Monday, July 28, 2008

Surf and Turf

I don't ever blog about food. Partly because I really don't like making it when I HAVE TO, which is most of the time. But I couldn't pass on this chance to show you my kid's choice of food! Yesterday I asked Preston and Taylor what they wanted for dinner. It took seconds for them to make their request. As a side note, the corn and melon were not part of their request.

Now this is a meal I don't mind making or eating and one that I would have NEVER requested when I was 6 yrs old.
Between the type of foods and how much the boys in this house eat, I am dreading the day when the grocery bill will be our biggest expense. For those of you who have seen how much Steve and Preston eat and how big Mason, aka TANK, is, you know this fear will soon be a reality. So until then, I need to enjoy making surf and turf before it becomes beans and wieners!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Unpack, Nah!

After 1 1/2 months of playing cowboy and enjoying being an only child, Preston is back! He flew in last night, a day after Mason, Taylor and I flew back from California. He asked me a few days ago if I still looked the same. Well, I may still look the same but he doesn't. He's taller and bigger. There must be something about that Nebraska corn???

He was all decked out in his jeans, cowboy boots, hat and belt buckle when he came off the plane. A lady came up to me and said "Is he really only 7?" I said "yes" She said to me "He's quite the entertainer." I wasn't too sure what that meant and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to know. Should I say "thank you?" or "sorry?" But before I could even get a word out of my mouth she had walked away.

Since he's been home, he has been quite the pleaser. I feel like I nag my kids about showing respect to others and having good manners. Besides please, thank you and your welcome, we have tried to teach them to say "Yes ma'am" and "Yes sir" when talking to adults. And although a lot of the times I feel as if I am talking to a wall, except the walls I talk to have the capability to not only talk back but to roll its eyes, Preston has given me great hope the last 24 hrs.

He said to me at the airport, "Mom, I am using all the manners you taught me." After Taylor ignored what I asked her to do (realizing the attention wasn't on her) he proceeded to tell her "You need to please do what mom asked." Then while pushing Mason's stroller, a man was about to walk in front of him. Preston stopped and said "Go ahead sir." He must have said "Yes Ma'am" about 20 times before we even got home. He almost drove me crazy by being too perfect. I never thought I'd say that and I know it will haunt me shortly. But almost everything he's said since last night has included a respectful word of some kind. Being realistic, I know this perfect behavior won't last forever, but he has given me hope. My kids really do hear a nagging "broken record."

I have neglected the luggage that is spread out all over our rooms. And somehow my kids think that coming home from vacation is like having a green light to get into everything and then not have to put anything away. Instead of trying to take on the daunting task of cleaning, unpacking, disciplining and going crazy today, we left for the day and went swimming instead. When I told the kids that tomorrow we are going to stay home and get things unpacked and cleaned, Taylor said "Oh mom, tomorrow is Saturday and we are supposed to play from morning until night." The reality is, if it were any other day, her response would be the same. And if I hadn't just gotten back from 3 weeks of nonstop playing and could stand the mess for one more day, I could justify playing from morning until night one more day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life in the fast lane

We've been living the FAST pace life in LA the past 3 weeks. 1 mom, 2 kids, 2 grandparents and on the go everyday (by choice). It's been a blast, I am really sad it's coming to an end. And, as it always seems to be with me, there was never a dull moment..... you'll shortly see what I mean! I hope everyone is having a great summer and I promise I'll catch up on your blogs soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy 6th Birthday Taylor

Taylor is our Boston baby! I was so scared that I would go into labor during rush hour, while Steve was in school and that I would have to give birth in a taxi or in a friend's car. It would have made for a great story, but fortunately she came on a Saturday afternoon. And although the circumstances of her birth were uneventful, her life has been anything but.

I remember bringing her home and Steve always holding her. I would tell him that he was spoiling her and to put her down. Well, she was spoiled alright. She's always had him wrapped around her little finger. He would carry her like a football, this little tiny baby girl with her head in his hand and her body in his big forearm. I miss those days. She was such a great baby and toddler. One day Steve said to me "I hope the rest of our kids are girls." I had to laugh and said "It's pay me now or pay me later." I think he is beginning to realize what I meant.

When Steve talked to my dad about marrying me my dad told him "She'll definitely bring a lot of color to your life." I'd like to convince myself that was a good thing??? There is no doubt that Steve will be able to tell Taylor's future husband the same thing!

She is full of life, energy and spunk. She loves to cuddle, give kisses and lots of hugs. She is very giving. She loves to color and craft and I am usually the lucky recipient of these daily masterpieces. She likes to mother and help little children, especially Mason. She speaks in a high pitched voice and can usually get them to do what she wants. (I'm still wondering why I can't get her to do what I want with the same tone of voice) She is stubborn and definitely has an opinion of her own. And although that's what she most often gets in trouble for, I hope those qualities will someday help her in be a positive way. If I would let her, she's spend the day watching real life doctor shows on TLC or Discovery Channel. For the past 2 years she has said that she wants to be a baby Dr when she grows up. She has a big sweet tooth... cotton candy, slurpee's and popsicles are great bribery's for her. She is strong and tough. She can hold her own when she wants to. She is loud and wants to be heard. She is helpful and loves to be included. She loves her family more than anything else and talks about them almost daily. She is sweet and loving, smart and beautiful. She is our Taylor-Girl and we love her very much! Happy Birthday!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Preston's far!

In February, Steve's parents asked if Preston could come out for the summer. How could we say no to such a great offer! Preston has been on the farm in Nebraska since the beginning of June. He is having the best time. He is a true cowboy at heart. Give that kid a pair of jeans, a hat, cowboy boots and a horse named Goddess and he's in heaven. He is his Father's son!

Goddess is a great horse for kids. Papa has been helping Preston get ready for a 4-H competition in a few weeks. His Great-Grandma, Mammy, lives right down the dirt road from Steve's parents. Preston, by himself, will get Goddess and ride down there!! For a city girl Mom,that's scary. For a farm boy Dad, that's pride!

Since he's been there, he's been busy. If you know Preston, you know that he is very active and likes to be doing something. He's played baseball, once a week piano lessons, swim lessons, he's learned how to play lots of board games and card games, gave a talk in Primary at church, he's gone to the race tracks to watch Papa and Grandma's horse run, visited with family, played with the kittens, rode a horse in a parade and has done lots of chores on the farm. I'm sure there is more but Preston isn't always one to give details!

Preston in the garden with Taffy

Preston, Papa and Grandma spent the 4th of July in Lincoln with Steve's sister Kim and her husband Pat. They got fireworks for him to set off. One word - BRAVE!

Playing games on the 4th

Preston spent the weekend with Aunt Kim and Uncle Pat. Kim shared a funny story about Pat. I hope she doesn't mind me posting it.
Several times over the last 48 hours, Pat would be in another area of our house and ask, "Was that thunder?" or "Was that fireworks" or "what was that???"....the answer was always, "Don't worry. That was just Preston!"
Pat, imagine the 3 kids together, it's like being in the middle of a stampede!

On Saturday they took him to the Henry Dooly Zoo in Omaha. Uncle Pat even got on the carosel with Preston.

Preston got to see a hippo with her 3 month old pup

He's had such a great summer, he'll be sad when it's over. But he'll have the greatest memories of his summer in Nebraska with his Papa, Grandma, Mammy, Aunt Kim and Uncle Pat

And of course the horses too!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Life at Ar Rustamiyah

I’ve been at Rustamiyah for about 4 weeks now. It’s a small Forward Operating Base (FOB) in SE Baghdad. There are about 5000 Army troops here and a small NATO contingent of ~150. We have a small group of 14 USAF & Defense Language Institute personnel. We live w/ the NATO folks on a separate part of the base. We live in what is referred to as the “Chateau,” a nice building that completely makes the pods of Taji seems horrible. Among the NATO countries are England, Slovania, Hungary, Italy, Poland & Nepal. We have our own dining facility (DFAC) which doesn’t nearly have the variety of the US Army DFAC, but it’s OK. NATO has 2 missions here: run the Joint Staff College for senior Iraqi officer training & Iraqi Army cadet training – the equivalent of our West Point. Our AF cadets have gone through 4 months of training with the Army and then are turned over in part to us for their “academic”/AF training. The Iraqi army still runs their PT & dorms. The cadets are very respectful and intelligent. All 150 new cadets were tested for English proficiency upon entering and 52 are now being given intensive English training (all day – everyday) for 6 months in hopes of getting them proficient enough to go to pilot training in 2009. The average age is ~22 and 3 of my 12 English students are engaged to get married after their one year of training here. Most have had 1 or 2 years of college. Every day they are up at 5AM cleaning dorms, doing PT and being inspected. They receive very little water all day and that which they do receive can’t be potable. Today was the hottest day yet – 120. Very dry and when there is a breeze you feel like you’re in a convection oven. August is by far the hottest month! 94 days to go as of today – I’m at a nice time now since we’re busy and the days are clicking by. I’ll have many pictures to post, but here are three…

This is a pic of our 52 English cadets marching back after classes are over – about a 1km march. They march & salute British style from the influence of the British in the early 1900’s.
We have a post exchange (PX) - to buy stuff you need on the US Army side – I like the sign (pictured are Maj Chris Filipitz, Maj Darin Williams, Frank Durbin & myself). Trust me. No - I'm NOT fat and their not maternity fatigues!!!!
This is the rear view of an Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle now used by the US Army as a replacement for the Humvee. I hear we’re selling our old Humvees to the Iraqi’s at $11K each. Lot more to follow...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th Of July

God Bless America

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her Thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam God bless America, My home sweet home."

My mom made our family the Service flag that is hanging in the window. I put it up the day Steve left for Iraq and can't wait for the day to come when I will take it down.

The Service flag was first displayed in the front windows of homes during World War I to signify a son or husband serving in the Armed Forces. The flag quickly became known as the "son in service flag" with each blue star indicating one family member. During World War II, the Department of War issued specifications on the manufacture of the flag as well as guidelines indicating when and by whom the Service flag could be flown.

The blue star represents one family member serving in the Armed Forces. The blue star is covered or replaced with a gold star to indicate that the family member was killed or died during the war or period of hostilities. The blue star represents hope and pride, and the gold star represents sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom.

Each blue star indicates one family member serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. If multiple stars are shown, a gold star takes the place of honor nearest the staff.

The Service flag may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of persons who are members of the immediate family of Service members serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States may be engaged, for the duration of such period of war or hostilities.

Thank you to all the service men and women and to their families for their willingness to serve our great nation.
Thank you Steve, we love you!
God Bless America

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My 10 on Tuesday is going to have to wait until next week. The blog has been a great way for Steve to keep updated with what has been going on here at home. Although we talk everyday, it's not as easy to send pictures/videos because his internet is so slow.

Last year we got Taylor a new bike for her 5th birthday. We tried many times to get her to take the training wheels off. There was no giving in on her end. The harder we pushed, the more she'd push back. We stopped asking and she certainly didn't mind keeping her training wheels on.

After Steve left in March, I told Taylor that it would be really cool if she could learn to ride her bike without training wheels before Dad got home. I was trying anything I could to motivate her, she wasn't thrilled at all. Anyways, yesterday we were out in the front yard playing. I said to Taylor "Lets put Mason to bed and then come back outside and take your training wheels off." She agreed! After a few tries, she did it! We were both SO excited! We celebrated with a soda and treat! This morning I took her to the school around the corner so she could ride without having to worry about cars and I could video tape her without having to worry about Mason. I told her that we'd tape her riding and post it on the blog so Daddy can see it. So here she is, 2 weeks before her 6th birthday.

This next video is of Mason. He loves his little scooter. I know the helmet doesn't fit him the right way, he grabbed Preston's instead of his. Although it isn't too big for his BIG head! He is one tough kid that will do anything to keep up with his older brother and sister. I sometimes forget he's not even 2 1/2 yet!