Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve! Many of the blogs I read have a wonderful end-of-the-year post - a review of the year or how they are looking forwarded to the New Year.  Sadly, that won't be this blog.

Not because the year has been bad - it wasn't. Not because I'm dreading next year - I'm not.

But I am enjoying time with my family this week.

So.

I hope you are as well!

More to come next year - and may it be merry and happy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Weekend

We really had a sweet Christmas - even after all the drama of my father's fall.   We had Drew's parents here as well as one of his sister in for the weekend.  Friday morning my mother-in-law and I got most of the cooking done. Friday afternoon we just stayed around the house - played games - just enjoyed being together. 

After an enjoyable Christmas Eve church service, we came home for a great meal.  Sonny & Mary Estelle brought one of our favorite pasta dishes - we all fell in love with this dish in earlier in the fall. It has just about every thing in -I'm afraid to add up how many calories it has....but it's so worth it! It has sausage, shrimp, crab, Alfredo sauce, rotel....just such goodness!  After dinner we finally put the kids' out of their misery and opened presents.  I think everyone enjoyed their gifts.  All the kids got rockets, so I'm sure by week's end we'll be blasting them off. We ended the night with our tradition of going to look at holiday lights.

One surprise for us this year is that we won the neighborhood's Christmas lights contest!! We were so surprised!! I came home from the hospital last Tuesday with my mother and brother and wondered what sign was in my yard.  When we got close enough, I could see it said first place - wow!!!  $50 VISA card was our reward!! I need to make sure I get a picture of the house - We really didn't think it was worthy of the win.  We (well - Drew, really) out-lined the front of the house with the icicle lights.  Simple but, makes a statement, I guess (and it helps that not too many other's decorated their house!!)

Saturday the kids received their big gifts and stockings. William got a remote-control helicopter (that Drew broke upon the 3rd flight), Melissa got a sewing machine (she's ready to start a project!), and Ben a soccer net.   For dinner we had three of Drew 's co-workers join us. They seemed to have a good time -  I hope so.   All are active-duty with the Air Force - I know how hard it is to be away from family. They were all good sports and played "Apples to Apples" and "Catch-Phrase" with us.

Sunday we packed up - Charlotte headed back to Texas, and the rest of us went to my parents' house. The original plan was for my family to join us here at our house, but after Dad's fall we all thought it was best for him not to travel. But still. We had a nice time.   I love having everyone together. I hope my kids realize how lucky they are to have all four grandparents in the same room.

Sweet times.

Late Sunday afternoon my dear childhood friend, Janean, came over for a visit.  After knowing each other for over thirty-five years, we still laugh! Even if she did beat me in Scrabble - which if you know me - that's not hard to do!

Such sweet times!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Sandwich Lady

Shortly after I married a friend started to refer to me as "the Sandwich Lady" as a play on my new-very-long-Italian-sounding-last name.  Lately I have been living up to the name as I am now "sandwiched in" between raising my kids on one side and helping my parents out on the other side.

While I know some hate this point in life, I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is just another stage in life and I feel very blessed to be close enough to help my parents out.

Tuesday was such a sandwiched day - well, most of the week, really.   As I was helping the kids get ready for school I received a phone call from my brother, Ricky, saying that dad had fallen while getting the paper and was being taken to the hospital.  I finished up the kids' lunches then jumped in the shower to get ready.  After the big kids were off to school, Drew took over Benjamin and so I got on the road for the ninety minute drive.

It seems that at some point after five in the morning Dad got out of bed. Mom thought he was in the den watching TV, but we have since figured out that he missed up the TV setting and could not fix them, so he went to get the paper instead.  Some how he fell - we don't know why - but he landed on the upper left side of his face - hard! And based on the cuts and bruises he all over his body, he rolled after falling. (He looked so bad - so swollen....bruised up all over!)

A neighbor found him in the street and brought  him inside the house sometime just before six.  My mom woke up to a man in the hallway calling her name asking her to wake-up. (Now that's enough to give any women a nightmare!)  The neighbor stayed and made sure she called for an ambulance as well as my brother (whom he is friends with).

Shortly after I arrived the doctor came in to say that the scan showed a 5cm bleed and that could possibly cause the brain to swell and if so, would need a hole drilled in the skull to relieve the swelling - if not it could cause death.

Nothing like having your stomach drop out from underneath you.

Because there were no neuron-surgeon available in the local area, he would need to be heli-ported to the trauma center at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport (close to my house).  Within an hour of being told this, he was on a helicopter.  Drew was able to re-arrange his work schedule and met Daddy at the trauma unit.

Late in the afternoon the trauma doctor gave us a report from the scan they did - the bleed was only 5mm - not cm as the first ER said.  The trauma doctor said he if had known that, he would not have air-vac-ed dad over. Oh, such deep relief!!  This was not as serious as we were first told.  Nor would he require any holes drilled into his head.

But this doctor wanted to be on the safe side and keep dad in ICU over night.  So, within another few hours, dad was taken upstairs to the ICU, but we were not allowed to see him for a few hours.  We did warn the nurse that dad is not a good patient and he would pull out his IVs.

And he tried.  By the time we saw him again the next morning his hands were tied down and he was still sleeping. It seems that he was given benadryl at some point.  (I personally think the nurses gave him benadryl to calm him down and to make him sleep so he would quit pulling at his IVs as well as quit calling for my mother every two minutes!!)

We were able to speak to the doctor  - asking what type of time-line did we have for being released.  He assured us that the bleed was not a real concern, but then he said, "But we have more serious issues that this bleed."

Yikes! "What does that mean?"  I asked.

"For a man of sixty years his brain has a lot of vascular atrophy and he is very disoriented. He can not answer simple questions nor follow simple directions."

"First off he is seventy not sixty, and secondly, since his stroke three years ago he is not able to answer a lot of questions nor follow a lot of directions- this is normal for him."

"Oh, well...in that case he's good to go - he should be released to the upper floor soon."

We were a little frustrated! Did any of these doctors read the chart??!!

Late that day (Wednesday) he was released to the floor. While my mother was able to stay with him, neither got much sleep. I think dad was just excited to have mom with him again.  And of course, sleeping in a hospital is never fun - too many people coming in and out of your room.

In order for Dad to be released he had to be cleared by just about every department in the hospital.  It seemed like a never ending process!! I lost track of the number of doctors, nurses, and therapist that come in. And of course, we had to repeat his whole history every. single. time.

Do any of these doctors read a chart??!!!

And to top it off, the first doctor would be a student and quickly realized that this was a complicated case with chronic issues not acute issues, and so they would call for their supervisor. Which is nice. Until we had to repeat everything again.

Several times I told mom we should just sign him out and take him home and end all of this!

But at seven Thursday night all the paperwork and approvals were done and we were able to walk out.

We gave serious thought to taking him home to my house for the night, but in the end we all knew he would be so much happier at his house, so my brother meet us half-way.  It was an exhausting few days, but I'm glad I was able to help.

All of his injuries should heal in a few weeks.  He broke his cheekbone and some sinus bones in several places. He is very sore  and stiff -  has a hard time moving around.  His left eye was swollen shut at first and when the swelling went down and he could open it a little it was totally red  - not great at all to look at. His whole left side of his face was so bruised as well as his knees, elbows, toes back...you name it - it was either bruised or scraped. Dad kept saying, (in joking) "See what she did to me?" 

At least he still has a sense of humor.

We were also told that something else appeared on the scan - a "mass" on one of his kidneys...and we were told that it could very well be cancer.  Mom was able to make an appointment with his doctor after the holidays to get this checked out. 

But for now he's taking one day at at time....just focusing on healing from this fall...and enjoying being together.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hiding Places

The night that Melissa came home from the hospital, our neighbors brought over a plate of sugar cookies. It was so sweet of them to take the time to cook some cookies to show their relieve that she was home and healthy. Of course, we all enjoyed several -very tasty.

The next morning as I was cleaning up the kitchen I thought that something was missing off the counter, but really didn't think too much about it. Later that night we were all in mine and Drew's bedroom watching TV when Melissa got up and then returned with a cookie. We all were like "oooo! I want one!"  She said, "Okay, but I'm rationing them out! You can only have one! They are MY cookies!"

Well...alrighty then...  And that's when it dawned on me what was missing from the kitchen counters: the plate of cookie! She had hid them!!

The next day Melissa stayed after school for a club and William and I were home...all alone...and hungry for some cookies.  We then proceeded on a search and eat mission. 

After our success, we felt it was only right to hid the cookies again....in a different spot.

After dinner we said, "Hey, Melissa - you should pull out the cookies for dessert."

"Okay - but I get to pass them out!"

Oh, the look on her face when they were not where she hid them was priceless. Of course, I could have done without the scream of "Where are MY cookies!!??? What did you do with them???""

She really doesn't do well when everyone is laughing...but her....

In the end she got her cookies and even passed one out to all of us. Of course, we'll see if she ever shares with us again, but she probably  will be finding a new hiding spot if she does.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Party

Last night we had our Sunday school's Christmas party. It was a night full of unexpected surprises (which if the were excepted then they wouldn't be surprises, I guess would they?)  As we were eating one of the ladies next to me shared with the table how her father was in the hospital gravely ill and how her mother would not leave the hospital at night.

He's 94 and has been very ill off and on for the last few years.  At four different points the family was called in to say goodbye, but all four times he rallied. They nicknamed him "Lazarus" and the proverbial "Cat with Nine Lives".  Not ten minutes later after this conversation, her cell phone ranged saying her father had passed away.

Oh, wow. Not what you expect at a Christmas paty...even when you know how sick he is.

Later in the evening we played a round of "Apples to Apples"  we found out who are the sore losers in the class (not me!!) and who are the competitive ones.  But we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.

After our game the teacher (also our pastor) had us go around the room and sharing something interesting or unknown about ourselves.  What a great idea! So many of us in the class are new and we don't know each other's stories.  It was really eye-opening to listen to these small tales...who knew in our mist that the seven-month pregnant lady played soccer in college and still has some national records, or the quiet guy in the class was a re-po man, or that Drew (my husband) didn't cut grass as a teen to earn money, but put on magic shows, or the smallest most petite sweet quiet lady in class in the local prison warden! Most unexpected!

But that's what I love about getting to know people.  There's all the parts to them...just like it's been said before by several - we really are like onions with many layers. Isn't great that Jesus made us this way?  How boring we all would be is there were no surprises in people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Contentment

Last night the musical minister spoke at the service due to the pastor being out of town.  His statement sort of shocked me. He said, "I'm a dis-contented person and have come to the realization that contentment is a myth."

Wow. From a minister, that's shocking.  But as he spoke it started to make sense. He said that discontentment can be good - but that it does have a dark side.

It's this dark side that many of us think about when we talk about discontentment.  But its discontentment that makes us better - that drives us to improve.

Looking at contentment that way - it makes sense.  I think we should always strive to improve our relationship with the Lord and others, but we should not strive to make ourselves and our possessions perfect.

Few other thougths he said was that discontentment can make us ungrateful for what we do have - that's one of the dark sides of it. Discontentment can, also, lead us make hasty decisions.

We need to understand our natural tenancy of discontentment. It comes from a deep longing we have.  So many of us try to fill that longing with the things of this world...whether it's possessions or accomplishments. But in reality it will only be filled by the Lord and only completely filled when we are in heaven.

So, the next time you are discontent, take a moment to focus on the Lord.  Seek Him to fill you....not the things and people of this world.  As C.S. Lewis stated,"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sense of Humor

I saw this the week before Halloween....it just cracks me up. Yeah....I have an off sense of humor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sheer Craziness

Life turned a little crazy last week....well...a lot crazy.  My daughter became so very ill that on Saturday that we ended up in the ER. Now we're waiting for test to return to see if she has a blood clotting disease. Drew and I have talked several times over the years about how blessed we feel for the health of our children.  Still feel that way. Of course, now I'm very grateful for the doctors and medicine that can keep them that way even more than ever before.

I guess like so many things in life, this was totally a surprise. Nothing before has indicated a blood problem. But things change on a dime, don't they?

We'll know by the end of the week. If the test is positive we will see a hematologist for a plan for the future.  It's controllable and treatable.

Which is good because, I never want to go through anything like this again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Relief

There's one blog that I read that I'm a little unsure of what I'll  find.  I honestly would not be surprised if there's a post by the author's husband saying she committed suicide.  I'm always greatly relived to see a new post by her as I was again tonight.  She's been through a lot in her life, but the main thing that sticks out to me is the lack of faith.

She seems to cling to the things of this world and is finding them wanting.... Makes me sad for her.   Drew and I both have at different times made comments about the comfort we have in our faith - in our Lord Jesus - and how we wouldn't want to go through life without Him....wonder how others do.

This lady shows that some do go through life with out Him  - and "do" life badly.

Yes, I'm praying for her. And  yes, I'm thinking of an email to her about faith.....just need the right words.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Food Challenge

The day finally dawned. I had been asking for this day for over six years.  A food challenge. Why was it so hard?? Most doctors wanted nothing to do with one. After all, if it went bad - it would go bad very fast. None wanted to be responsible for that. And frankly, I can't say I blame them.

I did have one doctor willing to do a while ago. But that was when Drew was deployed and I was at a low point in the deployment....the point of just doing what I absolutely had to do - work, feed, clean, and clothe the children!  Since there were no allergist on Guam, we weren't able to have it done there.

Here we are assigned civilian doctors instead of military doctors and clinics. And that has made all the difference in the world! We are now able to get some consistency of care for the kids. (Don't get me wrong - we have had some great military doctors over the years. But with two wars going on, deployments hit everyone - including the doctors.) One of the first things our new pediatrician did was to refer us to an allergist for our food allergies.  Over these last few months we have worked through the process and to arrive at the food challenge day. 

Benjamin went first. He was very apprehensive. If you have ever seen the size of the needle on an Epi Pen, then you would understand why. Not a pretty sight.  Not a good feeling having one stuck or rather slammed into your thigh. And not any fun being hooked up to heart monitors afterwards because it can effect the heart. 

But none of that happened. In fact Ben said several times he was bored.

Yeah for boredom!! Chocolate is now his friend.

We have a few weeks before the other two have their day with chocolate..... I think Melissa will do fine as well. But William.....well......I have a feeling it's not going to be a good day for him.....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Rest of the Weekend

While Thanksgiving was wonderful, the rest of the weekend was amazing.  Friday we spent a large portion of the day cooking, cleaning, and decorating for my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party.  Of course, we had to have at least one lunch at Biscuit and Blues - a tasty restaurant owned by a cousin of Drew's. Good thing there's an upstairs room otherwise we would have totally taken over the place there was so many of us. After that tasty food I got to shop a little in the downtown stores with one of my sister-in-laws and two nieces. Fun times.

Then it was back to getting ready for the party.

And oh, what a party it was! I was able to catch up with some friends and even more family members, but the best part was I think my mother-in-law had the time of her life! The theme was "Queen of Hearts". My sister-in-law, Margret, did an outstanding job with all the decorations - red &  black with a few zebra stripes thrown in.  I will try to post pictures soon.

A very entertaining moment was when my sister-in-law,Kathleen, gave Mary Estelle a book of letter and cards - all wishing her a very happy birthday from many in the family and lots of friends. One brother-in-law ever wrote a poem about her and read it out loud - what great humor this family has!  Then all the granddaughters preformed a little skit- while the grandsons hid on the stairs trying to be "cool".  Several of the older granddaughter as they were growing up would put on skits for us whenever we got together.  This was a nod to that - and to pay homage to their beloved Nana.  They did a great job - it was "Farewell, Good-night" from the Sound of Music - with the words changed to honor Nana.

I think the best part of the night was towards the end. It was just the family with a few cousins thrown in and we did a "quiz" on how well you knew Nana.  It was so much fun - often hilarious  - going over the answers. Several thought they knew the right answer only to be surprised by the truth! Afterwards one of the cousins who was sitting next to me, said "I think I just witness a very special moment in life."

And she was right.  That's how I felt as well. As we were sitting and laughing, I kept looking at my kids and praying that this night will stay in their memories forever. How incredibly lucky they are to have such a family...grandparents alive and well at 80 and 84 (mine are also alive and well - but  few years younger)....to have so many aunts and uncles and cousins....all who love them and will always be around for them.

We are so blessed.

Saturday morning we woke up early to participate in a 5K Turkey Trot....and we needed to trot off some turkey...and dip....and cake....and cookies....  Drew ended up winning third in his age group, William third in his age group and Melissa was first in her age group. I ended up winning lots of calories off my butt....but had I known prized (okay, just medals!) were in store maybe  I would have walked faster!!  Of course, I was in the walking part and they were in the running part.....

After eating some delicious party left-overs along with some fresh donuts and fudge cousins brought in, we headed to spend one night at my mom's house. We watched Ole Miss' last game of the year. Sadly, they did not play well....actually it looked like they didn't care anymore. And with a losing record, who can blame them.   I ended going to bed way before the game was over. Sleep was way more important!

And with that another Thanksgiving was over and done...our first back in the States...and what a great one it was.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

For the first time in twelve years, we are spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  And for the first time in three years we are actually celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has never been a huge holiday for Drew and I.  Our kids were usually in school for the first part of the week, so we weren't able to travel.  The kids are really enjoying having the whole week out of school this year - as I am. It's been a great week!  We spent a few days with my parents while Drew worked, then he meet up with us so we could travel on to his family.

Over the years away we would do Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Some years we would cook, other years eat out or at friends' house.One year in Albuquerque we ate dinner at a buffet held at a HUGE country bar with friends.  I remember thinking that if my grandparents knew where I was eating, they would be shocked! (But the food was great!)

Our first Thanksgiving in Guam, depression hit.  At least for me. While we were use to being apart from our families, we usually enjoyed the holiday. But in Guam thing were different.  We hated the holidays. With no change in temperature or weather, no change in the foliage on the trees.....we had no holiday spirit.  Also, that first  year, we did not have close friends to celebrate the day with like in other bases.  We decided early that week to just have turkey sandwiches for lunch - not to even cook a nice meal for us.

But on that Wednesday I actually ate all the turkey so we ended up with ham sandwiches.  Whatever.

We made a point of not being on island for the next two Thanksgivings. We spent 2008 in Cairns, Australia and 2009 in Singapore. Both trips were beyond good - beyond wonderful. 

But now we are back in the States and we are beyond happy to be able to share the holidays with family. Such as this Thanksgiving - which is very special as we are also celebrating my mother-in-law's 80th birthday

It started last night with about one hundred family members coming over for Cajun pasta - just a place for all the out-of-town family members to eat.  Today was the big Thanksgiving dinner at cousin Regina's house - whom has bought one of the antebellum houses in town and is a professional chef.  She did all the food - and to say it was delicious is an understatement! I think the head count was around one hundred fifty.

Tonight was turkey gumbo at the family house, Liberty Hall while the Saints game was on. Not sure how many was there, but I would guess also close to one hundred. Tomorrow will be a come and go lunch at  Biscuit and Blues - which is a restaurant also owned by another  cousin.  Tomorrow night we are hosted an open house in honor of my mother-in-law for her birthday.  We're excepting around two hundred fifty.

Yeah....my in-laws do nothing small.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. While I do get overwhelmed at times at their sheer numbers, they are an amazing bunch of people.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Thoughts

A few thoughts from our weekend....

*It's so nice to be living in a place that you can drive five hours...without driving in a circle.

*New Orleans is a great place to visit...not sure if I would want to live there.

*Beignets are really a great breakfast...even if there's no protein and I'll be hungry again in an hour.

*A robotic competition is a crazy place to be...while being there for several hours, I'm still not sure what all I saw.

*So very thankful my team did not embarrass themselves this weekend...unlike last weekend...or the weekend before that...and the weekend before...oh, heck! Every week they have played this year!! We need a defense!!

*But mainly at the end of this weekend my thoughts are on the wonderful week ahead where I get to spend time with family as well as my in-laws. It's gonna be a great week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Human Target

Have you heard of the TV show Human Target? What a fun show! It's based on a comic book. After watching the show, you even get a comic book feel. The sense of humor is right up our alley.

The main character is Christopher Chase. Well, that's not his real name. But that doesn't matter.  He use to be a bad guy - now he's a good guy.  The premise is people who are targeted by the real bad guys need protection. Christopher Chase is the protection.

And of course, he has a few side-kicks. With a great one-liners.

Go ahead - watch it. And be ready for a few laughs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bible Study

At every place we have lived I have made sure I was a part of as some type of ladies' Bible study. There's just something special about a group of ladies getting together and studying the Word that thrills me.  Here, our church host one on Thursday mornings.  But to be honest, I haven't been that happy with it.

Over the years, I have gotten to the point of knowing what works for me. And this set up does not work for me.  The class is too big - over 30 ladies, and the majority of the time is spent watching a video.

Don't get me wrong - the teacher on the video is very good - she preaches the Word. But I don't care for her style - too much drama for my taste. But it's just too long - an hour and ten to twenty minutes! There's no time to share, time to visit, time to get to know one another. I will say I'm at a disadvantage as the newcomer - they already know each other's stories.  I don't. I was hoping this time would be to build relationships.

About a month ago, I was invited to attend a study at another church. This group is actually an international organization - Bible Study Fellowship.  This year they are going through the book of Isaiah. I have attended for about three weeks now and am really enjoying it.

Today I attended my first fellowship - it was nice and relaxing to sit without a lesson to go over and listen to the other ladies talk of their lives and what God is doing in those lives right now.

But I do feel a call to our local church.   I'm hoping that in January our church will offer a different study - something that's more to my liking, a smaller group....time to build those relationship that helps grow roots in a community.

That word sums up what I love about ladies Bible study: Community. A place of welcoming hearts, listening hearts - a place to build those relationships that sustain us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Grands

All four grandparents came in this past weekend to help us celebrate Benjamin's birthday.  My parents came in Friday just before  lunch.  We ate lunch at a local Mexican restaurant - very good. (I'm so addicted to Mexican!). Then I took Mom to the Louisiana Boardwalk. She had never been before. I think she enjoy it - she bought a few things.

After shopping we were at the house waiting for the kids to return from school. My father said we needed to get a picture with all the grandparents and the grand-kids.   Yes, of course, we will.

Then we never thought of it again.

Yuck.

This is the second time in just a few months that we were all together and the second  we all forgot.

I pray we have another chance. And that we won't forget.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's In Front of You?

This weekend we celebrated Benjamin's birthday at a local indoor mini-putt-putt. It was a little further away from the house then I wanted, but it was what he wanted.  It bothered me was several did not RSVP and so I assumed that they would not attend. Also, one that did RSVP did not show up. I felt bad for Ben. I wanted the day to be perfect for him - full of all his friends.

At one point I  asked if Ben if he was enjoying his party. He said, "Yes! I'm playing putt-putt, some of my friends are here, I get presents and cake. What more could I want?"

And it stuck me how totally unconcerned he was about those who did not come. He was just happy with what is.

 I love that.  It was just a gentle reminder from the Lord that I, too, need to just be happy with what's in front of me. Be happy with what is.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November...Aleady

I never intended to go so long without posting. I really want to post every few days, but it seems that life just gets in the way. So. What has been going on?? 

Last weekend my dear friend from Maryland came for a long weekend visit. Dawn and I had a great (and wonderful and awesome) time! We talked and talked...ate and ate...shopped and shopped. So much fun! We hit several stores I had not visited yet. Wish she could have stayed longer.

The kids did return to the allergist. All three decided to do the food challenge for chocolate. All three are set for December.  My prediction is that William will react, but the other two won't.  I did promise Melissa that if she is NOT allergic to chocolate, I will make her a plate of brownies.

I see my days of having a monopoly of the chocolate in the house coming to an end.

Also, at the allergist, Benjamin was put back on asthma meds. I wasn't very happy about this. But after talking to his pediatrician about it today, I feel resign to the fact that it'll be a part of our life again.  You should see the counter in our kitchen. It looks like a small pharmacy with all the kids' allergy meds! Each is on at least three different kinds. (And yes, I did breast feed each for a year, thank you very much! So much for that helping.)

I, also got to have lunch with my friend Cheryl.  We met in Guam, but didn't have too many opportunities to get to know one another until now.  She lives about 45 minutes away and we have been able to get together for lunch almost once a month since the summer.  She's a hoot!  And I love hearing her take on things in the world. She is very plain spoken and just calls things like she sees them - no politically correctness at all. So much fun to be around.

Today I was a chaperon for Melissa and William on a field trip.  The school librarian takes the top twenty-five readers each quarter on a special trip as a reward for reading.  (The top twenty-five is based on points earned through the reading comprehensions testing program.)  I was excited that both were able to go.  This nine weeks the trip was to the State Fair.  We had perfect weather and the kids had a blast! I enjoyed getting to know some of their new friends. They enjoyed riding the rides while I kept my feet on the ground. I learned that my body no longer enjoys the thrills of rides last year when I rode the SlingShot in Guam. My two feet stay on the ground these days.

This weekend we will celebrate Benjamin's tenth birthday which was on Monday. He's thrilled that this is a year for a large party. (Here's an old post that talks about our birthday traditions.) And he's also thrilled that BOTH set of GRANDPARENTS will be here to help celebrate. In fact, we're all thrilled. Yes, I honestly love having both sets at the same time. And yes, they all get along.

It's going to be another wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Decisions

When William was just shy of a  one year and half, he had his first reaction to nuts. Within several months of that he had his first reaction to chocolate.  I was typical fist mother and did not give my precious child sugar, so he was nearly two before he had chocolate. Much to my surprise, he immediately spitted it out. I just looked at him like he was crazy, but it was CHOCOLATE!!! Then I saw his lips and tongue and knew: this was a sign that life was not going to be normal.

In the years since we have asked lots of questions to any one giving food to the children (they all have food allergies)  and have read tons of food labels.  Many times the kids have been not been able to have birthday cake in celebration of a friend's birthday.  Thankfully, all my kids just take it in stride and don't get upset.  They all have a healthy fear of being sick.

But even reading labels and asking questions has not prevented reactions.  Two years ago we asked all the right questions and still ended up spending the evening in the hospital. (You can read about that night here.)

Through all these years, one thing has remained constant: uncertainty.  You see, while I have no doubt that William is allergic to chocolate, I'm not sure about the other two.  All three have had reactions to nuts and peanuts, but we have also never given Melissa and Ben chocolate. I just didn't want to take the chance without a doctor near by.  Having a doctor near by is doing what is called a food challenge.

Not an easy thing to get a doctor to do.  None want to be responsible for a reaction.  Can't say I blame them.  (One doctor was willing but at the time Drew was deployed to Iraq for a year and I was at the point of doing only what was absolutely required in life....like feeding, cleaning, and clothing my children. All else was pushed to the side...being happily married but a single mother is the pits! And all the military wives said AMEN!)

Since we have been back in the States, we have been able to see an allergist. He is willing to do a food challenge on the chocolate based on the uncertainty of the test we have done so far. But the kids are at an age where I feel they need to have a say in their health and health-care.  I won't force them. After all, it could be an intense exhausting day if they do have a reaction.

They have one more week to decide. Not sure what it'll be....all are still on the fence. I would like to know....and I have started to think about where I should I hide my chocolate..just in case....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dress Code

I'm quite perplexed about dress codes.  In Guam the schools enforced a dress code during the 2nd semester we were there. Over all it wasn't too bad: khaki bottoms, navy or white pull over/polo shirts.  I did have several problems with the uniforms, though.

I never had an issue with my kids and clothes. I had one rule: only one piece of clothing can have a pattern - either the shirt or the bottom - not both! If there was a piece of clothing I didn't want the kids to wear any longer, it would just disappear in the laundry...never to be seen by my child again. I know friends who have had many trials over clothing with their children and I count myself as blessed.

I, also, couldn't understand why the uniform committee picked the colors that it did. Navy? Hello! Guam is a tropical island where ALWAYS near 90 degrees at recess time. And white? On little boys?? Not even Oxy-clean can clean some stains.

Also, the students didn't have to tuck in their shirts nor wear the right size pants. God gave us hips to our pants up - we should use them! And belts. What a great invention.

This school district seems to have a better handle on school uniforms.  There's a few more choices in colors, but the students are required to tuck in the shirts, wear a belt, and (Thank you!!) wear the correct size in pants!! No more seeing a boy's underwear!

Both school districts also have  dress code for the teachers.  What I found to be unbelievable is the DoDea school in Guam could not enforce the dress code for the teachers.  While the contracts laid one out, due to the teachers' union, it was not enforceable. 

"Uh?" Was pretty much my reaction when I asked one teacher about their dress code.

Several teachers chose to wear clothes that closely matched the kids' uniforms: navy polo's and khaki bottoms.  There was also a handful of teachers that always dressed very nicely: dresses or dress pants, heels even.  One teacher always dressed in black.   I don't think I ever saw her wear any other color....not sure why.

But they also could get away with a t-shirt and jeans or shorts. One of Ben's teachers would wear the uniform one day, a very nice dressy out the next (in which some one would always ask why she was so dressed up) and another day wear flip-flops, a tee, and shorts. That was one aide's out-fit every day: a tee, shorts, and flip-flops. Never saw him in anything else.

Here the teachers also have a dress code. I have yet to see a teacher in jeans except on "jean day"  - which only happens once every few weeks.

I like it - it really does give the school a more professional look.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mondays

For the last several months Drew had been dreaming of long weekend with the federal holiday, Columbus Day.  He had great plans of taking the family to the mountains for some hiking, enjoying the fall colors, and seeing mountains instead of oceans.

But the Bossier Parish Schools throw a wrench in his plans: school was not out. He was off work, but the kids were not. Sort of hard to do a family trip without the family. And then was soccer...of which he is the coach for Ben's team.....

Scratch that plan. On to the next: Drew and I ended up helping to serve a lunch at a soup kithchen our church was helping out with for the week. Then  we went home to finish painting the kids' bedrooms.

Now to this week: for some  very odd reason, the kids were out of school yesterday  - it was called "fall break".   I just find it odd. Very odd.

Last week was a federal holiday - would have been a great opportunity for family fun. Next Monday the state fair will be in town - another time for family fun. But we had the Monday off with nothing going on.

Odd, very odd.

But we did not waste the day.  William had a dentist appointment, then I took the kids to see the movie, Secretariat.  Very good!!! Such a nice family show!

Then we ended the evening with a soccer game.  Deep sigh. Not the best soccer game.  Soccer can be very frustrating! That ball just won't go where the boy's want it to go!  I think several need lessons in physics and angels.

And in no being Christmas trees....that's what the coach yelled at one point: "Quit standing like CHRISTMAS TREES - GO TO THE BALL!"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Melissa is having the time of her life. She's away for the weekend with her Aunt Margaret and cousin Mary Alyce. They picked her up today at lunch time (Melissa just giddy to not only get out of school early, but to have lunch at our favorite restaurants, Macaroni Grill - so yummy!) to take her for the weekend to spend some time with her grandparents and to see a few hot air balloons.

Every October Natchez host the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race. The city has been hosting the event for at least ten years I think - I remember having baby William at one (he's now 13). 

Hot air balloons are always exciting! Of course, I did have to bring Melissa down to earth as she thought she would actually to ride in one. Maybe one day....just doubt it'll be this weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Colors

We now have color on the walls. Yeah. Finally!  We painted all three kids' bedrooms.  We have been talking about it for quite a while. At first we said, NO!!  It was just too hot and we couldn't decide on the colors.  I wanted khaki for Ben's room, but he was not agreeing with that all. He wanted red. Or orange.

I was not agreeing to that at all.

I had once painted with red. Never again.

William had no opinion, and Melissa wanted some wild things, that we totally dismissed.

So. We waited. But in the last few weeks the weather has turned cooler (not cold, after all we're in north Louisisana....and as long as it's not near 100 degrees, it's considered cool) and I have start to think and talk about painting more.

Drew wasn't too agreeable. He really wasn't into painting all! But then, I had a great idea. 

As I was walking Saturday morning, I stopped by and read the fliers on the HOA's bulletin board.  There was one for painting. I told Drew I would call and get a quote.

Apparently, he didn't agree with that. Not long after soccer that after noon, we went to Home Depot and not only bought paint, but also actually painted!! Two days later - done!

YEAH!  Melissa is sporting three light purple walls and one dark purple, Ben has three light blue and one dark blue, and William has all green walls.

Don't tell Drew, but my eyes have now turned to the kitchen......I think a nice bright yellow would look nice....but I'll give him a little while recover from this painting adventure.....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shoes & Earrings

The other day Melissa noticed my new black shoes.  They  were just some flats - ballet style - with a row of black sequences.  Of course, anything with sequences she's all over that! She said that she liked them better than her black flats.  She brought them to me  and she was right - they really were very similar to mine - just without the black sequences! I tried her's on and discovered her's were more comfortable than mine. So. We're "sharing".  But I rather wear hers.

On Thursday we celebrated Melissa's twelfth birthday. For her big gift this year, she wanted her ears pierced. Saturday was the big day. She did great. I had already told her that if she cried, screamed, or had any drama AT. ALL. we would leave.  She actually wanted to get them down last year until she found out that no where on Guam did they do both ears at the same time. So, we waited until this year. She really did well. She only jumped and said," OW!! That hurt!"

Of course, on the way back to the house, her thoughts were no longer on the pain, but on the future. Specially, which earrings she would wear. As in which earrings of MINE she would wear. She wanted to "share" my earrings.

Hmmmm. 

I may need to put a pad-lock on my jewelry box.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Bites the Dust

Whenever we move, it seems that we make some kind of transition with the kids. When we moved from Virginia to Maryland our kids decided they were not only old enough to bath themselves, but also run the bath water as well.  At age 3, 5, 7 we said fine  - we'll try it out. And it worked. For all of us.  I remember thinking a year later when Drew deployed for a year, that the kids taking over all of the bathing chores, was very nice - just what was needed.

Here our transition is the dishware. While they were allowed to use our nice  (aka VERY BREAKABLE) plates from time to time, they really only got to eat on them for special occasions or some nice meal one of us cooked.  Towards the end of our tour in Guam, they (especially the older two) let us know they liked to be grown up and eat off the breakable plates....no more plastic!! Especially the plastic is cartoon characters on them.

What plastic I did not throw away was moved to the back lower cabinet...not to be used a lot.  They all have enjoyed using the "real" plates and bowls.

And for the most part I've enjoyed them using them...until one got broken....then two....then three...and today it makes four. (And lets not forget the matching top to the sugar bowl and the salt shaker!!!)

Lovely. Just lovely.

Since my pattern was discontinued six months after the wedding, it's hard to fine. And when I do find it, its on the pricey side. So, now I'm thinking of selling what I do have and buying a new set of something else.

Sell now while I still have most of it left.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another Week

I never mean for a week to go by before I post, but here it is - another week.  It's been a good week, though.  Today Ben was cleared with his eyes. One doctor was concerned with a lazy eye, but he's fine. Not sure what the other doctor saw, but not only are his eyes both straight, he sees great as well.

Yesterday we didn't get great news - William will need some work on his teeth. Oh, yeah. It's gonna  cost  a lot of money. We are getting a second opinion on Thursday, but I really don't expect it to be too different. But I was irritating at the orthodontist in Guam....he should have caught the problems. But. We're here in the States and we'll make it work.

The big news was we have a piano!! A real piano, not a key-board (extra-long though it maybe) that the kids have been playing all theses years.  The piano is from my aunt. Drew went to go get it Thursday. The kids are enjoying it! Well, not Ben. He refuses to play on it until I have it tuned - which will be next week.

Today I meet a friend that I met in Guam for lunch. She lives about 45 minutes away. We had such a good time! I love talking with her - we actually got asked to leave the restaurant - apparently, there was a line waiting for a table and they didn't like the fact that we were just sitting there and talking.

Whatever.

So, we stood outside and talked for about another hour!  We're meeting next my time at house...no one will kick us out!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Great Book

I read what is probably one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books this past weekend.  It's from the Blind Side family, the Tuohy's of Memphis: In a Heartbeat.  While they do talk some of life with Michale Oher, the book is really their philosophy of giving.  I loved the Blind Side - I actually read the book twice and have seen the movie twice. I can see myself re-reading this book again.

Currently, I'm reading a book that I was on the library hold list for six weeks - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I first heard of this book early this summer as I was driving between my parents and in-law's houses. Yes, I admit that I do listen to NPR news at times.  They were actually, taking about the movie version. It sounded like a good story so I decided to track down the book.   I, also, was happy to learn this is the first in a series and there are two more books.  Not sure if they'll be two more movies, but I'll be on the look-out for them.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Annoying Your 13 year old....What fun!

In Guam we used a wire-less door bell at our back door. As we were unpacking here I set it aside...not sure what to do with it since we didn't need it here.  Then it dawned on me: I'll put it in William's room.

Since William's bedroom is upstairs he doesn't always hear me when I call - especially, if his door is closed.  The other day I came in from my morning walk and realized that William was not up for school yet.  I really didn't want to climb the stairs (and no, I really don't care if you call me lazy)  so I ranged the door bell. It took two rings for him to wake up. 

He told me later, "Please, come up and wake me - I hate the door bell!"

"Really? It's more annoying than your alarm?"

"YES!" 

Hmmm. Alrighty then.

He really shouldn't have told me that.  (hehehehehe)

I have to admit: I take perverse pleasure at his "WHAT?!"  after I  have "ranged" for him. Sort of makes up for all those eye-rolls that annoy me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago

In many ways it's hard to believe that nine years has passed since attacks on 9/11/01. In some ways it seems like yesterday, but in others is seems like a life-time ago. So much has changed.

Before the attacks most of us in the military - especially those I knew in the Air Force - were concerned with not being assigned a remote tour (a tour where the active duty member went for a year without the family).  Now just about every active duty member I know has done at least one deployment if not more. While deployment usually last six months now, with the extra training it can add one up to two or three months. We have become very apt at being happily married but still a single parent.

Yesterday I was discussing with a friend about me getting a job. Part of the problem is that the kids are at different schools with different time schedules. Whatever I do I have to be able to do by myself. I can't rely on Drew to get the kids to school because he may not be here to help - he may deploy at some point. I think my thinking was a little shocking to her. Her husband does travel with work some, but never for more that a few weeks at a time - and that only once or twice a year. To plan your life for the "what if" is foreign to her.

But that's the legacy the attacks have left many of us. While we live in the present and enjoy every moment we have together, we never take it for granted. Tomorrow will come. And it won't always be pleasant.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Snacks

Today I volunteered at Benjamin's school during lunch. I was one of five moms who manned the "snack" table.  "Snacks"..hmmm....more like cavity-inducing-sugar-overload is more like it. I was totally amazed at the junk!  I'm not sure what I excepted, but to have every possible candy and chip offered wasn't it

For fifty cents you could buy crackers & cheese (other than pretzels this was the healthiest option), gushers, rice kripy treat, or a ring pop (one little boy bought three ring pops: one for himself, one for his mom, and one for his dad...he was so proud and so sweet.)  But for a dollar you could by a small bag of chips, cookies, pretzels, slim jim, wacky taffy, three different kinds of skillets, starburst, three kinds of sour gummies, M&M's - plain or peanut, or animal cookies.

Now, most students spent only fifty cents or a dollar there were some that spent more - a few that spent five dollars and one that spent nine. All on junk!! Makes this momma wonder if these parents knew how much money their kids taken to school.

But one thing I do know: dentist across the city will be reaping the benefits.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Losing the Game, But Winning the Party

This weekend we took the kids to their first Ole Miss football game (William went when he was just baby, but we're not counting that).  It still amazes me that we have not taken them before.. .I grew up going to just about every game every year...but for us it's been just too far away for a weekend in Mississippi. But not anymore.

I think they enjoyed the game.....even if it was hot. Poor Ben was just melting.  At one point  he laid down on the concrete by my feet to try to stay in the shade. Of course, we all would have enjoyed the game if we had won the dumb thing!  But all I can is "typical".

If the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but excepting  a different outcome, then that's Ole Miss football. While is should not be tradition, it is.  Part of me was not surprised at the lost. Frustrated, yes. Surprised? Not really.

But. A good time was still had by all.

Tailgating is art at Ole Miss. Perfected over time. Since I have been gone, things have progressed far beyond anything we had when Drew and I attended.  Now every one has tents (or rather rents thems  - the companies that rents and sets up the tents, tables, and chairs are making a BUNDLE!!). Most tables are covered in a tablecloths with center pieces and/or flowers. Several even had small satellites with Direct-TV and big screens TVs!! Amazing!  Then there's the food. Let's just say - yummy! And yes, I need to be walking extra to work it all off!

Then there was the dress. We actually had an unwritten dress code while we were there. Who knows when it started, but "back in the day" we all dressed like we were going to church. The ladies in a Sunday  best-dress with heels and panty-hose, the guys in blue blazers, white button-down shirts, red or blue tie with khaki pants.

It seems that the boys still dress the same, but the girls? Oh. My. They are no longer dressing like they are going to church. More like they are going out on a Friday night looking for a "hot" time. Or for some "work".  The skirts were shorter and the heels were higher. No pany-hoses in sight! But on several occasions, you could see what type  - and color - of underwear the co-ed was wearing.

Oh. My.

I'm convinced that several dresses were actually shirts....yes, they were that short.

I have to tell you about one guy - he was over the top!  Yes, he was in the right "uniform" for the boys  - white button down, red and blue stripe tie, khaki pants - but he also wore a baseball cap and his belt buckle was a HUGE Conderate flag that really belonged on Wranglers!  I just had to laugh.

One part of tailgating I  love is seeing friends and family. We tailgated with my aunt and two friends. One of my college roommates drove down from Memphis to visit. So nice to see her!! I don't think we had seen each other since graduation, even though we have been able to keep in touch now through facebook.  I also, was able to visit with one of my cousins and his wife.  I had not seen them since my grandmother's funeral in the early 90's.  Such fun catching up with people!

The kids were I think a little shocked at some parts of the game..like our cheer. Ole Miss fans yell the "Hotty Toddy" cheer. Let's just say it has several words that we don't use in our house.  The kids were a little shocked at such free use of words deemed "not Jesus loving".

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday, Monday....It always seems to come around...

Monday again. This one was found to be a little slow. Which is good, of course. We need those kinds of days.  Today I was able to talk to a potential piano teacher for the kids.  We'll meet her tomorrow.   I'm very excited - the kids? Not so much.  After talking to all three, we came to the conclusion that Melissa and William enjoy playing a piece well, but not so much into the practice that comes with that.  Normal kids, though.

Benjamin on the other had really doesn't want to play the  piano nor take lessons. At. All.  Oh. Well. He. Will! At least for now.

Drew and I feel that music education is important.  We'll see how it goes with this new teacher.

Tonight also is the start of soccer practice for Benjamin.  It seems that Drew and I have found ourselves to be the coaches....well really, just Drew. I'm there for moral support.  The team is through Upwards which is sponsored by the church we are attending. It's run a little different here than what we had in the past, so it'll be interesting to see how the season goes. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Big Event

Tuesday night was the Big Event around here. Drew's boss was in town (who's a full colonel) as well as the boss' boss (who's a one star general). As I said earlier, Monday was cleaning and cooking. Tuesday involved finishing up the cleaning and cooking.  But it was all worth it - the dinner went really well.  I think everyone had a great time  - if the lack of left-overs was any indication.

Wednesday brought another Big Event.  Benjamin and Melissa went in for allergy testing. (William goes in tomorrow.)  Both had the scratch test four years ago, but when we  saw the new doctor here, he suggested  we see an allergist because of the food allergist.  So. We went.

We did not tell them exactly what would happen at the doctor's visit. I didn't want to deal with the drama. Ben handled well - of course, by the time he figured out needles were involved his shirt was already off and the nurse was already starting.  Of course, he had to fuss at times. But he did find.  And of course, he's allergic to many things.  He was very sad to have it confirmed that he was allergic to dogs and cats.

Then there was Melissa.  She was so not happy when she realized that  needles would be in her presence and actually used on her body.  When she had the testing four year, they only did the scratch test on her arms. She was very confused about why she had to take off her shirt and cami. I explained about the back instead of the arms - okay..she said.  In the end  testing was also pretty much what I expected.  Both had blood test and we'll find out those results in a week or so

But the best part of the afternoon was when I had to explain about the paper gown.  I shown her the paper gown and said, "Welcome to womanhood - this is what we wear  when we are at the doctor's."

And her response?

"But..but...that's ugly!"

Yeah.  I know.

.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words

At Sunday school this week the teacher (who is also the pastor and also our next door neighbor) shared how his wife hate hearing people use words that describe God apply to other things.  His example was "holy cow!" Every time she hears that phrase, she says, "There's nothing holy about a cow!"

And  she's right. I had never given this any thought before. As Drew and I were discussing it at dinner last night, he said the same thought had cross his mind as well. 

Some definitions of holy from  Merriam-webster are


1: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness

2: divine

3: devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity

4a : having a divine quality b : venerated as or as if sacred
 
She's right. There's nothing holy about a cow!  Makes me think about how I use words.   It also brings to mind Ephesians 4:29: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying (encouraging), that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
 
I need to remember it's not just people who are listening to what I'm saying, but also the Lord.  Words that describe Him should be used with the same reverence we feel towards Him.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Cleaning

Busy day....tomorrow night I'm help Drew host a dinner party for the office that will included his boss (a full colonel) and his boss' boss (a one-star general). Today was the day to clean the house and start the cooking. I made the red beans and also creole today along with a few batches of cookies. In the morning after a quick run to the commissary I will make a salad, bread and a second dessert.

The house looks good...I really should take a few pictures and post them. Several friends have asked to see the house - via the Internet.  Hopefully, I will remember where I've placed my camera.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spoon Anyone? Noodles?

One thing we noticed when we got our furniture out of storage, is how much our living room furniture squeaks.  You could not sit down without all the springs announcing your actions.  Eventually we would like to replace the set with a leather set. But the purchases we have made since returning to the States, we'll have to wait for a new set.  But we can not live with the squeaks. They got to go!

Today Drew flipped the couches over and remove the covering to reveal the springs in order to lube them up with some WD-40 (a great invention, if you ask me!). As he was removing the bottom covering, the couch revealed more than just old rusted springs.  We also found two dice, one spoon, one pair of scissors, one hot wheel car, three playing cards, one piece of plastic play food (an egg), and interestingly enough two pieces of dried up lasagna noodles.

I don't even want to think about how they got there.

While this set has been in storage for three years, we really didn't use it a whole lot for the six years before that. But when we lived in CA it was our every day furniture...with three toddlers.

Who apparently liked to hide a few things....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Days Just Keep Going

Our days here just keep moving along - nice, don't ya think?  All the kids are enjoying school for the most part.  I am concerned about Melissa and William's backs. There's no lockers at the middle school so everything has to stay in their backpacks and come home everyday.  Which is nice in the sense that they will never forget a notebook they need, but it makes for a full and heavy backpack.  So full and heavy that lunch boxes don't fit it or or even a notebook. 

The kids have had a few "culture shock" moments.  Last weekend I told the kids to get ready for bed. Knowing that Monday morning would come VERY early, I had them to bed closer to 8:30 Saturday night as well as Sunday night. Saturday night William gave me a funny look and said, "Bed? Mom's it's still light outside!" "Yes, but look at the time!!"  He was confused.  You see in Guam we had 12 hours of sunlight all year long.  None of this sunset at 9 p.m. business.  None of this going to bed while the sun is still up.  Just wait until the time changes here - they will be at a totally lost!

Also, Melissa has noticed that all the girls here have long hair, worn in a pony-tails with a BIG bow or long ribbons. We cut her hair VERY short just before  school started. So glad I did! I'm not sure she would have agreed after seeing everyone else's.  Her hair is still baby-fine and just doesn't look good long.  It'll be interesting to see what she wants when it grows out....to blend in with all the other girls or do what looks good for her...
(not the best picture of the new 'do, but will try to work on that)

Ben is settling down in his class. At first he said his teacher wasn't as nice in class as she was at Open House. I think he's warming up to her. Although I will say, with the wonderful and fantastic teachers Ben has in Guam, she has a lot to live up to!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Frist Day of School

Wednesday was the first day of school!! YEAH!!  We were all ready! The kids had been without kids  for most of the summer - since we've left Guam.  They needed to be around kids their own age and they needed time apart from each other.

Even though we knew that most of the other kids in the neighborhood were driven to school, ours would be riding the bus.  While both schools are only ten minutes away from the house, they are in opposite directions.  Besides, I have driven them to school and picked them up for the last three years - it's time for the bus!!

The older two got off okay - even if the bus was about fifteen minutes late.  (We found out later the bus driver forgot someone and had to turn around to get him.)  As we were waiting for Ben's bus, Drew found Melissa's schedule on the kitchen table.

Oooo. Not good. I had visions of her falling apart. Several prayers were said during the day for her.

As they got off the bus at three, she looked at me and said, "That was the best first day EVER!"  Oh, the deep relief I felt.   William was happy with his first day as well. When I asked Melissa about her schedule and how did she deal with it, she said, "I didn't cry! I'm in sixth grade now!"

Well, okay then.

She said she realized pretty quickly after she got on the bus. During class changes the administration stood in the hallway for anyone that needed help - she just went to one of them and asked for a new schedule.  So proud of her. 

William was very impressed with his geometry teacher.  While most students don't take geometry until ninth or tenth grade, William and one other eight grader walk across the parking lot to the high school for this one class.  This teacher gives everyone an electronic "clicker" like the audience would have in a game show such as "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". At the beginning of the class, the teacher puts a problem on the board. The students pressed the correct answer. I also find this very cool!

When Ben came home, he had he had just a "so-so"  day. He said he thought his teacher was nicer on Monday night then during school. But that's Ben. He doesn't get too excited about much. But also, this teacher has some hard acts to follow. Ben had some amazing teachers in Guam! He's spoiled!

I've enjoyed the days of no kids. I've been able to get errands done without anyone asking "How much longer?" or chores around the house without having to settle an argument. 

Oh,  yes.  We are so ready for school to start!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Start of School

Our week started with "Meet Your Teacher" for Ben and Melissa (William's was on  Tuesday night). Over all it was very overwhelming...maybe if we had only done one school instead of two.

Ben's school is just a few years old and looking quite nice and shiney. His teacher seems nice - she's actually turned out to be our back door neighbor.  But something at the school seemed so different....I just couldn't put my finger on it.

I will say that part of the problem was just us being new.  Being new is like walking into a movie at the half way point.  It's hard trying to figure out what are the questions I need to ask....sometimes I know I'm not asking the right ones.   It's hard to figure out what I don't know!

Afterwards we dropped Ben oft at the house and picked up Melissa.   If I was a little overwhemled at Ben's school, then I was WAY overwhelmed at the middle school.  Oh. my.

First there was just so many people. We started off in the gym for the princpal and th 6th grade lead teacher to talk. Once again, something was so different...and I still couldn't figure out what it was.  The cheerleaders also preformed a few cheers for us. Wow. They all were so perky. And looked alike with the cute outfits  - they all had their hair in a pony-tail with a BIG bow. Oh, yeah, baby. We're back in the South now.

As we were standing in line for Melissa schedule, I was looking around and it hit me what was so different. A few families behind me was an Asian family and that's what was so different here  - most people - the teachers, the students, the parents - most were white. Not much diversity at all.

This is so different from the way we have lived. And not just in Guam, but in all the places we lived.  We have had friends from all races. In all the kids' school classes I don't think they ever were in the majority. The races were pretty evenly divided.  Makes me wonder how this will efffect them.

Another reason Monday was overwhelming was dealing with the middle school colors and mascot. Purple and gold - the tigers. Oh, my. This Ole  Miss Rebel just doesn't like those colors together and I have no use for tigers.

Middle school just may be a long time for me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A New Start

We made it through last week. While Melissa and Benjamin were upset and disappointed, they survived.  I'm not sure if they will try out next year or not, but I hope so.  William has already said he would. He did a great job as an urchin. (That would be a street urchin not a sea urchin.....which makes so much more sense....)

Tomorrow we get to meet Benjamin and Melissa's teachers - Tuesday we get to meet William's.  We are very excited. (okay - I'm very excited....I'm sure the kids would like summer to last a little longer.) School starts Wednesday, but the Melissa and William have already started. Here honor students have summer homework.  Not sure how feel about summer homework.... I do see the value of keeping the  mind going. I also think though the average student should be challenged as well.

Both have to read two books and do two project for each.  Melissa has read both of her books and has started on one project each.  I think William has read one....not sure....but tomorrow morning we'll be having mandatory study time.  Yeah...they'll gonna love that!  I'm hoping they will get at least some of it done in the next week or so.  By then they will have normal homework to do as well.

So...what will I do with the kids in school all day?? (Besides jump for joy???)  I still have a few boxes that were in storage for the last three years that I want to go through. Then I will work on my photo albums.   I'm at least a year behind on the family album.   I'm hoping to get caught up before I start getting involved in a things (or before my husband makes me go back to work!)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A New Plan

This week requires a new plan. The original plan was to drop all the kids off at drama camp with the Missoula Theater people,and enjoy some kid-free time. But that did not work out as we had thought it would.  In Guam all who showed up got a part. Here? More kids than part equals to lots of tears and heart break.

While I knew the camp only had so many costumes (typically 40), I never dreamed that 91 kids would show up!! Of course, it didn't help that the Youth Center (that host the camp) sends all their day care kids to try out.

Benjamin was not too hip in going in the first place, but after he got there he got into the fun...only to be "crushed" (his words). Apparently at one point he fell doing a head-stand, got embarrassed and cried for a part of the two hours. (If you know Benjamin at all , you know this is normal behavior for him - he cried whenever he is embarrssed or told that he did wrong...he cries alot....) But that aside - by the end he was hoping for a part. Tears on his part and he now calls them "evil people".

Melissa has been looking forward to this week for about six months - that's when I got on the Missoula web site and saw they were coming to Barksdale at the perfect time for us. Oh, the best laid plans....  All the way home from the base she cried, "I can be funny! I can be loud! This was to be the best week of my life. Now it's the worse." I even heard, "I have a headache from crying so much."

Oh....what's a mamma's heart to do? It took everything I had not to sit down and cry with them.

Then there's William. Who got a part. So. Lots of talk about grace and gentleness and understanding in the house. 

My week now consist of movie marathon here at the house today. First up was Firehouse Dog - if you have not seen it - check it out! Very cute!. Now playing is the Sword and the Stone - with popcorn and pickles no less (sorry - no fired pickles, today...maybe tomorrow).  Later today we will be showing Elf.  Tomorrow B&M will be going to see another movie...not sure which one....maybe Ramona and Beezus and lunch out. Thursday will the science/discovery center. And ending Friday with a day at the swimming pool.

Then they have to live through seeing William preform....yeah....hopefully, they will deal with that well.

Rejection is hard. Especially since we did not anticipate this. I wish I had thought about the number of costumes or asked how many kids came last  year (which I now know they cut 50 kids as well)....warned the kids....had them practice.  It is a good lesson is not getting everything you want....but wow. It just breaks my heart to see my kids hurt so.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Book Filled Summer

This has been a book filled summer. I have been able to read, read, and get even more reading in. And I have loved every minute- and page - of it!   If you  look on my Book/Author page, you 'll see a list of books that I've read - not all this summer...but most of them.

I really should have counted them...

But! I am almost ready for  break.  I have three more books out from the library here that I plan to read then I'll be taking a break.

A few books I read I ended up just scanning instead of reading word-for-word.  Both were Barbara Delinksy books. One - The Women Next Door - begins with a young widow becoming pregnant way after her husband passes. All the other wives in the cud-de-sac suspect their husbands.

Really?  All of them? That just hit me wrong. A group of women from all walks of life and all of them think their husband cheated on them?? So, I just scanned the book one day while I waited for Mom when she had her physical therapy. 

The other one of Babara Delinksy that hit me wrong was called Facets.  In it was a much older that had control issues. I just couldn't get past how anyone could be that evil and controlling - and still in charge of so much.  Maybe I'm being naive, but I didn't want to waste my time reading about that kind of person.  I do enjoy the Christian fiction that is out now. A lot of it is 'fluff' as some of my friends call it, but at least I know good will out win the bad by the last page. I like happy endings.

I am in love with the library here. I'm not sure when it was built, but I would say within the last ten years. So many great books! And most of them look new. I hate using a library where all the books seem old - so old that no one has read most of them in a number of years. And I have gotten to the point that I do want to read new books - books that show the technology that we live with now - cell phones, email, etc. And the kids seem impress with the library as well - a big bonus.  It seems a lot of the books they offer in the kids' sections seem to be new - hot-off-the-press as well. I see the library a lot in our life here.

One reason I need a break from reading is my 'to-do' list. It's getting long.  Nothing earth shattering  - but I want to get caught up on my scrap-booking and finish getting the house in order.  Things that will be easier to work on when the kids are in school and I have some quiet time. 

School here starts Aug 11 - just a week from Wednesday! Crazy! But good...oh, so, good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This and That

It's been a good weekend. Mom and Dad came Friday in time for lunch and stayed through Saturday  morning. Mom and I only got one scrabble game in, but we did get in two shopping trips. Both of us got a few things we really liked.   They will come back next weekend along with Drew's parents in order to see the kids in a play.

Tomorrow all three of the kids will attend  camp Missoula Children's Theater.  William and Melissa attended last year in Guam. The play was The Jungle Book. This year they will be preforming Pinocchio. Drew and I are being mean parents and forcing Benjamin to attend as well.  He's not overly thrilled, but oh well. He will live. And how knows! He just might learn something or even joy himself!

Here the show will be dinner theater style. We are all very excited about it (okay - maybe not Ben!). Should be a good time - and we are especially thrilled that all the grandparents will be here as well to watch our budding  thespians.

And I have lots planned for my kid-free time as well....I see a Starbucks in my future, errands, and shopping - all without any short person complaining!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Be a Dead Horse!

When we left for Guam we sold our van and so for the whole three years we were there we used a sedan. Many times I missed my van. The kids just needed more room to spread out.  They were sitting on top of each other and so used the opportunity to annoy the living heck out of each other and me!  As we were driving around the state from one set of grands to another before we picked up my new van, the kids were doing normal thing in the car: driving us CRAZY!!

One day I had just all I could take of the noise - I don't even know what they were bickering about and I didn't care. They were just going on and on about something.  I finally yelled, "Enough! Quit beating the dead horse!"

They sort of shrugged their shoulders and said, "Okay" then slumped down on each other.  I found that a little odd, but I didn't pay too much attention. I was enjoying the quiet.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes I enjoyed the pasting scenery. Every now and then I would hear some giggles, but mostly quite until William piped up, "Mom, can we stop being dead horses now?"

"Uh,? What are you talking about?"

"Well, you said to be a dead horse, so we are. Can we stop now?"

I couldn't stop laughing! "I didn't tell you to BE a dead horse, I said to  stop beating it."

This is was their turn to say, "Uh? What do you mean?"

When Drew and I could say a few words without laughing we explained the idiom of "beating a dead horse". "Oh!!!" They all explained!! "We get it now!"

It still amazes me how the kids can make me so annoyed one minute to laughing until my sides hurt the next! What a crazy bunch I have!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Showing My Age

I have several friends that had a child many years after their first. At one time or another all of them have said something along the lines of being able to feel the years in their bodies. I totally understand when they talk about this. My oldest and youngest are four and half years apart and I remember feeling so much older (in a bad way) with Benjamin. There was just so many more aches and pains.

That's how I felt last night and how I still felt today: old. Or maybe just so much older! I just don't remember moves being so exhausting.  And, yes. I think I do have too many possessions. We already for at least three boxes for the Goodwill along with a microwave, and three pieces of furniture.  (I see a craigslist in our future.)

The movers arrived just before ten in the morning and we didn't really stop until after six. We did get a break around two when they left to get the rest of the crates. (We had ten, but only eight fit on the trailer.)  I had already talked to the children about unpacking as much as we can while they were here. That way when they leave, they can take the empty boxes and all that packaging paper.  Then we would have a lot less to store until they could come back for the rest of the empty boxes. For the most part the kids worked really hard. Of course, as the day wore on, the less enthusiasm they showed!  At about four thirty all the crates were unpacked and I was ready just to say make sure all the beds  and tables (and anything else that had been taken apart) are put together and leave so I can rest, but then we were told they would NOT come back for boxes.  What we wanted them to take then was fine, but unlike in the past they would not return on another day for any garbage.

What? Oooo. We were so not happy.

So, Drew said that they would stay then and unpack every box.  And they almost did.   I did stop them from unpacking all the book boxes. I told Drew I just was not able to face stacks of books on the floor.

The movers attitude was pretty good for most of the day until they heard they would be required to put together beds and tables and a basketball goal.  Oh, well. Not my problem.   One of our benefits as a military member is to have household goods unpacked. And yes, unpacked means back to the state it was in before the movers arrived at the previous location!

And they did.

The house is now in a total shambles.  And Drew and I feel old. We both talked about how tired we still are at twenty-four hours after the movers left.  I really do feel my age. Here's praying my next move will not be for a long, long time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Day and A Night

Tomorrow is the BIG day around here.  Delivery of household goods(HAPPY DANCE!) It'll be interesting to see if all our stuff from Guam arrive in one piece. I was very happy with the way the packers packed our things....let's pray that it translated into no damaged items.

Or water-logged items. One friend had a crate that got accidentally dropped in the the water. She lost all her clothes and a brand-spankin' new couch. Ouch. That had to hurt.

We did have some damage done to our furniture that was in storage for the last three years....so....tomorrow will be interesting. It'll also be like Christmas in July.

Plus the kids will be thrilled to have their beds back. Apparently, the joy of sleeping on couches, air mattress, and the floor has worn off.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding a Church

Finding a church in a new area can be one of the most frustrating and emotional searches of any move (well, and finding a hair dresser...but that's a different post all together!). We felt very fortunate that our search in Guam was easy. Our first Sundays in Guam we attended the Chapel on base and LOVED it. One Sunday - done. The music and the preaching were exactly what were looking for. Then we fell in love with the people.  A huge plus of living in Guam was living with, going to school with, and worshipping with the same people.  The sense of community was strong and we loved it.

It wasn't perfect. After all, it was still a military environment.  I hated it when people would introduce themselves by their rank. And I hated it when my friends found out my husband's rank and  job. Then we were no longer just Kelley and Drew. They now said, "Hey, Kelley and 'Sir'".  I, also, heard of others refuse to be friends with others because of rank. True, fraternization is a serious concern among those that wear the uniform, but for us wives, we should leave rank at the door.

But overall,  I loved the Chapel and our church family there. It's one of the things I miss most about Guam: the people.

I, also, know that we will meet some amazing people here, too. And it starts with us finding a church. We have always known we make our dearest and truest friends at church where couples and families hold to the same values as we do: Jesus. We do want our church close by,though. After all, we will be more apt to go if we don't have to drive far and in little traffic. Maybe that's a bad reflection of our faith, but it's true: closer is better.

When Drew came back from buying this house, one of the things he was excited about was the large Baptist church that was right around the corner from the neighborhood. He began to pray that it was the church the Lord wanted us to attend. He, also, began to pray that we would meet neighbors from the church and we would connect with them.

Yesterday we attended the morning service there. We really enjoyed it. While they called the service a "blended" (meaning the use of traditional hymns as well as current Christian songs ), I felt like the service leaned more toward the traditional side instead of contemporary. (I would prefer an ultra contemporary service, but Drew likes the blended.) But as my mother reminded me: you really can't judge a whole music program by one service. I will say the soloist during the choir special was amazing! She never seemed nervous or anxious at all!

Then there was the preaching. Very good! The right balance of humor with truth delivered in a easy, friendly way. We were so pleased that we decided to go back next week and also visit Sunday school. Drew talked again about praying to meet neighbors through this church.

Later in the afternoon Drew and I when returned from the commissary, William told us that a neighbor came over to meet us while we were gone and that he said was also from the church. Ooooo! We thought. Sounds like an answer to prayer already.

Later in the evening the couple came by again to meet us. And we found out it wasn't just another member of the church, but the pastor himself that lived next door! He and his wife were very friendly. They have two children - one a son the same age and grade as Benjamin. They proceeded to tell us of many others that lived in the neighborhood that attend the church.

They, also, talked about how they have prayed for the family who would live in this house. To know that just as we were praying for the Lord's guidance in the choosing of the house and a church that they were praying for us as well....now that's the Lord's doing! He truly does prepare the way for us.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Movie Review

Yesterday I took the boys to see Despicable Me (SHHH!! Don't tell Melissa!! She's in Natchez at pottery camp.) Very cute movie. We did not see the 3-D version....It wasn't offered at the theater we went to. Of which, I'm very fine with. I'm not sure the extra charge is worth all the hype.

One interesting thing about the movies here is the size of the theater.  We go to the one downtown in a relatively new shopping area called Louisiana Boardwalk. The theater offers fourteen screens. But each theater is small! As in small!

This was the second time we went to see a show at this facility. Our first was Karate Kid (also a cute show). With Karate Kid we walked into the show about ten or fifteen minutes before the show started and the room was full. We had to sit really close - like on the fourth  row  - craning our necks the whole time. But it was Fourth of July. A busy holiday....so no wonder it was full.

Yesterday it was a work day and it was still full.  And yes, we were craning our necks again on the third row. Can't imagine having to sit on the first row....would need a chiropractor after that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunday Morning

This past Sunday we attended church with my parents at their church. This was Mom's first time since her surgery and did really well. But we did have a few interesting items.

One: After the service as I was walking out the older couple behind us stopped to tell me, "Your children are beautiful." Oh...wow - thank you! So, nice. Then it got a little creepy.  "You did really well with that girl of yours  - her hair is beautiful."

Yes, it is. Melissa has some beautiful true strawberry blond hair. But to have a stranger - a man - at that to tell me my daughter has great hair just seems a little creepy. Maybe I'm a little overprotective and totally paranoid about perverts, but I just didn't like it.  Melissa told me that the man and his wife talked about her hair during the service - commenting on the color and how it was shiny.

Hello, people - we're in church. Focus!

Two:  Then there was the twenty-something guy that walked down the aisle drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette in the middle of the sermon. When he got in front of the preacher he just stopped, then the preacher said, "You can sit there. Can you put that out, please?" Then the young man threw the cigarette at the preacher and turned around and walked back up the aisle.  The preacher then asked for security to help the man out.  He end up being arrested. You can read the newspaper account here.

When the man walked down the aisle I actually thought it was apart of the sermon - a planned demonstration.  The preacher was preaching from Colossians 3 -leaving behind attitudes and behaviors that are accepted in the world, but against God. I kept expecting the preacher to some how use him as an  example. But instead he had a young boy come up to help him demonstrate. At the end he explained that the young man was NOT apart of him sermon and that it did seem he had some problems and to join  in prayer for him.

This man could have easily have had a gun instead of just a cup of coffee and a cigarette.  In the last few years there have been a few gunmen shooting people in churches - it could have easily been another tragedy.  Who knows why he did what he did. Maybe he didn't like being told that God doesn't like sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. (Col 3:5) But next time I hope he just walks out the door instead.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thoughts

During the two days I spent at the new house, I went through all the boxes out of storage that were delivered last week and I came to the conclusion that most can be given away. I mean - I have lived without this stuff for three years: Do I really need it??

After all, I have yet to use those crystal decanters we received for our wedding twenty years ago, so why do I still have them?  We don't like to keep alcohol out so what's the use of putting any we have in a decanter?

There were a few things that I remember asking for and getting...but some items were still in their original boxes. Obviously, I didn't really know what to do with them after I got them.

A large part of what I unpacked were memories those. So many keepsakes....the kids' baby clothes...blankets....items they made me. Of course, those won't be thrown out.  I set them aside to go through later when our life is normal again.

Some of the best parts of the day were seeing the kids' faces light up when they saw something they remembered from our former life.  The wonder in their eyes seemed like Christmas. Some items were so precious....I'm glad I still have all those little things I bought in Japan....brings back such good memories. 

And more importantly I fell in love with my house.  It's so different than what we had in Guam - or even in Maryland. But I think it's going to be perfect for us. We will have to get rid of some of our furniture. But as Drew said he bought the house for our life-style not for the furniture we have. We're really are looking forward to being settled in and able to have family and friends over.

Speaking of friends...we met two of our neighbors.  One was a family of four - the boy same age as Ben and will attend the local public school as well. It was refreshing and reassuring to hear how much they liked the school and neighborhood.  We also met an older lady that lives a few houses down. She was living in New Orleans, but made her way to north after Katrina.

I think life will be good there....as soon as the rest of our stuff arrives and we can actually live there...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Home

I didn't mean not to post for so long. Life is not that busy, so I guess it means that I'm that lazy!  I have been reading a lot - I'll try to post those on the book page. I've also been taking care of the parents. Mom is doing great! This new technique they used  has done amazing things! Here it is, just over two weeks past her new knee being put in and she is off her walker - and even her cane! She walks around with no pain.  She is still working on bending her knee to the fullest extent.  We think she has about three more week do physical therapy. This time around is just so much faster than the last one!

Drew drove over late Thursday night.  Friday after mom's PT session, we drove down to the Lake. We invited the parents to come along, but Mom didn't think she was ready for a two-hour car ride - and I'm sure she and dad were ready for some no-kid time.

I so understand.

On both counts.

The Lake was wonderful as always. Drew was able to catch up with family members as well as old friends. I have come to the conclusion that I really need to pay attention to every one's names...and remember them. Now that we'll be seeing them often instead of once every few years!  

On Saturday the Lake held it's annual Flotilla and fireworks - as always - so much fun.  The best part? Not nearly as hot as it has been for the last two years.   Saturday we have to drive three hours to pick up my mini-van. And back. But it was well worth it.  We knew what kind we wanted and it took my brother-in-law (who owns a car dealership) a few days to find one, but he did - we just had to go and get it. But like I said: well worth it.

So, since we did have a second car we packed up our things on Sunday and drove to our new house. I actually got to spend two nights in my new house before the kids and I returned to Mom's.

And more importantly -spent the night in my king-size sleigh bed that's been in storage for three years. With my favorite pillow. 

Ah....home. So nice.

I'm hoping to get to go back next week when (I hope and pray!) the rest of our possessions will arrive.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Get On Board!

I'm convinced that my kids are on the slow-side at times.....

Tonight after dinner I had the boys take out the garbage here at Mom's house. Afterward he looked at me and asked,"Why are we doing chores?!"

Like doing chores at his grandmother's house is beyond his comprehension.

I explained that we were here to help Grammie and Big Daddy - we help by doing a few chores.

"Oh, okay."

He's now on-board with the plan.

It's about time!