Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas EVE

Merry Christmas Eve!

The Crazy Keys are gearing up for a very small and special Christmas at home with just 4 humans, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 2 fish. The children got to pick our special family meal for the occasion. They chose a very traditional meal. In fact, I am sure that many of you may be eating the same thing that we are. Tacos. OK, so we have never eaten tacos on Christmas before, but I think it is a wonderful idea, don't you?? Then we will go to church and hopefully right to bed. I will be super mad if my night owl children try to stay awake and Santa skips us!

Last night, on Christmas Eve Eve, the kids and I decided to have a slumber party. David blew up the air mattress for us. We put it right in the middle of the floor in the den. And then Jessa, Spencer, David, Max, Molly, and I piled in on our flannel, snowflake sheets and watched "Elf!" It was so much fun. We played the games on the DVD extras. We ate candy. What a nice, relaxing way to spend some family time. And it is especially fun when the kids do the loud, fake-ish laugh to all of the funny parts in the movie.

And then the kiddos actually spent the night on the air mattress with the Christmas Tree on all night. One of my trips to take Molly to the potty, I snapped a quick picture.
When we all woke up this morning, it was snowing!

A beautiful blanket of white covered everything. Yay!

And it makes my heart smile to see how much Miss Molly loves the snow.

Dunken LOVED the snow so much.

Look at Dunken's face! Happiness!

He would rub his face in it and roll around in it and run and run and run. Max does not even like grass to touch his delicate feet, so snow is particularly offensive to him. He gives me a look like, "Lady, thanks for rescuing me, but why couldn't we just stay in GA!?"
But to watch Molly and her joy makes me feel so close to Dunken.

That may seem crazy, but it just tickles me to death.

So Merry Christmas Eve from Illinois!
David has agreed to take the kids sledding soon so that I can keep the cooking and baking plan that I had for the day. And here's hoping that the snow will not cancel May and Bay's trip. I honestly think that the babies would be more disappointed if Santa cancelled than if May and Bay couldn't come. . . (and maybe I would be, too!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Early Christmas Present

Two years ago tomorrow, this picture was taken:

My heart was so full and so happy because our Max had come home and joined our family. I first discovered him at the vet's office on December 1, but he had so many health problems that he could not come home until December 17, 2008.

He is the most precious animal. OK, so he is not the brightest of dogs that you will meet, but he is absolutely the sweetest. And he has been such a comfort to me these past few months. But he is not crazy about being an only dog. Just not his thing. He never used to notice when we would come and go, but now, when I leave his sight, he cries.

So a few weeks ago, I really started thinking that maybe I could see adding another sweet Westie to our family. We are just Westie people. Dunken sold us on the breed. And quite honestly, he sold others, too. We have had friends at almost every place we have lived that got a Westie because of Dunken. I always considered him such a great ambassador for the breed.
Who would not want a gorgeous Westie like our Dunk?
I looked high and low at rescues. I wanted another Max. A dog who really needed us. But they were HARD to find. And the ones I found were snatched up before I could even see them. And there were several that refused to even consider us because we had children 7 and under. And believe it or not, some rescue organizations don't want to allow military to adopt because we are deemed "unstable." Ha! Maybe our addresses are unstable, but I think I am rather well-adjusted thank you very much.
So we kept thinking and looking.

And I even talked to the kids a little bit. Asking them if they thought we should consider adding to our family. They thought it was a good idea. I asked them, what kind of dog would you like? They both shouted "A Westie!"

So I searched some more and I found a sweet little girl puppy. Jessa has always wished that we had a girl pet. I think that is why she loves Daddy's Abby so much. She LOVES the boys, too, but she has always wanted a girl. The farm where the puppy was born is in Missouri. Not in convenient St. Louis, but slap across the whole state! Seriously, it was about 5 hours away, but I decided I could handle that! I put down a deposit on her and then waited.

I bought some puppy pads.
And I waited.

I bought some puppy food.
And I waited.

I even picked out a precious collar and bowl. And I waited.

And we picked out a name, like it??? IF not, keep it to yourself, it is too late. . . ;-)

But then today, finally, my wait is OVER!
All of our waiting is OVER (I think the kiddos were ready to explode and David and I only told them on Tuesday. . .)

Today, on December 16, 2010,almost exactly 2 years after my Maxie came to live with us,
Molly came home.
I am a Westie girl - I think Dunken would be pleased.
Max is not too sure about this whipper snapper who ADORES him.
She makes Maxie look EVEN bigger.
Thanks to an icy night on Wednesday, neither kiddo had school today. I just waited til the roads were clear and we headed out! The ride there was tough because they were so anxious. Then on the way home, I was having to time "turns" holding her.

She could never replace my Dunken, but having 2 dogs just feels right for us. And I kind of think that Dunken would approve. We honored him by sticking with the breed. And I just know he was watching us today with a happy heart as we drove more than 400 miles round trip to pick her up.

Merry Westie Christmas from the Crazy Keys!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Troubles

Y'all, I love the holidays. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. For real.

Hey, that would make a good song lyric. Maybe I should look into that.

Anyway. I love decorating and shopping and baking and wrapping and looking at lights and just spending lots of good family time. Oh, and of course, I love cards. I have always enjoyed Christmas cards - both sending and of course seeing everyone else's. I used to not put pictures, but now it is like my favorite part. Plus, I LOVE to see everyone's babies and dogs and cats.
Like my friend April, she can do amazing things with her cats. I swear, they pose.
OK, so I always stress about Christmas Pictures for my card. I want cute. I want funny. I want festive. I want it all. Well, you can't get all that in one card, so I accept that. So this year, I did a fun photo shoot with my kiddos at Scott Lake on base. It was lots of fun. They were so cooperative. I came home, uploaded to shutterfly, and created awesome cards. I was so excited! And I was so proud that I made a decision so quickly.

By the way, I love love love Shutterfly. David has suggested we set up some sort of automatic withdrawal with them directly from his pay check. I am not ruling this out.

So here is our card this year:

It is perfect, I think. The subjects, the photographer, the location, the creator of the card, just perfect, I tell you.
So then I set about finding all the right addresses. An occupational hazard of being a military family is that each year your card list needs lots of work and updates. Thanks to Facebook, this is way easier than it used to be. . . Updates list, check!

I printed the labels. The kids helped me stick the labels on the envelopes. We put the stamps on. We sealed the envelopes. I tried not to think of the untimely death of George's fiance' on Seinfeld as we lick the envelopes. And Voila! We had cards all ready to go. Ready to send out to friends and family. We were all set to spread some Christmas Joy!

So then, I took said cards and put them in the car.

Then the next day, I got in the car, and those darn cards were STILL there. The nerve.

Then the next day, I got in the car, and yep, you guessed it, those lazy cards had not moved. They just sat there. Mocking me.

A week goes by, and I was digging around in the front seat for some gum and you will not believe what I found under Max's car pillow, a week's worth or receipts, and my purse. If you said Christmas cards, you would be right. How can this be? They have not been mailed yet? The mail carrier did not think to look in my front seat under all my trash and my scarf and my PTO folders. Really? Is there no customer service left in the world? They were RIGHT there. In plain sight.

So I finally decided that maybe I had better give them a little help.
So on our way to run some errands, Spencer helped me and our Christmas cards out.

We found this strange blue box on the curb outside the post office building. I opened his door and he actually placed the Christmas Cards into this slot type thing on the blue box.

He was very thorough and placed only about 2 cards at a time in the slot.

I guess you can never be too careful.

And after all that we have been through waiting on these cards to be mailed, we did not want to take any more chances.
And apparently, they will be sent from there. I guess that is pretty easy. Well, not as easy if someone had just mailed them for me, but not too hard.
Here's hoping it works.
Now onto baking.

Do you think that buying the flour, the sugar, and the eggs is enough to end up with delicious Christmas cookies?

Or is this going to be like the card thing and require a little more follow through?
Wow, I cannot believe how much work is involved in holiday preparations. . .

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to sell a house

I am by no means an expert. But here is a little bit about my experience with selling a home.

We put our house on the market in March of 2008 when we found out we would be leaving Ft. Polk and headed to Ft. Stewart - 2 moves ago. It was basically a new house - we bought it in May of 2006. We LOVED this house. David put up this LONG fence around our awesome yard.
It was a LOT of work. . .
Our lot was more than an acre, and we LOVED the big yard.
Wait, did I say yard?
Well, it started out as a big mud pit,
but with lots of blood, sweat, and tears, David turned it into a gorgeous yard.

He even needed a lawn tractor to keep it under control.
Spencer tried to help. . .

He planted trees.

David also screened in the front porch.

And built a pergola.

This house was OURS.
And it had 4 bedrooms and 3 FULL baths.
And the kitchen. Ah, that kitchen.
And my bathtub.

Did I mention that we LOVED this house?

But as in most army assignments, it has to come to an end. So we were ready to move on. And today, December 9, 2010, after 2 Realtors, 3 signed contracts, 2 Early Occupancy Agreements resulting in 2 sets of renters (1 set for more than a year while we waited on them to sell their house and close on ours), 2 Home Inspections resulting in 2 sets of rather expensive repairs and improvements, countless faxes, e-mails, and phone calls, getting our hopes up more times that I care to remember, and 5 scheduled closings, WE SOLD THE HOUSE. For real this time. It still has not sunk it with me, I don't think. This has been hanging over my head for so long. I have hired plumbers and dishwasher repairmen long distance. I have sent checks to landscapers to keep the grass cut. I even bought a new hot water heater over the phone from Sears in Louisiana! You name it, it went wrong. But FINALLY, it is OVER.

We did not sell the house for nearly as much as we wanted to. But in this day and age, and with all the seemingly endless trouble, I can honestly say that being finished with this chapter is worth every penny that we did not make holding out for a better offer. I am not a wheeler dealer real estate type. But I did learn a new term this week, "upside down."

Apparently in "home selling," if you sell your house and end up owing money then you are "upside down."
I am thrilled to say that this chapter is now closed
we are right side up, baby!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Me and my shadow

I have not blogged too much lately. Losing Dunken has been absolutely one of the hardest things that I have ever had to face. I have not even been able to talk about it much. There are neighbors who did not even know because I could not bring myself to say the words. His bowl is still in the dish drain by the sink. I cannot bring myself to put it away. I like seeing it there as if it is waiting for me to feed him at any moment.
The biggest source of comfort for me throughout this whole ordeal has been Max.
Some people have commented that having another dog must make it harder to handle the loss. But I have found it to be quite the opposite. Checking on Max, feeding Max, medicating Max has been something to focus on. And helping him deal with the sudden loss of his friend and partner in crime has been good for me. He needs me. And it feels good to be needed. I was so focused on keeping Dunken comfortable and happy and taken care of right up until the very end. So without Max, I would have been absolutely lost.
And I think he kind of likes me, too. He is always with me. I sometimes feel guilty because he never can get settled anywhere because I am not still very long at the time. And when I am upstairs in Stewart's domain during the day, he has to stay downstairs. And the silly sweet thing stands at the bottom of the stairs, stares up at me, and just whines until I finish whatever I am doing and come back donwstairs.

I finally moved one of the extra doggie beds into the kitchen because he would just stand there and stare at me when I was sitting at the table or doing things in the kitchen.
I wanted him to at least be comfortable while he was keeping tabs on me.
He is such a little blessing to all of us.
Don't know what I would have done the past few months without him. Thank God for my Max, my precious little shadow!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Always prepared.

Spencer is destined to be a boy scout. I hope that he wants to pursue this activity as he grows older. And not just because it is sort of in his blood - his uncle Lucas is an Eagle scout and David was pretty involved in Scout, too.

He is always trying to be prepared. He never gets ready to go anywhere that he does not head to the car with his arms full or a bag packed. It is comical and frustrating. These packed bags full of treasures often get left in the car or laying around. Apparently, once the trip that they were packed for is over, they are no longer of any use to him.

The original focus of this post was about a trip to the park where he packed a bag and the contents tickled me to death. So I took some pictures of the contents of this fancy Wal-Mart bag.

Here are a couple of shots of the packed bag with all the treasures.

Some of them seem normal enough, all little boys like to play with helicopters, right?

But do we need a single piece from a Hot Wheels stunt set at the playground with no cars?

Or a can opener? Really?

Then once I started typing and thought about how common this is, I found a few more bags that he had packed. Here is another aerial view into another bag.

And here are the contents: 2 toothbrushes, a marker, a train, a toy story memory card, a plastic duck, a ball, some Christmas bubbles, a tea cup, a snake, a car, a frog, a jeep, a little man, and my personal favorite, the top of an acorn.

And here is a bag that he carried with us to church one week. Yes, my 4 year old took a Crown Royal bag to church. Bay said, "Dana, don't worry about it. We are not Southern Baptist!"

Inside the super appropriate church bag was the following: a bulldozer, a shoestring, 3 place card holders from Thanksgiving, a plastic tool, and a handful of light bright pegs.

Heaven help me, I cannot begin to tell you what my child is ever thinking.
But I do love his little brain!