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.