Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aviation Trail Part 1

Shortly after arriving in Dayton, Ohio I started dragging the kids to the Wright Brothers Sites in our area. Oh, and there's a lot of them. Imagine that! So we began our tour of the Aviation Trail.

We picked up some "Passports" so we could get a Wilbear Wright aviation teddy bear... I mean, we were going to see the historical sites anyway, we might as well earn something out of it.
Before winter we had received almost enough stamps for the prize but then it became too cold and the 2 stamps left I wanted to get meant being outside. Now that the weather has warmed up I decided it was time to finish them off.

Where did we go?

A cemetery, for one.

You may think that's strange, and I admit it kind of is. But I find cemeteries to be interesting places. Almost anywhere you go in the world you can see how different countries and cultures treat their dead and how environments influence that. And the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is not your normal cemetery. I found it beautiful.

Let me start from our beginning. First you have to know that this place is still an active cemetery, over 200 acres, and though surrounded by the city you feel very secluded with all the trees and strong nature presence. We parked at the main center to check in and get our stamps. I was very serious with Will and Alanna before we even got out of the car that this was a "quiet place" and we have to be quiet. We had to be well-behaved - no running, no yelling, and they had to stay with me. There was no walking or climbing on the "rocks" (headstones) and we have to be careful walking on the pathways and in the grass. I was sure to remind them throughout our visit, and they both did amazing!

When we got into the visitor's center I was greeted by two very friendly people. They were quite smiley and welcoming and they were telling me how much they enjoyed visitors. William told them about the light bulb burned out and Alanna was being coy and cute. They asked me what graves we were looking for, gave us a map (with directions), and provided some helpful and insightful information. The Woodland Cemetery is a tourist attraction and I was very pleased with the personal interaction we received.

Back into the van we went to drive to the Wright Brothers' family plot. But as we started our drive I spotted Johnny Morehouse's headstone. He was a 5-year-old boy who died in 1860. He was playing near the river one day and fell in. The dog jumped in to rescue him and pulled him ashore, but it was too late, Johnny had drowned. Legend says that after Johnny was buried, the dog was found staying at his grave. Local people would bring the dog food and water and (according to rumor) the dog eventually died there and was buried with Johnny. Later this beautifully carved headstone was placed and people often decorate it and leave toys.
We weaved our way around and found the graves we were looking for: Orville and Wilbur Wright. It is a very large memorial for them. Wilbur died in 1912 from typhoid at age 45 and Orville lived on until 1948 when he died at age 76 after his second heart attack.
Just up a couple rows and to the left is the grave of Paul Laurence Dunbar, famous African-American poet & author, and friend of the Wright Brothers. He died at age 33 from tuberculosis. His mother is buried next to him.
The writing on his headstone is from his poem A Death Song and it reads:
Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
Whah de branch'll go a singin' as it pass;
an'w'en I's a-layin' low,
I kin hyeah it as it go,
singin', "Sleep, my honey tek' yo 'res' at las'."

Since I had done a little bit of research before trekking out there I knew of a couple other graves I wanted to find so the kids and I took a stroll... I tried really hard to not get lost in that massive land of headstones.

Oh, something else... if you're a regular reader, you know Ryan and I are pretty big Doctor Who fans. Thanks to that show I am now a bit paranoid about stone angels. Every time I saw one I swear my heart would skip a beat and I found myself looking over my shoulder involuntarily.
While wandering about we came across the grave of a Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Charles Goodwin Bickham. He fought in the Philippine-American War. I wasn't even aware of such a war until I read up on this guy.
The other monument I was looking for was the Stanley Family plot. Levi and Matilda Stanley were King and Queen of the U.S. Gypsies. You can read about them HERE.
you can barely make out the carving on their monument
Like most cemeteries, there was a section for veterans. I'm sure there were more areas, but the main one I found was for Civil War Veterans.
As I mentioned, Woodland is a rural cemetery in the midst of the city. It is near Dayton University. The entire time I was there with Will and Lana we saw people out exercising and exploring. The cemetery also hosts run/walks and offers walking and Segway tours. Many of the tours are about the famous and interesting people and monuments found there. Thing is, the land is kind of hilly and steep so I'm sure you'd be getting a good workout. In the future I'd like to take a couple of the tours, but probably without the kids.
There was more to admire at the cemetery before we headed out to our second location for our Aviation Trail stamps. We drove to the top of the hill to check out the Lookout. From there you can see the skyline of Dayton. And with such a clear day it looked quite nice.
After that, we headed down near the bottom of the cemetery and viewed the duck pond. There were Canadian geese nesting so we didn't actually get out, but we did see a turtle and some ducks.

We had a nice, peaceful trip to the cemetery... it was kind of weird explaining that I took my kids to a graveyard but it was a very interesting place and I actually want to go back.

I'll share about where we went later that day in my next post.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Boston Solidarity Run

I haven't posted about the horrible bombings in Boston yet. I wasn't sure what I should say, most people have already said it.

My emotions can be simply summed up in one word: sad.

Everything that happened makes me sad. For the families that lost loved ones. The lives that are forever changed. The bodies now missing pieces of themselves. The wounded. The terror that gripped the people in that city. It's just awful, and makes me sad.

With news of the death and capture of the suspects, I think a collective sigh of relief could be heard across the country. What will happen next? I'm not completely sure. I feel sorry for the family of these young men though. Even if I think their denial is wrong, they have lost somebody they deeply love.

I've never been to Boston. And as you recently discovered, I'm still fairly new to the running community.

A friend posted on Facebook that the local running store was hosting a solidarity run for Boston. It was going to be held at a local high school track. This free event was open to the public and for $20 you could buy a shirt and all proceeds would go to The One Fund Boston to help those affected by what happened. I wanted to go, but not alone... so I asked my friend if she wanted to go. She also required childcare so if I lined it up we would go together.

Thankfully another friend stepped in to watch our 4 kids so Christy and I headed out to the school where we would be meeting up with some other ladies we knew.
 Surprise! There was a massive turn out. Around 2,000 people showed up to run/jog/walk around a high school track.
this is somewhere in the middle of the pack... even more behind us
By the time we got there all the shirts were gone (but we still placed an order to get them later).
this is what the shirts look like
Eventually we all got moving for our 2.62 mile run. Why 2.62 miles? Because it is one tenth of what the marathon is. So basically we were going 11 laps around the track (that's not very specific, but I was with people who were tracking our distance so we did the full 2.62!)

This was my first experience of running with a lot of people. It was weird. Unfortunately not everybody came to this with a spirit of solidarity. They were treating it like a real race going for their best time. Other people were not following track etiquette and walking in the fast lane. There were also strollers, double strollers, wheel chairs, and small children darting in, out, and between people. Additionally, there were freaking 2,000 people on a track! It was very crowded, VERY hot, and we were literally ran into by some rude people. At one point I was jogging (in a center lane) and somebody wanted to pass me and I was going to move over but there was a stroller in the way so the dude pushed me a bit and he shuttled by me.

Anyway, I did it. It was hot and crowded and I didn't actually RUN the whole thing - we walked 1 1/2 laps out of the 11 laps.

In the end I think it was still a good time. I ended up running more with my acquaintance friend Jessica while Christy ran with her other friend Joanna a little bit behind us. It was nice to have somebody to chat with... and that's what made it fun.
me, Jessica, Christy, & Joanna

Friday, April 26, 2013

Visual Schedule

As if you haven't noticed, I've got a couple young children running around my house.

And like most households, we have things that have to be done.

I wanted a way to explain to my kids what we were going to do everyday so they would be somewhat prepared and have the feeling that they knew what was going on. Hopefully their early life wouldn't seem like mom packing them up in the car over and over while they were clueless to where we were going.

After checking things out on Pinterest I figured out something that would work for us - a Visual Schedule. My inspiration came from THIS pin.
this is my visual schedule that we now use
With limited wall space I didn't want some paper or laminated thing. I also wanted something presentable. Oh, and it had to be at a level the kids could see.

Solution: Fridge.

I bought some magnetic sheets for our printer, used Publisher and WORD to create templates and then cut them out.

I tried to cover all our activities: therapies, school, church, visiting friends, bath time, meals, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, exploring, grocery shopping... the list goes on.

These things turned our marvelous! It is easy to change every day. I keep all our magnets in a bag above the schedule so I can quickly go through them and find what we're doing that day. If we have something new or one of them is damaged/lost, I can simply make and print out another one.

I spent a couple days finding a rhythm and order to how to lay out the schedule, but now we have it down. Every day my kids ask me to do the schedule - they like to know what's going on. Everything is quick! If our schedule needs a quick change we can simply remove the magnet or replace it with a new one.

the completely vertical layout didn't flow well for us
columns worked much better
My only drawback on how I made them is that they aren't super sturdy... so when Lana grabs off "Bedtime" and wanders around with it, the poor magnet does not return in the same pretty, clean, smooth condition. Oh well.
Do you keep a visual schedule for your kids? How do you do it and where is it displayed at your house?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another car encounter

Something happened to me last week and I really was not sure how to respond. I mean, what should I have done in that situation? I was completely clueless.

Let me back it up.

At Will's pre-school it is a drop off system. The parents line their cars along the sidewalk and the teachers and aides come outside, remove the child from the vehicle and, taking them by the hand, walk them one-by-one into the school.

It really is a good, efficient system.

And when it is time to pick up the kids the parents again line up in their cars, park, and wait for the line to move as each child is brought out and the parent then buckles them back in the car.

One of the crimps in the system is that the line of parent cars goes through the parking lot, blocking parked cars in. If somebody needs to leave they either sit and wait for the cars to move and provide a break or sometimes a parent in line will move out to let the parked car leave, then get back in line.

Normal business, I've done it myself.

So the kids and I were sitting, PARKED WITH ENGINE OFF, in line. A couple women get in a parked car with the intent to leave. The car in front of me is the one blocking them in, so the driver begins to back up. I look up watching what's going on. I assumed the woman would back up, stop, then pull out of the line to allow the car to leave.

Well... she didn't stop. In fact she backed right into the front of my van.

A look of shock came across my face and since I had my windows down I hear a rather loud "S***!" erupt from inside her car. She then glances back at me and I kind of smile to show I'm not upset. It's an honest mistake and it happens. She didn't hit my vehicle hard - enough to make it move.

Then what happens next it what pissed me off. She pulls out, drives around the loop and parks her car in a different lot. I watch as she walks over to pick up her child (grandson, I think) get back in her car and drive away.

She never stopped to say sorry. She didn't get out and check if anything was damaged. She didn't even wave an apology. Nothing. Just a four letter word and drove off.

I made sure to write down her license plate number just in case when I got out to get Will, if there was damage I would have something.

The only damage was a dent to the license plate frame. No big deal.

I guess the rudeness of the woman is what got to me. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. The longer I am in this city the more I realize how rude the locals are.

But how do you respond to that?!

Oh well.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I think I can finally give myself another description: Runner.

Now, I hate running. I've always hated it. In fact, back in ROTC that is the part of my PFT that I failed every time.

So yeah, I basically suck when it comes to running.

In the fall of last year I started making changes in my lifestyle. Ryan and I joined our local gym and I began working out on the elliptical and some weight lifting. When I wasn't getting results like I wanted I joined Weight Watchers and by November I was down 25 pounds. Whoo!

When the first of the year came around I decided I should buckle down and work on that Couch-to-5K program so many people have been doing. And in this area people are always running/jogging so I felt I should jump in on that.

I had the App loaded on my phone, synced up my workout play list, and started.

After my first couple runs, which were really more like walks, it was getting too cold to be outside so I turned to the treadmill.

I hate the treadmill.

So for the past several months I've been working the program. It has taken me a longer time than usual to complete this 9-week training course. On 2 separate occasions I took hiatuses because of sickness or family visitors. And many times I only did 2 runs a week instead of the scheduled 3... but I have completed EVERY run in order.

With the weather warming up I have returned to the outdoors. It is beautiful!

My first day running out of doors I tracked my best pace and best distance.

It is quite different being outside after all these weeks of training inside. Those first runs outside were rough though... I was really winded and my legs were more tired. Both times I had to walk during my run because I was sucking wind - hard.

Then I met up with one of my friends to jog together. She's been doing this jogging thing for some time longer than I have. She keeps a much slower pace and I LOVED it. I could keep up the whole time, jog without walking, and even do a slight bit of chatting. Who knew?! If I can just keep my pace slower I'm sure I will do great. And one of the best parts? I knew I could have kept going if I needed to. And, should I say it?? I enjoyed it. *gasp*

I jogged (catch that, JOGGED) almost 2.5 miles. If you told me that back in January I would be able to jog 2 miles without stopping I would have thought you were insane. But now I'm looking at signing up for my first 5K -- and after this training program is finished (in about a week) I will start the 5K-10K program.

Note: at this time I have no intentions of going for Half Marathons or beyond. Thank you very much.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alanna turns 3

Today my baby girl is 3 years old. Wow. Time really does not slow down.

Alanna has nearly always been on the go... crawling at 6 months, walking at 8 months, running by 10 months. I see other children who are those ages and I'm surprised by how little they are. Could she really have been that little?

My daughter is her own person. She knows what she wants and how she wants it. I call her my little spit-fire. She is always keeping me on my toes. But that's one of the things that makes her special.

only a couple days old
13 months old
24 months old

a couple weeks before turning 3

To My Big Girl-

You bring so much life into our family. You are silly, smart, imaginative, creative, happy, loving, friendly, strong-willed, opinionated, and full of personality. People who only meet you a short time realize what energy and zest you have bottled up inside you... though apparently when you are in your Puggles class at church I'm told that you are a quiet and obedient child. For several months they weren't even sure you knew how to talk. Oh my!

Even with Daddy busy so much at school you are turning into a Daddy's girl. It is so sweet (and I know it warms your daddy's heart) as you race to the door when he comes home and with arms raised ask for a "big hug, just a big hug." If he sits down, you grab a book or a stuffed animal or a blanket, settle yourself just the way you want on his lap and just nestle in, adoring his attention.

William is both your best friend and your biggest antagonist. But maybe it's you who does all the antagonizing? Either way, you are almost always the first to want to hug and apologize after a tiff regardless if you were the one at fault or not. But he does look out for you. And when he's gone at school, sometimes you are still lost and not sure what to do without him.

Oh dear girl, how much we love you! You are quite the special gift given to us! What a blessing to see you grow and develop and learn. And I'm so proud to call you my own.


Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Zoo for Spring Break

A few weeks ago it was Spring Break for William. Thing is, AFIT's Spring Break did not align with any of the local schools' schedule so my original plans of having a short family trip just were not going to happen.

So Spring Break came and our week was following our normal routine of therapy and gym and running errands. By mid-week I was feeling like a horrible mother who did nothing fun with her kids on vacation. I chatted with my friend and we decided to take all our kids and go to the Columbus Zoo together.
Before Friday rolled around, checking the weather it was supposed to be windy. My friend decided they were going to go to an aquarium instead, but I had already talked my kids all up about the zoo and I could not change the plan without guilt and disappointment. But no worries, I am a military wife and I will just pick up and go if I want to.

Friday morning arrived and I loaded the three of us up (with the double stroller) and we began our hour-long trek to the Columbus Zoo.

And we had a marvelous time! The weather was PERFECT with none of the predicted wind.
I packed a lunch and snacks so with our military discount we really did well with our money. We travelled along and looked at animals. Will and Lana chatted about everything they saw and I explained different things about the exhibits. I enjoy how child-friendly this zoo is -- lots to see and do.
There aren't a massive amount of animals in my opinion. But my mom reminds me that not everybody can grow up going to the amazing San Diego Zoo... which will ruin all other zoos for life.
The three of us wandered around and the kids could climb in or out of the stroller as they wanted.
The only real downer of our trip was the rudeness of people. That gets annoying. What's worse is the pride and bragging that comes along with their obvious rudeness. It really grates on my nerves and since I'm not one for confrontation I just moved on and kept my mouth shut. Not a great example parents are making for their own kids.
Anyway... after we left I asked the kids what their favorite parts were. Lana said it was the snakes. Will said it was the elephants. I told them I liked the flamingos.
I redeemed Spring Break! And I think we had a great time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter 2013

Here's hoping everyone had a wonderful and blessed Easter. I'm just now getting around to posting about ours. But at least I'm doing it!

As usual, we had several activities leading up to Easter Sunday. Will had an Egg hunt at school the Thursday before, but I didn't attend since I was already committed that afternoon to filling eggs for the AFIT Egg hunt. I didn't totally blow things off though because I made my little Easter Egg Bunny craft and Will handed them out to all of his classmates. The teacher sent me a note saying that they loved their bunnies and one child said that was his favorite part of the day.

Friday morning was the AFIT Egg Hunt. I had to be there early as an ASPA Board Member to set up so Ryan met me there with the kiddos. What sucked is that despite sequestration and there supposedly being no classes on Friday, Ryan's department has scheduled a mandatory something every Friday so he couldn't attend the Egg Hunt. Later he told me many of the students were not happy to be there in class... especially when their families were having fun just outside the building without them.

Getting ready to start... by the way, it was VERY cold still.

showing off their eggs
when all was finished and we got our snacks we sat down to eat and visit with friends.

Once we left I called my sister and told her about the hunt. I had texted her the picture of the kids with the eggs and then told her how after the hunt my kids joined some of their friends by the building and were throwing the piles of leaves in the air. Then they were all chasing each other trying to get the leaves on them. At one point Alanna had 4 kids chasing her with their hands full of these old leaves... and all were laughing hysterically.

My sister asked why I didn't send photos of them having fun with leaves and that's when I told her that sometimes I just want to enjoy the moments and memories with my kids. My life isn't about documenting every single thing that happens. I think maybe it's a good thing to put the camera (phone) away and just be present in the fun.

Besides doing Easter Egg Hunts we have more things to do with Easter.

This year we made Resurrection Rolls for the first time. Basically you take a large marshmallow (which represents Jesus), roll it in melted butter then in cinnamon sugar and wrap it up in crescent roll dough. Once it is baked you open it up and the rolls are empty... just like Jesus' tomb. While it's baking we read the Easter story in one of the Children's Bibles we own.

our rolls after baking... apparently we didn't wrap up Jesus very well. Oops! But they still turned out the way they were supposed to!

Later Alanna kept saying she needed to eat Jesus. Oh, and now she calls marshmallows "Jesus"... we're working on that. She tells strangers that she ate Jesus. I've gotten some questioning looks.

And of course we dyed Easter Eggs!

By Easter Sunday the Easter Bunny had arrived. (You can see our Resurrection Eggs in the background... we went through the Easter Story with those as well)

And then we headed to church. We were running a tad bit late so we didn't get family photos before heading out. Right before taking the kids to their class we got a few shots of them in their Easter clothes. These ended up being the only pictures of them dressed up because 10 minutes before service ended I was buzzed out of the sanctuary because Miss Alanna had an accident that rendered the wearing of her pretty clothes impossible.

Even I was dressed up for Easter and I made sure Ryan took some photos of me too!
That afternoon the kids and I played outside. Will wanted to drive his new Jeep and we had a couple more of the Easter Egg Bunnies to give to our friends and wish Happy Easter.
It was a good Easter season and it is fun making memories with my kiddos. I want to make a point to be sure Jesus is truly remembered and I think we were successful this year.