Friday, August 29, 2008

Beginning the Process

I went to my Transportation briefing today for our Household Goods. Normally, Chris would be doing this stuff because he's the soldier, but since he's off playing in the sandbox right now, I get to do it. I got to sit in a little classroom with about 30 soldiers - I was the only one there who wasn't wearing ACU's - and listen to a lady read aloud every word that was on the packet I got when I signed in. Then we went through and filled out the pick-up application together as a class. "In box 1A where it says Name, write your name..." What is this, kindergarten?

Anyway, I got through it and we are having our house packed up on September 15th and 16th. I guess I'd better get my butt in gear and get everything ready, huh? I have lots of lists of everything I need to do, everything I need to pack for the trip, what's coming, what's staying, all that kind of fun stuff. Now I get to go through and write down the serial numbers of all of our electronics, take pictures of everything to document it's condition, gather all of our important papers to hand get the idea.

I think these next 2 weeks or so will show my true mettle as a self-sufficient Army wife. Let's just hope I don't accidentally let the movers pack anything important, like my car keys or one of my kids....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Movin' On Up

Well guys, it looks like we are finally moving. We have our house up for rent, with "high hopes" from our property manager that it will get rented this month. He's already had some interest in it, so my fingers are crossed. But, rented or not, we are leaving. We've decided that there is really no point in sticking around much longer, so I have tentatively set a date for September 15th to pack up the truck and the kids and skedaddle on out of here. My Mom has volunteered to drive with me across the country, so I won't be doing it by myself.

I have a briefing with Transportation on August 29th, I'm hoping I can set my appt with the movers for around the 10th or 11th. Once our household goods are packed up and on their way to CA, we won't be far behind. The plan is to drive from here to Medford, OR, and we are going to take about 2 weeks to do it. I want to stop and visit friends along the way, plus the kids aren't going to be able to handle more than a day or two in the saddle without a break. Once we get to Medford (where my Grandma and various extended family live), we will stop for a few days to visit, then my mom will fly back here to AL to start packing up their house and the kids and I will drive down to Crescent City (where we grew up). Chris' family still lives in town, so we'll be crashing at their house for the remaining 3 to 4 weeks until Chris comes home. Once he's home, we'll pack up the truck again and finish the journey down to Fort Irwin. Whew!

Think I'm crazy to drive 3000 miles with 2 small children? Probably. But we are going to make it as fun as we can, and try to experience a little bit of America along the way. The last time I drove across the country, Chris and I had just gotten married. We drove from Tennessee to California in May in a Geo Tracker with no AC, and a tape deck with exactly 2 tapes - The Steve Miller Band and CCR. And we were on a time crunch. I don't care how in love you are, 16 hours a day in a hot car with nothing but Proud Mary playing will get on anyone's nerves. Hopefully this trip will be a little more enjoyable! Although I'm not sure trading out CCR for the CARS soundtrack is going to be all that much better....:-)

I'll keep you posted on the plans as they come together...wish us luck!!

My Blue-Eyed Baby

I just had to share this picture of Jack-Jack eating his oatmeal and applesauce. Would you just look at those blue eyes? I swear they keep getting bluer and bluer. Is "bluer" a word? Anyway, I hope they stay this color, they are so pretty. Aiden's eyes were completely brown by now, so maybe there's hope!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Flash Forward

You know how sometimes you have a flashback or a "deja vu" moment, where you remember something that happened before? Well last night I had a "flash forward" moment, a very clear picture of what my life is going to be like for the next 20 years or so. Let me explain....

I decided to give the boys a bath together last night and save myself some time. Since Jack is able to sit for a few seconds now without falling over, it's a little easier to bathe him. They are both in the bathtub, splashing and having a grand time when Aiden gets one of those hair-brained ideas that little boys are so famous for. He takes a big mouthful of bathwater (I will never understand the need to put the water that you just bathed in in your mouth, but boys are just gross) and spits it out over the side of the tub onto the floor. This makes his adoring little brother burst out laughing hysterically. Now if you have boys (or men), you know that nothing is a bigger incentive to continue doing something than laughter. Aiden takes another big mouthful and does it again, to Jack's delight. So now Aiden's spitting out water, I'm yelling at him to STOP IT RIGHT NOW, and Jack is laughing so hard he can't breathe.

This is just great. Jack is only 4 months old and already his big brother is thinking up retarded things to do to make him laugh. What's going to happen when they get older? I'm seeing lots of broken bones and stories that will be funny when I'm 70.

I always said I wanted three boys. Mind you, I said this before I had any boys. I think it's turning out to be one of those "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it" things. You want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Beginning of the End

I was at the computer yesterday and Jack was playing on the floor behind me. I turned around to check on him and he wasn't there. Huh? Where could he have gone? He was on the other side of the room, having rolled there all by himself. I knew he could roll from his tummy to his back, but not the other way around. He must have figured it out in his sleep or something, because he's been rolling around all over the floor ever since. He's 4 months old.

Now you may be thinking this is a good thing, he's getting so big, blah, blah, blah. No! This is NOT a good thing!! I was enjoying the fact that I had one child that would stay where I put him. Now, they are both mobile. How is this a good thing? Not only do I have a whirling tornado to contend with, now I have to chase around after my little rolling tumbleweed, too.

But of course, I have to praise him when he does it. I mean, he looks so proud of himself and it is pretty cute to watch. And it's quite an accomplishment for a 4 month old, so I have to be a good mommy and show my appreciation. "Yay, Jack....." Oh well. It just means I get to burn more calories, right? Right.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

McCain or Obama?

The Presidential election is fast approaching. We all know that voting is important, but sometimes choosing a candidate can be confusing. It's hard to remember who stands where on what, and where you fit into all of it. Check out Vote Help. You answer a series of questions about the current issues and your opinions on them and then it will spell out how much you agree with the two candidates, issue by issue, and give you an overall rating. It's interesting to see it all spelled out, and it may make casting your vote in November a little easier. At least you'll be well-informed on where you stand!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Travelin' Tuesday - Roaring Bay

When I was seventeen, I packed my bags and went to New Zealand for 6 months. Seriously. I nannied for a family with 5 girls under the age of 9. As if that wasn't an adventure in and of itself, we traveled all around the country while I was there - 2 weeks on the North Island, 2 weeks on the South Island. These pictures are of Roaring Bay, in Kaka Point, which is on the very tip of the South Island of New Zealand. If you keep going, the next thing you'll hit is Antarctica. And one other thing, it's really cold. And I mean really cold. There are antarctic winds that blow off the waters, and I have never been so cold in my entire life.

The colors in this picture have not been altered in any way - the water really is this blue. It's absolutely beautiful.

As the sun was setting, we were treated to a rare sight - wild penguins. They are hard to see, but I've circled them in blue. These are Yellow-Tail penguins ( I think....) of which there are only 500 breeding pairs in the world. But this was 10 years ago, so maybe there are more now! It was totally weird to see penguins on the beach, very surreal.

If you ever have the chance to go to New Zealand, GO. In my humble opinion, it's the most beautiful country in the world.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot!

I came home yesterday afternoon after going out to lunch with my mom and my house felt really warm. I checked the thermostat and it read in the mid-eighties. Not good, since it was set at 76. Hmmm...I lowered the temperature to get the air to come on and nothing happened. My air conditioner went kaplooey. So I checked the breaker switch which was no help at all, and decided to give my home warranty company a call. Since it was Sunday I had to wait until Monday for them to send somebody out to look at it, so the kids and I picked up and went over my parent's house for the night. It was just too damn hot to stick it out here with no air conditioning! Alabama in the middle of August is probably the WORST time to have your air go out. The technician came out this morning and looked at it, and told me that the computer board in my air handler was bad. I have no idea what that means, but he managed to bypass it for the time being so I have air, but the fan is going to run 24/7 until they get the part in. Of course it has to be ordered, so it will be about a week before it's totally fixed. At least I have air conditioning now though. I'm just glad this happened now instead of 2 or 3 months from now when we have a tenant in here and we are on the other side of the country! Anyway, it's a nice, balmy 75 degrees in my house now, which is just the way I like it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Growing Boy

Jack had his 4 month well-baby check-up today. He weighs 14 pounds, 7 ounces, which is over a pound more than Aiden weighed at this age. Since Aiden is big for his age, I shudder to think how big Jack's going to be! I really don't know where my kids are getting this from, since Chris and I aren't really big people....Anyway, the doctor says that he's pretty advanced for a 4 month-old (which of course, I already knew...) since he's already pulling himself up to a sitting position and loves to stand while holding your hands. He has a lot of strength in his legs, and is doing very well.
I started him on rice cereal last week, since he seemed to be hungrier than usual. He is not fond of rice cereal, he doesn't like it at all - not that I blame him. Have you tasted this stuff? Nasty. So I asked the doctor if I could go ahead and give him fruits and vegetables and he told me to go for it. So I went with the bananas first, since my doctor told me that they've disproved the notion that you should give veggies first, apparently it makes no difference. Here's a picture of Jack's first taste of bananas.

After a few bites, he was all about it. I guess bananas taste better than rice cereal. I think after a few days of bananas, I'll try mixing it with the cereal, see if he likes that better. Anyway, now that he's started on solids, I'm sure he's going to really start putting on that baby fat!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Travelin' Tuesday - Flossenburg

Not every place I've visited was fun. Germany is a very beautiful country, but it has a very tragic past. About 45 minutes or so from where we lived in Vilseck sits the remains of Flossenburg Concentration Camp. I've always been a huge World War II buff, so I jumped at the chance to visit.

My first impression was that it's very quiet. The air is heavier there, the silence is almost physical. You can literally feel the sadness that surrounds the place like a thick fog. It's very eerie. Thousands of innocent men, women and children were slaughtered on the very ground I was standing on, and my soul felt heavy. It's hard to breathe.

Some of the buildings are still standing, you can walk through the barracks where they stacked prisoners - sometimes 4 or 5 to a single bunk. There's a section that used to be the hospital, where they performed experiments on pregnant women and their babies. When you see the evidence of what mankind is truly capable of, it makes you want to run home, and yet somehow, you can't turn away.

Yes, this is what you think it is - an oven. This is where they cremated the bodies of the prisoners that were killed. Either shot, worked to death, starved to death or those who simply gave up hope. It's very small. At first I wondered how they could fit the bodies in there, but then I realized that by the time they made it to the ovens, they were so emaciated that the adults were the size of children.
This display caught my attention more than the others. These are actual shoes that belonged to the prisoners. There were piles of them, as the guards stripped the prisoners of all their personal belongings. There were piles of shoes, clothing, luggage, even gold teeth. And they were literally stripped of their humanity when entering the camps, prisoners were considered a sub-human species.

I've studied World War II in depth, and I thought I was prepared to visit a camp, but nothing can prepare you for the impact that this kind of place has on you. And while visiting a site of mass slaughter is not exactly enjoyable, I think it's necessary. This happened because people forgot how to treat one another, forgot that we are all equal in the eyes of God, forgot that spilling innocent blood has consequences. I think that by visiting these places and feeling the horror, we can fight back and prevent it from happening again. If you ever have the chance to visit a concentration camp, I highly recommend it. It will truly open your eyes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sleepy Child

When you are a mom of small children, there is nothing better than a sleeping toddler. Except maybe a really big margarita. Last night around 7pm I was in the kitchen and I looked up to see what Aiden was doing, because he was awfully quiet. And if there is nothing better than a sleeping toddler, there is nothing worse than an abnormally quiet one. Luckily he was just on the couch enjoying his ritual Cars showing before bedtime, and at first I thought he was just sitting really still while watching the movie, but then I realized he had fallen asleep. Sitting straight up, even! I had to snap a picture, it was so funny. I carried him off to bed and he half woke up, rolled over and went back to sleep, and I didn't hear a peep out of him until 7 this morning. I'm not sure why, but he was one tired little boy....

Friday, August 8, 2008


Well, I met with our realtor today about putting our house on the market. We weren't expecting to be able to make very much on the house since we've only owned it for 2 years. But with the market being so very crappy right now, we would have been hard-pressed to even break even. There are some houses in our neighborhood that are going for over $20,000 less than what we would have had to sell ours for, and they've been on the market for quite awhile already. So, in view of that we have decided to rent it out instead. Hopefully in a few years, after this big influx of troops that are supposed to be coming to Fort Benning in 2009-2010, the housing market will increase and we can actually sell it for a profit. In the meantime, we are going to be landlords! The problem is that our realtor (now our property manager), says he's got a lot of people looking for rentals that will be available in September. It's not my first choice, but if it means that we will be guaranteed a renter before we leave, I guess I can be out of my house in September. I could conceivably be moved out of my house in 3 weeks! I really hope we can find someone that will be okay with October 1, but you never know! I'll probably be crashing in my parents house until Chris comes home...could be fun...:-)

Anyway, here are some pics of the house after we did all that work to it....

This is the front of the house, where we did some landscaping:

The side of the house:

Rather than replace the whole countertops we decided to do some tile accents where the damage was. They are really good for setting hot pots and stuff on!

And finally we have the newly remodeled kids' bathroom, complete with fresh paint, new countertop, new wood floor and painted cabinet:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Official

Chris re-enlisted this morning, and we are now Army lifers. He will finish out to retirement with the Army, but he won't even be 40, so I'm sure he'll figure out something else to do after that. We've got 10 more years to go, and I'm sure that we'll have lots of stories to tell along the way, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Travelin' Tuesday - The Temple of Zeus

For this week's edition of Travelin' Tuesday we have the Temple of Zeus, in Athens. That would be Greece, not Georgia. In April of 2005, when Chris returned home from Iraq the first time, we fulfilled a dream of ours and went to Greece for a week. What a beautiful country, and so steeped in history. Right outside the entrance to the Plaka (the old center of town), and right in the middle of a busy intersection sits the Temple of Zeus. It's several thousand years old, and only 12 of the old pillars still remain. As you might guess from it's name, it was a temple dedicated to the Greek God Zeus. What's weird about Athens is that it's a very modern city in some respects, but interspersed among the skyscrapers and huge banks and office buildings are relics of the the old Athens. As I mentioned before, the Temple sits in the middle of a busy intersection in downtown. They literally just built the road around it, and I'm talking several lanes of very busy traffic. Getting to the Temple was a little dangerous, as Athenians don't like to stop for pedestrians!

Here is a picture of the Temple of Zeus:

And here is Chris standing in front of it, to give you an idea of just how huge it is:

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Pint For a Pint

The other day we (me, my parents, sister and kids) went out to Bruester's for ice cream after an afternoon spent at the park. There is nothing like ice cream on a hot day. When we got there we saw that they were doing their "Pint for a pint" blood drive with the Red Cross. You give a pint of blood, you get a pint of ice cream. Now, I'll do just about anything for ice cream, including giving blood. I used to give blood often when I was younger, and I had a tendency to pass out afterwards. But I figured that since I weigh about 30 pounds more than I used to and I'd just upped my blood sugar by a 1000% by eating a peanut butter cup sundae, I was probably good. So my dad and I decided to give it a go and donate some blood.

During the screening process, they ask you all kinds of weird questions like, "have you ever had a brain covering transplant?". Seriously, has anyone ever actually answered "yes" to that question? Then she entered my social security number into the blood computer and said, "oh, you were born in California, you last gave blood in September of 2000 and you're O positive?" Ummm...okay. That's not creepy or anything.

So after the screening and testing of my blood for anemia, I was pronounced a good candidate and they hooked me up. I filled up the little bag with blood and got a nice hot pink bandage on my arm to show for it. I sat up slowly and I felt fine, so I got up and made my way to the front of the blood mobile for some cookies and juice. And that's when it happened. Yep, I went down. Apparently I turned completely white and the nurses came to my rescue and laid me back down on the bed. I was clammy, I thought I was going to throw up and they were laying ice cold rags on my neck and forehead. It was not a pretty sight.

I did survive though. I finally was able to sit up and graduated to walking around about 20 minutes later and was able to drive myself to my parent's house where my mom was waiting with the boys. All this for some free ice cream. was Oreo.... :-)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It Never Rains in Southern California....

That's not actually true, it does rain in So Cal, just not where we're going! But as I mentioned before, we have our orders, so it's in writing. We are going back to California. I also have in writing that we are authorized advanced placement on the housing waiting list back to when he first left on deployment. Which means that when we get there, we are going to bump a whole bunch of people down on the list, and we should get a house almost immediately. I think a part of me should feel bad for the poor people who are going to get bumped because of us, but I'll have gone without my husband for 15 months, so yeah, I'll take some preferential treatment. I'm starting to think this move may actually happen, now that I have some concrete proof!

Anyway, we are finishing up some stuff on the house this weekend, then I'll post some pics. It's looking quite fabulous, I think! And if you are in the mood to read, check out Crazy in Alabama, Lindsay's new blog. I can personally vouch for how crazy she is... :-)

Friday, August 1, 2008


We got our orders today! I now have it in writing that we are going to Fort Irwin, CA! More later, I'm busy painting right now, I just wanted to let you all know our big news!