Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Where are we going? nobody knows!

Our time here is quickly approaching it's end as we await another set of military orders.  Basically a long encrypted message that tell us where we will be moving to next.  While in the past we've had the privilege of having 6-9 months notice, this time around things have been a little stressful, confusing, crazy to say the least.  We have lots to worry about when preparing for a move, like sell or rent the house; getting a passport updated, medical records, school records, what to pack and what to throw away.....ugh, the list goes on.

It is my job to keep things positive in my houses.  I have a teen going to collage and a teen having her own set of issues about leaving her friends.  They don't need me falling apart so I have to be strong, at least when they're around.

Quite frankly, I don't see our current home as a permanent location so I'm ready for the change, although I will miss all my friends, my job at the gym, our house we've grown to love.  However, everywhere we go we manage to not only keep our old friends close to our hearts (love the Internet) but we make new friends and form new relationships with wonderful people.  We learn to live within other cultures and that is a huge plus for us all.  

The hardest part of the move is right now, not knowing where we're going.  Is it over seas or across the country? What is the climate? Will we have to live off base or is base housing an option? What is the quality of the local schools?  Obviously, I can't do anything until I get the stack of papers with my husband's name, reporting date and location on it.  So I patiently wait knowing that we are definitely moving and hopefully soon we'll know the location of our next adventure in the military.

{{sigh}} I know we'll love it and enjoy it as much as we have every place we've visited in the last 20 years :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Severe weather system delivers nothing but electrick shock

So the winter days have finally reached the Virginia Peninsula and apparently we are not fully prepared for this type of weather.  First, the kids had a "snow day" yesterday because we were having a severe weather system.  The system never arrived...we had no snow, not even a little rain.  It was cold but there was no precipitation what so ever.  So I had four kids in the house for the fourth day in a row.  They were bored and actually wanted to be in school instead.  Imagine that.  

The second issue I have with our new weather system is the electricity in the air.  I really detest getting shocked and it happens everyday, in the house, in the car, when I pick up my laptop, when I touch someone...ugh!  It is so frustrating to get shocked, but even worse to get shocked over and over again by the same object.  

I have a conversion van.  Yes I know, a gas guzzler but we are a family of six and the thing is paid off and it's gone this summer--yeepee!.  Anyway, when I arrive at my destination I just get up and walk to the back to unbuckle the baby and gather our things.  I get my first shock when I turn the car off, then when I put my keys in my pocket, then when I touch the seat on the way back, then again when I touch the seat belt buckle in the car seat, again when I open the car door and finally, when I close the door.

I think if my car was alive it would be rolling on the street laughing at my reactions every time it delivered it's shock of electricity into my body.  I don't hear anyone else in my family complaining about getting shocked so I have to wonder if it's just me.  What is it about me? Why am I getting the shocked treatment?

I'm asking for your help here.  Are there gloves, tools, a gadget, something I can use, wear, or carry?  I would love to hear your advice, support, ideas.  If nothing else, tell me I'm not the only one being slowly electrocuted by her vehicle and home.

Oh and that picture, yeah, that is what I or we were hoping for.  Oh well.  Did I mention how much I love to feel the cold air on my face?  It's energizing and refreshing for a chance :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

"I have a dream!"

Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I Have a Dream"

 delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

“Our days begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Back to school...for me

I realized this weeend that my classes resume, today.  I'm not ready, really, I'm not.  I know I'll enjoy my Astronomy class.  I don't like just wondering about what I see in the heavens so I am taking this intro class to hopefully get some basic understanding.  Plus, this is one of those subjects I'll be able to teach my kids about---oh yeepee I'll know more then them for a change.

Anyway, I was a complete vegetable this weekend.  My back has been bothering me probably from being on the computer so much.  I tend to get really tense when I'm online and I know it's because I'm having computer problems and I'm stressed about taking online classes with computers that are not 100% functional...ugh, it's so frustrating.

Aside from being a vegetable I was also my toddlers mattress, crutch, ladder, and toy.  He is so clingy and whiny lately.  So unlike him.  I hope it's just a phase.  I found myself longing for his naps.  This morning he woke up at 3:30 am and stayed awake until about 5:30 am and at this point he was just exhausted.  I'm exhausted and now I sound like I'm whining.

Well time to move on.  Everyone is off from school today which makes it a perfect day to let them all entertain the baby while I take some time to recover and psych myself up for my classes this semester.

Hmmmm what shall I do...a hot bath, a nap, go shopping "for me".  We'll see what the day brings.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Teens and chores- It's like mixing vinegar and oil

When the kids are in school for a while I find myself excited for them to take a break so we can do stuff at home or around town AND so they can catch up on their chores.  Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming.  Once they are out of school for a while (a day or two) I realize how much I appreciate when they are back in school because otherwise my house is chaos, even if they do their chores.

Now that they are back in school things at home are reaching a level of normalcy.  I don't care for the daily things like poundig on their door at 5:30 am because their alarm has been going on for too long, I have to watch them leave the house with little protection against the elements and with wet hair (I remind myself that I'm just a parent and don't know much about anything), I have to make sure they eat, did their homework, don't forget anything, etc.  Then once they leave I make the mistake of walking into their rooms only to find more chaos.

I'm not a obsessive about being organized but I do expect a certain level of order and cleanliness.  My teens however seem to thrive in their chaos, the piles of clothes, books, trash and the unmade bed.   

Sometimes frustration drives me to collect everything into several baskets just so it doesn't look so crazy, however I don't like picking up their messes.  They are old enough to know better.   I also try to remember that it's really not that important that everything looks perfect (although I don't expect perfection) mainly because I don't want to seem like an angry mom all the time.  Seems all I do these days is bark orders "Do your laundry, clean the litter box, you have kitchen duty, pick up your shoes, hang your coat...blah...blah...blah!" 

Am I alone in this battle?  

I will avoid barking orders from now on, but I'm still going to provide them with their list of things to do and simply expect they'll do them before they get whatever it is they want for the day.  The friend sleep-over, iPod, car keys, phone, TV and PC time are mine.  

It's time they begin to earn their privileges----again!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Focus on One Word, what will it be?

I've been following Lance's latest post on  where he was inspired by singer/song writer/blogger Christine Kane to come up with one word that would be the main focus for this year.  I was inspired and encouraged by Lance to do the same.  Lance's word is COURAGE and what an awesome word that is.  Something we all need to have just to live and deal with all the challenges that come our way.

While trying to find my word I read all about the other people who chose a word and the reasons why they chose their word.  I spent some time trying to figure out what was that word going to be for me?  What did I need most in my life? What was going to help me make it through yet another year with love, laughter, and without paying much regard to the many stressors in my life, or at least dealing with those stressors in a way that would benefit me and my family.

My word is SERENITY.  This word means the absence of mental stress or anciety; peace of mind, repose, hearts at ease. 

In my chaotic life in the military, preparing for a move to...hmmm.. I don't know where we're going yet, raising four kids one of whom is going to college this year, another is coping with being a female teen and middle child while the younger sibblings take up much of my time...I was going somewhere with all this....oh yes, with all that I have going in my life SERENITY is the one word that will help me define my day so that I do find that peace and the quiet time I need to recover and to re-energize so that I can give my family and myself the attention we need.

Like Lance, I encourage you to do the same.  Ms. Kane has a long list of words to consider or come up with your own.  What word will define your year?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Life Lessons

45 Life Lessons 

by Regina Brett, columnist for The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH (May 2006)

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's okay to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11 .Make peace with your past, so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's okay to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you, really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and up to no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29 What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kids bed time

I have to admit I have lost my touch this week with my kids sleeping schedule, mainly because when the baby takes a nap I tend to get involved in other things and forget that I should really limit that nap to 2 hour or less or at least he should be up by 3 pm.  UGH!  Did I not learn my lesson with the first two kids?

Anyway, to make matters worse I also let my little peanut (6) watch a movie in bed.  Usually TV is not allowed until weekends but I figured swimming made her tired, she did all her homework and the few chores she gets to do after dinner; surely she'll drop off before the movie has a chance to get going....WRONG!! She came down the stairs around 9:3o pm, 90 minutes after she went to bed, I mean, to watch TV.  The problem with this scenario was that the baby was also awake...huh! The baby, he's really a toddler who happens to be really wrapped around his mommy's leg like a little monkey.  

Lately that little monkey has a way of saying "betos, betos" and laying his wet sloppy kisses all over my face.  Betos by the way is his way of saying besos in Spanish which means kisses.  I can't even get angry, they are so loving and so cute.

However, we have a very tired mommy, daddy is already snoring and so are the teens and the two young children wanting more attention, affection, a book read, a song and a prayer.  I was lucky to make it through the first few lines of her book.  Why are they so wired?  The darn TV!  It's out of the room then I wont be tempted to quiet them down with the boob tube and as for those naps, I must keep them between 11 and 3, no later.

They are now both in bed, quiet, listening to classical music and hopefully falling into a deep slumber.  I'll stay up until I know they are asleep, for sure this time.  In the mean time I am going to relax with some tea and my PC.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year - traveling with kids

Here it is, the new year, 2009! It is hard to believe a whole year has gone by. It seems like just the other day I was nursing a baby and waiting for hubby to email or call from Iraq. He's been home a year, the baby is now 2 and my oldest is getting ready for college. WOW!! So many new things have happened in the last 12 months like my 6 year old reading a chapter book. She has fallen in love with the adventures of Ruby Gloom by Rebbecca McCarthy and my teen girl who avoided reading anything is now addicted to reading. I never thought I'd hear myself saying, "put that book down!" The two year old is repeating everything he hears and that's just scary sometimes. It's amazing how much language development there is between 2 and 3 years old. I love it!

Some things we learned during our vacation-- we drove from the Virginia Peninsula to New Jersey - midway up the state. On the way back we hit Pennsylvania, Delaware and Northern VA. We learned that:

--some people don't realize their showers don't work because the kids never complain and the adults never use that particular bathroom. We used several showers and had many different sleeping arrangements along the way. The showers went from a trickling drip out of the shower head to a shower with uncontrollable temperature to the best one which was a strong, perfectly warm, long lasting shower. You never know what's coming so be prepared to skip a shower if necessary - carry lots of personal wipes :-)

--it is best to force kids to use the bathroom before a long drive or you will be making many stops, sometimes, one per child...grrr!

--packing the makings for a meal is more cost effective and takes up a bit of time if stuck in traffic - so we pack a soft cooler with peanut butter, jelly, apple sauce, fresh fruit, drinks, snacks a butter knife and a small cutting board to prepare lunch on the go. The meal is fresh and nothing goes to waste.

--pack lots of books, magazines, crayons, coloring books, etc. Reading is a great way to pass the time.

--charge all electronics (DVD players, car games, iPods, cell phones, etc) a day before the trip and keep extra batteries and a small screw driver in the car for toys that require them, just in case.

--a GPS unit is a really good thing to have when you want to avoid massive traffic jams or at least to find a detour in the event of unforeseen traffic jams. We borrowed one and it saved us a good four hours.

--finally, it is important to be realistic and tell the kids how long the ride will be. If they don't really understand the concept of time, create a game in advance to help them count down the hours, i.e. draw a clock on construction paper and put an x on the clock number for every hour that passes then you'll know how many are left to go.

I hope these tips will help others planning to go on the road. I would love to hear from you and what tricks help you when traveling with children or just to keep you busy on the road.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! My trip isn't over, going home today {{sigh}}.