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

Thursday, September 07, 2006

happy birthday buddy

Today is William's fifth Birthday. He is so very excited about turning five. It's been a joy to watch him grow and mature this year. I truly feel like this has been a year where his personality and skills have multiplied. He's a lover of all things related to robots, pirates, space travel, and science. Outgoing is an understatement lately. I have to drag him from his social planning after school each day and it appears he is making friends on the playground with no problems. He's one of my favorite people to talk to right now and I love his questions about God and the universe.

Here is William at breakfast this morning:

William with Ms. Molly at school:

William and I made ice cream cone cupcakes on Wednesday to share with his class today. Here they are getting ready for snacktime:

William and Grace at the table. Grace thought she was such a big girl sitting with the kids. Will began to socialize and while he looked away Grace took his cupcake.

Here she is enjoying the stolen cupcake. William was so busy talking that he didn't ever notice.

She REALLY enjoyed that cupcake!