Friday, October 31, 2014

Skipping Halloween

Since becoming a parent, I've looked forward to Halloween with unabashed glee. I love planning out and creating costumes for the family. I love making costumes! So when we decided not to "do" Halloween this year, I was torn.

Growing up Halloween night was spent either at a church function dressed as a bible character or having a junk food and movie night at home. To be completely honest, all I wanted to do was dress up and pretend that I was a character in my favorite book. A resourceful medieval princess. A quick-witted gypsy, a daring detective.... I wanted the freedom to try out different qualities that my literary heroines had.

When Alex was born, I enthusiastically greeted Halloween. Making costumes was something I could spend months on. Working on the details to get everything just so. I know I sound like a snob, but I wanted costumes as close to authentic as I could make them. Admittedly some years were better than others.

I know this sounds naive, but while I looked at Halloween as a way to explore and pretend I was someone else, I've discovered that many people see it as a free pass to terrify and scare other people. 
The last few years, it's getting harder and harder to ignore the fake blood pouring out of people, the weapons sticking out of people, depictions of torture and murder. 
For some people it's just fantasy play, but for us it hits too close to home. We've had neighbors that were burn victims, we've had friends that purposefully murdered by people they knew. We've known heroes  that sacrificed their lives for someone else. We've spent countless hours praying for the lives and safety of family members.

There's enough to fear right now. I don't need a night of recreational fear.

I want my children to stay in a bubble of innocence as long as possible. So this year will be our first non-Halloween.

Even though I didn't make any costumes this year, I am making brownies, so it's a win-win situation.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mourning happens

I've been struggling with writing this post for a few weeks now.
My grandfather is dying.

In the last few years he has battled different cancers. At first it was prostate cancer. He would get sick, and then start to do better. Get sick and then start to do better. And then it was bone cancer.

When sweet husband and I found out we would be leaving Texas, we made plans. We would take a month of leave, and road trip to Idaho to visit our grandparents and show off the new baby.
But, plans change. Our baby stayed inside a little longer than we expected, and instead of a eight-ish week old, we had a four week old. I managed to come down with mastitis the week after his birth, and then struggled to stay healthy enough to move. We spent four weeks visiting my parents, where I battled exhaustion, sinus problems, and general malaise.
We never made it to Idaho.

This is the type of crisis where you lean on your friends and family that are nearby. I had just left all of mine.

The first time my mom called to let me know what was going on, I spent the day on the floor. I had cried all I could. I didn't have the energy to get up. I just laid on the carpet in my messy messy room and nursed the baby.

I'm not going to lie. Some days are just hard. It's hard for me to be so far away. To think of how I could have driven up so easily just a few months ago, and now it's just not an option.
I find myself crying for my boys. They will never get to go finishing on grandpa's boat again, or drive in the truck with him. My heart aches for all the things that they will never be able to share with him.

I don't have the same circle of friends that I had in Texas. I don't have a support system here yet. We're still looking for a church. We're still learning the area. We're still coming out of transition.  It's a lot to handle all at once.

I'm mourning. I'm mourning for me. I'm mourning for my family.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Guidelines for a Great Tutorial

As a self proclaimed DIY addict, I look up a lot of tutorials.

In the last week my tutorial searching has included:
How to use a spiralizer.
How to diy Chalk paint.
How to replace baby swing battery.
How to make carrot rice.
How to paint an area rug.
How to build a bench.
How to build a sofa.
How to build shelves.
How to install shelves.
How to deal with metal studs*.

As you can see, I average more than one tutorial per day. While it may be crazy, it does put me in the perfect place to judge a good tutorial from a bad tutorial.

1. Music.
If you're making a video tutorial please DO NOT add music. If you absolutely positively must have music, make it instrumental. Nothing makes me turn off a tutorial faster than having music come blaring from my speakers. I don't care how great the song is. It ruins both the song and the tutorial for me.

This is kind of along the same lines as those irritating blogs that used to have music play in the background whenever you went to their page. Please let me pick my own mood music.

2. Blabbering.
I understand you feel funny talk to a camera. It can be a little uncomfortable, I get it.
But I didn't not tune in to hear you spend 3 minutes talking about why you chose the shorts you're wearing, to paint your picture frames. Unless the outfit directly affects the project, it doesn't matter.
Reminding people to wear close toed shoes while mowing = GOOD.
Reminding me to put my favorite comfy shorts on before I glue rocks to something = BAD.

On that same note, I don't need to know what you ate for dinner or how many hours you slept last week, unless of course, that is the subject of the tutorial.

3. Experience.
Experience is ALWAYS important. Do NOT make a tutorial for something you've never done before. Please, wait until the second time.
If you absolutely, positively must make a tutorial for something you've never attempted before, mention that at the beginning, AND do not edit the final results. Let your viewers decide whether or not they need your guidance.

4. Know your tools.
This goes hand in hand with experience. When you're explaining the tools, make sure you know what they do and how they work. This may seem like a given, but I've found several tutorials of people who have never used the tool they are showcasing.

5. Vocabulary
Don't be afraid to use the common layman's terms. There is a very high probability your audience isn't completely versed in the technical terms. Break it down for us. We'll appreciate greatly!

6. Don't Skip Steps.
If you're doing a photo tutorial, this is big. If you skip a step, your audience is going to be lost and/or confused.

7. Revisit.
Don't be afraid to revisit your tutorial and tweak things a little. Whether you found a misspelled word. Or discovered a better way of doing something.
Trust me, it won't be unappreciated!

*The studs in our walls are metal, not wood. I found this out while installing curtain rods.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Playing Catch Up

I have been rather negligent in my blog keeping over the last few months.

First thing first, my last post was about reaching the 40 week mark in pregnancy, Baby Luke (AKA Star Wars) was born four weeks later, in our living room. Following in the fashion of his brothers, Luke did not to wait for a birthing professional to join us. Our midwife arrived in time to help with the clean up though!

To celebrate his first week of life, the army gave us official orders when Luke was eight days old. Three weeks later, our house was empty, we had all been screened for overseas travel, and we said "goodbye" to Texas. We were able to spend a few weeks recovering and visiting family before flying out to our new duty station.

We're making progress getting settled into our new place. The "box decor" is still predominant in our downstairs living area. The fact is, we have too many books. I know. I know. I too, once thought that there could never be "too many books". Now that I face the task of finding homes for these books, I realize the truth. I won't tell you exactly how many boxes of books we have still waiting to be unpacked, but I will say if each box was a year, our boxes would have no problem visiting a bar… On the plus side,  they wouldn't qualify for social security yet.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

40 Weeks... Oh My!!

I love beating the odds.

Yesterday was a day I never expected to see. 
Oh, wait, let me rephrase that. Yesterday was a day I never expected to be pregnant for.

Yesterday was my "due date".

This is a HUGE deal. Both Alex and Spain were preemies. With no full term pregnancies in my history, my chances of carrying to term were pretty slim. I was classified as "high risk" as soon as I took the official pregnancy test.

When I started having strong contractions at 28 weeks, I started to prepare myself for the possibility of yet another NICU stay. 

Making it to 37 weeks, felt like a miracle.

Making it to 38 weeks was surreal.

Making it to 39 weeks, was mind boggling.

Now that I've made it to 40 weeks, I'm in awe.

Sure, there is some uncomfortableness, it's not all sunshine and roses.
I'm so excited to still be pregnant. I love knowing that each day my baby is growing stronger, and our chances of ending up in the NICU are growing weaker and weaker.

40 weeks is a big deal for me.

40 weeks is a miracle. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eight Year Olds

Eight year olds are awesome!
They sleep through the night.
They're already potty trained.
They can feed themselves.
They bathe themselves.
They can articulate fairly well and grasp so many different concepts. Eight Year olds are AMAZING!

If you're looking to adopt, I highly recommend them.

However, eight year olds do have a few drawbacks.

They love building their knowledge base, and they love to share this info.

How is this a drawback?

Let me give you an example.

I had just sent Alex to ask Sweet Husband to come into the kitchen for a minute. This is the conversation that took place when Alex returned from his task.

Alex: Papa said he'll be here in a minute. He's pooping.

Me: Ok. Thank you.

Alex: He didn't tell me he was pooping. I just knew.

Me: Ok. I don't care.

(Yes, I told him I didn't care about something that was important to him. I have no shot at Mother of the Year.)

Alex: You want to know how I knew he was pooping?

Me: NO!

I mean, geez kid, I'm trying to keep some of the mystery alive here!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

In The Place Where He Was Born

It's hard to believe it's been three whole years Since Spain made his appearance. 
I stuck him in the shower today for his yearly "Birth place"photo, and just had to share his transformation to curious big kid.

One Year Old

Two Years Old

Three Years Old

I also finally got around to measuring our shower stall. it's 35 inches by 31.5 inches, so basically the size of a refrigerator.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A devastating blow for veterans

Yesterday the boys and I did something completely new. We watched C-SPAN all day as the senate debated and ultimately voted on the Ryan/Murray Bipartisan Budget (H.J Res 59).

Having an official budget in place and avoiding another government shutdown sounds great, right?! But did you know they also included a bit about where they should get funds to help lower the deficit. I know, what you're thinking, and no, congress is not taking a pay cut.

Instead they voted 64 to 36 that retired veterans, disabled or not, will take a COLA decrease every year until they turn 62 years of age.

Let me put this another way. An E-6 who retires after 20 years of service is only eligible for $14,820 yearly. The current poverty line in America is set at $15,510 a year for 2 people. So if this E-6 is married, supporting children, or has a former spouse entitled to part of their retirement pay, this E-6 is not making a living wage according to our nations stats. And this is still before the COLA decrease.

That's kind of the low end of the spectrum. Let's look at a retired E-6. After 20 years of service they are only eligible for $37,312 a year. Again, that's assuming that they are getting every penny of their 50% pay after taxes.

That's not a shockingly high number.

I'm not going to go into what a congressional members pension looks like, but if you want to see a high number, I recommend reading this.

Here's what's worrisome. These veterans signed a contract. In this contract they were PROMISED certain retirement benefits, and now congress is laughing.  Promised? Promises are for campaign trails.

In fact Senator McCain stood on the senate floor and asked "What's the big deal?"
The big deal senator, is that not only are you stealing the "benefits" these men and women worked hard for, but you are sending a message to every single American, that we, as a country, will not take care of our own.

Military members don't get paid overtime. They are not guaranteed holidays with their families. Their bodies aren't even their own- they are considered "government property".
Many military members live paycheck to paycheck, and even with their full-time job, they still qualify for low-income subsidies. Why was it necessary to implement WIC overseas? Because sometimes it's hard to live on a military paycheck.

There is a petition asking President Obama to veto the bill. If you're interested you can sign it here.

Senator Murray- who co-wrote this bill stated that the inclusion of disabled veterans in this bill was a "technical error", yet made no attempt at trying to fix it. In fact, the very opposite happened. This bill was not allowed to be amended. Yes. You read that right.
It was not allowed to be amended.

You can also contact your state senators and urge them to fix the bill, as they promised to do on the senate floor yesterday.

Edit: Here's how the decrease will directly affect one family- This is an E-8 with 20+ years of service.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wanna Know A Secret?

A funny thing happens when you find yourself pregnant for the third (or more) time, and your other children are both boys*.

Suddenly the pressure is on. Everyone you know begins to send pink baby dust your way. 
Random strangers on the street smile at you knowingly and say "Trying for a girl?"

Even though we've only recently announced our pregnancy, we've gotten everything from "PLEASE have a girl!!" to "You DO want a girl, right?!"

Well since I was asked, I will share my heart's desire.

What I want…… What I really really really want…..

Is to stop throwing up. Seriously.

If we have a boy, it's going to be awesome!! 

If we have a girl, it's going to be awesome!!

As far as the sex of this baby goes, boy or girl, it doesn't matter to me. I am just praying for a strong, healthy, full-term baby.

The boys however, do not share my enthusiasm.

Alex would like a sister. He figures, he's got a brother, why not a sister to complete the set.

Spain would like a robot. Robots are awesome! They walk funny, and sometimes dance. oh, and the best part; THEY'RE ROBOTS!!!

*I have no doubt that this happens in families full of girls too.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Older Than You Know

The other day I was chatting with my neighbor, Kate. 
Kate was super excited, because she had just met our newest neighbors. They had just moved in to the house next to Kate's "And the best part," Kate gushed "She's 25! Someone who's FINALLY my age. Well closer anyway."

Admittedly, Kate's still not old enough to legally drink, so it's kind of like asking Alex how old he think someone is.  Everyone is either; 1) younger than him. 2) his age. 3) The crypt keeper.

Okay, not really. He doesn't know anything about the crypt keeper. Now that I think about it, he probably doesn't know what a crypt is.

The point is, I don't appreciate being thought of as "old". I have been SEVENTEEN for years. Years, people!

Most people believe me without question. 

I remember when Alex was a baby. Strangers would approach me in the grocery store and ask if it was hard being in high school with a baby. I would be aghast that they would dare to make such an assumption, and quick to let them know that I was in fact, NOT a high school student. I really can't pinpoint when, or even why, but at one point I figured I should just embrace it. 

And that's when I became seventeen indefinitely.

(Me and my mom. Taken in May. My youthful looks come honestly!)

In the last year I've been asked if I was the boys' babysitter (and what my rates were). And my personal favorite, while ALONE at the hospital I asked for directions to the allergy clinic, the person behind the desk refused to give me directions for anything other than the pediatric clinic.

Unfortunately, as Alex gets older it makes it harder for me to tell people that I'm seventeen. He'll gasp and yell "MAMA!" 

When an older child calls you "mama", people have a harder time believing you're not old enough to drink. 


Sometimes kids ruin a good thing.

I can only assume that when Kate did the math (8 year old + 2 year old + sews(?!) + makes cheesy 90's references), she came up with the only logical explanation….

I'm 84 years old.