Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Go Ma, It's Your Birthday!

Tonight, just before midnight (EST) as we are all preparing to welcome in the new year, Washington, D.C. will be commemorating another fantastic event. The last baby born there in 19__ will be celebrating her birthday!

That baby was my mom. And yes, she is documented as the last baby born that year in our nation's capital. And what a gift she has been to the world. There is no one smarter, more dedicated, or more compassionate in my life. She has a heart of gold and if she loves you, hold on and be prepared to be loved for a lifetime.

Happy birthday, Ma. When you tell me how proud you are of me, when you tell me that I am a good wife and mother, all I can say is I'm everything I am because you loved me.

Now party like it's your burf-day. ;)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Isaiah's Determination - 1 ; His Ankle - 0

Just a week after taking his first unassisted steps, Isaiah had his first "mobility-related" trip to the E.R. last night. He had been cruising along the couch yesterday when he stopped to stand and watch TV. Suddenly he lost his balance. His body twisted and down he went ~ face first. His cry wasn't the usual, "I fell down, went boom, now baby me!" It was the sound of pure agony. I grabbed him up and examined his lips, teeth, nose, and head. I couldn't find any blood or obvious injuries. I cuddled him in my arms and after a time, he calmed down. In hindsight, I should have noticed that he didn't try to pull up on anything after that.

When James came home and went into his whole, "How's my little man?" routine with Isaiah, I told him about his tumble and how mellow he had been since then. He asked me if he had hurt himself and that's when it finally hit me. I asked James to try and stand him up. Isaiah absolutely could not put any weight on his left foot. James sat him down and attempted to rotate his foot around the ankle. Isaiah yelped out in pain. James removed his socks. Isaiah's left foot and ankle were not only swollen, but warm to the touch as well.

James didn't think anything was broken, but since Isaiah couldn't tell us exactly what was wrong, off to the E.R. we went. Four hours and 7 x-rays later we had the verdict: Isaiah sprained his ankle. In his fall, he had twisted his ankle and rolled over his left foot. The doctor asked us if we thought he would tolerate a brace. We told them about his orthopedic leg braces (AFOs) that he wears to school everyday. He said to try putting those on him and the follow-up team would call us to schedule another round of x-rays in a few days.

We decided to keep our weekly appointment with his physical therapist today (we usually go on Wednesdays, but this Wednesday is the practice's rescheduled holiday party). It was the best decision we could have made. By the end of the session, PT Larry had Isaiah successfully in his braces and adaptive sneakers. Ever so gingerly, Isaiah had even begun to bear the slightest weight on his left leg. PT Larry says he sees a lot of injuries like that in kids like Isaiah. (He even demonstrated how it probably happened). He says Isaiah will be just fine. That's exactly what I needed to hear. We'll keep him braced and Motrin-ed and he should be good-to-go before we know it.

At the moment, Isaiah is sitting in my lap happily kicking his right leg---as if to say: Rest up, Lefty. We have places to go.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The week between Christmas and New Year's

There's that whole post-high from Christmas morning and the anticipation of New Year's Eve. Do we take down the decorations or leave them up a while longer? James is on a half-day schedule and the kids don't go back to school until January 5. No schedule. No real routine. It's kinda nice.

We hope everyone had a blessed Christmas. The snow has finally melted and the Seattle rain is back in full effect. We don't have any plans for New Year's Eve; I don't think we've had "plans" since the early 90's. Yesterday we started to talk seriously about our travel plans for 2009.

Originally, we were going to drive down to California, see the Golden Gate Bridge, visit some friends in the Bay Area, and dip our feet in the Pacific Ocean. But now we are thinking about Super Sizing it--all the way to Arizona. (My sister lives there as well as some friends of ours whom we met during our 2nd tour in Germany). It's going to take extreme planning and patience, but James thinks this is something we can totally do. Not doubts from me; we did drive from Oklahoma to Maryland before we moved back overseas.

But then again, we didn't have to drive back...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

"If only I had operated earlier..."

...before it cleared up on its own".

Dr. R tried his best to feign disappointment at Isaiah's ophthalmologist appointment today. Dr. R is the latest eye doctor to follow Isaiah's nystagmus (shaky eyeball movement) and strabismus (misaligned eyes). At our initial appointment back in the spring, he had been eager to perform corrective surgery. But he wanted to see Isaiah 2-3 more times before scheduling the procedure.

Before he even began the exam this afternoon, he noted vast improvements in the very appearance of Isaiah's eyes. He joked that his colleague in private practice always says to operate when you get a chance--before it corrects itself (because, you know, little Sally needs braces and Mama could use a new Coach bag...) Surgery is OFF the table now and he wants to see Isaiah again in 6 months. He isn't even worried about the ptosis (droopy eyelids) at this point because it doesn't seem to be affecting Isaiah's vision. He is tracking beautifully with both of eyes.

Isaiah has definitely opened our eyes to the little miracle he is.

Our Early Christmas Present

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowed in. And I haven't killed anyone yet.

The kids got an early start to their Christmas Break. Thanks to the unusually snowy weather and freezing temps., their last week of school was fragmented with late starts and snow days. (Lucky duck Isaiah hasn't had preschool since December 12). So I have essentially been "snowed in" with James and kids for a week now. You might think I'd be ready to pull my hair out. You'd be right. But it could be much worse.

When my mom came to visit last month, she couldn't get over how much of a young lady Savannah has become. "Didn't those 11 years go by fast?", she mused. "And just think: in 11 more years she'll be 22." Whoa. That really struck me. The last 11 years have gone by in a flash. Could the next 11 years truly turn my sweet Savannah into a legal adult?

Children grow up way too fast. And we waste so much time sweating the small stuff. Being surrounded by my lovies for so long now has made me realize how much I love being with them. Despite the "Tom & Jerry" antics of the girls. Despite the Cabin Fever. Despite the constant snacking.

James is home for Christmas--not off fighting a war. Savannah still wants to spend time with us. Mariah still believes in Santa. Isaiah is taking steps.

Aw heck. Let it snow, afterall.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I love Michelle Obama

With Inauguration Day just about a month away, this is the tribute I have been meaning to write for a while...

The night Michelle Obama gave her speech at the Democratic National Convention, I found myself beginning to weep like a child. I hadn't expected to be so moved by her words, but there I was--choked up, tears streaming down my face. As I watched her, was transfixed on her, hanging onto her every word, I was struck by this woman who at that very moment was poised to become our nation's next First Lady. There she was on the television screen. Not shaking her booty in a rap video or hysterically shouting on Maury that she is 110% sure of who her baby daddy is. There she stood proudly expressing her love and appreciation for her parents, her upbringing, her husband, her children, her country. An educated, devoted working mother and wife--not unlike many of my friends and family members. Not exactly the image the world is used to seeing, but the reality I (and many of the people in my life) have known.

Michelle Obama gives an undeniably high profile face to the "black woman" not many in the mainstream get to see. A woman so obviously dedicated, classy, loving, smart, and so real headed to the White House is a coup not only for black women, black people, or even democrats, but for us all as a nation.

Isn't America great?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow,...wait. That's enough.

The kids' reaction to today's "Snow Day":

Mommy's reaction:

Daddy helped the girls create Uber Frosty:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fortune Cookie Say: You will make sugar cookies next time.

With our budget tight and time running out, I was practically at a loss for teachers' gifts this year (Isaiah has 6 school-related personnel alone). We drove down to Michael's over the weekend with the intention to buy baskets and fill them with the standard cookie fare. But then, these festive holiday Chinese takeout boxes caught my eye and I knew I had to have them.

Later that night, some particularly bad macaroni salad from the Wal-Mart deli allowed me some alone time to web surf for Christmas cookie recipes. Imagine my delight when I came across homemade, ginormous fortune cookies! Ding! Ding! Ding! That was it! I would write cutesy fortunes for a happy holiday to the teachers and place them in gigantic cookies that would fit just right in the festive takeout boxes! Too good to be true?

First of all the recipe called for "anise seed" which they apparently don't sell at the commissary. James called me from there and had 3 ladies helping him in the search. They didn't turn up fennel either. So I told him to grab some almond extract and call it a day.

The second issue was the size of the cookie itself: 8 inches in diameter. Which meant: A) one batch made only 1 cookie and B) I could only bake 1 cookie at a time. I began baking this morning after the girls' 2-hour delay. Isaiah and I had to brave the cold for a silicon pan liner when cookie #2 decided it liked the cookie sheet better than the cooling rack. After settling back in and completing cookies #2-#4, it was time to get the girls from school. Oh and who needs a snack? And look who's home--Daddy! Oops! Did I forget to cook dinner?

It was a ton of work and a truckload of patience, but I was really pleased with how they turned out. The irony of it all--we had to actually eat takeout for dinner.

Giant Fortune Cookies:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Baking Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow. Here. Really.

If the kids have a "snow day" tomorrow---a full week before Christmas Break officially starts, someone is going to owe me big time...


People throw around the term "best friends forever" entirely too casually. I mean, how many people actually stay best friends, forever? Along with my cousin, Michele (who has been my "Cousin Buddy" forever), and my good friend, Jennifer K.(whom I met in junior high school), Linda and I have been friends as long as I can remember. We met in 1981 and she recently celebrated her thirtysomething-th birthday! (And because we have been friends so long, Linda, I won't reveal your age).

My family moved to Virginia Beach the summer before I started the 3rd grade. Linda, her mom, and dad lived a few streets over. We ended up in the same class. There was something about her kind and sweet demeanor. I knew I wanted to be her friend. Our friendship has spanned decades--as we both got married and had 3 children each.

You know you have a lifelong friend when, in the 7th grade you slip on a patch of ice getting off a school bus IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL--losing a shoe up into the air in the process and said friend not only retrieves your wayward shoe, but does so without so much as a smirk.

Now that's a BFF.

I wouldn't blame her one bit for cracking up once she got to homeroom, though.

Video of the Week*

*...unless he Moonwalks before next Sunday. Feel free to turn the volume down on this one. While Isaiah is amazing, I annoy myself.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I can make your life easier, Mrs. B..."

I was all ears at that point. Any way that Isaiah's cardiologist could lighten my load--sign me up. Yesterday's appointment wasn't as productive as I had hoped; James couldn't get out of class to go with Isaiah and me and I couldn't convince Isaiah to be still for the EKG. So we'll have to go back to have it done.(*light bulb* James should be finished with his classes next week). We did manage to get a short echocardiogram done. I love seeing my little guy's heart on that screen--especially when it's doing what it is supposed to.

Up to this point, Isaiah has been on Digoxin (since he was 35 weeks in utero, through 18 months-old) and Propranolol. It requires dosing him several times a day. But yesterday, Dr. P. said Isaiah is old enough and hefty enough to start on another drug that he will take just ONCE a day: Atenolol. Ironically, it's the same medication I started taking in October. Can't you just see my stash getting low and I'm hitting up Isaiah for his drugs? At any rate, this change will definitely make our lives easier. Buh-bye Costco-inspired vats of applesauce and pudding!

Dr. P. did mention that as early as next year we should pursue a catheter ablation for Isaiah. Even on the drugs, Holter monitoring shows Isaiah's heart still having short bursts of SVT (rapid beating). The procedure would locate and remedy the problem with his extra pathway. We believe in the power of prayer, so please keep Isaiah in yours.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

He likes to move it, move it!

Today was a good day at physical therapy. PT Larry has suggested we send back the stander and rocking horse seeing as how Isaiah has made so much progress. He's ready for Isaiah to move on to bigger and better things (and by "bigger", I hope he's being figurative. Our house can only hold so much). My awesome son has been standing unassisted for several seconds at a time. And today he even treated us to an unassisted side-step. It was breathtaking. I couldn't even take my eyes off of him long enough to retrieve the camera. The movie clip I did post was all he would give up. He has learned to transition from a stand, to a crawl, to a tall kneel--all the way to "knee walking", which is as hysterical as it sounds. I'm sure he'll treat us to another side-step show soon enough. For now, this will do just fine.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Child with a Heart of Gold... 9 years-old today! She is so much like me, it's scary. In our crazy little world Mariah is our belly laugh, our voice of reason, our ray of sunshine. I am so proud to be her mom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sweet girl.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting My Cookies On!

We finally heard back from the Girl Scouts this week. Mariah asked months ago if she could join. I contacted the local chapter, but apparently there was a huge waiting list. They are just now getting back to us. They are in the process of forming a new troop--with most of the girls coming from Mariah's school. That's good in that she will know most, if not all, of her troopmates. She was really pushing for this Girl Scouts thing. She pitched it to us as something she could do on her own; her own space and time away from our challenging, but normal-to-us lives. It sounds like something that is right up her alley and I'm happy she's reaching out.

And I'm happy for me: they start selling Girl Scout cookies right after Christmas. Resolutions be darned.

It's a Boy!

I just want to take the time to congratulate Jamie and Nacho on the birth of their beautiful baby boy this week! Congratulations and I know the girls are going to love having a baby brother!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pierced Pastor

I remember getting my ears pierced like it was yesterday. The excitement of picking out earrings! The anxiety of the pain! The giddiness of getting pierced! Being like my friends at last!

Oh and did I mention I was 33 at the time?

We had grown up in a church that frowned upon it. And after a time, I had no interest anyway. But as I began to grow, mature, and discover the many sides of Sharon--I also discovered that sometimes a little bling on the ears does a body good. I started wearing clip-ons in high school. But as anyone who has worn clip-ons during the last 20 years can attest, they aren't always the cutest or most comfortable to endure.

After watching an episode of Oprah (ironically, it wasn't the one where she pierced her ears. It was an episode on aging beautifully), I made the decision to go for it. I also decided on that very same day to get contact lenses and a really great weave. Hey, you only go 'round once and there is no reason not to go 'round fabulously.

In early 2006 while the girls were in school, I left Isaiah with James and hopped the street train to downtown Darmstadt and headed straight for Bijou Brigitte. My functional German coupled with my awesome charades (*making a gun with my fingers and pointing at my ear lobes*) made it crystal clear to the shop lady just what I had come to do--either pierce my ears or blow my brains out. She handed me a piece of paper that I filled out (entirely in German), sat me down and got down to business. The whole process was relatively quick and painless. I've had clip-on pain that hurt more. And it was done. And I was thrilled.

So imagine my utter joy when my sixty something-year-old mother told me yesterday that she had taken the very same plunge. Two days ago my mother got her ears pierced!!! And it only took her twice as long to decide than it took me. At this rate, Savannah will be ready by the time she's...15!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Big Sis!

Today is my sister's birthday! We weren't always as close as we are now (she cut off one of my ponytails when I was 4 and she was 6). But I am honored to say that she is one of my best friends now. (You'd be my true BFF, Char, if not for that unfortunate ponytail incident. Or perhaps that "peanut butter incident" sealed your fate. Ew. I promised myself I wouldn't go there.)

I love and admire you, girl. Your determination and success are inspirational for me and a wonderful example for my girls. You are the best Ti-Ti in the world! We all wish you a very happy thirtysomething-th birthday!!!

PS: We can discuss the terms of the bribe to keep the peanut butter story off of my blog later a little later...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

It's that time of the year again: when I make my family crazy in my attempt for the perfect Christmas card photo. I prefer setting up shop at home as opposed to a studio for various reasons. Control being the biggest. I try not to obsess, although James and the kids might have a slightly different opinion. It's just that there is so much potential in a photo shoot. Things started out promising today. I washed and styled the girls' hair while James got Isaiah dressed. I even kept it simple--no socks, no shoes, no problem. But by the time I got them all in position, Isaiah decided to go all Cujo on Savannah--like in one of those "When Good Pets Go Bad" episodes. So I had to rearrange the lineup which put Savannah and Mariah directly next to each other. I might as well have asked them to kiss each other square on the lips. It was all downhill from there. I did manage to get a few decent shots---including one with all 3 of them smiling. It is a definite contender for the coveted Christmas card spot.

Unless, of course, no one objects to a "Retake Day"...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Run. Flat.

I thought I had done all of my research on our "new-to-us", certified minivan. After all, this is the vehicle that I declared way back in 2004 that I would be driving in 2008. Just ask the kids.

What I didn't realize (or what was possibly obscured by my lust for extra deep cargo space and an automatic tailgate lift) was the fact that run flat tires are standard on our van's model year and trim level. Which basically means when it comes time to replace the tires on the Odyssey, new *cough*spendy*cough* run flats have to be put on. Not sale tires. No "buy 3 get one free" deals for us. We can't even take it to just any tire shop. It has to be a place that specializes in the Michelin PAX system--which doesn't even include all of the Honda dealerships. I wish I was joking.

So James took the van in today to get the left front tire fixed. Apparently between the time we test-drove the van and subsequently bought it, that tire started losing pressure. So the dealership is eating half the cost to get it fixed. But that's still probably more than what a really good Goodyear would run us at Larry's Tire Emporium. At least I know that if I am alone with all three kids on a dark and rainy night in a bad neighborhood and get a flat, I have 100 miles at 50 miles an hour to find an authorized dealer...a dealer I hope won't be 101 miles away.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black. Friday.

How is this a good idea? Get up at 3am after woofing down an entire turkey dinner the night before to battle fellow bleary-eyed shoppers for both parking spaces and one-day-only-sale-priced loot? Despite my reservations, James and I braved the crowds this year for the first time EVER. Wasn't as bad as we had expected, but don't expect us to do it again. We were able to score a few good deals which was totally worth the hassle. And in the end, I treated myself to a decaf caramel macchiato--which was worth the early morning wake-up call.

Yesterday before dinner, we put up the Christmas tree and it really helped boost my holiday spirit (a 6-foot tall, pre-lit, spinning tree in the middle of your living room can have that effect, no doubt). Having my mom spend this Thanksgiving holiday with us has been such a blessing. How she is able to breathe with Isaiah up under her most of the time is a mystery to me. She couldn't even catch a break last night because Mariah put in her special request to "stretch out with Granny"...and that's how we found them this morning. I feel so fortunate to have a mother who loves me, James, and the kids and totally respects me as a wife and mother.

Dinner was delicious! And oh yeah, Savannah's Eagles won.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Officer and a Gentleman

Today is the day Mom gets in from the East Coast. It's also supposed to be the day that James' unit reports for duty in their Dress Blues uniforms---you know the really fancy ones (I think they have an inspection coming up or something). So I asked him yesterday if he was going to pick up Mom at the airport all gussied up. He tells me "yes" and that he's going to grab her up and carry her out of the airport like Richard Gere did to Debra Winger in the factory at the end of "An Officer and a Gentleman". He thinks he's pretty funny. That actually IS.

Love lift us up where we belong...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Whine of The Day

I'm pretty sure I have pink eye. *sigh*

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dusting off Flat Daddy

The funny thing about being assigned to a "non-deployable" Army unit is that, technically one is still deployable. A soldier can be re-assigned to a detachment of said unit and sent downrange anyway. James recently received word that he could be sent back to the Middle East as early as next fall. He is still on hold for the White House position (he was to report in February or March), but the person he is replacing has decided to stay on a little 18 months longer. I don't mind being here in Washington state longer than we had originally thought. There is a lot to love here: schools, medical care, housing...there's really no place I'd rather be right now. Except for maybe Washington, D.C. But I know everything happens for a reason. God is in control and it's His will we will obey. In the meantime, I'm going to pull out ol' faithful Flat Daddy. If he didn't make the last deployment more bearable, he sure did make it more amusing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I have a secret.

It's a good thing James can't keep a secret. My mom had barely pushed "Send" on her e-mail to James when he was already squealing that she's coming for Thanksgiving. James told her he would keep it a secret from me, but he knows good and well I need a 3-4 day window to prepare for houseguests. Especially my mom. We've decided Ma can still surprise the kids. It's been fewer than 24 hours since I got the news; there have been no fewer than 5 times that I have almost blown it. My main motivation is the look that will be on the kids' faces when they see Granny at their school on Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Random Pics. of the Day

Thing 3 and Thing 2 share a moment.

Savannah and James got up early so she could meet her "hero". She took her notebook so she could get an autograph. When she came back without one, I asked James why. He directed me to the characters hands...bummer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who, me?

Be careful what you wish for. We have been praying for Isaiah's mobility for years. Now that he is crawling and cruising the furniture (and the walls, and our legs...), it is time for some extreme baby-proofing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Team Brownie's Team Huddle

We scheduled all 3 parent/teacher conferences back-to-back last Thursday. It felt like The Amazing Race: Family Edition.

Isaiah's conference was first. (I just have to preface: this is the picture I was debating a retake, but James said it was fine. A few days before it was taken, the guard fell off of the clippers as James was cutting Isaiah's hair. Right in the front, right on the hairline. So in a desperate attempt to fix it, I pulled out a regular razor to blend his hairline. "Stop while you are ahead" never rang more true. By the time the damage was done, I already had him looking like Usher's unfortunate love child. Good thing is, his hair grows baack amazingly fast.) But I digress...Isaiah's teachers were impressed with how far he has come since the end of preschool in June (when he was covering his ears daily, crying and sending his pulse ox level into the 60's prompting an early dismissal). He is content to sit on the floor and watch his classmates as if they are his personal Kiddie Television channel. Ms. J even asked us if he plays with toys at home. Apparently at school, his peers behaviors are much more entertaining. What can he say: he loves his peeps. Recently, his aide had been sending his sippy cups home in his backpack. So I kept sending them back. At the conference I finally asked his teachers why we were playing the Sippy Cups Back & Forth Game and Ms. J said it's because he doesn't need the cups at school anymore. With a little help, he is now all about the open top Nosey Cups! That accomplishment + his losing baby teeth = time for another baby. *thud of James' faint in the background* Alas, I must silence those ovaries.

Mariah's conference was next. Her teacher could not say enough sweet things about her. She said her reading progress has been steady. And then she said something that floored us. She said Mariah needs to talk MORE in class. This is the same child who at home, I've had to actually ask to physically hold her lips closed just so I can hear myself think. Mariah says she'll try to speak up in class, but she was afraid of getting in trouble. Ah yes, this girl has my Goodie-Goodie DNA all up and through.

We finished up with Savannah's conference. Some of her strengths are in social studies and geography. Mr. M was impressed with her knowledge of Europe and the Middle East. A slow smile spread across my face. Living overseas has definitely provided a cheat sheet in that department. But he was concerned about her math skills. She was exited from resource in math at the end of last year, but he's not so sure that was in her best interest. So we are working on a plan so she doesn't fall through the cracks.

What really struck James and me is how all of them seem to have found their groove. Despite all that they have been through this year alone, they are still making strides...and making us proud.

Gosh I love those little crumb-snatching tax deductions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Playing Hookey and Baking Brownies

I'm not even sure what day it is. This is one of those weeks where every day feels like a Monday or a Friday. In addition to Veterans Day, this week features 1 full day of school for all 3 of my kids and 3 half-days for 2 of them. Today was supposed to be a physical therapy day for Isaiah, but no one told the weather. The flooding began overnight. Between that and the wind gusts, I decided to skip the trip over the bridge today. No worries, PT Larry has provided us with enough PT equipment that I could open my own practice right here in the living room. But of course none of that equipment got used today because, afterall, it was raining: I had to make homemade chicken noodle soup and brownies. And not just any brownies--they were Ghiradelli brownies.

Just because the bailout isn't working doesn't mean I can't indulge my sweet tooth with some seriously rich desserts.

And to those of you playing the "At Home Drinking Game": Brownie *chug, chug, chug*

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today we honor our war heroes. Two who are particularly close to my heart are my big sister, Charlene, and James. Char served with honor during the Gulf War and James has completed 2 tours in Iraq. During his last tour of duty, James re-enlisted for 6 more years. We don't know if and when he'll have to head back to the Middle East, but we will always be here when he gets back.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why I *heart* Craigslist

Addicted is probably a more accurate term. I had my first Craigslist experience back in October. We were preparing to yard sale when I realized--it rains a lot in Washington state. The last place I wanted to be early on a Saturday morning was shivering in the cold and drizzle trying to negotiate the price of crib bumper with a tightwad. That's when Craig's seed was planted. After making my very first posting and subsequent successful sale, I was hooked. I have been selling pretty consistently ever since. Granted, I was VERY hesitant about this whole meet strangers/exhange money/goods thing, but James and I have created our own safe words. A plus against the actual weirdos is that since we live on-post, we can meet prospective buyers at the official Ft. Lewis Visitor's Center in clear view of security cameras and a few dozen eye witnesses. If the items are particularly "manly" (like the drill we recently sold), I handle the e-mailing as "Sharon" and then I send James to the Visitor's Center as my "Goon to Collect The Cash". His face very much says, "Don't try to **** with me." I think I'm going to nickname him Craig.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

They call me MISTER Snagglepuss!

Look who lost his very first baby tooth today! I noticed it was wiggly-loose over the weekend and by today it was ripe. Mariah was the one who actually saw the tooth on the floor and thank goodness--I thought he might have swallowed it.

My baby is SO ready to be a big boy. Only thing is, I'm not sure if I am!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The people have spoken...

I have tried to keep my emotions in check during this whole election process, but tonight has reduced me to tears. We have just elected our first Black President of the United States of America. No matter who you voted for, you cannot ignore the gravity of it all. I am unapologetically proud, amazed, and hopeful. My dream is that we can all get past the negativity that has loomed so largely--sometimes even over some of our friendships and relationships. The people have spoken. It's time to show the world what we have already shown ourselves---we believe in our new President. And I have new found belief in America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I ain't afraid of no ghost...

...or Phantom, for that matter. Friday was Halloween and we took Clifford the Big Red Dog, Princess/Ogre Fiona, and The Phantom trick-or-treating.

When we got home, the kids picked the pumpkin that Mariah had artistically rendered "Mommy" to sacrifice for the seeds.

At least my seeds were tasty.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kiss me. I voted.

James and I voted by absentee ballot this week. It felt very powerful and responsible. No matter who you vote for, let your voice be heard in this historic election. I'm not going to tell you who you should vote for--it's a very personal thing. Just make sure you *cough*ba*cough* ROCK the vote. ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Brownie Bits

My 3 little brownies are growing and changing so much these days. It's hard to believe I have an 11 year-old, an almost 9 year-old, and a 4 year-old. When did this happen?

A lady waiting next to me at the pharmacy today guessed my age to be 23. Twenty-three. She must have been picking up a prescription for cataracts. When I told her I was in fact 36 years-old, I might as well have told her I had 2 heads. She proclaimed it had to be because I'm black. She reported that she is envious of black people because according to her, we don't age as quickly as other races. And then I uttered words I never thought I'd say to another human being, "Well you know what they say, 'Black don't crack!'" Her reaction was priceless.

But back to the kiddos!

Savannah is now almost as tall as I am! And I may be biased, but she is as pretty as a picture. She has been continuing to get extra resources for her dyslexia, but her confidence received a serious boost when she successfully completed the "Wheelchair Driver's Course" at the kids' school! Her school's Special Needs population is lucky to have her--although I have witnessed her driving some of the kids and let's just say Miss Daisy would be laying into the horn behind her. We recently saw the orthopedist for a follow up on her scoliosis. He said it looked like she had grown 3 inches since he saw her over the summer. The curves in her spine are still there, but they aren't any worse, thank God. We take her back in early Spring for another set of x-rays.

Mariah is moving up to the next reading group! And she has started wearing her glasses more. Correlation? Hmm. She still has an abiding love for ponies, puppies, and anything pink. She has been invited to a Halloween/birthday party this Friday afternoon (no school for the kids) and she is going as Princess Fiona from Shrek. Is it bad that she makes an uber cute ogre?

Isaiah is going to be Clifford The Big Red Dog for Halloween. We found the perfect costume at a local thrift shop---$2! And it's great for 'Saiah because there is nothing to put on his head. It's not like he would keep it on. Monday we started his private Occupational Therapy sessions at the local childrens' hospital. We were on the waiting list for 6 months. We gave up on their waiting list for his Physical Therapy and that's how we ended up going to Gig Harbor every Wednesday. But it's SO worth the trip. His PT is just great. I'm still feeling out the OT, but Isaiah seems to be smitten. Just wait until she asks him to actually work.

Parent/teacher onferences are coming up for all 3 of them, so stay tuned!

Be Still My Heart

I went back to the doctor today for my Holter Monitor test results. (They basically strapped a tape recorder to my chest to monitor my heart for 24 hours. It all stemmed from a rapid and irregular heartrate I had during a routine appointment). The good news is that I wasn't having any tachycardic episodes or arrhythmias. And my blood pressure is perfect. The bad news is that I still have an abnormally high heartrate. The doctor prescribed Atenolol to slow it down. I just keep thinking it's going to cause me to start moving in slooooow moooooootion. I am to take it everyday for the next 3 months and then schedule a follow-up with my doc. She also told me to cut back my caffeine (*silently screaming: noooooooooo!*) and try to reduce my stress. Yeah, right. She suggested I try taking deep breaths when I start getting overwhelmed.

Perfect. I'll be right back there tomorrow for hyperventilation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Daddy's Girl

Today is my father's birthday. If he were alive, he'd be 64. Ever since he passed away 8 months ago, I still find it strange to refer to him in the past tense. He wasn't the father he could have been or should have been, but he was my father. And I loved him even when it was obvious he didn't love himself. Or at times when he loved himself a little bit too much. Truth be told, I am a Daddy's Girl at heart. Having my father's love and attention meant more to me than I have ever admitted. I think that's why I admire James so much as a father to our children. He is everything my father wasn't and that's part of the reason I love him so much. When it comes to his kids, James is thoughtful and selfless. He's also present. Even when he's deployed, the kids and I still know he's here. My father wasn't always there. When he was, we did have some happy times. Like our family trip to Sand Bridge that summer. Or when he actually taught me how to ride a bike. Those are the memories I keep close to my heart...especially on days like today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What can brown do for you?

There is no sight quite as thrilling as the UPS truck slowing down and stopping in front of the house. I get absolutely giddy--even if I can't remember ordering anything. Yesterday, Doug Heffernan's blond, younger sister brought joy to my doorstep in the form of my brand new rain jacket. This might not seem like a big deal, but living in the Pacific Northwest where it rains more than it shines--the proper weather gear is essential. I spent more money on the jacket than I probably should have, but I look at it as an investment. Plus, it looks really cute on me. Heck, I hope it rains today just so I can wear it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

P.S.A. for Today...

Elizabeth Hasselbeck is a twit.

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

Blah. It's rainy, cold, and Monday. I needed 24 more hours of weekend. Savannah has a dentist appointment this afternoon which requires Valium an hour before. The Valium should be for me. James is supposed to meet us there. The last time I took Savannah, I left with a headache. She has "soft" teeth genetically and has had a lot of work done in the past. I'm pretty sure she's traumatized, goodness knows I've been. Hopefully after today's appointment, she'll need just one more. And then we start with the orthodontist. Good times...good times.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

En Garde!

James' First Sergeant (boss lady) and I hit it off immediately after we met earlier this year. She is funny, and old school, and we totally get each other. So I was naturally thrilled for her and her husband when she gave birth to their first child, a beautiful baby boy! As she struggled with going back to work after her maternity leave, she asked me if would agree to be a short term "guardian/escort" for Baby V if anything were to happen to her and/or her husband. It's a pretty big deal for a dual military couple. I would be authorized to pick up the baby from daycare, authorize his medical care...basically act as his parent, on behalf of his parents. She sent over the Special Power of Attorney paperwork today for me to sign.

All I know is that if I sign it, James' name better not appear on the duty roster for a loooooong time...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Baby Steps

Today was a half-day for the girls and physical therapy for Isaiah. It's a bit of a drive over a very scary bridge, but I do it for my little guy. He obviously knew where we were going today and had other plans because he began to wail as soon as the front wheels of the van hit the bridge. I guess he was having flashbacks of last week....*insert flashback sequence here*:

Last week everything was going relatively well when PT Larry (whom I admire and totally respect) decided to try a new balance technique with Isaiah which involved standing him up and letting him fall. It was terrifying for both son and mother. At the end of the torture session, Larry came over and basically thanked me for not killing him. He said that Isaiah has all the potential to WALK BY HIMSELF and that he just needs to work on trusting himself. He literally needs to learn how to fall and get back up again. The possibility of Isaiah's being able to walk has always held a special place in my heart. I rejoice in every milestone, no matter how tiny--but Walking is in a league by itself.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Picking

Saturday we treated the kids to a trip to the pumpkin patch. I have such fond memories of going when I was a kid--I can't believe it's taken us this long to go. In addition to having a pumpkin patch, this place is also a Christmas tree farm. (I haven't had luck with live trees in the past. I'm not going to try and be a hero this year either, i.e. it's Martha Stewart's prelit, K-Mart special all the way). But it was neat to show the kids how they are supposed to grow in nature.

The kids actually agreed on a "family" pumpkin. It looks more like a giant, orange pear. Though I have to admit, I fell in love with it too. It's as unique as we are. We also picked out several smaller pumpkins and gourds to decorate the house. And then, due to the economy we will be forced to eat them.

After pumpkin picking, we indulged in something called "Elephant Ears" which received mixed reviews from our brood. It's huge, flat, fried dough brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon (although, I use the terms "brushed" and "sprinkled" loosely. The guy who made our ear used a PAINT brush for the butter and the restaurant-size container of cinnamon didn't even have a top...)

The girls fed the goats and Isaiah rode a pony before we called it a day. The weather was absolutely perfect. There's a link to the complete album down on the left.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Girls' Day Out

James and the kids had the day off today (lucky them), so I decided to take the girls to see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua". We arrived early, so we ended up walking across the street to the "Justice" girls' clothing boutique. The girls picked out some really cute hoodies and long T's for layering this fall. The sales lady also convinced us to buy candy while we were there, which we promptly smuggled into the cinema.

The movie was actually tolerable to my 36 year-old sensibilities. The girls gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up. (Not to mention we've spent a great deal of time since we've been home perusing the pages of the Seattle Rescue Shelter online....)

Afterward, we headed back across the street to Ben & Jerry's. After sampling, Mariah went with 2 scoops of vanilla on a generic cone. Don't know if I'll ever take her back with me. Savannah had a more adventurous coffee/vanilla combo. I scanned the menu for a lactose-free choice and said a silent prayer as I finally asked for a fruit smoothie. I guess I chose correctly: I'm not typing this from the bathroom.

It was a good day for the Brown women.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We've come a long way, baby!

James and I recently celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. I guess we showed them! We celebrated with lunch where the legend began: McDonald's. James' pick-up line to me was, afterall, "Do fries go with that shake?" Totally kidding, but wouldn't that have been hysterical?! What he really asked me was "Can I have a #3 with a Sprite?" Boy oh boy did he get more than that. The rest, as they say, is history.

It is 2008, right?

So, I guess it's due time for me to step into the new century! Welcome to my blog! Whoa. I love my family and I love talking about my family, so this forum is perfect. I invite you on this journey with us!