Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blog blackouts and fashion

I have been so enjoying our holidays. For real. To show you how much I have been off the grid, I submit that I have not updated my facebook status since the day before Thanksgiving. Yep. That is serious, wouldn't you agree? I went low tech to enjoy just being home with the fam.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving. Although my bird did not cooperate. I am blaming the oven, since it is my first turkey in a gas oven since 1999. But one side was golden and done and in the good temp range. The other was not. It was strange. I know the sucker was thawed. The yucky innards bags just slid right out. I was so thrilled with the thawing. Anyway. It was strange. The turkey eaters ate the good side and put the other side back in. Everyone seemed to enjoy their food. I was tired and happy. Momma made awesome pies! As a girl who does not even like turkey, I am in it for the pie. Miss Jessa is a huge fan of the chocolate now - she makes me so proud. *tear* Spencer still just eats a plate of cool whip. Whatever floats your boat.

We spent Friday doing up the decor. It gets more fun every year! The kids "get it" more. They were SO precious wanting the hear the story of each ornament. It was just like a Hallmark commercial. If I had been watching us, I would have so cried. David put up some lights outside, and I am trying to resist the urge to add more as I see what neighbors are doing. Bay keeps telling me: it is not a competition. Whatever. That is loser talk.

I am trying to get back into the bloggin' groove after my vacay.
So I will share a fashion story from my dear old son, Spencer.

God bless him. He spends so much of his life going along with Jessa and trying to keep her happy and taken care of. Many times, he does not even know what he wants or thinks. But when he thinks something, by golly, he is SERIOUS. Take my earlier post about his love of Soft Pants. He ain't budging on that one. He is firm. He means business.

That is one of the only things that he has a true opinion on. But sometimes this love of soft pants leads him down the path to choosing his own outfits. This is a bad idea. Bless his heart. He chooses the "softest"pants and "softest" shirt, color coordination be darned. And yes, I let him leave the house like this.
Oh, yeah. He is rocking the look.
I have gently asked if he was sure he wanted to go with these ensembles. When he confidently replied, "Yep." I did not say anything else.

Look at him. He is happy and pleased with his choice.
The best part is that when I said something to the teachers at school, they heaped on the praise. I am apparently a wonderful mother for letting my son express himself. I was like a hero in that place. I knew I liked those people! I guess it is good for all, right? He is happy and I am like mom of the year. I'll take it.
This was his choice for a Thanksgiving outfit. Apparently he LOVES those pants. . .

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I hope that everyone is having just the best Thanksgiving ever. I am so thankful for all of the countless blessings in my life!

For your viewing enjoyment:

The first attempt at getting the song on video.
Spencer had creative differences with the song leader and staged a walk-out.
It cracked me up, so I had to share it, too. I love the way Jessa watches him walk away, yet keeps singing. She is a true professional. The show must go on.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jeep. There's only one.

The follow-up jeep post:
A few years ago, my dear Daddy told Momma that he had the opportunity of a lifetime. For real. He told her that it was his LIFE LONG dream to own an authentic Army Jeep and he found one for sale. Now, my Momma has known this man since 1970. She has been married to him since 1972. And she swore that not once in all that time had he EVER mentioned this dream to her. But he was ever so convincing and she eventually said, "Well, who am I to stand in the way of your dreams?" And so my Daddy became the proud owner of an authentic Army Jeep. This is huge, right? How many people get to realize their lifelong dream? Isn't Bay a lucky man??

Daddy is very cute about this jeep. He is very proud of it. And it has made him quite popular. He cannot even drive this baby around the corner without attracting attention. Lucas has borrowed it lots of times, and he also enjoys being noticed. People ask them questions in parking lots, at red lights, and gas stations. And he is very generous. He'll let anyone (within reason) take it for a spin.

Daddy's jeep has also made appearances in military changes of command and other ceremonies. And it recently made its second consecutive appearance in the O'Fallon Veteran's Day Parade. Now, Daddy has not driven it in the parade himself, but the jeep was you know, representin'.

As it rounded the corner, Daddy said, "Whew, they got it started!"

As I mentioned before, the kids wanted to ride in the jeep right after the parade this year. The drivers did not get it back to Daddy in time, so we mentioned in passing that maybe they could ride it over the weekend.

Since my elephant Spencer remembered this idea, on Saturday afternoon, Bay and Miss Abby come on over and park the jeep on the street by our house. Jessa and a friend immediately come bounding out of the house and straight to the jeep. They were having so much fun that they began to attract other children. Within about 20 minutes, every kid on our street was crawling around in it. I have no idea what the attraction was! But they came out of the woodwork to play and climb and enjoy the jeep. I sat at the open window in the den while the big boys watched football so that I could watch and occasionally intervene. The jeep politics were serious business. You know, who could sit where, who could drive, who could not come in.

The pictures are horrible. They were taken through the screen. I was trying to take pictures without them knowing. Not because I am a stalker, but when I was out there, they were aware of my presence. They were more focused on telling me who was being ugly than on playing.
Shortly after the kids descended on the jeep, the rules were made. Like no shoes in the jeep. And these random kids did not question Jessa and Spencer when they told them they had to take off their shoes. They had a big time. When they were tired of the boys, they would get rid of them by screaming. They "drove" all over. They drove to Hawaii and Alaska. Oh and Jessa had a little noisemaker that we got in Germany that made this yodeling noise. She announced that this noise is made in Alaska, so whenever they were headed there, she would hold the yodeler up high. It was sort of a rally cry. Food and drinks were outlawed after someone spilled some juice. It was some funny stuff.

Throughout the afternoon, they would come and go. They were playing in the jeep and then they were picking weeds. They always came back, though. They sort of reminded us of locusts. All of a sudden, they were just there. Then they would be gone. So Daddy was trying to wait to take our kids for a ride. There are only so many seatbelts, plus that is not the sort of thing that you want to get started, if you know what I mean. Finally, as it was starting to get dark, we bit the bullet and headed out there. At that moment, there was one kid left. She assured us that her parents had said it was fine for her to ride with us. (I took that moment to tell my children that they must always ask me before they even consider getting in the car with a stranger.) I know we are on base, and we do know who this kids parents are, but still. And like her parents would have said, "Oh and daughter, IF someone has an old jeep out in the neighborhood today and IF they offer to take you for a little ride, that would be totally OK with us." Cause you know stuff like that happens every day, right?
So Daddy hooked them in. And as we headed to this gal's house to get actual permission for her to go for a joy ride, our extra passenger said, "Wow, I did not think this thing even worked." We all laughed. I mean how did she think it got there that afternoon?? And seriously, who knew that an army jeep parked on your curb would be such a draw?

So, just in case you are wondering, the point of this post is two-fold. (1) Thanks to the support of his lovely wife, my Daddy achieved his lifelong dream of owning an Army Jeep. And (2) if you are in the market for a way to attract a ton of random, strange kids to your house and entertain them for hours on a Saturday afternoon, we recommend a Vietnam era Army Jeep. Works like a charm.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Memory like an elephant

If it is really true that elephants never forget, then my children are totally elephants.

It is good sometimes. Like when they are playing with your car keys or cell phone. 99% of the time, they remember. And that is a very good thing. We will not even discuss the pain, frustration, and stress that the other 1% can cause.

But other times, it can sorta get on your nerves. Let me share a few examples with you, won't you?

Jessa and Spencer have scooters. They did not get them for a birthday or Christmas. I know this is a big gift for "just because," but it was absolutely necessary. Don't judge me! See, all the kids in our neighborhood have them. And that is not an exaggeration. In fact, a few families have more scooters than they have kids. Suffice it to say, these babies are popular around here. Our old neighborhood had exactly zero scooters, so this phenomenon was new to us. And the reason my children had to have one and have it right now was I could not take it anymore. The "can I please borrow so and so's scooter?" They were relentless - especially Jessa. I finally told David that I could not take it one more day. So Jessa has a Razor Daisy and Spencer has a Disney Cars one. She LOVES her scooter. Like loves it a lot.

I gave them to them on a Friday afternoon. They rode like the wind until dark. I dragged Jessa in when it was too dark to see, and she said, "Can I scooter tomorrow?" I said, "We'll see." Which we all know means, "Maybe - depending on what tomorrow brings." or more accurately, "At this moment, I will say whatever I can to get you to leave me alone and cooperate."

Anyway, the next morning was a blessed Saturday, a peaceful day that means we can all sleep in. I am not a morning person, so now that they are both in school, my sleep-ins are precious to me. Precious. But not this day. My usually late sleeper, Jessa is fully dressed and standing over my face staring at me. I looked and the clock to see it was 8:30. On a SATURDAY! She was saying, "Remember last night when you said I could ride my scooter today? Well, the sun is awake, and I want to go and ride now." What?! After she slept, she still remembered the "plan." Impressive, although too early on a Saturday for much excitement on my part. Maybe the badgering about wanting one was not as bad as I thought?

Spencer is an elephant, too. On Veteran's Day we all went to a parade in O'Fallon near our house. It was a gorgeous day. We had so much fun. Oh and Bay's jeep was in the parade (another post planned on the jeep soon - stay tuned). Pretty cool, huh? Well, when we were getting ready to go home, J and S wanted to ride in the jeep. It did not work out, so I in passing said, "I am sure Bay will bring the jeep over and give you a ride this weekend." Of course, that was on Wednesday afternoon. I did not give it another thought after I uttered those words. Bay who whole-heatedly agreed to give them a ride over the weekend did not think of it again, either. Saturday morning rolls around and Spencer woke up and came downstairs, still half asleep. Through squinty eyes, he quickly glanced around the room and the first words he spoke were, "Well, where are they?" I said, "Who?" And he said, "Bay and the jeep. You said that they were coming on the weekend. It is the weekend. So? Where are they?"

Elephants are helpful when you need to find your blackberry, but never make them a promise that you do not intend to keep. And also they are early risers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our ballerina

Yes, Jessa is finally taking ballet and tap. And boy does she love it. We have all been really curious about the whole thing, but she is not terribly free with information. So other than the few peeks that we sneak using the mirrors during drop off and pick up, we have been in the dark.

The answer to our lack of information came this week: Parent Observation Week. Yes! We get to see her in action. Of course, David AND Bay are both out of town, so by "we" I mean me and Spencer. But that is OK. I have many cameras. . . (of course in order to video the whole thing my still camera work suffered, but I think I got a few good ones.

I was worried at first that she would be too distracted by all the parents (especially ME) to actually pay attention. But once class started, she focused and paid attention. And many of the girls were very distracted, so I was tickled that she was not (for the most part). My photos seemed to capture the times she was looking at us, but I promise this is not representative. Seriously, she is way more interested in how she looks in the mirror than anything else.

The first half of the class is ballet. They lined up and practiced their foot positions and pliƩs. So precious! Then they worked on the bar some. This would be the first distraction that we saw out of our ballerina.
Then they did a princess walk. So cute! Their teacher places an imaginary crown on their heads and they have to walk, with their toes pointed and arms outstretched without letting the crown fall. Jessa's did not fall, whew!
There was a lot of sitting around and waiting, though. The teacher likes to watch them do some of the moves on their own so she does not miss anything. Jessa took these opportunities to goof off a little.
The second half of class is tap. This is also lots of fun, although it is much louder. Not at all surprising, Jessa likes this noisy stuff!
They each got to pick shuffle step ball change or shuffle step hop step. Jessa chose ball change.
They always close each week with a mirror part. They have to pair up with a partner and the leader does a pose and the other one has to copy the pose. They were all so funny with the poses they came up with. I like this one a lot because Jessa and her partner's feet really do look like mirror images!

All in all, it was a great class and I am so glad I got to watch. I just hope that when David looks at the tape I made he will not throw up. Holding a camera steady for 1 hour while also taking pictures is hard. Oh and I also had someone climbing on me during much of the night, too. Speaking of someone climbing, want to know what sweet little brothers do during dance class observation?
He started out watching.

Then he needed to lay in my lap and rest.
Then he discovered the joy of mirrors.
Then he just grabbed his coat to get ready to get out of there!
We had a great time, and I must say that Jessa seems to really get a lot out of this. I am so glad! And if there is any question about her devotion to dance, look what she slept in last Wednesday:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Face Love

**Sorry for the lateness of this Halloween-ish post. I typed this post on November 2, and I could swear I posted it. Ooops! And for my FB buds, some of the pics are reruns, but you know I can never resist sharing pics of the babies!

Halloween night, we were all up in my room getting ready for bed. Mimi and Poppy were visiting, and David was out of town. (On an unrelated note, I would like to point out that poor David has NEVER been home on Halloween. He has NEVER taken his children trick or treating. Boo.)
Missing someone. . .

We had a busy day. There was the asking me every 5 minutes if it was time to go trick or treating.

Them: Is it time to go now?
Me: No.
Them: What about now?
Me: NO.
Them: Now?
Me: Again, no.
Them: How many minutes?
Them: Now?
Me: (sigh).
Repeat 200 times.

That takes a lot out of them (and ever so much more out of me).

I also had our traditional scavenger hunt for goodies. They had lots of fun running all over the house from clue to clue. Their "stash" was in the dryer this time. That was too funny! The wrapped surprises were in there all day and they had no clue (get it: clue. scavenger hunt. clue? I crack myself up)! They would not go willingly into the dryer, you know what I'm saying?

Then there was the actual getting dressed and hiking all over the neighborhood. Way tiring. And I am not a fan of the wagon. Once they could walk, we have gone to the houses that they can get to by their own power. If I were to pull them in a wagon or carry them, they'd never be finished. I think you trick or treat as long as you feel like walking. Once you are so tired that you turn into Connie or Carl Complainer - we're out.

Spencer as "just a dog." After Bay worked hard and came up with a way to make him "Slinky Dog" like he insisted. At the last minute, he refused to put on the slinky. Oh well!
Jessa designed her own costume. She even sketched it out for me so I got it just right!

And after all of that during crazy fun exhausting day and poor David out of town, I was all for everyone slumber partying in our bed. We even had new movies to watch - Halloween goodies from several folks included DVDs. I also caved on baths. They both promised to take one before church, so I said that they could sleep in their candy soaked filth. Anyway, they were both laying in my bed watching their new Tom and Jerry movie. I was in my bathroom getting ready for bed, listening to them. Jessa would do a loud fake laugh and then Spencer would follow suit. Bless his heart.
And then I thought I would melt when I heard him say, "Jessa?" And she said, "What, Spencer?" He said, "I love your face." Just the way he said it was so sweet. And what a sweet thing to say from a face that I love to a face that I love! She still had on her faint cat make-up from her costume. And he said it several times.

Jessa, I love your face.

(I could eat them up!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A dramatic flair

OK. I know I have addressed this issue before, but the drama level around here has gotten out of control. Seriously.

A few examples.
Spencer is not a huge fan of haircuts. He behaves better for David, so that is sort of a boy outing thing. I like clean cut little boys. No hair on the neck or touching the ears. That's my preference (think I am militarized??) Plus, my baby boy has THICK hair. And he has 2 crowns. That makes stying tough when it is not recently cut. The barbers cut it so it lays down and as it grows, well, it does not lay down. Point being: this weekend, David was all ready to load Spencer up for a haircut. But Spencer, he did not want this. Not. One. Bit. I put him in the carseat with him crying. It kind of ripped my heart out except I know that he is just being overly dramatic. No one is going to hurt him. He is safe and with his father. And boys have to get more haircuts than girls. That is a fact. The child has been going to a barber since before he was a year old, and no one has ever cut his ear off or anything. He was pleading with me and bargaining. He even said, "Mommy! Some boys have long hair!" I told him not in my house and closed the van door. They arrived home a little while later. Spencer was not speaking to me. And David grinned and told me that as they were walking into the barber shop, Spencer through a pouty face said, "I DO NOT LIKE THIS DAY." Wow, the whole day was runied because of a little trip to the barber! He has stated using this phrase a lot. No more cookies, he does not like this day. Time for a bath, he does not like this day. Bed time, he does not like this day. Drama.

Then my Jessa. The queen of drama. She took a nap late in the afternoon over the weekend. She woke up in a somewhat ill mood. This is due to the fact that we woke her up. I mean, we did not want her up all night, you know? While she was sleeping, we had ordered sandwiches from Jimmy John's (our first time and they were GOOD!). Both babes like to eat subs with bacon and cheese. So I ordered them one. OK, the cheese was provolone and they are used to cheddar. This may have been my mistake. Anyway, my ill girl wandered into the kitchen and saw her sandwich. She came sashaying back into the den and calmly said, "I saw my sandwich. The cheese was white. I do not like white cheese. So, I punched that sandwich and I am not eating it." So I calmly replied, "Well, that is what we got you for supper. If you choose not to eat it, that is OK. BUT we are not getting you anything else." She looked at me and with huge tears in her eyes, and with no calm remaining in her voice, she said, "What?! You are not giving me anything to eat? You are just going to let me die?!" And she ran up to her room. Drah-Mah!

The other night the two boogers were playing. They can turn on a dime, so you have to at least be somewhat in tune with what they are doing. They go from playing school or artist to wrestling around on the floor or chasing each other around. So at one point, I could tell that they had changed from nice quiet play to running around rambunctious play. So within minutes, I can hear them start down the stairs. They were still laughing, so I was not terribly concerned. All of a sudden, Jessa appeared at the bottom of the stairs and collapsed at my feet shouting, "Help me, Momma! He is trying to kill me!" Spencer was hot on her heels, but he did not appear to be particularly homicidal at that point. But she was still convinced and still shouting, "Watch out! He is really trying to kill me. Seriously!" Ever so dramatic! (Although I prefer then funny dramatic comments to the hysterical ones.)

David is currently reading this and thinking that they come by their flair for the dramatic and their tendency toward exaggeration from me. But he is wrong. Oh well, I am starving to death and about to pass out, so I have better go eat something. I am so exhausted. And my head is killing me. (Just kidding, but since these are things that I say, David may have a point.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old friends

We are so lucky and blessed to have so many good friends!
And we apparently live in a good location for surprise visits from some of these dear friends!

We have never lived anywhere that saw this much traffic. Some places, we have a hard time getting kin to visit! But here, I think we must be centrally located or something. This summer, I got a message on FB from a friend we had not seen since May of 2004. We were stationed in Germany with her now husband. We knew her, too, before they were married. And how funny, she was driving with her two small children to meet her hubby at the end of a long deployment. I love it that she called and agreed to come and stay with us. I am telling you, I get so upset when people say, "I drove right by your exit and thought of you." What!? Why didn't you CALL!? So if you are in the area, for the love of Pete, CALL! Anyway, we had the best time eating and hanging out and having a few beers. And even though they had never met, the kids loved playing together! And we picked right up where we left off. That's the army way!

The next generation of Army Friends!

Then last week, I got a call from an Air Force friend who was also stationed with us in Mannheim, Germany. He was going to be here at Scott overnight and wanted to see if we could catch up. Uh, yeah, of course! So he came over and had supper with us. Awesome! We had the best time remembering our time together. It was somewhat sad because his youngest son was born while we were in Germany. He was the youngest baby I had ever seen before my own were born! I got to take his grandmother and older brother to the hospital to meet him when he was born. Of course, he is now 8! Where does the time go? Anyway. He was our first Air Force friend and it was so good to see him. I always laugh because his oldest son was 3 when we met, and he was a hoot. I used to beg them to let me babysit him. One time I asked him about his Daddy's work. He told me, "Oh, my Daddy doesn't work! He is a pilot!"

His first tea party - like I said, he has 2 BOYS!
Then the very next day, one of our best friends who just got home from Iraq was driving from Kansas to Ohio to see his family. And wouldn't you know it, St. Louis was right on his way! So he popped in for a quick sandwich on his way through. He was at Ft. Stewart when we were there the first time (he was also in Germany when we were AND at Ft. Lee). He and another friend mowed my grass for me when I was pregnant with Jessa and David was deployed. He spent Christmas with us at Mimi's house one year and opened all of Jessa's presents - she was 2 months old. He was even at her Christening. Sadly, David did not get to see him. Our friend was pulling onto base, as David's plane was taking off. But I so enjoyed seeing him and catching up.
Spencer welcoming our friend and our hero home from Iraq!

That is the thing about the Army. Sometimes it may feel like we have no roots and we are always on the move. But the up side of that is you are always making new friends. And as sad as you are to leave people behind, you know that you will see them again. These are forever friends. We share holidays and special occasions and births of babies. We are there to help each other when there is no one else around. We understand each other. We can pick up where we left off like no time has passed. And when you do see them, maybe it is not like you plan or think it will be or even when you think, but these friendships that are born out of our military bond are pretty strong. And pretty amazing.

So, if you are in the area, y'all stop by, ya hear?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Do you love recipes? Well, I guess everyone likes them, OK. It is hard to cook new things without something as a guide. Recipes sort of are necessary, but maybe not something you ever thought about whether you love it or not. I love them. OK, not all recipes. There are some that are hard and call for things like cream of tartar, which I have never had in my life. But looking for a recipe in cookbooks can be fun. I especially like Army cookbooks. Lots of us army gals like to put together cookbooks as fundraisers. The coolest thing about them is that they have it all. When you take folks from the four corners of the world and put all their ideas together, you have quite a collection. Momma told me right after we got married to ALWAYS buy every army cookbook I came across. For real, her favorite cookbook ever is an 8th Infantry Division cookbook that she got when she and Daddy were in Germany. I shudder to think of all the delicious things we would have never tasted had she not invested in this little gem. So I have cookbooks from Ft. Stewart and Ft. Bragg and Vilseck, Germany and Heidelberg, Germany - all chock full of precious recipes passed on from awesome women from all over the place that all have one thing in common - being married to the army! One time, I was searching for a supper idea and found (and cooked) a recipe in a cookbook from Germany. It was placed in there by someone years ago, and we happened to be stationed together in Georgia! Small army, right?

Anyway. I have not told you the reason I love recipes. See, a lot of my family recipes have been passed down. And my Great grandmother, whom everyone just calls Granny was the creator of many of these precious family treasures. She made them up! She tried different things until she came up with THE recipe. So sometimes when I am making one of them, I get a warm fuzzy thinking of this Granny that I never even got to meet, adding the same ingredients to a bowl and making the same thing that I am making. And Mimi in her kitchen, after learning from her mother, making this pie or cake. And Momma, after learning it from Mimi, has taught it to me. Warm fuzzies and maybe even chills! It is a way that we will all connect through space and time. Wow, right?

And my Momma, just after I got married came to visit David and me at Ft. Eustis, VA. She brought with her a small handful of recipes that she had copied down for me. Things she said she thought I might like to have. And the best part is that she added commentary. So I have these treasured recipes, in my Momma's handwriting, with her little comments. Like "chop them big, so David can pick them out" or "I just use evaporated milk" or "to make buttermilk, just add a tsp. of white vinegar to milk." Little tips that she would tell me if we were making whatever it was together. And because of that, we sort of are together, you know?

My first time cooking a real Thanksgiving supper, as I have said before, I was in Germany. As the date approached, I was getting nervous. The summer before, I was at her house while David was deployed, and we did a practice Thanksgiving. We made the whole feast in June, so I could practice. But still, I was so far away and I was worried. I had TONS of questions. Momma had just started e-mailing and figuring out computers. So to answer my questions, she took notebook paper and hand wrote all of the answers to my questions. Then had Daddy scan the handwritten pages and e-mail them to me in Bamberg, Germany. They got me through, and I think we had a pretty darned good dinner. To this day, I have those handwritten notes in one of my cookbooks. And every time I cook a Thanksgiving meal, I pull them out and the directions that she wrote for me in her handwriting with her commentary like for washing the bird, "Wash that sucker good, Dana" and "Mimi and I both used canned broth for the gravy sometimes, so you can, too."

So on the surface, recipes can seem like just a few instructions to help you cook something, but sometimes, they can be like love letters from past generations. I know I am sappy, but it is that time of year! I have said that I love this time of year. . . Nostalgia sort of come with the territory, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dude, where's Thanksgiving?

OK, I know many people have been discussing this lately, but seriously, what happened?! I cannot keep this to myself. Now, I am going to weigh in. . .

In the good old days, no one ever put up any Christmas decor until AFTER THANKSGIVING. It was like an unwritten rule or something. I remember being in Germany the first November we were there, and I was shocked to see Christmas stuff up SO early. But then, they are not huge on Halloween (unless they live near an American Military installation and their children can come and get candy) and then they don't do Thanksgiving. So it was a shock to my system to see Christmas stuff up in October. I did not decorate until after Thanksgiving, though, as I was raised.

So I did sort of enjoy their not celebrating Thanksgiving, though. The morning of our first Thanksgiving in Germany, we were expecting 12 friends from all over Germany. See, we army folks do stuff like that, end up being "family" when we are far from home. Anyway, I had last minute additions, so David had to go buy new linen napkins that morning. Wouldn't have been able to shop so freely here, right?

I digress. I enjoy Thanksgiving. And I will tell you a secret, I do not even eat turkey. Never have. But I do cook one almost every year (unless David is deployed, he is my turkey man). I just love the family stuff. I love a holiday actually existing that encourages us to just be thankful. Not to ask for more things, just to be grateful for what we have. I love making hand turkeys. I love the men watching football. I like the afternoon naps that everyone takes because they are so stuffed. I love pecan pies! I love leaves crunching at your feet as you stroll off your dinner. Thanksgiving is THE fall holiday, you know? I mean, growing up in GA, it was not usually that cold at Halloween. But you could count on Thanksgiving (most of the time).

We took down our Halloween decor (and there was a LOT of it this year - yeah, we had a humongous ghost suspended with fishing line on the front porch), and got out my fall tablecloth and hung a turkey wreath on the front door. I did not get out a Christmas tree. It is not time.

I LOVE that the kids are upset about what I am now calling "Christmas Creep," too. Spencer from the backseat will point out (a) the people that have not yet taken down Halloween decorations and (b) the people who have prematurely put up Christmas lights. I get so tickled. He always says, with authority and some sadness in his voice, "Oh well, Mommy, maybe those people don't celebrate Thanksgiving. You know, not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving." And Jessa keeps saying she is excited for Thanksgiving first, then Christmas. I am quite proud of this from my material girl!

Now, that being said, I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I will be pulling out my tree as soon as the dishwasher is loaded from our Thanksgiving feast. And yes, I have already been shopping here and there, but for the decorating, I am holding off. I feel that one of the things that makes Christmas so special is that it is NOT 3 months long. It is a special, magical time of year that comes but only once every 12 months. (And just like not decorating too early, my Southern family fully believes that bad luck will come to you for the entire year if the clock strikes 12 at midnight on New Year's Eve and you still have some tinsel hanging around.) I mean your birthday would not be special of you left up the balloons and banners all year. The decorations would seem normal and usual, not exciting and cool. Maybe Jesus feels the same way? Maybe He likes the Christmas Season, His birthday, to be special and different.

I love Christmas, but last night at church during supper on NOVEMBER 11, 2 weeks BEFORE THANKSGIVING, the pianist was playing CHRISTMAS CAROLS. I am not exaggerating, it made my stomach flip-flop. And it made me sad for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthdays change when you are old

OK, so I know that I am not "old." But I am old enough that birthdays are not a huge thing to me anymore. I really think it is the being a mother thing, you know? Jessa was born 11 days before my 28th birthday. And I must say that I almost forgot that birthday, and ever since then, well, birthdays, I'm just not that into you.
On Jessa's first birthday, I realized what it was. See, on my own birthday, I did not do very much. A doctor performed some surgery on my Momma, and then I was born. I do not even remember it! But then the days that my babies were born, now those were special days, days to remember, days to celebrate.
So Friday was my birthday. I was born 34 years ago in an Army Hospital in Germany. It is a happy day, right? But I had no big plans.
Back in the day, I used to whoop it up. Like my 21st birthday! Wow! I was a senior at North Georgia, and all I had all day was cake and beer. A healthy and tasty combo, I am sure you would all agree. Or my 26th birthday, we were in Germany. David threw me a party. He cooked (on the grill), baked (a cake), blended (margaritas), and cleaned it all up. He rocks! I had all my good girlfriends over. And I'll always remember my friend Tara gave me the Survivor soundtrack. Awesome!

Then there was my 27th birthday. He drove 70 miles one way just to take me out to dinner at Ft. Lee only to drive another 70 miles the next morning back to school at Ft. Eustis. But that was about the last time I remember being truly excited about a birthday.

I mean, I always thought I would really celebrate 30. That is a big one, right? I had a friend getting married in Australia. Perfect! A big trip to celebrate, right?
Wrong, I was 7 months pregnant with Spencer and had ice cream at the Varsity with my 2 year old.

Two years ago, I spent my birthday with one of my dearest friends at her house at Ft. Gordon. She said, "I'll take you anywhere you want to go for a special birthday lunch." I chose McDonald's! That way, we could talk while the kids played. That was all the gift I needed: chatting with another Mommy and watching the kids have fun.

This year, my parents took the kids and me out to supper. The kids voted Olive Garden so that they can get the waitstaff to sing to me, and then they can help eat the chocolate cake. Shockingly, David was out of town and missed the embarrassing singing spectacle. I did get a basket with flowers, a balloon, a bear, and chocolate in it from my sweet husband. And the card said he has lined up a babysitter (Bay) for a special night put and belated celebration on Tuesday. Yay! I got lots of cards, flowers from my parents, and a ton of wished on Facebook. Gotta love Facebook!

Well, we did go to Olive Garden. It was pretty good. The kids had fun and LOVED when there was loud clapping and singing that made my face turn red. They were most disappointed, however that there was no chocolate cake. We have seen them give cake to others recently. But maybe they stopped it? Oh well, Spencer picked out a fancy chocolate cheesecake dessert. We got it to go. And my kiddos and I ate cheesecake out of a Styrofoam container, drank big glasses of milk and watched the premiere of Spongebob: Truth or Square. And I cannot think of anything that I would have preferred doing - except maybe if David were on the couch with us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ballerinas and math

Jessa LOVES her ballet class. She has always been a dancer at heart. She sings and dances and puts on shows all the time. I was actually apprehensive about her taking a formal ballet or tap class. I did not want making it formal to suck the joy out of it for her. I needn't have worried. She can separate her "moves" from the "moves" that she learns in class. And oh yeah, she loves it. She likes the special clothes she gets to wear. She even thinks it is cool and special that she can only wear her shoes IN the class.

For her birthday, May got her a new ballet backpack and a new ballet sweatshirt. She was thrilled and could not wait to go to class the next day to put them to good use.

Here she is headed to class:

It was a special day for me, too. See, with our Awana class overlap issue, I have never gotten to stay and watch. Since the ballet room walls are all mirrors, the moms and dads can watch without the kids really seeing them using all the reflecting that is going on. But this night, I got to stay because Awana was cancelled because of Trunk or Treat at church. Yay, me!

I so enjoyed peeking around the corner and watching her follow the moves of her teacher. She did a great job.

I was so impressed with her.

I so loved the sweet looks on her face.

One night a few days ago, Jess and I were discussing ballet. She was telling me some of the names of moves and even showing me some foot positions. And then she thought of something that was clearly bothering her. She is all about counting now. She has a song that counts all the way to 100 and she is way proud that she can count that high. So in the spirit of her love of counting she said, "Hey mom, did you know that ballerinas can only count to 8?" At first I was not sure what she meant, but then it hit me - when you dance or exercise or even marching band, or anything musical, you count in 8's! Bless her heart, she was so worried about poor ballerinas and their inability to count higher than 8!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I am in Illinois. At an Air Force Base. I am 821.34 miles from Ft. Hood, Texas. Yet a man opening fire and killing 11 people and injuring 31 more hits so close to home. I am consumed with thoughts of what happened. I cannot stop googling it, trying to get more information. My televisions are not an Nick or Disney like they always are. Instead, I am flipping between news channels. I felt compelled to call my soldier, who is out of town (thankfully far from Texas), just to hear his voice and tell him that I loved him.

The army, and the military in general, we are all sort of a family. We are all "in it together," when it comes to most things. We have things in common. We can identify with each other when we go through things like deployments and relocations. We can empathize with each other when we deal with taking care of the children, the bills, the homefront when our military folks are away. We are similar.

But this. This is just too much. Too hard to imagine. I love to live on post and now on base because I feel safe. Safer than anywhere else. I have left my door unlocked. I am alone all the time on base for days on end, and I never worry. I mean, I have to go through a checkpoint and show my ID to come in, for goodness sakes. I never thought to worry about a soldier. Now I cannot think of anything else. I doubt any person who is living at Ft. Hood right now will ever feel totally safe on a military installation again.

Tonight my heart is heavy for all of my "army family" in Texas tonight.
I am speechless and heartbroken.