Thursday, February 26, 2009


What a difference a day makes. . .
Yesterday, my Mom arrived to stay with us for a few days. The kids were over the moon - beyond excited! They did not leave her alone for a minute. They fought over who she loved the most several times. She went with me to pick them up from school to surprise them. And when we got home, we had to do it all! Ride bikes, play basketball, swing, play on the playground, read stories, watch movies - they wore her out trying to pack it all in (and that was the first 30 minutes!).

So when we were in the backyard swinging, May had to push them. Mommy would not do. And May tried to convince Jessa to just pump her legs. We have been trying for a long time to get her to do this. She could do the motion, but she did not seem to get the mechanics. She would always get discouraged and stop trying. In Louisiana, her "best friend" Hailey (who is a couple years older) even tried to teach her. All to no avail.

So today, I go to pick her up from school. Her class was on the playground. I went straight to find her, and I did not see her. One of her teachers, Miss Christy saw me and told me to look over to the swings. And there she was, all alone, swinging and PUMPING HER LEGS! She was so proud of herself!! Miss Christy said that she was determined to stay on the swing until I arrived to see her. And see her I did! She was beaming and grinning from ear to ear. And of course, yelling across the entire playground to make sure I was aware of what I was witnessing. I almost cried because she is so big, and she was so proud of herself.

We went into the building to get our Spencer, who had a "P" day at school. He wore his Pajamas. They had a feast to include Pancakes, Pineapples, Pretzels, Pickles, and Pears. When I left him this morning, he was elbow deep in Pasta hunting for baby gherkin Pickles! So Jessa being a new Pumper sort of fit into Spencer's day, huh??

When we got to his room, Jessa grabbed Spencer's arms and got right in his face and said, "Spencer, guess what?! I learned how to pump my legs!" And as we were leaving, she said, "The Pumper will lead the way." And all the way home, it was the pumper will get in first, the pumper will hook her seat, the pumper this, the pumper that. . . She could not wait to get home to show May her new skill.

We burst in the door and immediately made May go to the swing set. And boy was May proud and excited! Seriously, it was like the pumping thing just finally "clicked" today! And she is still so proud! She is counting the minutes until David gets home to show Daddy! She also kept telling Spencer, "When you get a little older, you can learn how to pump your legs, too."

Check out 2 videos of the pumper and her brother!


They are just too big for my taste. . .

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A great day to be in the Army

When we were at North Georgia, the Commandant of Cadets always opened his speeches with that line, "It's a great day to be in the Army!" He would be in the drill field overlooking all of the cadets in formation. Then all the cadets would shout "Hooah" from the formation. It was a cool thing to be a part of. I am a sucker for all the pomp and circumstance. I LOVE stopping the car and getting out each day at 5:00 to stand with my hand over my heart when they bring down the flag. I love living on post so that I can hear all the traditional songs that are played each day. I even love being awakened at 6:30 each morning to hear "Revile" and the sound of thousands of soldiers voices echoing as they sing the "Dog Faced Soldier Song." So ANY time there is a ceremony involving someone I know (my favorite is David, of course), I always try to attend. Changes of Command, Promotions, Retirements, I love them all.

Friday was a great day to be in the army because Jessa, Spencer, and I were able to attend an award ceremony. David always tells me about these because he knows about how much I love them. It was at 4, so we headed over to Cottrell Field. I even made sure all three of us were wearing red shirts under our coats to look patriotic.
Two of David's biggest fans!
We could see the soldiers already standing in formation. I LOVE that sight! They are all so handsome (I know some are girls, but they can look handsome, too, right??) We found a spot and Jessa almost immediately spotted David. She can always seem to find him before me these days. He was waving at us by the time Spencer and I looked up! Spencer thinks that each and every person who is wearing the ACUs (new camouflage) is Daddy or "looks like Daddy." He cracked me up Friday because before they got started a shorter, female soldier was repositioning herself. Spencer said in a sweet little voice, "Oh, Mommy, look at that little soldier!"
What a fine looking group of soldiers!
There were more than 120 or so soldiers being honored with an award for their service in Iraq during the last deployment. David was in the first group being given a Bronze Star. I am always way more proud of him than he is of himself. He downplays it and says "everyone got one," but to me anytime you get a cool ribbon to add to your awards, it is an accomplishment.

David was about the twelfth person to have his award pinned on. We cheered quietly (since no one else was clapping, I think so it did not take all day) and Jessa squeezed "Lammie" the lamb toy that she brought. Lammie bleated her excitement on cue. So now, after about 15 people, the children have nothing else to listen for or keep them interested. We were outside, so if they acted ugly, it may not be as noticeable. I had brought ring pops, which they were already enjoying. And I had explained that everyone wanted to hear their Daddy's name like we did, so we needed to keep it down. Plus, each soldier deserved their moment, and I tried to make them understand this.
The formation at attention
Jessa's impression of Attention
Well, I needn't have worried. These 2 precious ones figured out a fun way to entertain themselves. It even involved listening intently, too! It started when someone named "SGT George something" was announced. They both grinned and whispered excitedly, "like Curious George!" And so it began, a new name game! "Alice" reminded them of "Alice in Wonderland." Several guys named "Peter" resulted in "Peter Pan!" When they could not find a name that reminded them of something, Jessa started the rhyming game. "Fleming" she told me rhymes with "swimming!" They both got upset when someone named "Boozer" was announced. They thought that the speaker had called someone a "Loser." This is one of the really bad words they are not allowed to call anyone, and they were very concerned. I quickly told them that the name was "Boozer." To which Jessa replied, "Oh, it just rhymes with Loser."

Towards the end, we just listened for where we were in the alphabet. I would say "Ortiz, what letter comes after 'O'?" And both of them would use a technique I taught them called "singing it out." They would both start whispering and singing, "A, B, C, D, EFG. . ." until they could tell me "P" came after "O." They make me laugh!

Jessa also spotted a female soldier who was pregnant. She was most concerned about her needing to "get to the hospital NOW." I told her that I did not think it was time for that yet. Jessa also noticed that Daddy's award looked different from some of the other ones. He was pretty funny trying to explain to her over supper why he got a star and others did not!

When the ceremony was over, they released the formation and Jessa and Spencer took off, full speed into the sea of people to find Daddy! They were so glad to see him and so proud!!
Our reward for being nice during the ceremony - Daddy hugs!
Heading to the group photo

GROUP PHOTO (David is sixth from the left on the front row)
It was a great day to be in the army! (only David could not leave with us, he had to go back to work until 7:30 on a Friday! What's up with that?!)
A last picture before our dedicated soldier returned to work. . .

Friday, February 20, 2009

I am a FAN-atic

I love Fans! They are FANTASTIC! I always sleep with a ceiling fan on, when I have one. That was a huge adjustment in Germany because we did not have them. We bought some oscillating fans and got by, but we missed our ceiling fans!!

Throughout our army life, we have never known where we are going to live. We have been without fans many times. But since we got to Ft. Stewart in 2003, we have had them. Our rental house in Hinesville had fans and the house we bought in Leesville had fans. So we have been in fan heaven! We sleep with them on, even in winter. The noise it soothing and the cool air circulating helps us to sleep.

When we signed the lease for these quarters on post, I was sad to see NO FANS! When David got home and was surveying the new digs, I said, "We need to get fans for the bedrooms, huh?" And he scoffed and said that he did not want to fool with it. I was sad, but I understood. It seems like a scary operation messing with electrical wires, so I knew with my klutziness it was not something I should try. I decided we would just get used to it.

Well, with our new furry child, we have to sleep with our door closed at night. This way Max is not lonely (he cries at night if he is not in our bed), but Stewart stays out of Max's way. Stew is happy to roam all night, and he loves to sleep with the kiddos. But the air flow is restricted. And we have been hot at night. Plus, the dogs were hot. They were restless all night and did a lot of panting. Max likes to lay his head on your shoulder and pant loudly. I think he wants to make sure that we are aware that he is hot and uncomfortable.

After a sleepless night on Wednesday, David asked me what did I think we could do to have a night without wide awake, pacing, panting dogs. I replied, "We need a fan."

And that was all it took!!! After work on Thursday, we headed to Lowe's and bought A FAN! It is so awesome. It is quiet, but you can still sort of hear it. And it cools us - especially the dogs. I mean, they are wearing fur coats after all. . . We slept GREAT! I love it! This is the best thing David has ever done for me (well, lately, anyway!). I am so impressed with how quickly he put that baby up. Every time I look at it, I get so excited. He is so good to me! Seriously, words cannot accurately express how fired up I am. I am so excited! (see that does not do it justice)

Look at how well the boys are all sleeping. . .
Well, along these lines, the children were with us at Lowe's. The children were looking at fans with us. The children decided they wanted a fan. Jessa found the perfect one. It was pastel colored with pink and lavender and pale yellow. It had butterflies. She wanted it. She needed it. She had to have it. I said it was too "girly" for their bedroom. I felt like they needed something more gender neutral. She promptly convinced Spencer that he also wanted the girly fan. He even used those words, the ones Jessa told him to say: "Mommy, I want that girly one." Besides the frilly look of this fan, it was close to $100. The fan we picked out for our room was only $45. I could not see spending more than twice what we spent on our fan for their room.

My first attempt to get them to change their minds was the pulls. I thought if they picked out a cool pull that they liked, it would make them forget. They each picked out a dolphin, but they were not swayed. We found a fan for $20 that would work. They did not like it. There was whining. There were sad faces. UNTIL, my brilliant husband had an idea that made them change their minds immediately. He told them they could PAINT the blades! I thought this was a great idea because many people never look up and notice the fan. Or if it is on, you cannot see the individual blades anyway. Plus, it was only $20, so if they ruined it, it would not be a huge loss, right?

All the way home from Lowe's, Jessa kept saying, "Daddy, we have got some serious painting to do when we get home." And paint we did!
So here is their finished product. I helped some. Spencer makes requests because he does not have the patience that Jessa has for crafts yet. I also planned to paint one because there are 5 blades, which is not even. Jessa's are the light purple one and the pink, and purple and green one. Spencer's is the dark one. And my 2 are the stars and rainbow.
Everyone was happy, and we are all enjoying our new fans!
A special THANKS to our best handyman, our D!
We are SO lucky to have him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

First Day of School: The Third

God bless my poor babies, they are starting their third preschool this school year. I pray that we never have a year with this many "first days" again. They are such troopers, and I know that army brats are adaptable. But I feel that 3 schools, 3 classes, 3 teachers, 3 sets of friends may be excessive, wouldn't you agree?

We took a tour of our new school on Tuesday the 10th. I thought I would croak when we walked into the office for our 11:00 appointment. The office manager said, "Good Morning, I bet I know who y'all are!" And my sweet girl walked right up to this stranger and said, "I am Jessa. That is J-E-S- another S- and A. I have 5 letters in my name, and I am 5 years old." I smiled and said, "And I am Dana, and this is Spencer." Then once we went into the director's office, the director asked Spencer how old he was. He did not hesitate as he politely and clearly answered, "6." I NEVER know what to expect. . .

So this morning was their first day at this third school of the year. I think I was more anxious than they were. Spencer kept asking me if Miss Georgia would be there, and it broke my heart to tell him no. Jessa kept focusing on how much she could not wait to check out the playground. I just hope they get to play because it is supposed to be rainy and windy and cold today. Fingers crossed they at least try. . .

They WOULD not go to sleep last night. I think we are just off of our routine, and I am sure they are going to be little zombies this afternoon!! But despite our late night, we had a pretty good morning. Spencer had his favorite cereal straws (aka "crunchy straws") to start his day with a full tummy. He also wore "soft pants" which are basically sweat pants. I had some nice navy slacks laid out, but I decided I would not fight him. I wanted him to feel comfortable on his first day.

Delicious crunchy straws and Sesame Street to start the day

Jessa did not wake up good until we were almost out the door. And she said her tummy did not want to eat. I tried, I really did! So here they are about to leave before their third (and the Good Lord willing, last) First Day of this school year.
She was cold, so she could not smile.
And here they are about to head in to the building. Spencer was already saying, "Don't leave me." Yeah, Mommy guilt LOVES phrases like that.
Jessa was happier because she had her coat on now.
Spencer is less happy because he is anticipating my leaving.
We took Jessa first, since Spencer was not too sure. Jessa did not hesitate. She met her teacher, took off her coat, found her cubby - this chick knows how this school thing works! God bless her! I was almost in tears because she was so big and independent and confident. Miss V, her teacher showed her to her seat, and she plopped down and started to color her Mail Carrier (the letter they are working on is "M"). I took a quick photo, she hugged me, and I headed out.

Now to my poor baby Spencer's room. . . He wanted me to "holdsha" him (their term for me to hold them). So I carried my sweet boy to his room. He was a little clingy, but his teacher Miss Christina was so glad to see him. We checked out the room and put his things in his cubby. He located his favorite color on the color posters. He pointed out his letter "S" on the alphabet. He even found the "sholder" (soldier) on the career chart and told me he "looks like Daddy." So after a minute, Miss Christina took his hand and I took off running! He was crying (and the lump in my throat made it hard to breathe). So no pictures of him in his new class yet. . .

I will say that I had to drop off papers at the director's office, and as I passed back by Spencer's classroom I could not hear him crying anymore. (If only I could say the same for his mother!) Boy is it hard to be the mommy of army brats!

Here's to a great start at a new school and to never having 3 schools in one year again. Are you with me??

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mommy's Night Terrors

My sweet and precious Spencer is such an easygoing kid. Just look at him. He is always the peacemaker with Jessa, and he is generally a happy go lucky little boy. He hardly gives me any trouble, except for some occasions in the middle of the night. . .

It all started several months ago after he potty trained himself. Before bed, we have the ritual - probably the same as many families. Before we hit the beds, we all go potty and brush teeth. Many times, they both claim that they do not have to ("Our tanks are already empty!" they say), but I always make them at least try. This usually results in their tanks being further emptied before we head in to their room. And for many nights, we all go to sleep and that is the end of that.

Just after Christmas, when we were still at Mom's, I awoke to a sound that no mother wants to hear. Spencer was hysterical, crying, and heading my way. I jumped out of bed thinking he was hurt or had fallen out of the bed or had a bad dream. I ran to pick him up. I held him and tried to figure out what was wrong, while also trying to quiet him down so that the rest of the house did not have to wake up with us. He was not even really awake. And about the time I thought he was calm, I felt something warm and wet. Yep, he peed on me! But he was already back asleep, if he ever woke up, that is. So we got all changed and I put him back to bed.

So the next time it happened, we were already at Ft. Stewart. I heard him upset and trying to get out of bed, I took off running. He was still half asleep, but I yanked off his pants and put him on the potty. Sure enough, he tee-teed. He never even opened his eyes! I got him dressed, picked him up, and put him back in his bed.

I probably should have warned Momma about this. When we were at her house a few days after we got back from Disney, he was sleeping with his May. He started crying and screaming, and she was trying to comfort him when he peed on her! And he never really woke up for her, either.

It really is scary when you hear your baby so upset! And he still does it - sometimes several times a week. I am just glad I figured out what it is. I guess on some level, he knows he needs to "go," but he just cannot wake up. At least if he is not going to wake up, he does wake someone up so we do not have to change the sheets a couple times a week!! Although I wish he could do it without the hysterics - I wake up with my adrenaline pumping every time! And it is much harder to go back to sleep after waking up like that- well, at least for me. . .
Last night, he just fell back asleep with us!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy HEART Day!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Valentine's Day! Many people feel that it is a "made-up" holiday by the card companies and florists and chocolate folks. Well, even if it is "made-up," I cannot think of a better reason than LOVE to make up a holiday, know what I mean??

And I do not think it is always about your significant other. My Momma and Daddy always used Valentine's Day to make us feel special and LOVED. I can remember going to breakfast and finding heart covered gifts at our spots at the table from Momma. So we headed off to school with warm fuzzies thanks to our Mom. And Daddy always came home from work with flowers for Mom and he also had one flower for me (I think he brought a balloon or candy for Lucas, but I am not sure). He always said me and Momma were both his valentine's! No wonder little girls are in love with their Daddies!!

David and I have always celebrated Valentine's Day, too. In college, he bought me goldfish named Romeo and Juliet. One year, he was headed to an army school in Kansas. When I opened my card, there was a plane ticket for him to come home and tickets to see Mama Mia. He is good at coming up with cool surprises. Plus, we have been able to take some trips since the army always has a holiday for President's Day which usually falls near Valentine's Day. A perk when he is not deployed. . .

BUT now that we have the babies, it is even more FUN! I love planning and finding gifts and wrapping gifts and coming up with surprises. Jessa has become quite good at cutting out hearts to help me decorate, so now they are even involved in decorating and preparing. What could be more fun? All week, when they share or are really sweet to each other, I would smile and say, "Y'all have the Valentine's Day Spirit!"
Jessa cut out all these hearts!
Jessa was an excellent baker's helper making our red heart cake.

One afternoon this week in the car, they were riding along watching "Thomas" on DVD. And Spencer said, "You know who I love?" And Jessa said, "No, who?" And Spencer said, "I love Thomas." Jessa then said, "You know who I love?" (I was fully expecting her to say "Emily" her favorite girl train.) And Spencer said, "No, who?" And Jessa said, "You!" I melted! Valentine's spirit!

I knew all of our planning and preparation would be worth it this morning when Jessa hopped out of her bed and came running in, bouncing up and down hollering "It's Valentine's Day!"

So here is a quick run-down (with corresponding photos, of course, this is my blog, after all!) of our special love filled, heart covered, day of LOVE!

We woke up to a decorated table and dining room (they helped some!)
Getting ready to start our LOVE day!
I made delicious heart shaped chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. Although we all ended up tasting the heart shaped cake, too!

Our heart muffins and our awesome cake!

The kiddos opened their cards from us. David opened his gift from all of us:

Our Gator fan with his Tim Tebow BCS jersey!
Then we got all ready for the great Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt! They waited on the porch with Daddy while I put up photo clues that would lead them to their "Valentine's Treasure."
The photo clues were shaped like hearts.
One of the clues placed in various places all over the house and yard.
What fun!!!

The "treasure" was a box with some small wrapped gifts AND a basketball goal just their size.
The treasure box and the basketball goal. We disguised it well, huh? HA!
We found it! Let's check it out!
They have been obsessed with basketball lately since David has been watching his Gators. Spencer even requested to watch basketball the other afternoon. (David beamed!) And I was tired of having a daily argument with Jessa when she begged me to cut the bottoms out of all my baskets in the house for her to use. I truly wish I could have captured Jessa's face when we got the sheet off. David and I thought the goal was not very well disguised, but I guess it was! They were shocked and excited! Spencer was, too, but Jessa's face was priceless.
My little basketball team!
We then had heart shaped sandwiches for lunch. Mmmm!

Just after lunch, the doorbell rang. And it was some gorgeous tulips for me!! David and the kids brought them in to me. So sweet!
Look at those faces. . .

For supper we had a fancy table with candles to eat out heart shaped homemade pizza.

We finished the day with a family movie night.

A day of family fun and togetherness. . .

All in all, it was a perfect day. So whether it is a "real" holiday or not, I enjoy any excuse to spend the day doing fun and special things to show my family how much I love them - which is a TON!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As seen on TV. . .

**David asked me what was the purpose of this post. I told him that I found it funny and I LOVE MY CRAZY FAMILY! So if you are reading along thinking it is pointless, I wanted to tell you my intended point up front. . .

A few years ago, my Daddy got a job that required him to move to Scott AFB, Illinois. Since their house in Morrow was paid for and Mom was situated, it was decided that she would just split her time between Daddy's house at Scott and their house in Georgia. Lucas's Lymphoma prevented her from being there as much as they had planned. All of this means that my sweet, precious Daddy has been "bachin' it" a lot.

Since he has been "on his own" for the first time in more than 30 years, he has had some fun figuring things out. He has been doing laundry and cleaning (a little) and grocery shopping. And he has been able to indulge his inner desire to order things that you see on TV. We have all wanted to, right? And I have realized that my Daddy's desire to order things may be genetic. I, too, have ordered things from the television.

Daddy is convinced that anything Billy Mays sells is GOLD! I am not sure what he ordered first, but it may have been mighty putty. We love some Mighty Putty! My Daddy is so nice, he even split his order with me.
You cannot see it "in action" because
it blends so seamlessly into the item you have used it on.

He is also a huge fan of the Swivel Sweeper. I have even accused him of collecting some sort of royalty every time he mentions the name. He gives a testimonial every time he uses it!! He ordered one for his house and for Mom's. Then, Lucas and David and I were so convinced by his ringing endorsement that Mom sent one to each of our houses. We are a 4 Swivel Sweeper family!
The best part is that the kids can use it -
I am all about child labor!

I am also the proud owner of a Ped Egg!! See, it is a genetic compulsion!
My feet are smooth when I use it, but the foot skin dust is gross.

The kids and I also ordered the Bugville Butterfly kit. LOVED IT! We are so doing it again when it gets warmer.
Those are the little caterpillars and a real butterfly that we raised! Aren't we amazing?

Daddy and I also enjoy the "As Seen on TV" section at drug stores or Wal-Mart. I have had 4 "Gophers" to help me reach things the kids drop while I am driving. (I have had 4 because they are not sturdy enough for me, but I love them to death :-)
I cannot show you mine as I am between Gophers at the moment.
But I can tell you that I always name them Gary.

Poor Daddy has been accused of only shopping for mom for Christmas on such a row at the drug store. Last year, he got her "Tater Mitts." I am not kidding!
Peel a potato in seconds (not hardly), but they did come with this handy french fry cutter for FREE!

This year, I gave everyone Debbie Meyer's Green Bags for Christmas. I love those things and they work SO well! Oh, and Jessa was the one who convinced me to buy them because she could quote the commercial. She was so happy when I finally bought them (am I raising a third generation "As seen on TV" addict??).
Daddy opened his last. He was so funny while we were opening presents.
He kept saying, "I cannot wait to open mine. I have some bananas that are going bad as we sit here!"

This year, (a few days after Christmas) Daddy and I were at Wal-Mart. We bought Aqua Globes
These are amazing! They can even handle finicky tropical plants!

and those detoxifying foot pads. And Mom, Dad, and I all tried the pads on our feet.

The first picture is the box with model feet.
The second is my foot and mom's foot on the right. We could be foot models, don't you think?

These are the results. They are gross, but we were not convinced they were toxins.
But if not toxins, what is that crud??

So in closing, the point of this post is threefold
(1) buying things that you see on TV can be fun
(2) sometimes they even work and
(3) my awesome family can make anything FUN,
from peeling potatoes to detoxifying your feet to vacuuming the floor!!

Whatever the case, I think our next purchase may be a Snuggie: