Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas menu

Here's the menu I have planned for tomorrow:

Brunch: Quiche Lorraine (w/ mushrooms, green onions and bacon instead of ham) and - fruit salad w/ my Mom's fruit salad dressing (a creamy delight!!)

Dinner:
- roast beef au jus
- yorkshire pudding (really just soft rolls w/ a little gravy)
- a variation of Campbell's green bean casserole (w/ some water chestnuts added)
- mashed potatoes
- cranberry salad
- fruit sabayon (fruit w/ wine cream sauce)
- pecan pie

I decided not to shirk on dinner just because it was only the four of us and I thought having a normal meal would make it feel more special somehow too. It will be special because this is our first Christmas home together w/o traveling. We'll miss our family, but this will be special since the boys are old enough to enjoy Christmas and we actually got to slow down, decorate, enjoy the season, sing in the concerts and services, visit people, start traditions and actually have presents under our own tree. :)

One fun tradition I think will stick for awhile is watching "Frosty the Snowman" on Christmas Eve and making Frosty face sugar cookies (the Pillsbury kinds with his face on them). The kids discovered Frosty after hearing the song on Pandora radio. They love it now!

We forgot to put together our gingerbread house, but maybe we can do it after Christmas anyway. Charley has also already put our reindeer food (oatmeal and glitter from pre-school) and a healthy snack (strawberries and water) for Santa.

We've also talked a lot about why we celebrate Christmas and so far, all Charley understands is "Jesus is a baby" and "Jesus saved us" which is good enough for me for now. A tradition I think we'll continue from when I was little is reading the Christmas story from Luke by candlelight on Christmas Eve. That was always special. Although we read from the KJV and I don't think we have one of those around. :)

Well, I hope you all have a very blessed and Merry Christmas together with your friends and families and may you have safe travels and good health as well.

Rejoice!! Jesus is here! Jesus is here! Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Rejoice!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Last year in the 20's

I turned 29 today. I say that part wistfully and part joyfully, but most of all: very blessed-fully and fully blessed.

The wistful part is that I have only one more year before a very fun and eventful and young decade of my life will be over. After this decade, my body chemistry will probably dramatically and permanently change (from what I've heard), I'll add more white & grey to my hair and more stretch lines to my face, my agility will lessen, and my once extensive memories of my young childhood will dwindle even more. I will also lose the occasion (if I haven't already) to blame any mistakes on being "silly and young" :)

However, the joyful part is that the body chemistry shift won't be that major and at least I'm healthy now. I watched "Shadowlands" as I was in pain with the virus yesterday, and today I was actually thanking God that I had the health to stand on my own and do the dishes, and change diapers, and clean and do laundry. On another note, age will help me develop vocally since the vocal chords don't fully mature until your mid-30's, and since it is my joy and honor to spread the message of Christ with my voice, I'm thrilled at this potential. Another very joyful part is that hopefully, I will grow to be a more mature, wise, loving, sensitive (which is what I usually need to work on most), and thoughtful person in the next decade. (and so many other qualities I don't have room for) :) Hopefully, my memory loss will encourage me to hurry and write young memories down that I don't want to forget such as hours of fun playing outside with my younger brother, mud wrestling with a friend, hours spent pretending to give birth and be a Mom someday, special times with each of my parents, and time spent with relatives and friends in Texas who I miss right now ...

Ok, some of you may be rolling with laughter right now because I'm only turning 29 and I'm talking like I'm turning 50, but any of you who really know me, know that I'm a very introspective (not introverted), melancholy (not pessimistic) person and I take a lot (probably too much) seriously and analyze a lot in hopes of growth and learning. Plus, this is my blog and this is what I have to say today ... and this is what I'll have to laugh at with you when I'm 50. :)

Most of all, (and especially after being reminded of how precious life is after watching "Shadowlands") despite my expectations, disappointments, ignorance, frustration, tiredness and all the other things that can get in the way, I know that I am a very blessed woman. I am blessed that I got to spend today as a pretty healthy (still trying to get over that virus), loved person playing with my boys and making them laugh and reading to them and holding them and hugging and kissing them. I am thankful for my family, my friends (wherever you are all over the country), our home, the snow (that I got to play in and snowboard on today for the first time), my husband, my life and my Savior. What a Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

icky day

With snow on the ground and freezing temps all day, we really haven't ventured out anywhere for probably the last 3 days. This turns out to probably be a good thing since 75% of our family has now come down with a stomach virus.

Will battled his last Sunday, and Charley and I came down with it today. Fortunately, Ben has been spared for the time being, but he did get a nasty burn yesterday after deciding to push the stool too close to the stove after Daddy pulled it away. It's amazing how looking away for that split second makes all the difference. Well, he's not in too much pain now, but does have some blisters that I might try to treat while he's asleep tonight. Poor kid might wake up with neosporin and band-aids on 3 of his fingers in the morning and wonder what happened.

Anyway, Will had to miss most of his classes today and he had a big presentation to help with and give, which he had to mostly miss. I spent the day hunched over b/c my stomach hurt all day. I was afraid to take much of anything for fear of throwing it up. Fortunately, I got to rest a lot and Charley, after throwing up only twice this morning, was doing great by mid morning and keeping apples and peanut butter (of all things) down. That's definitely not my idea of comfort food, but he liked it and kept it down so, it worked.

Now Will is back at his school studying for a huge test tomorrow and is already very tired from such a long day. Fortunately, tomorrow is his last day too. I just want to feel better so he doesn't worry about us while he's trying to concentrate, and because tomorrow is my 29th birthday and I would really like to feel like eating cake for that. :) especially since I love cake! :) Will was only super sick for a day and has been slowing but steadily recovering ever since so, I have hope. I'm just glad Charley wasn't sick for too long, even though we kept him home from pre-school, and I hope Ben doesn't get it. It's so hard to watch your kids suffer.

I am thankful though that they haven't had many colds this season. Ben has a constant runny nose, but no other real "cold" symptoms. I keep getting a cold every 2 weeks and when I finally went to the doctor last week, the nurse practitioner who treated me told me I had an allergy problem and wanted to put me on a third allergy med!!! I really don't like taking medication if I don't really have to, especially year round, but to be on 3! It seems like excess to me, but I'll try it and if I stop getting sick, she said I should only use it during the winter season.

Sorry for the icky post . . . just goings on in our lives right now. Oh yeah, a couple of things we're enjoying right now . . . sugar coated popcorn (Will's homemade version of kettle corn), and our Value Tale books. I love these books. I read them and started dreaming about my life when I was in kindgarten. They deal with a famous person who demonstrated a different value to do whatever great thing they did. Most of the people these books cover, are people who helped mankind in some great way, so they're already great examples. They're fairly long books, but because the illustrations are like cartoons, They're able to keep the attention of Charley throughout the whole book. We've read several and we have 30. He loves learning and listening and as he gets older and we read them over and over again, I hope he'll start dreaming about what he wants to do with his life too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

older Ben


I thought Ben looked so much older in this pic Will took of him yesterday. I don't know if it's his face or his longer hair, or that he has more hair or what, my baby is growing up! Time for another? :) ha ha, not quite yet, but Lord willing, soon!

a few snow pictures



Well, yesterday, the snow came a lot sooner and faster than predicted. It was already sleeting by the afternoon when we tried to go sledding. That resulted in some unhappy kids b/c it was so cold and the sleet was blowing into our faces AND somehow, we lost their gloves. :) It all added up to a very dramatic tantrum. We
recovered and made caramel popcorn together and watched a little "Cars". Then the boys went down early while Mommy crashed from being sick (again) and Daddy went snow boarding on the golf course hill and had a blast! :)

This morning we woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland, with streets plowed and safe for driving (which I am not confident or very good at in the snow) and the sun shining. It was beautiful.

I thought these pics were fun. Apparently, dump trucks are for dirt AND snow! Charley had fun trying to shovel the walkway and Ben enjoyed watching. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's snowing!!

It's coming down pretty hard right now and I have to leave in a few minute to pick up Charley from pre-school. I'm hoping they release Will early from work so he doesn't have to drive home during the worst of it this afternoon. It is accumulating already and looking very white and very beautiful. I guess it's easier to appreciate since we don't get a lot of snow up here, but just enough to enjoy. If I had to live in this all the time, maybe I would feel differently, maybe not. I love snow!

waiting for the flakes

It's about to snow ... a LOT! I'm so excited, we're supposed to get anywhere from 5-10 inches! This will be our first big snow and will probably stick since the ground is frozen. We've had previous sprinkles, but nothing you could sled on ... which is what Will and Charley have been dying to go do on the golf course nearby. Anyway, we'll see what happens when it starts in a few hours and goes through the night. Hopefully I'll have some fun "snowtime" pics to post tomorrow! Yay!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

marathon weekend

My marathon weekend was a race, of sorts, that didn't involve running on a path, maybe symbolically, but not physically (although I was very exhausted at the end).

Ok here goes ...

Friday - clean all the hardwood floors with a wet towel on my hands and knees
- wipe down all of our walls 3 times (first with Clorox on a towel, second with the Magic Eraser, third with water to get the first two off for safety)
- make three batches of cookies (with the kids helping which turned out not to be the best idea) I made sugar cookies and dyed the dough different Christmas colors, then cinnamon/glue/water dough for non-edible ornaments, then oatmeal/white chocolate/cranberry cookies
- picked up babysitters for rehearsal at the church and on the way smoke started coming into the car from the heater (that wasn't working so while I fiddled with it, it must have shorted out or broken b/c it smelled like rubber was burning) I had to pull over, air out the car (containing the three sisters all coming to babysit and my two little ones!!) Then I turned everything off and we kept going b/c the smoke stopped. I was impressed that the girls didn't even freak out, especially the one that had smoke streaming out at her feet.
- attended a successful rehearsal of my duet and solo for Sunday night's concert
- then we had to wait for the girls' mom to pick them up after work b/c I was too nervous to drive home with them, then Will came to drive with us
- at which time he let me know that the Navy gym on base was having a kids night and they had several moonwalk slides and jumpers etc. set up and activities, so we grabbed some fast food (as it had just started to snow and rain pretty heavily) and headed to the gym until 7 PM.

That had to be one of the longest days in a busy, good way! (well except for the car trouble, but fortunately it wasn't too serious).

Saturday - we had 7 families over from Will's class on base to meet them and their kids. I think we had about 10 or more kids running around. We were busy cleaning and preparing all morning and this is when I brought out the cinnamon ornaments for the kids to paint. Will made homemade kettle corn (which he is quickly becoming an expert at), and we tried dying it, but it didn't work too well. It was yummy though! We also had shrimp dip and chips and apple cider, that never quite heated up. :)
- after everyone left, I got ready to go to a cookie exchange at a friends house where I used the batch of oatmeal/white chocolate/cranberry cookies. It was a lot of fun and I brought home some yummy cookies for the family. :) We took it easy that night (I think)

Sunday - we had church in the morning (choir practice before and after the service)
- I got ready for the concert that night when we got home by cleaning, doing dishes, and icing all the sugar cookies.
- Then we had the choir concert, which of course I was nervous about, but the duet ("What Child is This?") and solo ("Silent Night" in German and English) went great and I got feedback that I pronounced all the German correctly by some native speakers who were there. Yay! I also hit all the high notes fine, but on the very last note of the song, I could quite come down low enough because I had been singing so high, so that note was a little sharp, but ok, I hope. :) I'll have to watch the recording b/c Will was there recording. We also brought to this, everyone loved the cookies (even though they got green dye all over them) and the babysitter watched the kids in the nursery the whole time. The kids did great even though they were up way past their bedtime. Will and I were exhausted and I don't think I've slept so soundly in awhile!

This was the busiest weekend we've had in awhile and I wasn't used to trying to keep everything straight and prepare for it, but I did fine and I think it's something that is only going to happen more often as the kids get older and we're able to get more involved in things. I was just glad I made the extra batches of cookies, even though I wasn't really preparing them on purpose at the time; the sugar cookies just sounded like a good idea, and the cinnamon ornaments are something we made and painted as kids that I happened to decide would be a good activity to slow the kids down at our party.

I think it was providence more than anything else, so Thank you Lord for helping me this weekend and helping me prepare for things before I even knew I needed to. He Blessed me at the concert to honor him with my singing, and best of all, He gave me a supportive husband to help me prepare and plan and get everything together so it would all happen, including many hours of watching the kids so I could rehearse after church or clean, or prepare. After all this, Will still made it to his Monday morning work out at 5:30!!! ugh Fortunately for me, the kids slept late so I got a full 8 hours of sleep! Now that's something to be thankful for!

Now I just have to catch up on laundry and dishes and errands, but I think we'll just try to have a slow day today, especially since it's oh so cold and wet outside.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

lotion lover

Another quirk of my second son is that he loves to do so many things that my first rebelled against. I'm sure it's a good thing, it's just that I'm not used to it b/c of having to fight Charley when he was Ben's age. Things like brushing teeth, changing diapers, putting socks and shoes on to go outside, and yes, putting on lotion. He loves lotion and while I'm changing his diaper, he'll rub it on his legs and arms and tummy. It's really cute and GREAT since it's so dry now, but it's also very hilarious to me to see my 19 mo. old putting on lotion like he's such a big boy. Also, if Ben had his way, he'd have a toothbrush in his mouth 24/7. He LOVES to brush his teeth and runs for it every time we accidentally leave the bathroom door open.

We're still waiting for snow around here. Will got so excited when we had some flurries a few days ago. He can't wait to take the boys sledding at the golf course around the corner from our house. He also can't wait to go skiing. He's going to see the new Warren Miller snow movie in Providence tonight and by going, he'll get free ski passes to some places around here. He can't wait! Seriously, this is going to be something we have to work out in our future: Will wants to live somewhere cold and I love warm weather with short winters. I DO love snow and skiing, but I just don't like cold for 6 months! Plus, with the dry skin issues I've mentioned in previous posts ... I just don't want to be itchy, cracky and dry every winter just so we can ski nearby. I'd rather travel somewhere to ski and wear my shorts and t-shirts most of the year. Anyway, I know we'll compromise on the perfect place someday (once the Navy is done with us, or vice versa and one plus is that with all the moving around we have to do, we'll get to visit different parts of the country to see what they're like before we have to choose.

Oh yeah, another success on the potty front, Charley is finally going #2 in the potty! yay! I know it may sound late to most, but with the issues he's had and meds etc. I'm just thrilled and he's proud too. He's been going consistently for 3 days now. I'm not holding my breath, but I think he may have conquered the constipation thing. He doesn't even want his medicine anymore and doesn't seem to be having problems without it now. It started getting easier for him a while back and when he had to go, he'd go and grab a pull-up and go. When we realized he wasn't struggling anymore, we started disciplining him if he didn't go in the potty. I think this helped us get where we are now, but for the longest time, he really was struggling and having a really hard time pushing it out, and we didn't feel that we should punish him for not using the potty b/c of that. Well, it seems to be over now, so we'll see how the next week goes and hopefully it will become a habit and easier for him. Yay!! It's funny, I'm actually excited that I get to wipe his bottom b/c it means he's gone on the potty! Of course, he wants to that by himself and he doesn't do a bad job at that, so double YAY!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

mmmmmmm

I was just playing with my son, Ben. He was playing peek-a-boo and tickling me and then he tried to pull my socks off. :) Whenever I get these one on one moments to just play and enjoy my kids, the same thought often comes to mind, "I must be the luckiest person in the world to be playing with this little child right now."

I guess I just imagine how incredibly special they are; then I think about how someday they'll be special to other people and hopefully do some really good things for people; and that makes me feel like I'm so special for even being given a moment of time with them. Because later on, when they're grown and gone, I'll remember that I was given some of the biggest blessings I can ever have . . . time, fun, love and a simple smile from my baby boy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

sweet dancing Ben

Ben is growing up sooo fast! Charley was his age when we first moved here and now I can't believe Ben is already 19 mo. old!! He's such a cutie with his little blond hair and big smiley cheeks! He's always grinning about something. I just had to write b/c I want to remember later that he loves to dance. Anytime he hears even a couple of bars of music, he starts bobbing his head and, if he can, moving his legs. It's so cute. I guess he's going to be the music lover in the family. It's just so much fun to watch and he is usually able to get the whole family started too. Once Ben starts, then Charley follows and pretty soon, we're all dancing around and being goofy.

We especially enjoyed one of these moments this past Saturday when we went to get our Christmas tree from Escobar's Highland farm, here on the island. We brought it home, turned on some Christmas music, heated up the cider, and the dancing and celebrating began. We got all the Christmas boxes down and had such a fun time together. I know it might seem a little early, but this is the first Christmas we won't be traveling in years, which means, I get to decorate! :) We plan on having a low-key family day, simple, easy, fun. (that's the plan) :) We'll miss all of our extended family, but if you've been reading, we've traveled quite enough in the past few years, and with very small children. Anyway, since I know we're going to be here, I just couldn't wait to get everything out and decorate for Christmas so I can enjoy it this year.

In other news, we enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with my Mom and brother, Grant, who flew from Houston, TX to be with us. My Mom was here for a week and my brother, who had to finish finals, was here for three days. Will and Grant went to NY on Thanksgiving day because Grant had never been in this area before and wanted to see it. They had a blast, and then we celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday. My Mom and I stayed home with the kids on Thanksgiving day and since it was such a beautiful day, we had a blast doing a ton of pruning and yard work. The kids played outside and it was so much fun! We also did crafts with the kids (finishing a handprint apron for the grandma's) :) and while my Mom (Nonny to the kids) was here, we also got to have a fun shopping trip to Providence place and did some sewing together. We had such a great time and it was so great to see both of them.

Well, back to chores and stuff while Ben naps. Charley has pre-school today to it's an errand day. :) All part of the fun!

Blessings!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

my favorite reason for winter ...

EGGNOG!!! :) I love eggnog and when I went to the store the other day to get milk, I was happily surprised to find that eggnog was now on the shelves!! (somehow, I forget this every year and am surprised again every year, but what a nice thing) :) Anyway, don't get me wrong, the leaves and chilly weather are nice, even the pumpkins everywhere and the thought of snow, but for me, too much cold weather is not a good thing. I have extra dry skin to begin with and the cold doesn't help. We've already started running humidifiers in the boy's room every night.

Charley has already had his first mini-cold, which consisted of temperature for a day and a runny nose for three days. Not too bad, I'd say! Now Ben has the runny nose, but not temp, and I was fighting off something a couple of days ago, but I think it's just allergies. Anyway, my cuticles have been cracking since September (when there was just a hint of dryness in the air, or I should say, when the humidity was back down to a pleasant level for most people). But not me, I love warm humid air. I feel like my skin drinks it in. And I'll miss feeling the sun on my skin when I wore tank tops and shorts out during the summer. Oh well, hopefully we'll get some good snow this year. Will says it's going to be our last "true" winter for awhile since we won't live this far North next year. (unless we get stationed in Japan!) :) Somehow the snow distracts me from how cold it really is. Some people have said that it insulates the earth and so it actually IS warmer outside. Who knows, just give me eggnog and let me crawl under my electric blanket at night and I'll be fine. :)

Yes, we've already put the electric blanket on the bed. The lows are getting into the 40's at night and the house is in the mid 60's. We have our heater set at 62 but have a heater in the boy's room at night. That way we're just heating two rooms at night instead of the whole house. Of course it's freezing in the morning, but oil is expensive so what are you going to do? :) Anyway, now the boys have a humidifier AND a heater running at night .. probably at opposite purposes, but it works well enough to keep them warm and moist through the long winter. Hopefully it will stave off colds too. Especially once we get the flu mist and Ben gets the second dose of the flu shot. Which I must add, he took very well the first time! All I heard out of him was a little "eah" and that was it. Of course, his brother and I were distracting him with stickers and songs. He never even knew it was coming! I was so proud of him non-the-less.

Oh yeah, and I have real stitches for Halloween, not that we go all out around here for Halloween, we really don't do anything at all except let the boys get dressed up for social hour and candy collecting in our very friendly neighborhood. :) I just think it's funny that some people put on make-up to look like they have stitches and I really have some. I had a bump removed from my leg and I have about an inch and a quarter worth of internal stitches. It's healing nicely now though. The bump wasn't cancerous or anything, just an abnormality that looked odd and I kept nicking when I shaved ouch! It was itchy occasionally too, just a pain. So since the Navy was paying, I went ahead and had it removed. It was considered purely "cosmetic" surgery, which sounded funny to me, but since it wasn't necessary, that's the category it was placed in. I'm actually amazed it's healing so well since the boys have been crawling and walking and bouncing on it almost everyday since I came home. I've tried to protect it and that worked for the first few days, but after that all bets were off. :) I've had it bandaged too so I'm sure that's helped.

Oh yeah, I drove our friends back to MD last weekend (a week ago). It was a looong weekend. I drove 7 hours down with her and the girls and the dog, spent the night in Havre de Grace, then turned around and came back the next day. ugh! :) We had such a fun time talking though. Anyway, since then I've been catching up with chores and enjoying the alone time with Will; hence the lack of blogging.

Anyway, more to blog later. Gotta do more chores while Charley is away at pre-school. :) ta ta!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

safe home

just a note . . . Will made it safely home last Thursday from Norfolk and working on our house, that is now for sale instead of for rent. He brought back with him some friends of ours, Amy and her two daughters Anna and Sabrina ("Izzy") and their dog, Bo. Her husband is on an IA (Independent Augmentation) for a year in Iraq right now and she's staying up here with us for a week or two. We've had a good first week and gotten into a good groove with all the kids and schedules etc. It's fun to have a full house for awhile and the kids are really enjoying each other, not to mention, Amy and I are enjoying the company and conversation. Ben loves Izzy and does a little dance every time he sees her in the morning and after naps. It's so cute. We call it the "Izzy dance". Charley is enjoying being the "big boy" in the house and has turned into quite the helper, as well as providing constant entertainment for everyone. We're all having a blast, staying busy and very worn out each day! :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

growth spurt? and normal

I think Charley's growing ... he's eating a lot and being really clumsy. He keeps falling down randomly and bumping his head and running into things. I'll have to keep an eye on him to make sure this accident prone stage isn't just an active boy thing, or something else. For now though, I think it's because he's getting a little more lanky. :) We'll see.

Will is driving home tonight, as I write this. He'll only be home for 3 days, but still, it's been two months! I miss him so much and I know the boys miss him too. He'll be gone again next Tuesday for his brother's graduation and travel to TX with him, then fly to Norfolk to make sure our house is ready for new renters when we find them. So if anyone is interested, 803 Townsend Ct. Norfolk, VA 23502 is available beginning Oct. 8. :) You can see our ad at militarybyowner.com. Anyway, then he'll be home again for about a week and start department head school.

It will be so nice to get back to normal again (even if it means I have to start cooking regularly again-not one of my favorite things right now with two kids running around that need supervision). Hopefully it will get me to plan ahead more and do more prep-work in the morning or whenever I have down time. We'll see how it goes. I'm more of a baker, than a cook. :) I enjoy making pastries, pies, desserts etc. I think cooking will become more enjoyable once the kids are a little older though. I hope.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

our pics are ready!

If you want to see the pics we had taken at the Academy when I went down to visit Will, just click on this link: Visual Concepts and enter the session ID: williamandleigh_portrait We're so excited with how they turned out! It was so much fun to take them too. :) I'm so glad we'll have this memory of Will in uniform, especially at the Academy. If he ever gets out, it will be a nice memory of his time in the military. Hope you all like them and if anyone wants to order any, the info is on the same page as the pics. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

apple picking

The next craft I undertook came from a "Country Home" magazine I picked up while I was waiting for a flight down to Baltimore. It was all about decorating with pumpkins and apples. One of the decorations was an apple garland, heavy, but pretty. :) So this past weekend, we went apple picking at the Rocky Brook orchard on Wapping Rd. here on Aquidneck Island. It turned out to be the perfect weekend for picking MacIntosh apples (according to the owner). The boys didn't quite get it, but we had fun and got a lot of apples. The owner even let me get two bags of cheaper apples that had fallen on the ground for my garland! I have a lot of baking to do this weekend so if you live close and want an apple pie, I'm making them in bulk when Will comes home this weekend. Anyway, I hung my garland above the door. You bore holes in the apples with bamboo skewers then put twine through them. It's holding well. I don't have colorful leaves to put on it yet, but I'm looking. I also made an apple wreath which I haven't glued together yet, but hopefully will finish this weekend as well.

Next, I want to carve pumpkins, but I'm afraid a bunch of pumpkins and the garland would be a little too much produce for one front door. The garland is supposed to only last about 2 weeks, so maybe I'll wait until then to go pumpkin picking on the island. :)

crafty finger

If you're good at growing things, you have a green thumb, but what if you get crafty for a little while? Do you have a sticky finger? (b/c of all the glue) or is that only for baking? Anyway, since Will's Aunt Donette came to visit this passed weekend, and Will's Mom was here a week before that, I've been able to pull a few projects together and thought I'd share.

First is a shelf for some wooden letters I've been painting (for years) of the boys' names. I didn't want to hang each one individually (that's like 25 holes in the wall), but all the shelves are much to wide for these 1/2" thick letters. So I had to come up with something else. (by the way, ledge shelves are really expensive at Micheal's) and I really needed just a ledge. So Will's Mom and I had the idea of putting a piece of pretty molding (for the wall) against a small, flat piece of wood (like a 1/2" x 3") and that would make the thickness I would need for the ledge. I glued them together, clamped them and then nailed them (just to be sure). :) Maybe it was overkill, but I don't want the glue coming apart in the humidity. Anyway, the next step is to stain them. I'm not even finished with the letters yet, but now all I have to do is hang the ledges (2 for each boy b/c I did their first and middle names) and then set the letters on them (high enough that the boys can't reach them of course). :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

poetry blog name

Please help me pick a new name for the poetry blog I want to start. I listed a few options in the poll on the right, but if anyone has any other suggestions, please leave a comment. I want it to be a collection of work I love that has already been written, work of my own, and poetry by other people if they are willing to have it posted. I don't necessarily have to love it all, which is why I liked the Potluck Poetry idea for a name, but it didn't sound artistic, classy or symbolic enough for what I usually prefer, but it IS down to earth and simple and an honest representation of what the blog will hopefully be so that's all good. Any ideas? :) Thanks

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ps.

check out the collage of pics I put together at the bottom of this blog. it's a long scroll down, but worth it! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Amazing Annapolis Weekend

 
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This past weekend I got to fly down and visit Will for a wonderful weekend getaway in Annapolis. We'd been planning it for weeks and it finally arrived. Will's mom was gracious enough to extend her stay with me so she could watch the boys and we just took her back to the airport today, so sad, but it was time and I know she missed her hubby. :) Let me just quickly say that I appreciate my in-laws visiting so much and surviving this time while Will is away would have been soo hard without them. Thank you!! :)

Ok, back to the wonderful weekend. It has been years since we got to get away, just the two of us. In fact, the last time was probably, when Charley was a year old when we stayed one night in a nearby hotel. This was my first time really away from Ben, which was so hard, and our first trip away and alone since the kids have been born. Anyway, that's why we wanted it to me memorable and planned it so much. :) The main goal though, was simply to relax, and enjoy our time together at this stage in our lives.

I flew out on Friday and Will surprised me with gifts waiting for me to open at the hotel. I knew he had gone shopping for me, but he really outdid himself. He had jewelry, lingerie, outfits all wrapped in matching paper. He got all my measurements in advance and everything fit like a charm. I didn't have to keep it all, and I didn't, and he was so generous to not be offended if I wasn't automatically thrilled with something. It was fun, none the less and he said he really enjoyed getting to dress me in fun things that I don't usually get for myself. When I first arrived at the BWI airport and saw Will, it still took me an hour or so to realize I was on vacation and really relax, but I'd say by the time we got to the hotel, the kids and stress were temporarily forgotten!

Friday night we got to eat at one of my favorite places in the Annapolis area, Cantler's. I loooove crab and they sell lots of it there. They bring it to you on a tray covered in Old Bay and your table cloth is a thick brown piece of paper. Anyway, we had fun digging for all the meat until we couldn't eat any more. I think the two of us made it through 8 of them!

Saturday was so relaxing. We slept in, then went to have breakfast at the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish Farmer's Market. It was so cool!! The whole place is filled with fresh things: everything from meat and produce to pastries and pies. Their cinnamon rolls are amazing! :)

Next, we did a little shopping and then headed over to the tattoo shop to see if they had a Navy Crew symbol on file that a bunch of Will's crew friends have gotten. I was even going to get one too, for fun, a little dragonfly on my hip, but alas, they didn't have the "N" symbol and so we didn't get tattooed. :) (hmmm what must everyone be thinking about this??) :)

Anyway, after that, we went back to the hotel room for a soak in the hot tub and ordered a movie ("Meet the Robinsons" which was a lot deeper and darker than I expected, but fun) and then took a nap.

Then we headed out to meet friends at a tailgate party before the big Navy v. Ball State game. We had such a blast at the game and it was so fun to catch up with friends and just relax and watch a football game, especially an Academy home game! It was so fun to watch the plebes to push ups every time Navy scored. Unfortunately, Navy lost in overtime, but we still had a blast!!

Then we went out for a quick dinner and dessert with some friends and headed back to the hotel to crash for the night.

As if it could get anymore special, Will's ultimate surprise was to have a photographer take pictures of us at different places around the Naval Academy yard! He wore his black SDB uniform and I had gotten a dress earlier Saturday for the occasion. I thought red would be a good color to compliment his uniform and stand out against all the white marble and green grass at the Academy. He had actually bought dresses and shoes for me and wanted his mom to sneak a dress in my bag b/c he wasn't quite sure what I should wear, but the dresses he picked didn't fit and the dress I ended up packing (his mom gave it away b/c she couldn't find it):) didn't really work b/c it was white. She didn't tell me what it was for though so it was still a surprise when I got there.

Anyway, the pics turned out beautiful. We got a preview even though the photographer is still editing them. I'll post the link when we get it though and there's a link to her studio on the right, her name is Linda Etherington and I listed her as "great Annapolis photographer". :) She really got into taking our pictures and it was so amazing to watch her create art right before our eyes. We love the Academy and wanted to remember this time in our lives as a special one. It will also be a nice way to remember this special weekend (not to mention the fact that I'll actually have a nice record that I've finally gotten back down to my preferred size after having Ben). We've moved about 6 times, had two kids, done a deployment and been married 6 years. I know some people have done more, but it's been quite a lot for us. We're at a slower time now that the boys are at easier ages and Will is in school. Next year when we move again, in May, things will pick up once Will is on a ship and so we wanted to take advantage of this "down" time.

Thanks Debbie for watching the kids so we could have this wonderful weekend. We feel so blessed that we could do this together. Thank you Will for planning such an amazing time for us together and for all the thought and time that went into it. We all miss you and can't wait for you to be home for good in three weeks! :) I love you!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Been awhile . . .

It's been awhile since I posted ... so much has been going on.

Another drama before the in-laws got here: the breaks on the sub went out while I was taking the children to a play date. We managed to pull into a day care parking lot so I could call USAA and get a tow. The car got fixed just in time to pick up Will's parents the next day and a the friend I was going to see for the play date squeezed us into her sedan and even took me grocery shopping to make sure I had stuff in case I didn't get the car back for awhile. So sweet! Anyway, another misadventure full of God's grace and blessings.

Will's parents came and were such a blessing. I got to see Will that first weekend (2 weeks ago now) and that was wonderful. He almost didn't make it home because they got held in class too late, but he caught the last flight out Friday night on standby. That was such a special night because I had gone to see a movie ("The Bourne Ultimatum") with Will's dad, then right when we got out, Will's mom called to tell us Will had caught a flight and was coming home, yay! Then as we drove to pick him up, we drove over the Pell bridge while fireworks were going off only yards away off the Navy War College peninsula!! It was beautiful! :) Not to mention the cheap parking spot I got really close to the theater minutes before the movie started which, if you know anything about Newport in the summer, is almost impossible (so we didn't have to pay $20 for a spot) :) Anyway, it felt like God was just smiling down on us giving us one little blessing after another to make a really special night, especially after I got to see my husband! :)

Will's dad, Doug, stayed for a week and we got lots of yard work done. It was great! I love yard work and got so much trimming and pruning done that I had been dying to do for years here at this rental house. We made 3 or 4 trips to the dump to take twigs and stuff and then I got to go pick out some mums to plant out front. They're so pretty and lined with stones. I'll have to post a pick.

Then, we also started pre-school a week ago! Charley looked so cute for his first day. It was one of our most difficult mornings, getting ready, but I think it's because he knew it was a big day. Anyway, we made it with the grandparents and Ben. We took pictures and prayed together and he had a great day. The teacher said he and a couple of other boys bounced off the wall the first day because of the newness of everything, but this week she said he was doing great, sitting still etc. I was so proud of him for telling the teacher when he had a problem when another kid took his toy away, instead of trying to "handle" it himself. We've worked on that when Ben takes toys and since Charley has turned 3, the changes have been amazing. He's so sweet to his brother, even than before. He gives him toys and food and drink and his little comfort bear and trying to "make him happy" all the time. So far, they're turning out to be the best of friends. Anyway, Charley is loving pre-school and doing great. He hasn't had any potty accidents and is bringing home artwork almost everyday, so fun! He's polite and respectful to his teachers saying, "excuse me," if he needs help and thanking them everyday before he leaves (with my prompting). He picks up his trash after lunch and I'm enjoying decorating his paper sack every morning with stickers and markers. I even asked him if he'd like a lunch bag like all the other kids, but he said he likes his decorated sack better. :) I couldn't be more proud or thrilled for him and me since we've both worked so hard for about 2 years now to get where we are. Charley is more challenging than most kids and has quite a stronger will so it's taken a lot more patience and constance to get him here and it's nice to see all the hard work, love and discipline finally paying off. Now it looks like Ben is headed for his terrible 2's (not quite there, but soon), but at least I'll have experience, and he'll have a very sweet brother to be a good example for him. We'll just pray through it all again and hopefully make it out soon with more grace and support from others than I was granted with Charley, and always by the grace and help of God.

Will's mom, Debbie, will be here until next Tuesday and we've had a wonderful time together. She has saved me during these long weeks while Will is away. It's so nice to have an adult to talk to and someone to help out with the kids, as well as all the cooking and cleaning she helps with. She's been such a blessing. We've been on the Newport Dinner Train and to the Topiary Gardens and to parks and other places and had a blast with the kids. I will miss her when she's gone, but thankfully, Will's Aunt Donnette will be out to visit in a week and then Will will be home soon! :) It's been a long month and a half and now we're almost done.

This weekend I get to fly down to visit Will, while Debbie stays with the kids, for a Navy football game and for his 29th birthday! :) We'll get to see friends from his class and just enjoy a weekend away together. We both can't wait and the weather is supposed to be beautiful for it all! Please pray for Debbie while I'm gone. I'll be home Sunday afternoon.

On another note, I'm going to start giving voice lessons to a girl from our church who lives down the street and I'm very excited about the chance to actually use my training again, and get paid for it! I gave piano lessons when we lived in Monterey, CA and had about 5 or 7 students, but haven't done voice yet. I think I'll also give her some basic piano and theory as well and that is always a blast for me! :) Now if I could start composing again and maybe singing professionally again, that would be great! :)

Ok that's all for now. I'll share pics and more stories when I come home. Oh and fall is here by the way, YAY!

Later Gators! :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nightmare Day Full of Grace

I guess one of the realities I have to face is that when Will is gone, all the little problems of life are not going to stop. Life goes on with its blessings and daily issues. I experienced one of these delights last Friday when I left a sink filling up so I could stain treat some clothes and forgot to turn it off. I flooded the washer/dryer area of our basement with about 2 inches of water, which of course started seeping into the thick carpet of the next room.

I was just about to walk out the door to take the boys to a Barnes 'n' Noble reading hour when I heard a trickling downstairs. (blessing #1: I discovered the flood BEFORE I left home). So I called the friend I was supposed to meet down there with her two boys to tell her we wouldn't make it and to call me if she had any suggestions as to what to do (I was still at the "Freaking out" and "Oh my gosh did this really happen?" stage and not yet to the "OK, I know what to do" stage).

So after that I decided to go downstairs and call our landlord to let her know, and also to call a lady from church to ask if her two girls can babysit while I clean up the mess. I, of course, have lots of trouble finding telephone numbers while trying to not completely break down in front of my children, which ends up happening anyway to which Charley responds very sympathetically and sits and watches while I attempt to get things rolling. I finally call the girls to babysit and blessing #2: they're available to come over right away! Plus, they're mom is bringing over a really big shop vac (since ours is small) to help.

I hang up from talking to them in tears and keep looking for the landlords number when the doorbell rings. I answer the door, still in tears, to find that the friend we were supposed to meet at Barnes 'n' Noble has showed up with her two kids to help me and watch mine while I clean up the mess. <--- blessing #3. They go to the backyard and begin distracting my kids while I am finally able to get the landlord on the phone. She's a very nice landlord, by the way so that conversation went well.

The friend from church shows up and brings her 3 daughters to help out and plans on staying to help me too!! So her older daughters take over babysitting so my friend can go run her errands and she and her younger daughter start moving everything out of the carpeted room so I can pull up the carpet. Blessing #4: I totally didn't expect her to stay and help, plus bring so much help (her third daughter and the shop vac, not to mention her other daughters who are babysitting).

Anyway, they stay until the job is DONE, and I mean, helping to clean up stuff that was gross and icky etc. We were all sweating, I started to get dizzy (it was a hot day), they moved heavy things, swept out the garage where water was seeping, threw stuff away, moved stuff around, cut up the carpet padding so we could lay it out to dry and the list goes on. I was so grateful and overwhelmed.

It's not often I've met people who will pitch in like this and be there when you really need it, especially when it involves getting dirty and especially when I don't know them all that well. It was truly a blessing. Fortunately, Will was coming home the next day for a short weekend visit, but all he had to do was move the fan around and help me keep emptying the dehumidifier and close a window that was letting in more humidity.

So that's one of our adventures during this time when Will is gone where I definitely felt God watching over us and taking care of us. It's important for me to note these times because I forget them pretty quickly when I'm feeling like God isn't around or doesn't care. I have a very short memory when I (a spiritual and physical creature) feel like my physical needs aren't being met and when those things distract me to the point of doubting the God who shows me so much grace, I can come back and read this and start honoring Him again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another favorite

I'm still working on a name for my poetry/writing blog so if anyone has any ideas, feel free to make a suggestion. I warn you, the one I have in mind now is a little cheesy so anything goes, really. :) While I ponder, here is another one of my all time favorite poems. It's by John Donne, the early 17th century English poet.

HOLY SONNETS.

XIV.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

John Donne

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Kipling article

article I like about Kipling ... "Have you ever kippled?"

His blog is under Rants and Raves on the right if you're interested.

I had a wonderful, relaxing outing the other day when my regularly scheduled babysitter, Zoe, came over. I ran an errand, then went to Barnes 'n' Noble to have a drink and a snack and write some poetry. Then I just browsed for a good non-fiction book (which I didn't find) and a good poetry book, which I did find! It was a big poetry anthology! Yay! So now, I promise I'll move on to another poet. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kipling

I mentioned Kipling in an earlier post and wanted to share a few of my favorites of his. I found these at this site. Another that I like that was too long to post is "The Female of the Species". Enjoy!

When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted
1892
L'Envoi To "The Seven Seas"

When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it -- lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from -- Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!
-------------------------------------------

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
1919

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I Make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place.
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four --
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

* * * * *

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man --
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began --
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mice,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire --
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
--------------------------------------------------


IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

some music

I just wanted to mention some more great music I've been listening to lately . . . the latest "Pride and Prejudice" movie soundtrack featuring Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the piano. I wasn't a huge fan of the movie, but somehow, the beauty of the soundtrack makes me want to see it again. Anyway, the music is really enrapturing and if you're getting a taste for my lyrical, melancholy taste in music, this really fits. :)

It's the only thing I wanted to sing or play on the piano in college ... anything with a pretty melody, lyrical and in a minor key. I guess some things never change. ahh I need to compose again. Anyone got any poetry or lyrics? :) Although I used to write only instrumental stuff, I find myself wanting to try something with lyrics. I promise it won't all be in a minor key. :) Maybe I should start with some Kipling poetry. I love him. I'll have to post on of his poems that is one of my favorites, "The Gods of the Copybook Headings".

John Barry, the composer of many beautiful soundtracks, such as "Somewhere in Time", "Out of Africa", and "Dances with Wolves", is another favorite of mine. Also, "The Red Violin" soundtrack is beautiful too. Joshua Bell is amazing on the violin.

All this stuff really calms me after a long day on my own with the boys. :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

this makes me cry

This classical piece is beautiful! It's Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor, Op. 18: II. Adagio Sostenuto. The one I prefer is played by Lang Lang and the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre & Valery Gergiev. I don't think it's legal to post the music here, but for those of you who have i-tunes or an equivalent, I strongly encourage you to go listen to this. It's about 12 minutes long depending on the tempo of the pianist you listen to.

I think this is the most beautiful piano concerto I've ever heard (and there are some beautiful ones out there). I'm not a huge Rach fan; I supremely prefer Brahms and Tchaikovsky, but I heard this on my roommate's (thank you Andrea) Piano by Candlelight tape (yes, tape) my fishy year in college and have been looking for it ever since.

I don't know if it conjures emotion now simply b/c I was going through a lot at that time in my life or because it's truly that beautiful (probably a little of both). I'm simply thrilled to be reunited with it. This piece, to me, feels like a musical description of the storyline of my soul. (sorry so cheesy, but it's really moving). ups and downs, peace and confusion, depth and simplicity . . . all wrapped up in one amazing creation of God. In a word ... beauty.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

an update

Will was able to come home for a short, but very enjoyable visit last weekend. It turns out he had a cold which he unfortunately left with me. I've been struggling through that all week, but am feeling better now that's it's finally moving into my lungs. (at least I'm not sneezing anymore). Fortunately, the boys don't have it yet.

Some good news is that one of our babysitters came back into town and is going to give me a break 2 or 3 times a week for the next 2 weeks before Will's parents get here. This will give me a chance to get some much needed mowing done, and other chores as well as rest.

We've been doing better than I thought and Will has been gone for almost 3 weeks now. We've stayed busy, running around, playing with friends, going to the Barnes 'n' Noble book hour and playing in our pool in the backyard. My only guilt is that I had to relax on the TV watching this week b/c I felt so miserable. Even when Will left, I had managed to keep it down to a half hour to an hour a day, (it's usually none or half an hour). But this week, I was in survival mode. Hopefully, next week, between the babysitter, play dates and my feeling better, I'll be able to cut it off or at least back down.

Also, the weather has cooled down significantly which has been such a blessing. Since we've been able to stay busy, Will being gone hasn't been as awful as I thought. I think it will be even easier once Charley starts pre-school in September. I have friends that are on their own for a year, and am still thankful we haven't had to do that yet. I know that's a whole different ball game. This shorter time though, has been good practice for what we might face in the future and I'm looking at it as a blessing in disguise. :) It's been a good taste so I can prepare better for next time, which I'm sure there will be since he's not getting out of the Navy anytime soon.

Gotta go rest while the baby naps, happiness and health to all!

ps. Don't forget to pray for the missing miners, the Peruvians affected by the earthquake, the northern Iraqi's affected by the bomb and the upcoming hurricane season (here's hoping we'll have another gentle one). :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

new words

I keep forgetting to post that Ben said some new words the other day. He said "love ya da," while talking on the phone with Will. He had prompting, but he still clearly said it. So cute! :) He's saying so many new words now, I can't even catch up. His first was "da da" months and months ago (when he was about 8 mo old I think). Next was, "want dat" and "down". "Ma ma" took a little longer, but followed shortly. He says, "by by" and "Gi gi" is his bear and a bunch of other ones that I can't think of now. Oh yeah, and he said "thank you" to Charley for the first time yesterday too! :) So fun!

soaked

How often do you get caught in the rain and just enjoy it? Today, after a long, hot couple of weeks, we got some scattered showers. We decided to go for a bike ride, but didn't see the dark sky until it was too late. It was just sprinkling, so I left with the two boys in the bike carriage behind me. We stopped at a neighbors house to look at a backhoe front loader that would be working on her driveway in the morning, then it started to pour! I covered the boys with the rain shield, but I got completely soaked. We weren't near the house, so I just finished the ride. I would have gone longer, but I was worried that my cell would get wet. We made it home, and by then it had let up. I dropped off my cell, splashed in the water running down the street a bit, then took another short bike ride around the block totally drenched. It was so much fun! :)

Friday, August 03, 2007

how to stalk a front loader-backhoe (for dummies)

So one of the things that is keeping us occupied while Will is away is watching the construction projects all over the base. I feel like we're stalking the same front loader-backhoe day after day because it's just moving around repairing the sidewalks on base. We know it's the same one because it has the same driver. I'm sure the workers recognize our blue suburban by now. (It wouldn't be the first time). Anyway, the boys love it and are entertained in our air conditioned suburban for quite awhile and I don't even have to get them out of their seats.

There are other projects going on on base so we just make the tour every other day, and sometimes everyday. They are repaving a parking lot and finishing the construction of some water towers (I think that's what they are). When my mom was here they were tearing down an old house in Navy housing . . . Charley still talks about it.

It's just amazing to drive up, park, roll down a window and watch. Both boys just stare out the window in amazement. Then I tell the boys to wave and some of the workers have waved back at us! :) Next step: bring the workers cookies and ask if we can sit in the truck during break time. (or maybe not) :) They still earn cookies in my book for the entertainment, and education, they're giving my kids. I wonder if they realize that they're heroes to my little boys.

happy feet and shrieks of joy!

I was recording some fun things about Charley, and remembered some moments with Ben I didn't want to forget as well.

One cute thing Ben does is climb down the stairs to the landing and step around quickly like the penguins in the movie "Happy Feet". It's really cute and so when he does it, we all do it together and have the best time. :)

Also, every time I come home from being away from the boys, Ben lets out this ear curling shriek with a big smile and . . . happy feet, of course. :) It's so cute and it's one of the few things that Charley copies. So now I come home to two shrieking boys. It's sweet, a little deafening, but I know I'll miss it someday. It's nice to know they love me. :)

by the way . . .

I forgot to mention that last night as we were getting ready for bed and I was about to read Charley a book ("Puff, the Magic Dragon"), he said that I was the best Mom in the world. :)!! I have no idea where he's heard that before. I have a hard time believing he came up with it on his own, but you never know, he's a sharp kid. Even though I know he doesn't know what that means, it was still nice to hear.

In other news, he now knows what lying is and how to convincingly tell one. ugh! It's scary how good he is at it. Hmmm, do I wash his mouth out with soap or is that too much these days? :) Right now I'm settling for simply talking to him about honesty and trust and what God wants us to do, with time outs, creative discipline to fit the crime and spanking, if necessary, to follow.

In better news, Charley can almost spell his name. The other night we were writing with soap crayons in the tub and he asked me to write a C-H-A-R but didn't know the rest. I know it's sight spelling, but it's a start and it's nice to know some things are coming together in his little head. We've always worked on phonics so hopefully that will be the next step. It's a whole new world!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

lovely words on a hot day

I don't know if I've mentioned yet in my blog that Will is taking classes in Dalgren, VA for 2 months while we are up here. It's been pretty miserable with the heat and no A/C; add to that the fact that Charley acts up when Will leaves so all the great changes that have occurred since he turned 3 (calming down a little, more self-control, more understanding, not as reactionary, less of a temper etc.) have gone on hiatus while he tests me day after day. Maybe it's because he wants to know if things are still the same when Dad's gone, maybe he doesn't like the change, maybe he's too hot! or maybe he's just lapsing for awhile, probably some sort of combination of all of those and more I don't even know.

Anyway, he said some sweet things to me today that I wanted to remember for posterity. I had just gotten off the phone with Will and gotten myself really depressed b/c I was thinking about how when you're on your own with the kids, the weekends are no different than the weekdays = no break. I was laying on our bed trying to pull it together (Ben was already down for the night and Charley was playing with trucks in the living room) when Charley came in, crawled on the bed and said, "I just wanted to come snuggle with you and give you company." I started to lose it again.

Then he wanted me to come outside and play before his bedtime, so we did (after a good hug and kiss). I, of course, had to tell him how much I loved him and how happy he made me and he said, "because I help my baby brother and a good boy?" and a list of a few other things I can't remember now. Then he set up some chairs and a little table as a foot rest and we sat there together talking (with our feet up together, so cute!) and asked, "Do you think Daddy would like doing this too?".

Then we made pretend snacks out of the maple tree seeds, then we made a train track out of them, then we blew them on the ground, it was so much fun! Then, he wanted to play catch with the nerf football, and to my amazement, he can catch now! So we had such a blast actually throwing the ball back and forth and I felt so lucky to be the mother of two little boys that will want to play sports with me (hopefully) :) He even put a spin on the ball a couple of times! :) Now just a year or two more and we can all go camping. Charley could probably go now, but I don't think Ben would do well, especially in a tent at night. ahh someday!

I'm also holding out for a girl and she will hopefully want to play sports and camp too, and with a mother and grandmother who love those things, I'll be surprised if she doesn't. In fact, my Mom taught me more about sports than my Dad and was a bigger sports fan in our house. It's funny because now I'm the bigger sports fan in our house, although I don't keep up with it right now for obvious reasons. Anyway, Will knows that I'd be happy having even four boys before we had a girl. I think we'd finally stop at boy 5, but hopefully, we'll have a girl before that. If not, I think we'd seriously consider adopting one. :) Who knows, maybe we're not even supposed to have that many kids b/c the two we've got require so much activity and energy. One kid at a time then, until God gives us peace that we're done.

Anyway, all that to say I had a lovely evening with my son at the end of a very hot day. :) Thank you Lord!

Monday, July 30, 2007

10 years ago . . .

It was strange and wonderful being back in my hometown of Houston for my 10 year high school reunion this past weekend. 10 years ago I graduated and moved away (probably for good). It's a fun town, more so than it probably gets press for and it was so great to see so many people I had gone to elementary, middle and high school with. My family never moved in my 18 years at home so I was always in the same school district with some of the same friends, some of whose parents also haven't moved. : ) It was great to see how successful so many of them were and also how much so many of them had overcome. It made me feel blessed in my own right, but also special to be a part of such a great group of people. It was also fun to find out how many of them are living in this area so I really want to get together an Alief/New-England reunion sometime before we move. New Years anyone?!

One of the very different and great things about Alief is that it is so equally diverse. There is no real majority of race and a couple of nights ago I was standing next to my Chinese, Hispanic, Black, Arab and Indian friends almost in amazement that we were all so close and actually all in the same room. I seriously think the last time I was in a room that diverse was probably when I had my driver's license picture taken a few years ago and I was in Houston then too! I feel fortunate to have been able to attend a high school like that because I got the chance to learn so much about so many different people, races, religions, cultures, etc. It was more of an education than I bargained for and I will always be grateful that when a lot of our friends were moving farther out into the suburbs, we stayed in the shadow of Houston (just outside the city limits) in what became a more diverse area every year.

One comment that was fun to hear from the people who had moved away from the state and come back to visit, was how friendly Texas was and how they missed it. I was surprised to keep hearing it from different people in different conversations throughout the two night reunion. I wasn't able to attend the final family get-together on Sunday because I had to catch an early flight home, but I'm so grateful that my husband supported me going. I had a wonderful time and had a blast catching up with some very old friends.

Monday, July 23, 2007

another New England saying, Holy catholic church, one body, one Christ

As I was on the plane to Kansas (last May)(well to Detroit since that's where my layover was) for a former roommate and bridesmaids wedding, I sat next to a lady in a Catholic missions group. The group was on the plane too. She referred to New England Christians as the "frozen chosen". I thought that was hilarious, but pretty accurate. New England is a very challenging area spiritually (to put it delicately). It's interesting too because this is where the nation began and so many great men of the faith lived and attended church here. Anyway, times have changed. Now it's a very liberal area for the most part. The New England Christians I have met are quieter about their faith and not very evangelistic. However, the show their faith in other ways such as serving and helping the people and community around them. They are there for you when you need them most. They have a quiet, commitment to their friends and their church. I'm not referring to just Protestants in the area, since it's a predominantly Catholic area, I'm referring to ALL Christians. I have met some wonderful Catholic brothers and sisters in our neighborhood as well.

Which reminds me of something I believe and have wanted to convey for a long time. I just want to express the importance of our responsibility as Christians and Protestants of any denomination to support our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church has gone through some difficult times as we all know and this has done a lot of damage to their witness and shaken their faith. I've talked to several people who have dismissed going to church at all (and believing in anything related to church) because of what's happened. So this is when we need to pray for them and for the Catholic church because we're really a part of the one Holy catholic (lower-case) church under one Lord and one Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I watched the replacement process of the pope pretty closely and was excited that they elected a conservative pope, Pope Benedict, to follow John Paul II. Because of the influence and power of the Catholic church and the stance that they have on certain issues such as abortion and homosexuality, I thought this was important. We need to remember that we are on the same side when it comes to these issues, even if we disagree about how to worship or on the leadership of the church etc.

I was disappointed when Pope Benedict issued a document a couple of weeks ago saying that the Roman Catholic church was the only true church and that Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches and thus, don't have the means to salvation. This really ignores that we all serve the same God. He asserts that Jesus only created one church, but we believe this is for all who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and died and rose again for our sins.

Despite that however, I still believe we should, with full knowledge of our disagreements and differences, choose to support each other in our common missions and goals whether this be a political or moral stance, or simply to help people begin a relationship with Jesus.

busy July

Wow, this month is flying! I just finished an incredibly busy week leading VBS singing and reviews at the beginning and end of the day with a friend. It was so fun to be up there in front of all the kids doing motions to fun songs and recapping the days' stories and Bible points and verses. Too bad we will have moved the same time next year. Maybe we'll be moved in enough so I can do it again though. SO much fun. We even did a recap on Sunday for the church. We had the kids come up and do a couple of songs, then retold a Bible story from the passed week. The kids love watching the wall of Jericho fall down! :)

Anyway, this Thursday, my gracious husband is watching the kids so I can go down to my 10 year high school reunion. Then when I fly home on Sunday, he drives 10 hours down to Dalgren, VA to begin classes there for 2 months. So we basically have 3 days left together until he's gone, except for any weekends he's able to fly up and visit. I'm hoping some of his family will come visit. Also, I have my sights set on September when pre-school starts because that will be different, fun and exciting and it will begin a whole new schedule for us. I already plan on going over a little pre-school book with him just to start home lessons during Ben's morning nap, just to get him into a routine and try to get him ready. Also, I'm hoping our little lessons go well so that he might enjoy home schooling later on if I decide we need to do that.

That's one of our plans now if we move back into our house in Norfolk. The public schools in our area are not good and we knew that moving in, but we had small children and knew we'd move before they would attend school. We didn't count on really loving that house though. :) So if we move back there I'll either put him in private school at Norfolk Christian or home school. The other option is buying another house in a good school district and letting him go to public school. I really like Norfolk Christian though, it's just a big investment. It's actually a very reasonably priced private school associated with the church we attended while we were in Norfolk, Tabernacle Church. Several of our friends attended and one of our friends teaches there. I think it's worth it, we'll just have to budget for it if that's what we decide to do. Who knows, our orders might change and we might not even be stationed in Norfolk. I really love the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area though. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

we're home!

what a whirlwind! We went to Europe and back in less than a week. Everything worked like clockwork, barely, and we made it! In fact, I was laughing at what a checklist might look like for what we did so here goes . . .

(oh yeah, we drove to Newburgh, NY on Wednesday afternoon to be near Stewart AFRB and catch our Thursday flight to Dover)
1. Thursday: catch "ify" mac flight to Dover then find out flight to Ramstein has been cancelled . . . check
2. surprise Dover AFB staff and try to fit on different plane going to Ramstein, Germany . . . check
3. 6 AM Friday morning: make it to Germany on a noisy C-5 (wearing earplugs the whole way) watching a sunset and sunrise (really cool) over a 7 hour flight and take taxi to nearby train station (by the way, "try to communicate in German" should be at the end of some of these next few) . . . check
4. buy correct passes/tickets for traveling through Germany and on to Prague . . . check
5. catch four trains, make all connections (usually late), poorly order lunch on train, sleep on train (barely), sit in wrong seats reserved for same people twice . . . check
6. get passports stamped when crossing Czech border (tense, but fun!) . . . check
7. end up in Prague and figure out how to take metro to our stop to meet Will's family . . . check
8. arrive w/i half and hour of the rehearsal dinner, meet Andrew and family for first time (Elanor's fiancee), surprise everyone that we actually made it . . . check
9. call mom back in RI with Will's Aunt's blackberry and cry b/c I miss my kids (that actually happened 3 times over the course of our trip) :) . . . check
10. Friday night and Sunday morning: attend rehearsal dinner, relax Saturday morning, walk through Prague (touristy part), get awkward pedicure and manicure from lady who barely spoke English, learn a bunch of Czech words, get Czech money (crowns) . . . check
11. attend beautiful, and very different Anglican wedding at 7 PM and see Elanor and Andrew ride off to reception in horse drawn carriage . . . check
12. attend reception and get to bed at midnight suffering from jetlag :) . . . check
13. Sunday: finish gift shopping Sunday morning after sleeping late and finding a French Czech restaurant to have breakfast at . . . check
14. train back to Germany, not able to buy ticket at all at first and irritating Czech attendant when we only have Euro's to pay for it . . . check
15. stop in Munich late for the night, no place to stay, hungry, figure our how to use pay phone and call hotel, take taxi to hotel, arrive at 11, walk to dinner a few blocks away (still open thank the Lord) and finally sleep at 1 . . . check
16. Monday: walk through Englisher Garten (largest inner city garden in Europe) get rained on twice, figure out metro system back to huge Deutche Bohn (German train) station where we had Burger King and sank into our private first class train room for long trip back to Kaiserslautern train station . . . check
17. after 2 or 3 train changes arrive in Ramstein, taxi back to base and sign up for mac flight leaving on Tuesday . . . check
18. Tuesday: after staying in cute hotel in town of Ramstein and having a nice meal at a local restaurant the night before, we taxi to Ramstein base at 8 AM to stand in line and hopefully catch a potentially very full flight back to Dover, DE . . . check
19. make it on flight, whew! (note: when flying space-A on a free military flight, you are not guaranteed a seat. You are given priority in travel based on your Class and when you signed up for the flight. We are Class 3 (active duty) and signed up for the flight 5 days before when we arrived. There were 99 seats to fill and a large room full of people to fill them, thus the thrill of "making" the flight!!) . . . check
20. arrive in US on Tuesday afternoon and fly to Providence, RI on a delayed flight (now 2 AM Germany time and we are tired!! Germany is 6 hours ahead of East Coast time) . . . check
21. friends pick us up at Providence airport and we arrive safely home in Middletown at 9:30 (now 3:30 AM German time) ugh! but soooo happy to hold sleeping children and see Mom!!! . . . check
22. Wednesday: drive back to Stewart AFRB to get car where we left it, see West Point and beautiful Hudson river valley along the way . . . check


Whew! what a trip!! My Mom did a wonderful job with the boys, I swear they didn't miss us. :) She flew out on Friday and I began VBS as a singing/drama leader this past Monday. We're still going!! Will leaves July 31 for a 2 month school in Dalgren, VA the same day I return from my 10 year high school reunion in Houston. This summer is flying by! Thanks for all the prayers of safely while we were gone. I'll post pics when I can. Germany was absolutely beautiful country! I wish we could be stationed there for a little while so we could learn the language and culture. Taking the train around really enabled us to see so much and the public transportation system in Europe is so incredible, it's amazing (and probably a shame) we don't have the same thing in place over here. It was so easy to get around and once you were on a train you didn't have to worry about driving and you had time to talk, or rest, or sleep or read . . . it was wonderful!! :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

waiting . . .

Well, our mac flight was canceled today (which is completely common for mac flights, that's why they're free) :) so then we spent a few hours in the morning trying to buy a last minute flight+hotel deal and the website wasn't letting us through. After a few hours on the phone and trying different things, Will finally had to take a break. That was all before 10 AM this morning. So then I called another base and found out they had a flight to where we need to go later on this week. We're going to try to catch that one, and all the trains to take us to Prague after we get to Europe. Getting back here should be less challenging, but just as interesting. We'll see. :) If it comes down to the wire, we'll buy me a ticket home and Will will follow later on a free flight.

All this going back and forth between commercial and military/train travel has been a bit stressful, but we're easing into the drama. It will be quite a story for later though, that's for sure! :) We're trying to take things one step at a time, not taking anything for sure, or granted and if we make it, wonderful, if not, well, we really tried. I know Will would be more disappointed than that though since it's his sisters wedding, but we were never sure we would even make it in the first place.

Anyway, we're both nearly packed in our hiking backpacks and feeling more prepared now than if we had left this morning. Plus, we don't have to pack as many clothes since we're leaving later so that's a plus too. Oh yeah, and we get to spend more time with my mom and leave her here for less time alone with the boys. I'm going to miss them so much!

Well, time to start our trip again . . . tomorrow :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

zzzzzzzzzz

Oh yeah, another thing we did this past week was get a new mattress. We have had a hand-me-down one since we got married that was well-worn before we got it. We opted for a Simmons Beautyrest Plush top in a King size. :) The thing is 15 inches thick!! Anyway, it's so comfy and we're sleeping and feeling so much better on it. Mattresses can make a huge difference in how you feel and I'm so glad we finally got a new one.

We went with a King because we enjoy snuggling with the boys in the morning, but we were always getting trampled on before if they decided to start moving around. Plus, we plan to have more kids and thought it would be fun to have the space as a family. We wrestle, and tickle and play on the bed so it's like a soft, social gathering area at certain times of the day in our house. :) Also, my circulation has been bad since I was a kid. Limbs would fall asleep in elementary school if I sat the wrong way. So now, it's nice to be able to stretch out at night and not poke Will. Yes, I'm one of those people who can't touch anyone if I'm trying to sleep. Unless I'm really tired and we're snuggling. That works.

Before we got it Will said the only reason he slept on our previous mattress and not on the couch was because I was there. Now he actually looks forward to going to sleep. Amazingly, it also makes it easier to get up in the morning, because we feel so good! Time to go try it out again for the second night while I wait for Will to get home from the Boston airport with my Mom! YAY! zzzzzzzzzz

one by one

my goodness what a busy summer we're having, and I don't even have kids in school yet! Will and his friends made it home last Monday from their boat trip. We spent all week running errands and doing chores since he had the week off. We also, just enjoyed some downtime. I'm not sure we had time for the downtime, but it was nice to relax anyway and be together after the busy weeks we'd had before with Will graduating, and the boat trip etc.

I busied myself getting the house in order for a trip to Prague, Czech Republic this week. Will's sister is getting married over there this Saturday, July 7 to a guy she met at Abilene Christian U who's from Ohio I think. They're over there on a year long mission trip. I haven't said much about the trip because I wasn't sure if we would be able to go, but pieces are falling into place and it looks like it will happen. We're going to try to mac-flight (military space-available) out of a nearby reserve base over to Ramstein in Germany, then take trains over to Prague. All of it is a little tricky with security measures, timing, luggage (backpacks basically) not to mention language and exchange barriers. It will be an adventure for sure! My mom is flying in tonight to take care of the boys for us for 2 weeks. Hopefully we'll make it back in time to spend time with her before she leaves though.

Bon Voyage! (I'll have to look up how to say that in Czech)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

long day starting at 1 AM

So, putting Charley to bed in undies w/o anything to drink and going to the potty right before bed still didn't work. He woke up crying around 1:15 AM because he was all wet. The only sheets I had left were some girly pink striped ones and a floral pillowcase. :) I'm still washing his other ones from wetting the last two nights before last night. Still, after I changed all his clothes and his bed, he came back in to snuggle with me at 1:50. I let him stay until around 2:15, but then I couldn't fall back to sleep until around 2:45! Ugh!! Then wake up call every morning is just before 6 and I try to stay in bed and make them wait until 6:30. It's not really a relaxing time for me though. So I dragged myself out of bed and now it's 11:45 and I still feel like I'm half asleep. We played outside and went to BJ's this morning. They're down for an early nap so we can go to the air show in the early afternoon. So, I'd better grab a nap while I can! See ya!

Friday, June 22, 2007

tears of relief, joy, pride

So today is day 3 since Will's been on the boating trip. He said it's been a little rougher than they expected with some engine trouble and rough seas, but they made up a lot of time today with some smoother waters and might make their destination of Annapolis by tomorrow. He got sea sick today though, which wasn't fun, but said he's feeling better.

My plan for today was to take the kids to the mall. I had some things to return and there was a big sale going on that I wanted to use a 20% off coupon with. We left at 9ish this morning for a 40-45 minute drive to the Warwick mall. The thought was for Ben to take his morning nap in the car on the way, and for us to be home before 12/1 o'clock naps in the afternoon. :) ha ha I was also planning on going to Target after the mall. Well, Ben did sleep in the car, but we never made it to Target and didn't leave the mall until 12:50. They usually are napping by then. :) It turns out that I got an even bigger discount on some things I needed because I got to apply for a new Macy's card so I wanted to use it to get stuff I might wait on (but really need later) that I really liked. I'm pretty good about returning stuff I realize I don't need right away anyway. By the way, I think that's the second time I had been to the mall all year so I tend to cram all my shopping in at once for stuff I've been waiting to get. Anyway, that's why we were there for so long. It was fun and the day flew because of it, which was nice.

Ok, enough about shopping. The real reason I wanted to post is because the boys were soooo good for me that I actually cried when we left. We ended up staying and have lunch at the mall and I had some returns from VS to make (they're have a big sale too) and then we went back to Macy's where I actually tried on a dress, took Charley to the potty for the second time and then made it out to the car when I realized (after the kids were buckled in) that we'd left Ben's bear/blanket inside. I just couldn't leave them and run in really quick so I got them out, left the stroller and walked in. Someone had left it right inside the door on a display knowing I'd come back and find it. I was just so proud of them. They didn't whine, or fuss, or pick at each other (well barely at all). Charley told me he had to go potty and went! He sat in his chair at lunch and I didn't have to strap him to a high chair or the stroller. He stood halfway on the stroller and the chair most of the time, but that was fine, at least he was staying put. He's so active, especially after being tied to a stroller for an hour or two, that he needs some running time, but he was sooo good for me. I was really surprised actually. Turning 3 has really done wonders for him or he's turning a corner or something. He didn't break down or throw a fit about anything and we all talked and had fun the whole time! (he did when we got home because he was sooo tired, but that's my fault) :) I was so grateful b/c the morning didn't start out that smoothly and Charley was crying for Daddy twice before 8 AM. But, we made it out of the house, whew! and on the way home, Ben slept, and I managed to keep Charley awake passed his nap time so we could make it home. We got home at 1:30. Ben went right down and I made Charley go down at 2. He slept for 2 hours and Ben stayed down for the same time as well so all in all, Ben slept for 3 hours and Charley 2. I didn't sleep because I had coke for lunch, but I still rested. It was a nice break. The evening was long, but we made it and tomorrow we're going to the air show to see the Blue Angels! Sunday is church and another long afternoon and then Will flies home Monday!! :) and I will have made it. ugh deployment is going to be a beast! At least Charley will be in school. :)

Anyway, another really neat thing is that it seemed like at every store or place we went, there was never a line, then one would develop right behind me. I felt like God was just sheltering me or giving me an easy time or something just to give me a break. It was really nice. Thank you Lord for whatever You were doing. I felt your love so many times, and thank you for my wonderful boys and that they did so well today. I really needed that!

Also, I have to mention, in other news, Charley went #2 for the second time again today!! I'm so excited. It so strange what a difference being potty trained makes. He's really getting the hang of it. He didn't have an accident all day and is getting to the point where he's only having them at night. I should have put him in a pull-up, but I want him to get up and go. I don't know, maybe night is another step for later on. I know people who still put their 4 & 5 year olds in pull-ups just in case. I don't think I'll do that, but the whole potty training thing is still new so maybe I should. Well, he's in undies tonight, went pee right before bed and hadn't had anything to drink for an hour or two before bed, so we'll see if that helps. :)

g'night!