for quite some time. A local church (I don't remember which one, nor do I really care) is seeking permits to begin construction on a building expansion plan that will include an administrative wing. Not only did that just *sound* weird, but what really made us choke on our cheap coffee was that this project is supposed to cost $6.2 million! For an EXPANSION project??? Pete's first thought (as was mine, initially) is that the congregation we're with now is stressing over a roadway expansion project that the city is doing that will be taking 20 parking spaces from our front parking lot. That loss will be a good half of our biggest parking lot, and the city is only offering $20K in compensation for the land they're taking. The only land available to us will cost us in the neighborhood of $100K, and it's only a third of an acre. And yes, the congregation is getting a bit stressed over being kind of *forced* to purchase this land at a time when we really need a new roof and an internal overhaul on the rest of the church building.

SIX POINT TWO MILLION DOLLARS???? My head started spinning thinking about what the REST of this church building must be like!

A few weeks ago, I drove past what had to have been the biggest, most opulent church building I've seen in the U.S. (let's not mention those German cathedrals!), wondering to myself if that--the flashy building, the "my church is bigger than your church" feel truly is what brings people in? If the doctrine being taught from the pulpit and the love being lived by the church is the same, then why are these big, flashy church buildings filling up while the older, more well-loved buildings lose their membership year after year? Is it really the church building that keeps the membership up? If it is, shame on us as a body, across the board, for letting it get to that point.

Another even more humbling fact came to memory last night whilst I was still pondering this $6.2 million administrative wing.....if that amount of money would pay for (five times over) everything that my congregation could think to repair or add to our existing building to get it where it's "acceptable", then what of that $100K for the land we're purchasing? You always hear that one man's trash is another man's treasure....one church's administrative wing could be another's entire building--and then some! In our spend-happy culture, $100K doesn't really seem like much, until you put it in a global context. Then it just becomes humbling...and a tad humiliating.

A dear friend of ours and brother in Christ, Philippe Dela, is a native of Togo, Africa. We met him back in 1997 during our first tour in Germany, when he was just a student at the language school in Frankfurt. He already knew French, English, German, Belgian, and his native tongue, but his dream was to learn sign language so he could return to his homeland and open a school for the deaf that would also bring his people the Gospel. Philippe had (and still has) such a heart bent on serving God no matter what the cost, so he never even considered how long he would have to work to get this ministry started. Ten years later, through tear-filled eyes, we got to see the fruits of Philippe's labor and how powerfully God had worked through this wonderful man. The Messengers of Silence School is now fully functional, and graduated their first students last year. There is an onsite trade school where the students work to produce lovely hand-woven bags and hand-sewn clothing that are sold to benefit the school. The girls also learn how to do hair so that they may eventually enter the beauty trade if they are fortunate enough to find a need for such a worker. This school is for all ages, and all ages come face to face with the Gospel during their studies. Also, thanks to Philippe's efforts to get electricity to the school (so among other things, the workers can work with electric sewing machines instead of foot-powered models.), when his work is complete, electricity will be supplied to the entire VILLAGE--not just the school! You know what's truly amazing? Philippe does this all on a budget of roughly $5K per year. And his own family (a wife and two school-age children) sacrifice the things most people would consider standard necessities of life so that every extra penny of his own meager income can go directly to the school in Togo. To see the tears in Philippe's eyes as he speaks of how the Gospel has spread in that village...it's truly priceless. We Americans could do well to seek that type of zeal. It truly hurt Philippe's heart to learn that his biggest supporting church, the Wiesbaden church of Christ (a predominantly military congregation in Germany) was shrinking so fast that the support would be dwindling to nothing, because Philippe knew that the Messengers of Silence School was SO close to becoming self-supporting!

So....back to that little numbers game.....how much do you think it would take to get a ministry like the Messengers of Silence to where they'd need to be to support themselves? From what Philippe explained to us, $20,000 would buy enough land for the church and school to provide food for themselves. $50,000 would put that little village on the map--complete with electricity and maybe even running water, plus a school supported by a self-sufficient church with enough farmland to let the village glean from the Lord's bounty as well!

I wonder if they'll "need" an administrative wing or 20 more parking spaces? It's no wonder Philippe said he felt as if the church in the United States had lost its focus. All those dollar signs cloud our vision!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This picture pretty much sums up the last few days. Yes, I finally gave in and took Pete's advice to "GO TO THE DOCTOR ALREADY!!" and came home with half the pharmacy, a nice IV hole in my left wrist, and a diagnosis--bronchitis and severe dehydration. I'm not so sure I believe the severe dehydration part, tho. The doc based it on some test called 'tilts' where they take your blood pressure and pulse laying down, sitting up, and then standing. It's supposed to stay roughly the same, but my vitals were all over the place. It was the same after two bags of IV fluids....so it is most likely because of a fever that will NOT go away. In fact, said fever actually went from 101.7 to 103.3 while I was getting the IV, so, um.....it doesn't fit.

At any rate, I'm still coughing, albeit a lot less with this fascinating cough syrup they gave me that resembles radioactive snot (and probably doesn't taste much different, I would venture to guess) but happens to be a narcotic that blocks the brain's reflex signal to cough. OOOOOH, I love this stuff. Hate the taste, love the effect. After coughing nonstop for nearly four days, after fifteen minutes, I was able to get some relief--and I could practically hear the Hallelujah Chorus coming from my abdominal muscles! Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be getting truly "better" even on the antibiotics, so as the doctor suspected, it's likely viral. FUN. Oh well, at least I have my icky cough syrup and some mucinex (WONDERFUL stuff!) to ease the strain on me as my body tries to figure out how to fight it. Now if this fever would go away and stay away, I'd be thrilled!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


My 'funny' for Just Humor Me this week isn't a knee-slapper, but right now it's the only humor I can muster.

I am sick with some odd throat-isolated illness. My throat is raw to the point that I'm tasting blood, I can't get anything but hot tea, coffee, and soup down, and I've all but lost my voice. I can't get a single word out above a whisper, which makes me realize I really should have taught the girls sign language! Morgan, Jamie, and Danica are coping just fine, however. They actually lowered the in-house volume to match mine (note to self, Dr. Phil was right on that one!) and have been walking around whispering for the last several hours. None of them really knows why, but they're still doing it.

Kids are so weird!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What weekend?

Weekend? We just had a weekend? I'm not so sure. I played the stereotypical Supermom (yeah, AS IF!) role on Saturday, changing diapers, making meals, doing the grocery shopping, clipping coupons, washing and folding four loads of laundry, doing dishes, and making not one but TWO dishes to take to potluck....all while caring for two preschoolers, a toddler, and a newborn and dodging the gloom and giggle fest that two teenage girls (only one is mine, of course) were having all day, while my hubby and son were at a football game. Where's my medal?

In all seriousness, it's really not as difficult as it looks typed out. Thankfully, the crises usually come one at a time. Except, of course, for times like this morning, when I had Shelby screaming bloody murder because while I was changing her diaper, Dani comes in saying "eww, mama, EWW!" and pointing to the poo stream dripping down her leg and trailing behind her on the carpet. Lesson number 1 for Shelby--sometimes a bottle has to wait!

This was a weekend to truly focus on the blessings in life, even through the trials. I could have spent the entire day Saturday moping about being left at home AGAIN for the fourth weekend in a row and stewing about how all of the weekend work really does fall on me while Pete goes out and has fun. I could have wallowed in self-pity about the fact that moving back to the US meant we lost $1000 from Pete's pay every month and it took the physical act of deferring a car payment (ugh, just the very thought of it makes me queasy...) to the first of October so we can get our payments evened out and not have to pay all the bills in one pay period. I could have whined and chosen to spend the weekend sitting on my couch because I seriously do NOT feel good--and it really hurts like the dickens for me to even talk. I could have burst into tears when the mail arrived on Saturday...containing two bills--a $250 vet bill for the day Cleo died, and a $850 hospital bill that we never saw coming because we've never once in 19 years had to pay a cost share for any of our medical care.

I could have. But I didn't. THAT, my friends, is what keeps me sane. Not some superhuman amount of patience or militant organization, but a conscious choice to dwell on the blessings. It was a long, hard road, learning to refocus. It took years of tears, marital discord, and even a short bout with antidepressants, but I finally got my thoughts straight.

This weekend, through the trials, I chose to see that even though I spent most of the day 'alone' (with all these people in the house, I'm never truly alone) bearing the brunt of the household maintenance and the extraneous tasks that I really needed Pete's help with, I have a roof over my head, a wonderful house to care for, WAY too many clothes for all of our backs, food in the fridge, and six healthy children. The finances--well, even though we STILL have to be careful with our money for the next few weeks, we'll more than "make it", even if the idea of a deferred payment (it's just being deferred for two weeks, I keep reminding myself of that!) does make my knees go all wobbly. We were blessed with enough food during the week after Shelby's birth that I was able to make those two dishes for potluck with frozen leftovers, and when we added $10 of groceries to it, we ended up taking a pot of blackeye peas, a mexican casserole, a seven-layer salad, a big jug of tea, and two cakes! Not bad. Through all of the mess, I had to grin that I don't have to run out and replace a dwindling diaper stock while Dani battles this "teething diaper" thing, because I have a closet full of cloth diapers that wash up nice and clean to be used no matter how long this lasts (and it's going on two weeks already). My throat may be screaming in pain (even though I don't want to make a sound), but the seven hours spent at the church building yesterday for a revival, potluck, and area-wide youth devo were pain well spent! Those two bills in the mail....well, they're painful. But it's not going to bankrupt us to make payments and pay them off. And I'm STILL thankful that we didn't have to pay the full $16,000 hospital bill!

Oh, and through it all, I did get to see that my little $100 digital camera takes pretty good pictures, even from the nosebleed seats of Bryant Denny Stadium! I am thrilled (albeit a wee bit jealous) that Pete finally got to attend a Bama game. It's something he's wanted to do for a loooooooong time, and it was FREE! He and Jon had a blast, and of course, Alabama wiped the field with Western Kentucky! ROLL TIDE!!!!

Check it out, a picture that has me in it! No, this isn't the greatest picture of me OR Shelby, but it's the only one I've got of us since she was born! She's getting pretty good at holding that wobbly head up, but that flash....it makes a girl's eyes run for cover!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not. Fair.

So much for that quasi-promise. Pete will be gone ALL day tomorrow...but I've got to be careful how loudly I complain, I guess.

One of our elders' wives called Pete at lunchtime and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. He and Jon are getting their extra tickets to the U. of Alabama home game tomorrow. I'm THRILLED for him, but.....

I'm staying here. Again. Trying to get caught up on planning, cleaning, preparing for a potluck, and resting (HAAAHAAAAAHAAAA!!!!!). And part of my planning is figuring how to stretch $400 for three weeks. Ouch. Ah, yes, and I've got that telltale scratchy throat and the odd sneezing fits that tell me there's a cold coming on.

Did I pray for patience? Oh, I get it. This is when I start that big-time study on contentment and a meek, quiet spirit. Got it, Lord. Loud and clear.

Shelby is one month old today!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

That was a GREAT quote!

If I weren't still ruminating on such a wonderful lesson during Bible class last night, I'd have a profound 'deep ponderings' post to fill this page. However, I am still ruminating. I'm steeping, I guess you could say. But I simply have to get this quote on here. It's GREAT!

"God doesn't always come when we want Him to, but He always comes in time."

Last of the Great To-Do-Lists

Yep, that's about how I feel. All tuckered out. It seems to be a popular state of being around here lately...and by 'lately' I mean the last four months. I'm actually looking forward to a time when we aren't running from place to place. We're getting there. In fact, I think we're there!

Finally, the doctors' appointments are a thing of the past. True enough, I'm an awfully neglectful mama who hasn't even taken her four-week-old for that all-important two-week checkup. Somehow she lived. I'm growing more and more jaded in my old age--I don't have the will to take my kids to see a doctor unless they're actually sick with something that can't be treated at home. for some odd reason, every time one of us goes to the doctor, we all end up sick.

The transitioning to a new base is now complete. The only thing left is the one thing that only Pete can do--go to the transportation office to fax a copy of his orders to Fort Stewart to have our long-term-storage items released and delivered to us. We still have no clue what's in that shipment...but we also don't want the Army tossing it because they think we don't want our stuff!

I've got all of our enrolling for DEERS, Tricare, WIC, and the homeschool umbrella school done. We've even started school! I did start Kelsey a week before I'm starting Morgan, just so I can get the hundred repetitions of "you're in 11th grade now, I should NOT be hearing that you don't 'get it' every five minutes" out of the way before I'm officially working on teaching another little one to read. Technically, Morgan isn't even old enough for kindergarten yet, but I remember far too well how frustrating it was having a school system hold you back because of age, so I could care less what her birth certificate says!

Pete has almost promised me that he will actually be around this Saturday (instead of working at the railroad museum again) to give me a "break" from holding, changing, feeding, rocking, making lunches, pouring juice, refereeing arguments, and assisting with potty chores so I can put all of my efforts toward getting the last of the bedroom-reassigning-task done and tackle the girls' bedroom. I only need a couple of hours, but when I never get any backup.....it backs up!

By next week, we should truly be rolling with all eighteen wheels firmly planted on the road! I'm SO glad.

Wait, what? Christmas is three months away? WHAT??

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kid Humor

You know how people are always telling parents of young kids to write down the funny stuff they say so you can look back and laugh about it (not to mention have some GREAT embarrassment for a mouthy teenager)? It occurred to me the other day that I'd not done that...as Morgan shot off a little nip at Jon that I said to myself, "I HAVE to write this stuff down!"

Well, I'm writing it down. Granted, right now I've only got three big funnies of note, but with only half of the kiddos of the age-of-embarrassment, I've gotta start somewhere, right? Hmm, methinks I can feel a scrapbook JUST for kid-funnies coming on....

Eons ago, when Jon was still Jonathan (he was five) and Kelsey wasn't talking back every five minutes, we lived in [rather shabby--like the ghetto type shabby] military housing on Fort Stewart in southern Georgia. It was Mother's Day weekend of 1995, and since Pete was away for a month, the kids and I were alone in the house. Just before bedtime, a typical southern thunderstorm rolled in and we found ourselves in a blackout. Since there was nothing else to do, I took the kids and went upstairs to my bedroom to just lay on the bed and watch the storm out the window. The lightning worsened and the thunder claps nearly overlapped as the storm intensified right over our heads. Not 25 feet outside of my bedroom window, a bolt of lightning lit up a utility pole and Jon and Kelsey insisted that we "hide" under the covers. I assured them that there was no need to hide from weather, that we were inside the house where we were safe, and that in the meantime we could ask God for His protection. Not missing a beat, two-year-old Kelsey asked, "Mommy, can we PWEEEEZE call God on the phone to tell Him we need Him?"

Jonathan's quick wit upstaged any response I could have had..."Kelsey, can't you see the power's out? The phone is dead!"

**insert staged rimshot**

Two years later, our little drama queen was coming into her own and really starting to show that she had Pete's haphazard sense of humor. We'd planned a tea party for her 4th birthday and she invited three of her little friends over for a day of dress-up, Kool-Aid "tea", and finger sandwiches. Midway through their tea service, amid all of the typical four-year-old banter, came Kelsey's little voice, as polite as could be, asking, "Could you please pass the caffeine?"

**groan, snort, giggle**

FINALLY, however, one of my kids has picked up on my ability to sling one-liners at just the right time. Morgan, of all kids, had us rolling the other day. Jon was getting ready to go back to the barracks after church, and was giving the girls their goodbye hugs as they readied for bed. Morgan apparently didn't get enough of her big bro, and asked him for another hug and a kiss. Jon obliged, but Morgan's wet-from-toothbrushing face was a little more than he could handle. He expressed how grossed-out he was to receive such a sloppy little smooch, and then came the humor....

"Jon, IT WASHES!!!!"

Oh, I love my job.

This is my first time participating in Heidi's weekly meme, "Just Humor Me", but I think my kids (and the rest of my life) will offer enough blog-fodder to keep me well stocked far into the future! Go see what the funnies are all about! If you want to play too, leave a comment and I'll link you up below!

Wordless Wednesday--Curiosity Cleaned the Cat?

To go to the WW HQ, click here.
Leave a comment and I'll link you up below!
~*deanna*~ ~*dawn*~ ~*june*~ ~*qtpies7*~

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

That "home" feeling

Military life is not easy. I can't remember ever, in nearly 19 years, thinking "hey, this is a cake walk, I don't know why everyone thinks it's so tough". The deployments, the constant moving, the, erm, 'humble' paycheck and the predictable but yet unexpected yearly goofups in the finance department that keep us from ever having a real savings backup...those things are all challenges we've learned to just accept as the norm. But there is yet one thing that we haven't figured out a way to get around. It's just one of those things that we knew was there in the background but just had to ignore. We never really felt at "home" at any of our duty stations. In fact, this last tour in Germany, we didn't even put pictures up on the wall; it just didn't feel right.
It has been nearly two decades since we felt "at home"; in fact, it's been so long, we almost forgot what "home" feels like. Our family has never even really had a home. We've had houses, apartments, duplexes, and (ugh) even a mobile home. But every single one of those came with the thought in the back of our minds that it was VERY temporary. At any moment, the Army can pick you up and move you to somewhere else in the world, so you just don't put down roots. It's not a fun way to live, but you just get used to it. Until now, I'd almost forgotten what that "home" felt like.

I don't know how better to describe it other than to say that when you know it, you just know you're home. Talk of moving again and looking for a city to settle in have disappeared. Now that discussion is about retirement from the Army; about looking for a house, about planting those roots that we've had so loosely plunked in whatever soil we've been on. We look around us and we see people we want to be around for the rest of our lives. We see a church family that we already love dearly, and we see a community that we can invest our hearts in, not just a little bit of our time.

We're home. And it's WONDERFUL.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our little fashion diva

This was just one teensy little facet of girlhood that completely eluded me. This particular tomboy couldn't have cared less about playing dress-up, but I've somehow been gifted with four (five? We shall see...) girls who live for experimenting with clothing, shoes, hats, etc.

Poor Dani. Seems she's inherited Daddy's ability to coordinate. Sigh.

Bear with me...

I'm NOT computer-savvy. I wiped out my entire blog layout. There. I said it. I'm now trying to re-establish a lot of what I lost without losing MORE. I'm also trying to revamp things a bit to suit my tastes so my blog isn't so....vanilla. Not an easy task for ungeeky-types like me. I'm a nerd, not a geek.


Friday, September 5, 2008


There are very few things that I truly refuse to share in this life. Well, okay, one I won't bend on--my hubby. However, when it comes to the York Peppermint Patties, my socks, hair spray, even the Mint Milano cookies and a Pepsi...I'll gladly offer a bit to someone else. I'm not even really selfish with my time, either, except when it comes to the precious few minutes I'll steal every day (or two, or even three....depending on how much really needs to get done around the house) to get online and blog.

It's MY time. I don't blog to benefit anybody but me. I could, but I don't make money with this little hobby. I just write, tweak, add pictures, and visit a few other blogs. And I am not willing to give it up. It may not make much sense to my family, but I really do need this outlet, even if no one were to ever read anything I write.

My blogging adventure started out as a way to network with other people. I was lonely over there in Germany, and I just needed "something" to connect to others. I found it...and then some. After a month or two, I wasn't doing it just to share pictures anymore. It was truly a means of clearing my mind, getting my thoughts out of my head, and even categorizing daily life for myself so when I went back to scrapbook those events, I had a written recollection instead of just vague memories.

I saw a t-shirt the other day that I told Pete I simply "must have". It said, simply, "I blog, therefore I am." How true, how true. He didn't get it. He said it was silly. But yet I can understand so well why that sentiment makes perfect sense. Blogging, at least for me, is a way to keep in touch with what makes me "me". And it's all mine. I scrapbook for more than just selfish reasons. Sure, it's a great hobby, and I truly enjoy my time at my scrap table surrounded by glue, pictures, papers, and embellishments. However, I'm not the only one to benefit from that hobby. I use my time scrapping to catalogue family history, to preserve moments in time for future generations; and already, at least one future generation is benefitting from my efforts. My girls love to sit with a scrapbook and talk about the stories behind the pictures.

Not so with my blogging. There are things I blog about that most people (yes, MOST) would not even know about me. But I'm not writing really for "their" benefit. It's for me that I write. I'm thrilled that anything I write can encourage or entertain anyone else, and I'm just tickled pink to have so many visitors to my blog, but I'm mostly thankful that I have this means of self-expression that I normally would not have. I feel freer to open up my mind and just...oh, I don't know, let all the fodder flow from brain to keyboard. Some days what's in my mind is ridiculously silly, other days I am pondering some great quandry of life, and on yet other days my heart is hurting and I just need to "get it out". I love my blog time. It's therapy for me, and it only takes a precious few minutes a day!

I'll continue to be selfish with my blog time; it's good for me, and it's one of the very few things I can claim as "mine".

It's September? Seriously?

Who turned the calendar speed up to "ludicrous"? [For those of you who think I've lost it....go watch "Spaceballs". On second thought, no, don't. It's insulting to the intelligence. Just humor me.]

During an oddly quiet and peaceful moment last night, Pete and I were actually sitting on the couch at the same time (GASP!) doing some channel surfing. We've still not gotten the hang of all of these channel choices, considering we only had a small handful of channels available to us in Germany. So it's no surprise that we're admittedly overwhelmed by the variety at our fingertips now. But anyway, we were bouncing between the Food Network, HGTV, and the Discovery Channel (our tried and true standby trio) when we happened upon "Road Tasted With the Neelys". This BBQ couple from Memphis was traveling in San Fransisco sampling some of the local fare, talking about how this was a little like a second honeymoon to them, and Pete and I both wondered out loud when we'd take our second honeymoon. See how our life is just one huge digression after another?

It's not like we've had much time to travel on purpose over the last 18 years...with twelve military moves under our belts plus all those trips to visit family so they didn't all forget what our kids looked like (or the other way around), we have done very little traveling for fun. In 18 years, Pete and I have taken a total of three one-night trips away from the kiddos. The weird realizations of just how much of "normal" life we've not had any part of during his Army career keep hitting us, and this one was no different. In two years, give or take, we'll be civilians. Able to do normal civilian things. And yet, we still can't even THINK like civilians. We still think in terms of four-day-weekends, training schedules, and operation tempos. The idea that maybe one day we can do something just for US is still a tad foreign...but we're getting there.

Then, like a brick, another realization hit us--it's SEPTEMBER already! Our nineteenth anniversary is less than three weeks away, and neither one of us has even thought far enough ahead to even consider that we have an anniversary this month! Thanksgiving is creeping up on us fast, Christmas is only a few months away, and Danica's second birthday--just a bit over six weeks away!

NO plans for anything, unless you count the two of us agreeing that a trip to the Bahamas might be nice for a second honeymoon...and then laughing at the futility of that thought!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Well that worked out well--NOT! Today was supposed to be our first day of the new homeschool year. It didn't happen. About 11pm last night, I realized that our very first day was going to be "nuts" before we ever hit the books. I'd STILL not gotten the opportunity to organize Kelsey's schoolwork to my satisfaction, we had an appointment at 9:30 in the morning, and the house is not up to par thanks to my little toe-breaking incident (let's not go there, shall we?) last Friday and again on Sunday. YES, I broke my toe twice in three days. Hey, I said I don't wanna go there, okay?

Kelsey also threw another wrench into the works this morning. Ten minutes after getting out of bed, she told me that yes, she DID want to trade bedrooms with the baby. Her room is a wee bit too small for her tastes, and she is finally getting tired of having her bedroom on the bottom floor of the house, right in the middle of everything. So....by lunchtime, she was moving furniture.

We're starting school next Monday. It works out better for all of us. Pete's work schedule kind of got us off track when he got Monday and Tuesday off for Labor Day instead of Friday and Monday like we've always been accustomed to. There's just something about starting something in a halfway-finished week that bugs the you-know-what out of me. So we're not starting mid-week. We have time to rework schedules, heal toes, and get these bedrooms done!

After all, one of homeschooling's greatest assets is being able to work the kids' education around life and not the other way around, so we're working it!

Siamese chickens?

This must rate right up there with one of my oddest topics to blog about...

I've found several eggs that contained double yolks, but never one that the twins shared a yolk sac! I'm not sure whether this intrigued me or just plain grossed me out. Didn't affect the taste of my fried chicken, tho!

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