30 March 2014

Hilarity from the mouthes of babes

I love that my kiddos talk - love, love, love it! Kids say the funniest things and I feel like I'm laughing (sometimes hiding it) about something someone said every day. And they are so cute!!

I use my Facebook page as a kind of "journal" for things the kids say, so I thought I would copy a few conversations and funny and cute things the kids have said recently here. Enjoy!

This morning I was in the bathroom going potty, and Butterfly was already in there because I had just done her hair, and then Little Man and Flower come running in: "There's a cano out there! We have to hide!" Little Man says. "Volcano scary." Flower chimes in. Then they kept opening the door a crack, screaming, and then closing it. Apparently the volcano still loomed out there waiting for them. A little while later, Little Man went upstairs and Flower got really upset running around, "Come on [Little Man], the volcano!" So Little Man comes running downstairs and says "Yeah! Let's get out of here!" and they run off to the bathroom together and shut the door.
Okay, this is not kid related at all, but it was pretty funny and the cat is part of our family:

Galileo (with an accent): "I throw your safety in your face! I defy you and sneak outside to meet my death! What death? Hahahaha!" pause "Oh that death! That giant dog jumping around our fence - please let me in! I'm not ready for death! See how fast I jumped on the fence to escape my death! Look at my tail - I still defy death - but please let me in quickly!"

Butterfly's bus driver informed me today that Butterfly asks if she can drive the bus - every day.

Conversation with Little Man one night be bed:
Me: I love you so much [Little Man].
Little Man: I love you more Mama.
Me: I love you most.
Little Man: I love you more most.
Me: I love you all the way to the moon and back.
Little Man: I love you all the way to the Earth.
Hugs all around - so sweet!!!

Butterfly has been running around singing a mish-mash version of all the "Frozen" songs - she's getting quite good at singing and dancing. All she needs is a top hat and a cane and she's got that scene from "Summer" down!
So last night Mike and I were hanging out on the couch and I had my feet propped up on the coffee table. Meanwhile, Flower was playing with a truck while hanging upside down off my legs - like a bat.
Last night Flower put on my shoes after her bath and said "I'm a pirate! Roaarrhhh!" and then preceded to run around in her diaper and my shoes.
There's nothing quite like hurriedly trying to do the dishes because company is on the way and your 2 y.o. is insisting on helping (and you don't want her to), so you give her a half empty yogurt carton to throw away. On the way, she drops the yogurt and yogurt flies out of the carton to land on the fridge, cupboard, floor and baby gate. Then when she tries to pick up the carton, ends up dumping the rest on the floor. ::sigh:: She was really quick to grab a towel and help clean it up though! Yes, that really happened.
So at lunch today, Little Man left his skateboard toy at the booth we [my friend visiting from out of town and I and our kids] were sitting before we decided to move to a different table for more room. When we finished eating, he realized he had lost it, ran back to the booth where someone was now sitting, said "Hi!" and something about his skateboard, then climbed into the booth to look for it. He found it . . . Life with Little Man!
This morning Little Man told his teacher at preschool that I had two babies in my tummy. Last week Butterfly patted my tummy and said there were two babies in there. Either they're doing some serious collaboration to freak me out or it's just a weird coincidence, right?
We had turkey and broccoli casserole for dinner and I made biscuits (by made, I mean opened a Pilsbury can). The kids couldn't have biscuits though until they had eaten at least half their casserole. When I ate my biscuit (after I finished my casserole) Flower got a really hopeful look on her face and asked for a spigot. I told her no, she had to eat her dinner. Face fell in disappointment. Butterfly got her biscuit after eating all her casserole and Flower's face rose in eager anticipation. The biscuit went to Butterfly. Flower just stared at Butterfly with a non-amused expression. Mike got a biscuit out to eat and Flower was practically panting in happy biscuit-eagerness. But the biscuit didn't come to her. Bottom lip pout with teary eyes. Little Man finished his casserole and Mike got a biscuit out. Flower's face went immediately to biscuit-anticipating-joy, only to have her little hopes crushed as the biscuit went to Little Man. We told her each time she had to eat some casserole first, but she just kept pushing her plate away. Finally she maneuvered from her seat to come around the table, where the biscuits had been, but while she was doing that, I had moved the biscuits to the kitchen. Confusion sets in. Where'd they go?? *** Later she sat on my lap and ate a good part of her casserole and she finally got her spigot, with honey!    
So we're listening to the Frozen soundtrack at dinner, and while waiting for me to serve Butterfly, Mike suggestions she sing along. So she starts singing "Want to Build a Snowman". The song that is playing is "Love is an Open Door".
"I'm picking up all the magets off the floor Mama!" - Flower, referring to the magnets that she previously threw all over the floor.
This morning I had just gotten in the shower and Little Man and Flower were contentedly playing on the bathroom mat (Butterfly was still asleep). I turn around and there is Little Man, in the shower with me: "Hi Mama! I'm taking a shower with you!" - so much for a relaxing shower alone . . 

Party time!

As I have written recently, Little Man and Butterfly both celebrated birthdays recently!

Since Mike was supposed to deploy, and he was going to miss all of the kids birthdays (and mine), we decided to have an early birthday party two weekends before he was supposed to leave. The birthday party was for all three kids, even though Flower's birthday isn't until late summer.

I decided to do a mixed theme party, and let the kids pick the theme. Butterfly and Flower wanted a Frozen theme, but at the time, Frozen themed party supplies could not be found in the city, or online. So they decided on My Little Pony. Little Man chose trains, which meant Thomas the Train Engine.

It wasn't a huge affair, we just had a few close friends, and Mike's parents came down from South Dakota (they actually came to say goodbye to Mike, but we planned to have the party while they were in town).

I didn't go "all out" for their party, but pretty darn close. There's a reason we don't do birthday parties every year! I rented one of the townhouse pavilions in base housing (that was free - although the person before me didn't clean it, so I ended up having to clean it twice), got the kids some giant balloons (which still have not deflated, three weeks later), did party favors (a first and probably last), decorations, we had a game, I did a lot of finger foods and I made chocolate cupcakes for Little Man and a butterfly cake for Butterfly (I get a lot of use out of that butterfly tin!).  My sweet friend Liz, who owns her own bouncy castle, also brought that out and set it up for us - the kids really loved that! My friend Angel was also totally awesome and helped me with last minute food prep and set up at the beginning of the party. Mary came to help us celebrate too. Much thanks also goes to Angel for taking a lot of pictures for me!

I made all the food the day before, including spending at least two hours on the butterfly cake - I did fondant icing for the very first time. Prep time also consisted on spending an hour or more on youtube the night before learning how to make fondant icing and how to put it on a cake.I do love youtube though! I thought it looked a bit amateurish, but since it was my first time and I didn't have time to do redo it, I just let it go. It was a really busy time the day before, well the week before, running around getting supplies, buying things and so on.

Do you not use gel frosting with fondant . .. at least not unless you know what you're doing.

The kids had a great time! They loved running around with the balloons, jumping in the bouncy castle, eating lots of food, playing "pin the funnel on the engine" and just playing with friends. I think the adults had fun too hanging out with each other; I know I did! :)

It took several tries to light the candles because Flower kept blowing them out as soon as I lit them . . . toddlers!

Who'd Have Thought?

Not me. Definitely not Mike.

Are we surprised? Definitely. Disappointed? Well, I would by lying if there wasn't a little bit of disappointment there. Relieved. Absolutely.

It seems that the military has thrown us for a loop. Again.

That whole deployment thing that I wrote about a few times back in January? Well, it's been canceled. Yay!!!

(I wanted to write this post in case you were wondering why he was present for the kids birthdays I wrote about in recent posts, since he was supposed to be gone for those.)

Not too sure of reasons why, but I'm sure budget cuts in the government and military have something to do with it.

Which means we went through all that separation and Mike went through all that training for nothing. Well, I guess no training is nothing - it's all worthwhile. But still, you get the point. The sleepless nights as Little Man was up multiple times crying for Daddy. The explaining that we can't go see Daddy where he is training. The behavior issues. You get the idea.

It certainly threw our family (at least Mike and I) for a loop. As Mike said, "It feels like I was taken out of my life, someone shook it all up, and then they threw me back in and told me to clean up the mess."

I agree. We're picking up the pieces though and cleaning up the mess and we're so glad that we aren't sleeping alone each night and everyone is gathered around the table for meals. Family is such a blessing and I definitely was not looking forward to having half my heart on the other side of the world for over half the year.

I think Butterfly said it best back when she said the prayer at dinner shortly after Mike returned from his last training at the end of February: "Thank you God that Daddy is not in Ohio or Texas and never will be again."  Amen.

The End of an Age

As the title suggests, the end of an age has come out in our little house . .. Flower is now in a big girl bed and out of her crib. We've had a little one in a crib at some point for almost five consecutive years, and now that time has come to a close.

It's actually a little weird to me. Not bad weird, just different weird. We had good times and exhausting times and even some bad times in this season of life, but now it is coming to a close. And I'm okay with that. This transition is yet another sign of the end of the baby stage in our house. As the months go on, it seems like each month brings something new that also attests to the end of the baby stage in our house. I think potty training Flower will completely signal that this end has arrived . . . we're almost there, but not yet. I think I'm the one that's holding her back at this point, but that's mostly because we're still pretty busy going to appointments every week. 

Flower actually got her super cute owl bedding for her second birthday last summer from GrandDad that she picked out, but at the time, we didn't have a bed for her, or a mattress for that matter. Her bed is actually Butterfly's old bed that I bought from Sierra. We decided that since it is so low to the ground (and can be adjusted), it would be perfect for Flower. She hasn't fallen out of bed once, although we do have a huge stuffed bear to cushion any falls beside the bed. Butterfly actually got to pick out her own brand new bed and we put that together for her about a month ago. Last weekend we finally bought a new mattress and got everything put together for Flower. 

She was super excited!
See that hammock in the background, yeah that gone was after the first night - she and Little Man pulled it down playing.
She is in Little Man's room (so they're sharing now). Little Man was equally excited that she is in his room now! They are best friends and get along so well. I was actually surprised at how easy the transition from crib in our room to bed in Little Man's room was. The first night she went right to bed with Butterfly and Little Man and she didn't even nurse before she went to sleep. The next morning Little Man woke her up at quarter to six, which is extremely rare, and they were up playing and running around, super excited to be sharing a room. She was one tired little toddler that day, to be sure!

Some nights she has a hard time going to sleep (it's hilarious when Little Man sharply reprimands her from his bed, telling her to go to sleep in a groggy, sleepy voice), and other nights she goes right to sleep. I guess her own bed and a new room just takes some getting used to. We haven't had any crying though. None. Which I am very happy about. Some nights she waits until Mike and I come up for bed, then comes to bed with us for about 5 or 10 minutes, falls asleep, and then I carry to bed. This doesn't happy every night though, so I'm okay with the occasional trip to our room.

My little baby is growing up and she is turning into such a compassionate, sweet, energetic little preschooler. :)

29 March 2014

Happy Birthday Butterfly!

My sweet, precious little Butterfly turned five years old this week! (Yes, there's an overlap between Little Man's birthday and Butterfly's where they are the same age for a week.) Where has the last five years gone? I'm not really sure . . . but Butterfly has certainly grown into a wonderful, caring, passionate, sensitive little girl who loves to act out long play scenes with her dolls or My Little Ponies, loves to sing, loves to dance and so much more.

Butterfly has also come such an incredibly long way since starting therapy in August - she uses words most of the time to express what she wants, even if she is upset about something; she engages her siblings and friends in play, even occasionally asking them to join her in play; she is bright and energetic and full of life. Truly, the light of life just fills her and lights up her face.

To celebrate Butterfly's birthday, we did a few things. There was of course the birthday party, which I do hope to get around to writing about. Since Butterfly goes to school, I asked her teacher, Ms. Michelle, if I could bring a special snack to share with the class, and she said that was fine. I was planning on making cookies, but when I went to make them, I didn't have all the ingredients and it was too late to go to the store. So I got store bought cookies. Butterfly was thrilled that there cookies at all. As a surprise, Mike also showed up with me when I brought the cookies to school, with Butterfly did not expect - that was a really great surprise.

We arrived right at snack time, so all the students were already seated at their little table in their cute little chairs. Butterfly handed out all the plates and then she served each of the kids. She did such a great job asking each child which color cookie they wanted, yellow or purple, and handing them their treat - Mike and I were just so proud of her. We also got to meet the students that Butterfly talks about at home, which was pretty special.

After dinner that night, Butterfly blew out the candle on her butterfly chocolate cake that she had requested. I decided not to ice it since the kids would be having enough extra sugar. They didn't even notice the lack of sugary coating.

Following cake eating, we opened presents. Butterfly got the My Little Pony that she didn't get for Christmas, Fluttershy, and she got, dum dum dum - Elsa from Frozen, which she had been asking for repeatedly, every day, since she saw the movie. It was almost as hard for Mike and I to wait to give it to her as it for Butterfly to wait to receive her. (In related news, the price of Elsa on Amazon and other online stores doubled from January when I put the doll on my "wishlist" and late February when I purchased it - I did not see that coming! And she was sold it in over five stores that I checked around the city, including two Targets and WalMart.)

It was a really great birthday and Mike and I are so proud of Butterfly. She is a loving, sweet little girl and we feel so blessed to have her for a daughter.

Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life by Johann Christoph Arnold Review

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God:
                See all, nor be afraid!””
                                                -Robert Browning

Growing old doesn’t have to be a prospect to be dreaded: indeed the end of one’s life can be a chance to discover, or rediscover, community, family, friendship and service to God in a whole new light. Johann Christoph Arnold’s book Rich in Years: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life is a wonderful, insightful and touching book that helps those in the later stages of life, and those caring for them, find renewed purpose in their lives, as even as that life comes to a close.

Filled with touching stories, enduring testimonies and beautiful examples of poetry, Rich in Years shares the joy, peace and love that can be found near the close of life’s journey.  Focusing on service to God through listening to others share their story, caring for physical or emotional needs, and staying involved in the younger generations can create a beautiful purpose at the end stage of one’s life.  Arnold writes about the steps to finding peace as well, such as confessing any mistakes or sins that can unburden a person and turn those regrets into bygones. Furthermore, finding restoration in relationships can help greatly – for all parties involved.

I really enjoyed Rich in Years, and though I am [Lord-willing] far from the end of my life, I found the advice to be comforting and helpful, even at the stage of life I am, a mother of very young children.  I loved the stories shared in the book and felt my life enriched by reading them, as I am sure that many would. I recommend Rich in Years for everyone, but especially those who may find themselves closer to the end of life, either by age or by illness. The greatest fulfillment of our lives doesn’t necessarily have to come from the middle stage of our life – it can come at the end, as this book illustrates.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

26 March 2014

Happy Birthday Little Man!

It's so hard to believe, but four years ago [last week] a sweet, smart, affectionate little guy came into our lives - and our wonderful Little Man was born!
Little Man and Grandma with birthday balloons on their heads - so fun!
To celebrate Little Man's birthday, we had a birthday party a few weekends ago (more on that hopefully later), and he got a present from us and from Grandma and Grandpa. Little Man was very excited about his airplane and truck, and his giant monster truck from Grandma and Grandpa.

On Little Man's actual birthday, we Little Man's favorite for dinner: steak (we've been eating a lot of steak lately - Albertson's had a "buy one, get two free" deal a few weeks ago and I filled the freezer - it was worth it though for $136 in free meat) with baked potatoes and veggies. After dinner Little Man had an apple danish for dessert. I had planned on making cookies, but I had to take the van unexpectedly to the shop that morning, and the walking to and from to drop it off/pick it up took over 90 minutes out of my day - so there went cookie making. He liked the apple danish though, and I thought it was original.

After dinner and danish time, Little Man got to open his presents. He got another present from us and a present from GandDad - legos all around! I bought him a Lego Junior set, which I thought was great - half way between "real" Legos and dulpo type Legos and he get a "real" big-boy Lego set. I didn't realize it was the real deal until after he opened it, so we just keep it up when he's not playing with it so little pieces don't get lost or put in Flower's mouth. (She usually doesn't put stuff in her mouth, however, when she's teething, she will. So for now, we try to keep small things at bay.)

Since his birthday fell on the day we go to PWOC, Little Man also got cookies (store bought) at PCOC to share with all his friends.

I think he had a pretty special day! He loves to tell people that he is four now and is pretty proud of that fact. I love that Little Man is my son and that I get to teach him and raise him as he grows - what a great opportunity!

23 February 2014

Because I needed something else to do . . . and other projects

Mike is currently away for training in the field, so we've been Daddyless for the past week or so. So far though, it hasn't been too bad. Little Man has only had one bad night - I think getting the Daddy-ponies was really great.

On the night that Mike left, Little Man was really upset that he wasn't there to tuck him in bed and give him kisses, so he and I had a really good chat about how much Daddy misses him and wishes he could be there. I told him that whenever he wanted to give Daddy kisses and hugs and tell him that he loves him and misses him, to tell his pony, and that Daddy would feel his hugs and kisses wherever he was and that Little Man just had to know that Daddy wanted to hug and kiss him back. Little Man snuggled up to his pony and went to sleep. When I checked on him later, he had tucked his favorite blanket around his pony - it was so sweet. And he's been good ever since. Knock on wood.

We have a pretty busy schedule, whether Mike is home or not. OT, speech, school, PWOC, pre-school, general house upkeep and shopping so that we can eat. Most days we are out of the house by 0820 at the latest - early! Hard to believe just a year ago I was just getting out of bed at that time on a lot of days (how I wish for those days sometimes!). Actually, I like that we all get up early; it feels more productive and I like that. I don't feel so lazy.

When Mike is gone, it seems to be even busier that usual. If I forget something at the store, I can't just leave for 20 minutes and hop over to the commissary or BX really quickly. I have to load up all the kids in the van (that takes 5 minutes), drive over, unload everyone (another 2 minutes) and well, you get the picture. I like to be efficient and you just can't be very efficient with three small kiddos in carseats that they can't buckle up themselves. A 20 minute trip to the store alone turns into a 45 minute ordeal - yesterday during that little trip to get another role of tape it felt like I was herding cats in the BX. They were well behaved though. Like cats well behaved. And honestly, I feel safer with wondering kids on base than I do off base.

Anyway, as if I didn't have enough going on, I decided to participate in a Mommy Market sale that is coming up this weekend. I figured it was a nice chance to get rid of toys that the kids outgrew and go through the house and do a little purging. I am planning on putting any money made towards student loan debt (almost debt free - almost!). I did decide to not sell any of the 14 bins of kids clothes that I have and am saving those for another deployment project. More on that in a minute. So I've been doing lots of sorting and organizing and entering into the Mommy Market computer barcode system and printing tags, cutting them out and attaching them to the items. I have to drop them all of on Wednesday afternoon. A friend of mine who is PCSing gave me a lot of stuff to add to the sale too, which was really great of her. So that has been occupying a lot of my spare time this week.

School is going pretty well. I had my first test this week and I got an A! In a way, it was a relief to have a test this week, as it freed up time to work on the Mommy Market sale stuff. (I.e. no chapter to read, quiz to take and paper to write.)

As for all the baby clothes that I have . .. Our PWOC has been doing a lot of inreach/outreach this year and we have been working with two organizations in Albuquerque. One is CareNet, a crisis pregnancy center that comes alongside women who find themselves in need and facing tough decisions. They offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and even give new-to-be-moms help with maternity clothes, infant layette sets, diapers and wipes and so on. Some of the PWOC ladies completely redecorated two of their counseling rooms and the ladies of PWOC have been donating all kinds of items to be used by them. So I decided to give my maternity clothes to them, instead of selling them in the Mommy Market.

The other organization PWOC has been working with is Joy Junction. Joy Junction is a homeless shelter and there are kids who live there with their parents. There was actually a lady who went there from the hospital after giving birth. I can't imagine bringing home a 2 day old baby to a homeless shelter. Some of the PWOC ladies donate time there, but since I haven't been able to do that, I decided to go through my kiddos old clothes and donate them, instead of selling them in the Mommy Market.

Yes, I could probably make quite a bit of money (I mean, 14 BINS of clothing), and while I felt convicted to sell stuff to get out of debt, I felt equally convicted to help others who are in less fortunate circumstances than I. Who I am to make a profit on a necessity of clothing when others in dire need could benefit? So my next project after dropping my items off for the Mommy Market is to go through all my bins of clothing and prepare them for donation. I know some stuff is stained or worn out (some things Butterfly got were second or third hand and then Flower wore them after Butterfly), so it'll be good to through all of that.

You might be asking why I have kept the clothing for so long. Well, when I first got pregnant with Butterfly, I really felt like it would be financially wise to save any baby stuff that we buy/acquire for all the future children we would have (at the time, I thought we would have more than three children, and more spaced apart). I didn't see the point in getting rid of something just to have to buy it again a few years down the road. The went for clothes, and well, everything. Since Mike had a vasectomy last summer, we are finished having children, unless some miracle happens. So why hold onto that stuff? Time to pass it on to those who need it.

So that's been life since Mike has left for training. And it has kept me busy - business definitely helps take your mind off of things!

What do you do to keep you busy?

16 February 2014

Gettin' Real Over Here

Mike and I attended the pre-deployment briefing at the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Friday, and as I left the building with the dozen or so papers, brochures, handouts and so on to help us transition to life half a world apart, I thought, "Well, this feels real now."

Really real.

Not that the three week training Mike has already been on didn't make things feel real. Dropping him off at the airport, kids asking for Daddy, explaining over, and over, and over again that Daddy is at work in Ohio (where his training was), then the joy of reuniting. There was even a mini-adjustment period, ha ha.

The past two weeks that Mike has been home have been fairly stressful as we prepared for the deployment, for his next training, and the home front with a deployed family member, as well as the Force Separation Board. Not to mention all the sickness that's been going . . . Butterfly and Little Man with the stomach bug the weekend Mike got back, then Mike got it, then I had some flu-like cold the next week . . .

Saturday was very bittersweet. Mike and I took the kids to Build-A-Bear in Cottonwood Mall and they each got to pick out whatever stuffed animal they liked, and Mike did voice recordings for each of them to put in their stuffed animal. All three of them were immediately drawn to the My Little Pony's that were available - Butterfly picked Twilight Sparkle, Little Man picked Rainbow Dash and Flower picked Fluttershy.  The kids were so patient while we waited in line (it was apparently a very busy day in Build-A-Bear), and they hugged their to-be-stuffed animals tightly. When it was our turn, the lady took Mike to the back hallway where he could do his recordings and then we went to stuff the ponies.

Flower went first since she was the youngest. She stood on the little pedal to fill her pony with warm stuffing and then it was Little Man's turn, and then Butterfly's. After their pony's were stuffed, they picked a heart to put in their pony's, rubbed the heart in their hands for warmth and love, rubbed it on their funny bone for humor, on their head for intelligence, gave it a kiss and put the heart in. Then the lady sewed their pony's up and they were off to be groomed.

Putting in the recorded device.

Butterfly helping stuff Twilight Sparkle.

Preparing their pony's hearts.

Grooming Rainbow Dash with Daddy.
I stood back and watched all this and tried really hard to hold back my tears. And of course, I took pictures. It was very bittersweet. It was a sweet family outing and we had a good time together, but thinking of what the outing meant was hard. I don't think the kids understand that Daddy is going to be gone for a really, really long time yet. Knowing that they have something that they can hug that has his voice in it is comforting.

Right now they think it is great fun, and I hope they will find it all a great comfort in the months to come.

Afterwards, the kids got to play at the mall play place for a little bit, then we rode the train around the mall (very fun!) and then we had lunch at Johnny Rocket's together. It was a great day as a family.

When we got home, Mike resumed his packing for his field training. My stomach turns with anxiety when the "mo-bags" come out. Such is life though, and to me it felt like a precursor to the real thing - the deployment.

For now though, life goes on. We took Mike to the airport this morning to leave for his training and we most likely won't have contact with him until it is finished in two weeks. In the meantime, we'll listen to his voice recordings and look at pictures of Daddy and, of course, pray for him.

08 February 2014

Testing Results

Butterfly had some more testing this week, to see if she is on the autism spectrum scale. I am very happy to report that she is not! Yay!

There are still some things that we are worried about - she still has significant language delays, and her fine motor skills are still lacking considerably, however, she had made incredible progress through therapies and pre-school since August.

Butterfly will now play with her siblings, even inviting them to play with her on occasion - which is a huge deal! She is communicating so much better as well, often telling us "I don't like that!!" whenever something happens that she doesn't like, which can be anything from being disciplined, to having something for dinner she doesn't want to eat, to her sibling trying to play with her or help her. I'll take that over screaming and biting any day.
Flower and Butterfly playing dress up (gotta love post-Halloween clearance!)
 Our next step is to decide what kind of Kindergarten program Butterfly will be in. Her current teachers, myself and the educational diagnostic team don't think she should be in a general ed Kindergarten class, unless she has an assistant to help her. She would just get behind and fall through the cracks. My biggest fear is that she will get frustrated with school and learn to hate it, which I don't want to happen. So whether she has a mix of a general ed class with some special ed or something along those lines remains to be seen. We should be having an IEP meeting soon.

It is thought that Butterfly could have a learning disability along the lines of visual motor planning or visual spatial planning, but we just have to wait and see. A learning disability cannot be determined until she has been in school for at least a year or more - probably around the age of 7 or 8 is when we would determine a learning disability.

The good news is that Butterfly is greatly improving through therapy, and that she can get help, through the school system and through private insurance (for now). I am very grateful for that.

For now I'll leave you with this precious picture of Butterfly and our kitty, Galileo. Last week Butterfly was upstairs playing and I heard her call down to me that she put a band-aid on Galileo. Fearing a sticky, fur-pulling mess, I raced upstairs and this is what I found:

In the throes of Uncertainty

And I'm not talking about this country's political and economical climate, although it's certainly deplorable enough.

Mike is currently home in between pre-deployment trainings and it has been a very busy (read: stressful) time. Is there a pre-deployment period that isn't busy or stressful? Getting training done, weapons qualifications updated, medical checks done, updating his will and all that, preparing the family, etc, etc.

It seems the mental worry of the months of separation, thoughts of parenting alone while your spouse is at war, leaving for war and all that entails is not enough to have on our plates right now.

There's the whole Force Reduction and Separation stuff too.

Currently, the Air Force is doing a giant force reduction - cutting back its' member by around 300,000. For some airman, it's something happening that doesn't affect them because they are in a critically manned field. Apparently, Mike's career field is not one of those critically manned fields. We knew this was happening and there was a small chance Mike could be forced out, but we weren't too worried about it.

That has changed.

When Mike came back from his three weeks of training,  he went to work like normal but when he came home from work on his first day, he came back with forboding news. Everyone at work is extremely worried about the up coming force reduction. One of out every three airman in his career field is being forced to get out of the Air Force. Those are really high odds.

So on top of the deployment stuff Mike has to take care of, he has to worry about making sure he has all of his stuff in order for when his case goes before the Force Reduction Board, because it will. While he is deployed and when he won't be around to defend himself. I hope and pray that he has an amazing Sgt, which I think he does. He's been going over all his prior EPR's with his Sgt, making sure all of his awards and medals are in the system (i.e. proof that he was awarded them), making sure all his volunteer activities have been noted, his school work on file (and he has a 4.0 GPA currently at Liberty Univ.) and so on.

And of course, we have to talk about options if the Air Force does force Mike out. Which we sincerely hope will not happen, because Mike really wants to make a career out of his Air Force service. Where will we go? What will Mike do? Go back to school full time and then on to medical school? Find a job somewhere? Will I go back to work full time? Part time? (Mike has informed me that he wants me to finish my degree as quickly as possible - which could be done by December, but I'll put the kids in daycare at least part time, if not full time, which I don't really want to do.)

Mike works hard and he does a good job at what he does. He has the highest score you can get on every single EPR, save one, which was the next highest score. He has two associates degrees and is working on completing his bachelor's as fast as he can, he volunteers at the local chapel, at the Balloon Fiesta, at Special Olympics and other places, his PT scores have never been anything less than excellent. Supposedly this Force Reduction is to maintain the "cream of the crop" in the Air Force, and if Mike isn't that, than I don't know who qualifies.

Even while I assure Mike with his past hard work and achievements, and myself, we still worry. I know we shouldn't worry, that everything is in the Lord's hands, but the uncertainty of it all is hard to swallow. The military is full of uncertainty, but even amidst the uncertainty, there's the knowing you have a job, have a paycheck, have benefits at the end of the day. So this uncertainty is new and unwelcome.

Lord willing Mike will make TSgt when he tests for Technical Sgt before he deploys. Because if he makes Tech, than all of this will go away. They need TSgt's in his career field. So for now, we're praying that Mike will be able to stay in the Air Force, and that he'll make TSgt.