Friday, August 30, 2013

Family Time

I love to be with my family.  My husband, my children.  That family.  And I love to be with my brothers-and-their-families family.  And I love my two in-law families.  I am a lucky girl to have so much family, and so much love, and so much support.

So when I saw this (It's from here, even though I can't find it in their current catalog), I just fell in love.  I wonder if I could do something like this on our wall?  Happy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Twin Haircuts

I woke up the other morning, still delirious from not getting enough sleep.  I pried my eyelids open and saw the twins.  "Saw" is an overly generous word here, because with the combination of my ultra-bad eyesight and no glasses and bleary morning vision, I can't guarantee that I actually saw anything.  But I think I saw, there in the morning sunlight, two smiling q-tips, their frothy cottony tops illuminated like angelic halos.

As adorable as this is, first thing in the morning, it gets less adorable as the day goes on, and their hair does not improve much.  And they hate having their hair combed, because at this point, it involves a spray bottle of water.  So I gave in and gave them haircuts.  Now they look like Alec, because shaving their little heads is the quickest thing I can do with two wigglers!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hot and Steamy

Love.  I love this man, even when it's hot and steamy.  And even when he's sweaty.  Just because I decided to.

And for the record, it was hot here!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Moab Trip

We went on a road trip to Moab.  Because being with lots of children in a small space and driving around in the desert sounded like fun.  Actually, it was.  It's just nice to be all together.  It would have been even better if we had been all together, but Alec was at boot camp and Chris was at scout camp.  Might as well go camping, if everyone else is doing it!

So we loaded up (which is my least-favorite part of any trip!) and drove away with our tent trailer and trail mix.

We saw lots of just amazing views.

We tired out the little ones and big ones alike.  Yes, he really did fall into his lunch out of sheer exhaustion!

We honestly didn't leave the van much, because it was so energy-sappingly hot.  So only one little hike, and a few viewpoints.  Mostly, we just stayed in the A/C.  Until the van overheated and died, and then we spent an extra day at a dusty campground while we waited for it to be fixed.  After a few miracles, we were good and back on our way.  We stopped a few times on the way home - on the side of the road - for more repairs.  Still gotta get that skylight fixed.

This is what family memories are made of.  And in spite the stress of planning and preparations, and the aggravation of breakdowns, and the craziness of being out of routine, it was fun.  And so worth it.  

We'll have to do it again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Missives - Graduation Requirements

We got a phone call from the army boy this Sunday, which was good because He. Wrote.  No.  Letter.  This is an issue that may need to be addressed.  Don't you have to write home to your mother?  Oh well.  We got a phone call, anyway.

He said they have moved up from white phase to blue phase, which means they get about 2 hours of free time every day (that's more than I get!  Mumbling something about having time to write your mother).

They passed their PT tests.  Shoot me now.  5 perfect push ups in a minute, 47 sit ups in 2 minutes, and a 2 mile run in less than 17:30.  Alec did 44 push ups, sit ups in the high 50s, and got 13:11 in his run - except that he walked the last quarter mile because he got shinsplints.  I might be able to do the quarter mile in less than 17:30.

He asked us to send toilet paper, because what they have there is nasty 1-ply scratchy stuff.

Another graduation requirement was a 16 K march, and they took care of that on Friday.  Other than that, they went on a 4 day, 3 night campout (bet he would have loved to sleep in our tent trailer!), has had lots of combat training, and his voice is hoarse from singing load while marching.

He said he misses home, and wants to eat dinner in a restaurant where he can just sit there and enjoy his food.  He'd like to be there for hours.  I've never known him to eat slowly; he's always been the king of the quick scarf.  But only having 10 minutes to eat makes you want to savor a bit.

Here they are doing a drill where they have to get their whole group up this tower, without ropes.  It's hard to tell on this picture, but each platform of the tower is wider than the one lower, so they are not just climbing up, but out and up.  I guess he's the step stool, but he said they worked together and got it done quickly.  Go, boy, go!

Friday, August 23, 2013


We made a purchase this summer - one of those things that I never really thought about.  And then I looked into it and all of the sudden, it was one of those things I really couldn't live without.  Ok, not quite that drastic.

We like to go camping.  It's nice to be out in the beautiful world God made for us.  There's just something calming and fulfilling about sleeping under the stars that nothing else man-made can touch.  The last few years, we haven't gone.  It's a logistics nightmare to go camping with three toddlers, and that's all I am going to say about that.

But now that they are older, it's time to get back out.  They aren't old enough to really stay put, but nearly.  So we bought this:

Its first excursion was a father-sons campout.  They were all excited to go (even Chris, who couldn't make it in the picture).  And they had a great time.  Except that it rained.  But they stayed dry, which they likely wouldn't have if they had been in a tent.  Actually, two tents.  Because we need to have a whole little city of tents to shelter us all.

But this puppy slept these six guys just fine.  And the next month, when we decided to go on a short road trip to the desert, it fit eight of us just fine.  And maybe it will even fit nine or ten of us.  But perhaps we ought to take a pup tent, just in case.  These boys keep growing on me.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


When I was a child, we got a new lunch box at the beginning of every school year.  We might not get much (or anything) else, but we always had the lunchbox to look forward to.  

I remember going to the store with Mom to pick it out, and looking happily at the available choices.  At first they were metal boxes, with a hinged wire inside to hold the thermos.  Later, we got plastic boxes with a place for the thermos to snap in.  And the boxes always came with a matching thermos.  Always.  I still remember what the seal on the thermos smelled like if we left a big of milk in it too long.  Ew.

I don't remember any of my lunch boxes, but I totally remember my brothers having one of these babies.  And Star Wars.  Yeah.  I'd put fish sticks -the ones I bummed off crazy people who didn't love fish like I did - on top of that glossy lunch box, and it would get even more shiny with grease.  And they had peanut butter bars on fish day, too.  Why other kids would give them away, I'll never know.  They are still Trent's favorite goodie.  Yum.

Every day in elementary school, I got a peanut butter sandwich in a fold-over plastic baggie, and a thermos full of milk.  Maybe not every day, but most days.  It took me a few years after being married before I could stomach a PBJ again.  

I do remember the rare occasion that Mom would send a dollar to school with my older brother for both of our lunches.  Yup, fifty cents.  And I clearly remember the one time she did that, and my class went to lunch before my brother's class.  I was in first-grader tears, sure that I would starve to death.  I slunk to the back of the line, miserable, but Mrs. Terry, the school secretary, smiled warmly at me and assured me that I could still have a lunch and my brother could pay for it when he came.  I was eternally grateful!  And a few times, toward my older elementary years, I even got a blue 5-day lunch punch card.  It was thrilling.

For the last few years, my boys have gotten a hot lunch at school.  I thought they would love it like I did, because people kids who had hot lunch all the time were really cool.  And their families must have been rich.  But no, this year the boys are all clamoring for home lunches.  Home tastes better, I'm told.  Besides, since Michele Obama started tinkering with the school lunch program, none of my growing boys can get enough to eat.  They come home starving and I have to feed them another meal.

So I'm collecting a roundup of lunch ideas.  They need to be simple, inexpensive, fairly quick to prepare, taste good, and be filling.  Oh, and not cute.  We're feeding big boys here (grades 12, 10, 7, and 5).  Sounds like a few PBJs to me!

Lots of good non-sandwich ideas from Keeley McGuire.

No-bake granola bars from Kraft.

Great list from A Spectacled Owl, with links to recipes.

Recipes for tortilla wraps, from Sqidoo.

And of course, lunchbox jokes from Modge Podge Rocks.

I'd like to get to the point where we have a few good things on a regular shelf in the fridge and the kids can make their own sandwich, drop in a few already-prepped fruits and veggies, and off they go.  For now, I'm making breakfasts and lunches every morning in a solid state of grog.  We'll get used to this schedule, and it will get easier.  I think.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Shoes

I just found pictures on the phone and thought I'd share.  David was going to scout camp, and needed some shoes to wear into the lake.  He had some good sandals, but they had no backs and we were afraid they would slip off in the water.  And it was already summer so water shoes were non-existent at the stores.  I think there was a school supply sale, though.

So we made do.  It was fairly easy to measure off a piece of wide black elastic and sew it onto the front strap of the sandal.  It only took a few minutes, did not involve going to the store, and it worked.  And it continues to work.  Gotta love a project like that.  Even if you have bad pictures of it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

End of Summer

Usually about this point in the summer, I'm in Mother-panic mode.  What?  It's the end of the summer?  How did that happen?  We have so many things we wanted to do!  Our bucket list is still full!

This year, I'm feeling a bit more laid-back.  Maybe it's because we took a few more trips that we have been.  Maybe it's because we did take care of some of those bucket list items.  Maybe it's because I was able to be a little bit more spontaneous than I was before.  Or maybe it's because this summer is the first summer I haven't had all my boys here.  One is gone.

I've used up my allotment of childhood summers for my first boy.  There will be no more lazy, hazy days of carefree summers for me and him.  He's all getting growed up.  And that gives me a different perspective on life.  I don't have to rush and stuff it all in.  I can sit back and enjoy.

Actually, two boys were goneski.  Alec is at boot camp, of course, and Chris spent the summer working at a scout camp.  Part of me felt guilty doing family things without having ALL of my children with us.  On the other hand, we did fit into a smaller vehicle, so it turned out just fine.

And that sums up our summer.  We didn't get everything done.  We weren't great at finishing the things we started.  We didn't kill anyone.  We actually had a great time together.  And it all worked out just fine.

It's summer.  They are kids.  We are happy!

It's fine, just fine.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Missives - Boot Camp

One reason I haven't been writing very much this summer is because I've been getting my writing fix in composing letters to my boy.  I thought it might be fun to share some of our messages (he's ok with it - I asked!) on Mondays.

(Alec, middle of July) The weather has been crazy!  It has been 100 degrees plus almost every day that I have been here.  That generally means that by mid-day we are in "heat cat. five" uniforms, which consist of unbuttoning the wrists of our jackets and rolling up our pants to the top of our boots.  (I haven't gotten one blister yet, although my feet are sore every day.)  By dinnertime we have to go take a cold shower and change into P.T.s, (short sleeve shirt and shorts).  But the last few (3) days we have had rain and thunderstorms.  I love the rain, but it makes training miserable in unbearable ways.

(end of July) I'm still adapting to the military lifestyle... We are still in red phase.  Red phase is what they call total control, we can't do anything without a drill sergeant.  Once we phase up to white phase, we get more time at night for personal stuff, which means that you will get letters more frequently.  

(Answering some questions we asked)  Is basic hard?  Yes and no, because it is physically demanding on you every day, and you are sore 24/7.  Yes because of all the mental stress and pressure they put on you.  Drill sergeants are always yelling, you're always running.  No, because it's like summer camp sometimes.

What do I do for fun?  Nothing.  I have no time to myself.  That's the short answer.

What is basic like?  A lot of P.T., yelling and running, and classes that put you to sleep.

What is my schedule like?  Wake up at 0400 or 0500, formation for accountability at 05:45, P.T. from 0600 to 0700, change, breakfast at 0800 to 0900, training until noon, lunch for half an hour, back to training 'till 1700, train, clean, personal time for 30 minutes, then lights out at 2130.

I have to say, I do miss home.  I miss just being able to go for a bike ride or take a nap whenever I want to.

(from my recent letter)  We survived the first day of school.  David went to school a day early, for the 7th graders to find their classes and get lost without fear of getting pounded.  He did get lost a few times, but he's getting it down fairly quickly.  He has men's dance, and thinks he'll be able to do the splits by the end of the term.  

Ben's choir teacher had exclamations about how long his hair is getting.  She doesn't want him to cut it because they are doing an Elvis song for their fall concert, and his hair (dyed dark, of course) would be "just perfect" for an Elvis pompadour.  Ben is typically hesitant to even try out for the solo, not liking to perform in public.  

Chris is happy that he is playing tenor saxophone again this year, instead of having to lug around the heavy bari.  He is in the AP computer science class that normally only seniors take - and he's bored so far.  I think he will really enjoy that one.  

We walked Eddie to school today... and Trent called in a bit late to work so he could come along, too.  Eddie already likes his teacher a lot.  It was a hard decision to figure out where he should go to school, but I think we made the right choice (to have him at our neighborhood elementary).  I'm at peace now and the worried, anxious feelings have vanished.

I am looking forward to spending some focused time with these little ones (Angel and the twins) in home preschool (I have taught preschool at home to all the children).  I think some of their recent trends of temper tantrums and moodiness is due to not having enough mental challenges.  No matter how much we'd like to quit something uninteresting, or how much we think we deserve a break, the fact remains that we are not meant to be sedentary creatures.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits were designed to be stretching and growing.  As soon as we get comfortable in a state of relax, we start to atrophy,  Our muscles weaken, our minds get mushy, our resolve starts to dissolve.  There is nothing wrong with resting - we do require some downtime - but it needs to be short.  Continuing and working and enduring is what we should be about.  Not too fast, but just steady.

Love, Mom