Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

I wanted to find something really special to post for Memorial Day. It is a fun weekend for lots of people, as it marks the unofficial start to summer. David already has stuff cooking on the grill for our supper tonight. But this day is about so much more than that. I tried to think of the perfect post, but I could not. So I am cheating a little. I am reposting something that I originally posted on November 3, 2008. It seemed appropriate.

Where Warriors Walk

At Ft. Stewart, Cottrell Field is a special place. This is the field where returning soldiers march to their anxious families for a long awaited reunion. There are babies who meet their Dads for the first time on this field (David first met Spencer there. . ). There are homemade signs and waving flags. There are bands and families who drive from all over the country to see their soldier return home. It is a magical place for these families and their soldiers.

As soon as we got back to Ft. Stewart last week, I started pointing it out to Jessa and Spencer as the place for Daddy's Welcome Home Ceremony. They recognize it each time we drive by and get so excited. They have been planning his Welcome Home since he left! Jessa wants to make him a special cake and a special supper. And we already ordered his sign. We really are counting the minutes. They both have missed him so much.

Cottrell Field is more than just a place for homecomings and reunions and parades. The field is now surrounded by a memorial called "Warrior's Walk." It started during the first part of the war when the 3d ID was the "tip of the spear" taking Baghdad by storm. A tree was planted to honor the life of each fallen soldier from the 3d ID. They are beautiful trees with a name plate honoring the life of these heroes. There are American Flags and unit flags. Sometimes the families decorate the trees with ornaments or wind chimes. The trees are lighted at night, and in the dark, they are quite breathtaking.

There is a ceremony to dedicate the trees (usually once a month during deployments). The families are invited to see the trees and hear the names of their soldier read aloud as each life is honored. I have attended many of these ceremonies, and they are so special. Many times they are after the memorials or funerals, so the families have had some time to start to heal.

The trees being placed lining Cottrell Field is deliberate. It is a place for Homecomings. And it celebrates every soldier coming home, even if in spirit only.

Originally, the trees were only on one side, but sadly, the walk has been expanded to surround the field. Now there are several sidewalks and posts to mark each entrance. They also have maps to help visitors locate particular trees.

I am so touched that Ft. Stewart and the Army have chosen such a special way to honor the lives of these soldiers and to show their families how much we all appreciate their sacrifices. I wanted to share this tribute with all of you. We all want a happy reunion on Cottrell Field after a deployment. But I am glad that the families who do not get the reunion they planned and hoped for can at least have a living memorial to their loved ones. I honor these brave soldiers and their families. The kiddos and I visited "Warrior's Walk" this weekend. I am teaching Jessa and Spencer to be grateful to live in such a wonderful country where we are free to live wonderful lives. I also want them to be grateful for these heroes who died protecting our freedom.
I know I am.

Happy Memorial Day!
And God bless every soldier (and their families) who paid the ultimate price for my freedom!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Unsoft and Unmanageable

People, let me tell you.

My brain never stops thinking and rethinking and worrying. Not always bad things or even stressful things, just constantly thinking of things.

When do I do my best thinking? Well, that would be in the shower. Yep. I grudgingly wake up and force myself into the nice warm quiet shower. Most of the time, no one is awake except me. David is usually already gone or out of town. And unlike weekend showers, there are no babies with questions or in need of help. There is no one coming in and out. Just me.

So last Wednesday, I am in the shower. And I am planning when to take Spencer's teacher presents since it is was his last day of school. Oh and I need to make a dessert to take to church. Do I need eggs? And also I need to finish getting gifts ready to take for Awana awards night. I need to stop by Jessa's school to pick up some things. What should we eat for supper? Oh, yeah, we are eating spaghetti at church. Have I ironed on Spencer's last patch on his vest? Did I wash Jessa's leotard for ballet? I think she gets her costume tonight for the recital. I need to learn how to make a prettier bun for her hair. Where are those blue jewels for Jessa's vest? I need to buy more soap. When should I take Stewart to the vet? Oh, yay, he is almost out of isolation. What am I going to wear? Is it going to rain? Where is David today?

You know, just a few passing thoughts. And I got out and got dressed. I took the towel off my hair. I grabbed my comb and uh-oh. Of all the many things that I was thinking about in the shower, apparently conditioner was not one of them. But because I spent so much time thinking and planning in the shower, I do not have time to do anything about it. No biggie, right. Conditioner is not that necessary. I managed to comb it out without crying.

And throughout the day, I came to realize that I do in fact need conditioner. My hair was like straw! So IF you are ever wondering, hey, am I wasting my time and money using conditioner? I can tell you from experience, you need it! The claims of making your hair soft and manageable are so true! Yikes! Condition, people. You won't be sorry!

And as for me, I will make sure that conditioner always crosses my mind in the shower - somewhere between defrosting chicken and paying the car insurance bill.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tree hugger

I have no idea what prompted this.
I have no idea where he even got this idea.

One afternoon last week, Spencer was busy making things. He loves to color, draw, write notes, cut, glue. And the kids have a place with tons of paper, markers, crayons, scissors, envelopes, glue, tape, you name it. And my sweet boy spends hours there, just creating things. So this particular afternoon, it was not anything out of the ordinary. He was making a card. I could tell because he folded the white paper in half.

Then a little while later, he asked me how to spell "tree."
So I called out to him, "T."
Then he said, "OK, now what?"
I called out "R."
And so on.

In a couple more minutes, he was finished.
He presented me with the fruit of his labor.

It was a card alright.
It had a BIG red heart on the front.
He was so proud of it.

Wanna see the inside?
OK, here it is:

That's what it says:
From Spencer
To Tree
I love you Tree

Here is the object of his affection:

And since trees don't have hands, we needed some ribbon.

I threaded it, and he tied it on.

Here they are together.
A boy and his tree.
This would make Shel Silverstein smile, don't you think?
Only in Spencer's version, he is doing the giving - at least for now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Waiting room

If your husband ever begs you to let the kids have a fish, and you finally give in because he PROMISES you that he will take total responsibility for the fish, and said husband is in the Army, don't fall for it. Bless David's heart. He started begging me to let Jessa have a fish when she was about 3 months old. Every time we went to a store with cups of Bettas, he would pretend to be baby Jessa and say, "pwease, mommy! I wanna fishy!" I finally caved when Spencer was about a year old. I have blogged about our fish exploits here and here.
So what I am trying to tell you is IF you are married to a soldier, and your family has a fish, no matter how much your soldier may want to help with the fish, just face facts and add fish care to the list of stuff that you just have to handle.

Our fish each have a 1 gallon tank. I think they must spit water out of their tanks when we are not looking because they need more water pretty often. And about the time the level is getting low, the water looks cloudy, so I prepare to clean the tanks and give them fresh water. As with most everything in my life, I like to change the fish tanks in a grand and dramatic fashion. And I have a system that I have developed over time that must be followed. I fill a huge plastic fish bowl with 2 gallons of water and treat it with the magic-keep your fish alive-droppy-juice. I also fill a small plastic fish bowl with water and treat it with the magic juice. Then, I let the water sit over night. This is the way I make sure the temp is just right. It becomes the same temp as the tanks they are swimmin' in. (aren't I clever?) This way the actual changing water stuff goes pretty fast.

So last Tuesday, I got the water all set up in the staging area to get all room temp and ready. And finally, late on Wednesday, I was ready to actually fix our fish friends right up. I transfer the fish from their tank to the small fish bowl with the pretreated water, dump the tank, and set about the task of cleaning it out. My sweet boy wanders into the kitchen.

Mind you, this is the way I have been changing fish water for literally years. And both children have seen me do it a couple times a month. You'd think they had noticed the process before. OK, so maybe they noticed, but Mr. Spencer apparently has not ever thought about it before.

Spencer heads straight for the counter. He puts his little nose right up to the plastic bowl with the somewhat confused Betta fish swimming around in it.

He looks at the fish for a couple minutes as I continue cleaning stuff.

He is thinking, though.
I can see the wheels turning.
Spencer: Mommy?
Me: Yes, son.
Spencer: It's like Chloe is at the doctor's office.
Me: Uh, I guess, how do you mean?
Spencer: Well, here she is. You know, out here in the waiting room, right?
Me: (through stifled giggles) Yes, I guess she is.

Quite a wet waiting room!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Things that make you go EWWWW!

**Read with caution - this post is in the toilet, or it should be!***
Just when I think that the crazy children I live with have done it all, something like this happens.

The kids are very concerned with after bathroom cleanliness. This is a good thing, right? You want to be thorough in this area. And they love toilet paper. This is good when you need toilet paper rolls for crafts, but sometimes it causes some problems. Let's just say that we have a great plunger that feels very comfortable here. My children guarantee this plunger's job security - no danger of its being laid off, trust me.

I do not get upset when we have our little toilet clogs. No biggie, I can handle it. But the kids, well, they get a little upset when it happens. There is some mild freaking out. At Bay's house, Spence will not flush without someone checking to make sure that it is OK. May worries about the pressure that this poor little guy must feel. I mean no one should fear flushing, right?

Well , last Sunday, I was emptying trash cans all over the house. I do this every Sunday in preparation for Monday, which is trash day. I noticed an overflowing trash can in the master bathroom. It was full of tissue of some sort. I did not think much about it. I kept on going. Then I got to the first upstairs bathroom.

Now I am intrigued.
I snapped this quick picture:

I continued on with my emptying
and ended up downstairs in the powder room.
I found this:

3 for 3.
Now I gotta ask.
What the heck is going on with the massive amounts of toilet paper in the trash cans of ALL 3 bathrooms!??

David is out of town.
I did not do it.
Hmmmm? Let's see.
Who else should I ask?
Who else could have done this? Hmmm?!
Oh the mystery! The intrigue!

Me: Spencer, what's up with the trash cans? Did you do this?
Spencer: Not me, Mom.

This was not surprising. I was thinking that it was the other kid all along.

Me: Jessa, what's up with the trash cans? Did you do this?
Jessa: Uh.
Me: OK. Spill it. Seriously, what were you doing with all of this toilet paper?
Jessa: Well, uh, I , uh did not want to clog the toilet?
Me: Oh, Jessa! You fished toilet paper out of the toilet before you flushed it?
Jessa: Oh, no, Mom! I have just been throwing it away.
Me: Huh?
Jessa: Mom, I have just started putting my toilet paper in the trash can instead of the potty.
Me: Ewwwww!

I took the opportunity to explain to her that there is a reason that we put it in the potty.
My skin crawled several times as we had this discussion.

After I thoroughly explained to her the magnitude of the "ewww factor" on this issue, I think she got it.

A light bulb went off and she said,
"Oh, so I should just do a courtesy flush like when I am in a public bathroom?"
Yes. Yes!
That'll do it.

And if the courtesy flush doesn't do the trick, never fear.
Flush with confidence.
We have a plunger - with a lifetime warranty.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Nelda Jane Futch Parrish and her baby, Melanie Ann at her Christening

Melanie Ann Parrish Johnson and her baby, Dana Janel at her Christening
Nelda, Melanie, and Dana Janel Johnson Key and her baby, Jessa Lynn at her Christening
Nelda, Melanie, Dana, Jessa Lynn, and baby Spencer Johnson at his Christening

Thank you God for the best Grandmother, Mother, and babies a girl could ask for!
(and my babies are pretty lucky in the May and Mimi department, too!!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sweetest brother

100 % of the time, Spencer is a sweet boy who love love loves his sister. That is not to say that he does not get mad or upset or frustrated with her, but even then, he worships her. Jessa loves him deep down and has her moments, but she is usually much more self-centered than Spencer.
The other night, Spencer was working on a beaded necklace. We love to string beads around here. I have about 42 necklaces and 37 bracelets that they have made for me. Tonight, Spence was making a necklace for his favorite little girlfriend from church and school. He asked Jessa to help him. She agreed. He handed her one end of the necklace to hold. And yes, it was the untied end. And she let it go, thus emptying every last bead onto the floor. She said, "uh, sorry." And sweet Spencer said, "That's OK Jessa." He did even have a moment of being upset. I sort of wanted to cry, though. Because no matter how hard they try to pick them all up, in the middle of the night, I a going to stumble in to the kitchen and step right on a bead. ouch.

In a few minutes, he had more beads on the string. And she was holding one end and trying to teach him a jump rope rhyme thing. And sure enough, she let go of her end. Again. And every last bead hit the floor. Again. And she apologized. Again. And again, he said, "That's OK Jessa." But he went one step further. "I still love you, Jessa." I melted.

And here are some pictures of my sweet babies from the soccer games on Saturday.
Poor old Spencer did not play. But he loved running water out to his sister during her game. He even sat on the sidelines with her team. And then this is the way they walked to the car. It took blue forever because they were walking pretty slow, but that was OK. I would have walked 100 miles if they stayed just like that.

Walking along.



Sharing their thoughts about the world.
Enjoying each other.

Loving each other.

And being my sweet babies.
They just grow up TOO fast!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's a tie

For quite a LONG time, Miss Jessa has been working on learning to tie her shoes. This has been tough because she does not have a lot of shoes with ties. She likes sandals and Mary Janes, etc. No ties.

A few weeks ago, she let me know that her shoes were all starting to feel tight. (as were Spencer's. I swear, their feet grow too fast!) So we headed out to buy some new. May happened to be here, so she shouldered some of the financial burden of having children with rapidly growing feet. I guess at least they both have good UNDERstanding. (Get it? I used to get that all the time when people thought my feet were big. . .)

Anyhoo. We are all about the shoes that light up. I am fully supportive of this because, well, I think they are cool. And they do not make shoes that light up in my size. This means 2 things.
1. I am living vicariously through my children.
2. They better wear them now because at the rate their feet are growing, they may not be making light up shoes in their sizes too much longer.

So we ended up at Famous Footwear looking for tennis shoes, as we call them. Although, I think calling them "athletic shoes" is more accurate since we never play tennis. Spencer settled on a handsome pair of Buzz Lightyear shoes that, yes, light up.

And Jessa. She fell in love with a pair of Twinkle Toes, by Skechers. David and I both LOVE Skechers, so I knew they were good shoes. They were so pretty. I was green with envy. They had rhinestones on the toes, they had pretty paint all over them, the laces were sliver and sparkly, and yes, they LIT UP! She was in love. (So was I.)

Um, yes, excuse me, do you have this in a ladies size 8? No? What about an 8 and 1/2? No? Really? Security, no need to call security. I am putting the shoe down. OK, OK, I'm going. **sniff, sniff** Do you have a kleenex?

The problem, of course, was that she was not too keen on tying them herself. And then there was an incident where a boy that she thinks is soooo cool made a comment about not loving them that made her refuse to wear them for a few weeks.

But last week. She was loving her Twinkle Toes again. And she became determined to tie those suckers herself! And after many, many, many tries, she got it! By George she got it!

She really got it the morning we were headed for the Field Trip with her class. This resulted in her spending the entire morning tying her shoes, showing me, and then untying them, you know, so she could tie them AGAIN!

Here they are.

On the bus.
For the umpteenth time.

Such a big girl!

I am so proud!