Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting our just deserts....

As I posted a while ago, there is dry lake bed near us with some sand dunes around it. We go exploring there every so often and the kids love it. They find all kinds of garbage, uh, I mean, treasure to collect. As you can see above, the lake bed area is a huge expanse of flatness. Out more in the middle there isn't even any brush and the ground is cracked and dry. Surrounding it are a bunch of small dunes.
The boys have a blast running up and down them, digging around searching for something cool.
Although it is tricky to climb up--one foot up, two feet down....
Maggie didn't have much freedom here as every time she caught hold of some sand she tried to eat it. This is about the extent of her sand contact...
Some of the "treasure" tyler dug up. Tyler believes they are from a big war because they have bullet holes (people practice shooting out here for fun sometimes...)

Of course, after it is all over there is more sand in their clothes and shoes (and hence my car) than we left at the dunes! I did my friend's toes last week--nothing extravagant but cute nonetheless.
For my last "incident" I will start by saying that Sundays are a very busy, hectic day for our house. Eric is gone at meetings from 9 a.m. to noon, then we have church from 1-4, then Eric stays after for meetings until about 5:30. I am crazy trying make Primary run smoothly, and have morning branch council meetings ever other week. Don't get me wrong, I love to serve, but it is just a busy day. As I was getting some things ready to go, I hear a crash in the laundry room--Tyler had tried to get some Jelly Belly's off of a shelf, knocked the shelf down and an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar crashed all over the floor. Now this was no regular size bottle--this was a COSTCO size bottle--enormous.
It was WAY worse than the picture--it was very thick, splashed all over the walls, garbage can, anything surrounding it, and as you can see about half of it went UNDERNEATH the washer and dryer! Ugh! Our laundry room is tiny so you can't just push things aside--I had to move the dryer out of the room, rearrange things, and on and on. It took me 2 hours to get it all cleaned up! I didn't realize how sticky it would get--my shoes kept sticking to the floor. I almost suffocated to death on the fumes. I sopped it up with a sponge for a while, then used paper towels, then hand scrubbed it all with cleaner, then finally mopped the floor twice. But I managed to get it done. And the silver lining is that I found 2 rogue socks that had snuck behind the washer. Of course they were black with vinegar...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Random Extras

I was goofing around on my toes the other day. I wanted something semi-mellow since I've had crazy bright stuff lately, and this is what I ended up with. Turned out pretty fun!So a friend decided she wanted it in bright colors. Looks cute that way too. Plus it is actually pretty easy to paint.
Next random item. I've posted before about Tyler and his Lego building prowess. Well, the other day he come downstairs with some "monster" he had created. Pretty clever, if you ask me. Left to right: robot head sword hands, two headed strongman, long-necked 4-legged speed freak, and no head ninja sticks man. Wouldn't want to run into these guys in a dark alley.
Random item #3. Maggie loves pizza. So much so that she even hugs the plate.
Now who could have made this mess?
Guess who! Everyday, 10 times a day, I clean up the above and USED to have to clean up a ton of book pulled off our bookshelf. But then I got smart with the books. The bottom 2 shelves are now jam packed between the sides. Ha! I foiled Maggie's plans! She can't get them out anymore.
I thought I was so smart until she just found another place to "explore." A more dangerous one. Ugh. Maybe I will loosen up those books after all.
She thinks she is so sneaky... She gave me this look like, "Oh man, I can't believe you found me before I had a change to sample the Palmolive!" I guess I will have to be on my toes once again.

Birthday Bash

So there are a million pictures, but Maggie wanted to give you a play by play of her first birthday....

Did you know it's my birthday today?
I am one year old!
First my present from Auntie Carrie...what nice wrapping!
Wait mom, we have to wait for daddy! (She actually did put the package down and go to the door to wait for Eric to come in from the garage.)
C'mon dad, hurry up!
First up....yeah! Paper! (None of these were posed by the way.)
There must be something better in here....
There is! Baby Legs! So cute! (Once again, not posed!)
Oh look, TWO!
I'm taking off with these before Tyler and Jake can get them!
What? More presents? I am luckiest girl ever!
Here dad, let me help you open it.
DAD! HURRY UP! (See, I do cry sometimes.)
Okay, all better. Look how cool!
Time for dessert! Mom, I can see my cupcake over there....
Give it to me!
Uh, wait, maybe I'm not so sure I want it now. There is a flaming ball of fire on top. Well, let me try to touch it!
Good job, Dad, for blowing it out before I burned my finger!
Like any child, I must first pull out the candle and suck off the frosting.
Say, this is pretty good stuff!
Here mom, come try this! I've got some already mushed up in my hand for you!
The frosting is my favorite.
This piece looks pretty big....BUT...
This piece looks BIGGER!
All done! Oh what a beautiful morning! I love birthdays...can we do this again tomorrow?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And the army goes rolling along...

It's been 4 1/2 years now on active duty in the army. We've been stationed at 2 posts that are highly active in training activities. Suffice it to say that tank crossings, helicopters in flight and striker convoys and have become a part of daily life, but I still find it totally awesome. Last night we went for a little drive around post. We drove over to "Tickle Bump Road" (self-explanatory) per the boys' request. It was pitch black outside so we couldn't see much, until we suddenly came across an enormous convoy of army vehicles heading out into the "box" for training. Here at Fort Irwin soldiers from all over the country are trained to go to Iraq/Afghanistan before they deploy. They put them in "real-life" situations--they have entire towns complete with butchers, hotels, Iraqi citizens, mosques, etc. out in the huge expanse of desert known as "The Box." Soldiers permanently stationed here act as insurgent fighters. So the trainees bring all their stuff (vehicles, weapons, etc.) out there and are faced with true-to-life situations for a week. They react as best they can to surprise mortar attacks, people burning American flags, people screaming at them in Arabic, car bombs, kidnappings, etc. They even have people handing out death cards meaning that person is now dead. I mean, they throw everything at these soldiers that they can. And they really do blow the cars up and stuff--fire and all. After the grueling week with no breaks, they are "graded" on how well they performed. That is a VERY brief explanation as compared to all that goes on here--it truly is an amazing place to be. Anyway, back to last night--as we were driving we happened across a huge convoy headed out to the box. We parked and watched as they all passed. I wish I had my camera--they were crossing right in front of an actual "Tank Crossing" sign (see the picture). There are several of these all around here, but wouldn't it have been a great shot to get an actual tank in the shot too? Oh well. We saw some of the biggest tanks I have ever seen, armored humvees, medic tanks, supply trucks, more tanks, strikers, and on and on. There must have been a hundred vehicles. As I watched them pass at first I though about how excited those soldiers must be--not happy excited but adrenaline rush excited. To go out and actually apply all that you have been trained to do. Then, as I sat and watched, my heart grew full of appreciation for these men and women. They sacrifice so much to keep our country safe. I thought about them, their families, their wives and children, and how much they all give to serve America. There have been annoyances about being in the army, but I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. I cannot express my gratitude for these soldiers. Before I lived in the midst of this, I would go about my daily life and vaguely think how I appreciated their sacrifice, but it never really sunk in. Now, I see them, I know them, I know their families, our children play together, I play Bunco with their wives.... they are real to me now. Real people with real lives. We are so lucky to have so many good people who are willing to give so much. So thank you to all the soldiers out there, thank you for being willing to serve, thank you for being willing to sacrifice so much. We should all remember what they have done for us, not just on Veteran's Day, but everyday.

In closing, my heart goes out to all those affected in the Fort Hood shooting. We were actually stationed there for 2 years before we came to Fort Irwin. What a tragic thing to have happen. It is sad that one crazy person can do such great damage to so many people's lives. I hope that those families are blessed with as much peace as possible in these times.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Look Who's Walking...

Guess who took her first steps last night! (Tyler was in charge of picture taking so he didn't quite capture the moment, but you get the idea...) And oh my goodness, my arm looks enormous! I will add a clause, "Objects in picture are not as humongous as they appear." They say the camera adds 10 pounds--who knew that would all be in my bicep. Just remember, it's all muscle...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I wish I could write a letter...

Eric's big joke with me is, "You should write a letter!" whenever I am annoyed at a company for any reason--defective product, poor customer service, product not as advertised, etc. I have done it in the past and it works pretty well. I think I inherited this from my mother, who is also a stickler for getting what you pay for. I happened to be on Facebook (my bi-annual sign-on) and saw this posted from an old college roommate--I whole-heartedly agree!

Dear Daylight Savings, I am writing this letter to inform you the product you gave me was defective. It has resulted in my children going to bed an hour later, waking up an hour earlier and my husband staying at work an hour longer. I think it was rather presumptuous of you to assume I wanted an extra hour to begin with. Thank you for your time.....but you can have it back. Warmest Regards, ~Lianne

Received your letter. Our policy is no refunds, returns, or exchanges until your purchase is about 6 months old, at which point we will actually force you to return the product, whether you like it or not.
Yours forever, DST

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Halloweenie Time!

Well, we were smart this year and didn't carve our pumpkins until 2 days before Halloween. This is our 3rd Halloween here. The first Halloween we carved them about a week ahead of time. It was so warm that our pumpkins were rotted out long before Halloween ever came. Last Halloween you may remember the "Star Wars" themed painted pumpkins. I wanted to do that again this year. I said (in my most excited-sounding voice), "Oh boy! Let's paint our pumpkins tonight!" But I was immediately vetoed. Tyler insisted that we carve them. I tried to talk them out of it, to no avail. We compromised. We all helped gut them, then the boys got to draw a face and daddy cut them out. They turned out really cute and the boys had a blast.
This is what Maggie did while we were carving them...
She explored the yard and had a great time as well. Here is the finished product. I don't know why I didn't think to put them together for the picture, but oh well. As you can see, it was difficult enough just getting the picture the way it was. I am still in total shock that our family pictures came out as good as they did. I can never seem to get all the kids looking semi-normal at the same time.
Now it was time to decide on costumes. Tyler had picked out a ninja costume at the store, but Jacob was SOOO lucky (or so we convinced him) that he got to choose from a whole box of our (cough-used-cough) costumes! In fact, we were so good at convincing him about how lucky he was that Tyler decided he wanted to be his storm-trooper costume from last year. No way was I about to let him since he HAD to have the ninja costume (think, "I will only be happy if I have a ninja costume for Halloween!"). So it took some cajoling, reverse psychology, bribing, positive reinforcement...but in the end all that worked was some good ole' home cooked threats. I know, I am a model mother. We even went through a couple threats as well--our first one, that he could wear what he wanted but then had to pay me back for the costume, took some quick backpedaling after he handed over his piggy bank. It ended up coming to "Wear the ninja or nothing at all." After I said I realized it is a threat I couldn't follow through on (big parenting no-no) but breathed a sigh of relief when he chose ninja over nudity. I could tell he had to think about it though.... Anyway, back to "lucky" Jacob--he first decided on Buzz Lightyear... Here he is saying, "To infinity and beyond!" or, in his words, "To bindy an meyonnnn!"
But he changed his mind (TBA....) Here is Tyler after the "discussion" of what costume to wear. He got very into character.
And inspired his brother to do the same. Jacob ended up with Batman because he could have a cape and a face mask (even if it was black eyeliner). He loved the eye mask so much, in fact, that taking it off was another episode, this time with child #2, of cajoling, encouraging, blah blah blah. We didn't have to get all the way to threats though--he was satisfied with knowing he can wear it again next year...probably because he was no concept of how long a year is.
Skip ahead a little. A teacher from Tyler's school called me and said there is a group of teachers who wanted to get their toes done. They all live off-post so asked if I could come to the teacher's lounge after school. I did and it was so fun! Adult conversation, no kids (thanks to a friend)...I loved it. They loved it too. So much, in fact, that they have me scheduled to come in every other Tuesday until the end of the year! These two were a couple that I liked.

Back to Halloween. We decided to trick-or-treat with some friends. The group got a little big--my three, my friend's 4 and my other friend's 3. We had quite the gaggle to keep up with! This picture was dark so I enhanced it, that's why it looks so bad.
After we got home, Maggie had the most fun dumping out the bowl of candy over and over again. I guess I could have put it up where she couldn't reach it, but it was too much fun to see her knock it down and giggle about it. Her costume did have a big head bow but she kept grabbing it off. Oh well.

Now we are fighting candy bellyaches and the boys wanting to go trick-or-treating in, again tonight. Can't wait 'til next year!