Wednesday, November 29, 2006

1 Week Countdown

A week from today we should be in sunny Anaheim for our first trip to Disneyland. This is really one of our first true family vacations that doesn't involve visiting relatives. The girls are so excited and so are we since this is the first time to the California park for all of us. Apparently in another blog entry I mispoke (mistyped rather) and said we were going in March...I was impressed to find out how many of you actually read the blog as several people wondered why we were going in March and not in December as I had previously mentioned! But the fact is we leave next week and we can't wait! This trip has been on the horizon for so long and was frequently a form of bribery during Daddy's deployment. The reality that in 7 days we'll be in CA is hard for me to wrap my brain around.

The main task between now and then is finding Baileigh any clothes that will fit her for the 70 degree weather. She had outgrown the majority of her summer wardrobe and it's a little hard to find shorts around here this time of year so we'll just have to see what I can come up with!

I'll be taking a blogging vacation while we're gone but I'm sure I'll have a lot of good pictures for your viewing pleasure when we return.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow Day

I still remember the anticipation of watching the morning news or listening to the radio to see if our school was closed on a snowy morning growing up in Michigan. My response was always elation. It meant days outside building snow forts, snowmen, and snowball fights...followed by hot chocolate to warm our numb hands. The past two mornings the announcement of cancelled pre-kindergarten has been a tearful occasion for Baileigh. Oh to be five! She'll learn to be excited about a day of cancelled school soon enough I suppose.

Although not impressed by the minimal accumulation of snow, the weather system that passed through the Puget Sound in the past few days did seem to paralyze these northwesterners to my surprise. I guess my upbringing in the Great Lakes State conditioned me to the point that it has to be a pretty severe snow storm to phase me. I will admit that I find fascinating the variety of conditions that can be experienced out here within just a few blocks of each other...I guess it must have to do with the mountains and the effects of being near the coast...but you can find snow and storms in one area and a block down the street the sky can be blue and clear. This may seem like an exaggeration but it's the truth and something you see frequently during the rainy season.

I was thankful though that there was at least something on the ground for the girls to play in so they can have some of their own childhood memories of playing in the snow. It only took a few minutes for them to discover the fun of a snowball fight...until Mckenna took one in the face as pictured below.

When they aren't throwing snow in each others faces they get along pretty well. Brooke was napping through the entire outing so I don't have any pictures of her first snow day.

Our neighbor Reece was kind enough to share his sled and give the girls a few rides. If you click on this picture and make it larger you can see the great expression on Mckenna's face.
If you want to see more pictures from our fun in the snow you can click on the new Flickr link on the right hand side of my page.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chunky Butt

Warning-Graphic Verbal Content and Nudity.

Brooke has had a bad case of diarrhea. This started on Thursday night and really hasn't let up. We're talking 4 or 5 diapers an hour at times. They are gray in color and really watery ( I'm describing this for all my Mommy readers to empathize with). She isn't running a fever and is happy unless you are changing her diaper due to the bad diaper rash she has developed as a result of the diarrhea.

Changing her diaper has been a battle the past few days since she fights the process (more then normal) and since I'm also trying to apply diaper cream and cornstarch to help keep the moisture off her bottom. Last night her bottom was so raw and she was hysterical during one particular changing. Mommy and Daddy were close to tears too watching the pained look on her face. We took a break after clean up so she could calm down and had a few minutes to air out before phase two. While Brad consoled her I couldn't help but take a few pictures of her adorable chunky butt and her runny nose and red eyes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I was hanging out in the backseat of the Suburban with the girls while we waited on Brad and his parents to pick up dinner. Considering I'm usually driving...Brooke was happy to see me sitting behind her and enjoyed the chance to play some peek-a-boo with Mommy. I just happen to have my camera with me and decided to capture some of her happy faces.

5 Month Count Down

So I've alluded to it in past blogs...but in less then 5 months we'll probably be loaded up in the Suburban...2 adults, 3 kids, 2 80lb. dogs and all our necessities and headed east. Yep...we're switching coasts again and returning to New Jersey! Brad was accepted into an Air Force graduate program called ASAM (Advanced Studies in Air Mobility). A basic break down on the way the schooling program works is that you first have to be a school select candidate, then you have three years as a young Major that you are eligible to find out if you get picked up for a school program from your list of 7 different programs. This was our first year of eligibility so we were happy and surprised to get school as well as the ASAM program was our 2nd choice out of 7 all in all we feel blessed and can't complain.

The program is only 13 months and then we have no idea where we're headed. The options after school are broader then normal since Brad will be going to a staff job instead of a flying job which increases the bases and locations where he would be qualified for a job. We're not thrilled about uprooting for just over a year...but that is one reason NJ was our 2nd choice if we had to do a short assignment. We still have a great group of local friends from our church that we attended when we lived in NJ during our previous assignment. It will be nice that we don't have to spend our time meeting new people and then have to quickly pack up and move. We already have established friends that are amazing and we know the area and have a great church. It's funny to me that Baileigh will attend kindergarten the same place where she was born!

It seems whenever we move from somewhere we have regrets that we didn't get to do or see more. This was especially true of our time on the east coast since our exploring was limited by the fact that we had 2 daughters in 3 years and 911 occurred and as a result Brad was deployed for hundreds of days in the course of our time there. So we feel like we get a second chance and we're going to make our best effort to take more trips to the "Jersey shore" and NYC.

Our tentative plans are to head out sometime in April, depending on the sale of our house. We plan on taking two or three weeks of leave and making the move into a roadtrip where we can visit friends and family. We're hopeful to find a nice rental house in NJ and not have the commitment or responsibility of owning a home. The other part of us is anxious to buy something that needs so work and look at it as an opportunity to do a flip...but Brad's program looks intense and we don't want to spend any free time working on a house when we could be with our friends or on an adventure.

So that is the latest...never boring in the military. We have loved the northwest and agree that it is probably the most beautiful place we will ever live. But we also love our friends back east and think it's a pretty fair trade!

24 Hours Child Free!!!!

The notion of 24 hours without the three kids I have cared solely for over the past four months was very exciting to me...and even more was the fact that not only am I child free but I get to hang out with my husband, there is a novel thought! We took advantage of Brad's parents being in town and headed to Seattle for the night. We checked into our hotel and decided to explore the city night life. Unbelievably we spent 24 hours in the city without any rain, that made our stay even better! The streets were a zoo...we thought it was just a big "Black Friday" shopping crowd but soon discovered that the mob had gathered for the annual downtown Christmas tree lighting and fireworks. Streets were blocked off for pedestrians and the choirs that had gathered to sing. All the hub-bub and the music and lights quickly got me in the Christmas season mood.

Our stay could have been stressful had we any type of agenda...but since we were just there to get away and explore we weren't really bothered by the mobs focused on finding discounts. In fact, it was fun to do some people watching...sort of depressing too to see all the people so overly focused on their shopping lists! Commercialism at it's finest (aka worst).

Saturday we decided to walk a few blocks over to Pike Place Market for what could be one of our final visits ( I keep saying that will be my next blog, I'll follow through this time). I love to go to the market and watch all the interesting artisians and shoppers. I could spend all day there just taking pictures and observing.

After our day of wandering and just enjoying the fact we weren't pushing a stroller through the crowd or needing a high chair at lunch we headed over to the adult toy store...REI that is. Brad has been really supportive of my traithlon goal and we decided to go look for some road bikes. We could have spent another 24 hours at the mammoth REI but had to head home via a stop at Boeing for Brad to examine all the planes...doesn't that get old?

We had a great time and the kids did Grandma and Grandpa!


I know it's a few days past Thanksgiving, but with a houseful I haven't had a lot of time to blog. I didn't want to leave everyone hanging though from my previous post so I want to report a successful turkey outcome. The brine made for a moist turkey and a few sticks of butter during the roasting process never hurts.

Hope you and your family had a Happy Turkey Day! Just being together as a family was a lot to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Experimental Brine

So it's 10:00pm the night before Thanksgiving and I decided to get gutsy and experiment with our turkey. My Dad is into Alton Brown and decided to follow his advice to brine his turkey. Then I saw Rachel Ray do a show about making a brine and I decided to give it a try. I read somewhere online that if you didn't have a pot large enough and you were running low on fridge space due to all the other holiday goodies to wash out a produce drawer and have a cold "pot" to hold the turkey overnight w/out taking up more shelf space. I thought it was an ingenious idea and jumped on board.

I took about 3 brine recipes and mixed different parts of although my turkey looks like it's sitting in a pot of pee...well it's actually a mixture of kosher salt, sugar, brown sugar, and fresh rosemary and sage. I'm soaking it overnight and then I'll roast it tomorrow in the traditional fashion...supposedly it should make for a very juicy and flavorful bird. I invited this girl over and her family for dinner and she is always looking for good blog fodder so maybe my turkey will give her something to write about...especially if it's awful! Let's hope not, I have a pretty good track record.

Pies or Blog? Hmmmm.

I'm up early supposedly to start making some pies for Thanksgiving but somehow the computer sucked me in. My in-laws arrive today from Texas. We're all headed to the airport to pick them up and then out to lunch.

We finally got
our new oven installed yesterday and tested it for the first time around 10:00pm...nice. We'll see how the pies turn out.

The girls are so excited to see Grandma and Grandpa...they are already arguing about who gets to sit by who and where in the car and at the table! I'm not sure how we'll handle this issue when they aren't evenly matched 2 to 2 and Brooke joins the debate...hopefully Baileigh will have matured enough by that point to give up her spot in the rotation on occasion. Brad and I are excited to have family in town too because it means we can take advantage of their presence and leave the girls with them for a night to get away to Seattle without doubling our budget on a babysitter!

The pies are calling.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Tonight Baileigh told us she prayed to ask Jesus into her heart. This is something I've talked about a lot with her in recent months and as much as I wanted to jump all over it in the past I was sort of delaying to be sure she had as good of grasp on the concept as possible as well as waiting so Brad could be a part of the moment. After the girls had been in bed about 15 minutes tonight I went back in for a final kiss and hug. Baileigh said, "Mommy, I just decided to pray to ask Jesus to come into my heart." I called for Brad and the three of us talked about her decision and had her explain to us what she understood and then we all prayed together. I know she obviously has a childlike faith, as she should at 5, but I also believe the sincerity and innocence of her decision .

The next 15 minutes were a series of difficult (and cute) questions such as "What does God's house in heaven look like?" and "What do our bodies look like in heaven?" We finally had to cut her off since it was so late, but she asked if we would could talk more tomorrow. On the couch. With Mommy and Daddy. And she wants to sit in the middle. On the big couch. Those were her specific requests. Then I told her that November 19th is kind of like another birthday for her since she is "born again" as a believer in Christ. Her question...can I have cake?

Still Recovering

We are still working on our computer. I have realized this week that too much of my life revolves around our computer. I do a lot of work for our business on our computer. I communicate a ton on our computer. I shop via our computer. I bank on our computer. I obviously blog on our computer. So the combination of our computer crash and having Brad at home on leave has prevented me from having my daily computer fix. Probably a healthy thing in the overall picture. But I'm sure you are all lost without hearing frequently about our daily happenings (haha).

Other then the computer crisis and some large appliance catastrophe's we've just been spending our time "reintegrating". Brooke has warmed up to Daddy and Mommy's status seems to have improved a little. Maybe things will get back to normal soon...of course that implies that at one point in time, they were normal...and we know that's not true!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fighting Fires

Some of you may be under the impression I haven't been as consistent in my daily postings because my husband is now home and we're spending endless hours of quality time together. Although we're making some effort towards that, the truth is that for the past two days we've been putting out fires it seems. It started Wednesday night when a wind storm blew out our power. When the power came back on we discovered we had lost everything on the hard drive of our computer. For Brad this news was extremely frustrating because it meant basically we had a new computer that needed to have all our software reinstalled. I was only concerned with one pictures.

I don't think I've been able to blog for a few days as I digest the news that the majority of my photos for the past months are gone. I have certain segments of photos from Brad's deployment time frame but for the most part the pictures were on my hard drive still and I had yet to print them and most foolishly I had yet to back them up on another drive. I'm fortunate that I have some photo obsessed friends like myself that have taken some pictures of my kids this summer...but I'm still finding it hard to admit that a lot of the every day photos of Brooke achieving little milestones and the girls being generally goofy are gone. Here I was working so hard to have my third child not be able to say when she grows up that there aren't any pictures of her as a baby and now there will be a little more merit to that argument. I scrapbook and each girl has a first year album...I guess I'll have to get creative and have an album filled with 5x7's to make it look full.

In the past 48 hours my love for my blog has grown exponentially. Thanks to my blog I at least have photos of some of our milestones and some of our adventures. I'm glad I was so faithful in making frequent entries and boring all of you with pictures of my kids!

So that was our first's still not fully extinguished and we're still processing the damage done. On Tuesday night around 10:00pm we suddenly decided to buy a new stove and dishwasher so when we sell our house (my next blog entry) we could feature "New Kenmore Stainless Steal Appliance Package." The housing market is decent around here but not great right now and we want to move the house quickly if possible so we decided for the small investment it would require it would be worth it to give our kitchen a small facelift so it makes a great first impression. By Wednesday morning our appliances had been ordered and set up for a Thursday delivery. Things were going too smoothly which is why when I received the phone call from Brad saying that he had accidentally shattered the new ceramic stove top while installing it I wasn't too surprised. Our second fire. Fortunately Sears took some responsibility for how the glass broke since Brad was trying to remove some of the peel off protective covering that the delivery men had forgotten to remove from the perimeter of the stove surface when the incident occurred. Saturday morning we're supposed to get another new stove delivered at no expense to us. Two thumbs up for Sears. However we will spend two hours of our day today driving to Kent to the Sears Service Center to pick up a trim kit that we need for the perimeter of the stove top. This is becoming one of those projects that sounded quick and easy in theory and is evolving.

The same would be true with the installation of our new dishwasher. We decided to forego the installation service since it almost doubled the expense of the dishwasher and do it ourselves. Do you see where this is going. My husband is extremely handy, but plumbing is not his forte. Due to a little miscommunication between us (I'm his assistant)...we had about 30 seconds of hot water spraying wildly out a tube under the dishwasher. It sprayed both of us, the walls, the ceiling, the windows, etc. Thankfully we were both laughing about the whole thing moments after we were mopping up the mess. I'm happy to say that we've successfully washed our first load of dirty dishes. So far, so good.

Fire number three, in my opinion ( and maybe only be understood by a few of you who have ever fought the same battle) was my trip to the commissary for Thanksgiving grocery shopping. That is really all I need to say about fire number three. You either understand or you don't!

In a few hours we're headed out for family pictures, hopefully this won't become a fire. Then off for a scenic drive to Kent for our stove. At least we'll have some quality family time!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Yesterday was our first Sunday back at church as a family. It was nice to have an extra set of hands to help with everything! As well as to be able to worship with Brad. After the sermon our pastor was making some announcements when he publicly welcomed Brad home. What I thought was funny was the timing...perhaps coincidently , perhaps not. Our pastor was just announcing the 7th annual Turkey Bowl...a football game Thanksgiving morning for men trying to recapture their former glory days. So this is how it went,

"Men, don't forget to go out to the information table and sign up to play in the 7th annual Turkey Bowl. It will be a great time to play some football and pull a muscle. Brad Hall, welcome home! Brad just got back from a deployment and we're glad to see him home" (people started clapping which was very kind and made me a little emotional). But let's go back..."Play some football, pull a muscle, Brad Hall" did he just happen to notice Brad in the crowd at that moment or did the thought of men trying to recapture their former glory days in a friendly football game sure to induce Thanksgiving evening injuries and aches make him think of Brad Hall? Things that make ya go hmmmmmm?!?...I guess we'll never know, but I have my suspicions.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

8 Months Old

Every month I've always taken pictures of my girls on their monthly anniversary. I love to look back and see how they've changed and it's fun to compare how one of the girls looked at a certain age compared to her sisters. I'm a few days behind with Brooke's 8 month pictures since Brad came home on the same day. Every time I think about it the camera isn't handy or I don't have time to strip her down to her diaper. Tonight I finally got organized but Brooke didn't appreciate the timing of the photo shoot since she had just finished her bath and was ready for bed. She grabbed her favorite blankie and stuck the thumb in the mouth and the entire photo shoot was a battle. I eventually got some reluctant smiles from a very sleepy and sweet little girl.

Click on the picture to enlarge it and you will see that her eyes continue to turn green. She doesn't have any teeth yet but that is no surprise since none of our girls have ever cut teeth before 9 months. She crawls everywhere and can pull herself up in a standing position with the help of the couch or chair. She is a good eater and has yet to turn down a food. She typically sleeps 11-12 hours at night and takes two naps. She says "Mama" and 1,000 other things only known to herself. She loves her little zebra blankie that was actually a present to baby Mckenna a few years ago. A pacifier is a fun toy to her and makes a lot of noise when hit against her crib but when it comes to soothing herself the thumb is the only answer.

Her final smile of the evening.

Party Time!

A few months into this deployment we were driving past a Chuck E. Cheese and Baileigh spoke up,"Mommy, when Daddy comes home can we have a Happy Birthday Baileigh/Welcome Home Daddy party at Chuck E. Cheese with all our friends?!" She was consistent in this request for the past four months so I finally decided to comply. Hopefully this will be our last birthday celebration for Baileigh...except we're going to Disney in early December and somehow she is under the impression that this is a trip to celebrate her 5th birthday. She sure is going to be disappointed when she turns 6!

Daddy with his girls

A gathering of our friends from church and our neighborhood.

Mckenna and Baileigh with two other sisters, Madison and Savannah

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thank God!

4 Months Later

Before Brad agreed to shave off his mustache he wanted to take a family picture just like the one we took the day he deployed. Four months sure can bring a lot of changes.

The girls aren't crying in the picture we took yesterday since the picture commemorates a happy occasion this time! Brooke is obviously a lot bigger. Something scary happened to Brad's
lip and my face isn't so can we please shave that thing off!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome Home Daddy!

The long awaited day finally arrived. Brad was delayed about an hour but overall things went smoothly. The terminal was chaotic and cramped and it made the wait pretty miserable. The girls colored to pass the time and ate as many cookies as they could sneak from the snack table. Brooke ate a miniature American Flag while she waited.
There were a bunch of young, immature wives without children that crowded in front of the glass doors pushing children out of the way and screaming like teenagers at a concert when the plane landed. These same girls were primping in the bathroom while they giggled as I stood in the handicap stall waiting to wipe a poopy bottom...not mine for, did I ever feel old listening to them. I convinced the girls that if we stood towards the back of the line (not that we had much choice thanks to the selfish and immature wives without kids...yes I am a little bitter) Daddy would be able to see their signs better.
Mckenna was the first to spot Daddy and ran to him. I think he felt her on his leg before he ever saw her. I don't think she really let go of that leg all night! Mckenna is a Daddy's girl and I think this deployment was the hardest on her by far. I think she had all she could take and with the anticipation of his arrival she had several meltdowns in the terminal. Picture a cute little girl with pig tails in a "USA Girl" costume holding a sign she scribbled in one hand and an American flag in the other loudly crying "I want my Daddy in my country!" I think she melted a few hearts.
Although Mckenna never let go of Daddy, she did have to look away in disgust of his ugly mustache...okay maybe that is Mommy commentary, but I'm doing my best to convince every girl in our house to have the same opinion. Power in numbers!
Brooke did well with the initial reunion, but she is warming up slowly overall. I told Brad not to be frustrated or disappointed since it has been four months and it'll probably take a few weeks...I also suggested that the entire bonding process would go more quickly if he shaved off that scary mustache!
So we survived...did we thrive? At times. The reunion is over, the reintegration begins. I'm looking forward to it even if it may be a bumpy ride at times especially considering we've been apart 4 months and now we'll have the next 14 days of being together 24/7. The girls are ecstatic and Daddy is a rock start and I'm second fiddle now...but I'm definitely happy to play that least it's a new hat!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We're Getting Ready!

Monday, November 06, 2006

To blog or not to blog

I started this blog on May 23 in anticipation of Brad's deployment. Since then I've posted 157 entries. I started a counter on September 16 and in the past 6 weeks I've had 752 page views. Today alone 44 people checked my blog. Honestly, I find that flattering...but a little freaky.

I've been asked frequently if I plan on continuing the blog when Brad returns home. It originated as a means to keep him updated on what we're up to while he was deployed and a way for him to see photos and videos of the girls. I think it's snowballed into something bigger then that. It seems that everyday I learn of more people reading my blog. I just got a few comments this week from Taylor friends that told me they check it frequently. I know of family that reads the blog. There is staff from my brother's church that are reading the blog. I could name more people and give you some recognition in this post if you weren't an anonymous reader who never comments...hint, hint.

So am I going to continue this blog when Brad returns home? I think my mother-in-law would be pretty upset with me if I decided to quit...I know she likes to see the the pictures. And I'm sure to everyone who is reading this post you would be lost without tuning in for 30 seconds a day to read my latest thoughts! I've always been too much of a people pleaser, so the answer is yes.

Yes for the sake of all my fans (hahaha)...but actually one of the main reasons is for myself. I think I forgot how much I enjoy writing until I started this blog. It hasn't been since college that I wrote creatively just for the heck of it. I figure if I can accomplish something productive while writing, like updating our friends and family on our life or getting the opportunity to express myself on some issue then even better. If someone is actually reading it and cares, then that is icing on the cake.

So my random ramblings on the finer things of life and the pictures of my adorable girls (yes, I'm bias) will continue. I may reduce my entries to every few days as I'm going to attempt to have a life outside the computer in the evenings now that Brad is home. But on the eve of his return I wanted to thank those of you who read, who write, who listen...and as a result are motivated to read, to write, and to think...if that is you maybe you should start your own blog! I would visit...and comment!

A house on the lake

We've always wanted a house on a lake...a few more days of rain we may have it!

Rainy season apparently arrived on Baileigh's birthday and it hasn't stopped raining since. The first 15 minutes of the evening news are flood stories and really intelligent people standing on the roadside in the rain telling about how they thought they could get their car thru the 3 foot high waters.

Behind our house is a field designed to collect the water run off and this week it's been working overtime. The large puddle is taking on a small pond status and in a few days perhaps a lake.

I'm not sure if I'm ready for 3-4 more months of this!

This is the view behind our house from our master bedroom. Too bad its so gray and rainy we can't enjoy a sunset on our lake!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Nearness of You

I guess I'm just in a lyrically influential emotional state today. Say that fast 5 times! I'm up late paying bills and getting our office area organized. I don't want Brad to witness my neglect in his absence. I will gladly hand this responsibility over to him when he returns...I'm really great at spending money and he is really good at paying my bills!

I went to my playlist on the computer to get some music going to work to and decided I would finally let myself listen to Norah Jones. Usually I really enjoy her music but since Brad left I've found it rather depressing and have avoided her all together. Tonight I decided that with less then 48 hours remaining of this 120ish day deployment I would commemorate the event with a little mood music (bill paying mood, that is).

A truly sweet song song came on that reminded me why I wasn't letting myself listen to Norah in July, August, September or October. But listening to this song tonight made me smile in anticipation of being near my best friend.

The Nearness of You - Norah Jones
It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me
It's just the nearness of you

It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
It's just the nearness of you

When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams came true

I need no soft light to enchant me
If you will only grant me
The right to hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you


Brad left 4 months ago today. A lot has changed in four months. The girls have changed. Baileigh uses words like "incredible" and "amazing." When she is patient enough she can almost tie her shoe. She can sound out 3 letter words. She frequently completes the entire potty process without calling me to "check". Mckenna is a preschooler. She now says "I can do it by myself" and she really can! She is a good big sister and very kind and generous to Brooke. Baby Brooke has achieved a lot of milestones since July including crawling, sleeping through the night, and solid foods. I've changed some, too. I'm a little smaller. A little bit blonder (surprisingly not gray). Probably some new wrinkles. At times I feel a little wiser and stronger...other times I think I'm a little more brain damaged from the experience and exhausted.

It's without doubt that Brad has changed, too. Although, thankfully, he was not physically in combat zones on a daily basis I know that his environment has taken its toll. I know he has seen and heard things he shouldn't or didn't want to. I know he has probably seen death, even if its "just" the transportation of the deceased...I know this can't be done without being an emotional experience that changes someone. I know he experienced being in command and all the trials and challenges it brings and I'm sure it changed him. I know he hasn't had the joy of a big hug or sloppy wet kiss from the kids (or our dogs) in four months. I know we haven't had a conversation longer then 15 minutes in the past 4 months. I know that being limited in our ability to say things to each other has effected our communication and changed us. I know that we'll have a process to work through when we reintegrate to acknowledge all the changes and how we build on them or overcome them.

But a thought that is sticking with me today came to me in the form of a song. After the sermon today at church we had some time of praise and worship. This was a little out of the traditional format of a closing prayer, announcements and dismissal. Instead we spent about 15 minutes just singing and worshipping. I started thinking back to July 9th, the first Sunday I went to church after Brad deployed. I remember I couldn't sing anything that day without starting to cry. There have been a lot of Sundays since then. Sundays when I felt really encouraged by the lyrics of a song. Sundays when I felt heartbroken by the lyrics of a song. Today was my last Sunday at church without Brad, at least for awhile. As I stood there and soaked it all in and thought about the past four months and how things have changed I was thankful that despite the time gone by and the way things are different, God is unchanging.

That is the song we sang today. Unchanging by Chris Tomlin (surprise, a Chris Tomlin song!!! If you attend HP you know what I mean :) All this "stuff" has taken place, but God is unchanging. Not a day during this deployment was He unavailable. Not a day during this deployment was He unaware of our circumstances or our heartache. Not a day during this deployement was I incapable of giving all my burdens over to Him if I was just wise enough to get that! Not a day during this deployment did He miss the innocent prayers of my girls as they asked God to take care of their Daddy and bring him home soon. And not a day was He not there for Brad despite his feelings of isolation and desperation.

So today, on this last Sunday of the deployment...officially four months to the date he left, I am reminded and thankful that I can count on one thing that doesn't change.

Unchanging - by Chris Tomlin
Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness
You never change
You never fail, O God

True are Your promises
True are Your promises
You never change
You never fail, O God

So we raise up holy hands
To praise the Holy One
Who was and is and is to come

Wide is Your love and grace
Wide is Your love and grace
You never change
You never fail, O God

You were, You are You will always be

Friday, November 03, 2006

Have you ever...

I 100% stole this from my friends blog, but I believe with her permission and even her encouragement.
Here's a list of some things one might have done in his or her lifetime: the ones I've done are highlighted and I put little parenthetical notes beside some of them. It's kind of long but it's interesting--and we all know it's fun to learn new things about each other! I realized that I did a lot of these things in college...what fun years!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (a little one)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive (used to valet park cars and I drove a ferrari, tore up the clutch!)
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Talked your way out of a ticket
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris (2x, lucky me!)
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise.
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a major sports game (several!)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables (does this count if it was Mom's garden?)
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (maybe just once!)
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (I dance like a fool regardless of who is looking!)
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing (and repellinging thank you very little!)
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke (Love Shack - B-52's)
59. Lounged around in bed all day (Many, many moons ago!)
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business (let's not go there!)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient site
70. Taken a martial arts class (Does kickboxing count?)
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music (True Blue by Madonna at Cedar Point, 8th grade)
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently well enough to have a decent conversation
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised (raising) children (child)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Been arrested
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Written articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart (100's I'm sure!)
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school (thank God I did that before kids!)
131. Parasailed (fun,fun,fun!)
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes (yummy!)
134. Read The Iliad

135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school and read.
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office (8th grade student body president!)
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head (just a small portion...what was I thinking!)
149. Caused a car accident (rear-ended someone)
150. Saved someone's life
151. Competed and finished a triathlon (I add this one now so I can highlight it in July!)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm Scared To Say It...

I have a goal in mind that I've been afraid to verbalize for fear of accountability...I want to train and compete in a few sprint triathlons next year. There, I've said's out there...what have I done.

Tonight I stumbled across a
blog entry of another girl in a similar dilemma who was finally brave enough to voice her thoughts and I felt motivated to do the same.

I've spent the last four months working out. A lot. I've managed to loose the baby weight (which seems to increase faster with each baby and decrease much slower with each baby!) and although I'm feeling pretty good I'm really just back to where I started before baby number three. Actually probably where I was with baby number two. I definitely have been thinner and weighed less but after 28 sessions with a trainer and several circuit classes I am feeling stronger then I have in a long time. I really don't want all my efforts to be in vain so I've decided having a goal would be helpful motivation to continue my crusade for fitness (and thinness, I confess).

I keep having this thought float thru my head that I'm 32 and surely the best can't be behind me. Can it? I know if I just sit here on my rear then that is definitely the route that gravity and age will not so graciously take me. But I'm not going down without a fight. Truly, more then vanity or my secret dream to have a belly button worthy of a piercing...I keep thinking of my 3 girls and the kind of example I want to be for them. I fear for them all the social pressures they will face and all the struggles ahead of them for a strong self esteem. I pray that their faith will give them roots and a sense of significance that is deeper then their appearance . But I also know our human nature and that they will each have a natural desire to be pretty and popular. I want to be a good example of health and fitness, not diet and laziness.

Those words are so much easier said then done. I confess I even went the Jenny Craig route while Brad was gone...but that was just a little indulgence and luxury for myself in his absence (isn't that ironic for me to say I'm treating myself by limiting my caloric intake to 1200 calories a day of meals I pull out of a box and microwave?!). So now reality is around the corner and I'll need to cook again and my routine will be interrupted with being a normal family unit. Don't get me wrong, that is how I prefer it...but I'm going to have to figure out what it looks like and how I can continue on my quest to become a triathlete.

Just remember July 8, 2007. I actually pulled the trigger and registered so now I'm committed, or out $100 and my pride. If you're questioning the location, that will be an upcoming blog. So check my blog in 8 months and 5 days to see if I'm a woman of my word. I pray that I can say I am!

5 Years Old!

Why does the fact that I now have a five year old make me feel so much older? She has aged a year but the event has aged me several years! November 2, 2001 seems like so long ago. The country was still in shock from the events of 911. The east coast was still new to us. Parenthood was an unknown I had only read about in books (remember when you did that with your first child?!). But now i have a girl who is loosing that toddler look and starting to look more like a little girl every day. She says things like, "That is amazing!" and asks me random questions like, "Are you aware that black chickens produce yellow eggs?" Who is this kid? Who took my baby and gave me this soon to be young lady that said to me as I tucked her in to bed, "thank you for making my birthday special for me Mommy, I love you."

Showing off her new dress and how old she she is wearing the traditional official Hall Family Birthday Hat (that will have to be another blog). She was proud to wear the hat and literally did not take it off all day. Her teachers at school allowed her to wear it because they thought it was so cute. Her head must feel a lot lighter tonight!

Daddy gave Baileigh a building set that she was really excited about and anxious to play with him when he returns next week!!!

I asked Baileigh if she would like to go out to eat for her birthday and she asked if we could eat at Red Robin. An extra bonus was that I surprised her by having her friend Madison meet us there! They had a great time and ate every last bite of her sunday. Notice we're still wearing the hat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick Or Treat

I've been trying to download these pictures all day and having issues with blogger. So finally, with no further delay, as I'm sure you've been checking my blog continually throughout the day waiting for a new are a few pictures from our Halloween evening.

Baileigh seemed to enjoy passing out candy this year as much as she did getting candy. She was very authoritative even with the big kids when she told everyone, "Please pick 2 pieces!" I was laugh hysterically as they were rehearsing for the first "customers" of the night. Baileigh was instructing Mckenna, "When the first customer rings the bell, you open it and I will hold the candy bowl while they wait in line to get our candy. I'm bigger and stronger so I get to hold the candy bowl because it is very heavy, Mckenna!"

Do you think we're in stores too frequently if they are calling our neighbors "customers waiting in line"?

The girls were pretty nervous about approaching this front door. They stood as far away as possible. Mckenna never took his eyes off him. Baileigh had 100 questions for the lady that answered the front door..."Is he real?" "Is he nice?" "Is he scary?" "How does he work?" "Where did you get him?"...Seriously, she asked all of those. The best was when she asked, "What is his name." The lady at the house replied that he didn't have a name and she asked Baileigh what she thought we should call him? Baileigh thought for a minute and then said "Caleb!" Nice.

A quick picture in front of our house before we headed in for the evening to investigate our goodies! My little flower fell asleep during all the activity...either that or her eyes froze shut as it was a chilly night outside!

God Will Know!

I was helping the girls get ready for bed and Mckenna started complaining about the underwear I had selected for her to wear with her pajamas. I told her that once she had on her pj's no one would know or see her underwear.

Her reply was "God will know, and He sees everything!"