Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

1. It's safely made its way into the 90 degree mark every day now.. nothing better than the pool and 90 degrees. I love summer.

2. We have spent almost every day in the water since school got out last week. Yes, we do wear sunscreen. We just live outside in the summer. If we could live at the beach, we would be there.

3. Sunday, Drew did a running jump off the side of the pool sans puddle jumper into three feet of water. All four adults were watching from the lounge chairs. It happens at least one time a summer with at least one kid. Here's hoping its over for the year.

4. Swimming lessons, round four, are scheduled for end of June. The girls are pretty good swimmers. Will needs some improvement. Drew still scares the crap out of me without the puddle jumper.

5. Daddy arrived on Friday. Will wakes up every morning with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face looking for him.

6. I'm trying really, really hard not to think about how hard Sunday will be for him..

7. Will is finally going horseback riding this week. It is finally warm enough. We finally found a place that does not require lessons.

8. Expecting the begging for lessons to begin upon his return. Along with the request for his own horse..

9. Drew is still chugging along at the potty. He is also still asking for skittles after every trip. Instead of pampers I may always have to purchase skittles now.

10. We are huge Duck Dynasty watchers. I started watching and got Jason hooked. Exactly the opposite of how odd television shows usually happens. Jason on one of his TDY stays started watching the RH series.. I still watch. He quit the train wreck long ago. Anyways, back to the ducks. Jason now talks like Phil. Not kidding. Kinda creepy. Thank goodness for military regs on the razor!!

giddy up

Will has been dreaming of this day forever. Finally the weather has been warm enough and he was able to go!

HORSE BACK RIDING!! He was in love! With the horse and riding! Jason took him and he loved it! He of course can't wait to go again! He was a real cowboy!! (and yes, I used a lot of exclamation points. Total excitement around here!!)

Change the World

So proud of this ballerina and her third year of dance. She was a pro this year. Excited, calm and not a tear anywhere. Next year she will have three dances!! She can't wait!

This picture makes me laugh. This is going into the VBC at 9AM for A's morning recital. We didn't leave that day until 3PM, after B's afternoon recital. It was a looooooong day. We even ate lunch there.. with the two little brothers. Who were troopers. Maybe. Or monkeys. Bella did not arrive ready and she wasn't happy about not wearing her stage face. It was just too long to sit in all that hairspray and makeup. Mascara and eyeliner are not a seven year old's friend. It was 90 degrees that day and it was HOT. This picture makes me laugh though because Amelia face is heavy outside and onstage, it was perfect.
And Miss Bella.. this is her 5th year of dance.
This year I honestly watched her with tears in my eyes. Last year was miserable for both of us. I wasn't quite sure she would ever get on stage again. I wasn't sure she would ever love dance again. I struggled week after week to convince her to go. She begged me to let her quit. This from a child that used to want to dance every.single.day. I convinced her to try again. Just give me one more year. This year, I watched her confidence soar because of her teachers. They were amazing and really made all the difference in her experience and outlook. I watched my child's love for dance come back a little week after week.
At recital she was ready and she delivered. I am so proud of this girl.

Singing In The Rain, not the best picture but the only one in her tap costume. We had a quick change this year, only six dances total in between dances. So fast that Bella doubled her tights. She wore the tan under the pink. She wasn't so excited about this at first until I told her I used to do this when I danced. Still not convinced. Then Mrs. Scarlett talked to her, she was sold of course :) She loves that Mrs. Scarlett..so thankful for the positive influences my girls have in their lives!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

last day of school..

first day of school..

last day of school..

It always amazes me looking at pictures of the first and last day of school, side by side. The kids grow and change so much over the year but to see it side by side, wow. We had a great year of preschool and Bella had a fantastic year of first grade. We were blessed again with wonderful, loving teachers. I couldn't have asked for better teachers for any of my children. They loved them, taught them and invested in their education and their futures. I am so thankful and so grateful that we live in the district that we do, that we attend the schools that we do and that we continue to have the amazing teachers that we do. We are so fortunate because all of our teachers have been wonderful and it truly has been a blessing..

The girls are already asking me who we have next year. We have been out of school 24 hours. Bella has been praying about her teacher since August. It's like the #1 draft pick of second grade teachers. There is no second best.. she has had her eye on the prize since the second week of school. We have had many long discussions about God's plan for each of us. I have told her that sometimes God's plan may not mach Isabella's plan or Mama's plan. Isabella's response to this is simple: You tell me that if I am ever concerned or worried or need reassurance, I should just pray and God will hear my prayers. "Pray without ceasing Mama" that's what you tell me. aye, aye, aye..not quite sure how this is going to turn out but right now I too am praying my little heart out..

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ten things I'll miss about them on Tuesday

1. You can't sing Miss Erin but you sure are pretty.

2. Can you hear me whistling at you Miss Erin? My dad says you whistle at a pretty girl when you see one.

3. What is your middle name? Baker. Baker? I thought it would be Alexandra or Ariel or maybe Belle. Not Baker.

4. I do not love your Christmas present Miss Erin. I wanted to get you a pink princess gown. My mama made me buy you a plate. You're not gonna love a plate!

5. Why don't you have any animals at your house? Everyone needs kids and animals. I don't think your house sounds like fun anymore. I don't want to live there.

6. Look Miss Erin, this baby is coming out of my armpit!!

Hello!? Have I not been saying this all along people?! One day..just wait..

7. I brought a cake pop today Miss Erin. Did you bring me one too? No but I still love you. But I'm not sharing my cake pop.

8. Are you bringing in cupcakes for your birthday too Miss Erin? That's a lot of candles on a cupcake!

9. Your hair is curly and crunchy Miss Erin. And your face feels like lotion. I love crunchy, curly hair.

10. It's summer now. What will you do? Where will you go?

Monday, May 21, 2012

PreK graduation

Well, today was the day. We are officially on our way to big school. We will have half the kids in big school next year and half in preschool. This really was it though, potentially we could move them all out the door 1,2,3 after today if I wanted to. I don't think I will but I could..

I am so proud of Amelia. I am proud of all the kids but Amelia always amazes me with her patience and generosity towards others. I guess that's what you learn from being stuck in the middle all of the time. I love this kid and know that she will go far and do great things.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ten on Tuesday

1. Yes, I'm back. I'm trying not to make a big deal about it. Thanks to those of you that stuck out my absence. Your patience, errr persistent emails, finally got through to me.

2. I'm not sure how much time I'll have for blogging but it was nice to be missed. I promise to do my best.

3. I'm still running. KHorstman has pushed me to three miles in 29:38. I'm not going to win an Olympic medal here but I'm just happy to still have lungs and legs, here people.

4. If you're curious an actual grandmother, my friend Ute, would literally kill me in a road race. I'm talking an actual slaughter with a defribrilator. Good thing I don't care about grandmothers beating me these days. Even better we aren't racing.

5. Four days of school left. Woohoo. Let's revisit the woohoo around the end of July..

6. Thanks to political wonders that be, we have now increased summer by an additional three weeks. I love when a good idea for one area gets to affect us all.. Tricare anyone?

7. Will recieved an all clear from the ENT last week. We found out at his visit lab results came back that he had strep throat the day of his surgery. Of course...

8. All signs of baby have finally left my house. I'm trying not to be sad about it. Diapers left Monday and the crib came out Saturday.. Only big people live here now.. trust me they let me in case I get confused.

9. Our Sammy graduates Tuesday. I'm pretty sad that she will be leaving at the end of summer for college. Jason tells me she is only 1.5 hours away but we see her a lot and we love her. We're going to miss her.

10. The pool is open! The pool is open! we haven't been to our own yet but it's open. We're too busy swimming at Nene's and our friends.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I hope that all the mamas out there had a Happy Mother's Day. Being a mama is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had. But there isn't another job I would rather be doing.

I am so thankful to be their mama.. they are a blessing every day.

meeting bubba gump..

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Phillipians 1:3

Seven years ago we became eligible to PCS.. If you are in the military you know that a PCS is a major pain in the butt and selecting your choice of assignments is a migraine waiting to happen. Considering we were leaving the armpit of America and I had begged, literally begged for a year and a half to leave, I didn't really care where we were going. Anywhere was better than where we were.

I had a few requests and they had to be met. They must be met.

- The town must be more up to date than 1989. I know that makes me sounds like a snot box, whatever. I came from the big city, that I loved and moved to 1989. I could settle for around 2002.. but we had to surpass the 1990s.

- We had to have a Target and a Gap. If we had nothing else, I could survive with those two stores alone to shop in and order everything else online. Nothing but walmart but 18 months nearly killed me.. Driving 90 minutes to Target? For the birds.

- No snow. I had decided that I liked southern weather and was done with the cold.

- No tornados. Spending the night before I had Bella and a few other run ins with the sirens was enough for me. We'll revisit this later..

We studied and studied, the available jobs and "the list". I was in the States, Jason from Iraq. We finally narrowed it down and made our selections. Fort Campbell, Fort Benning, Fort Campbell again and Fort Bragg.

We waited anxiously to find out where we would move next. I was so excited I couldn't stand it.
Jason checked his email over and over again waiting for the assignment to come through. It didn't. One day his telephone rang, it was the assignments officer. "What do you think about Alabama? To an aviation unit?" What.the.crap. Jason is not even a pilot. We wanted to go to Alabama about as much as we wanted to stay in Arkansas.

The Army clearly doesn't like us although I have serious doubts that they like anyone..

I remember sending out the first email to my friends letting them know I was moving to Alabama. Roll Tide. War Eagle. What in the world did that mean? Blissful ignorance in those days let me tell you. You're going to go live with Forrest Gump. Oh dear Lord.. Are you going to come back here with an accent? I doubt it..

We arrived at the end of May, I was pregnant with baby number two and sweating out of my own skin. Seriously, the humidity somedays reached 90%. Ninety percent. And the allergies. They call this death valley and they aren't kidding.. there are months I can't even breathe through my nose. Jason left four months after we arrived and I raised two babies in a place that I could honestly have taken or left. No sign of snow though and still no sign of Forrest Gump.

Jason's first boss's wife was a lovely lady who continuously went out of her way to make me feel welcome and accepted and loved by all things Army. The life of a typical army wife is just not my style, I am up to my eyeballs in preschoolers.. And I get hives at the thought of meeting new people. You can believe me or not, it is true. Still, Lydia was persistent and continued time and again to ask us to visit their church. I always smiled and said I am sure it is lovely place but we aren't looking. She kept asking. I kept saying no thank you.

When Will and Amelia were both babies, I enrolled Bella in a gymnastics class. She went once a week and loved it. After much discussion, Jason and I decided that she would benefit from starting preschool also. I asked a few ladies at gymnastics for recommendations for school. And what did they say.. Lydia's church. That I had politely and persistently declined to attend. It was as if God was speaking to me.. We visited. We visited again. I never felt unwelcome because I wasn't Baptist. For 1.5 years we visited that church before joining. I needed to know in my heart that it is where I belonged. Without a doubt. I needed to know it was my church home.

A month ago, Will had his tonsils removed. We were in the hospital for 9 hours the first day. Our pastor and my friend sat with me during the surgery. I received texts and phone calls to check on us throughout the day. Friends spent the night with us the first two nights we were home. When we went back to through the ER because of complications, I was met there by my friend and our Pastor. Visitors came every day to sit with us, visit with us, bring us food. Text messages, telephone calls and emails. Food to the house. God speaking to my heart.. this is where you belong. This is why you are here. I never would have gotten through that week without so many of you..I never would have survived that in DC. It never would have been like that anywhere else. I know that.

There are days when I question the decision that Jason and I made.. to split up our family. There are specific reasons behind our decision. Medical reasons particularly. Two kids with asthma that are in and out of the ER, with no family near us again. It was hard. We know we made the right decision but still, I somedays have my doubts. The day of Will's surgery, we found out that Jason will be deploying for the fifth time. I heard God speaking to my heart again. This is where I wanted you to be..this is your home.

There are days that are longer than others. The road is often more uphill than down. And that's okay. While sometimes I think an easier path would be nice, I know that it doesn't do anything to build character. It doesn't do anything to teach us about ourselves. We learn about who we are and how to survive when we are faced with difficult situations. I don't know everything but I know this, we are survivors.

We have been here six years now and I am so thankful for my home state. I even converted my drivers license and residency two years ago. Huge for me because I still claimed Ohio even though we left years ago. It was huge. It was me finally admitting that we would never go back like I had always thought and hoped. It is okay. I am at peace with it. It is better this way. If you ask my kids where they are from, they say Alabama. They have even on occasion said War Eagle and Roll Tide. I try not to throw up when I hear it. We are Buckeyes, driver's license or not. I hear them speak and smile. I don't care who you are, there is nothing better than a southern accent. Especially on a toddler child. It literally makes my heart smile. Last year I saw my Ohio friends for a girls weekend, I hadn't seen them in a year. We went to Nashville so I'm going to blame the fact that we were still in the south but they said "do you hear your accent?! I love it!" I most certainly did not. But oh well..I'm surrounded by it so I suppose it is only a matter of time. I think of my pastor and what he says, "I'm not from Alabama but I got here as fast as I could." I think we'll stay awhile..I'm still looking for Forrest Gump after all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Easter pictures - finally

On why a big butt is important..

We are not a very modest household. It is something that actually surprises me because I am a modest person in general. I don't like anyone looking at me. I don't like anyone changing in front of me. Locker rooms? Appalling. Breast feeding? Not my thing, I did it in the bathroom under a sheet. I remember when I was a nanny in college and I would do overnights for a long weekend.. I would shower, get dressed and then sit in the bathtub to shave my legs. I would say please behave for 5 minutes and lock the door and they would beat on it and scream the entire time. Then came my own kids, and they just barge in and privacy in the shower is a thing of the past. I'm lucky to go to the bathroom alone. Ever.

Which brings me to last Saturday. I'm getting dressed to go swimming and the girls are in there with me. They are giggling. Really giggling. I ask them what is so funny. Bella doesn't want to tell me. I finally tell her I know she is laughing at me, so they better just tell me. She sighs. She doesn't want to hurt my feelings she says. She loves me, I I am beautiful. But she and Amelia think I have a big butt. A jiggly butt. The jiggly is making them giggly. Literally that's what she tells me.

I can't help but laugh at this when they tell me. I know that it is probably not the best reaction to have, they just told me I have a big butt after all. Now, before you come at me guns blazing, I know my butt is not that big. It could be smaller of course. It once was in fact much, much smaller. Shocking probably to those of you that know me now. Shocking even more that to hear someone tell me, even a 7 year old, I have a big butt doesnt bother me now. Previously it would make me actually feel bad about the size of said behind. Now? Ehhh, who cares. This butt, so to speak, has grown and given birth to four children. Lucky that I love them more than I love weighing 110 pounds with rock hard abs.. and hours in the gym every day.

Not everyone is born thin and beautiful. Some people are and stay that way forever. Some people gain and lose 75 pounds four times and really, really find out who they are when people see them differently. Some people struggle every day to be happy with how they appear to the outside world. And why? Who do they really need to make happy besides themselves? It matters who you are on the inside, what your heart looks like and how you treat people. It doesn't matter how long your hair is, if your skin is clear and if you wear a size two your entire life. So what I had a double chin from 2004 - 2009? Do you not want to be my friend? I'm probably better off without you anyway. My butt jiggles a little bit now but I have four beautiful healthy children. I'm perfectly fine with it.

I sat the girls down and very seriously had to tell them that it is never okay to tell me that something is wrong with their appearance. That it is never okay to tell someone they have a big butt, they are fat or they are ugly. That you don't like their curly hair. People are different, God made us all beautiful and different and wonderful. Judging someone from the outside may make you miss something really great on the inside. And the inside, may be really, really great.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ten things I want to say to you on Tuesday

1. I don't own a dog because I hate poop. If I don't want to clean up after my own dog, I most certainly don't want to clean up after your dog. What in the world is so hard about this people..

2. Seriously, the juniors section is for juniors. In high school. If you aren't seventeen anymore, don't shop there. I don't want to see butt crack and cleavage when you bend over. Or when you sit down. I'm also tired of explaining this to my kids..

3. Same goes for bathing suits. There comes a time when the bikini simply has to be retired. (For me it was 2005) Just own it and move on..

4. A chocolate covered donut with sprinkles is not a sandwich. I'm not serving it for lunch.

5. Let me introduce you to the word no. Clearly your child doesn't hear it very often.

6. Every body in the world is busy. Are we all in a competition to see who is the busiest these days? I would prefer to go back to who has the best personality and the best hair and visit with my friends..

7. You really can survive on 6 hours of sleep. Trust me.

8. You most definitely can survive two weeks without seeing your spouse. If you whine to me about it, I'm probably going to roll my eyes at you. Or walk away. Or literally bite.my.tongue.in.two.

9. If you always have to tell people how awesome you are - you're probably the only one that thinks that. The rest of us, we just smile and wave.

10. Quit being such a Negative Nancy, Drama Llama and Sally Showoff on Facebook. I'm pretty sure there's a limit to how many people you can hide on Facebook. Pretty soon, I'm going to hide myself.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

the things you learn from a pink dot

Bella didn't learn to read until she was in kindergarten. I specifically didn't teach her to read until she went to kindergarten. I knew she was capable, had the ability prior to entering kindergarten but I didn't think she needed to learn this particular skill until she got there. Now, if you know me well, you're probably confused. I am a good reader. A very good reader. A very fast reader.

It is because of this that I didn't teach this child to read. I wanted her to learn at her own time, not my time, with her peers, at the schedule and pace of her kindergarten teacher. I would help her along but I didn't feel that she needed to go into kindergarten knowing how to read in order to achieve greatness. In order to be the smartest kid in her class. I knew she was smart and she it just wasn't something I was going to push her at. I "read up" very early on. I knew how to read before I entered kindergarten. In first grade, I surpassed the "blue birds" to my own group and had to color during reading time until other students caught up with me. In second grade, third and fourth grade, I had to go to the grade completely above me for reading. It was challenging yes, uncomfortable too.

While I was confident in Bella's abilities and skill, I wanted her more importantly to also not be bored early on. To not go to kindergarten feeling like she already knew something she was supposed to learn there. I wanted her to want to learn to read. She did and picked it up very quickly. Today, she is a very good reader. A very, very good reader. There are some days she takes five tests in a day. I think it is too many but who am I too say too much is too much. Why should I discourage her for being too smart? For loving to read? Which brings me to the pink dot.. Bella has gotten so good that she has now surpassed the first grade reading level. The last time she was tested, she tests at the end of third grade. Two grades ahead of where she is. It is amazing. I am so proud but I don't make a big deal out of it. I don't want her to get a big head after all. All this really means to her is she can read up to a certain level - it's color coded by a certain dot in the library and she has free reign to choose her books. She reads silently each night for 20 minutes and I spot test her occasionally. She scores 100% and I mostly leave her alone. Each morning she tells me the title of the book, I sign the reading log and so on. She's reading at a third grade level and can read anything between 1st - 3rd, so no problems.

The past two weeks Bella has been pretty emotional. Not her usual happy go lucky self. I'm a little concerned, I talk to her and get nothing from her. I ask my friend Tracey, our acting children's minister, to talk to her.. Bella loves Tracey and they go out to lunch and to a bridal shower, a fun day for them.

Tracey asks me if I know about the book Bella read for AR? The one about the soldier who died? The one who lost his legs in the war? My heart is beating so hard I can feel it in my ears and I think I'm going to throw up. What book? An AR book about a soldier? That my child has checked out from the library? THAT I HAVEN'T READ!?! We limit everything war related in our house. Especially now with Jason facing his fifth deployment. Bella and I have a very, very long discussion. About the book. It's a pink dot, well within her reading range, she checked the book out at the library and read it. It's about a dad and a little boy that go to the Wall to look for their Veteran. On the way there, they meet another veteran who is in a wheelchair because he lost his legs in the war.

And all of this is in a pink dot? A pink dot? Suitable for 7 year old? Ugh, I think I'm going to vomit. Or scream. Maybe pass out. I'm not sure which. I ask Bella why she hasn't talked to me about the book. Why she didn't ask me or tell me that she read it if she was this upset. "Well, mama, the lady in the book says that these things are happening over there. And you keep saying that my Daddy will be safe. That he will go and he will come back. But what if he goes and loses his legs over there. Or what if someone shoots him. I think that the lady that wrote the book just knows more than you. And I didn't say anything to you because I didn't want to worry you."

Some things you just shouldn't learn from a book..especially anything regarding war.