Thursday, July 29, 2010

Army brats

We are an Army Family. We have the parts of it that we love, new places, new friends, new stuff, welcome home celebrations, travel. We have the parts that we do not love, packing, leaving, moving, saying good-bye, deployments.

Summer is prime moving time for the military. And it is so good to be on a summer moving pattern because the kids do not have to change schools in the middle. I am already planning like 3 moves in advance to try and help the kids avoid that. Being new is bad enough without adding, in the middle of the year to it!

I digress. In the summer, on a military installation, when you drive through housing you are constantly dodging trucks. Just today, driving from our house to the other side of base, we saw 4 trucks. Today. This summer, we have had 3 houses in our general area pack up and move. We were really sad last Thursday when our next door neighbor, Father Bailey moved. We all loved him - especially the kids. He was their best customer every time they had a lemonade stand! And boy is the turnover on base is quick. He cleared his house last Thursday and yesterday there were new cars there. Wow!

So this morning, Spencer and I were snuggling and watching some cartoons while he was still waking up. He heard a truck outside. He asked, "is it garbage day?" I told him, "no, I bet it is a moving truck next door." And he looked puzzled. "Mom, Father Bailey already moved." And I said, "I know. And now more people are moving in." "Oh," he said. No big deal. He is used to it. He did not even go and look. Army Brat.

Then a few minutes later, Jessa woke up and wandered down stairs. She was still half asleep. She glanced up and out the window, in front of our house, all she could see was this:

She looked out the window. She looked at Spencer and me. She looked out the window. She looked back at Spencer and me. And then my sweet little Army Brat calmly and quietly asked me a question. She was not upset or worried. Just curious. "Hey, Mom. Are we moving somewhere today?" I got so tickled at her. That is my ever adaptable girl. My perfect Army Brat! She was not unhappy, just checking. I took the opportunity to assure her that if we were moving, her first clue would not be a truck pulling up to the house. We would definitely give her some warning!
And then,
they huddled at the window to take part in another
time-honored Army Brat tradition:

checking out the new neighbors to see if they have KIDS!
(or more accurately, kids with better toys then they have. . .)

Friday, July 23, 2010

My first born

And no, I am not speaking of my first born human child, Jessa. No.
I am referring to Dunken Emmit Key. He was a wedding gift to David and me from my parents. We searched forever to find the perfect dog for us. We decided on a Westie. The first puppy that we picked out had a congenital disorder that did not develop until he was weaned. So, bless his heart, we only had him a few days. But then Dunken came into our lives. He was chosen because after the sick puppy, Momma told me that puppies are supposed to play with your shoelaces. And when the lady let Dunken out of the cage, he ran over to my feet and started playing with my laces. So in a way, he picked us.

We wanted a cool Scottish name to go with our cool terrier from the Scottish Isles. We were stumped. But when I put him down in the backyard at Momma's house, he walked right over and fell into her pool. After I fished him out, he got a Scottish name with a creative spelling to reflect the fact that he "dunked" himself. So in a way, he chose his own name.
He was so tiny and precious and bad. Seriously, he would empty trash cans and chew up the trash if we left him home alone for too long. He chewed holes through baby gates to break free. He cried on the floor until we put him in the bed with us. And he had two speeds: Off and On. And when he was on, buddy, was he on! He was never still, never quiet, well, unless he was asleep aka off.

He has lived everywhere we have lived. He has moved with us every time we have moved.
Ft. Eustis, Momma's house, Bamberg, Germany, Mannheim, Germany, Momma's house, Ft. Lee, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Polk, Ft. Stewart, and now our first AFB, Scott.
He has lived near snow,
near the beach,
and near lakes.
He has traveled all over Europe. He was a passenger on the ICE train to Berlin. He has been to the Eiffel Tower. He has eaten well at restaurants: Cordon Bleu, yes, for a dog. He has been swimming in the English Channel and the Rhine River, among others.
He even cruised the Rhine a few times.
He has climbed to the top of Neuschwanstein Castle
and been to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich and ridden to the tops of mountains in France.

He has flown over the Atlantic 12 times, in the cabin at my feet.
He has ridden countless hours in the car,
my constant companion,
my trusty co-pilot.
He has helped me make new friends when we move because I would run into people when I was out taking him for a walk. He has lived in apartments and duplexes and houses and even out of suitcases in hotels.
He has accepted any and every new family member that we have gained since he joined our family. We have introduced 2 cats,
another dog,
and not 1
but 2 children to our family.
He never missed a beat. He has loved them all as much as we do. He has accepted Momma's Cooper and Daddy's Abby without a second thought. His heart is big and full.

He has never met a stranger. He firmly believes that every person who enters our home or yard has come just to see him. Yet, he barks at anything and everything out the window.
He is terrified of thunder.

He is allergic to everything, and I spent 8 weeks cooking a special fish diet for him completely from scratch. And I cannot even stand to smell fish, much less cook it!
He loves warm clothes, fresh from the dryer
and sleeping under the covers so he can lick your toes.
And we always arrange the furniture in every house so that he has something to climb up on to see out the window - the worst idea we had was placing our bed under the window in a stairwell apartment overlooking the parking lot! Many nights we woke up to him standing on our faces to see out the window.
He has a stocking at Christmas and a basket at Easter.
We once threw him a birthday party and actually invited "dog friends" over to have homemade doggie biscuits and cupcakes.
He will steal your warm spot in the bed
or your chair if you get up.
"Shuffle your feet, lose your seat."
These are words he lives by.
He takes this being a terrier thing very seriously,
and he loves to dig
and dig

and dig.
He likes to take care of himself. Every night, before bed, he performs "paw maintenance." He licks his paws until they are drenched.
If you shout "SQUIRREL," he will run outside at full speed. If you do not open the door fast enough, he will run into the door.
His favorite phrase is, "Dunken, do you want to ride?"
He has helped me take and pick-up kids from schools in 3 states.

He is the sweetest and most precious dog you will ever meet;
we love him with every fiber of our beings.
And this week, he was diagnosed with cancer. It is hard for me to even think about it, much less accept it. We have seen a specialist and for now, we have started chemotherapy. I know lots of people think that it is ridiculous to spend the time and more importantly the money on treatments for a "dog." But to us, Dunken is oh so much more than that. He is a founding member of this family. At the moment, he is absolutely happy and acting like himself. As long as he is barking at the garbage truck and begging for daily, oops, I mean hourly treats, we will continue to see the specialist. Thankfully I have parents and grandparents who also feel that Dunken is 100% a family member and who are more than willing to help with the financial part of his treatment. I have cried many tears this week, and my Dunken has let me hold him. And he has licked my salty tears off my cheeks like he has done so many other times throughout our lives together. He really is so much more than a "dog."

He's our Dunken

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An eye for detail

I have already told you that we had the perfect vacation. There were so many things that were so much fun and so special. I am going to share one more significant story, and then I am going to stop being obnoxious about our trip, OK??
Jessa is the daredevil child. You know, she'll try anything. She leaps! She is confident and not afraid and willing to give anything a shot.
She was happy to play out in the ocean with David.
She was happy to float on the waves.
She even said it was her lifelong dream to ride some ocean waves.
How lucky she is to have her life complete at age 6!
Spencer is more standoffish. He likes to sit back and watch things. He is not one to jump in to anything. So one afternoon while David and Jessa were out being brave and spalshing in the surf, I suggested to Spencer that we take a little walk. So we started walking and looking for shells.
It was so much fun.
He was so precious.
He is a detail man, and he is always spotting things wherever we go.
So this shell hunting thing was right up his alley. And I loved looking at the shells through his eyes. Most people when they are walking along the beach, looking at shells, they want the biggest and the best and the most well preserved. Not my boy. He found all sorts of cool shells that were broken or even only a small piece.
He did not pick up just anything. I am not saying that he did not have standards. Now, I never could figure out exactly what attracted him to any one piece.
I am betting he could not have put it into words either.
But it was magical.
Walking along, listening to the waves
and watching my sweet boy concentrating on what he might find.
The funniest part was then we found something. I was all excited. Spencer, I said, I think I founds some coral. He looked at me and shook his head. He said, Nope, Mom, that's gum. When we got back to David, he confirmed Spencer's proclomation. It was indeed gum. Yuck!

Spencer also got Jessa and David in on the act.
We walked along the next morning and found all sorts of cool things.

And of course, Spencer and Jessa both found tons of treasures.

They may not look like treasures to us, but to them, they are priceless memories of a great vacation!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Babies+Vacation= PICTURES

Not sure what is up with blogger, BUT I keep losing all of my witty and insightful remarks that I added to go with these pictures. I am trying again, although the wit and insight may be at a minimum. . .
I love taking and sharing pictures of my babies.
I love taking and sharing pictures of our vacation.
Here is the best of both:
Want to what one of the best things about vacation to the kids (OK, and me, too)??
A room with 2 beds is perfect for hotel gymnastics.
Sorry, my camera could not keep up with them!
Hotel beds are FUN!
And they come in handy, since playing all day at the beach can wear you out, you know?

David's idea:
He confessed later it was so he could take a nap. . .

Driftwood pose:

Even elevators are cooler on vacation!

They are so patient with me. . .

Climbing old trees is so much fun!

Spencer - safety first.
Even though he was 10 feet from the water, he was prepared.


Why, yes, she is climbing a tree in a dress.
And no, I can't do much with her. . .

My little Mermaid:

We had just checked into the hotel and they HAD to put on swimsuits and check out the ocean first thing. It did not matter that it was dark! Jessa said that David and I should enjoy it because it was "romantic."

Only one more vacation post to come, I promise.