Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Monday

James is safely overseas. We have Skyped a few times since he arrived in the Middle East. As soon as the rest of the team arrives, they will be on the move yet again. I am hoping his next arrangement offers him the same conveniences. It's so comforting to see him on the webcam. Isaiah couldn't stop grinning from ear-to-ear at his Daddy on the screen.

I would make a great Dog Mom. Over the weekend, our new neighbor's little girl brought a pug to my door that had wandered into their garage. She said she checked the tags, but wasn't familiar enough with the neighborhood to locate the owner. I checked the tag and saw that it was one street over. I took the pug inside so I could gather the kids and deliver her home. First I called the number on her tag. The guy who answered swore he didn't own a pug and didn't live at that address. He said this wasn't the first time he had received phone calls about this dog. Super. Of course, Mariah fell in love and wanted to keep her. To make matters worse, no one was home when we tried to take her back. Back to Brownie Central we went, pug in tow. Mariah couldn't wait to play with her. Isaiah didn't share her enthusiasm---especially after the drive-by licks to his face. Savannah watched from a distance. For a girl who claims to want a dog with all of her heart and soul, she sure wasn't keen on the idea of being close to one. Which is reason #766 why we won't be getting a dog anytime soon....if ever.

We returned later and still no answer at the door. I managed to flag down a passing Military Police car. Starsky and Hutch did the same thing I did: called the number on the tag and rang the doorbell at the house. I'd make a good cop, too. Their next-door neighbor agreed to keep the dog until the owners got home, much to Mariah's chagrin. I'm pretty sure she had even picked out a name at that point.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Magic of MJ

My reaction to the news of Michael Jackson's passing caught me off guard. It's not that I knew him, ever met him or even attended a single concert, but his music was a huge part of the playlist of my life.

The first time I heard "Farewell My Summer Love" was on a childhood trip back from Sandbridge Beach with my father behind the wheel. Happier days for my family, for sure.

When I saw him Moonwalk on TV in 1983, he might as well have been walking on the moon. That's all we could talk about at school the next day. I used my babysitting money to buy the "Thriller" album and stayed up late (and all alone) to witness the world premiere of the video on the now obsolete Friday Night Videos. It terrified me, by the way.

"Don't Stop Til Get Enough" boomed from the sound system at Greenbrier Mall when I took to the runway in my very first fashion show. Just hearing that song today takes me back to the days of half and full turns.

I remember my college girlfriends and I joining the throng of fans in Foster Hall, the social epicenter of our university, to watch the premiere of the "Do You Remember the Time" video on the big screen TV. And when I auditioned for the school's dance troop, my freestyle rocked to "Keep it in the Closet".

And I made the squad.

It's not the mortal, flawed, freaky Michael Jackson that affected me. It is truly a case of the music behind the man. Whether you loved him, hated him, or were totally indifferent, his musical gift to this world cannot be denied.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Operation Enduring Patience

James just called from Texas. He flew out today at o'dark thirty to begin the first leg of his journey overseas. From Dallas, he'll be flying to an "undisclosed location" (yeah, he got all Dick Cheney on me). Eventually, he'll be in the heart of the Middle East.

Predeployment was textbook: not enough time to say goodbye. There's never enough time to say goodbye. We had planned a nice sitdown dinner out with the kids at one of our favorite places. Naturally, the clothes dryer died in the middle of James' last load--15 minutes before we were set to leave. I told James not to worry about--to take the clothes to the laundromat and I'd buy a new dryer this weekend and have it delivered and installed. He insisted that we have a new one ASAP, so in the middle of packing, he headed out to buy one (he is such a good provider).

His efficiency was impressive. He went over to the PX, got a good deal on a new dryer, had his friend with a truck bring it by, had it installed and drying his clothes by the time the girls and I returned with our take-out.

I just hope that same "can do" spirit gets him safely home soon so we can head back East to start the next chapter of our lives.

In an ironic turn, I got a call from my doctor's office today. I have been waiting for months to get my "well woman" appointment. OB/GYN doesn't do them anymore at our hospital, so I had to wait to be seen in my primary clinic. And guess what...they can see me NOW. I told the lady, "I can't believe this. My husband deployed this morning. I have 3 kids to arrange childcare for now."

She was totally sympathetic ~ I guess you have to be dealing with the military. We arranged an appointment around the girls' Summer School schedule. Isaiah, however, will have to suffer through witnessing his mother in stirrups. Hope I don't scar him for life.

Just don't peek around the curtain, Little Man.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I hate this part.

James hasn't even left for Iraq yet and I already miss him.

Maybe that's because I have seen him approximately 2 hours during the last 2 weeks. The training is really taking its toll. It hurts to admit this, but it would actually be easier if he weren't physically here. To be physically present-a few short miles away at the training area- and still missing out on our lives is nothing short of torture. He's absent from the most mundane things, like tucking in the kids and sitting down for dinner to the big things, like Isaiah's photo shoot and Savannah's awards assembly and promotion ceremony. The kids didn't see him once on Father's Day.

The few precious moments James and I have managed to share have been riddled with stupid arguments. The experts call it distancing --a phenomenon that occurs when a loved one is preparing to leave. It's supposed to psychologically dull the pain of saying goodbye--a hard hat for the heart, so to speak. Whatever it is, it stinks. We've done this song and dance before. It should get easier, right?

I know it's way too far in the game for things to return to normal. All I want is some quality time--when we're not fighting, when he's not exhausted, when I'm not being a witch.

I hope we get that chance soon...he leaves in 3 days.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father Every Day


When we found out we were expecting Savannah, James' ill mother wept tears of joy. She whispered to me, "James is going to be a wonderful father!" But I already knew that.

My mother-in-law passed away several weeks later, but I know in my heart she is looking down on her son ~ a father of 3 now ~ and can't help but smile as she whispers in my ear, "I told you so."

Happy Fathers' Day to my husband, who was a loving, attentive, and dedicated Black father long before our President made it look cool. ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fair to Middlin'

Our brand new "graduate" is on her way to middle school.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Inspirational Artist

My Mini Me has made me mega proud. I'm actually proud of all 3 Brownies, but Savannah gets an extra piece of birthday cake tonight for receiving not one, not two, but six awards at the school wide awards ceremony today. I knew in advance (and in secret) that she would be receiving 2 awards, but the fact that she received so many more does a mama's heart good.

My shy, sweet child who was diagnosed with a learning disability 3 years ago brought home 2 awards for community service (including one for her participation as a "Wheelchair Driver" at the school), an award for her work in the after school program, the Principal's Award for Outstanding Achievement in All Areas, the Great Artist honor, and my favorite: the Inspirational Student Award, for which she was the sole recipient. Here's a video clip of her accepting it:

video

Is my beaming blinding yet? ;)

My Baby Daddy's Birthday


The love of my life doesn't celebrate birthdays. Well, he "celebrates" mine and the kids', but don't dare and try to surprise him with a balloon bouquet or a singing telegram. (He says it's because his heart is 2 sizes too small, a la "The Grinch", but I don't believe that for a minute).

But how could I not acknowledge his birthday? I promised no cards or gifts, but I said nothing in reference to The Blog.

So Happy Birthday to my best friend...the person I want to run "The Amazing Race" with...the man I want to sip my creamed corn with when we are old and toothless...my man since we met 17 years ago...my husband, James.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Introducing: Our Littlest Hero

Isaiah is now one of the newest Littlest Heroes thanks to one of the Greatest Photographers.

James' training spilled over into our weekend, so the kids and I met Trina Gueck Saturday at Point Defiance Park for Isaiah's Littlest Heroes Project photo shoot. I instantly knew we had made the right choice. Isaiah took to her right away. Trina's calm and patient demeanor paved the way to easy smiles and natural poses. Even when a re-enactment of the 2008 Christmas card shoot took place in front of a huge fir tree, Trina laughed with us and like a true professional, kept the camera clicking.

As part of the project, Trina will be sending us a CD with all of the pictures she took. I can hardly wait to see them all! In the meantime, she has posted a Sneak Peek on her photography blog:

http://www.photosbytrinagueck.com/

To see a few pictures from our session, you just need to click on "Enter Blog".

We are thoroughly delighted with our experience with Trina. And to top it off, she made us feel like she was grateful for our chosing her.

Thank you for sharing your gift with us, Trina! You are amazing!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13, 2004

...was the day my son was born and our lives changed forever.

It had been a long, hard road ~ a pregnancy filled with jubilation and heartache. The end result was a baby so precious, I was devastated when he couldn't come home with us right away. But even as he lay in the NICU, his place in our family was firmly rooted in our hearts. And even though the last 5 years have been challenging, they have also been unbelievably rewarding. We can't remember life before Isaiah and we can't imagine life without him.

I love you, Isaiah James. Happy 5th Birthday, my beautiful boy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ordered Steps

James has orders for the White House ~ his official orders. They had been sitting in his work e-mail since June 3. I have read them a million times so far. Seeing everything in black and white makes it all finally feel real...like this is really going to happen for us.

Of course, there's James' whole "vacation in the sand" first, but that hasn't stopped us from planning ahead. Now that we have official orders, we can arrange for housing. We can finish researching the school system and begin calling on all of our contacts and connections.

We sure didn't get to where we are the way WE thought we would have. But here we are---not leaning on our understanding. And thanking the Lord every step of the way.

The packers are scheduled to arrive here at 8:00am on December 1, 2009. The movers will follow shortly thereafter....:)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Sorry, Christy! I get an "F" for originality. What can I say? You nailed it. :)

One of Isaiah's two loose teeth finally surrendered this weekend. I was shocked at how emotional his losing it made me. My little boy is growing up...losing teeth...turning 5 this week and all.

What's a mama to do?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Train Ups

...not to be confused with training pants or Pull Ups.

"Train Ups" are the briefings and training exercises soldiers partake in the weeks leading up to a deployment. They work extra hours -even on the weekends- to make sure they are thoroughly prepared to embark on their perilous journey overseas.

We are now entering that window.

It's frustrating because now would seem the time for the soldier to spend as much time with his family as possible. I am just grateful for the amazing Spring Break we shared as a family. I understand why they do it the way they do. The danger over there is still very real. The bad guys don't care if James is doing a 4 to 6-month deployment instead of a year. They still have their orders, too.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about my husband's safety. But worrying won't keep him out of harm's way. So I pray. And I pray some more. God has been faithful. Deployments can make or break a marriage...a family. Faith has kept us together. God has put commitment in our hearts. With every deployment, we have gotten closer to God and closer to each other. We thank God for giving us the strength ~ the strength to withstand being separated in body while remaining joined by our hearts.

And in a few short weeks, this old heart of mine will be breaking. Yet again.

Hurry safely back to me, Honey. We have a date to keep with The White House.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Isaiah: All I Want for My Birthday...

...is my two front teeth.

Isaiah's top two front teeth are loose ~ one precariously so. I was hoping he'd still have his top baby teeth for his Littlest Heroes photo shoot last weekend. And he would have. Fortunately, Trina was fantastic about rescheduling the shoot. We're going to do it in 2 weeks ~ on Isaiah's actual 5th birthday! I can hardly wait.

I hope his teeth can, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

(You can still sneak a peek at Trina's work here!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Back to My Life

I came home last night to 3 intact children, a hubby who cooked dinner, and a spotless house. My crew survived the weekend without me--just like I knew they would. Maybe I should get away more often...

My weekend on the East Coast for my grandmother's funeral was bittersweet. The sting of the realization that Grandnannie is truly gone was tempered with the joy of reconnecting with so many of my loved ones. Grandnannie was well-respected and the outpouring of love and admiration made it obvious.

As a treat to myself, I decided to upgrade to First Class on the flight back to Seattle. It was absolutely worth it. Did you know they address you as "MR." or "MRS." __________ <--insert your last name here?! I was totally amused by this. I have flown a kazillion times before, but I've always had The Brownies in tow. First Class had become a fleeting dream that seemed to pass me by as easily as I had passed by those coveted first rows of seating on my way to coach.

I felt guilty at first. Maybe this was a frivolous waste of money ~ in a recession, no less! But I swallowed hard, shifted my weight in my oversized leather seat, stretched out my legs, like--A MILE in front of me, spread out my Sunday edition of The Washington Post, smiled as the Milano cookie touched my lips, and thought to myself: I'm just doing my part to help stimulate the economy. And it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.


I had to capture this precious moment. They are just a few of my grandmother's 45+ great-grandchildren.



Cousins!


Hopefully, this is a one of the scenes we'll be seeing a lot more of soon...


The view from my First Class upgrade. Yeaaaah, boyeeeee!