Wednesday, May 30, 2007

'07 RI Navy Base V-ball Champs!!

Yay!! We won the base volleyball finals last night by deafeating BOOST! They put up a great fight! I was on the Naval War College Juniors team and we had an undefeated season. We didn't even lose a game in any match! The commander said that was a first in the history of this competition. We even get Championship t-shirts and our pics in the Navalog! woo hoo! :) It was a really fun season. We had a fun, relaxed, talented team and it was a lot of fun playing with them. I was the only civilian in the group, but was allowed to play because they allow spouses of student to participate.

Thanks honey for all the babysitting so I could go play. I love you!

Oh yeah, I hope you all enjoy this really funny pic of me serving! Laugh it up!

Mazda RX-7

Yay!! Will got his old car back! We're all excited because we now own (again)the car that Will's grandfather bought new back in '83, a Silver Mazda RX-7. Will's dad bought it when Will's grandfather was unable to drive it and then Will got to take it to the Academy as his own. He has memories of this car since he was 5.

Anyway, it was broken at the end of his time at the Academy and was told by a repair shop that it would cost more to fix than the car was worth. So, he donated it to charity, but instead of giving it to charity, the car shop sold it. It has changed hands a few times since then (2001) and a couple of weeks ago we got a call from a friend of the current owner who was looking for the title. They traced it back to Will, who had lost it somewhere along the way. Will got to thinking about the car and all it's memories and got excited about just knowing where it was . . . so he called the guy back and asked if he could buy it back. To make a long story short, this passed Saturday, Will drove our Suburban down to Maryland, rented a trailer and hauled his Mazda back up here on Sunday. Long trip! but at least he missed a lot of Memorial Day traffic. He was so giddy and we're all so excited for him. His grandfather has since passed away, but he called his grandmother to let her know he got it back and she was trilled too! She said she was going to go tell Wayne (his grandfather who used to own it). :)

Now we just have to get it running. The carburetor and transmission are out so we have a lot of work to do! Hopefully it will be done within this next year so he can drive it to his ship next June when we move (to Norfolk as of right now, but who knows where, it's always changing) :)

Congrats Baby! I'm so excited for you!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

pre-school thoughts

In my previous "pre-school dilemmas" post on May 18, 2007, Dana, a friend from high school who lives down in TX and has 4 children, commented on her own personal thoughts about motives for pre-school and she pointed out some cautions as well. I used that post to reflect more deeply into my own motives for thinking about putting Charley into pre-school, and came away even more certain that we are doing this for the right reasons. I wanted to describe my own thoughts and respond to what she wrote in another comment to her, but it got too long and so I am turning it into a post for everyone to read. If you want to read her original comment, the link is or just go to the comments link on my May 18, 2007 "pre-school dilemmas" post.

I hope this exchange provokes thought and understanding between all who have an opinion on this subject.


I'd like to go through the concerns you brought up and write out my thinking. That way, I can make sure I'm not avoiding any issues and have thought everything through honestly in my own mind, and it might be interesting to you to understand a different perspective.

It's so interesting to me how different people come to different conclusions based on different circumstances. For instance, I don't have the wonderful support system of friends here that are able and available to take the kids off my hands so any break I get, besides Will coming home early from work, I have to pay for. However, as nice as a few hours with just Ben and I would be for me, it isn't my motivation in putting him in pre-school.

Also, you mentioned several motives that you had narrowed down for yourself such as "grown-up" peer pressure and I was really glad you said that because it helped me to make sure that I wasn't doing the same thing. In fact, I have talked to only 2 stay-at-home moms who are about to put their kids into pre-school; so I definitely don't feel any pressure to "keep up with the Joneses".

As far as what my kids will remember about their childhood . . . I don't think 2 mornings a week away from me will even factor into their thinking. In fact, they already do it when you factor in Bible study on Tuesday morning and church on Sunday. Not to mention the weeks that we get a babysitter to go out. So, I definitely don't think this will cause them any concern about the time or energy I'm investing into their lives. It's a good consideration though, and good motive-check again.

Another motive you mentioned was that some people put their kids in pre-school to give them a better future or to have them "participate in the latest or most advanced programs." While I am interested in Charley getting a good education, I don't feel that pre-school is the key. I still believe that Will and I are educated enough to provide a perfectly good education for our kids and to that end I have not ruled out home-schooling. However, I also haven't ruled out public school, which some might say would certainly ruin his education. Instead, we are taking the decision of "schooling" and "type of schooling" literally one year at a time. One reason we are doing this is because we want to make the wisest decisions we can for our kids and listen to God's leading and direction for us all there. The other reason is because of the nature of the Navy, we have to be ready for the possibility of many moves, during the school or not; or to places with excellent or poor schools; to places where we can afford it or not. I believe that all of these things will ultimately factor in to our decision of where to place our kids year after year. For instance, if I know we have several moves coming up, I might homeschool that year. If we move to a place with excellent public schools such as Rockwall or Katy, TX (and many others) we might enroll them there. Or, if we move back to Norfolk where we can afford private school, we want to consider that. I feel that by keeping everything on the table, it helps to keep up open to what God wants us to do.

NOW :) my first thought while reading what I've just written is, "what a lack of stability we might be setting our sons up for, all the changes, and possibly different schools ... how will this engender security in my children?" And my first response to these concerns and possibly fears is: in a way, change is the nature of life, for everyone, but especially for a family in the Navy. Because I knew that we'd have children while we were still a Navy family, some of my first thoughts regarding having children dealt with, "how will I prepare my child to deal with this?" I have definitely seen the toll that being a military brat can take on some kids, and families.

Therefore, I must take a different approach to all of the instability they will encounter (and have already encountered - Charley has already experienced 2 moves and he's not even 3). I cannot look at it as a negative since it is the life God, in all His wisdom, has given us to live. I must embrace that we (including my children) were meant to go through all of the changes the Navy will bring us, and KNOW that God WILL give us the strength and resources to deal with it.

My first goal is to teach him how to rely on God and the strength within himself that God gives us as people struggling to live on this earth...if I can teach him to turn to God first, whenever he's frustrated, afraid, lonely, hurt, or happy too, then I think that will go a long way towards helping him through the tumult of Navy life and on his own.

My second goal is to do my part in building a strong family unit for us all as we lean on each other through each move, deployment, and build a secure "environment of love and support" like you said. However, I may differ from you in that I don't believe that putting Charley in pre-school for 2 or even 3 days a week, will challenge that at this point. I may feel differently next year, depending on our move in May and where we go. Hence, my need to keep ALL options open.

My third goal is to teach my children about attitude and how when you encounter struggle and hardship, you can use it to grow or to wilt. I want them to know that it is a mere fact of life that this will happen and I want them to be ready to deal with it...whether it brings them pain or joy. We were made to experience both and to embrace, learn, and grow through both. Granted, I don't want them to learn about things they're not prepared to handle at an appropriate age. I think that any negative things that he might encounter at a pre-school of my choosing (I'm currently visiting them during the day to observe for myself the atmosphere, teachers and lessons), will be good for us to talk through and deal with and will be a good introduction into this fallen world he will have to live in on his own someday.

After all of this, I can say with 95% certainty that the main motivator for me in considering pre-school for Charley is simply that it would benefit him on many levels (encourage his independent spirit, give him the chance to act properly apart from me and the chance to understand what's not appropriate around others, structured social interaction, a better chance for his creativity to grow, to be challenged and learn so much intellectually to name a few) as a child and enhance his growth in many different ways. I simply believe he's ready for it and he definitely wants it. He asks to go to school constantly, which my Mom said reminded her of me! In short, I think it would be so good for him, not every child, maybe not even Ben when it's time. It's not because I believe pre-school is the key in making sure he has the best, most advanced education. It's not because I want a break from him during the day. It's not because it's the "thing" to do or because "people" are worried about how much kids are learning these days. I believe the reasons we are considering it are positive and I think I pretty much covered those in my previous post, "pre-school dilemmas". (I had been talking a lot about things that weren't influencing our decision, I just wanted to mention some things that were.)

I agree with you that this is an important decision that should be made with discernment. I can tell that I'm probably quite a bit more comfortable with my kids coming into contact with negative outside influences than you are though, and that's ok with me. Maybe it's because you struggle with that particular issue for personal reasons more than I do. Or maybe it's because I feel like I was too sheltered as a child. I wish that my parents had told me or shown me more of the world so that I could have prepared for it in advance in the "safe" environment of my own home, or so they could have taught me how to deal with it. Who knows. We are the way we are and we do the things we do because of so many things including our pasts, and our own current, particular situations in life; and those differences lend themselves to different decisions. I like what the Jeub father of 13 said, it was something like, "you can always try to do everything right for your children, but you will still always make a mistake." I'm sure many wise people have said this and while it may seem negative, it is also freeing. It frees us to realize that we need to trust God more than our own abilities in child raising. It frees us from some of the guilt of making inevitable mistakes. It frees us to be very much IN the world and not OF it. And finally, it frees us to allow our children to be children and make mistakes along the way knowing that God is still in control. I know that I'm not always good at living all of these things, but I think their truth remains in tact regardless.

I believe that as long as I'm seeking God in the decisions I make regarding my children, they will be safe in His care. Calamity will come regardless of the job I do as a parent and I need not fear it, but in the vein of Paul, embrace it and learn how God wants me to grow through it.

I know that I'm seeking God's guidance in the best way to raise my children and I know that you're doing that as well. And as long as we're both doing that, then even when we come to different conclusions on what the best for our children, we're still doing what God wants and we can both be at peace about that.

I appreciate your perspective and words of caution and advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to express your personal thoughts and feelings to me. Reading through them helped me to be sure I wasn't making this decision for the wrong reasons, but more importantly, reminded me to be in prayer about this a lot more than I already am.

Monday, May 21, 2007

not moving . . . again

I guess I forgot to mention this in the months since we've been back home from our very long Christmas vacation but, it doesn't look like we'll be moving to D.C. after all. It's kind of funny because we only expected to live here for 10 months and when we finally leave next May, it will have been almost 3 years! Will just kept getting different assignments and so we kept getting extended. Actually part of the reason I didn't say anything earlier is because we haven't really known for sure. In fact, we just didn't hear anything and Will was assigned to a ship out of Norfolk next year instead of D.C. and it was never corrected or changed and so . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . never hearing anything different and here we are, it's May and I can say with 90% certainty that we will not be moving to D.C. next month. So, I think it's safe to announce, finally! : )

I'm going to miss family and friends that we have there that we thought we'd see, Will's Aunt Donnette, the Willhites and the Burkmans, and all the wonderful things there are to do in D.C., especially for kids. Oh well, if Will stays in the Navy long enough, I'm sure we'll get stationed there eventually.

The good news is that we won't have to do two moves in 2 years because after D.C. we were going to have to come back to Newport for Department Head school for just 6 months and now we can just stay here and do it. Another plus is that we'll get to Norfolk sooner and I'll get to see all of the friends we left behind there: Tab church family, the Lowes, the Chevaliers, and many others. We also miss our house that we still own down there. Renting it out is going well, and we're not sure if we'll buy another and keep renting it, or move back into it. I really liked that house. That's another blog though. :)

Anyway, that's the latest on the moves front.

Friday, May 18, 2007

pre-school dilemmas

Well, yes, we considering putting Charley into pre-school at age 3. I never thought I'd do it and I thought those who did were just looking for a babysitter. (my apologies to those people whom I may have judged incorrectly). Some of my reasons for considering it are as follows: Charley is active, outgoing, interested, curious, and independent. I think putting him in a structured classroom environment for just half a day for 2 days a week (still debating 3) would really benefit him in all of those areas.

It would provide him with healthy interaction with other kids in a controlled atmosphere and since he acts much better away from me than with me, I'm not concerned about him exhibiting any behavioral problems. He's a good boy most of the time anyway. Second, he would have better exposure to more information = more chances to learn more things and since he's so interested and curious about things, this would be wonderful for him. He's such a sponge right now and I want to take advantage of that and I don't want him to miss out on certain experiences simply because I have to look after Ben a lot or don't have the resources at my house to teach him everything I'd love to teach him. Another reason is that the teachers there have practice with great teaching methods, a song to go with everything you could possibly want to learn, including the days of the week . . . in general, just a lot of things that I wouldn't do a great job of teaching him. Finally, I want to encourage his independent spirit because it's my job as a parent to prepare him for life apart from me and I think that in a way, that starts as soon as you put your baby in a crib in another room.

There are many more reasons that I think this is a good fit for Charley and if it doesn't go well, we can always pull him out and wait another year. Of course the part that is hard is letting him go during that time. I stay at home with him because I believe I can do the best job caring for him and these are very important years of his life when his personality and confidence are being crafted. I also stay home because I love being around my children. However, I don't think it's too long to be apart from me and I am still the main caregiver as far as his personality is concerned. I think pre-school would do wonders for his confidence though. Not that he needs help in that area (anyone who's met him knows he's a confident child), but I want him to enjoy succeeding in a new environment apart from me and our home. I think this will help his creativity, and ability to problem solve and think for himself later on. Those are my thoughts anyway. I hope they're well-founded.

We're still in prayer about the whole thing and about the frequency and are not registered yet so are not committed to anything yet. Feel free to offer any ideas or thoughts, contradicting or supporting. Honest input is always refining. :)

catching up 2

So . . . Ben had a wonderful first birthday on April 27! We celebrated the next day with Will's parents, who came into town for a week, and his aunt, who came into town from D.C. for a few days. I made a cute carousel cake with animal crackers connected to the chocolate pirroine (sp?) pole by twizlers. Will's mom made a top out of paper for it. We waited until after naps this time (unlike Charley's first) and that worked much better. Ben did a great job and seemed to like his presents. Of course he had help opening them from his older brother. I think Charley enjoyed playing with them more, which is fine because almost every morning, Charley gets different toys out for Ben and tried to show him how to play with them. It's so cute watching them. They play really well together and to borrow a term from my friend Anna in Virginia Beach, "it makes my heart happy". Anyway, I can't believe Ben is one already! This has been the fastest year yet in my life and I've heard they only go faster. Aaaahhh I'm hanging on to this ride as best I can!! :) No, life is good, not spinning out of control, despite some of our crazier days. Ben was under the weather for a little while when he got his one year shots, but he's doing better now. What a blessing to have a happy, healthy baby. Oh yeah, he's up and walking by the way!