Saturday, May 31, 2008

'Nuff Said...

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.
Robert Fulghum

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mojave Viper

Rafe's coming home Sunday night. They were supposed to be home Friday night, and somebody from HQ changed their flight to Sunday and then went on leave (so no one could find him I guess). Morale is pretty low among the guys. And among me. If he'd made it home Friday, we would have been "in the zone" ovulation wise for Baby #2. Coming home Sunday, we miss it completely. It's been pretty sad and frustrating that even with the 4 months we've had before he leaves, he's been in the field just about every time that we could have conceived. I'm trying to stay positive, but now we have only 1 more chance, unless we go the very expensive route of IVF or IUI. Plus, now I miss out on 2 of my 5 weeks left with Rafe, as I have to head back to Savannah every 3 days when I start taking my shots again.

I'm feeling quite grouchy toward the MC today.


What's this?!!?

Looks like someone found my camera when I wasn't looking!!

Delish, Mom!

nummmay! I love me some pesto tortellini!!

Mommy's Helper

Looks like she's washing dishes....

Wait... I think she fooled me!

If it's free, it's for me!

Ever since my sister told me that phrase, I can't get it out of my head. I love free stuff. Today I went to a Homeschool Conference, and they had a used curriculum/book sale. I found some GREAT items for less than a dollar, a complete set of scrabble, lots of new books for Amelia including a child's picture bible (it was $2 and I have bought it for gifts before at $16 or more), books for me (homeschooling activities and ideas, parenting books for me) puzzles, etc... all in all I spent $92 and saved approximately $500 plus since I didn't pay full price. I found FREE Math flash cards for preschoolers/kindergarden and some of the items above were free.

Speaking of frugal, some of my other recent finds are: a child's standing art easel for $5, (normal price $90 to $180) a large childs art table and chair for $10 (they range from $50 to 150$), a winter jacket for $2 and a summer swimsuit with a built in floatie for 50 cents! All of them have been used and yes, some do show minimal signs of wear and tear. But who cares? They'd have those signs anyway once Amelia got ahold of them. I don't normally shop this much, but she really needs more age appropriate books and toys. She's pretty much outgrown all we have, and I can't bear to pay full price for all that.

One of my friends taught me to tear my dryer sheets in half and get two loads out of one sheet. I love that trick! Then when you are done, you can use them to dust off the top of your dryer and washer each load before you throw them away!


Hurry up, Mommy!!

"ZHOOOM ZHOOOM!!" Amelia is fascinated by planes

If you double click on this picture, you can get an idea of how much dirt she had on her, but it truly doesn't show it all... she dumped dirt in her hair and my washcloth is black!

Amelia loves to play in the dirt and to be outside. She will bring me my big "Farmer Brown" hat or my garden shoes (Rafe's old combat boots) and say, "oww-shyyy!! Ow-shy, Mommay!" If I don't get the message quickly enough for her, she pulls on one of my fingers with her hand and starts walking toward one of the doors. Nothing makes her more sad than to see the outdoors but not be able to go out into it. However, I only take her out in the very early morning or after 430 here because the sun is so intense and her skin is so pale. Her cheeks turn to bright, rosy red apples in just a few minutes if she's outside between 930 and 430.

Because of this, I do my gardening in the evenings, usually after we've had dinner. The time just drags for me in the evening without Rafe here. By that time, we're both ready for a change of scenery and she's much less clingy and more independant playing outside. She likes to explore the yard and look at bugs - although she gets hysterical when they get too close to her. Today she took a new approach and started stepping on all the ants that came across her path. She'll scream my name, point to the bug and generally whoop it up.

Did I mention she loves dirt? I couldn't get a closeup, but after her bath this evening, I had to clean the tub. I could have planted flowers in there with all the dirt that came off of her!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Views from my Front Porch

All the houses here are on "stilts" because of how close we are to sea level. Sometimes when the tide comes in, the end of the street has water running down it. We are directly across from St. Helena Island. You can see the water from our livingroom windows; and we often see sailboats, fishing boats, yachts, etc. going up and down the water. Amelia loves them, and runs around like crazy shouting, "MOMMAAAAAAY! MOMMMMMM!! A boooht, A boooht!" trying to get to the windows.

The weather is really interesting at this tip of Parris Island. It's often windy, which means it is much cooler than the rest of the island and the Beaufort area, relatively speaking. The evenings are very nice, much nicer than the swelteringly hot and humid days, with cool breezes coming in across the water.


When you have your first child, and they do funny things, you don't realize at first that they are showing parts of their personality that is uniquely theirs, and will stick around for a long time.

Ever since she was a baby (as in almost before she could scoot and crawl), she has been fascinated by things on her head, her wrists, her feet and her hands. Somewhere around here I have photographic proof of her wearing the following things on her head - washcloths, underwear, baby towels, diapers, mommy's clothes... (all clean, except for that one foray into the laundry basket when I was busy, I swear). She's been putting socks and shoes on her hands (hasn't mastered putting them on her feet yet). She wears headbands, rubberbands and baby toys as bracelets. She loves her purses. She will wear her gardening gloves around the house, or get into my drawers and wear my gloves.

This does not bode well for our financial situation when she is a teenager.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sister's kids

Go to May 11, 2008 entry; you will see a few pics of my sister's kids taken by a local Dallas photographer. What a great job she does! Lisa said she's one of the nicest, best photographers she's ever worked with, and she is SO picky in that area.

Taking the plunge...

I'm getting ready to email everyone the blog address. So far only 3 people know it. Rafe's been asking me to do this for a few weeks now, and I keep putting it off out of trepidation. I started this because I wanted a way to showcase little vignettes of our life to friends and family without inundating everyone with lots of emails. That way, if you are interested, you can click in when you have time; and if you're not, then you won't have to mess with it.

One of the main reasons I started it was for Rafe - his schedule is so crazy and email can be sporadic. This way he will be able to check in on our lives and our thoughts while he's gone (which is most of the time) and the rest of you guys can too.

I'm not too sure if anyone will be interested in this. I'm definately not very funny, and I write a lot because I'm a fast typer. Feel free to comment on anything you want to. If you double click on any picture in a post, it should open up into a larger picture. Let me know what you think, and if there is anything you'd like to see more of!

We love you all and wish we were closer to everyone. We miss all the unique qualities of the people we love. Although we may not talk, call or write often, please know and believe that you live in our hearts and we think about you much more often than you know. In my ideal world, we'd all live on one giant compound so we could visit and have fun. Just knock first. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Butter Bear

I love to watch Amelia sleep. She burrows into her covers with all her favorite loveys around her. She's sleeping on Butter Bear - handmade by her Granny J and sent for Christmas. She loves it! (Mom, in case you ever read this and are wondering - her sheets and quilts are all in the wash, so don't be alarmed at my lack of color coordination!)


She loves wearing daddy's hat! Check out the "bracelets".

Strawberry Picking

I went strawberry picking while I was in Jax last time with a friend of mine who shall remain nameless (that's you, Connie! haha) We had a great time canning our jam for the first time (she did most of the work). She's my partner in crime when it comes to cooking and things we can do frugally. We figured out a way to use the frothy foam that you are supposed to skim off the top of the jam you are making - we just let it cool, stirred it up and told ourselves it was strawberry honey! It will be great over pancakes. It's easier than I thought to can jam, and now I want to expand into other items. When I go back, I'll probably go blueberry picking and do the same thing.

Doctor, Doctor!

I had to take Amelia to the Dr. yesterday to get a splinter out of her foot. He actually had to cut into her foot to get it out. She literally never struggled, complained, cried, whined, whimpered or basically moved. The most she did was flinch toward the end when he had to really dig. I was so proud of her! She sat in my lap the whole time and I had her name the colors on the walls and words for the pictures. The pediatrician said she was the best behaved baby he'd ever seen in that situation. He kept commenting on her calm demeanor.

Then we were back at the Dr. today because she had ringworm - probably from the local daycare. It hasn't stopped her from being a goofball, so I guess she's fine.

That belt she's wearing is from the 80's. I used to wear it wrapped around a turquoise shirt with padded shoulders and gray epaulets. It was hot! :) hee hee... Rafe hates that belt and we almost got rid of it and I'm not sure why we kept it, but Amelia loves it. She finds it and brings it to me and I have to wrap it around her waist. She puts it together in the weirdest combinations. I think this one takes the cake though - combat boots and a farmer brown hat. That girl loves her hats!

Gordon Ramsey would fire her!

I can't tell if my child is a budding gourmet or just trying to drive me crazy. If I mix one tiny thing into her food that she doesn't like(ex: mac/cheese mixed with green beans), she will very carefully eat all the food around the offending item and spit out the one tiny piece of food she didn't like (the green beans). It kills me, because she used to love vegetables. I'm also astounded, because how can her little tounge maneuver that tiny piece of green bean around while she's busy eating the mac and cheese and still have it leftover to spit out??

Today I had to laugh when I gave her cut up grapes and some mushroom/olive pizza. She loves both of those items, but she happened to spy some soy sauce and caesar dressing on the table and very clearly wanted some of those on her plate - pointing at them, pointing to her plate, and making the sign for please. So, out of curiosity, I obliged... and watched her DIP HER GRAPES IN SOY SAUCE. And eat them. Over and over again. She then dipped her pizza crusts in the caesar dressing and ate it also.

Ok, so let me get this straight - you won't eat your plain jane veggies, but you want a salty/sweet combination of grapes and soy sauce? I can't tell if she just wants more intense flavors or is just plain weird :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Howdy, Neighbor!

Today was a lovely peach of a day. We went to an early church service and after lunch and nap, we had a surprize visit from one of the neighbors and her son, who is just slightly older than Amelia. He is truly a delightful little boy with a winning smile and generous spirit.

Not too long after they popped in, along came another mom and her daughter (2 months older than Amelia) for a visit. Olivia is a little angel who talks like an Italian momma - she looks you straight in the eye, talks a mile a minute and moves her hands around like they are telling their own story at the same time. At one point, Amelia was hugging Olivia while she was playing and it was so darn cute... until she was hugging her so hard she was choking her accidentally!

The kids together looked picture perfect... Steven with golden red hair, Olivia with jet black hair, and Mia with blonde hair - too bad my camera konked out a few pictures into it.

BUT! Not before I snapped a pic of Amelia kissing Steven. Voluntarily. And, Rafe, don't have a heart attack, but this is actually the second time she gave him some love!! She went up to him and kissed him at last Tuesday's play date. I mentioned it was Steven's first kiss, but apparently another little girl already beat Amelia to the punch.

Before Rafe left, he built Mia a playhouse out of old cardboard moving boxes. They went in and played peekabo in the playhouse and just had a fun time for a couple of hours around the house while the moms visited. It's an interesting dynamic living in a military community or on base. Most of the husbands at this base aren't deployed, but they might as well be. They are on drill duty, and for their husbands this means they have to be with, and do everything with, the recruits in boot camp. So basically they have to go through boot camp all over again, but for 3 years in a row.

The spouses never know when their husbands will be home until the last minute, although they do often know when they will be gone for a while (come to think of it, much like pilots). We try never to call or show up at each other's house at dinnertime or weekends unless invited because the time with their husband is so precious.

I know that last sentence may sound strange for many people who would never do that anyway. Living on base or in a neighborhood full of active duty military is much like living in a time warp. Neighbors know who you are and what you need and are in and out of each others homes all the time. Friends are made quickly and help is often offered immediately. Case in point - I went to a playgroup on Tuesday and met a woman who had just moved in a month ago. Her husband is gone for a week or two, and she has a 9 month old son. She found out Rafe was gone and I am on a mission to finish unpacking our stuff and making our home organized before I have to go back to Lejeune - a daunting task and one which is overwhelming me. She offered to bring her pack and play, her baby, and help me anytime as she handed me her number. And she was serious. This is actually normal and I feel blessed to be able to experience this side of military life.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mature Character

Good kids are a product of the real goal of parenting: Mature Character.

When children grow up with mature character, they are able to take their place as adults in the world and function properly in all areas of life. Character growth is the main goal of child rearing.

People with mature character have traits of integrity, responsibility and courage, but we understand character in a bigger-picture way. Character is the sum of our abilities to deal with life. Reality makes certain demands on us; our success (or failure) in meeting these demands shows our level of character development. (Cloud-Townsend)

Some of the best books I have ever read were by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, two Christian authors who write about boundaries in relationships using biblical perspectives. I usually love what they have to say! I'm currently re-reading a book on Boundaries with Kids that is just great. One of the things I love about going to church is that you are so exposed to wonderful resources, bible studies and support to help you become more Christ like (basically a better, more emotionally healthy human being!)

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately on conscious parenting. Not just reacting to life's circumstances, but being more proactive on the choices I make and thinking about the long term consequences on my child's life. No matter how cute she is, how sweet it is when she kisses me, if she's disobedient now and I let it slide, how much harder will it be for HER to all of a sudden make her toe the line when she's 5 or 6? She'll be confused and frustrated. And when she's 12, 13? 16 or 18? Forget it! My words will be like rain on a tin roof - sliding right off as quick as it hits.

I'm not doing her any favors if I prepare her for life by giving her everything she wants and not teaching her how to properly handle disappointment and frustration with a good attitude. All children are trained... it's a question of what are you training them to do? Are you training them to scream or misbehave until you give in? I won't be doing her any favors by letting her think that if she screams enough she will be successful in life. Or are you training them to learn that as the authority, you mean what you say and will only say it once? "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'"

When she wraps her hands around my head and kisses my whole face, it's really, really hard to be stern when I need to be when just thinking of her chubby little hands and her sweet smile make me melt. I hate to say it, but she's definitely conned me a time or two lately!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Homemaker

"It is right to begin with the obligations of home, and, while these are overlooked and neglected, no other duties can possibly be substituted for them." - Charles Dickens

Monday, May 12, 2008


(My pot of ragu cooking away)

I know you aren't really supposed to talk baby-talk to kids, but I love the way Amelia says yummy when she likes something she eats... "nummmmy, mommay!" It's better than any 4-star review I ever had as a restaurant Chef! :)

Today we had a spicy grilled cheese sandwich with apples at lunch that won a Nummy award from my peanut gallery. I made it with 12 grain bread, 2 slices american cheese and 1 slice jalapeno cheese, with very thin slices of peeled apple evenly across the sandwich (in between the cheeses). Then cook as you would a normal grilled cheese sandwich! They were delicious and a bit spicy. I was surprized she liked them as much as she did. Then of course, this is the baby who would only eat her eggs with daddy's hot sauce on them when she first started eating eggs!

I've been a cooking fool these past few days. I made crockpot spareribs and sauerkraut, served them with garlic pepper roasted red potatoes (with kosher salt); pork curry with coconut milk, onion and garlic cloves and some fresh red chard chopped into it (I'll serve that over rice); and I'll be making pork chops with mushroom sauce later today. My crockpot has been getting a work out. Pork was half price at the commissary, can you tell? I'm going to freeze a bunch of it in individual portions so Mia and I can eat well when I don't feel like cooking.

I could use some chocolate chip cookies, though. Last time my friend Connie visited me, we made a new recipe I found - banana chocolate chip cookies. NUMMY!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Big thunderstorms, power outage on Parris Island today! Our power was out most of the day, so all my plans went astray.

I went to church (Tidal Creek Fellowship) this morning and heard an excellent sermon on motherhood, parenting and boundaries today. The sermons are online, and I think I might listen to that one a few more times. It falls right in line with something else I've been reading lately - Chronicles of a BabyWise Mom -
"Your goal needs to be more than simply getting through another day (page 10). I love this thought. I think this is the goal of many modern parents. They want to simply make it through the day in one piece with minimal conflict. They don't take initiative to teach and lead their children. They let their children wander from activity to activity, and so long as the children aren't causing problems, that is good enough. I am not saying all parents are this way, but I definitely know parents with this mentality. We need to remember that we have a short time with our children when our influence reigns supreme. We need to take advantage of this teaching period in their life when we are the coolest, smartest, greatest people in the world. Before we know it, their friends will start to replace us. Treat each day as a day for learning and training opportunities."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back in Beaufort

Again. :)

When we moved onto base, they had just finished constructing this house and were still working on most of the others on this street. We didn't even have grass. They sprayed seeds and fertilizer down, planted ornamental trees and bushes and told us we wouldn't have to worry about it, except maybe water it if it was real dry and they would let us know. There was a lot of rain when we first moved here and all our landscaping looked lush and lovely.

Fast forward to today - after 5 or 6 trips to Jacksonville since March 17 (I can't even remember anymore!) The trees they planted are visibly wilting, the grass is brown, the plants next to the house are wilting, turning brown and looking visibly stressed. They have reseeded our yard 3 times, this last time OVER the thick layer of oak leaves that have fallen (um.. you'd think that landscaping specialists would know grass won't grow on thick leaves). The grass is growing the best in the planting beds next to the house - in the mulch around the plants!! I feel like if I'd been here all along, this wouldn't have happened. Heck, I'm not even unpacked at the house yet! I'm so frustrated living out of a suitcase and traveling all around. I'd love to see all our relatives after Rafe leaves, but I think I'm going to hibernate in my own home for a while and see if I can't get it feeling like a cozy place and not just some fancy hotel I'm staying in.

I'm trying so hard to be positive, but I feel like all I ever do is complain about what is happening. I wish I could be bubbly and cheerful right now, but Rafe is at Mojave Viper, with no cell phone access and no email except occasionally at work. Amelia woke up crying after her nap like her heart was breaking. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, she was inconsolable until she saw a picture of daddy and we snuggled with the picture and her blankie and called "bamma" (her catch all phrase for grandma and grandpa) so they could talk to her. Tomorrow I'm going to detail all the positive things we've been doing but tonight I'm just going to eat some chocolate chip cookies.

To Bee or Not To Bee

I put this in a seperate post because I really wanted to emphasize this point. It's expensive to get started in beekeeping as a profession. However, it's extremely easy to help out the bees on a localized basis. All you have to do is plant flowers - the brighter the better; the more the merrier! Even better, do it organically - stop using chemical pesticides and switch to all natural.

So plant some pretties and help Mother Nature!


When I lived in Jacksonville, I used to attend Beekeeping meetings at the local extension office for the fun of it. Ever since Rafe's Auntie J told me she used to keep bees, I've been considering doing it myself some day. There would always be honey samples on the table to taste from ech beekeeper. I found that I was by far the youngest person (at age 39 and holding) there by at least 15 years, and the average looked to be about 20+ years. The first meeting I went to was an eye opener - I never realized how much work went into keeping bees. The meeting that time revolved around the current beekeeping crisis, where bees are dying in multitudes. If it doesn't turn around soon, our food supply will be in dire straits. The following is an article I just read on Egullet that reminds me how important it is that more people get interested in beekeeping.

The full article is here:

""Go down east and it's quiet," Jack Tapp says of North Carolina’s coastal plain, where the land is a checkerboard of agricultural fields. "There's nothing natural that flies anymore." Tapp works 16 hours a day, six days a week running a Chapel Hill-based apiary with a thousand beehives. Only a few decades ago, farmers could rely on wild bees and other insects to pollinate their crops. Now that wild bees have all but disappeared, beekeepers like Tapp play an increasingly important role in putting food on our tables. Bees are responsible, directly or indirectly, for every third bite of food Americans eat: $15 billion worth of food each year. Trouble is, Tapp and many like him worry beekeepers are disappearing, too.

Now in his mid-60s, Tapp owns one of North Carolina's thirteen largest commercial apiaries. Of those, eleven owners are at least 60 years old. Tapp's wife helps him with his business, along with two men who are both Tapp's age or older. The three men work building and repairing hives, extracting honey, and loading 80-pound hives full of bees onto trucks so they can be taken to fields. Their ages are not unusual among beekeepers: seventy percent of America's beekeepers are over 45. Many are retired.

During my visit to Tapp’s apiary just outside Chapel Hill, I asked him, "I'm wondering, does fifteen billion dollars worth of food a year depend on a bunch of retired hobbyists?"

I fully expected him to tell me I was exaggerating. Tapp turned his head, looked me in the eye and with a straight face said, "Well, yeah.""

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ten things I love about my husband

  1. the rubber spider (it's really a love/hate relationship) that has popped up periodically during our entire marriage in unexpected places. It startles the living daylights out of me but also makes me laugh. The worst place?? Amelia's diaper bag.
  2. hiding when the lights are out, I think he's in bed and then he sneaks around the other side and touches my leg and freaks me out. It scares me and makes me laugh at the same time.
  3. the cute smile he has when he tickles me
  4. his organizational skills
  5. his knowledge of the Bible
  6. the memory that defines my husband as a playful, fun guy - sneaking out to "BOO" our neighbors one Halloween, him dressed all in black (including a black cap), skulking in the bushes and trying to avoid the streetlights, running a zigzag pattern and hiding after ringing the doorbell and running, me laughing hysterically and him trying to shush me as we run back into the house and slam the door shut! (or like the time he scared me at the window while I was washing dishes...wait.. notice a theme here??!?!?!)
  7. his compassion
  8. his intelligence
  9. the way he makes me laugh when I'm really mad at him and we have to make our pinkies "hug"
  10. his beautiful smile and gorgeous eyes
Now that I think of it, I don't really love the rubber spider, but it does make me laugh. I tried to leave it at my sister's house, but my darn brother-in-law snuck it into my bags and scared me half to death when I opened them once I got off the plane in Beaufort.

Responsible Children

The surest way to raise selfish, rude, contentious, unhelpful children is
to have low expectations for what they can and should offer to your family and community. However, if your belief system is built upon the premise that everyone should contribute to the well-being of all, no matter their ages and ability levels, your actions, attitudes, and expectations will reflect that, and your young child will begin to learn the value of responsibility.
From "Wiggle, Giggle, Learn"

Amelia has chores - at 22 months old. She's been helping me with laundry since she was 16 months old (taking the wet clothes from the basket and putting them in the dryer). She helps "unload" the dishwasher now - hands me the dishes from the bottom rack and I put them away. She brushes her own teeth (I follow up, but she still does a pretty good job) and gets her own step stool to see the sink. She helps make her breakfast oatmeal (now I just lay out the ingredients and she can do most of it on her own). She lets me know when she needs a diaper change and goes to sleep when she's told, wherever she's at (unless there is a bed with no rails, and that scares her).

I'm pretty proud of her!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Shame on Tyson Chickens!

They've been promoting their chicken as being raised without antibiotics... but it turns out they are injecting the eggs right before they hatch with antibiotics. They argue in court that "raised" refers to the time period after they are hatched and are being accurate with their advertising. The court disagreed and gave them 2 weeks to pull all advertising.

I really get frustrated when I try to buy the best possible things for my family to put in their bodies and it turns out I'm being misled by these huge companies. I truly believe that God designed our bodies to work perfectly in harmony with the natural foods He provided us, and the more we chemically manipulate that environment, the more harm we do long term to our health.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Day!

Today is beautiful here! Yesterday was a great day. It started off kind of sad; as I am ovulating and Rafe is in the field - one more missed chance for a baby. The MC is definitely not helpful in our quest for another baby. But I was able to spend time with some lovely ladies in the neighborhood; went on a walk with them and saw some brand new cocker spaniel puppies for the girls to play with (Mia and her new friend, Olivia). We spent some time with another little boy in the neighborhood (Steven) and his mom gave me some eggplant plants and some dinner!! I am so blessed. I turned in some moving paperwork, worked on the house, and today my dryer is fixed!!! Now I can wash clothes again. It turned out to be $113 for... are you ready? The repairman to remove lint from the outside vent. Yep, you heard right. Apparently when they built these houses, they put wire mesh over the outside vent to prevent critters from bunking with you at night by coming up through the vent. Squirrels, birds, etc. But they never took them off. The repairman told me he has been out here many times doing exactly the same thing for the new houses after people move in. So... I'm going to turn my bill into housing and request reimbursement. It has not ever been done; but I'm going to try. Wish me luck!