Friday, December 29, 2006

change in progress

Bear with me for a few days. I am in the process of changing to Blogger's new version...and since it's the start of a new year I feel the need to refresh a few things. Mind if I don't post one of those annoying "under construction" signs? I'm also in the process of redoing our family website which is sorely outdated.

Dave and I traded babysitting favors with some neighborhood friends this week. Today we left our three with them and headed out to the movies. We saw "Pursuit of Happyness" which was really worthwhile. (And no, I didn't misspell it.) We used to see every movie that came out during the holidays. Nowadays we have to pick and choose our opportunities since most of our movie viewing happens inside our home. Dave also wants to see "The Good Shepherd" soon. Anyone seen it?

Grace takes the prize this week for her changes...finally God has blessed us with a ready to potty model of child. She now wakes up dry most mornings and announces her intentions as running to the bathroom. The running commentary is hilarious and the reality of fewer diapers seems like a miracle. On Tuesday, while we were at a restaurant, she insisted on the fact that the changing table was not for her and insisted upon the big girl potty. Hallelujah! It's probably time since she has closely inspected the faceless illustration on the changing table (you know the one that shows you how to use the changing table and warns you not to walk away from the child?) and decided that "the baby lost it's eyes when it fell off the table after the Daddy left it." I wonder if the illustrators ever thought the information would be percieved that way?

Speaking of change, did I mention that I am officially beginning the job hunt soon? I have a resume to update and a portfolio to compile, but hopefully that effort will pay off in a good and satisfying job. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, December 22, 2006

here comes santa claus

Grace kisses Santa during our church's Breakfast with Santa
December 2, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

we came, we saw, we survived

Ah, at long last I return to the blogging scene. Hang onto your hats, this is a long post. A lot has happened in three weeks -- not the least of which was our trip to Washington D.C. for Dave's Business Group Christmas party. We managed to cram a lot of fun and old friends into 5 days. We left Georgia on Thursday afternoon and got into Maryland around 1:45 am on Friday morning. By some genius stroke of luck we were granted a suite due to a mixup at the Hilton where we were staying. That was wonderful with five people in the room.

We set about on Friday to take the kids by Dave's office in Maryland and say hello, tie up loose ends for the rest of the trip, and then visit my old office near NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. That afternoon we finally did the thing Jordan has dreamed about for two years -- we visited with her best friend and our old neighbors. It was great fun to see the girls reuniting and unnerving to see how they are becoming older. Jordan got to visit with Alex and Marielle at length and we all went to dinner at an Italian restaurant with little brothers and sisters in tow. I really felt sorry for the other clientele of the restaurant because we were the loudest table in the room. Later that night Jordan and the girls spent the night at Marielle's house. When we picked her up on Saturday morning she was on cloud 9.

We met more friends for breakfast, showed William the hospital where he was born, and then began preparing for the big party night. First on the agenda was getting the kids to their old babysitter's house for the spend the night party she had planned. Miss Nicki is a wonderful person. She goes to school at UCSD and had just arrived home from California less than 12 hours before we dropped three kiddos on her. I could hardly believe how excited she was to see them. The last time she babysat Will he was still a new toddler around 14 months old. We felt so safe leaving them there -- and we were so excited to run away for an adult night on the town.

The hotel was BEAUTIFUL. Big feather bed and down comforters, great views, and good company. It was nice to have time alone with my husband. I was completely caught by surprise when he brought out a jewelry box with a circular diamond pendant as an early christmas present. Dave gets extra bonus wife points for being so romantic. We got dressed for the night in peace and enjoyed every moment of the luxurious party. There were about 600 people in the Grand Ballroom, a live band including horns, and food stations to fulfill every need including the required crabcakes. It was quite the party.

One night away with a relaxing morning did wonders for my mentality. Most mornings we are getting people up and moving at our house. Having a morning with no deadlines (other than a noontime kid pickup) was heavenly. We did eventually come to reality and checked out of the hotel. We headed back to get the kids (who were all happy as clams with Miss Nicki and the goodies she has treated them with) and then out to brunch with some old Navy friends. Oddly enough our old Navy contemporaries are now taking command of ships and big organizations...and that is a funny feeling having known them since their early twenties. Just one more reminder that the years are flying by.

Sunday night we arrived on the doorstep of Josh and Claudia, Dave's cousin. They are one of the best things about the Maryland area and we were happy to be back with them. They were brave enough to entertain our clan for two days and even do some sightseeing with us. On early Monday morning we headed downtown by metro (a thrill to the kids) and then set about to be tourists. We covered a planned tour of the Capitol Building, the Air and Space Museum, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Washington Monument, and the new WWII monument. The temperature was 70 degrees so we had a reprieve and were able to move around easily downtown without heavy coats. The photo below shows William and Jordan with a plane which their Pop-pop worked on during his time with Lockheed.

We reluctantly headed back down the interstate on Tuesday night and have tried to squeeze in the last two days of schools, teacher's presents, and other deadlines. I'm running late on Christmas card delivery, but you'll get them soon. I hope everyone is having a good holiday season. I'd love to know what your plans are...ours are rather subdued after the trip. If you made it to the bottom of this post you deserve a kiss under the mistletoe. Now go find your significant other. ;-) Did you think I'd kiss you???

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

December deadlines

Why do I find myself surprised by the whirlwind of activity each year in December. Thanksgiving seems so relaxed (well, a bit busy this year) and soothing and then WHAM December hits with a bang. It's not all about the Santa thing either. As school winds down before the break it seems like every complex project comes due with requirements from craft stores and late night finales cheering Jordan to the finish line of a research paper or biography. Choral concert practices have been extended and Drama club performances happen. I'm not even going to begin to list the additional things like birthday parties and girl scout meetings that are "normal". It's funny...January is the begining of the year, but months like August and December are beginning to mark more and more of my milestones with the kid's school experiences.

There's a little secret we are keeping from the kids right now. We made the decision to attend Dave's East Coast Company Holiday party in Washington D.C. and so we are off for a little trip right before school ends. (It's my final attempt for the parent of the year award...ripping my kids out of school for a few days in December for a family trip with some educational value. I'm quite sure the school system will deem this trip unexcused, but I really don't care.) We are going to drive up (should I wave as I go past Dori?) and then stay in Maryland for the first few days. Jordan will get to visit with her best friend and former neighbor Alex...and she will feel happy about this. Even now I hear her say that she hasn't found another friend like her in Georgia. Good friends are special, even when you are young. Dave and I will get to celebrate the Holiday party like real adults in the hotel without kids. Our three will be staying with their old babysitters who are now college age and home from University. I'm quite sure they won't miss us that night. We got my dress this weekend after some miracle kid wrangling by Dave. We also found him an outfit addition to his black suit which will dress it up a bit. I think I'll have a handsome date. We plan on visiting the Air and Space Museum later that weekend and then a full day of sightseeing including a congressional tour on Monday. It's a bit like an extended weekend, but I'm looking forward to it.

First I have to survive the choral concert tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

good memories

Thanksgiving was monumental this year. For the first time in a long time Dave's family gathered around the table with all the siblings complete. We were only missing one grandchild due to military service -- and we missed him so -- but to have that many people in one place was a milestone for us. We had a nephew from Arizona come to visit with his family (Since when did my nephews get old enough to have kids? I'm getting old!). Dave's sister came home from Kansas for the first time in four years. The last time she was here it was for the sad occassion of her mother's funeral. Another nephew came home from grad school in Wisconsin. Needless to say, last week was busy, but happy. We had kids everywhere, food galore, and a few moments to sit and enjoy each other. Dave even found the opportunity to take a crew golfing.

Thanksgiving night the women finally had time to linger around the dining room table telling funny stories:

Here are my kids with Simon's (my nephew) kids at the park together:

We had a night to eat BBQ and then we on a little tour of Marietta, which included a funny stop at this tavern. Simon is actually a Border Patrol officer so this sign was a lot of fun for us to share. Simon went inside and found out that he was the first Border Patrol officer to stop and say hello to the owner. The kitchen was closed and we were stuffed with BBQ or we would have taken advantage of the freebies involved. No comment on the Walmart greeter portion of the sign. ;-)

Monday, November 13, 2006

it was a beginning

Well, Friday was the big day for the vendor sale. A neighbor of mine held it in her home. (Brave!?!) There were around 20 vendors who sold everything from jewelry to pampered chef and tupperware. Interspersed were people like me who sold custom artwork or stationary, monograming. Apparently the traffic was much slower than last year due to conflicting events at the school. The other vendors who made a killing last year were sitting around bored this year. Maybe that was better for me though...I stayed up all night on Thursday night to finish getting ready for the sale and might not have been able to speak coherantly to more than one person at a time. We did have lots of people in the afternoon. Now the good news -- while I did not sell astronomical amounts I did make a few sales. Those will help cover my cost and I actually think the word got out that I did special things for baby gifts and bedrooms. I've gotten lots of comments since the sale indicating that I may have future business. I have no illusions about making a fortune off of my doodles, but I do know that not everyone is creative. Sometimes creativity sells.

Here is what the booth looked like. Dave helped me cut a half sheet of plywood and then cover it with a remnant that I bought. I nailed the picture hangers into the board and then hung the samples up on those. I also had some of Dave's hand turned "Southern Baby Rattles" and snowman ornaments on the table. I would have loved to have more items for people to pay for and carry home, but the sales I did make all wanted customization. You have to take orders on things like that.

This was the biggest seller of the day. I tried a very loose and happy style and most people seemed attracted to it.

Here is the mermaid painting. All the little girls commented on it. The final size of these pieces once matted was 16 " X 20 ".

On Friday night I was beat, but we managed to take advantage of free babysitting by the church teenagers. We went to dinner at a favorite cajun place with some of our best friends. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Maybe I was just delirious from the loss of sleep, but I laughed so hard that it hurt. It was great fun. I hope to be better rested next time. It was a rare weekend because we had another social engagement on Saturday night. Our neighbors hosted a "Totally 80's" night and we had a blast. Everyone dressed the part so it was that much more fun. It was a potluck so there was lots of good food. I'll have to post more about it tomorrow (photos, too) because there were some great neighborhood moments. Everyone submitted 80's photos to the hosts and they created a big collage for everyone to look over. Honestly the 80's don't seem that long ago, but that was high school and college years for me. Our babysitter was rolling in the floor laughing when we left so I guess we did look ridiculous in the 80's after all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

call me crazy

Well, I've committed the ultimate overcommittment sin in the mothering handbook. I'm not sorry I did it. I am enjoying the moments required for this special project, but I really wish I had a few more weeks to complete everything. On Friday I will be selling some artwork -- mostly watercolors of children's art for their bedrooms and playrooms -- at a school fundraiser. I've already paid for the booth and now I am at the crisis point of completing the work in my distracted life. You'd think this would be easy considering I am stay at home right now...ah, that would be the assumption an outsider would make. But if you are a Mom you know that little ones fill up every nook and cranny of your life leaving you with few quiet moments which equate a nap or bedtime.

Grace is really at the stage where she cannot be trusted for an extended period of time. Case in point occurred yesterday. She went upstairs to fetch her big doll for play. She goes into the bedroom she shares with Jordan. I hear basically normal sounds...and then little footsteps in the adjoining bathroom. And then nothing. More nothing. I go upstairs and find her sitting fully clothed in the bathtub with the bath toys all around her, quietly pouring a strawberry smelling shampoo up and down her legs. And she looks so peaceful doing it that I mute my scream and simply utter an, "Oh no." It could have been worse, right?

So back to this project. I'm loving every precious minute I can spare on it. Watercolor is my first love. We were taught to use it excessively in architectural school on our projects. There is nothing more calming than humming along on a project. I dare to say my work is art...more like doodles. Still I think I'll sell enough to cover my expenses. I should give a big THANK YOU to my husband who bravely offered to take all three children to Chuck E Cheese for an extended amount of time last night during a school fundraiser. On a night when the whole elementary school descended on that zoo he managed to have a little fun and provide them dinner. A brave and wonderful gesture indeed.

Dave is also in the midst of reworking our island base with beadboard and trim. He's worked wonders already in just a few days and I'm excited. It looks much more like a piece of furniture instead of a rough box. One day I'll rant about the people who left this house to us. For now, I'll just tell you that I wish my poor husband had more down time to do projects like this because he is really a great craftsman. I think we both fear that retirement will be our only hope to be creative. I guess my little project is an attempt to force creativity back into my life...and an island handyman project will have to be his.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

i holdin' on tight mamma!

This is what big brothers are good for:

Thursday, November 02, 2006

halloween 2006

Halloween is big fun in our neighborhood. The events start at 5 pm and keep going until 9 pm. A lot of the cul-de-sacs plan block parties where the adults hang out and take turns shuttling the kids around from street to street. There is always plenty to eat and enjoy. It's a great time to reconnect with everyone. This year our neighborhood association had a policeman hired for the front of the neighborhood to encourage outsiders to park their cars in one place and walk. In the past people would follow their kids from house to house in the cars and it would be so difficult to walk around with little ones. Our neighborhood is full of kids and so the streets were just filled with people. It was nice to have the outsider cars limited so the kids could play.

My pictures are not award winning this year. All the kids wanted to do was get candy and TOT around the neighborhood. Grace was Snow White, Jordan was Hannah Montana (thanks Alia!), and William was a Pirate. William looks like he lost his best friend in this photo. In actuality he was just tolerating me so he could go to the party.

We didn't quite get to the pumpkin carving, but our porch looked seasonal with the pumpkins the kids selected.

Here is Hannah Montana hanging out with her girlfriends. I think we are past the point of cute (aka Mom influenced) outfits for Halloween.

After returning home we got the kids headed toward a decent bedtime after sorting the candy into seperate ziploc bags. Needless to say, our pantry is stocked with candy. Things were going well until Grace fell off of William's bed and nearly bit her tongue through from the fall. I was reading them a Dr. Suess story when Grace decided that she wanted to turn around to see my face. She was sitting upright on William's bed when she suddenly just got sleepy and fell backwards. The bed is only a foot off the floor, but I could tell from her cry that she was hurt. I kept looking at all the obvious spots and could not tell what was wrong. I picked her up and then she opened her mouth and blood began pouring out of it. It was horrible. I searched for the wound initially thinking a tooth had come loose, but then saw the mini-grand canyon created by her sharp little teeth on the right side of her tongue. The cut was about 3/4ths of an inch and deep enough that I thought it had completely punctured the tongue. Fortunately it didn't. Poor little girl. It took us a while to stop the wound from bleeding and then it still hurt horribly. We ended up letting her sleep in the crib for the night so that we could hear her if anything happened. I took her to the doctor on Wednesday and after a peroxide wash of the tongue (yech) she declared the tongue to be healing beautifully. The canyon had already sealed and we are only looking for signs of infection and eating a lot of applesauce. I tell her that candy will hurt her wound. Is that lying???

In other news, my Father-in law got a good report from the doctor yesterday and went back to his home after dinner last night. The kids missed him horribly this morning. Grace kept looking for him. Don is still in recovery mode, but after having the staples removed he in on to stage 2 of the recovery. He cannot drive for several more weeks and also has to be very careful. His therapist will visit him there in the home.

Tell me how everyone else's Halloween went? Even though the holiday is a lot of work, it's loads of fun to be a parent that night. Definately a top three holiday in my book.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

art, bats, and spaceships

I've been rather sporadic about posting lately. I'm doing more and more weekly updates instead of daily updates. There has been so much going on in our family. Big news - Jordan got glasses last Thursday and seems happy to wear them. We've really enjoyed having Dave's father with us during his recovery, too. Honestly I think Fall is one of the busiest seasons of the year and we are in the midst of all that.

Last week we got a call that Jordan had placed in the PTA's art contest. The theme was "my favorite place" She did a piece about the Girl Scout Camp she attended last summer. It was her first sleep away camp (a week) and she really enjoyed it. In addition to all the basic camping things she learned horseback riding and kayaking. She won third place in the contest and was awarded a $10 gift card from Target. We attended the ceremony last Wednesday. All the winners were surprised by the ceremony and they were hilarious. They had a hard time getting the kids out of the classroom to come to the ceremony because they were all so intent on not missing anything in class. Can you imagine? I remember looking for any excuse to be out of class.

William had his Halloween party at school last week. The teacher was very innovative. Instead of having the kids wear their own Halloween costumes she incorporated the creation of costumes into the classroom activities. It was hilarious because they voted on the boy costumes and girl costumes and did lots of learning activities related to their creation. All the boys were Batman and the Girls were a Fairy Princess. When they sat down for storytime it was like a sea of pink on one side and black on the other. Here are some photos:

And while in the classroom I got a huge kick out of this poster on the wall documenting the kid's answers to a question about the things they do with friends. Apparently my son goes to the moon with his friends.

Grace cuddled up to Pop-Pop last week. He's doing better each day and is very anxious to get his surgery staples out. We've had lots of sweet moments with him here.

Next week I'll try to post something other than kid photos. I have some things rumbling around in my head and I need some time to compose my thoughts. Thanks for indulging me. Oh yes, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Big things happening in our neighborhood tonight.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

friday night was busy

First Will managed to play a good t-ball game and acquired the "Game Ball" for his hard work.

Then we raced over to our church to attend the tail end of a "TrunkNTreat" celebration. We were in such a hurry that I just put Grace's costume over her ballgame outfit -- jeans and a turtleneck. Looks like the princess managed just fine. Will wore his pirate costume and Jordan was an ipod player. It was a fun preview to Halloween.

Grace kissing Dave in her Snow White outfit.

Jordan's ipod costume...this one is going to be hard to take a photo of for my usual group shot on the steps!

This week has been a little hectic. We survived the wedding last weekend and then on Monday morning Dave's Dad had back surgery. He's beginning to recover, but is still in the hospital. We had expected him to come to our house on Friday, but it looks like he will be here on Sunday.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

michael and amanda's big day

I'll post more words tomorrow. Here are some snapshots from today's wedding:

Friday, October 13, 2006

the wedding rehersal

Michael (our nephew) and Amanda are getting married on Saturday. Tonight we attended the rehersal activities. It is being held at a beautiful old Methodist Church about 45 minutes from our home. Here are some snapshots from tonight:

The church with late afternoon sun streaming through the stained glass windows. It's a morning wedding, but the light should be beautiful.

The wedding party practicing their placement. William and Jordan did great tonight. William was so dead serious that he made people chuckle as he went past. He was determined to get it right.

Amanda with Will and Jordan.

We went to a fishing lodge type place for the rehersal dinner and enjoyed some really great food and company. Alice had done some neat table decorations with mason jars, roses, votive candles, and dishes of Georgia Tech colored m&ms. They decided to have only the bride's cake for the wedding tomorrow so tonight's dessert was the groom's choice - white cake with raspberry filling and Georgia Tech decorations. God bless her - she had treats waiting for our kids at the dinner location. She had gotten each of them a special cup for tonight, had packets of crayola model magic, containers of crayons and pencils and specially cut circle placemats for them to color. Aunts are nice to have!

I'll post more tomorrow after the wedding. It's going to be a busy October morning in Georgia.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

two happy things to enjoy

My friend Beth submitted her story to the Auburn Alumni Group about an experience she had at Yellowstone National Park. They decided to make a big commercial out of it to play during the game broadcast each week. Here's the link:

War Eagle Moment

Dave's cousin, David (I know, confusing huh?), in Utah has lived with an intense genetic illness for all of his life. Amazingly he and his wife raised eight wonderful children despite this. The family wrote to a group called Utah Home Makeover for help in building a bedroom for their daughter since hers was infested with mold. Brianne suffers from the condition also and the mold was accellerating her illness. When the Home Makeover group arrived at the home they saw a greater need since David cannot access much of the house in his they decided to tear down the old house and completely rebuild a new house for the family. The family left the house last weekend and the two week event began on Monday. You can read more about the story and then click on the live webcam to see the exciting progress. Here's the link:

Smeltzer Family Makeover / Utah Home Makeover

Saturday, September 30, 2006

what a week

Little did I know when I posted those pictures Tuesday that my week would take a quick turn. Dave was on travel until Friday and we certainly missed him. Wednesday was far more eventful than I had anticipated. Grace discovered how to open a child-proofed medication (dimetapp which I had thrown away due to its expiration date...and not anticipated that Grace could open) and drank approximately half a bottle. In ten years of parenting I've never had to go to the emergency room for that type of adventure. Yes, I've gone for all other kinds of accidents, bone breakages, and illnesses, but not to receive the charcoal treatment. The amount she took was right on the boarderline so the poison control center left it in my hands to make the hospital call...but when you look at such a little person and think of how things metabolize in her body it seemed the smart thing to be cautious. All is better now, but that was quite a scare. All of us -- myself, William, and Jordan -- are exhausted from that and other scheduled events of the week.

One highlight was that Dave got home earlier than normal on Friday and was able to attend Will's t-ball game. It was beautiful weather and a fun game to watch. Will did great -- he almost ran to third base after hitting the ball, but corrected himself mid-thought. It was cute to watch.

I think my nine year old has already mastered "Campaign Application 101". Jordan wants to serve on the Student Council at school and fourth grade is the first opportunity you have to do this. Here are the answers Jordan wrote BY HERSELF:

1. Why do you want to be a member of Student Council?
I think that I can make an imparct at Murdock. I am good at decisionmaking and following rules. Even though I am small I can do big things. And I can make the world a better place.

2. What are you goals for student Council for this school year?
I think that we should be able to help restablish [re-establish] the playground rules after construction and that people can help with ASP. I hope we can be helping with school activitys [activities] and events.

I'm not sure our girlie can handle one more activity at this point, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. We've been running around trying to make all the girl scout events this week. One on a school night really messed with our schedule...especially since I couldn't put Grace and Will to sleep until we hauled out to pick up Jordan at 9:15 at night. I'll have to think twice about school night events again. Today Jordan was at the Juvenile Diabetes Walk in Downtown Atlanta with her troop to hand out items to the walkers. After playing volleyball this afternoon at the YMCA she is truly exhausted.

I'll leave you with something William did tonight during his prayer. When he got to my name he said,

"and God bless Mommy who I am going to take a break and hug right now."

He then sits up in the bed and throws his arms around me in the middle of the prayer then continues on with his list of family and friends. I suppose that could be called an "in the moment" hug. Sure, the kid is workin' the bedtime card, but its a little hard to turn a sincere thing like that down.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

goodbye summer, hello fall

We've had the best weather lately and it's all due to the seasonal change. While I am sad to see summer come to an end for many reasons, I am thrilled to see a new season roll into my life. Most people dream of a place where it is endless summer. We loved living in California and Hawaii, but paradise is nothing compared to a crisp Fall day after the heat of a Southern Summer has passed away. Everyone is in a good mood, people come out to play, and the shadows are long. The kids had a blast playing together this afternoon. Grace is big on her baby stroller right now and prefers ponytails to pretty bows. William is still a speed machine, but now stops to analyze an ant path along the way or bother his sisters. Jordan is introspective and happy when given a blank slate of time and sidewalk. I loved the cooperation that occurred when they decided to trace William's shadow.

Wednesday means t-ball for Will and drama club for Jordan - but today they just played. Hello Fall.

Monday, September 25, 2006

thought process of a toddler

Grace noticed that we had dirty feet after being outside barefoot on Saturday for a few moments. (Gasp!) I mentioned that we would clean them off later, then went onto my next chore. About 15 minutes later I am upstairs checking on the progress as Jordan searches for her volleyball kneepads and I hear:

"Momma? I all clean now!"

I walk down the hallway to my room and see my little kiddo standing there so proudly. Uh oh, I think to myself.

Sniff. What's that smell? Blueberry? Oh no that is William's shampoo! (Still thinking to myself here.)

"My feet ALL CLEAN Momma! Hands, too!" Notice child has only diaper on and has removed shirt and shorts.

Uh, the carpet has just been cleaned a mere two weeks...what in the world will I find here?"

"Hi Grace. Whatcha been doing?"

"I all clean in the shower." We walk to the master shower. I see blue soap all over the floor of the shower. Breathe sigh of relief and wash Grace's blue parts off.

Sniff. Smell current diaper offerings. Not so clean anymore.

NOTE TO SELF: Never use the word "later" loosely around a toddler.

Friday, September 22, 2006

friday, a good thing

What is it about a Friday? I don't work outside the home and yet I can hardly wait for Friday to get here. It means a release from our weekly schedule and a chance to relax. Of course, some weekends are actually crazier than the weeks. For once the only thing on our schedule was two official events -- tonight's Girl Scout meeting and tomorrow's volleyball scrimage. We are still trying to get all the little things resolved in the girl's room. I took a good stab at the bathroom situation today and tried to get all dangerous things out of the way. Dave plans to put totlocs on those cabinets soon. I did try to put Grace down for her first nap in the room on Wednesday with little success. I think we were past the target time and everything is new to her. She was so excited that she couldn't stop talking and settle down. This is a big leap for a little girl.

Dave leaves for a business trip on Sunday night so I will be a two handed woman with three children. Thankfully Dave has been a laundry angel. Since getting us caught up a few weeks ago he has made it his mission to keep the loads caught up. What I don't finish during the day's distractions he runs through in the morning. What a great thing to make a mission! I am so thankful that even during a crazy work week Dave has made time to spend with each child. I don't say it often enough, but I am grateful for my husband.

Let me leave you with my current pet peeve (that Ann, what an optomistic person she is...) and it completely drives me bonkers with all the incidences of this I see in local traffic. I hate it when people take the "cause ribbons" and turn them sideways.

Yellow ribbons (and other cause ribbons) are normally worn on your clothing upright with the loop at the top. Why don't people leave them that way on the cars? It just bugs the graphic designer in me. I'm all for readability, but I don't really care about it on those ribbons. Their color and design alone -- without words -- should be enough to represent an icon in our brain. And while searching for the photo I found out that there are ribbons for ABSOLUTELY EVERY CAUSE you can imagine. Even ones that encourage golf playing by husbands. There's a cause most husbands would get behind, right?

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Martha would be proud

Domestic I am not. In fact, I'm pretty sure my husband is more domestic than me. I like to have a collection of favorite recipes and tricks for cooking when mealtime in imminent. On most days the grill is my best friend. Last night I decided to grill some shrimp -- it's always good, fast, and popular at my house. Once skewered and seasoned, it literally takes 6 minutes to be on the table. I had some tomatoes ready to slice so I knew I could manage the dinner hour...but what to make as the real side dish? I had just seen an article in Southern Living on easy side dishes so I actually put the idea to work as more than reading material. I purchased an acorn squash at the grocery store on Sunday because they were so pretty. I substituted it for the recipe below and it is a new addition to my standard everyday favorites.

Dave came into the kitchen while I was working on peeling and cutting the squash and I could tell he had that "she's going to make an unwieldy squash monstrosity for dinner" look on his face. (To his credit he did lend a hand helping peel the thing.) With Fall in the air (HOORAY!) I cannot recommend this recipe enough. It is possible to substitute within the recipe -- I used acorn squash instead of butternut and toasted almonds instead of pecans -- but the balance of sweet and savory is perfect. The kids even liked it and best of all, it is easy.

Glazed Butternut Squash
From Southen Living (October, 2006)
Prep: 15 min., Cook: 30 min.

3 pounds butternut squash, peeled*
1/2 cup apple cider*
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 tsp. dried sage

1. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Cut each half into 4 wedges; cut wedges into 2-inch pieces.

2. Stir together squash, 1/2 cup apple cider, and next 5 ingredients in a 12-inch, deep-sided, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, gently stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid thickens and squash is tender. Gently stir in pecans and sage until well combined.

*3 lb. sweet potatoes may be substituted for butternut squash and 1/2 cup apple juice may be substituted for apple cider.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Monday, September 18, 2006

the time has come

Yes my friends, the time has arrived. We've been quite busy setting up Grace in her big girl bed this weekend. After much debate we decide to let Grace share a room with Jordan and both girls seem to be thrilled about the idea. There are other bedrooms available in the house, but no more on the second floor near the master bedroom. At least while the kids are young we are trying this arrangement. Little kids always come immediately to their parent's side when sick and we didn't want anyone to be on the first floor trying to find us in the middle of the night. Besides, that would mean we have to trust them. ;-)

We are still trying to get the final details organized, but there are now two beds in place and the furniture has been moved around in a new configuration. We went to IKEA this weekend and purchased a small junior sized bed which will be safer for Grace. It is much larger than a crib, but not quite as big as a twin. The best part is that there is a built in bedrail and we don't have to push it against a wall to be safe. We let the girls pick out the duvet covers while at the store so they would match. Jordan ended up finding a lively pink polka dot pattern which is very pleasant. It works well with the existing wall color and will lend itself to the Hawaiian theme I am planning for the room. William ended up getting a new duvet cover also while we were there. He's been such a good sport by waiting to have his room painted that we didn't mind splurging to make him excited about his room. Nothing at IKEA is outrageously priced. Dave and I have quite a few projects ahead of us.

For the moment Grace has continued to sleep in her crib until we can get all the big girl hazards up and out of the way. You know a toddler is bound to wander and I don't want her taking shampoo or lip gloss around the house for fun at 2 am. We are now trying to work out a way to fit all the girl's stuff in without looking cluttered. Jordan has been keeping her room perfectly clean since school started (motivated by her allowance money) so I felt bad rearranging the whole room...thankfully she is excited about the whole arrangement. Jordan went to sit on Grace's bed this afternoon and Grace made it clear that it was her territory. As soon as Jordan eased herself into a sitting position Grace pointed a finger at her and said, "No Mam!" Jordan quickly mentioned reading a book Grace eased her stance and cuddled up beside her.

Jordan had one of the largest bedrooms in the house. In addition to the basic bedroom space there is an unfinished alcove area under the eaves of the room which is accessable via a door. Eventually we'll get some kind of finished hideaway in there. There is plenty of room for a desk area, shelves, and a sitting area or built in bed for guests.

Saturday almost killed Dave and I. We started with t-ball, ate lunch, and then split up to carry kids to birthday parties and volleyball games. After that we did the final IKEA run. We were literally hobbling into the house after all that was over. Dave's back and my feet have barely recovered...and I don't want to hear any jokes about us getting old. Have you tried to keep up with three children for a day. Oh yeah, most of you are my friends which means you have tried that workout. Oh well, you know what I mean about busy Saturdays. Motrin has been our best friend lately.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

this creature graced my butterfly bush today

 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34 NIV

Monday, September 11, 2006

you are never forgotten, my friend

One person comes to our mind when we think of September 11, 2001. Dave's roommate and Department Head aboard the USS Richmond K. Turner, CG-20 in the early 1990s was Robert E. Dolan. He was special both professionally and in his personal life. It was our honor to know him. Please take a moment to think about his family and the loss of a special life on this five year anniversary of the terrorist attack. profile

Article by the worker who recovered Captain Dolan's USNA Class Ring

Transcript from CNN Presents: Stories of 9/11

Healing Pole Ceremony at the Pentagon

Naval Academy Alumni reflect on the five year anniversary

The following is a piece written by Bob's wife, Lisa, commenting on her special memories relating to the Navy class ring.

September 11th Reflections
My Mid

by Lisa T. Dolan

It was 1979—graduation week for my brother, then-Midshipman First Class Mark Tempestilli. He "set me up" with a few midshipmen for the week’s activities. I met my Mid on that hot, hazy Friday in May. The Plebes were making their way to the top of Herndon Monument. I can still remember the smell of the surrounding air—a strange combination of sweat and Crisco, with both ingredients dripping from the monument and the horde of eager Fourth Classmen. I had seen this struggle before, and I decided to cool off in Dahlgren Hall instead.

Midshipman Third Class Robert E. Dolan Jr. had the Dahlgren watch that day and was sitting in his whites behind the circular desk just at the top of the stairs. My brother introduced us. Mark had asked Bob to escort me to a dance on Sunday evening. Bob’s watch was ending, and he asked me to wait a few moments. My heart was fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird. I immediately fell for Bob’s beautiful blue eyes and his dimpled chin. Bob asked if I would join him at the concert that evening. I quickly accepted the invitation.

Commissioning Week ended too quickly. My first two dates with my future husband are etched in my memory along with the memories of more than 21 years together. I knew I was in love with Midshipman Robert E. Dolan, 20th Company, the minute he smiled at me. One full year later, I wore Bob’s USNA class ring around my neck at his Second Class Ring Dance. I already had been wearing his class crest, and now his ring hung around my neck on the traditional blue satin ribbon. I proudly dipped his ring in the water from the "Seven Seas," being careful not to stain my gown. We stood inside the giant replica of the ring and kissed. I didn’t know then how much that ring would come to mean to me.

We were married on a beautiful Saturday in April 1983. There were all the trappings of a Navy wedding—starched choker whites, shiny swords in an arch. Vows were taken and promises made; bands of gold exchanged on our special day. Thereafter, we moved many times like most military couples. In between deployments, we had two beautiful children, Rebecca and Beau. They were his pride and joy. They were like most Navy children—outgoing and resilient, proud of their country, and prouder of their dad. Bob was a brilliant naval officer with a solid career. And, for 21 years, he always wore his Academy class ring.

In the summer of 2000, Bob completed a successful tour as commanding officer of John Hancock (DD-981), homeported in Mayport, FL. Bob’s orders were taking us all back to the Washington, DC, area; him back to the Pentagon. He was selected for captain in June of 2001. We were anxiously awaiting the upcoming Major Command Board. Bob never had the opportunity to put on his captain’s shoulder boards. He never knew he had selected for major command.

Bob woke up a little late that morning. He showered then dressed in his khakis. I lay in bed and watched as he opened his night-stand drawer. Like he did every morning, he pulled out his wedding ring placing it on his left ring finger, and then he took out his Naval Academy ring and put it on in front of his wedding ring. Bob kissed me lightly on the lips. He said he’d see me later.

It was a gloriously sunny day in Metro DC as I began my drive to work. Bob and I spoke each morning via my cell phone after I dropped the kids at school. It was 8:55 a.m. when Bob called to tell me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I didn’t know what to say. He also told me he had no meetings scheduled that day. If I needed him, he would be in his office. He ended with, "Have a good day. I love you." That was the last time I spoke to my Mid. After learning a second plane hit the Twin Towers, I tried franticly to reach him at work, but couldn’t get through to his office. As I continued to try and call him, I learned a plane slammed into the Pentagon. A pain surged through my stomach like a knife. I didn’t know where his office was located. He and the rest of his department had just moved into a newly renovated section of the Pentagon. It seemed like an eternity before we received any official word.

On 16 September, an FBI agent contacted my brother. The agent told my brother he too was a 1989 graduate of the Naval Academy. He was part of the search and recovery efforts at the Pentagon. He had some news for us. He had seen something shiny among the ash and gravel and immediately recognized it as a USNA ring. He pulled the ring out of the debris and stuck it deep into his pocket, knowing later he would be able to track down the owner using the inscription inside the ring. He knew it belonged to a shipmate. He knew the tradition: Midshipmen should inscribe the inside of their ring with their name, because if lost, that is how the ring will find its way home. Bob’s ring did find its way home to me. My brother picked up the ring on Sunday, 17 September, weeks before Bob was officially declared dead. When the ring came home, I promptly put it on a gold chain that Bob had given me and placed it around my neck. I wear it proudly each day just like I did for the Ring Dance 21 years earlier.

Now, each night when I go to bed, I place it on his night-stand like Bob had always done. The ring means all the love and the memories of our happy union—and more: To me, his ring personifies Bob’s life.

I received no other personal effects of Bob’s. His remains were buried at sea in January. I never saw his wedding ring again even though he wore them on the same finger. But, thanks to the tradition of the Naval Academy ring and a patriotic grad named John Guandolo, Bob found his way home. Bob remains in part with me—through his USNA ’81 class ring.

Sunday, September 10, 2006