24 December 2009

Christmas Eve Blizzard News story


"Oklahomans Under Seige From Record-Setting Blizzard on Christmas Eve"


UPDATED: 4:20 pm CST -- OKLAHOMA STATEWIDE -- Conditions across Oklahoma continue to develop into highly dangerous winter conditions. During Thursday afternoon, over a foot of snow and drifts as high as five feet in many parts of the state were occurring, including the metro OKC area. The Oklahoma Governor's office has issued a State of Emergency declaration for all 77 Oklahoma counties. At Will Rogers International Airport, 10 inches of snow had fallen by 4:00pm.I-40 eastbound and the H.E. Bailey turnpike were closed, and all major interstates in and out of the metro Oklahoma City were closed off completely by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation as of 3:34pm. Life-threatening conditions were being reported all over the western part of the state, where numerous multi-vehicle accidents left many motorists fighting just to seek shelter in Siberia-like blizzard conditions. On I-40 near Hudiburg Drive near Midwest City, up to 50 cars were involved in a huge multi-car wreck, according to the OHP.The Oklahoma Highway Patrol was highly discouraging any travel throughout the state, as blizzard conditions were making travel extremely dangerous, and in many cases, life-threatening. The OHP suggested those tied up in their cars to NOT leave to try and get help. The blizzard conditions could overwhelm and incapacitate in a manner of minutes. Wind gusts from 10:00am Thursday morning to late afternoon never wavered from 45mph to 60mph.Visibility is extremely limited throughout more than half the state, including Oklahoma City. The sleet, snow, and fierce blowing winds are expecting to leave the state by midnight on Christmas Eve, but have already left a complete path of destruction through much of Oklahoma as of Thursday afternoon.Stay tuned to NewsChannel 4 for continuing coverage, and check www.4warn.com throughout Thursday for regular updates as conditions worsen this Christmas Eve.
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The afore mentioned Hudiburg Drive is 1/2 a mile from the nearest gate on base - to put it in perspective of where we live. I have pictures to post, but I have to download them from my computer first, so I will post those later.
The winds are definitely bitterly cold!!

Blizzard closes I-44 from OKC to TX border

http://newsok.com/article/3427256
Weather, wrecks close eastbound I-40 near El Reno, all of H.E. Bailey Turnpike
FROM STAFF REPORTS The Oklahoman Comments 0
Published: December 24, 2009
Blizzard-like conditions and wrecks prompted state authorities to close a portion of Interstate 40 near El Reno and the H.E. Bailey Turnpike.
A wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow is expected to hit after noon today, reducing visibility outdoors as a winter weather warning remains in effect for...
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed eastbound I-40 at U.S. 81 about 11:05 a.m. because of multiple crashes.
The H.E. Bailey Turnpike, which is the portion of Interstate 44 extending southwest from the Oklahoma City area to the Texas state line, is closed because of the weather, the patrol reported.
Military vehicles are being dispatched to the toll road to pick up stranded motorists on the turnpike, said Jack Damrill, spokesman for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
It's unknown how many motorists may be stranded on the turnpike, which extends from Newcastle to the Texas state line
"We've got a couple troopers stranded," Damrill said.
Officials have not estimated when the roadways will reopen.
Troopers have reported weather related wrecks across the state because of today's storm.

We're under a Blizzard Warning!

I awoke early this morning (about 0400) to the sound of the northern winter wind howling against the house and the sound of tiny little pieces of ice and snow hitting the roof outside of our bedroom window. I got up and looked outside and it was the beginning to snow!
Now I'm sitting in the dining room/living room, listening to the winds howl against the house. We've accumulated some snow on the grass, but not enough yet to cover the top of the blades. It is definitely cold outside though!! I'm really glad that my plans include staying inside baking and cooking and preparing for having Christmas Dinner tomorrow!
Here are some maps courtsey of www.weather.com:



These winds put the windchill at about 13 degrees F.

23 December 2009

Christmas Quiz

Okay, post your answers in the comments section, and after Christmas I will write a blog with the answers. :) Have fun!

1. Quadruped with crimson proboscis
2. 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. without noise
3. Miniscule hamlet in the far east
4. Ancient benevolent despot
5. Adorn the vestibule
6. Exuberance directed towards the planet
7. Listen, aerial spirits harmonizing
8. Monarchial trio
9. Yonder in the haystack
10. Assemble, everyone who believes
11. Hallowed post meridian
12. Fantasies of a colorless December 25th
13. Tin tintinnabulums
14. A dozen 24-hour Yule periods
15. Befell during the transparent bewitching hour
16. Homo sapien of crystallized vapor
17. Primary Carol
18. Seraphim we aurally detected in the stratosphere
19. Perambulating through a December solstice fantasy
20. The slight percussionist lad

We might get SNOW for Christmas!!

I am so excited about the possibility that we might have a White Christmas! I knew that there was a slight chance of a winter storm for Christmas, and even though I tried not to be hopeful about it (because I hate being disappointed about snow and have since childhood), I secretly nursed a hope that it might actually snow on Christmas.
Last night when I check the weather forecast, there was only a chance of rain and some really cold wind. I had to get up early this morning because I had a doctor's appointment, and sure enough, when I went outside, it was pretty warm out - in the 50's warm. Sighing, I knew that there wasn't a chance for snow.
Then while at the clinic, my PCP mentioned that we were supposed to get 10 inches. Really?? It went from nothing to 10 inches in less than 9 hours? Surely not!
I did notice that the temp had dropped at least 10 degrees when I went back to my car.
When I came home, Mike and Sophie were still asleep, so I went into the computer room to get online and check the forecast.
Lo and behold, this is what I found: These are courtesy of www.kfor.com/weather
It's going to snow!! Yay!!! I feel like a little kid, all excited waiting for snow! This must be why I dreamed about going shopping for a sled last night! :D

And Lord willing we'll get a White Christmas!!


18 December 2009

"The Day Dad Was Pregnant" an article

Thanks Michelle for sending me the article!! It's so hilarious! I keep trying to get Mike to wear the sympathy belly at the Family Advocacy Center, but he refuses . . . I only make him carry various articles up and down the stairs all day - you know a box of wipes, Sophie, Sophie and some toys, a load of laundry, etc.

From: http://www.parenting.com/article/Pregnancy/Care/The-Day-Dad-Was-Pregnant?cid=preg-newsletter-week7d4-bullet2

The Day Dad Was Pregnant
Babytalk challenged a father of two to try on pregnancy (or rather, a fake 33-pound belly) for size
By Geoff Williams, Babytalk

My wife had recently given birth to our second child when my editor at BabyTalk called me with an assignment: See what it's like to be pregnant by wearing an "empathy belly" -- a sort of pregnancy suit for men (expectant dads try them on briefly during childbirth class) -- for one day. Having just gone through nine months of backaches, nausea, and sore feet herself, my wife, Susan, was all too thrilled for me to have a taste of her discomfort, if only for a day.

Full of bravado, I insisted that I would also wear the belly at night, so that I'd have it on a full 24 hours. That was before we learned that the makers of the empathy belly suggest wearing it no longer than three hours at a time. (Something to do with not wanting the husband to freak out by the instant changes, collapse, and suffocate, I believe.) It was also before I knew that wearing the pretend pregnant belly for even a few minutes would try my physical strength. The empathy belly isn't for sissies, and neither, I've come to truly understand, is pregnancy.

But it took fake breasts and a bladder pouch to get me to realize that. I borrowed my 33-pound empathy belly from the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati. It's not just a belly though: The contraption consists of two foam breasts; a rib belt designed to constrict the lungs and make it harder to breathe; two seven-pound lead balls inside the belly; a two-pound suspended weight that simulates a baby's kicking; and a weighted pouch that represents the baby's head on the woman's -- or in my case, man's -- bladder.

If you go to the official website, you'll learn that anybody wearing the belly for ten minutes or longer can expect a range of maladies, including a "low backache...awkwardness in all body movements...pressure on the bladder, with increased sense of urgency of urination," and my favorite, "changes in sexual self-image and abilities." Yikes.

I decided to give my new breast-and-belly suit a whirl on a weekend. On Saturdays, I try to give my wife a break by taking our two girls -- Isabelle, 2, and Lorelei, 3 months -- to visit my parents. This day wasn't any different, save for the empathy belly in the trunk of the car (you're not allowed to drive while wearing it). I thought it would be helpful to spend some time outside my own home wearing the belly to truly understand how a pregnant woman feels. But I also knew deep down that I'd probably conveniently forget to mention to my parents that I had brought it along. Fortunately, my wife had sent over an e-mail reminding everyone. In another lucky break, my parents had a friend visiting, Debbie, who, along with my mom, was all too happy to help me put on the empathy belly. As soon as they strapped on the rib belt (giggling all the while), I felt frighteningly short of breath. And when I sat down on the sofa, I immediately felt an acutely uncomfortable sensation -- the bladder pouch. As somebody who has had some close calls with the restroom, usually when I'm on the highway, and once when I was stuck in an elevator, I didn't like the feel of this. But overall the snugness wasn't so bad -- it was maybe like being a mummy, except with your limbs and face free. Really, what was the big deal?

"It's not so bad," I said, glancing at my mother and Debbie, who both seemed to be euphoric about my plight. But after the novelty wore off a little, the two launched into a conversation related to work. Meanwhile, Isabelle was concentrating on a cartoon show. My dad was in another room, holding Lorelei.

I remained on the sofa, taking note that yes, I had some slight pressure on my bladder, and sure, I couldn't take deep, deep breaths, but this wasn't so tough. It's not like I feel that different than before, I thought, absently fondling my fake breasts. In front of my mom.

I yanked my hands away and tried to pry myself off of the sofa. Immediately, Isabelle asked me to pick her up. "Oh, jeez," I muttered, squatting down. The empathy belly instructions are adamant that you shouldn't bend down without squatting; I didn't want to test my luck.
As I lifted her, other than a brief puzzled glance, Isabelle didn't even seem to notice my misshapen body, which was a big relief. (After I accepted this assignment, I worried that when Isabelle grew up, she would have a foggy memory of her father with a pregnant belly, keeping a therapist employed for years.) My 2-year-old was just happy I was holding her -- which meant one of us was happy. After all, she's 31 freaking pounds.

"You seem kind of cranky," my mother said.

"It must be my hormones," I sighed. I looked at my watch. I had only been wearing the empathy belly for 15 minutes, and I knew I should go at least another hour or two. I didn't want to admit it to anybody, but, by this point, I wasn't enjoying my pregnancy at all.

Fortunately, everybody else was. My mother and Debbie kept making jokes at my expense. My brother, Kevin, and his girlfriend, Rachel, dropped by and each had a good laugh. And my dad took photos.

I probably logged in about 90 more minutes, and three bathroom trips, until I'd had enough. When I arrived home with the girls, my wife was beaming. "Your father sent me the photos," she said. Cursed e-mail. "And I sent them to my mom."

"Of course you did," I said. That was inevitable.

"And Shannon loved them." Shannon is one of her dearest friends, so that was no surprise. "But I'm still waiting to hear from Pam and Colleen," said Susan, "and Mary Lou, Kim and Mike, Nancy, Sue, and..."

Great.

I wasn't mad at my dad for sending the photos. But I was mad at him for telling Susan that I had said, "Wearing this empathy belly is much more difficult than actually being pregnant." My wife quickly replied, "Tell Geoff that if he likes, he can try being pregnant for five minutes, and he will see how comfortable the empathy belly is." And then she reeled off a list of things that the empathy belly would never do, like "give you insomnia, give you hemorrhoids, and make you push a baby out of an opening the size of a lemon." She also took issue with the fact that I could take the empathy belly off at any time and leave it in a box.

Boy, she's touchy.

The next day, my wife, daughters, and I went back to my parents' house for lunch, where the main course was my grandmother's fried chicken. Not two minutes into the visit, my wife was volunteering to help me put on the belly. Susan yanked the rib belt around my chest much tighter than my mother and her friend had. "Comfy?" Susan asked.

"I cuhnnn-n-huhhly-breathe," I said.

"Then I guess it's working," Susan said cheerfully, and then hoisted the rest of the weighted contraption on me, with no trouble at all, as if she were John Wayne saddling his horse for the thousandth time. With my lungs doing double-time, the weight seemed to double or triple, too. Okay, it's a big deal, I thought. Big deal, big deal, I get it, I get it, I get it!

And if the experience was strange the day before, now it was surreal. We all sat down to lunch. My Uncle Joe was annoyed that I was sitting beside him, because I seemed to take up all of the space around me. My Uncle Larry just appeared amused. As did my brother, his girlfriend, my parents and my wife, who all asked at regular intervals how I was holding up, as if they thought it would be funny if I wasn't holding up so well. At least my grandmother seemed supportive. Until, that is, after dinner, when she looked my way and offered a challenge: "I'll bet you can't tie your shoes." Et tu, Grammy?

I retreated upstairs with Isabelle for a while. She played in my old bedroom, and at one point, I tried lying on my side, imagining what it might be like to sleep like that for an entire night. Night after night after night. Honestly, I'm not sure how any woman does it.

Watching Isabelle play, I had some time to reflect on a lot of things, like how lonely pregnancy can feel. I mean, sure, you're a celebrity for a while -- Susan got a lot of attention from the family when she was pregnant, and I was getting a lot, in a different sort of way. But at the same time, if you're the only pregnant person in the room, and the only person who has to think about how to navigate across the room, well, there's a sense of solitude to the whole thing.

And helplessness. When Isabelle and I were going downstairs, she wanted me to carry her, but I was worried about tackling the stairs with my arms full of preschooler. I shouted for my father, who came to Isabelle's rescue while I retreated to the restroom for probably the fifth time since we had arrived.

But when I finished my business and reached down to zip my pants, my belly kept getting in the way. Grunting, I pulled and pulled, until I finally placed my fake stomach on the counter, bent my knees, and tried to pull. I wound up toppling into the bathtub.I stood, holding up my pants with one hand, gingerly descended the stairs, and snuck into my parents' den.

I tried putting my belly on my father's desk, which was a little higher than the bathroom counter. Still no luck. Sweat was dripping off of me now, and my forearms were aching -- all from trying to zip my pants.

After about five minutes of struggling, I gave in and called for Susan. This was a two-person job. "I don't know how you zipped your pants all those months," I said.

"Maternity pants don't come with zippers," she replied.

"That's right," I said. "You know, maybe I do have it harder than you did." My wife shot me a look implying I was sleeping in the garage that night.

Later, Susan softened, and shortly before the three-hour limit was up, she suggested I take the belly off. I didn't protest. I waddled a mile in her moccasins, and I have to admit, I have a new respect for all pregnant women. I especially have to admire women who repeat the pregnancy experience.

Susan's actually talking about going for a third. There are times when I think she's crazy, until I'm making Lorelei laugh, or lying in the grass with Isabelle, marveling at how she can watch an ant and be simply fascinated by it. (That is, until she tries to pet it, and accidentally sends it into oblivion.) There's something about having kids that really is magical. And so, I can honestly say that if it was possible for men to be pregnant, and if I had to trade places with my wife, I would happily go the distance for nine months.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

New Winter Sport: Present Wrestling

Mike's present came in the mail yesterday, via UPS. I didn't know the exact delivery date, so I was hoping to be home when it arrived. And preferably, Mike not home.

Well, Mike was home and I wasn't when it arrived. Hmmm, this secracy thing isn't starting off too well . . .

I pulled up into the drive last night with Sophie, and there it was, sitting in its box (with another box that got delivered the same day) on the driveway. I thought it would arrive in a brown box, but no, it was sitting in a very descriptive original box. Anyone who saw it would know right away what it was.

I immediately thought "Oh no! Mike's seen it! He knows what his present is!"

My next thought was "Oh no! It's going to be too heavy for me to move by myself and I'll have to go and get Mike to move it for me! And the surprise will be ruined!!! Aahhh!"

Before I opened the door to the house and brought Sophie in, I decided to try and see if I could move it, and I could. So I put in the outdoor storage where Mike doesn't go (to my knowledge). Then I went to get the trash can from the street so Mike would think I was delayed by moving that up to the house.

Then I went inside. Mike came down the stairs at this time, and I asked him if he had seen the box outside (referring to the other box that was delivered). He said that he hadn't, although I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or if he wasn't telling the truth to save the fact that he had seen the box his present was in and just didn't want me to know that he had seen it and knew what his Christmas present was.

Because I had hidden his present, I knew I would have to wait until today when he was at work to go out and get it and bring it in to wrap it. I also knew I would probably have to get more wrapping paper. I had plans to run a few errands (go to post office, return a text book, etc) today, so I thought I would pick some up while I was out.

However, such as the plans that I make go, I ended up not leaving until later than planned and then everything took longer than planned, so I didn't get home until about 1530.

Guess who was home when I got home? That's right - Mike had gotten off work early. Foiled!

So I went inside with my bags from errands and Sophie and shooed Mike away to go and play with Gomer for a while. (Gomer is Sarah and James' cat that we are pet-sitting for while they are in MI.)

Then to bring the present inside. After wrestling it out of the storage shed, I brought it into the house and took it to the living room. I had previously cleared the entire coffee table off and had rolled out some wrapping paper so the present would be ready to place on said paper on said table.

Well, lifting the present is not easy in my current 6 month pregnant state. And getting it set just right on the paper on the table was not an easy task either. At least I chose to do this on the coffee table and not the dining room table! And of course the phone rang mid lift.

So I paused to answer (after setting the present down) and talk on the phone for a few minutes. We'll call it a break. :) Then back to present wrestling.

What I had not anticipated is that the prsesent is longer than the coffee table. Hmmm. This caused the wrapping paper to tear at one end. Grrr. Good thing I have lots of tape.

So now the present is situated on the wrapping paper on the table. Now I just need to flip it on its side and reposition . . . this takes a few minutes because I couldn't just pick up the whole thing to move it an inch. I had to scoot one end, then the other . . .

Now the wrapping can begin. The paper is long enough, but only goes up to the top of the sides of the box. I had anticipated this already, so I knew I would have to wrap twice.

I got everything taped up and good to go for that side.

Now, to repeat on the other side.

So, I had to move the present off the coffee table and start all over again. So I did.

And Sophie is watching this whole process intently from her exerciser.

Now the present is wrapped and I have to put it under the tree.

New set of problems.

I decided I wanted to put it behind the tree where Mike couldn't try to guess what it was. So I had to move all the presents that were already under the tree.

And the chair next to the tree.

Did I mention that I'm six, almost seven, months pregnant?

So after moving all the presents while taking mental note of what was where so I could put them back as they were, AND moving the chair, I push/pull/carry the present over to the tree.

I had wanted to lay it flat, so I wrestled with it to get it scooted behind the tree, which is far too heavy for me to move by myself, and realize that it won't fit that way.

So I have to wrestle it back out from behind the tree, turn it, and then get it back behind the tree again. All the while watching out for ornaments and the strand of lights since the plug is right in the center of this whole present-moving operation.

By now I've worked up quite the sweat. At least the present is placed though!

So I put the chair back and put all the presents back as close to the way they were as I could. And I turn around and there are the other presents that I bought today that I have to wrap staring at me!

At least I don't have to wrestle with those presents!

I can't wait to see the look on Mike's face when he opens his present. I'll be sure to have my camera ready. :) And I can't wait to tell him the story of wrapping it too! :)

14 December 2009

Reality Check

Today is the first day of the December intersession courses at UCO. I have taken many intersessions in the past, so I thought that this intersession would be like the previous classes. I also knew that with Sophie, it would be a lot harder to study at night and do any assignments for the class.

Well, this intersession class, the Evolution of Human Sexuality, apparently is a lot harder than most previous intersession classes. There are no tests in the class, we just have to do outlines for our grades. Normally that would ideal, something I would love. However, with my life being how it is currently, I knew immediately that I would not be able to do an outline on three chapters a night. Not with a little baby who needs me and cooking for Mike. And we have two Christmas dinners to go to this week, plus a Family Expectations class. Those things are important to me.

So I dropped the class. I am very sad about it, but the reality is that I would not be able to do the work, which isn't fair to those in my group, to the professor or to me.

I find that my education is getting pushed further and further to the back burner. I am so close to finishing my degree - 16 credit hours, and yet I feel that I am farther away than I was two years ago. I dropped the previous classes that I was enrolled in because I was really sick and being pregnant while caring for an infant was too much and I could not keep up with the work.

I suppose that I could say that if I was more dedicated or worked harder or made school my number one priority, that it could work. There are a lot of moms out there who have gone to school. I would not, and am not, going to put school in front of my family right now.

I did find the distance education courses and so I will do those until I finish my degree. They are flexible. I just hope and pray that I have the self discipline to complete the courses. I had a good start to the current course I am enrolled in, Shakespeare, while in SD, but since I have returned, my time has been occupied by finishing unpacking and organizing the house from when we moved, and of course, taking care of Sophie.

I just feel so down about this whole thing. And I will most likely end up dropping my January intersession class as well. . . . :(

13 December 2009

New House Pics

We finally have a house! It's actually part of a quad-plex, kind of like a town house, except we have a carport, storage area and a fenced in backyard. :)
View of the front of the house - we're the door on the left.
While showing the inside of the house to Ruth, I had to take a break and feed my Sophie-Bug. :) I'm saying "Sshhh" to her. (It helps calm her down.)

Here's half of the kitchen, which is now painted Honey Toast yellow. :)
And the other half of the kitchen - I love having a big kitchen!
I do plan on posting more pictures once the house is completely decorated. I don't have a time line for that yet. :)

Visiting South Dakota Pics

I don't have a whole lot of photos from our trip to South Dakota. My battery was getting low, so I didn't take as many pics (like pictures of the actual Thanksgiving meal, etc). I wish I had now, but oh well. Anyway, here is Mike teaching Sophie how to play the piano - it's never too early to learn!
Now Sophie's trying it out for herself.
South Dakota really is a beautiful state. I was surprised to see some green though!
This was taken on the way out to Todd and Janine's ranch, east of Gregory.
Sophie hanging out in her sleep sack that Grandma Ruth got for her. :D
I think she spied something over to the right. . . .
My happy Sophie-Bug!! :D
Beautiful South Dakota sunset.
Sophie was fluffing Grandma Ruth's hair - it was so precious, I had to get a picture! (And a video)
We stopped at Subway on the way back for lunch, and Sophie held her bottle for the first time by herself!! So I had to grab the camera and capture the moment! (And it's a great picture of Mike too!)

Tinker Parade Pics

Leading the Christmas Parade, which started on base in the housing area, by the Youth Center, was the Honor Guard.

















I got a lot of pictures of the horses leading the carriages, and consequently I was always able to get the characters in the carriage in time . . . however, I was able to capture a picture of the Grinch.










Here are some of the other characters who were in the parade . . .













The AWACS Sentry golf cart was pretty funny to see. Tinker is home of 1/3 of the AWACS in the world (I believe, Michelle or Sarah can correct me if I'm wrong), so hence the AWACS golf cart.










I didn't get a good picture of Santa and Mrs. Clause, but the horse pulling their carriage was gorgeous and he knew it!










Here's Santa and I and Sophie.














When we got a picture with the Grinch, Sophie would not stop staring at him! It was if she was thinking, "what in the world is that thing?? He's not even the right color! And the eyebrows?!?" It was pretty funny.








Mike finally showed up, so we were able to get some pictures with him as well. (And Sophie is still checking out the Grinch!) Mike missed the parade because he was at home getting a snack, then he walked down the club, there these later pictures were taken, so it took him a while to get there.








Here's Sophie with Santa. She really had to check out all the white hair on Santa too! She's so funny and precious!






Christmas Tree Cutting Pics

Here's Mike standing next to our tree before we cut it down.

We went to Martinbird Christmas Tree farm in Tuttle to get our tree. They had a huge selection of types of trees to choose from.









Here are Sophie and I. It was pretty cold that day, only in the high 30's, so we were very bundled up - especially Sophie. I'm actually wearing her in a sling on my hip under my coat, since that is so much easier than carrying her.
















Mike cutting down the tree. It only took him a few minutes - he would make quite the woodsman. :)











Here is the only pic I was able to get of the tree farm. I feel that it doesn't really do the farm justice at all. There were acres and acres of trees lined up neatly in rows. And the sun was just starting its descent in the western sky and would have made for a glorious picture, but unforunately my camera battery was on its last legs and I was only able to get the few pictures that I did.






Here is the tree set up in our living room with the lights on. I was actually able to decorate it until a few days later . . .

You may notice that our lamp is leaning a bit, it got bent in the move. :( And since I haven't found a permanent place to put my purse and the diaper bag yet, they just get plopped down in the chair for now.

12 December 2009

Getting ready for Christmas

Things are here have been pretty busy (what else is new?) in preparing for Christmas. Our tree is decorated and I have some of the decorations up. I think I might finish up the rest of the decorations today.

I also was out for five hours today shopping, although not all of it was Christmas shopping, some was grocery shopping and there was a trip to the post office (waiting in line always takes at least 20 minutes there - and it doesn't help that I always forget about the customs form until I get to the counter, then I have to take the time to fill it out while I could have done that while I was in line.) That's a hint for you Mom - you're getting a box and a package in the mail soon. :) They said about 6 business days.

I got presents friends, wrapping papers and I got some Christmas dishes (all of them were $4 or less!) I went to a Thrift store and also to the Dollar Store and was able to pick up a few plates and bowls. I also got a table cloth, tables runners and napkins to use for Christmas dinner (this year and in the future). And I got a few presents for Mike, Sophie and Thomas.

I was actually to secure the very last item on two accounts today (which was a relief because I was really hoping to be able to get them!) One of them was the Christmas plates they had at the Dollar Store; when I was there with Marilyn last week, they had dozens. I got the very last two!! (Which was all I was planning on buying). Sam's club also has 4-packs of classic novels - they're really nice hardbacks and come in a nice case as a set. I was able to get the last one of "A Little Princess", "A Secret Garden", and two others that I can't think of right now. At less than $16, it was a really great price for the quality of books. The other set I got has "Pinocchio", "Alice in Wonderland", "The Wizard of Oz" and one other.

Well, have to go pick up the car from the shop! More later (and hopefully posting some pics)!

And with sales and coupons, I saved $126 at one store! (I only spent $67.) I love that!!

10 December 2009

Break

Sophie went down for a nap not too long ago and we shall see how long she naps. I just wanted to catch up on some computer things and then it's off to get started on organizing the computer room.

I had wanted to have the whole house completely finished, organized, decorated and looking beautiful by last Monday night, when I hosted my Pampered Chef Party. However, it dawned on me Monday morning that just having the downstairs clutter free, clean and partially decorated will just have to do for my guests. As a result of that, everything that did not have a place yet downstairs (mostly on the kitchen counter) got carried upstairs and placed on a free space on the floor in the computer room, Sophie and Edward's room or the hall. So . . . my goal by Sunday is have all of that stuff picked up and put away. It is a goal and I know that my goals usually fall short, or sometimes long.

I am really glad to be blogging again and I am trying to make a habit of it because it is a great cartharsis for me and I just feel so much better blogging about my life. This year has been pretty crazy and busy, with a new baby, moving, etc. I have so many blogs in my head and blogs that I intended to write, but never got written. So just getting on my blog and writing SOMETHING makes me feel like I accomplished something in my day! (It's a mental thing.)

Now the downside to this is that when I get on my blog, I tend to write and write (because I love to write) and then I'm on my blog for hours. Literally. Perhaps I will have to invest in a timer, or I could find that one that got unpacked . . .

I have started going to the Wednesday night PWOC as well as the Tuesday morning one, and I am really LOVING the study that we are doing. It's on the book of the Romans, but I think mostly it is the lady who is leading the study - Ellen. She is a teacher by trade, and it is definitely her gift. Even though the study hasn't officially started and we've just been going over small things about Romans and Paul's life, I feel that I have already learned so much. I find myself looking forward to this study every week and absolutely not budging about missing it if Mike suggests that we skip chapel on Wednesday night (there's also dinner served immediately prior). I love to have such enthusiasm about studying God's Word and motivation for getting into it myself.

When it comes to enthusiasm and hunger for the Word, it seems to ebb and flow in my life like a river. Sometimes its quick and rushing, like now, where I devour everything I can, sometimes it's slow and lazy where I have a hard time just picking up the Bible to do quiet time and don't do Bible studies. Sometimes the river is at flood stage and I almost feel that I'm drowning, I'm so overwhelmed with all the Bible "responsibilities" in my life - other times the river is low, so low that it's running dry and I start to thirst and hunger for the Word in an almost physical way. Of course, like a lot of rivers, there are boulders and rock outcroppings that create rapids of tension or dissention that must be worked through and sometimes the river is smooth flowing and everything is so wonderful. Of course, this description could also be used to describe one's life - but I'd prefer to keep in about my spiritual life. I do know that where ever my river goes - it is the Lord who leads and directs it's course and uses me as a tool to reach others - whether it be to carry them in encouragement, help them to grow, or just course with them. Praise be the Lord our Maker who has numbered all the days of our life!

Well, I would like to write more, but it shall have to wait. I do need to get started cleaning this room up! :)

Date Ideas and Family Fun

Here's a list of FREE events in the OKC area for December and January.

DECEMBER:

FREE museum Sundays:
Dec 13 - Oklahoma Heritage Museum - 1400 Classen Dr
Dec 20 - Oklahoma City Museum of Art - 415 Couch Dr (downtown)
Dec 27 - all 4 OKC museums are free
Go to www.downtownindecember.com to learn more about this

Ride the Trolley for Free
Ride the Oklahoma Spirit Trolley during Downtown in December Winter Celebration Nov 29-Dec 31
To view a holiday trolley schedule visit www.gometro.org or call 235-RIDE (7433)

Free Oklahoma River Holiday Cruises
Enjoy holiday lights, hot cocoa and holiday music on and open-air deck or heated cabin every Sunday from 1300-1800 Nov 29-Dec 27
To learn more visit www.okrivercruises.com or call 702-7755

Myriad Gardens - OG&E Garden Lights
Will be open FREE every Sunday evening in December for special twilight viewings, courtesy of OG&E from 1800-2100 Nov 29-Dec 27.
To learn more visit www.downtownindecember.com.

JANUARY:

Free Zoo Mondays - Mondays in January and February are free for guests of all ages.
Hours 0900-1700. Address: 2101 Northeast 50th
To learn more visit www.OKCZOO.com or call 424-3344

Attend Forever.For Real February 6th (sat) for relationship strengthening workshop.
From 0900 -1500. Free with free lunch provided.
3 locations:
Express Event Center - 8512 NW Expressway
Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Downtown OKC - 1 Park Ave
Embassy Suites - Norman - 2501 Conference Dr (this is where the AF Ball was located)

To register, call 639-3080 x 248. This is the number for Family Expectations, but I don't know if you have to be part of Family Expectations to actually participate. If you aren't part of FE, but want to go, you might try calling and find out. It's sponsored by Hobby Lobby. Family Expectations is sponsored in part by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.

Sophie and Santa

Sophie got to visit with Santa at the Family Expectations Holiday Dinner (the one we all know was a Christmas dinner) on Tuesday night. Before the picture was taken, she had to really check out Santa with the fluffy white beard and all . . . it was pretty cute. :)

08 December 2009

Grateful

Tonight Mike and I went to the Family Expectations Christmas Dinner. It was called the Holiday Dinner, but we all know it was a Christmas Dinner - I mean Santa was there and we sang Christmas songs.

Anyway . . .

Sophie was definitely the belle of the ball. I had her dressed in her other new Christmas dress - it's red like Santa's suit and has a little hat that goes with it. (I also had her in warm pants because it was so cold outside). She was just laughing and smiling and bouncing up and down on Mike's lap - that got quite a few people's attention actually. And one of the volunteers doing the food asked if they could bring her over to meet all the other food volunteers in the building. Sophie was fine going to her and I could see her the entire time, so we agreed. She apparently had a blast meeting everyone and laughing and showing off her new dress. And they all loved her (we got lots of compliments when it was our turn to go through the food line.) Mike and I have discussed several times what to do if this kind of treatment continues (it's actually not unusual for Sophie to be the center of attention). We're worried about her getting self centered or something if this continues beyond her toddler years . . . hopefully with a sibling coming we won't have too much to worry about because she won't be the only child . . . we just don't want her to become vain or self-centered or that kind of thing.

Moving on . . . they had great food (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and red velvet cake) and Sophie got a Christmas toy, which I'm going to wrap and put under the tree for her. She also got her picture taken with Santa (it will be available on Thursday, so hopefully I'll be able to have a copy on here by the weekend), and we got a huge turkey for our Christmas dinner.

It really was a great night and Mike and I had a lot of fun. Sophie was really great the entire time and even danced and bounced when Rumble, the mascot to the OKC Thunder Basketball team came out. I really wish my camera battery wasn't dead. :(

When we left to go back to the car, we noticed right away that the wind had switched around and was now coming out of the northwest and very, very cold, and really blowing. It practically pushed me to the car (good thing we were walking away from the wind, not into it). We had Sophie in the car seat in the stroller, so she was shielded from the wind by the two tops and we had a blanket on top of that. And she was under three blankets in her car seat and had a beanie and a hood on. She seemed to be pretty cozy. She has learned to keep her hands under the blanket when we go outside now. She catches on pretty quickly to things like that . ..

So just before writing this blog, I decided to go online and check out the weather forecast for tomorrow since Sophie and I have to go out. The low tonight is 18 with a windchill of 0, (poor Mike has PT in the morning!) and the high tomorrow is 25, and this is with a NW wind of 20-30mph. I thought that was super cold until I checked out the forecast in Gregory, SD, and Long Pine, NE where Ruth and Pam live. In Gregory, it's 3 degrees right now with a windchill of -20 and the forecast for the next few days is "bitterly cold" with a "dangerous" windchill of -25. It's about the same in Long Pine. Ruth and Pam, if you are reading this, what on earth do you do when you have to go outside??? Oklahoma is the coldest state I have ever lived in - and it rarely gets that cold.

So if you are going out this week in OK, NE or SD, or KS for that matter, bundle up so you can stay "toasty-woasty" warm, as I would tell Sophie. She protests being bundled up until we go out the door, then she's quiet. :)

05 December 2009

Sophie update

Sophie turned 8 months old on Thanksgiving Day and she has really been growing - tall that is! She weighs less than 15 pounds, but is over 27 1/4 inches long! So she is a very long, skinny little baby. She is still incredibly active. Tracy, the nurse from the base that comes and visits us every three weeks or so, says that Sophie is the most active baby that she has ever seen in her career! I'm not really surprised.

Sophie is a very busy little baby, and although she isn't crawling yet (and has no interest in crawling whatsoever at this point after learning to sit up) she is always reaching for things and can scoot around sitting up or on her back. She loves to explore and figure things out. She actually figured out how to take Mike's watch off one day when he was holding her on his lap! Then she examined it very carefully for some time! A watch makes for a quick, easy distraction when I'm out somewhere! Whenever she gets a new toy or object, she turns it over and over and examines it very thoroughly.

She absolutely loves books! Actually when we pick out books to read I have to pick two - one for me to read and one for her to hold because once she gets ahold of a book, she does NOT like to let it go without examining it very carefully first! The other day Marilyn and I went to IHOP for lunch and Sophie sat in her highchair holding the menu with both hands the right way up and studying it like she was going to order something! I wish I'd had my camera! We got a lot of comments from nearby customers and the waitress from that! Sophie will actually sit pretty still for long periods of time while I read to her. Especially if we're sitting on the floor together.

On the not-so-happy side, Sophie has been diagnosed with strabismus (sp?) - which is where on eye likes to wander to the outside. She has an appointment with a pediatric ophthlalogist this week. Her pediatrician, Dr. Dean, said that because the eye cannot focus on two things at once, eventually if the problem is not corrected, she could go functionally blind. That basically means that her eye will work perfectly, but the brain will cut off the functioning and will no longer receive the images from it. Apparently this condition runs in Mike's family - his niece Kendra had it as a baby as well. She had to have two surgeries to correct it. I don't know if Sophie will have to have surgery, or just wear glasses or maybe an eye patch . . . I'll find out on Tuesday.

Back to happier things - even though Sophie is small, she is a very veracious eater. She absolutely loves baby food (except for rice cereal by itself and oatmeal). If you aren't feeding her fast enough, she will actually be quite vocal between bites (that translates into screams between bites). And sometimes she just leans forward to meet the spoon in a very fast motion - it's pretty funny actually. We're working on going through vegetables right now; she gets something new every four days (to see if she's allergic to anything). She's also no longer on Nutramigen formula, as of last week. She is now on Good Start Gentle Plus. It's predigested like Nutramigen, just not completely so. She's tolerating it fairly well. She doesn't eat as much of it as she should be though, so I might have to call Dr. Dean about that.

Sophie has also started signing! She's only done it three times, but she's done it. I try to teach her some baby signs, like milk, eat, etc. Well, she has given me the sign for milk three times. I am so excited about that! The first time she did it, Nikki and I were unpacking the kitchen and she was sitting in her stroller watching, and she just held her arm out and gave me the sign. Because she wasn't acting hungry or fussy or anything, I was a little unsure, but I made her a bottle anyway. And that was what she wanted! It was so neat! Then she did it twice more in SD. I know some of the newer signs won't show up for a few more months, but it is exciting - and motivation to keep at it!

There's so much more I could write, but it's late and I do need to get off the computer and go to sleep! :)

More later, including pictures (once I find the battery. Can you tell my missing battery is driving me crazy??)

Edward update

Well, I'm 25 weeks and 6 days pregnant (shocking, I know!) Edward has really stepped up the kicking, although he has yet to match Sophie's activity level in the womb. He really doesn't like it when I hold Sophie and kicks at her. I don't know if she notices or not. But I can't really hold her in the front anymore, I have to hold to the side of my belly, at which point Edward will usually migrate to the other side, which is very interesting. I can't wait to see the dynamics between Sophie and Edward after he's born!

Things have been progressing really well. We had a fetal echocardiogram a few weeks ago and he is perfectly healthy. They said he was 4 ounces smaller than the average, which just meant he'd probably be a 7 pound baby. They said the same thing about Sophie. They definitely aren't as worried about him as they were about Sophie.

I feel like he's growing a lot faster than Sophie did. Sometimes I just feel like I'm so much bigger than I was with Sophie. Although other days I don't feel that way, so maybe it's just the clothes I'm wearing, lol.

I do have some round ligament pain with this pregnancy, but that is from picking up Sophie or something. I do have a lot more energy with this pregnancy, which is really great. There is no way I would have been able to move and do all the stuff I've done when I was pregnant with Sophie.

It won't be much longer at all before March gets here!

New house and moving

We are officially moved into our new house on base! Well, it's not a "new" house (they're building a lot of new houses and some of our friends got new houses), but it's great none-the-less! It's kind of a townhouse, but we have a fenced in back yard and our own car port and we have covered storage in the front and back.

Our new house is 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bath. We have a living room and dining room in one, a pretty nice sized kitchen and then a little den attached to the kitchen that I plan on using like a playroom for the kids.

I started packing on the Saturday prior to Veteran's Day, (when I was sick) and we moved on Veteran's Day. Everyone from the Bible study was kind enough to come out on Veteran's Day (when they had the day off work) to help us move. Of course I was still packing when we were moving out . . . (story of my life) . . . so we were still making little trips from the apartment for another week . . . We are completely moved out now and our keys have been turned in. It was really weird seeing the apartment empty again. Nikki helped me clean it and she was a huge help! She's really awesome at cleaning! I don't know how much of our pet deposit and regular deposit we'll get back - I'll be surprised if we get anything back at all. The cats destroyed the blinds (actually it was mostly Eowyn - she wasn't exactly graceful or stealthy about getting into the window and would just kind of crash through the blinds), and also pulled up the carpet in the doorways, trying to get at us when a door was closed for some reason.

Since we've moved in, I've been unpacking and trying to get the house set up. It's been a really slow process. This is mostly due to the fact that I can't just go straight through all day because I have Sophie and she needs attention and to be fed, etc. So a lot of unpacking has been done at night after she goes to bed. I would love to be able to go to bed right after Sophie goes to sleep, but that hasn't really happened yet . . . I've also been doing stuff when she's napping, so I haven't been napping either unless I'm having a hard time staying awake. So far we have all but three boxes unpacked, two of which are mostly unpacked and one only has my Breyer model horses in it, so I might not open that one for a while since I don't have anywhere to put my horses at the moment.

My painting plans kind of fell through. I didn't get everything painted before we moved in like I had planned (also the story of my life). When you have an infant and you're pregnant, you just can't do as much as you can do without those two things in your life. I'm learning to plan accordingly still. I have come to the realization that I am not superwoman, nor am I a supermom like some women. I'm also not going to push myself to exhaustion just to get it done - that's not good for me, Edward, or my family. So if I'm tired at 2230, I'm going to go to bed instead of staying up an extra hour and pushing myself. Anyway . . . the kitchen got painted, although I decided that yellow was too yellow, so I had to repaint it in another, more subdued yellow that Terri was kind enough to give me (she had some leftover from her kitchen). Sophie and Edward's room is still being worked on. Terri did some amazing art work freehand and has been painting that. Unfortunately some green paint got spilled on the carpet in the hall upstairs, which I didn't think was a big deal, but Mike apparently had different thoughts and got quite upset and said no more painting after the room is finished (that means not painting the living room or our room). Since I knew where he was coming from (we'll probably have to pay to replace the entire carpet when we leave) and this isn't our permanent home (we'll be moving in 2011 unless we PCS earlier than that), he decided he didn't want anymore painted. So instead of arguing, I just picked my battle and I'm keeping the paint for the next house. It will add a lot of weight for the next move! (That translates into being paid more money to move.)

So, as of right now, I just need to hang up a lot of stuff on the walls and find places for things. I'm still going through a lot of things and giving things away. I have a lot of summer maternity clothes I'm going to give away (since I can't wear them anyway) and stuff like that. It actually feels good to not have as much stuff. :)

The other room that did get painted is the study/library (the second bedroom). I painted this amazing blue called "pacific blue" and it is so relaxing! I can just feel my blood pressure go down and my body get less tense when I go in there! I think I will be painting at least one room that color in every house that we live in, in the future! We decided to put all of our books (that fill 3+ 6 foot bookcases) and the desk and computers in there and the kids just won't be allowed in there. It also gives Mike a quiet place to study for school (and me, when I study).

I do have big plans for the backyard for the spring. Again, we'll see how that goes. I would like to plant a garden. I know that I'll have to replace it with grass when we leave the house, but I have decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I want to plant green beans, tomatoes, squash, pie pumpkins and some other things that we like to eat. We'll see. I know it's ambitious since I'm having a baby in March, but I would like to go ahead and plan it and we'll see what happens. :) It gets lots of sun and seems to drain well so far. We'll see . . .

As soon as I can access my pictures on my camera (the battery is dead and I have yet to locate the charger which is driving me crazy), I will post pictures of the house, both empty and fully finished/decorated. :)

Thanksgiving in SD

Mike, Sophie and I drove up to South Dakota to visit with Ruth and Paul for Thanksgiving. We decided to drive at night, so that Sophie would be asleep most of the way. That was a good plan, except for running into problems like a tire blowout . . . It was so great to see Ruth and Paul again and Sophie remembered her Grandma from when Ruth came to visit just a few weeks prior. I handed her to Ruth and Sophie looked at her, recognized her and just gave her a huge smile! It was so sweet!

John also came out from Hot Springs for the holiday, and it was really great to see him as well. Thomas declined on coming with us as he didn't want to do any traveling. (He was a convoy commander in Iraq and did A LOT of driving while he was there. Can't say I blame him at all.) Anyway, Sophie really enjoyed spending time with her Uncle John as well.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at the Berean Church on Sunday after the service. The church has been praying for Sophie since before she was born, so everyone wanted to meet her after the service. There were a lot of people coming up to see Sophie to say hi! She handled it pretty well until towards the end of dinner, and then I think she got a little over stimulated. Unfortunately, I missed the service because Sophie decided to get upset and declare adamantly that she wanted a bottle and nap right before the service started, so I went to the nursery with her and stayed there with her. It was good to catch up with Andrea Keller and Pastor Scott and others though after the service.

We also went out to visit Mike's high school buddies Todd and Matt, who own and work on a ranch together about an hour from Gregory. I got to meet them and also their wonderful wives Janine and Naomi. They are both really amazing - among knowing how to can food, sauces, syrups and jams, Janine also knows how to sew,garden, hunt, fish, cook for huge groups of people and is an excellent decorator. And she barrel races extremely well. Very inspirational. Naomi and Matt are thinking about adopting a child from Ethiopia - very awesome. I will be praying that everything goes well with that for them. It's so refreshing to meet other people that are the same age as Mike and I and are of like mind on so many issues, including topics like NFP and BC, etc. The ranch they live on is really beautiful, and you have to drive quite a ways on a dirt road to get to their house - I don't know how many acres they have and didn't ask, but Paul speculated that they have 7,000 acres according to the number of people that live and work the land (Todd's father is also an owner and lives on the land as well. All three families have their own houses.)

On Thanksgiving Day, we went out to Janice's house for Thanksgiving. She was recently remarried and it was held at her new residence with her new husband, who is very sweet. He's a cattle rancher and most of the cattle were up by the house to be fed for the evening when we arrived. I would have liked for Sophie to go out to see the cattle, but it was a bit cold and when Mike and some of the kids and adults went out to play in the yard, Sophie was napping, so she missed out. The food was in abundance and was extremely tasty. Janice had also decorated the house for Thankgiving, and it looked so great. It's so nice to visit places on Thanksgiving that have no hint of Christmas decorations yet. More on that later, perhaps. Pam and Joel and Beth, Jayne, Matt, Jonathan and Ben also drove up from Nebraska, and it was really good to see them as well. Everytime I see the kids, it seems like they get taller and taller! Beth is already a good head taller than me at 16 and Jayne is several inches taller than me at 14! It's interesting . . . sometimes I wonder what they think when they see me, their Uncle's short wife . . .

The rest of our time in SD was spent resting and relaxing, which was much needed after moving and unpacking! I really enjoyed spending time with Ruth and I know that she enjoyed spending time with Sophie. Unfortunately, Sophie didn't sleep very well most nights that we were there. I think it was a combination of factors - new room, it was a lot colder (even though I had her in several layers including a wonderful warm sleeper blanket that Ruth bought for her) and she was in pack-n-play, which is really too small for her. I think the worst was night when Sophie cried and stayed up until after 0200! She has quite the set of lungs and kept everyone else in the house up too. I felt really bad about that, especially since everyone was so tired the next day. So Sophie ended up sleeping in bed with us at some point in the night or early morning most nights we were there. (She loves that! She's such a snuggler!) Ruth and John played with Sophie a lot. I brought a whole bag of her toys with us to keep her entertained and would give her different toys on different days. She really missed her bouncing exerciser though. She was so happy to see it when we got home!

We left Thanksgiving night at about midnight, after taking a few hours nap. Unfortunately we had a tire blowout at 2am (almost exactly) and wouldn't you know the spare was flat. We were able to call USAA (which is a HUGE blessing because if we had been a few miles to the north, we wouldn't have had any cell service at all). They sent out a towtruck for us, at no charge, and we got towed to the nearest town, Grand Island, which happened to have a WalMart. The tow truck only had room for one in the cab, so Mike rode in the cab and I stayed in the car with Sophie on the back of the tow truck. Let me just say it was quite cold (outside temps were in the 20's) and I was really glad to have packed extra blankets in the car! Sophie slept the whole way, despite all the bumps and the temperature. So we arrived at WalMart at 0500 on Black Friday. We opted to wait in the car until the auto center opened at 0700 instead of facing the waves of greedy people rushing around and pushing for "good deals" in the store. Going in once to use the bathroom was enough! Thankfully the auto center opened on time and they were very quick in their service. We decided to replace both back tires just in case. We didn't have any more problems on the way home, except trying to stay awake. We were supposed to get in between 1100 and 1200 (and then go to sleep), but we didn't get home until after 1700. So it was quite a long ride on only four hours of sleep! Praise the Lord that we made it back safe and sound.

I wish I had pictures, but I didn't really get very many because my camera battery was low and I haven't been able to find my charger since we moved . . . :( So for now, words will have to do.

Time flies

I haven't really had much of a chance to log into my blog lately . . . so I did tonight and I looked at my blog so I could decide if I want to change the background to a Christmas one or not . . . and I have a pregnancy tracker on my blog (you might have noticed, at the top of the page). :) Anyway, I know this sounds silly, but I had no idea I was so far along! I mean, I knew I was about six months, but for some reason with this pregnancy I can just not keep up with the weeks. I'm 25 weeks and 6 days today! That means tomorrow I'll be 26 weeks pregnant! It really won't be long at all before Edward is here! Wow! Usually March seems so far away, but not it feels a lot closer!!

24 November 2009

Great Blog from a mil mom

I, for one, feel like this often, although I do try to help when and where I can. I know that I say "no" a lot more often than I used to and I don't volunteer for this as much as I would like. For me, this blog was encouraging.

From: http://www.spousebuzz.com/blog/2009/11/and-the-guilt-is-lifting.html

And the guilt is lifting
November 3, 2009AWTM
It has been a while since I have had anything to add to the conversation here at SpouseBuzz.
I think the last you heard from me, I was living in a state of perpetually broken down appliances. That pressure has seemed to let up a little for now. (knocking on wood)
I also am working again, which was HUGE. Finding an employer, that will work with a military family schedule is HUGE. It seems to help that the gentleman I am working for was former military.
Both of my children are also attending school now.
It is a complete new life for our entire family. This year felt like a huge jump for us. There are extra activities like Boy scouts, swimming classes, gymnastics, church CREW for the children. I mentioned earlier that I would need a system to organize myself, a HUGE magnetic calendar is on my refrigerator, along with a pocketed file for everything. It has helped immensely. I can be scattered.
With all of these additional activities there seems to be an influx of emails and notes, in which the school, church, or any number of people need assistance in some way. For the first time, I find myself capable of helping. When I had smaller children, it was almost impossible. In fact many of you with small children are nodding your heads. You want to help, but with small children and the childcare situation can be a puzzling one.
Instead of feeling guilt about not helping, I think it is imperative to note, that if you are caring for yourself, and children and doing the best you can in those arenas you are doing your JOB, ESPECIALLY if your spouse is deployed. Most Mothers have been there and done that, even without deployments, and understand. I will say I understand your feelings, and the guilt associated with not being in a position to help.
This year, since my DH is not deployed, my children are older, and I am not dead tired at the end of the day, I decided to become more involved. My Husband has been helping too. I seem to be able to gage my abilities and energies much better now with 5-7 hours sleep in my belt. I promise, it will happen.
I also think it is important to remember to enjoy what you are contributing, so it does not feel like a chore or obligation. Take your talents and take them into consideration. I for one, do not do well around LARGE groups of Kindergarten children for too long. Something about the noise, and motions, and the buzz they carry with them. It does me in, makes me edgy and a little overwhelmed. So instead of long days of volunteering, I tried my hand at hosting the fall party. (45 minutes felt like 10) I have also become the "treat bringer". The church needs snacks, easy enough. The classroom needs books. I can bake, and purchase a couple of books.
The purpose of helping others, is to do what you can when you can. You would be surprised at all of the things people can use help with. Many of those things may seem small, but they are not.
And with this, I am off to slumber. Something I recall not getting much of when I had children under 3. So to the Moms that feel bad for not being able to help because they are stretched thin...it is ok. We know you will when you can. We understand. It is OK to say no. You have one of the most important jobs on Earth.

07 November 2009

Recordable Hallmark Book

I signed up for the Hallmark rewards thing a few weeks ago when I was at one of their stores buying a card. I actually signed up just because it would save me 10% that day, but they send me emails about specials and such.

The email I received this week showcased the Recordable Book where you can record your voice reading the book on every single page. I immediately thought what a great idea this was for the little children with deployed parents. The deployed parent could record their voice on the book and then the child can hear/read that book whenever they want to hear their parents voice! And it's operated with batteries, so you don't have to worry about a connection failing or the power going out while you're on the computer talking over the webcam.

Anyway, for some reason I can't copy the link. So go to www.hallmark.com, click on "In Hallmark Stores", then click on "Gifts" in the column on the left hand side, then click on "Holiday Gifts" under that.

Or you could just go to a Hallmark store and ask them.

It sounds like a really great idea to invest in if you have a loved one that will be deploying soon. Or even for grandparents to do if they live far away from their grandkids. That's not a hint or anything, I'm just saying . . .

03 November 2009

Women of Faith

I went to the Women of Faith conference again this year at the Lord center. I went with the Tinker Chapel though, instead of our church. I got to sit with Nikki for the whole conference which was really neat. (I forgot my camera both days, so I have no pics to post).

There were a lot of really awesome speakers including Lisa Harper, Lisa Whelchel (who wrote the book that we're using in the PWOC Bible study small group that I'm co-leading with Nikki), Steven Curtis Chapman, Marcus Buckingham, Nicole C. Mullen (awesome, awesome singer/song-writer - it's so obvious that she is so in love with the Lord and I love how she takes verses like Rom 12:2 and turns them into songs), Sheila Walsh, Allison Allen, Marilyn Meberg and Luci Swindoll (Chuck Swindoll's sister). There was also a really great praise and worship team.

I have so many stories that I could share from the weekend about the speakers and what I learned from them. The chronology of Jesus and four of the women listed and what that really meant as taught by Lisa Harper was so awesome and I think I remembered the best. I knew the stories of Tamar, Ruth, Rahab and Bathsheba, but never thought about what that meant to first century Jews and not having to be perfect to follow Christ.

My little "story" from the weekend was actually through World Vision. I knew that World Vision would be there with cards for thousands of children to sponsor from around the world. So a few weeks before Women of Faith I asked Mike if it would be okay if we sponsored a child since we had the money now. He said "Yes, that would be great". Then I asked if we could sponsor a child from Honduras (more thinking aloud really), and he said that would be really great. Why Honduras? Because I was there two and a half years ago and even though I was only in Tegucigalpa and Mogote for a week, the missionaries and the people and the children have always been on my heart and my mind, almost daily in fact. So I really wanted to sponsor a child from there. Well, a few days later, I was laying in bed with Sophie in the morning and I got to thinking about how World Vision puts the orange bags with a child's card on every single chair in the complex and each card stands for an actual child that needs to be sponsored. And I thought about how I would feel if I gave that child back to the World Vision table to exchange for a child from Honduras. How could I possibly pass over a precious child because they're from Nigeria or whatever other country, instead of Honduras? I would feel so guilty - I couldn't do that and I didn't think we could sponsor two, so I talked to the Lord about it and I basically gave it up to Him. I didn't even know how I could pray about it so I just put the whole situation in the Lord's hands and didn't think about it until Nikki and I got to our seats at the Ford Center. I immediately reached for the orange bag and opened it up and looked at the card. And there was a picture of an adorable three year old girl. . . from Honduras! The Lord is so amazing awesome - He took my tiny little request that only mattered to my heart and answered it so completely and amazingly! The Lord completely blew my mind! What an awesome God we serve!! We know the Lord answers the big and huge prayers requests, but He also answers the tiny little requests that only matter to us, and to no one else. Jer 33:3 again! :D

So our little girl that we are sponsoring is named Dunia, and she is from western Honduras and she will be four years old in December. I can't wait to receive our package in the mail with all the information about her and start writing to her. Maybe I'll even learn Spanish so I can learn to write to her in her own native language over the years . . . I look forward to watching her grow along with Sophie and Edward and writing to her. It's so exciting! The Lord is so awesome!

Colors, compliments and more

Well, it's been a while since I blogged and a lot has been going on.

Dad came to visit the week before last and it was really great to see him. He got sick with a bad sinus infection while he was here, but thankfully he is on his way to recovery. After arriving back in Florida, he got a secondary lung virus, but is able to get some rest. Dad loved seeing Sophie and spending time with her. It was really cute to see him interacting with Sophie - I had no idea he was so good with babies. He did have two kids though . . . :)

And of course, he arrived home with Thomas, who is back from the Corps. Yay!!! It is so awesome to finally have Thomas home. He is definitely doing a lot better than before he left for Iraq. He's getting everything all set up to get an apartment of his own in the same apartment compelx as us and he going to get enrolled in school after that. The Lord has really blessed him and is allowing him to go to school full time without having to work by using the GI Bill. Thomas hasn't decided which school he's going to go to yet, but I know the Lord will lead him as he prays about it.

Last week Ruth was here visiting as Paul went to Florida as part of a missions sponsorship - they have a huge truck and can tow a large trailer, so he drove the trailer down to Florida to deliver supplies to the mission and orphanage in Haiti. It was really wonderful having Ruth visit and I miss having her here. She really enjoyed spending time with Sophie as well and Sophie really enjoyed spending time with Ruth. I think that Sophie misses her . . .

While Ruth was here, I was able to be freed up to do some necessary price comparing and shopping for washers and dryers and paint for our new house on base. Yes, we are moving on base, and last week they came and did the inspection and we received our keys - so the house is all ours! Yay! Anyway, back to shopping . . . do you have any idea how many different colors of paint there are out there to choose from? A lot!!!! For a person who really hates to make decisions, it was a bit stressful and very hard to sit and choose from so many colors.

I picked out the colors I wanted for each room and I taped up each little color sample square on the wall in the room I wanted a particular color. Luckily the brand I was going with had three colors per sample square. Then I would study the colors with the lights off and blinds closed (this was in the afternoon light), then the blinds open and lights off, then lights on and blinds open. Each time the color I liked the most in that light got a check mark. Then I would move all the colors to a different wall and start all over again. One can imagine how long this process took for each room - the living room, the kitchen/den, and all three bedrooms. The colors with the most check marks won and that was the color that I chose. If I'd had more time, I should have gone back and done this at night as well, but I didn't, so oh well. I did pick my final colors and got all my paint supplies and everything all bought. Lowe's, by the way, won out with the best prices over Home Depot and Sears. And they have a 10% military discount year round to boot. I didn't check WalMart prices.

As I was studying and thinking about all of these colors all week, I got to thinking about all the colors there are in the world and how wonderful a Creator we have who invented and gave us all of these brilliant colors. I started really looking at the world around me in a whole new way - as a world filled with vibrant color everywhere - from all the blues in the sky at any time of day (but especially sunrise or sunset), to the colors in the still-blooming flowers in our apartment complex to the beautiful fall hues of the leaves on the trees as they loose their pigment before falling to the ground. It is all so awesomely beautiful! I love to worship the Lord by admiring His creation. And I couldn't help but think how we humans have got nothing on the Lord when it comes to inventing or creating - even with all the wonderful technology and gadgets and things that we have, we still have nothing on God. It's unfathomable how brilliant His design in the world is.

On Sunday at church I received what I think is the best compliment I have ever received in my life. Willa Ruth, one of the ladies who is the head of the nursery department, who has been around children for decades, said that Sophie is the most secure child she has ever seen. It really was an affirmation to my mothering skills. I have done a lot of research and listened to advice from friends and health professionals and strangers and read articles and all of this kind of thing; however, when it comes down to it, I go by tuition and what I feel my child needs at the moment. I feel that I have taken bits and pieces from everything that I have learned from everyone and articles and research and formed my opinions and that's what I go by. And apparently it's working with Sophie.

I had my 19 week ultrasound the week that Dad was visiting. And Mike and I are going to have baby boy!! We've decided on the name Edward, after Thomas (his middle name is Edward). We're thinking about James for a middle name, but it's not a definite yet, just a very likely. He is getting more active every day, although he is still no where near as active as Sophie was in the womb. I'm really looking forward to meeting him! He kicks at Sophie when I'm feeding her in my lap, but she hasn't felt it yet. It will be interesting when she realizes that Mommy's tummy is kicking at her! And actually I felt Edward kicking me while I was driving around today, so I looked down, and I could see his kicks for the first time!! It was pretty neat! I can't wait for Mike to see them and feel them too! And when Ruth was here, he got really balled up near the top of my uterus, and Ruth was able to feel him. Definitely a really neat moment!

I really love being a mother and being a stay at home mom. I love the fact that Sophie and our little Edward (due in March) are going to be so close (11 months apart - almost 12 months). I am excited at the aspect of having as many children as the Lord will give us. I know that I wrote (I think I wrote anyway) when I was in my first trimester that I wasn't sure if I could have another child after this. The morning sickness was so terrible and it was so hard having an infant besides. I think that was a dark part of the night and now my joy has come in the morning. The Lord is so awesome! My first trimester was pretty bad, but after it was over, it has really been great. Physically I can do so much more than I could when I was pregnant with Sophie. I'm painting and running around doing things with Sophie and there is no way that I could have done in my first pregnancy. So I think that if and when I get pregnant again, I will just have do things differently in the first trimester, such as cook a weeks worth of meals in one day and freeze them, ask for more help, teach Mike how to cook, etc.

But anyway, I love staying at home with Sophie. We read books and we play and I try to teach things (although Michelle is a far better teacher than I and I have a lot to learn from her). I've started teaching her baby sign language and she is really interested in what I am signing to her. I'm looking forward to her learning the signs in the coming months. Right now we're trying new foods every four to six days and that has been so much fun. Sophie really loves to eat baby food and gets really excited when I put her bib on her, even if she can't see the baby food - she knows whats coming. Although the experience with oatmeal was downright hilarious (she didn't like oatmeal at all!) My favorite time of the day though is the first part of the morning when Sophie would wake up for her bottle. She just lays quietly in bed and coos or talks to her mobile or lately, plays with her feet, waiting for me to come in and get her. I fix her bottle and get her up and change her diaper, then we go back to bed together and she lays in my arm with her head on the pillow near my shoulder and I feed her. It's just such wonderful cuddle time for the two of us. Sometimes, more when she was younger than now, we would take our morning nap together - and I really loved that. Sophie did too. However, now that she is seven months old, I've been putting an end to that because I won't be able to do it after Edward arrives. I already miss it terribly . . . .

Sophie is sitting on her own very well now and loves to sit and play with her toys that I lay out all around her. She still loves to LoveBug doll that Ruth gave her. She also loves to bounce and play in her exerciser - and she can bounce and jump nonstop for an hour! We will definitely have to make daily trips to the playground when she gets older - she has so much energy! She was interested in crawling, until she discovered sitting, now she's content to just sit. She is starting to lean way forward to toys, and I read in Dr. Sears' book that is a step towards crawling, so that's good. She's still incredibly strong. And really tall and thin. She went back down to the 5th percentile the last time she was weighed, and is still in the 75th percentile for height. She fits into her 3-6 months pants waist wise, but not leg wise - they're too short. And I think 6-9 months are too big in the waist. It's a predicament .. . she is growing though and she definitely a thriving and happy baby! :D

Geert Wilders

From http://www.geertwilders.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1535&Itemid=1

Speech Geert Wilders New York, Four Seasons (Monday Feb 23, 2009)

woensdag, 25 februari 2009
Thank you very much for inviting me. And – to the immigration authorities – thank you for letting me into this country. It is always a pleasure to cross a border without being sent back on the first plane. Today, the dearest of our many freedoms is under attack all throughout Europe. Free speech is no longer a given. What we once considered a natural element of our existence, our birth right, is now something we once again have to battle for.

As you might know, I will be prosecuted, because of my film Fitna, my remarks regarding Islam, and my view concerning what some call a ‘religion of peace’. A few years from now, I might be a criminal.

Whether or not I end up in jail is not the most pressing issue; I gave up my freedom four years ago. I am under full-time police protection ever since. The real question is: will free speech be put behind bars? And the larger question for the West is: will we leave Europe’s children the values of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem, or the values of Mecca, Teheran and Gaza?

This is what video blogger Pat Condell said in one of his latest you tube appearances. He says: “If I talked about Muslims the way their holy book talks about me, I’d be arrested for hate speech.” Now, Mr Condell is a stand-up comedian, but in the video he is dead serious and the joke is on us. Hate speech will always be used against the people defending the West – in order to please and appease Muslims. They can say whatever they want: throw gays from apartment buildings, kill the Jews, slaughter the infidel, destroy Israel, jihad against the West. Whatever their book tells them.

Today, I come before you to warn of a great threat. It is called Islam. It poses as a religion, but its goals are very worldly: world domination, holy war, sharia law, the end of the separation of church and state, slavery of women, the end of democracy. It is NOT a religion, it is an political ideology. It demands your respect, but has no respect for you.

There might be moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. Islam will never change, because it is built on two rocks that are forever, two fundamental beliefs that will never change, and will never alter. First, there is the Quran, Allah’s personal word, uncreated, forever, with orders that need to be fulfilled regardless of place or time. And second, there is al-insal al-kamil, the perfect man, Muhammad the role model, whose deeds are to be imitated by all Muslims. And since Muhammad was a warlord and a conqueror we know what to expect. Islam means submission, so there cannot be any mistake about it’s goal. That’s a given. It’s fact.

This is Europe 2009. Muslim settlers calling for our destruction, and free speech on trial. All this is the outcome of a sick and evil ideology, the ideology that is weakening us, the surrender ideology of cultural relativism. It believes that all cultures are equal, and therefore Islam deserves an equal place in the West. It is their duty, the left thinks, to facilitate Islam. This way the cultural relativists paradise comes within reach and we will all be happy, and sing kumbaya.
The forces of Islam couldn’t agree more. Islam being facilitated by government is their agenda too. But they see it as jizya, the money dhimmis pay in order not to be killed or raped by their Muslim masters. Therefore, they happily accept the welfare cheque or the subsidies for their mosque or the money governments donate to their organizations.

This is just one example of cultural relativists and Muslim settlers having the same agenda. There is another. Islam considers itself a religion and therefore we are not permitted to criticize it. The left agrees. Although it hated Christianity for decades, now that Islam appears on the scene, they suddenly change course and demand ‘respect’ for something they call a religion.
Again we see the left and Islam having the same agenda: it is a religion, so shut up.

This all culminates in a third coming-together: nor the left nor Islam is in favor of criticism. In fact, given the opportunity, they would simply outlaw it. Multiculturalism is the left’s pet project. It is actually their religion. Their love of it is so great, if you oppose it, it must be hate. And if you say it, it is labeled hate speech. Now here is something the Islam can agree on.

This is the essence of my short introduction today: where the left and Islam come together, freedom will suffer.

My friends, make no mistake, my prosecution is a full-fledged attack by the left on freedom of speech in order to please Muslims. It was started by a member of the Dutch Labour party, and the entire legal proceeding is done by well-to-do liberals, the radical chic of Dutch society, the snobbish left. Too much money, too much time, too little love of liberty. If you read what the court of Amsterdam has written about me, you read the same texts that cultural relativists produce.

How low can we go in the Netherlands? About my prosecution, The Wall Street Journal noted: “this is no small victory for Islamic regimes seeking to export their censorship laws to wherever Muslims reside”. The Journal concluded that by The Netherlands accepting the free speech standards of, “Saudi-Arabia”, I stand correct in my observation that - I quote - “Muslim immigration is eroding traditional Dutch liberties”.

Now, if the Wall Street Journal has the moral clarity to see that my prosecution is the logical outcome of our disastrous, self-hating, multiculturalists immigration policies, then why can’t the European liberal establishment see the same thing? Why aren’t they getting at least a little bit scared by the latest news out of, for example, the UK. News that tells that the Muslim population in Britain is growing ten times as fast as the rest of society. Why don’t they care?

The answer is: they don’t care because they are blinded by their cultural relativism. Their disdain of the West is so much greater than the appreciation of our many liberties. And therefore, they are willing to sacrifice everything. The left once stood for women rights, gay rights, equality, democracy. Now, they favour immigration policies that will end all this. Many even lost their decency. Elite politicians have no problem to participate in or finance demonstrations where settlers shout “Death to the Jews”. Seventy years after Auschwitz they know of no shame.

Two weeks ago, I tried to get into Britain, a fellow EU country. I was invited to give a speech in Parliament. However, upon arrival at London airport, I was refused entry into the UK, and sent back on the first plane to Holland. I would have loved to have reminded the audience of a great man who once spoke in the House of Commons. In 1982 President Reagan gave a speech there very few people liked. Reagan called upon the West to reject communism and defend freedom. He introduced a phrase: ‘evil empire’. Reagan’s speech stands out as a clarion call to preserve our liberties. I quote: If history teaches anything, it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. What Reagan meant is that you cannot run away from history, you cannot escape the dangers of ideologies that are out to destroy you. Denial is no option.

So, what should we do? Is this a good moment for freedom-loving people to give in or to change course? To all-of-a-sudden start singing praise of Islam, or proclaiming there is such a thing as a moderate Islam? Will we now accept the continuation of Muslim mass immigration to the West? Will we appease sharia and jihad? Should we sacrifice gay rights and women rights? Or democracy? Should we sell out Israel, our dearest ally, and a frontline state of Islam?

Well, my humble opinion is: No way, Jose!

I suggest to defend freedom in general and freedom of speech in particular. I propose the withdrawal of all hate speech legislation in Europe. I propose a European First Amendment. In Europe we should defend freedom of speech like you Americans do. In Europe freedom of speech should be extended, instead of restricted. Of course, calling for violence or unjustly yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre have to be punished, but the right to criticize ideologies or religions are necessary conditions for a vital democracry. As George Orwell once said: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

Let us defend freedom of speech and let us gain strength and work hard to become even stronger. Millions think just like you and me. Millions think liberty is precious. That democracy is better than sharia. And after all, why should we be afraid? Our many freedoms and our prosperity are the result of centuries of endeavour. Centuries of hard work and sacrifice. We do not stand alone, and we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Late December 1944 the American army was suddenly faced with a last-ditch effort by the Germans. In the Ardennes, in the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler and his national-socialists fought for their last chance. And they were very successful. Americans faced defeat, and death.
In the darkest of winter, in the freezing cold, in a lonely forest with snow and ice as even fiercer enemies than the Nazi war machine itself, the American army was told to surrender. That might be their only chance to survive. But General McAuliffe thought otherwise. He gave the Germans a short message. This message contained just four letters. Four letters only, but never in the history of freedom was a desire for liberty and perseverance in the face of evil expressed more eloquently than in that message. It spelled N – U – T – S. “Nuts”.

My friends, the national-socialists got the message. Because it left no room for interpretation!
I suggest we walk in the tradition of giants like General McAuliffe and the American soldiers who fought and died for the freedom of my country and for a secular and democratic Europe, and we tell the enemies of freedom just that. NUTS! Because that’s all there is to it. No explanations. No beating around the bush. No caveats.

Our enemies should know: we will never apologize for being free men, we will never bow for the combined forces of Mecca and the left. And we will never surrender. We stand on the shoulders of giants. There is no stronger power than the force of free men fighting for the great cause of liberty. Because freedom is the birthright of all man.