Sunday, December 23, 2007

Remember Me

You may have seen this already, but if not, take some time (about 5 minutes I think) and watch it. This is a video made by a 15 yr old girl and is really worth your time.

I was warned to have my kleenex ready and didn't pay attention. Maybe it's just because I'm pregnant and emotional. Maybe it's because I'm now a mother to a soldier. But tearjerker stuff doesn't usually make me cry and this one really did. So be ready.

Remember Me

Friday, December 21, 2007

We got our baby back!

He's not really a baby at all. He's a man now. But Stephen is home to visit. I hate those last two words, "to visit." But it sure is nice to see him! The kids are all so excited to see him and they are all laughing and playing and oohing and aahing over him. I can't seem to get them to get any work done today, but that's okay.

They are learning to do push ups and such so that Stephen can give them a day of "Basic Training." That might be really useful for me in the future. Think of the disciplinary possibilities . . .

Oh, and I finally finished his quilt (for which I am very proud of myself) and he said it was very warm.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

A New Blog

Our son, Mitchell, has a new blog. Mitchell will be 16 a month from today at which time he'll be driving and probably getting a job. We'll see if he continues to keep up his new blog, but as much as he enjoys writing, I imagine he will.

Check it out here. Maybe if we pester him, he'll share a blurb from the novel he's working on . . .


Monday, December 17, 2007

Sibling Fun

Mitchell had been tickling Gloria for several minutes before we decided to video tape it. Our video camera is not currently charged and ready so this was taken with my digital camera. It did a decent job. Until Gloria saw the camera and wanted to get away . . .

Afterward, Faith took the camera and got some even better video where Gloria kept signing "more" to get him to tickle her again. I'd have posted that one, but it was 3 minutes long and I don't know how to edit it yet. This is only 30 seconds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

People, People Who Meet People

One of the neat things about Stephen’s graduation weekend – for me – was visiting with old friends and making new ones. I’m not trying to sound like Barney here, but it was a cool trip because of the people.

Melissa had put out a call to her e-mail buddies in the MOMYS group (Mothers Of Many Young Siblings – I think) to see if anyone lived in the Columbia, SC area and we got hooked up with U. S. Army Captain Jonathan Fowler, his wife Jackie and their kids Joy, Josiah, Joel, JoAnna and Julia. Jonathan is an Army Chaplin. They opened their home to me and, for about two hours, Stephen. Jackie was particularly interested in the bees we have. They are considering the potential of one day doing what we are doing and moving out to the country. They drink raw milk and Jackie makes their bread. It was neat to meet a MOMYS family. Melissa is the one on the list, but I hear about it all the time and feel like I am a part of it in some small way. I found myself wishing that Stephen’s graduation started later because I was enjoying talking to them and playing with their kids. It wasn’t like I had been away from home for very long, just a day or so, but the kid fix was so nice.

At about 8:00 a.m. I left for Stephen’s 9:00 a.m. graduation. It was cold and there was a concession stand where I could get coffee. I sat in the stands and waited. At about 8:45 a family sat next to me. I got there early, so I had pretty good seats. The father sat down next to me and I thanked him for breaking the wind for me. Turns out he was retired military and this was his fourth time to attend a basic training graduation for one of his sons. He is also a plumber and I got to ask him a couple of questions about the new house’s venting. The ceremony started at 10:00, an hour later than expected. While we waited, Stan told me what the little slashes and ropes and ribbons and all meant on the uniforms. He told me about Iraq, his two tours over there and the differences we are making – for the better. He was just a friendly guy, or perhaps very bored, but it was a blessing to sit next to him.

Finally, with the ceremonies over and the shopping done for my soldier/son we arrived at the home of Ric and Frances Kuhlbars. Ric was my youth minister in high school and is a retired Army Chaplin. They fed us and bought Stephen and me an ice cream cone. Stephen had to be back to the base by 0600 (Army time, dude) and Ric took us there as his car has the pass we’d need to get through without a hitch. I bought him breakfast at a Cracker Barrel and we went to see the lake lot he has been planning to build a house on since about 1985. I enjoyed meeting Stan and the Fowlers, but getting to hang out with Ric and Frances was almost as good as getting to hang out with Stephen. We looked at old pictures and tried to remember the names of the people in the pictures. We laughed at old junk that I forgotten all about in the years between graduating from high school and now. Someday I will find another reason to get back there with my entire family so that they can all meet each other; two of the most important people during my teen years and ten of the 10 most important people in my current life.

Well, I gotta go play a game with four of my favorite people. I love them, but I also plan to whip them.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Basic Graduation

Melissa wrote a while back about Stephen’s graduation and all of the things that God just dropped in our lap to make it happen that I could attend. Well, I am back from the graduation service and I must tell you that this trip was more of a blessing that we ever thought or imagined it might be before I went. Today I am going to write about Stephen, I will tell you later about the people I met that blessed me and the old friends I got to visit after too long of a time away from each other.

Stephen stands straight and tall and he has a swagger to him that I have only seen on occasion in the first 17 years of his life. It was clear that he was very proud of what he had accomplished during boot camp. He showed me the tower he’d rappelled down, the grenade training field, the marching trails and the rest of the sites where he’d been tested and had passed. Those of us that know him had no doubt that he would do well and pass the challenges he would face and now that he has done them and passed them I think he is now a young man that knows he will be able to take on any and all future challenges and overcome them. Hmm, sounds like the reason for boot camp.

He had to wear standard issue Army glasses throughout boot camp and he looked like a skinny, young, Mr. Magoo. I really wanted to get a picture of him in the glasses but he did not want that and, since he can now kill sixteen different ways with his thumbs, I relented. It also seemed to be disrespectful to a young man so deserving of respect.

We spent most of Thursday and Friday together. Thursday we went over every nook and cranny of the base as he was still not allowed to leave. He did get to have some Burger King a couple of times and that was a pure reward to him. Friday he graduated and for the first time in 9 weeks he was allowed to leave Ft. Jackson. We tried to get him a mobile phone, but didn’t. It is a boring story, so I won’t bore you with it. We ate some food and spent the night at the home of some old friends of mine.

Stephen already has a host of stories he loves to tell about his life in the Army. He has stories about his new friends. No, he has stories about his comrades in arms, men and women to whom he is willing to trust his life to. He may be a tad cynical about some of them, but he also knows the common experiences they share have bonded them and they are all willing to give all for their country.

I watched 1200 of these young men and women graduate on Friday. We hear so much about the “youth of today” and how they are spoiled and soft. That may be true for some of them the same it has always been true for some of them. I will remind you that prior to the United States entry into World War II it was the opinion of the German officers that we were a soft nation and would be unable to meet their forces as equals. We all know how that turned out for them.

We should all be encouraged by the people that serve our nation’s armed forces. They are well trained, well intentioned and capable. They care about each other and they care about our nation and her safety. To paraphrase George Orwell, we can all sleep peacefully tonight because these rough men and women stand ready to do violence on our behalf. I am very proud to say that my son is one of these men.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hanukkah gift exchange

We just finished with our first night of gifts for Hanukkah. The kids exchanged the gifts they made each other. I think they all loved them! I thought I'd share because I'm proud of them and the ideas they came up with.

Mitchell made Sam (3) a Spiderman book. He just got pics off the internet and put them together with a simple story. Then he spiral bound it and Sam LOVES it.

Faith made a board game for Clark (7). It has an army theme. She taped and glued some scrapbooking things on a file folder and wrote out rules with two different ways to play. She even used modeling clay and made little markers--like a soldier and a flag--and a die. They were all just in there playing and laughing a lot.

Grace made Joy (5) some beautiful paper dolls and then had them laminated. She gave them to her along with 24 hours worth of coupons to play together.

Claire made a set of stationery for Faith (13). She chose the perfect design. It has a large "F" at the top (Faith writes F's everywhere she can get away with it--and over the years a few places she shouldn't have like on the kitchen table!) and horses running across the bottom. Complete with printed envelopes.

Clark made Claire (9) a "fashion design sketchbook" by tracing a body shape. Then we scanned it and printed 50 copies of it. We added a cover, spiral bound it and added a set of colored pencils. She loves it.

Joy gave Gloria (1) her old kitchen.

Sam and I chose some books from Project Gutenberg and printed and spiral bound them for Grace (11). ( I have a spiral binder by the way.)

Gloria cheated. She didn't make anything. She even broke the $5 spending limit (which was okay since most of the kids spent nothing). She gave Mitchell (15) a leather journal just like one Stephen got as a graduation gift and Mitchell's been coveting ever since. ;-) But we figure she's okay not making anything since she's only 18 mos old.

They were all excited both to give and to receive. I'm proud of all the hard work they did! And the big surprise was that they even made a gift for me! They made me a pillow that says "We love you Mom" and then they all signed it. I'm thinking it might help make me more comfortable as I enter this 3rd trimester of pregnancy. But I may not want to actually use it and mess it up. I'll have to check if they used permanent markers or water based markers before I use it. ;-)


Monday, December 03, 2007

God's Protection Again

Today I was helping Joy clean up her old toy kitchen to give to Gloria. Hanukkah begins at sunset tomorrow and each of the children are giving each other a gift. They've been working on it for a couple weeks. They drew names and they are all making something, or in this case, sharing an old, beloved thing. It's really cool to see them pouring out gifts of love to each other. I'd share the cool things they are giving, but sometimes the kids read our blog and that would give it away.

Gloria absolutely loves this little Kitchen and plays with it all the time. So she's not really getting something new, but she is getting ownership of something she loves and that means even if Joy is mad at her she can't be told, "you can't play with my kitchen now!" And to a kid, that's a big deal! To an adult that's a big deal too, isn't it? We like to own things for ourselves.

So anyway, we're cleaning it up and trying to make it look new when I see the bottom of it. The bottom was covered with spider webs and empty spider egg sacs. There must have been at least 20 egg sacs. I grabbed my trusty vacuum and began to clean it up. There seemed to not be any living spiders around until I saw the big black widow. Yep. These were black widow egg sacs. My babies were playing DAILY around a toy that was a black widow nursery!!

I was struck by the grace God has bestowed on us. He has been protecting my children for who knows how long. We've found black widows in that room and thought we'd thoroughly cleaned it. We've tried to keep them away from where we live as best we could. And all this time, they were living and breeding right at Gloria's feet--literally!

And not one spider bite that we know of. If any of the children were bit, they never had a problem from it.

God is Grrrrrreat! (Imagine Tony the Tiger here to know how to say that.)