The after-school snack time is a much anticipated event around these parts. Eve starts her 20 questions about the after-school snack before school even starts for the day.
No pressure, Mama.
Thankfully my children are easily satisfied. My favorite snack idea is popcorn. The kids love it and it never, ever becomes boring to them. I love popcorn because it is easy - throw a pot on the hot burner, dump in a little bit of oil, kernels in, wait for a pop, top on and away we go! A little melted butter, a little salt.. viola! Snack is served.
About a month ago I took some pictures of Eve and Judah inhaling their afternoon snack of popcorn. I love their interactions with each other - well, the non-screaming ones.
Who knew having kids could be this fun!
Can you help me out? Tell me in comments - what was (or is!) your favorite after-school snack?
This mama needs some fresh ideas thrown her way!
Looking so sweet. So innocent. Hangin' out like buddies...
And then the lesson starts: How to eat popcorn, by Eve...
Lesson two: How to steal popcorn, by Judah...
Lesson three: How to avoid having your popcorn stolen, by Eve
There was a lot I needed to be doing this morning. And none of it included sitting on my friend's back porch chatting the day away. I needed to be putting a load of mediums in the wash and folding the two load of clean clothes that have been taunting me for the past 24 hours. I needed to be unloading the dishwasher and loading it back up; vacuuming my floor, making my bed... On and on the goes the list.
Instead, I ignored my chores and sashayed on down the sidewalk. I sat with my friend on her back porch, both of us with a baby on our lap, watching our kids play together.
We talked. Talked about the state of our breasts (or lack thereof) post-children. And laughed. Laughed about stuff our kids do and say. And felt sad. Sad because we are both staring down deployments. And navigated. Navigated through the pros and cons of staying here or going home during a deployment.
And then we kept right on talking... We talked about how great our respective husbands are; how much they love their motorcycles and the Air Force. We talked about our neighborhood, where the best thrift stores are, the pros and cons of a tummy tuck, which is the "better" Walmart in town; about how she keeps her house smelling fantastic; and, most importantly, where one finds a canopy for a bed.
Or, in other words... the crucial stuff of life.
Of course we occasionally chided our children; I saved Eliza from consuming whole pieces of sidewalk chalk; she picked up a thrown Elmo toy from the ground twenty-seven thousand times.
It was great. And I didn't even think about how much I had to do at home. Or worry that I would regret the time spent sitting in a lawn chair talking with a friend.
Yes, I came home to a messy house; I had hungry kids to feed and nap time was only 15 minutes away. But I couldn't have cared less.
I needed that time. I needed to laugh and talk and just be a friend.
Why don't I do this more often? Why do I let my routine and my chores and my agenda become blinders to building relationships?
My new motto: Relationships first. Vacuuming second.
Judah loves to swing. Not that he always has, in fact, he passionately hated the baby swing. Many winter evenings in Vermont found me hauling that old swing into my tiny kitchen, gently placing my swaddled baby boy in it, cranking it and cranking it again, and then rushing to make dinner while he wailed away in the swing.
Not my idea of a good time.
Somehow those memories of the (blessedly short) time spent in the torturous baby swing have not followed Judah, because now that boy of mine loves to swing. Whenever we go to any playground he makes a beeline for the swings. Who cares about the great twirly slide, the plethora of fun rocks under his feet, or the climbing wall!
Bring on the swing, baby!
We brought the swings we had hanging from the big maple tree in the front yard of our little red house in Vermont, to our new house here in New Mexico. Daddy hung them and they are used daily. I would hazard a guess that if I threw Judah a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every now and then, throughout the day, he would be perfectly happy to leave his tush parked in that swing all day long.
And while Judah may be perfectly content to swing all day long, he is never content with the speed or height in which I push him. He always wants FASTER! And HIGHER!
One of my most favorite things is hearing Judah exclaim that he is "almost touching the stars, Mama!" I wish he would always be well satisfied with just a little green swing.
While I was on my non-volunteer blogging hiatus we had a little bit of winter. For like six hours. It was cold, there were flurries, and it was generally gross out.
But after the weather was done having it's tantrum we were left with beautiful, snow crusted everything. Absolute gorgeousness. I certainly didn't feel like I was in Vermont but it was rather refreshing to see white instead of brown, brown, brown.
Quite a change from the past twenty-seven years of my life; I have never experienced a winter that was any less than six months of cold, and snow, and white everywhere. When Daniel and I were newlyweds living in Anchorage Alaska, it snowed - like a couple feet of snow - the first week of October. When we left Alaska for North Dakota in May... there was still snow everywhere.
Oh, that was torture.
To be here, in New Mexico during the winter, has been a great change. And relief even among the brown! Today was 70 degrees; it was windy as all get out but still, how can I not be thankful for a beautiful warm day? And the amount of sunshine, all winter long, has been overwhelming.
As of today my beloved rose bushes have beautiful newborn leaves and many of the trees have buds... spring is well on it's way!
But, I find that I have a strong affection for that small day of winter. It reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for.
I have two little girls who are truly very feminine; they love pretty, sparkly, beautiful things. They are immediately attracted to anything that says: GIRL.
Eliza has been a baby doll fanatic since she was nine months old.
This is Eliza and her "Nonie." Oh, how she adores her Nonie who is actually named Honey but baby girl can't say Honey, therefore she says "Nonie." And so do we.
It's amazing to me but I see tell tale signs that Eliza may surpass Eve in her "girlishness," if that is even possible.
And I think it is. After all, a mother, well, she knows these things.
Time will tell. Eliza has a good role model...
Eve has a cloud of perfume that hovers over her body constantly; overall she is very meticulous about her grooming. In essence, Eve is the perfect little woman.
This weekend we moved Eve into Judah's room. She's now the proud owner of the top bunk. The two of them are so happy to be sleeping in the same room; it's hard for me to understand because as the only girl I always had my own room. And, quite frankly, I never wanted to share a room with my brothers.
In an effort to keep some of the uniqueness of being a girl while sharing a room with a boy, Daniel and I decorated the area of the top bunk. Eve's special pictures, her name spelled out with wooden letters, and a few bright butterflies and flowers hang from the ceiling above her bed.
Daniel and I also filled Eliza's room with these sweet, sparkly, perfectly girly little creations. At under 3 dollars each with an added 30 percent off, how could I go wrong. The hanging butterflies, Chinese lanterns, and flowers all add such a lovely whimsical feel to my baby girl's room. Eliza loves her new decorations; she stares and stares, watching the bright colors of orange and green, pink and purple twirl in the breezes that come from her windows. And I love them because it finally feels like I did something right in the decorating department.
is akin to a having a new baby. The end product just isn't as cute.
So, I got my new laptop today. I named her "Sweet Girl." This is quite a step up as I had named our other computer "Stupid Thing." Oh yes I did. Because that was what I was always calling it. I never quite understood why it couldn't read my mind.
Oh, I love her. My Sweet Girl. She's not a Mac book but I don't mind a bit. It just didn't make sense to buy one seeing as I already had Photoshop for Windows. It kind of felt like I would have been throwing money away because a Mac book would have rendered my CS3 useless. I would have had to spend more money to buy the Mac version of CS3. You know? So, here I stand (sit) with my shiny new laptop and I kind of felt like I just went through labor and was handed a beautiful new baby. So excited...! Let's get this thing started! And then reality strikes.... the baby cries. Oh yeah... I have to start from scratch. Ugh. How do you work this thing? Okay, deep breath...download files, upload files, figure out what the heck went wrong....
But, we're in business now. It only took four hours, one small squabble, a phone call to Amanda, and a tiny bit of hair pulling to get us here.
I had been dying a slow painful death without my pictures to mess around with, my camera card has been full for ages, and I felt painfully aware of my lack of a creative outlet.
Even making this cake couldn't help. Probably because I can't create a beautiful cake to save my life. Though I did give it a good effort with my very limited time frame and cake decorating capabilities. Thankfully I was able to fulfill the requirements stated to me by a certain five year old female... it must have sprinkles.
This Red Velvet cake was for the Valentine's Day party Eve's kindergarten class held on Thursday... those five year olds pretty much thought I hung the moon. Phew. They can be a tough crowd, you know. Apparently it tasted amazing; people I didn't even know were coming in to get a slice. Word traveled fast. What I do know is the chocolate buttercream frosting and I had a passionate love affair going on.
Back to my laptop angst... I semi-faithfully continued to bring my camera with me; taking pictures, deleting pictures so I could take more pictures, crossing my fingers and hoping I wasn't deleting something like this
I still have some work to dotransferring files from my little white laptop tomy girl. But I am so happy. So very, very happy. Though, I must admit, it feels silly to be this happy about a hunk of plastic and metal.
It seems to me that there are three kinds of attitudes that come from the non-military people in this country. There are the ones who are anti-military even down to hating the actual military members (hello, 99% of Vermont?), the ones who are apathetic or even those who may voice support for the military but never act on it, and the ones who are all out supportive, kind, and sold out patriotic.
Today I want to focus on the third group - the kind supporters of our country's military. I want to hear some stories from my fellow military spouses (or members) about the kindness(s) shown to you by civilians. I want to hear all about the support and love you have been given.
I have two reasons for this. One is that it is a huge encouragement to hear about these kind of stories. And two, it may very well give some great ideas to the civilians reading this post about how they can help a military family or member out. I think a lot of civilians truly desire to lend support they just don't know how.
I will lead off...
I am a practical person by nature. I love practical things. So when my friend Sam (Tarrah's husband) offered to take my garbage to the landfill for me every week that Daniel was deployed, I took him up on his offer. What a gift! I know it wasn't a fun job for him ( I remember something that had to do with raw chicken juice and the trunk of his Jetta - eww!) but he did it faithfully and I greatly appreciated it. He also came over and changed my blown out light bulbs and let me know help was only a phone call away.
I also had some older friends who would come over once or twice a month and either watch my kids at my house or take them along when they went grocery shopping. I was desperate for a break so those few hours of peace every once in awhile kept my sanity somewhat in place. These same friends of mine also made a concerted effort to involve me in their family activities. That was huge to me. It felt so good to be part of a family again.
Now, it's your turn! Tell me and all my readers your stories of your experiences with wonderful acts of kindness. I'm excited...
See ya in comments!!
Oh, there was an interesting and (possibly) touchy subject raised in the Misconceptions post. It was comment number 26 and the question was asked by Jennifer...
It's 2:57 on Tuesday morning. Here I am all dressed and ready to go to the airport. We are taking my mother in law to Albuquerque so she can catch her flight back home today.
We are hauling the kids out of bed (with the hopes that they fall back to sleep) so we can spend a fun day in Albuquerque. We are headed to the aquarium and some other stores. I am excited! It's so nice to have Daniel to drive and navigate and generally be in charge.
*****This is a sticky post so scroll down for my regular posts!
**Who is going to tackle this question by Anonymous, left in comments on the Misconceptions and Conception post??
The question is this: "Why do people enlist in the armed forces knowing that they will almost certainly go to fight a war?"
I'm going to have Daniel give his answer once he is back home from his TDY in which he was preparing for his turn in fighting a war....
Misconceptions about the life of those in the military.....
Where to begin?
I'll start with the one that bothered me the most. And this one isn't an 'across the board' misconception. This one is directly related to Recruiters.
The misconception was that Daniel, as a Recruiter, received a bonus or commission on each person he enlisted in the Air Force.
Not true. It would have been awesome had it been true, believe me! He put a LOT of people in the Air Force within those four years.
We did, however, receive a special duty pay of 450 dollars each month. It is the highest you can receive as his job was deemed among the hardest. Funny thing is that the cost of living was so extravagant in Burlington, Vermont that that 450 dollars kept our heads just above water. And for that I am thankful. But, let me just tell you, money will never replace having a husband or a father at home. Never.
Another misconception I have found, and it was touched upon in an earlier post, is that the men and woman who enter the military do so out of desperation or because they are ignorant.
Daniel received a 98 for an ASVAB score; he has three associates degrees, and is thisclose to his Bachelors. He is wicked smart. His decision to enter the military was well thought out.
We don't receive any extra money for each child we have. Every deployed member doesn't end up with PTSD. Deployments are not always forced, some volunteer to go (Daniel did this). Pity is not what we want from you when our husbands are deployed; we just want your help and care. We make very little money but we have wonderful benefits.
There is so much misinformation out there. It makes me sad.
C'mon military spouses/members help me out. Bring the misconceptions you have been faced with.
Civilians, bring your questions! Anything and everything. Like I said before, nothing is going to be looked upon as stupid.
I am going to leave this up at the top for a little while so that we can have some good discussions.
I put the new battery in last night and it worked great. I was excited but very suspicious. Having a working laptop again couldn't possibly be that easy. Well, it worked again this morning but only for a bit. And then it shut off and it is not turning back on no matter what.
I am so over not having a laptop. I shot Daniel an angry text this afternoon that said something along the lines of: I am buying a new laptop TODAY. And don't even TRY to stop me.
But, I didn't buy one. Daniel (the levelheaded and mature one in our relationship) called me and convinced me to wait until he is back home and can have a look at our options. You know what that means though... more waiting. And I hate waiting. I am dying to take pictures and edit them! I miss laying on my bed chilling with Photoshop.
In other not so interesting news... I made it to the airport fine-ish. I did miss my exit which caused a bit of excitement for "Crazy." I think she was feeling bored so my mistake was great fun for her. And then, my mother-in-law's plane came in 20 minutes early! That would have been totally awesome if I had been there. Instead I was being chastised by "Crazy" on some random highway in Albuquerque. I was cool as a cucumber, as I am sure you can imagine.
Tomorrow I am taking Judah to the dentist for a cleaning. I am terribly worried about his front right tooth. It is brown and gray-ish from when he fell on his face back in August. I really want to know what is going on with his tooth. Hopefully it will correct itself and the discoloration is just trauma. We shall see.
And... to wrap this random post up.... I am loving having my mother-in-law here! It's so nice to have an extra set of hands and eyes. The kids are thrilled to have her as a playmate and it's fun for me to be able to once again use big words in a conversation. And the gun I sleep with doesn't feel quite so needed when she is around. Though, the gun and I will still be spooning tonight.
Okay, not really.
I'm going to go now....
P.S. Friday is the military questions day! Unless I decide to do it tomorrow, in which case Thursday would be the day.
So, I'm driving to Albuquerque today. By myself and two of my three kids.
Enter slight panic attack.
It's not the two kids thing that scares me. Or the long hours in the car. It's the city driving.
I'm a country girl; you give me country roads or even small town roads and I am just fine. I can find a short cut, remember the zigging and the zagging like nobody's business. But the city? I'm a wreck. I get flustered and confused. Those big green signs... they scare me.
Thankfully I have "Crazy" with me, our GPS. But, I'm not even sure if she's going to be able to save me today. She is, after all, named after her chief character trait: Crazy.
You'll pray for me, right? Believe me, I am going to be needing them. I'd really like to keep my van within the state of New Mexico and not end up in Oklahoma or Arizona because I got lost; I'd really like to quickly find the airport and be able to pick my mother in law up, on time. I'm quite certain she'd appreciate that too. And, I'd like to be able to make it back home before midnight.
I get so nervous before doing stuff like this, stuff that is so entirely out of my comfort zone. But, I put on my big girl panties and I tell myself: you just have to do it. There is no other way.
And, usually, I am able to defeat my fear! I'd like today to be another victory. And it ought to be because I matched my big girl panties with my bra. I've got to get some extra points for that! Right?
Last night was a monumental night. Last night marked the first time Eve has had a sleepover at our house.
But, why would I want to keep something so very fun and exciting from her because she's only five.
I say: Let the games begin!
And, I figure, if we start young and lay the foundation of a what makes a sleepover great... maybe, just maybe, we'll have many, many more excellent sleepover experiences in the future.
I hope so, because I love them.
I'm really not sure who had more fun. Eve or me. I so enjoy my children. I love seeing them happy and having a ball.
There was dress up, and homemade pizza, dancing, laughter, and tickling. The girls had a sucker and watched part of "Tinkerbell" after Judah went to bed (poor Judah)(his time will come).
And even with all this fun, they were fast asleep by 8:30. I just love five year olds. They were up at 6:30 but we won't mention that or how Eve's friend remarked numerous times about how tired I looked. It was the honest truth. And just exemplified another reason why I love five year olds. They are so honest.
The girls had mercy on me; they quietly played Polly Pockets together until 7:30.
Praise God for allowing Mama to get more sleep.
A delicious breakfast and some more play time was the perfect way to cap off the sleepover.
The cherry on top was finding out that Judah makes a fantastic dinosaur and the girls perfect dinosaur food. Mmm Mmm Mmmmmm.....! Can't you just hear the screaming of two five year old girls being chased around the house by a hungry dinosaur?!
My camera shutter captured two little girls having the time of their life. Too bad my camera couldn't capture the smile in my heart.
I love creating wonderful memories with my children.
"We are an Active Duty Air Force family with beautiful New Mexico as our current duty station. Daniel has been Active Duty in the Air Force for ten years now! Andrea is a stay at home mom. We have three amazing kids - Eve, Judah, and Eliza.
We love the military life and all that comes along with it. We are a normal, silly, patriotic, fun-loving, hard-working, healthy-eating, fitness-minded, Jesus-following, hyphen-loving, busy and very happy family."