Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baileigh's Ballet Recital

As I hinted at yesterday, today was Baileigh's first (and maybe last) ballet recital. She danced in two numbers with her class and did a great job! The day was extra special for her since her Nana drove down from MI to see her perform.

Mckenna and Daddy...awaiting the curtain!

I wasn't able to get any great photos during her performance...this one was about the best.
After 13 years, this is the last year that Little Creek ballet will teach lessons to young children. Next year they will only offer lessons for ages 12 and up...the director wants to cut back and spend more time with her family. Although its our first (and only) year with this program I was very impressed with all the women that taught the classes and how much they cared about the girls.
Despite not getting any great pictures during her performances I did get a little video from her second song...the Supermarket Tango.
video
Baileigh was very excited to get flowers...I actually asked her if she would rather get flowers or go out for a treat afterwards. She thought about it and said, "flowers". When I asked her why she said, "I've never gotten my own flowers before". I think her Daddy has bought her flowers before and she doesn't remember...that fact aside, she got some flowers...and a treat.

Celebrating afterwards...

Baileigh with her wonderful teacher, Miss Betsy.

My tired ballerina.

I think this may be the end of the road for Baileigh's ballet career. She lost interest about four months ago but we insisted she continue and honor her commitment to her class. She is anxious to see what things she can get involved with when we move...her list of new interests include swim team, tennis, t-ball and maybe gymnastics.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A favorite


Ballet Recital Rehearsal

Tomorrow is Baileigh's first ballet recital. She had a dress rehearsal today...here is a little preview.




Field Day

Today was Baileigh's end of the year field day. Her class was the grey team and they were given some lovely headbands left over from the kindergarten class of 1972! She thought it was very cool though and was very excited to wear it...I think she kinda had a Susan Sommers thing going on from Three's Company (you think Susan Sommers is going to comment?). The glasses complete the trendy look.


Check out those lats!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day

We had a really relaxing Memorial Day just hanging out as a family. After our busy weekend house hunting I think we all just needed a day to hang out with no agenda. Brad decided to cook...a lot! He smoked pork, brisket and chicken. He also grilled corn on the cob and and beans. We had a feast for our family. We called a few friends to see if were around but most people were at the shore or the pools and we were extremely last minute with our invite. That just means we'll have lots of yummy left overs all week!

We broke out the monster slide since it was in the eighties! Unfortunately we've discovered a few small leaks in the slide so we're not sure how long we'll be enjoying the fun slide this summer.

Here are a few random pictures of the girls from the afternoon.
This is called recycling the recycling! Brooke decided it would be fun to empty the recycling can and fill everything up with water and then serve me "apple juice" or "diet coke".
Brooke is always saying "I hungwe" (I'm hungry) as well as "chocate puddin pease" (chocolate pudding please). She had pudding once, a while ago, and didn't mention it for a long time, but recently she is always asking for pudding.
video
Mckenna was listening to my puddin conversation with Brooke and started acting all silly...this is her talking about puddin, too!
video
We've spent a lot of holidays apart due to trips or deployments...so its nice to just be together as a family, especially on a day set aside to show our respect to those that have served and sacrificed for our country.

House Hunt

This weekend we went on our second house hunting excursion in Virginia. We think we had more success this time...we've made an offer on a pre- foreclosure in Woodbridge, VA. The owners have accepted our offer without any countering but since its a pre-foreclosure we have to wait to hear if their bank accepts the offer and then work through all the paperwork. It will be 2-3 weeks before we know for certain if we have the house and then a total of 6-8 until we can close.

The house needs some work but it had a few things going for it that we loved...its in a great neighborhood with a club house and swim club (membership and lessons included in the HOA fees!) and the best thing is that the elementary school is in the neighborhood just a few blocks down the street from our house! It has a finished walk out basement with a bathroom (good for guests!) and sits on a really private lot on a short street with just four houses.


Things could change and in a few weeks I may be posting about how we're soon to be homeless...but its looking hopeful

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Secret Ambition

I'm a big fan of this show! I can't always endorse the various comedians...but I give so much credit to anyone that at least makes the effort to try stand up, and some of these people are really funny! Maybe instead of going back to work when the kids are in school I'll start touring the nightclub circuit and try stand up. See...I just made a funny joke!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I can almost see the light!

Brad is in the final stretch of his graduate program. Let me start by going back for any of you that aren't sure what exactly he is doing...we moved to NJ for 13 months because Brad was accepted into ASAM which stands for Advanced Studies in Air Mobility. He has been a full time student this year in a class with 15 other guys. Each class has been about 2-4 weeks long and usually ends with a "field trip" to some location that allows them to see the stuff they have been discussing in real life applications. They have been to commercial operations like FedEx/UPS and airlines like JetBlue. They've also toured various ports and all the major command bases in the Air Force.

He will graduate on June 20th with an MS in Air Mobility from the Air Force Institute of Technology. The civilian equivalent to this program is a degree in Supply Chain Management...if you look this up online at any university you'll get a description something like this:
"In today's global economy, making sure that products reach consumers is a full-time job that requires extensive training in supply chain management. Distribution, inventory, transportation, accounting, general management, and problem-solving are just a few of the areas you might cover in a supply chain management program. Other topics might include marketing channels, operations research, procurement and supply chain management, logistics management, and strategic outsourcing. "

His program obviously focuses on the needs of the Air Force but I think he has gained a lot of things that will be transferable in a civilian setting. The final hurdle ahead of him is completing his Graduate Research Project (GRP). Each student had to pick a current problem effecting the Air Force and write a thesis type paper that presents research and data offering a solution to deal with the problem presented. Brad's paper essentially pertains to making changes in flying procedures in order to save the Air Force money in regards to fuel...a pretty timely problem considering the cost of oil these days.

After graduating we'll do a 3 year staff tour at the Pentagon (non-flying job) then odds are we'll return to some type of base where he will have some type of command job with a flying squadron and return to flying. At that point we'll be in the last 5 years of being in the Air Force...assuming we stay in 20 years until retirement (from the AF...which is 20 yrs...he'll start another career at that point). When I break it down and write about it like this it sounds right around the corner...but when I think about the fact that Baileigh will be 15 at that time it seems so far from now!

The rough draft 0f Brad's GRP is due on Friday! While Brad is probably stressed about this fact, I'm extremely excited! He has spent every free hour working on this paper or other projects for class and I know he is looking forward to having a life again! In the past month he has pulled several all-nighters on his paper crunching numbers and compiling data. As annoyed as I am with the entire thing I'm also extremely proud of him and anxious for him to have the stress of this project off his shoulders...and to not have to proof read his papers anymore!

He'll hand in his paper at the end of this week and then we'll head to the DC area for the weekend to hopefully buy a house! And that's not stressful at all!

Monday, May 19, 2008

20,085

I noticed my counter on Friday and saw that I was at 19, 883 hits. I didn't keep track of the hits until my blog had been around for about 4 months so that is the number of hits in just less then two years. I made a mental note and thought that I would blog about getting 20,000 hits. I looked today anticipating that I may be close to 20,000 and I was already at 20,085! I missed it! I realize there are blogs that get a thousand plus hits a day and that mine is not one of those blogs...but even 202 hits since Friday is amazing to me.

There are about 20 people between family and close friends that I would expect to following my blog and read about the girls...I'm not sure what the motivation is for the other 80% of you! I appreciate it though, don't get me wrong. I'm sure you probably want to stay current on us so when we're famous you can say "I knew/read about them way back when!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"10"

This afternoon Mckenna has a gymnastics show to conclude the semester of her class. Throughout the year her class of 7 has slowly trickled down to these three fearless future Olympians!

The video was funny enough to me that despite Bloggers refusal to upload my footage I spent the time on YouTube just so you could enjoy her debut in this athletic arena. Notice she is the only one that was asked to do a cartwheel...because her skills are quite advanced as you're about to witness! Other things to notice would be her hip action, her wedgie picking and the way she shakes her head "no" at one point to her coach...apparently that was when she got cold feet and decided not to attempt the triple front flip with a back handspring. Watch out summer games 2016!


For the record...I pulled her hair back as asked by her teacher, but the giant flower like thing on the top of her head is the doing of her coach.

I don't know if Mckenna will continue with gymnastics down the road, but I'm constantly told that she has the perfect build for it...at least right now. She is solid muscle and has always been that way, Brad and I can't decide if she gets that from me or from him since its such a strong gene we both carry!
My little gymnast...photo compliments of her big sister.
The photographer instructed us to make a silly face for this photo...that is what happens when you hire a six year old!
We ended our fun afternoon with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick out a treat from the bakery and then the girls enjoyed their snacks (comprised of 100% sugar) at Starbucks with a hot chocolate to wash it down.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ocean n Motion

Today we took a few hours to just goof around as a family. Brad returned from his two week Asia trip yesterday so we wanted to spend a little time just hanging out together.

Ocean n Motion is a small aquatic themed play area for kids. It's geared towards kids 1-5, but Baileigh had fun, too. The main insentive that led us to going to this place today was that it was free for military in honor of Armed Forces Day.

In the back they had this big sand box area that was a hit with the kids.
This is one happy girl!
Brooke was pretty happy, too.
Ahhh...shark attack!
Baileigh was attacked by dolphins, not sharks.

In Honor of Fancy Nancy

My girls love the Fancy Nancy books, so tonight we enjoyed parfaits for dessert, just to be fancy, like Nancy.
This is such an easy way to get my kids to eat fruit...just hide it in some sugar free cool whip and they'll eat anything. They like most fruit anyway, so I'm thinking of trying this with vegetables! A few minutes before this she was objecting to eating the same banana that now hides within the cool whip.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Mandatory Fun!

Tonight the agenda was fun! I needed to just enjoy my kids...I think the past week has felt mostly like "work" and it was time to be silly and laugh. Since its cold and has been raining for two days that ruled out the playground. So we went to an indoor play place filled with those huge inflatable bouncy things...obstacle courses, slides, etc. It was family night for kids 34inches to age 10, so everyone qualified and parents jump free.

There weren't many people there so frequently we would have an entire inflatable all to ourselves. Brooke was a little timid at first but her big sister helped her gain her confidence and eventually she was off and running, well bouncing.


Baileigh is such a good big sister. She loves to be "mommy jr." and help her sisters.
If these two were ever out of sight it didn't matter because I could hear their screams and laughter across the room.
It was a busy and tiring night but a lot of fun that I think we all needed. The best part is that the girls were exhausted when we got home and went to bed fast!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

1,000 Jumbled Thoughts

This post is more for me then you. I need some outlet for my brain. The stimulating conversations with a 6, 4, and 2 year old just aren't cutting it right now and I need to muddle through some random thoughts and I do this best by writing.

About 30 minutes before I find myself sitting here typing, I was breaking into my house. No better way to say "Happy Mother's Day" to myself then to return home to find that one of the girls had accidentally locked the door that we normally keep unlocked, and that I had inadvertenetly never put the house key back on my ring after giving it to someone who was helping with our dogs while we were away. That isn't even what this post is about...but it's a component of where I'm at right now.

Of course Mckenna had to go potty very badly...#2, not just #1. And Brooke was almost asleep in the car so she was in rare form as her tiredness turned into bizarre behavior that I didn't have strength to deal with in conjunction with trying to figure out how to get into our house. Baileigh recognized my stress (perhaps the steam coming out of my ears) and did her best to be strong and entertain her sisters...which meant having them chase her around the yard in their Sunday clothes which led to grass stains on a white shirt and dog poop on a sandal and little toes. I digress.

So after about 30 minutes of heated conversations with God and several failed attempts and phone calls to track down a key or find a door miraculously unlocked after trying the same door thirty times prior...I decided my only option was to break in somehow. I knew that a few of our windows were unlocked, but the issue is that they are the type of window that you crank open instead of raise up or down. I managed to eventually pry one open without damaging the frame very badly but it did break the hing that connects it to the crank. I'm hoping that it is something my husband can fix. At least I didn't have to literally break the glass. I was able to pop out the screen without damaging it and I sent Baileigh through the window to unlock the door. Of course I had my camera and of course I took a picture!

So, believe it or not, this incident is just a metaphor for some of my feelings today and really not the point to why I want to write.

Today one of our pastors announced that he is being called to another church and this was his last Sunday. The cool thing is that this is a sister church in NYC that lost their pastor a few months ago. We loaned him one of our pastors until they could get back on their feet...but after filling in for 3 months our pastor eventually felt God wanted him there permanently and not just in the interim.

His sermon, entitled "Following Jesus" pertained to this change in his own life and the various applications we can make in our lives. His three points essentially were 1) Learn to listen. 2) Learn to let go. 3) Learn to trust. All easier said then done. In 'learning to listen' he talked about how following Jesus sometimes means that in life there are things you have to put on hold. Within this point he also questioned whether or not we ever feel like God is sleeping, essentially not listening or hearing us. 'Learning to let go' talked about how we frequently fear change. Even if something has become unhealthy in our life we often cling to it because we like the familiar and we're scared to step out in faith and face something new. 'Learning to trust' essentially focused on our need to recognize when God is moving or at work and be willing to follow.

There were several circumstances that were running through my mind as I listened. I thought about Leslie and her family and the uncertain future they face since learning that her cancer has returned. I know that despite their strong faith they must feel like God is sleeping in their circumstances. I thought about a friend who is struggling with the changes in her life as she is closing chapters that have been comfortable and familiar. I know that she fears the change. I thought about a friend who is in the midst of a divorce and her reality of being a single parent to two small children. I know that her ability to trust God is hindered by the pain that created the circumstances in her life. I listened intently to the sermon and thought.

And yes, if you're asking yourself if I was able to make any applications in my own life. I mention the other situations above because I think I was busy trying to avoid dealing with myself. I have to go back and explain where I already was at prior to listening to this sermon. If you recall, Brad is gone for two weeks. Two LONG weeks. I'm a seasoned AF spouse now though and this shouldn't phase me, right? Wrong. You essentially grow accustom to what you know (another way this sermon applies) and I've forgotten how to parent solo and it has been a struggle. The girls have forgotten what it is like to have Daddy away and they have complained a lot! So, that said...I've been struggling in my own mind with the possibility of us someday facing another 120 day deployment or even worse a one year remote assignment. I've had many moments over the course of the past few weeks where I have begged God to spare us from that situation. I feel guilty and selfish knowing there are tons of other women who have faced the same situation and survived. But honestly, I rather hear about them and sympathize with them then be one.

So as I sit in church trying to pretend that I'm strong and completely content with Brad being away on Mother's Day I am thinking about what a one year deployment would look like...missed Mother's Days, Father's Day, birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving etc. Those are just the official things...then there is the list of the milestones he would miss and just the small day to day happenings. I'm sensing my emotions rising up in me so I'm distracting my own thoughts by thinking of how this sermon applies to those other situations I mentioned earlier.

I make it through the service with wet eyes but held back actual tears. I survive the social time after church while Baileigh is in choir and pretend that all the families rushing to their brunch reservations or anticipating family get togethers in the evening don't bother me. I indulge the kids with lunch and really don't even care when they don't eat their lunch but consume an entire ice cream Sunday. I listen to some songs on the way home that could possibly set me over the edge but instead I muster a smile and try to find them encouraging. I am fighting the pity party battle and winning!

Then I get home and discover we're locked out. No extra key. No neighbors at home for advice or support. No one around. Feeling alone. Husband in Hawaii! Ironic, huh! Three kids expecting me to have the answers. One Mommy who is tired in more ways then one. I threw in the towel emotionally. We broke into the house and then I broke down. After I literally wrestled Brooke to her room for her nap we both had a good cry together. Nothing more humbling on Mother's Day then having your 26 month old stop her crying and wipe away my tears on my cheek and say "you k, Mommy?"

So in my tears and the quiet of her room I raised the white flag. I surrendered to God and confessed every thought he is already aware of but that I needed to unload. I held one of my three miracles and thanked God for her, regardless of tantrums or dog poop in her toenails. I told him I would trust him with this move and all the details that need to fall in place. With the friendships that need to be established. I foolishly told God that I could survive another 120 day deployment or even a year deployment only with His strength. I hate these moments because I feel God preparing me for the future. Even now as I write I hope and pray that my willingness to put this situation in his hands means he'll reward us by sparing us from the deployment. Unfortunately I've learned that manipulating God isn't very effective.

So as I sit here an enjoy the fragrance from my Yankee Candle and the beautiful tulips Brad sent me and listen to Baileigh and Mckenna playing quietly in the other room (perhaps because they know I'm fragile and it's Mother's Day...but probably more likely because I told them if they kept the noise down while Brooke naps I'd let them watch a movie and have popcorn) I feel tired but at peace. This is far from the typical Mother's Day I would design if I was in control...but if there is one thing I am constantly learning it would be that I'm not in control, like it or not...and that my circumstances are known by God and are part of his design...never plan "B" because the original plan didn't work. There are so many ways I'm thankful that God's plan for my life didn't turn out like the one I had in mind, but it's being able to trust him when we're not happy about how his plans are different then our own that strengthens our faith.

I guess when you feel weak you can only get stronger.

Thank You!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Early Mother's Day

I've kinda been pouting because Brad will be gone for Mother's Day and I'm dieting...what a rotten combination. I can't even take the girls out for ice cream on my special day...well, I guess I could but it would require more discipline then I posses! Thus the reason I find myself needing to diet.

But today Baileigh gave me a little perspective when she wrote me two poems. These are her first poetic works, and as you can see, she is still mastering the English language. I will interpret to aid in your comprehension of her thoughts.

True, Brad won't be home so I won't get to indulge in some "me" time on Sunday...but what better day to spend with my girls and enjoy their company, especially when they are sweet enough to write me poems.




For my Mommy. I loves you so bad I just thought that you would like a poem so I worked so hard on this poem.



You are pretty like a rainbow. Your eyes are green like the grass. You speak as pretty as a queen when she is happy. You sing as a pretty as a bird. You are very kind and when I need someone you are there for me.

You are very kind and when I need someone you are there for me. You are sweet as ice cream and very kind. You would help me when things go wrong. You try hard to do things for me. When I do not obey you yell but you try not to make me cry.


By Baileigh Hall - Age 6


Don't get me wrong,a day at the spa would be nice...but could I truly want anything more for Mother's Day then my sweet girl's words (maybe minus the line about me yelling at her when she doesn't obey...)!

My Bridal Party

Tonight a few girlfriends came over after the kids went to sleep to provide me with a little adult socialization.

Since we were planning on watching the movie 27 Dresses they showed up wearing old bridesmaid dresses and holding flowers. Thanks girls! What a good laugh. I'm very proud and impressed with you!
Hey...if you trim those dresses you can wear them again!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Papa!

Mother's Day Tea

Today Mckenna invited me to a Mother's Day Tea at her preschool. They had strawberry shortcake and pink lemonade for "tea" and presented each mom with a special necklace they had made.




After "tea" the kids sang a few songs and recited a poem about why they love their mother.
At the end Mckenna gave me a craft she had been working on for the past week with a poem and her hand prints.


Earlier in the week the kids drew pictures of something they like to do with their mom. Mckenna said we like to make quilts together!? Considering I don't sew I thought it was hysterical. Apparently they worked on this project on "Q" day when she brought in a quilt for show and tell and it was the first thing that came to mind!

The kids were also asked to tell their teacher why they love their mommy. Some of the answers were funny and incriminating...like "she takes me to Costco" or "she let's me chew gum but we don't tell Daddy." While mine isn't as entertaining, it's sincerity is pretty darn sweet.