Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Best Present

It's disheartening to start off your Monday morning with the news that someone you knew and really liked died unexpectedly, but that's how my Monday started.  My oh-so-observant daughters noticed that I was not too cheerful that morning, so I told them simply that I was sad because someone that we knew in Oregon had died on Christmas Eve, and I knew how sad his family must be.  They agreed instantly that that was really sad, but just as quickly asked, "Did he love God?"  I answered, "Yes, he did", and their faces lit up with smiles.

Jaela:  "Oh, Mommy!  That is the best Christmas present EVER!"  
And Macey finished the thought:  "To get to die on Christmas Eve and see Jesus for Christmas!"

There was a short pause while we all thought about it for a minute, with smiles on our faces, and then:

Macey:  "Mommy, I think I'd like to die on Christmas morning, but I'd like to wait until I'm grown up first...because I really like the things I get in my stocking!"

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

Isaak's growing collection of little trucks, cars, airplanes, and helicopters is my spoonful of sugar that makes all that Pepto-Bismol-pink dancing around my house a little easier to swallow!  :)

Isaak loves his little Tonka trucks, and his sisters got him more for Christmas, so he got a play-rug with roads and constructions sites with his Christmas money from Great-Grandpa.  There's even a spot for his helicopters to land!

Pass the Pepto-Bismol!

The kids got Christmas money from my Grandpa, and it didn't take them long to figure out what they wanted to spend it on!  The girls chose pink dance skirts and pink tights, and had enough money left over to get pink leotards too.  That's a LOT of pink!  (Does anyone remember how I feel about pink?  Yeah, too much pink, and I get nauseated!)  

Jaela got Anya a play crown and jewelry set for Christmas, and Macey and Jaela decided they each wanted one too, so they spent some of their Birthday money and got themselves crown sets, too.  

Jaela got Macey a little wooden Nutcracker figurine for Christmas, and Jaela and Anya decided they each wanted one too, so they spent some of their piggy bank money and bought themselves little wooden Nutcracker figurines.  Isaak, not to be left out, decided (quite loudly) that HE should have one too, so his sisters pitched in and bought him one, too.  Now we're all set to dance The Nutcracker...ad nauseum!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Tennesee

The whispering upstairs started around 6:30 this morning, and I'll admit it, I couldn't stay in bed any longer either.  :)  So, I got up and lit the fireplace and turned on the Christmas tree lights, then told the girls they could come down, even though it wasn't 7:00 yet.  Isaak was happy to see me that early, too.  The girls were thrilled with the contents of their stockings, and Isaak was too, although he would have been content with just the animal crackers and goldfish that were in his.  :)
The girls happily took turns tearing into their packages, but Isaak, well, he wasn't really even interested!  He'd tear a little bit of paper when we told him to, but he'd wander away as soon as any part of the gift inside showed (with a few exceptions, of course!).  It was pretty amusing.  Eventually we got impatient waiting for him, and the girls "helped" him opened up the packages they had wrapped up for him.  Once the treasures inside were revealed, he got possessive very quickly!  Anya tried to play with him (with new little trucks on his new road carpet) and he'd shriek and grab away any truck she picked up.  I told him he had to share ONE with her, and for him to pick one for her to play with...one by one, he picked them up and generously gave them to her...ALL of them!  :)  

We had a turkey dinner, and Mark and Mary (our favorite neighbors) came over and shared it with us.  They brought gifts for each of the kids.  I opened one too, for all of us to share, and after they went home, we spent the rest of the afternoon watching Mary Poppins.  :)

Isaak went to bed an hour early, the girls went to bed on time, and I am going to bed early too!

Merry Christmas!  :)

3:06 am - Christmas Morning!

I told the girls last night that they couldn't come downstairs this morning until their clock said 7:00.

3:06 a.m.  Anya came into my room, whispering, "Mommy, is it after 7:00 yet?"

Do you remember that feeling?  :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

We're NOT Vegetarians

Jaela, Macey and Anya worked together and made dinner tonight (ok, I helped too).  They made their favorite Crunchy Chicken With Bones.  We were almost done eating when Anya asked:

A: (contemplating her almost-bare drumstick bone)  Mommy, what do they do with the blood?
Me:  What do you mean?
A: The people who sell the chickens to the store...do they squeeze the blood out first?
Me:  I don't know.  (I don't think I've ever thought about it!)  Maybe the blood just cooks with the meat.
J:  Yeah, I think that's what happens, because blood got into the milk when we were making it, so I know there was blood still in it.

About five minutes later, after Jaela and Macey had already left the table, Anya announced, "Mommy, another word for chicken-with-bones is drumsticks.  Well, some people call it that."

Yes, Anya, most people call them drumsticks...and I doubt that they wonder much about what happens to the blood.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Closet Space

After Isaak dumped the contents of my shoe rack onto the floor, I decided that maybe it was time to clean out my closet.  I've spent the last year (since we got home from Alabama) sorting, consolidating and re-organizing every closet and every room in the house, and I never even thought about tackling MY closet.

But this week, tackle it I did!  I made myself some mental guidelines and dove into the project.  I got rid of:
*anything that was stained, stretched out, or worn out
*styles that were too young 
*shirts that were low-necked, sheer, or not long enough
*things that just "weren't ME" (even if they WERE cashmere!)
*shoes that were uncomfortably tight (even if they WERE Clarks!)

I sorted through my bookshelves recently too, and got rid of a small pile of beloved books, the premise being that if I wouldn't allow my children to read them when they get older, then they have no business being on my shelves.  As a parent, I should lead by example!  That same idea contributed to my clothes-sorting guidelines.  

To begin with, we humans (especially we Americans) could get by with a lot less stuff.  (Time to clean OUT the closet, not just straighten it!)  We (our family) live on a comfortable income, and can afford to buy new clothes IF and when we really need them.  (Good-bye, stained, stretched out, worn out old t-shirts -- I can always wear one of Mike's t-shirts when I mow the lawn!)  I am 32 years old, and a mother of four.  (Isn't it time to dress my age?  Well, at least not wear clothes meant for teenagers...)  I am trying to teach my girls what is and what isn't modest, and good examples are hard to find.  (I shouldn't be able to point to my OWN closet for the bad examples!)  And yes, I am addicted to cashmere (anything cashmere!) and Clarks brand shoes, and I will freely admit it.  (But that doesn't mean I should wear unflattering colors or styles and walk around in too-tight shoes!)

Now to convince Isaak that my shoes and shoe rack are not toys...

25 Days of Christmas at Our House - Part 3


Day 20 - Where are the Christmas coasters?
(Ask Isaak...)

Day 21 - Christmas Cards

Day 22 - Our Advent Calendar
(We did it backwards this year so Anya could easily figure out how many days are left.)
Only 3 days left!

Day 23 - O Little Town of Bethlehem...and The Nutcracker!

Day 24 - Happy Christmas Eve!

Day 25 - Merry Christmas!
(Miry Crmesmes!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Adopt-A-Snowman


No, this isn't our snowman, but we want to adopt him!  Our weather in TN today was sunny, clear, and breezy, with a high of 68˚ -- I had the windows open!

The weather at Mom and Dad's though, was significantly less pleasant, and they've gotten about 8 inches of snow -- enough for my cousin, who is visiting, to make a snowman!  I think it's the cutest snowman I've ever seen.  When I showed this picture to the girls, they wanted to know who made it...

Me: My cousin made it.
Anya:  It's cute, Mommy!
Macey: How old is your cousin?
Me: Older than me :)
Jaela: Then why is he playing in the snow if he's a grown-up?
(They've obviously forgotten our last snowfall...)
Me: Maybe because he's still a little kid inside.
Jaela:  He's got a little KID inside him?!?!?

Don't we all?!?  :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fair Warning: Poetry Ahead!

You who know me well, know that I have not ever been a big fan of poetry.  (Shakespeare's plays don't count.)  :)

Maybe I just wasn't reading the right poetry.

Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God 
by John Donne 1573 - 1631  
Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you  
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;  
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend  
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.  
I, like an usurped town to another due,  
Labor to admit to you, but oh, to no end;  
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,  
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.  
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov├ęd fain  
But am betrothed unto your enemy;  
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;  
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,  
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,  
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The First Time

It happens all too frequently in this household.  I will give the girls instructions to do something, and more often than not, they will choose the most time consuming, difficult method to accomplish the task.  When I ask them afterward if there was another, easier way they could have done it, they usually say "Yes, but I didn't think of that at first!"  To which I respond, "Well, use your brain!"  For some reason, they think that is hilarious...

Tonight after dinner, I asked Macey to wash her hands and empty the dishwasher.  She responded that she had to go to the bathroom first, and then she would do it.  So, after her hands were washed and she had begun to empty the dishwasher, I asked if she had flushed the toilet and turned off the light.

Macey: "Oh, no!  I forgot!  But I'll go do it as soon as I finish emptying the dishwasher, so I don't have to wash my hands again and make more work for myself."  A pause...then, excitedly, "Mommy, this is the first time I am using my brain!"

Ah!  That explains a lot!  :)

25 Days of Christmas at Our House - Part 2


Day 13 - Candles, lots of candles.  Peppermint scented :)

Day 14 - More reading of Christmas books.

Day 15 - Packages on the front porch  :)


Day 17 - Watching The Nutcracker

Day 18 - Christmas Cards

Day 19 - Library Hour
(Everyone reading Christmas books - except Mommy...I got ESPN magazine!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Cheerful Heart is Good Medicine

Proverbs tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine.  Anya is proof!  :)  Throughout the entire yucky sickness experience, she has remained cheerful (unlike the rest of us!), and she seems to be bouncing back to normal faster than any of us.

When Anya got to the dry-heaving stage in the middle of the night last night, she asked why nothing was coming up.  I told her it was because she had already thrown up all she had in her tummy, and there was nothing left in there.  "Well," she said cheerfully, "nothing except bones and blood!"

I stand corrected.  :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Choosing Thankfulness Part 2

I guess I wasn't thankful enough on Tuesday.

This morning I was thankful that Isaak came and got in my lap before he got sick (AGAIN) and I only had to do laundry and take another shower instead of cleaning carpet and leather couches.  And I guess I can be thankful that I can put off facing the PX and commissary for a little while longer, too.  :)

This evening, I'm thankful for a good friend who is bringing me some groceries.

And once again, I'm thankful for flushable toilets.
I'm thankful for Lysol and paper towels.
I'm thankful for hot water and shampoo.
I'm thankful for Anya's cheerful spirit.
I'm thankful for Jaela and Macey's helpfulness.
I'm thankful for towels, buckets, and a four-year-old who knows how to use them.

Later in the evening:
I am also thankful for a seven-year-old who can run fast.
I am thankful for a surplus of buckets, blankets, and towels.
I am thankful to be prepared.

It's STILL all in the attitude!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Choosing Thankfulness

It is after 1:00 in the morning.

I am thankful for baby monitors.
I am thankful for that different sounding cry.
I am thankful for a 19 month old who STILL stays in his bed until we come get him.
I am thankful for a strong stomach.
I am thankful for a good hot water heater.
I am thankful for girls who are sound sleepers.
I am thankful for extra pajamas, mattress pads, sheets, and blankets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for my washing machine.

I am thankful for more extra sheets and blankets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for the stop and start option on my washing machine.

I am thankful for still more extra pajamas and sheets.
I am thankful for toilets that flush.
I am thankful for flower-scented hand soap.

It's all in the attitude.  

A Different Perspective

I love fall.  I love watching the leaves change colors, and I love how they blanket the ground as they fall.  But for me, there is always a growing sense of dread that comes along with the thrill of fall.  When fall is here, winter is just around the corner, and I am not a big fan of winter.  I don't like being cold, I don't like how dark it stays all day, and I don't like how black, bare and stark the tree branches look against the grey wintry sky.

But thanks to my cousin Jodie, I am looking at those bare trees from a different perspective these days.  She pointed out to me this fall that "those trees shade us in the summer, but drop all their leaves and give us glorious, happy light in the winter."

While I am busy complaining about the ugliness those fallen leaves have left us with, that beautiful, weak wintry light is shining right through those bare branches, since there are no leaves left to block its rays.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Imitator

Isaak likes to set the table, because that's what he sees the rest of us do.  When the girls sit down at the school table to do schoolwork, Isaak climbs up into a chair and sits down to color.  If someone is reading a book, he goes and gets one of his books to look at.  Last week, he opened the door to the garage, just like everyone else is capable of doing.  He's seen us go down the stairs sliding our hands along the banister, so when he scoots down the stairs (backwards), he slides his hand along the baseboard, just like the people he admires most!

As I watched him navigate down the stairs the other day, Ephesians 5:1 popped into my head.  (OK, the verse popped into my head; I had to go look up the reference!)  "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children."  

Isaak is always watching us, the big people in his life.  He sees how we do things, and how we say things.  He is learning from our examples!  How much more should we, then, be imitating God!

Isaak has learned so much already from us, and now I am learning from his example.  Imitating God is not a once-in-a-while deal, or a when-I-feel-like-it kind of thing.  It is a watch-Him-constantly and always-do-our-best-to-copy-Him in every area of our lives kind of thing!

And it's so simple, a 19 month old can do it!  :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Through a Child's Eyes

"Mommy, look!  Even the grass is decorated for Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Heroes...


(click on the picture to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Days of Christmas at Our House

I am borrowing an idea from a stranger.  :)  

Her version: post one picture a day (and link to her blog, for all the world to see) of what Christmas looks like at your house, from now until Christmas.  My version:  This will be the only post I do (and you're the only ones who will see it), but I will come back and add a picture every day, because I really like the idea of chronicling pieces of Christmas at our house...in pictures.  :)

Because I REALLY like taking pictures!  :)

Day 1 - Decorating the Tree

Day 2 - Baby-friendly Nativity 
(because Baby Jesus should NOT be off-limits!)

Day 3 - Stockings and a Decorated Mantel
(because candles SHOULD be off-limits!)  :)

Day 4 - Elfie 
(He hides somewhere new every day.)
Click here for the story behind Elfie

Day 5 - Christmas Scenes by Macey
(started showing up on all of my walls after the tree was decorated...even in closets!)



Day 7 - Imaginations at Work
(Isaak took the picture...don't ask!)  :)

Day 8 - Christmas in the Dollhouse

Day 9 - Playing with Food
(frowned upon, but when I saw what Macey had done, I HAD to take a picture)
The mini-bread became a manger, turkey and cheese became Baby Jesus and a blanket, and two carrots became Joseph and Mary (who is wrapped in a cheese robe).

Day 10 - Nativity Tree
(decorated this year by Anya)

Day 11 - "Snuggy" Christmas blankets
(Perfect to share when you're ALL sick!)

Day 12 - Reading Christmas books

Beautiful Music

Listen to the beautiful music I heard coming from the girls' room tonight:

"The glory of the Lord shone bright around him [Moses], and the Lord said, 'I am God and I am a merciful God, gracious and slow to anger, and filled with a steadfast love.  Yet those who have sinned shall suffer for it, and their sins shall be visited upon the generations.  Behold!  I will make a covenant with you today.  Obey me and you shall see the work that God will do for Israel.  Other nations will be driven before you and you shall possess the land of Canaan.  You shall break down the altars of the Canaanites and destroy the idols of all other peoples who worship false gods!  You shall win a great and terrible victory, if only you are faithful to me.  Now, write down my laws once more, and keep them as I intend!'  So Moses wrote down the Ten Commandments again, and brought them to his people."

(Jaela was reading aloud to Anya from one of their Bible Storybooks.  The only word she stumbled over was "Commandments"!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

O, Christmas Tree!

The day after Thanksgiving, the girls talked me into getting out the Christmas stuff a little earlier than usual.  We set up our nativity sets, hung up the stockings and decorated everything except for the tree (because we didn't have one!).  

We usually get a live tree, and then Mike takes care of everything -- he trims the trunk, gets the tree level in the stand, cuts any stray branches, fills the stand with water, puts on the lights... I wasn't looking forward to doing all that in addition to finding, bringing home, and wrestling with a live tree this year on my own, with four kids in tow.  

OK, I was dreading it!  

Have I mentioned how much we LOVE our neighbors?  :)  They called last week and offered me one of their artificial trees.  I was seriously considering having the kids make a tree out of their handprints cut out of green construction paper, so I think it is fair to say that Mark and Mary might have just saved our Christmas!  Well, maybe not our whole Christmas, but at the very least they saved our tradition of decorating the tree!

While the kids finished eating lunch, I set up the tree.  During nap time I put the lights on (I have gained a new appreciation for Mike doing it every year!), and I had enough time to put up some lighted garlands on the front porch, too.  After the girls got up, we put the ornaments on the tree while Isaak finished his nap.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey see, Monkey do, Monkey get in trouble too!  At least that's what his shirt said today...

At lunchtime today, I told the kids I was going downstairs to make lunch, and as usual, Isaak dropped what he was doing and followed me down.  While I got lunch together, Isaak got plates out of the cupboard and lined them up on the counter.  I stopped him after he'd gotten four out, and showed him that there was one for Jaela, one for Macey, one for Anya, and one for Isaak, and that he really didn't need to get any more out.  (He usually gets every plate in the cupboard out no matter what I tell him, but for once he actually stopped!)  After I pointed out that there was a plate for each of them, Isaak stood for a moment looking from me to the table.  Then he started making trips back and forth.

A plate for Anya, a plate for Jaela, a plate for Isaak, a plate for Macey.  Each time, I would see a plate pop up over the edge of the table, tilt until it was flat on the table, then finally a little hand would appear as it released the plate, all four fingers stuck straight up in the air.  He was SO proud of himself!  


I gave him the forks to put around, too, then put him in his chair as his sisters came to the table.  "Isaak did all of these?!?"  Isaak answered for himself, with a big grin and more of those emphatic head nods.  

Monkey see, Monkey do...but the rest doesn't always follow!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am Thankful

I am thankful that when things happen that we don't expect, God is faithful in ways that we don't expect.

And I'm thankful that we can't see what's coming, either.

God is good!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seatbelt Check...for Eternity

I thought that I was just making sure that everyone had their seat belts on correctly after we left the re-cycle place today.  Instead, it was the beginning of a very interesting discussion on death, heaven, and worship.  It was a very long conversation, but here are some quick highlights:

Macey:  I hope I get to die when I'm still a kid, because I really want to go to heaven and see Jesus and God.

Jaela: When I die and go to heaven, I might be shy of Jesus.

Anya:  I just want to go to heaven and see what the angels look like!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Am I Cheap, or Just Lazy?

I am feeling just a LITTLE proud of myself!  During naptime today, I cut my own hair!

Before

After

I hate going to get my hair cut.  I hate spending the money, and I hate figuring out what to do with the kids while I'm getting it cut.  So, I have been planning this "do-it-myself" experiment  for a while, but I waited until after Mike left.  That way, if I made too much of a mess of it, at least he wouldn't have to look at it!  :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Repetition, Repetition

We begin every school day (except for Tuesdays, since we leave the house between 7:30 and 8:00 for CHET) with the Pledge of Allegiance.  Our address and phone numbers, how to dial 911, and all the memory verses we've worked on as well as the current one are all posted on the bulletin board above our school-table for easy reference.  After the Pledge of Allegiance, we review our address and phone numbers, and our memory verse for the week.  About once a week, we also review how and when to dial 911.

Our memory verses (in the NIV) this year are ABC verses.  Each week's verse starts with the next letter of the alphabet.  (A:  All Scripture is God-breathed...  B:  Blessed are the...  C:  Children, obey your parents...  and so on.)  Most of the verses were chosen for their, um, instructive nature, and as I have mentioned in an earlier post, they're not only instructive for the kids;  I need them too!  :)

Inspiration and Motivation

The kids and I spent the day cleaning and sorting.  We got their room completely done, and my schoolroom closet sorted through and re-arranged.  My task tonight is to plan out the rest of our school week, and since I would much rather sort through another closet instead, I am posting this quote from Charlotte Mason, hoping that re-reading it will motivate me to do what I OUGHT to do before I do what I WANT to do.  :)

Charlotte Mason wrote:

It is something to know what to do with ourselves when we are beset, and the knowledge of this way of the will is so far the secret of a happy life, that it is well worth imparting to the children. Are you cross? Change your thoughts. Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts. Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts; there is a power within you, your own will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right. And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields––he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief.

(I guess that means that for me, sorting a closet is mischief!!!)  :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Little Yes Man

Isaak has been very agreeable these last few weeks.  At first, if you asked him a question, and the answer was yes, he would simply say "Huh-uh" (which, by the sound alone would mean "No", unless you knew better).  We worked with him a little, and "Huh-uh" was at least combined with emphatic head nodding.  A few days ago, he was down to simple emphatic head nods, with only the occasional verbal accompaniment, and today he FINALLY figured out what we were talking about all these weeks and added an "Uh-HUH!" to his emphatic head nods.

Some examples:
Me: Isaak, do you want breakfast?  (Big nods.)
Me: Isaak, would you like some milk?  (Big nods.)
Me: Isaak, are you cute?  (Big nods.)
Me: Isaak, can you please go put that (thing you're not supposed to be playing with) back where you found it?  (Isaak just looks at me.)
Me: Isaak, are you ready to go back inside now?  (Isaak runs in the other direction.)

You get the idea.

Today, sitting on the couch watching football and eating the last animal crackers:
Me: Isaak, does it taste better if you stick your animal cracker in between your toes before you eat it?  (Isaak looks down at his feet and animal cracker, looks up at me and grins...and gives me a really BIG nod.)  :)










Ewww.

The Adventure Begins

October 15, 2005  -- it was a warm, beautiful blue-skyed day, and it was awful!  We had gone out to eat the night before, and everyone but me got food poisoning.  Mike spent the whole night fighting nausea, while all three of the girls...well, they didn't fight it.  I got very little sleep that night, between cleaning up after the girls and finishing the packing Mike felt too sick to do himself.  In the morning, we took Mike to a gym on Fort Campbell, and the girls laid like rag- dolls on the grass outside while Mike finished all the final deployment paperwork.  We waited around for hours, first outside, then sitting on bleachers inside.  There were thousands of people milling around, and then finally the speeches started.  They went on and on and on...through lunch-time, then through nap-time...  Then there was the final formation, with Mike lost amid the thousands of soldiers all standing in long, neat lines and rows.  They filed onto buses as we watched, and then drove away.  By the time we got back to our car, I was crying so hard I couldn't see to put on the girls' seatbelts.  Yeah, it was horrible.

Before that first deployment, I was emotional for weeks in advance.  I had lists of all the things that had to be done before Mike left, and he had to teach me important things like how to work the lawn mower, how to use the gas grill, how to edge the lawn, when to change the air filters and how to start the gas fireplace.  I had to go to FRG (Family Readiness Group) meetings, and fill out (in triplicate!) a stack of paperwork which I affectionately call "Death paperwork".  (Form after form full of information on me, my mental and medical history, my closest friends and family, and who I'd want with me in an emergency...)  I was overwhelmed, and I cried a lot.

Fast forward three years to November 23, 2008.

We went to a different restaurant this time, and no one got sick.  I didn't make any lists, and Mike packed all of his own stuff.  He asked me if I plan to re-seed the lawn this spring, told me which tool to use when I'm ready to prep the bathtub to re-caulk it, and he wanted to teach me how to use his chop saw so I can cut up his pile of scrap wood, but I declined.  :)  I haven't been to an FRG meeting since 2005.  I'm kind of off the FRG radar, and happy to be!  (Mike has been borrowed and loaned back and forth so often these last few months between companies that I'm not on any company's FRG list.)  I didn't have to fill out any paperwork, either!

I never really had time or opportunity to count how many weeks or days were left before he left, either.  First they told us he would be leaving just before Christmas.  Then it was December 12.  No, wait, make that December 6.  The next day it changed to November 24.  A week later, it became November 21.  Until the Tuesday before, when it got switched to November 23.  We got the call in the afternoon of the 21st with the final drop-off time for Sunday...0130.  (For you non-military people, that's 1:30...in the morning.)  Never a dull moment in the Army!

Mike spent most of Saturday packing, and we put the kids to bed as usual, then woke everyone up after midnight and loaded up the van.  We got to the airfield half an hour early, but things were already in motion.  Mike dropped off his bags, and we found a parking space.  Everyone got out of the van (bundled up in our warmest jammies and a coat), we had someone take a picture of the six of us freezing together, then everyone gave Daddy a hug and got back in the nice warm van.  We said goodbye, and headed home!  No one even cried!  (Well, no one except for Isaak.  He didn't want to get back in his carseat quite yet.  He was ready to go exploring!)  That was it...short, simple and uncomplicated.  (Update:  Mike called this afternoon from Anchorage, AK.  There WAS a send-off ceremony after all...2 1/2 hours after we left!  Sure glad we didn't stick around for that!)

I've done a lot of thinking during these past few weeks about the differences I am seeing in myself and in our family this time around.  This community, being so close to an Army base, is extremely supportive of our soldiers and their families.  Our own community, by which I mean our neighbors, friends, and church family, is even more specific in their support of our soldier and our family.  It is wonderful to have their support, but we had their support during the last deployment too.  Nothing has changed there.  Mike went to Iraq last time and was assigned to a huge post, we emailed and IMed almost daily, and he came home early for training.  This time, he'll be in Afghanistan on a small airbase, we have no idea what the communication network will be like, and he will most likely be gone for just over a year.  Everything has changed this time.  Most importantly, my attitude has changed.

My Father is in charge.  It's that simple.  God IS in control!  There is nothing that I can change or prevent by worrying, or crying, or by making lists.  :)  We have known since Mike got home from Iraq that he would be leaving this winter for Afghanistan, so I have had over two years to work on changing my attitude.  Yesterday was the test.  I was completely taken by surprise by my emotional breakdown at the send-off last time, so I wondered all this week when the storm would hit.  At what point during this send-off would I break down and cry uncontrollably?  How badly was I about to embarrass myself?  :)  

The storm never broke.  I sent my husband, my best friend, off to war proudly and with a smile on my face, and with only a slight tremble in my voice.  :)  My Father IS in charge.  My heart IS at peace.  How simple!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Daddy and Isaak

That dripping sound you heard this morning?  Yeah, that was the sound of my heart melting!  :)

Counting the Days

Christmas is coming!  One of our neighbors is out putting up his Christmas decorations this morning, so the girls have been discussing putting up Christmas decorations in their dollhouse, and wondering where they're going to find a Christmas tree the right size.  :)  When I hear "Christmas is coming!", the first song that pops into my head is this one, and I think it is especially appropriate this year, considering the state of the economy:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please to put a penny in an old man's hat
Please to put a penny in an old man's hat

If you have no penny, a ha'penny will do
And if you have no ha'penny, then God bless you!
If you have no ha'penny, then God bless you!

Christmas IS coming, but we don't start counting the days until at LEAST December 1st!  And speaking of counting the days...

Mike was scheduled to leave for Afghanistan tomorrow, the 21st, but as is typical of the Army, he is now scheduled to leave on Sunday, the 23rd.  So, as Jaela pointed out to me again this morning, we still have three days before Daddy leaves!  

Unless, of course, his departure gets rescheduled again!  :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Tuesmonday

I know, I know, today is Tuesday, but it sure FELT like a Monday to me!

The first class at CHET starts at 9:00 am.  I usually try to be there by 8:30 so I have time to make my copies for both classes (1st and 2nd grade Spanish) and drop Isaak off at his "class", with plenty of time to ease him into it.  (Nothing against Ms. Jodi, his teacher, but Isaak does NOT like his CHET class...yet!  He usually goes into the church nursery just fine, but he's still adjusting to this CHET business.  But I digress...)

So, CHET starts at 9.  We have a 30 minute drive, so I figured that if we left by 7:45ish or 8, we'd be ok.  With that in mind, I got up at 7, showered, and dressed.  Yes, we CAN leave the house in an hour!  Just not today...

We were out of granola bars (our standard "in-a-hurry" breakfast staple) and out of Cheerios, so we all had granola.  By the time the kids finished their small bowls of granola, I had eaten and made sandwiches and lunches for all five of us.  I changed and dressed Isaak while the girls brushed their teeth and hair, then we all got socks and shoes on (and that's 4 cowgirl boots pulled on, and 6 shoelaces I tied in case you're interested!).  Then coats, and a hat for Isaak, two trips to the van with bags and a boy...and my windshield was frosted over.  We sat in the sun for a minute to let it melt, and pulled out of the driveway at 8:20.  Ok, not exactly on time, but it was workable.

Until I got to the road that goes past our neighborhood.  

Our neighborhood is about a quarter mile off of the highway, and there is an elementary school about a quarter of a mile down the road from us.  It's a two lane road, and from 8:00 to about 8:45, the "I-just-dropped-my-kid-off traffic is backed up from the stop sign to the school.  (Sigh, fidget, fidget.  I HATE being late!)

Six minutes later we were on our way.  The interstate was relatively clear and we made good time (NOT speeding!), and we were going to have about 6 minutes to get into the building, make my copies, and drop Isaak off.  Still not a best-case scenario, but doable.

Until I got off at the exit.

A semi-truck had started through the intersection and broke down in the middle, blocking all but ONE lane of a four lane intersection.  So I went south instead of north until I could turn around and go back through that ONE lane he'd left open.  I was still hopeful, though.  If the elevator was ready, and if I didn't make my copies before my first class and just dropped Isaak off over the gate instead of going in with him, we might make it.

There was a geography fair set up on tables in the hallway to the elevator, and we had to wait for the elevator to come back down.  I didn't make my copies, and when I left Isaak he was still inhaling for a gigantic "I-can't-believe-you're-leaving-me-here-with-these-people-again" scream.  I was two minutes late.  And my coffee was cold.

In two hours, I said "Put your candy/toy/shell away" three times.  I said "Put your candy/shell away AGAIN" twice.  I said "Shhh!  Just raise your hand, don't shriek at me!" at least six times.  I said "Sit back down" four times.  Once I said "We don't have show and tell in Spanish class unless you can do it in Spanish.  Do you mind if I finish reading our book now?"  (Sarcasm is lost on 6-year-olds, I'm afraid!)  I said "We're not READING a book about Obama right now, and he's not from Peru anyway, so please save your comments for later" only once.  :)  One of my 2nd graders accidentally knocked his chair over twice, and another (my special needs girl) fell asleep.  (She later apologized very sweetly.)  :)  FINALLY, after two very long hours, dragging a rolling suitcase full of my CHET supplies and a huge garbage sack full of hand-me-down clothes for Isaak, we left the building.

But not before Isaak pushed the "call for help" button in the elevator.  (And, yes, I AM laughing NOW!)

We ate lunch in the car, then I drove for an hour to Fort Campbell to go to the commissary, with one eye on my gas gauge to see if we were going to make it (gas is WAY cheaper on post!).  We made it, but as I was pulling up to the gate, I realized that my military ID was not in my wallet.  My military ID is ALWAYS in my wallet.  I need it for EVERYTHING -- to get on post, to buy anything on post, to go to the doctor...  They turned me around at the gate, and I sat in a parking lot going through my wallet and my pockets.  I remembered sticking it in my pocket when Mike and I went out the other night (not there), and then when we got home, I stuck it in the diaper bag (not in that pocket), but I remember thinking that I probably wouldn't think to look...ah ha!  Finally.

They let me on post :).  I got gas.  ($1.73/gallon -- you can hate me later!)  I got groceries (and really great deals on green beans and a bag of bruised pears).  Things were looking up!  :)

While I was arranging the groceries in the van, I broke a fingernail off so low that it bled.  Isaak threw up in his carseat on the way home.  Anya spilled chocolate milk in hers.  Jaela pointed out when we got home that Daddy leaves for Afghanistan in three days.  Anya spilled her milk at dinner, too.

My portion.  My cup.  My lot is secure.  My heart can be at peace.  My Father is in charge.  How simple!

Ah, life is GOOD!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shenanigans

The girls had a really hard time calming down enough to get ready for bed this evening.  They were very helpful and obedient while they were working with and near me in the kitchen and dining room cleaning up after dinner, but once I sent them upstairs to get ready for bed...it was "let the wild rumpus start!"  

On the other hand, at least they were including their little brother in their shenanigans and no one felt left out!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

She Can Read!

Oh my.  She's only four years old.  And she's beginning to read on her own.  She has some words she recognizes instantly (remember Made In China?) and the rest she sounds out.  She came into the office to read this page to me a few minutes ago, and prefaced it with, "Mommy, don't tell me what the words are, I want to read them myself."  And she did.

Oh my.  I'd better rethink her Kindergarten curriculum!