Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dreary Ohio Winters

I know it's been quiet around here again.

We've been busy, like always.

And I downloaded a couple new apps on my phone that take up my free time so I don't get around to actually blogging because it requires too much thinking... or something along those lines. (hey, I'm behing honest here!)

I'm not a total blogging slacker though -- I have begun at least 4 new posts that I will hopfully finish in the next week or two. And I have 3 book reviews to write.

In the mean time let me just complain that I am not liking the Ohio winter. This crazy state cannot make up its mind when it comes to this season. Should it be in single digits and windy? Maybe just get to the freezing zone and snow. Oh wait, let's make it up to above 65 but have thunderclouds overhead... but the next day let's bring snow again.

I'm not a fan.

The lack of sunshine and blue sky is really getting to me. I am hardly outside at all anymore; only to shuffle between the car and home/buildings. Thankfully this week I was able to go jogging outside during a break in the rain. The wind wasn't so great, but tolerable. Overall a wonderful time and I wish I could do it more often.

My Facebook people are probably annoyed with my whining about the weather, but I can't help it. In Washington it is usually grey and overcast with rain but because of all the beautiful green trees and purple mountains things still looked alive and hopeful. In New Mexico it was almost always brown and dead looking with bitter cold, but the sun and blue sky would be around to greet you everyday and those familiar red 'mountains' gave a lovely hue! Japan was just a haze and the culture kept me on my toes that I really only complained about the humidity or the crazy rainy season.

Ohio is dreary in winter. Everything is brown and leafless. The weather is bi-polar and won't make up it's mind! Urgh! Summer isn't great either -- yucky humidity. But I'm sure the spring will be lovely and bright and I know autumn is beautiful. Guess I have to live for those seasons.

In the mean time maybe I should take my mom's advice and get some vitamin D in pill form to perk me up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ryan has a birthday

My husband had a birthday this week!

Happy 32nd Birthday Babe!
Despite Ryan having classes and homework, we had some good family time.

In the morning I told Will that it was Daddy's birthday so he needed to be sure to tell him 'Happy Birthday.' He did it! My little guy walked with me into the kitchen and wished his daddy, "Hoppy bir-day daddy."

Later, when Ryan came home for lunch, Lana met him at the door and said, "Daddy! It's your birf-day today!"

Ryan was happy with the greeting, "Yes it is! Is it your birthday today too?"

She paused for a second and said, "ummm, no. I think it's just your birfday today."

So sweet.

We kept the party simple. I purchased some yummy cupcakes from the Cakery, put some candles on them and we sang Happy Birthday. Both children joined me in the singing. *melt my heart* Then we had to re-light the candles because Will was upset he didn't get to blow them out.
William was loving the frosting!
Ryan opened his cards and gifts. The highlight gift?? I got him a TI-89 Titanium calculator. Can I just point out that I love my science/math/technology guy husband? He has had a TI-89 since like 2001 and it was definitely time for an upgrade. With all the homework he does for his classes I hope this helps.

I did give him the option of taking it back so he could get something else... like a new Magic Bullet since our current one is dying and one of the blades broke months ago. Or use the money to get the new iPhone. He thought about it but decided he preferred the calculator. This should last him nearly a decade (if not longer) and an iPhone will go for maybe 3 years.
Lana picked out a special brownie she wanted to give daddy for his birthday
And I because he was the birthday boy I made him one of his favorite dinners. Slow Cooker Enchiladas.

Like I said, a simple but good birthday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hiding Places

Do you remember the weird places that would become your hangout as a child?

I know that when I was little I claimed the hallway storage closet where I put pillows and books and where my little neighbor friend and I would be together. My brother and I would put blankets up on the bottom bunkbed to create a little fort to play in. Oh, and we'd put milk crates together and play inside of those as well.

My children have created their own space. They knocked down all the stuffed animals that hang in a hammock over Will's bed and decided creating a plush bed in the bathtub with them would be awesome.
 

I told them to give me silly faces and this is what I got...


They would even close the shower curtain and squeal with delight at their clever secrecy.

I love watching how they interact. I love reliving the joys of childhood through them. These are some of the moments that make motherhood such a joy. I recently read that the best gift you can give to your child is a sibling... and I couldn't agree more!

Friday, January 18, 2013

When Baby Was Born Book

I have a slight Pinterest obsession.

It is kind of like hoarding, but without the smell.

Anyway, quite some time ago I saw a pin to an album template to make special books for your kids about the day they were born.

Now I LOVED this idea. And I immediately knew how to make this my own.

You see, I do not do baby books.

When Will was born I was so excited to be one of those mommies that would document every little thing their little one did and be so proud. Well, when the "Baby's First Word" section kept glaring at me blankly I felt I was doing something wrong. I felt judged. I felt like a failure. Then other delays began presenting and it made thost blank spaces blaringly obvious to me that I must be the worst mother in history. Shortly after William was diagnosed with Apraxia I decided I would no longer keep a baby book. Relief lifted from my shoulders.

Needless to say, when Alanna came along (shortly before the diagnosis) I was tentative to do a baby book so the one I had for her really didn't have much filled in.

I felt better about this decision after I read One Call Away by Brenda Warner and she shared her reasons for not keeping baby books after the challenges with her son.

Anyway! That where THIS pin comes in. I could totally do something like that... maybe simpler.

I know I'm not the only one who receives special free or half price 20 page books from Shutterfly or Snapfish. I could totally just create simple books for my children to read to them about when they were born and include pictures from their time in the hospital and first week of life.

In the end I think the books turned out cute. Will and Lana received them on Christmas and I think they will be cherished keepsakes once they get older.
I started out with Mommy and Daddy falling in love and getting married. In both stories we lived in Japan originally.
Then I bring in the surprise that baby makes 3 and include pictures of ultrasounds and of me actually pregnant. With Alanna we also wrote that she already had a big brother and while I was pregnant she came with us to Hawaii on our move back to the states.
I mention going to the hospital and how long we were there. Then of course the important facts about date, time, and their measurements.
When your baby is born there are certain physical features that you take notice of and I was sure to personalize that for each child.
When Will was born my mom came to Japan so I put that in the book and when Lana was born my mom and Will came and visited us in the hospital. Then I also say that we brought them home and have a picture of their first house. Since we will move around many more times in our life (and Will and Lana had different first homes) I felt it was a nostalgic touch.
I put in a little something about what their first few days at home were like.
And I end with our first family photo.

Totally easy! I could see where more little embellishments can be made or leaving pages blank to tape or glue in hospital bracelets or baby's first footprints or other hospital memoriabilia. It just depends what you want. I wanted a simple book to read to my kids about when they were born... and I think I accomplished that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Look

Notice anything different?!
 
How about my totally awesome new blog design!
 
Jessica at Diamond Doll Design did some great work and I have a blog makeover.
 
Ta da!
 
Jessica was an absolute ease to work with. She took what little tweaks I had and gave me something I can enjoy. I'm such a fan of the colors.
 
I was lucky enough to win one of her Black Friday deals so my price was discounted, but even without that she is affordable.
 
You might just want to check her out if you're in the market. I've seen other blog designs she has done and found her style to suit me pretty well. You can find samples of her work on her page.
 
So go check it out!
 
BUT while you're here... grab my new button off to the right!
 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Baby M Gender Reveal Party

About a week ago I hosted a Gender Reveal Party for my friends Mark and Maggie. My friend Cindy helped me with everything. Mark was one of those dads who was REALLY excited about the party since he "wasn't allowed" to attend the baby showers for their two other kids. Maggie was really looking forward to celebrating the fun and finding out if they were having a girl or a boy.
the cute invitations Cindy made
As soon as Cindy and I were together with THE envelope we couldn't wait to open it. For an entire week we had to keep our lips sealed as to what Baby M was going to be.

Overall the party was a success. It was held at the home church of our friends and there was a LOT of food provided since it was mostly pot luck. And because it was not a party just for women it turned out to be a fun social time with families. We even hired our regular babysitter to oversee the children playing in the play room so we could all socialize in the other room with some peace of mind.

Here's a quick overview of our sign in table... I'm going to apologize, most of these photos were not taken at good times so actually certain decor looked better before these photos:
our welcome table, you can see the food spread behind it to the left
We first had a sweet book for all the guests to sign
This was the main part: each guest would tally their vote on the sheet, put their name on the paper to place in the jar. Then every person wore a sticker stating "It's a Boy" or "It's a Girl" to show their vote. It was actually a lot of fun! We included photos of ultrasounds so people could see who they were voting on.
Mark and Maggie called themselves the M4 family since all their names began with M. Now with the new additon Cindy made them this cute M5 to put up in their house. Above that are frames with the story of how Baby M was the surprise after daddy's surgery and also the gender results from Old Wives Tale Tests to help make an 'educated' decision on voting.
It was an overwhelming amount of votes for a boy over a girl.
It's not a party without a couple games. We played the "Right Left" game where 2 gifts were passed in a circle as a story is being read. Anytime "right" is said it moves to the right and anytime "left" is said it moves to the left. We also played "Smell the Poop" where 10 candy bars were melted in diapers and guests had to smell/look/prod the chocolate to figure out what candy it was. The guys at first were appalled with such a game but in the end I think they were the most into it.
You can see one of the diaper cakes we made here. Also, each table had a small photo frame with silly stories mostly about the older siblings and what they've said about the baby.
Now for the actual reveal we had given Mark and Maggie a couple options on how to do it. We could have them cut the cake and it would either be blue or pink. We could have them open a box full of balloons revealing the color. But they chose the third option -- everyone receives a cupcake and at the same time bite into them and reveal either blue or pink cream filling inside.

We didn't have the cupcakes out on pretty display because we didn't want people or children getting into them and spoiling the surprise. So when it was time, we brought out the box and allowed guests to grab their own.
Right before the reveal, Mark and Maggie were to skype or face time and be on the phone with certain family members. It sort of worked out, but I wish we had tried to get it all lined up earlier so that part of the celebration didn't lag as much.

Then it was finally time to find out --

What will Baby M be? A GIRL! Whoot!

Then there was a drawing for who would win another prize out of who guessed the baby was a girl.

Of course Maggie then opened her gifts. Since Cindy and I were the only ones who knew the gender we had girl gifts. I actually had time to whip up a fairly simple baby quilt!
taken at the beginning of the party so there were actually more gifts than this
The quilt -- doesn't show all the detail of the fabric pattern, but it was cute!
Yes, a successful party! I'm so glad it all turned out well and that Mark and Maggie were happy as well. Now we only have a few weeks until baby makes her appearance!
Me, Maggie, and Cindy
It's a bad pic of me, remeber my butchered bangs? And this was the end when we were nearly done cleaning up so my hair styling was completely gone.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Disbanded

I have been wanting to write a post about this news but it's taken me a little bit of time to fully wrap my brain around it all.

Back in December, I saw an update on the PWOC website about moving all PWOC operations to the local installation levels, including training and retreats. I was a little confused about what this post was saying so I just left it and continued on with Christmas.

At our meeting this week our president was attending our group so I blatantly asked her what was going on with PWOC. She was surprised I knew, because they were receiving e-mails from regional leadership regularly and the final word came down just this past week and she shared it with us.

According to the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, PWOC International/Regional and all other chapel auxiliaries have been ordered to disband by the end of February.

This is the directive issued on December 12
 “Chapel Auxiliaries, such as Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC), Military Council of Catholic Women (MCCW), Protestant Men of the Chapel (PMOC), and Protestant Youth of the Chapel (PYOC), serve as local groups that assist and support the chapel program under the authority of the senior Installation Management Command Chaplain assigned to the Installation or Garrison. The Department of the Army Chief of Chaplains provides oversight, the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Command Chaplain provides management and the senior IMCOM Garrison Chaplain supervises their ministry. All funding, to include designated offerings, will be collected and distributed at the Garrison level. Any level of chapel auxiliary organization, other than so designated, is unauthorized.”

The blog post from the PWOC site can be seen here.

Using plain speak, the large organization of PWOC International and PWOC Regional will no longer exist. There will be no more large conferences (like I one I just attended in November), there will be no more big leadership training, resources will not be as accessible, and there will be no funds available other than what is provided by the local base chapel. Specifics are still being worked out but it appears that there will not be the general rules and guidelines that dictate the policies and procedures on how individual PWOC chapters are supposed to operate. But it's possible somebody is working on that part.

This news seemed to hit our small group of women like a ton of bricks. Tears were shed. What will happen to this ministry? What if a local PWOC group does not have the support of their base chaplain? Don't they understand what a great support and influence PWOC and the other chapel auxiliaries have over the military family, the local community, and the base quality of life?

The general feeling was that because of funding and overall budget cuts by the military, somebody higher up was looking for where to save money and decided chapel auxiliaries were a good thing to go. They probably didn't even fully understand what they were! PWOC is under the Army, though it crosses to all branches of the military.

We asked if there was anything to be done. Could we petition? Should we try writing letters? How awesome would it be if we all marched on Washington to bring our cries?!

But overall I think we all felt a silent resignation that this is out of our hands. God ultimately can make things happen and if he so desires PWOC will return. The framework is already there. We will submit to our leadership and pray for a change.

Looking on the bright side we discussed the fact that individual installations could still reach out to other local installations for support and camaraderie. What's to keep us from getting together for our own little conference or retreat?

When I attended the PWOC International Conference in November, I heard rumors that this would be the last big international conference. But this information was not what I was expecting.

I am deeply saddened by the news. PWOC has been a very important piece of my life and I personally know the influence it can have on women. Perhaps another time I will share what it has done for me.

Please pray for the military women and families who are impacted and pray for the chaplains who we now look to even more.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review - Love Works by Joel Manby


How I wish more business were run by people with these principles! This book is definitely needed in today's work force and I'm so glad somebody has written it! When it comes to business, love actually does work.
Love Works is a simply written book, peppered with relevant personal stories on how taking a more "loving" approach in leadership can bring about a more successful work place. Manby's stance is that by leading with patience, truthfulness, forgiveness, and the like you help build up your people. This, in turn, makes them feel part of a team and a desire to improve together which in the end boots profits. And he should know, Manby is a successful president and CEO with a pretty impressive resume.
Manby's tips are practical and can be implemented by anyone in any place of work, regardless of position. A wonderful book which would make a great gift and highly recommended for anybody in a position of leadership.
 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A First Snowman

A couple days after my children's first real experience with snow we had fun as a family outside.

We chased each other, threw snowballs, and made a little snowman. Will and Lana thought THAT was the most fun!
Getting ready for our little snowball fight
Will thought seeing mommy and daddy running and throwing snowballs at each other was hilarious
Lana's reaction when she would get hit with a snowball
Will liked knocking the snow off the fence
William and I throwing snowballs at each other
Comforting his little sister after yet another snowball episode
Working on our little snowman
It's a snowman!
love this
It was a fun time, making memories as a family
Alanna wanted to keep adding to our snowman
Trying for a smily shot while daddy throws a snowball at mommy.

It was a fun time together. The little neighbor kids watched us through their window and it was uplifting to see them laughing and smiling at us and my kids. What a blast!

Oh, and Nana saw my post before about our improvising snow clothes so she sent new snow pants and coats! No complaints here! Thank you, Nana! Can't wait for another good snow day so we can put them to good use!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't mean to keep you hanging

I'm having some issues with Blogger lately so my posting isn't as regular as it was the last few weeks. Argh.

Oh, and some of the blogs I follow have not been showing up in my feed.

This makes me want to switch to Wordpress or something. I know I keep saying that and I STILL have done nothing about it. Oh well.

Hopefully in the next couple days the bugs can be worked out and I'll have my pre-thought-out posts.

What's been happening? Well, we all played in the snow, I hosted a gender reveal party for some friends, Ryan started his classes back up, the Seahawks won again, and I tried to trim my bangs and ended up butchering them in some strange lopsided mess (it's okay, they'll grow back out in a couple weeks).
Preview of coming post: we all play in the snow and the kids help build their first snoman
Our schedule is beginning to pick up speed again. My goal this week is to find out the childwatch hours for the 2 other YMCA's my membership is good for to see if my crazy schdule will coordinate better with one of them. Talking with some friends, they are trying to motivate me to enter the Air Force Half Marathon with them. Ack! I haven't even ran a 5K before! No guarantee the Half Marathon will happen for me, but I would like to get my fitness routine back on track.

Wish me luck!


Friday, January 4, 2013

MilSpouse January First Friday Fill-In

If you'd like to join the fun, check out Wife of a Sailor to link up!
 1. What’s one thing in the past month you would have changed?
There were more traditional Christmas things I wanted to participate in but because of the weather and bad planning they didn't happen. Also, when we went to the Christmas Town at the Creation Museum I would have brought warmer clothing so we weren't freezing outside. Oh and another thing... when I was at Target before the snow storm I would have bought that nice snow shovel I was looking at.

2. What was your favorite thing that happened in December? Besides Christmas?! Probably skyping with all my family members and then seeing my kids experience the joy of real snow for the first time.

3. What are you looking forward to in January?
I'm hosting a gender reveal party for some friends this weekend that will be a blast. Ryan has a birthday. And my goal is to find a steady routine to keep myself happy and healthy with the kids.

4. What did you do for New Year’s Eve?
I was lame. I was puttering around on the computer and watching some tv but for some reason I wasn't feeling very well (I think I ate something that didn't agree with me and my tummy hurt). I tried to make it to midnight but ended up crashing until morning sometime after 11 pm.

5. What are your hopes and wishes for 2013?So much can happen in a year! I hope to have a happy year. I hope Ryan does well with his first full year at AFIT. I hope my brother returns safely from Afghanistan. I hope we have a fun and safe vacation home in Washington during the summer. I hope William continues to make amazing progress with his speech and in school. I hope we find a special activity just for Alanna that she will love. I hope that I have Ryan completley on board and are able to start trying for another baby later in the year. I hope that when we learn of our next assignment that it is greeted with joy and excitement.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Let's Make A Movie

I was chatting with my brother and he commented that he wanted to see some updated videos of my kids. So the other night we were having fun playing Ring Around the Rosey and while William and Alanna were in high spirits I shot some videos of them.

video

video

video

William skips most of the song and goes straight for the good part.
"Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!" 


Happy New Year Uncle Mike! Your time in Afghanistan will eventually end and we look forward to seeing you when you get back.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year - 101 in 1001 Update

Happy New Year! Welcome 2013!

With the arrival of a new year I thought this was a good time to do a check in on my 101 in 1001. Turns out I only have about 5 months left to complete everything on my list! How is this happening so fast?!

I guess I have a lot of things to take on... wish me luck!

==============

Items that have been finished are crossed out and have a completion date

Some items that are "in process" will be in italics.

Check out any links to see what happened!

***NOTE: due to a PCS and travel arrangements I had to make adjustments to places that I no longer have access to. The genuine spirit of the goal is still there, but altered to a new location. Changes are designated with asterisks.***

101 in 1001


Start Date: 1 September 2010
End Date: 29 May 2013


1. Actually finish a workout plan (P90X, Couch to 5k, Insanity, etc.)
2. Attempt snowboarding
3. Attend Baseball game with Fireworks*
4. Be a vegetarian for 2 weeks straight
5. Bungee Jump
6. Buy a car 10/31/10
7. Buy boots 11/28/12
8. Change the design of our holiday mail-out December 2010
9. Go to the Creation Museum* 12/22/12
10. Complete and order my Japan photo album
11. Completely grow out my bangs
12. Crochet a blanket
13. Decide on a Master's Degree
14. Decorate our bedroom
15. Do a cross stitch project
16. Donate $1 to charity for every goal not completed on this list
17. Donate blood at least 3 times (0/3)
18. Dye my hair blonde (I can always dye it back)
19. Eat lunch at a tavern/bar*
20. Eat breakfast every day for a month
21. Enroll both kids in swim lessons 7/9/12
22. Find a school to get my Masters Degree at
23. Finish the big quilt started 7 years ago
24. Finish the kids' room
25. Get a Brazilian wax
26. Get a facial
27. Get a Family Name wood sign for outside
28. Get a massage 5/4/12
29. Get a pair of moccassins
30. Get Alanna a passport
31. Get CPR certified
32. Get family photos taken at least once a year (3/3)
33. Go Camping*
34. Go clamdigging
35. Go kayaking/canoeing
36. Go on a bike ride
37. Go on a picnic 9/14/12 (there were a lot, but I'll just document one)
38. Go to a driving range
39. Go to a New Mexico corn maze 10/23/10
40. Go to a waterpark
41. Go to another country 9/14/12
42. Go to Carlsbad Caverns 3/31/12
43. Go to Pennsylvania* 9/15/12
44. Go to a casino
45. Go to Santa Fe 11/26/10
46. Go to Kentucky*
47. Go to the Petrogylphs 7/30/11
48. Grow something from a seed 3/17/11
49. Hand embroider pillows for my kids
50. Hang out with somebody we knew in Japan
51. Have 30 followers on my blog (30/30) 1/28/11
52. Have a game night at our house
53. Have a makeup makeover
54. Keep up with all the homework for a Bible Study 5/11/11
55. Make a special craft tradition for major holidays with the kids (Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas)
56. Make enchiladas from scratch
57. Make jam from scratch
58. Make monster cookies
59. Make Pizza from scratch
60. Meet one of my fellow bloggers 12/21/10
61. Pay for a stranger's coffee
62. Pay off Student Loans
63. Pick out pumpkins from a pumpkin patch 10/23/10
64. Read 10 books (10/10) 7/5/11
65. Read the entire Bible again (33/66)
66. Ride a horse again 9/12/10
67. Ride a train 7/9/11
68. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
69. Ride on a motorcycle
70. Ride the Sandia Tramway 3/18/11
71. See "Wicked" 2/9/11
72. See an Major League Soccer game
73. See family in Colorado 9/2-4/11
74. See the After-Glow Fireworks at the Balloon Fiesta 10/8/10
75. See the Mass Ascension at the Balloon Fiesta 10/10/10
76. See the Appalachian Mountains*
77. Send 5 "thinking of you" cards to friends or family (5/5)
78. Sew a cute dress for myself to wear
79. Sew pajama pants for all my siblings (1/3)
80. Sing a solo 12/15/10
81. Skydive
82. Take a cooking class
83. Take the kids to the beach
84. Tile something, like a backsplash or countertop
85. Tour a professional baseball field*
86. Transfer/organize all photos/video to designated place*
87. Try 10 different restaurants we've never gone to (9/10)
88. Try 3 seasonal latte flavors from Starbucks (2/3)
89. Try cooking/baking a new recipe every month (28/33)
90. Try green chili
91. Try lobster
92. Try red chili
93. Visit New York City*
94. Visit Washington, D.C.*
95. Visit sister in California 5/28/11
96. Visit the Four Corners 11/2/10
97. Visit the the Wright Brothers Sites*
98. Watch 26 movies I've never seen beginning with each letter of the alphabet (25/26)
99. Work on a play
100. Write a letter to our sponsor child 4 times a year (11/12)
101. Write a real letter to 5 friends instead of e-mails/facebook (2/5)