Sunday, November 13, 2011


I can't believe Halloween was already two weeks ago...seems like it was a few days ago.

This year I had a karate kid...

A hippy...

My bumble bee...

And a Michigan cheerleader...

My gang. Because we're living in an apartment right now we went to our church for their fall festival. The girls enjoyed playing the various carnival games to earn candy. Everyone was having a good time until we realized we had lost Morgan! We essentially walked away from her after a game...making us the parents of the year! She was only "missing" for about 2 minutes...but it was long enough that we all decided we were ready to go home afterwards! When we found her she just wanted to be held by Daddy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Be Afraid...

We're trying something new while we're in San Antonio...karate! All three girls were excited about the idea and were able to participate in the same class, so I was sold!
I figure this is good training in self defense for when they start dating.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back To School!

This year is a first for us...home schooling! In order to spend the fall with Brad in San Antonio it obviously meant changing schools. Considering we would be moving again around Christmas we made the decision to home school this fall. It has allowed us the opportunity to see a lot of Brad the the flexibility to go to Cleburne, TX a lot to see Brad's family.

Despite not being in a traditional classroom we had to take the obligatory "back to school" pictures! This fall starts Kindergarten for Brooke! Hard to will be sad to have her gone all day with her sisters in January. Morgan loves having all her sisters around to play with and she will have a rude awakening in a few months.
Brooke picked this lunch box because it had a matching ice pack that looked like the doggy...she was sold!
Mckenna's 2nd grade year! She just turned 8 and continues to keep us on our picture proving my point.

This is the result of her accident on August 1...rollerblading and kicked over a glass vase in the garage and fell on it. 14 stitches and now we're off to see a plastic surgeon tomorrow to see if there is anything more they can do to help its appearance.
Doesn't stop her spunk, beauty and enthusiasm...
Last but not 4th grader! Almost 5ft and wearing a size 6 shoe, yet only 9!!!!! Imagine by her teen years. I am enjoying kissing her forehead while I can...soon I'll barely be able to kiss her chin.

Three of the four...

The present

I'm so far behind on this blog that I keep trying to figure out how and when to catch up...I finally decided today that there is no time like the present. Today. Now.

Short summary.

Brad has been home almost 2 months.

One month ago we said goodbye to VA and we moved across country into our temporary home in San Antonio.

I'm home schooling the girls until we make our "permanent" move to MS...sometime around mid to late December.

We're keeping busy and enjoying the family time.

Geesh...two months in 4 sentences! Very uncharacteristic of me!

Current day...Morgan is potty training/trained. She is doing great and I'm anxious to be past the phase where I'm visiting every bathroom in the greater San Antonio suburbs.

Older 3 girls are doing karate twice a week and love soon. Morgan takes a tumbling class and listens so well to her teacher.

Brad is about to hit the flight line in the T-1...wrapping up academics and simulators.

We're enjoying the time together as a family, but it feels like a vacation, not a move.

We miss our VA friends.

Here are a few pictures from Brad's return that I never posted...we were fortunate to have someone from Operation Love come to the homecoming and capture the moment.

I also hope to have a few pictures from a going away party that friends threw for us...waiting on pictures from a friend (ahem...Desi!;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome Home! Goodbye!

I haven't published in several weeks for a few reason...the primary being that I couldn't! I was having problems with my blog and couldn't publish my posts.

But I'm back...obviously.

In the past two weeks Brad returned home! Yeah! Pictures to follow soon.

The reason I can't post pictures at the present moment is that the CD is in a box...
because we're moving.

Thus the goodbye.

As I type the movers are loading the truck...ironically that means I finally have a few minutes to just sit and wait and as a result Brad had a chance to look at my blog and was able to correct the issues that had plagued me for weeks.

Tomorrow our residency in VA becomes history.

This move is very surreal at the moment. I've been "selling this house" since January...since I bought and assembled a new desk for Brad's office in anticipation of staging the house. Since I started shopping realtors in March. Since I started making sure that the garbage can was completely full every time I set the can at the corner in order to start the process of decluttering. Then the realtors. Meeting them. Interviewing them. Selecting them. Then the cleaning. The staging. The listing. The offers!

It truly has gone smoothly for the most part and we really couldn't ask for more. Brad's hard work payed off andthe house was easy to sell. But the process is still long and exhausting...and I am ready to be done with it...yet not ready to leave.

We've truly enjoyed these three years. This is Morgan's birthplace. This is the first move the older girls will really remember. This is the house we remodeled. This is where we've made great friends.

This is going to be hard to leave.

This is not goodbye...we like to say this is "until next time".

Friday, July 22, 2011

MI Vacation Recap

Over the fourth of July I took the girls up to MI to visit friends and family. This is the third year we've had the priviledge of doing this trip...I'm not sure it will be possible next year once we move so I was soaking in every moment and enjoying it in spite of Brad's absence.

We took the scenic way to MI and made a visit to Taylor University. The girls have heard stories of my college years and it was really fun to spend time with them on campus.

We enjoyed the fourth in my friend Tricia's new pool while watching the Blue Angels flying over...

The girls continue to love tubing and seem to never grow tired of it...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I was a monster tonight!

So much so that just moments ago I finished the "good nights" and felt the need to come straight to this keyboard to confess.

My girls spent the final hour of the evening up in one of their bedrooms having a dance party. I made the decision at the time to let them carry on in exchange for some alone time. I can't say "quiet time" because all I could hear was the pounding bass of their music and so much stomping and pounding that I seriously thought my four young daughters must have somehow managed to sneak in dozens of Irish dancers through their bedroom window.

When it was time for bed I discovered they had decorated for their dance party. I feel in part that I am partially to blame for their obsessive need to party prep, but despite both that strength and character flaw I was frustrated to discover much of my earlier efforts towards cleanliness had been destroyed. I confess it wasn't something that would take more than 10 minutes to rectify, but based upon my dramatic reaction you would have thought that an exterior wall of the house was missing.

My girls quickly scattered to escape the wrath of monster mama...I continued to rant and rave while tossing baby dolls in the air and kicking cute little party conversation areas apart like I was a big bad giant. While the creativity of the snack station that included tea cups filled with water and small saucers with crumbled up granola bars wasn't lost on me, all I could see was the bits and pieces of granola stuck in the carpet on the house we previously owned and now rent! For several minutes I continued my tirade. The girls all miraculously found their pj's and brushed their teeth and hid beneath their covers in record setting pace.

During my outburst I found myself having one of those out of body type experiences you hear about. Maybe a better way to explain it was the visual of the good angel and devil on each shoulder. Part of me felt justified with my response and wanted to continue to unleash on my girls in a manner unfitting for the crime...the other part of me was being reminded of what a wise woman said to me over our recent vacation.

While in MI for the 4th of July holiday we spent a little time with Nana II. Nana II was Mrs. Hovis to me growing up...or even better known as Tricia's mom, one of my dearest friends. Last year my girls asked her what they should call her...she sweetly said, "you can call me Nana, too" since that is how her own two grandchildren refer to her. My girls interpreted that as Nana II since my own mom is now we have Nana and Nana II.

Nana II has always made her home feel like my home. And since I have almost 30 years of memories in her house it truly feels like home and holds more history for me than any other house in MI where I now visit. This was the first opportunity we've had to stay with her and as I crawled into bed in my friend's old childhood room I recalled several of our sleepovers in that very spot. I thought about how long ago that was and how it seemed like yesterday. I thought about the 6 months I've been a single parent in theory and how in 6 years I'm sure this period will seem so long ago and yet it will seem like yesterday.

My mind went back to a moment earlier that day at lunch when I told one of my girls to keep her dirty hands of the window. Nana II quickly piped up and said not to worry about it at all...she said how she misses fingerprints on the windows. I've heard similar phraseology before...but at that moment I was suddenly silenced. A true feat if you know me.

I thought about my reaction to fingerprints all over the window. Usually frustration or exasperation. Not appreciation.

Tonight as the mamma monster was unleashed a small voice inside my head was telling me to appreciate the fingerprints. To shrug off the sticky granola on the carpet. To smile at the decorations. To realize the fingerprints will be gone before I know it. A memory. Like this deployment. Perhaps not always a chapter I want to repeat, but at least the wisdom and acknowledgment that each phase has its beauty in its own way if I can just learn to look beyond the ugly.

The good angel won tonight, after momma monster had a private melt down and was dismissed in the confines of the laundry room. I went back to each daughter and laid on her bed and apologized. I explained that I have a lot of reasons for my frustrations but truly no excuses and I was wrong. If there is anything I want my kids to be able to say about me when they grow up is that I was able to admit when I'm wrong and say I'm sorry. I think its pretty empowering for a kid to hear their parents confess their own weaknesses. Each girl forgave me and also apologized. Of course these sweet tender moments at a time of shear emotional and physical exhaustion means lots of tears. And of course they are still kids ages 9, 7, 5 and 2 so the tender moments were interrupted by giggles about gas, comments about stinky breath, sheer random thoughts on how your body knows when to sneeze and complimentary boogers thoughtfully picked and offered to me by my two year old.

While bedtime is usually my downfall in daddy's absence and a part of a routine I know the girls look forward to when he returns, I tried to step up my game to compensate for my earlier downfall and try to reassure my girls that they are loved. That they are cherished. That I appreciate their fingerprints.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Cathartic Experience

Sunday was a cathartic experience.

In January I signed up for the DC triathlon.

Sunday I completed the triathlon.

Sunday was about so much more than a race. It was about more than crossing a finish line.

It represented a journey. It was symbolic of hurdles overcome. It provided a sense of completion.

Back in 2006, Brad was deployed and I treated myself to some gym hours with a trainer to help me loose the baby weight from kiddo number three. This trainer was into triathlons and encouraged me to train for a race. The idea of having a goal to achieve became a great distraction from the deployment. Instead of just living to survive the months of Brad being gone I found myself working to achieve something greater.

When I learned Brad would be deploying for the first half of 2011 I knew I needed to find a triathlon. It had been 4 years since my last triathlon. I never anticipated taking such a long hiatus but life got in the way...we moved, remodeled a house, had another baby etc. Suddenly it was four years later. I had said before that I wanted to do at least one triathlon while we lived in the DC area and now was the time!

I knew it would be challenging to train while juggling the girls during Brad's absence. I was right. Actually, the training became just about as difficult as the triathlon! Morgan's decision to throw a fit at the gym about two months prior to the triathlon didn't help at all! I found myself hiring babysitters and dropping the kids off with helpful friends so I could swim, bike or run. It wasn't really how I wanted to spend my solo time but it was necessary. I still had not trained as I desired but I got to the point where I just had to accept it and do my best.

Race day I was organizing my staging area in the transition at 4:30am. Despite the ridiculously early hour and my dislike of early wake up calls...I was trying to appreciate the beauty of the quiet morning and the Washington Monument illuminated against the dark sky. I was thankful that I wasn't having any pre-race jitters...I don't think I was truly awake enough to be nervous.

The race in general went well. The swim was crowded but the water temperature was comfortable and I was able to keep my breathing fairly steady. The bike course took us through the city and took me by such iconic sights as Kennedy Center, the various Smithsonian museums, and down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a fairly flat course and despite my frustration that it seemed like everyone was passing me I was still enjoying myself to some degree. The run was...well, its running, and I hate running. And the normal 5k run you find at the end of a sprint triathlon was 7.6k...booooo.

I found myself doing a lot of thinking on the run. Considering what a slow runner I am this means I have a lot of time to think! As I passed the various landmarks of the city I started reflecting on this deployment. I thought back to January and the emotions we felt when we said goodbye to Brad. I thought about the girls and the different ways they've coped with Daddy's absence. I thought about the friends that have stepped up to support us. I thought about our highs. I thought about our lows. I thought about our sweet dog, Jonah, who we said goodbye to in April. I thought about our 3 years in Virginia. I thought about moving to this area and still being pregnant at that time with Morgan! I thought about Brad and all the things he has experienced while he has been gone. I thought about the ways we both may have changed from this time. I thought about the challenges we'll face as we transition to being a family unit again. I thought where the heck is the finish line!!!! I thought about the ways I feel I've failed. I thought about how often God had enabled me to experience his presence and comfort in unique ways. I thought about myself and the ways I feel I've grown.

As I made the last turn in front of the US Capitol and saw the finish line ahead of me I was overcome with emotion. The time of reflection during the run took its toll and I did all I could to keep it together as my timing chip was removed from my ankle and my medal was placed around my neck. I accepted the complimentary water and quickly slipped away from the crowd. I sunk to the ground on a secluded spot on the steps of the United States Court House and I lost it. I started to bawl. I seriously felt like I was hyperventilating and would have gladly accepted a brown paper bag if someone offered. I was so overcome with emotion. It was like a floodgate of relief overcame me. Everything seemed to flash before me in my mind. Despite feeling discreet I was noticed by another racer who came to see if I was okay and offered to take me to the medical tent. I thanked them but insisted I was okay.

After a few more minutes of blubbering I pulled myself together. I managed to get back on my feet and set out to find the other women that had done the triathlon with me. I was still feeling emotionally raw from my cry. I shared briefly about my finish line experience but the impact that moment had on me hadn't even registered yet.

I'm still not sure it has.

I still have one more month of this deployment left. But after that triathlon I somehow feel like I can see the finish line. I'm sure it will also be an emotional finish.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Day of School

I can't believe that today is the last day of 1st and 3rd grade for the girls. It is hard to believe that we've been here for three years of school! This truly feels like home now and I was sad today as I know that the girls have made great friends and that this move is going to be tough.

Baileigh has had a huge growth spurt this year...especially since Christmas. She is the tallest girl in her class and tied with one boy for being the tallest in general. She is 4'10 and wears a size 5.5 shoe and a women's extra small! Mckenna started school without her two front teeth...but now they are in and she has new missing teeth.Back in September...Today...September 7, 2010