Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Birthday Boy

My sweet baby boy is two today! In some ways, it seems impossible that he could ever be this big, but then at the same time, he is doing new stuff everyday and he just seems so big! Like classic two-year-old stuff. He has a system for everything. He is using new words every day. And there are the times or two (or twenty) that he likes to push his limits just to get a reaction-- just because. This normally occurs when I insist that he does not put his feet on the table from his high chair.

Jackson had his two-year pictures taken yesterday. Isn't he handsome?
Two Year Stats
  • Height and Weight: we go to well baby check up tomorrow. I guess 30 pounds-ish.
  • You are wearing size 24 month/2T clothes. I just gave away several brand new 18 month clothes that you never got to wear. They were too big in the spring and when I tried them on you, your arms and legs were just way to long!
  • You go to bed around 8:30 and sleep until around 7:30. You take an afternoon nap anywhere between 2-3ish hours depending on the day.
  • Even though you are a rough and tough little boy, you are so lovey and cuddly. Sometimes when you're playing you run over to give me a "chiss" and you like to be held when you drink from your cup. And sometimes you come and give the baby kisses and rub my tummy.
  • You sleep with your blanket(s) "bit" every night. When we rock, you insist that the blanket be on my shoulder "sho-sher" so you can put your head on it. They are both blue, but the camouflage one is the one you want when you refer to the "boo" one. 
  • You loooove Elmo. I'm not quite sure how it even started, but you aren't interested in watching any other show.
  • You have this amazing airplane detector-- you can hear one from miles away way before anyone else, and even if we never even end up seeing it, you still shout "airpane! airpane!!"
  • You know most of your alphabet (upper and lower case). Your favorite is H and you get really excited whenever you see one (Hy-vee, Home Depot, Kohl's). The cutest letter you say is W, "da-ba-da-ba-da", about 5 syllables worth. And you "see" letters everywhere, like when the parking space lines connect, that makes a "T" and or diagonal tiles make an "X".
  • Whenever you are around when I am getting ready, you insist on me sharing my deodorant and hairspray.
  • You love to help and I can trick you into about anything as long as I tell you that you are being a very good helper.
  • You are old enough to really play with your friends (not just parallel play). Sometimes you follow the lead of bigger kids, but most of the time they follow your lead. Your closets friends are Chacey and James.
  • Your favorite foods: juice, any kind of fruit, pizza "tssa", bread (not sandwiches, just bread), and goldfish crackers.
I love your beautiful brown eyes and your wispy blond hair! I love how how you scream "Mama!! Mama!" a million times I come into a room- even when I've only gone downstairs to switch the laundry! You are such a joy, a happy little guy and my parents say you have a personality just like me when I was your age. I look forward to watching you grow and grow even more. I love being your mommy!
Happy Birthday Jackson!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So, what exactly is Derek up to?

I've gotten this question a few times:
What is Derek doing now that he's graduated from basic training?
I'll do my best to explain it as far as I know and hopefully I'll get Derek to do a post again sometime because I got a lot of great feedback from the last one!

First and foremost, all soldiers are exactly that: soldiers. They attend basic training to become warriors, to learn war strategy, and are taught fighting tactics. Every soldier also chose an MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) upon enlisting in the army, which is basically a specific job that the soldier will have while enlisted in the army. According to there are over 150 jobs to chose from including pilots, truck drivers, and plumbers. Derek is a 25B, Information Technology Specialist, (aka computer nerd).

Derek's MOS is a part of the Signal Brigade

Upon graduation from basic training each soldier will then attend AIT (Advanced Individual Training) to be trained specifically for their MOS. Each MOS has a varying length of training after basic: military police training is nine weeks, while some special forces have training for 43 weeks. Derek's AIT is 20 weeks.

This is where he lives, basically like a college dorm.

So, it just took me that long to say that Derek is in computer school and will be until the middle of March. The atmosphere is definitely relaxed compared to the rigorous schedule of basic training, but he's still pretty busy. He gets up at 4am, has PT, sits in class, studies, goes to bed, repeats. He does have many more privileges like having his cell phone and personal computer in the evenings (if they have time) and will have the opportunity to earn more (civilian clothes on weekends, passes to leave post) in about a week.

This is the hang-out area outside the barracks. 
Picnic tables, a grill, basically a place to chill out.

The classes that Derek's taking are right up his alley. He actually already has at least one of the certifications that's required. He still had to take the class and pass the test, which he did. But he was the one making study guides and helping others learn the material. The best part is that Derek will end up with a few certifications that he's been wanting to get for quite some time, but finding the time and money to do it wasn't easy (some of the Cisco exams in themselves can cost up to $1,400. Even just the basic certifications though will run $300ish easily). These certificates will obviously prepare him to do his army job, but will most definitely boost up his civilian resume.

So, this is what he's up to. I really am going to get a little questionnaire to him to fill out, maybe over the weekend when he has more time. If you have a question, let me know or post it in the comments. He'll read them and will answer them (right honey?!)!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We've been crafty...

In the past few days, we've been crafty and it's been fun. Jackson is at a good age that he can work on a project and I think he actually enjoys it. And maybe if I give him good opportunities to color on actual paper, it will mean less artwork on my walls.

Anyway, yesterday we painted pumpkins (the much easier substitute, less dangerous substitute for carving). When buying the pumpkins, I had to tell him several times that pumpkins could not be bitten into like apples, though it didn't stop him from trying. It was definitely messy, but Chacey and Jackson both had a ton of fun!

 (Derek's was bummed about seeing his tshirts being used as paint guards... but I assure you all that I chose shirts that already had paint on them. It's not a conspiracy, despite what he thinks.)

We have one tree in our back yard that has already begun changing colors and several leaves have already fallen. I raked up a big pile and the kids had a ton of fun running, jumping, kicking, and throwing the leaves. So, when it was time to come in, I decided to let them pick some leaves to glue to some paper (the only way leaves were going to be allowed in my house). It doesn't seem like much, but they had fun and it changes things up a bit.

This little crafty streak all started when I went to MOPS last Wednesday and got to partake in my own craft project! Our craft was "green" as we were just reusing old supplies! After the kids were down for a nap that afternoon, I continued the crafty fun.

The supplies: any old paper. I used left over scrapbook pages that I kept because they were too cute to throw away and cut up old maps. Other people had old songbooks, pages from torn up old books. Scissors and glue.

And I made these:
(the card on the bottom right isn't just about the United States, it's actually an I Miss You card... so don't think I'm weird.)

Aren't these fun?! I love sending letters and I love cute stationary. Even better-- I made them (envelopes and all myself! And even better than that, I just used stuff that would have gone in the recycling (or worse, the trash!). Here's a link to the type of template we used for the envelope. Making the envelopes really took less than 5 minutes and the cards are as detailed as you want!

Now if only I could find away for the craft supplies to put themselves away...


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Trading blue for pink

I can't deny that it took a little while to get used to the idea that we are going to have a little girl. It's no secret that I have always wanted a little girl, but I was just so sure that this time it was going to be another girl. And then it dawned on me-- having a girl means so much extra work in the mean time!

I began searching through names hoping that'd help, but that was actually depressing. I am so committed to pick a name that means something- I can't just pick a name; it needs to come from somewhere... and there are very few girl names that I like and I haven't found one that I absolutely love.

So, Tuesday night after class I headed to the store and I went to check out the baby section. I found myself gravitation towards the boy section several times, but I made myself go back to the little girls stuff and I finally felt the excitement of having a little girl!

I am so excited to be the recipient of Chacey's hand-me-downs because she always has the cutest outfits, but I have vowed to not buy/receive any girl things until I go through all of Jackson's old clothes and send them packing. I just can't convince myself that I need to keep everything of his on the chance that we may need them in the future. Purchasing the two little onsies on Tuesday really helped motivate me to get it done and so I spent several hours this afternoon going through the boxes upon boxes of little boy clothes. I did keep a few of my favorites that I just couldn't party with.

We had 12 target diaper boxes filled with clothes that I separated into three piles: two for little boys at church and one to go to an organization that supports teen moms.

All so I can start to fill the closets with some pink and purple, ruffles and sparkles!

And in other non-related news... Linda bought Jackson a pair of boots today at Kohl's. Once he tried on the boots, he wouldn't let anyone take them off, so he actually wore them around the store. The only way I could convince him to take them off to put on pajamas was to let him take a shower first. And then he insisted on wearing them with his PJs...

Don't tell me this isn't normal...

Not only has he worn his boots all day, but he has been staring at them too-- even when he walks, so he ends up running into things. And he talks about them too. "Boots. Boots." But the cutest thing of all, is that he'll tell you that he has boots like his daddy. I like to think that's why he loves them so much!


Friday, October 22, 2010

The 5k at 5 months pregnant

So, I'm pretty impressed with myself. Today, I participated in a 5K as a fundraiser for Julie's school. Of course, I didn't have a spectacular finish time (1 hour, 9 minutes), but I finished! Being 5 months pregnant and pulling an extra 60 pounds in a wagon while walking up and down hills, over bumpy sidewalks, and across the field-- I think finishing in itself is quite the achievement! And I've decided that since I did the walking for four persons, that I actually get to divide my time by four, so that turns out to be a pretty awesome time quite actually!

Not that my husband is impressed. I sent him a text message and the one I got in response:
I ran 3.5 miles today too and didn't break a sweat.
UGH, Jerk!! Who cares what he thinks anyway!?

I hadn't been planning on participating because I didn't really know how I was going to be feeling, but I woke up feeling pretty good and I really wanted the chance to help out the school. Not only is Heartland High School the one that Julie is attending while she is living with us, it is the high school that Derek graduated from several a few years back.

The school offers an outstanding education in a Christian environment. I am friends with several of the teachers and I can say without a doubt that they invest so much in all of the students! Several of the teachers have even volunteered their evenings and some weekends to come and help Julie with some homework. How much more involved can you get?!

Being a private school, the students pay tuition, but the school has never declined a student for financial reasons. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are allocated each year to allow every student the chance to attend. They even offer free tuition to all students of a family member deployed in the United States military as a service to them for the sacrifice they make.

I'm not trying to sound like an advertisement here, and I am definitely not getting any sort of compensation for the post. I just want to share about this wonderful ministry and why I decided to walk a 5K at five months pregnant!

Here are some pictures of Julie starting the race. Of course, she finished a long time before me, so I wasn't there when she finished.

Okay, now that you're already impressed and everything... I have to admit that I am so completely sore and achy. I chilled out on the couch with a heating pad for an hour and half this afternoon!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Visiting Derek, part 4: The rest of the weekend

After graduation from basic training, the soldiers then go head off to AIT (advanced individual training). Because the post that Derek was being transferred to was within a certain amount of miles, we were given the opportunity to drive him there instead of taking government transportation. This meant that instead of Derek having to check back in that night at 8pm, like he did on Family Day, he had until noon the next day to get him from Fort Benning to Fort Gordon.

Before we headed out of town, we made sure to visit the National Infantry Museum. You should really check out the website as I will fail horribly at making it sound as cool as it really is. Jackson behaved so well for a little guy. Having lots of things to touch and look at really helped! But, I'd like to go back to visit someday to spend more time.

Not only is it cool on the inside, but it really is a beautiful structure on the outside too!

Down in the kid section, they had a cool room with all parts of the ACU uniform to try on!
For kids of *all* ages, not just the little guys!

The rest of Thursday was spent driving up to Atlanta to drop Forrest off at the airport and then driving over to Augusta. It was a long day in the car! Linda and Julie were taking Jackson for the night and Derek and I were able to have a date night! It was nice to spend alone time together, though it would have been nicer if I hadn't spent a majority of the time crying because I wasn't ready to say good-bye again. We had only just saw him for the first time the day before!

Friday morning we made a quick run to Wal-Mart to get a few last minute things and drove him over to Fort Gordon to check in at lunchtime. I did finally pull myself together so the commanding officers and fellow soldiers wouldn't think Derek was married to a psychotic mess! We were told that we could wait around for orientation, so we did and I witnessed the most interesting orientation speech I have ever heard. More time was spent discussing STDs, condoms, alcohol, and sexual harassment than any other topic. But more importantly, we found out that because it was Columbus Day weekend that Derek could leave the post and wouldn't have to check back in until Monday.


It was a total God-thing how we had planned the rest of our trip ahead of time to perfectly work out this special blessing! Unlike other families who had booked flights for later that afternoon or the next day who couldn't spend extra time with their soldier, we had booked our flight for late Sunday night!! Our hotel was already booked in Atlanta, so we hopped back in the car and drove the two and a half hours back to Atlanta. I booked another room not even caring how much it'd cost! 

The next morning, we headed out to the Atlanta Zoo. Derek's aunt Judy drove down from North Carolina to join us.

Julie may be smiling in this picture, but she was freaking out.

Unlike Jackson, who loved petting the goats and the pigs.

Taking a break to sit down at the zoo! I love this girl.

We stopped by Chuck-E-Cheese's later that afternoon, to get out of the hotel for awhile (while Jackson was thoroughly entertained by going up and down in the lobby elevator, we really needed him to get out!). Saturday night at Chuck-E-Cheese = bad idea. We stayed for a little bit but it was waaaay too crowded.

Julie showed us some of her basketball moves

And it was Julie's first experience with Skee Ball!!!! (Derek tried adamantly to beat her score, but couldn't do it-- and so he pouted about being beat by a girl).

Per our friends demand suggestion, we were sure to stop by for a meal at The Varsity.
Derek enjoys an Orange Cream Slush, which Jackson drank some chocolate milk that I shared!  (this was after Jackson made "watches" out of tomatoes- where does he come up with this stuff?)

We checked out of our hotel around 9am to start our drive over to Augusta/Fort Gordon. The goal was to keep Jackson awake, so that he would in turn sleep on our drive back to Atlanta later that afternoon. Once we got to Augusta, we grabbed some sandwiches from Subway and enjoyed a nice picnic at a park before it was time to drop Derek off so we could make it back in time for our flight. We said our good-byes (with really minimal tears this time!). Derek went to get settled into his room and we started our long journey home. 

It was a fabulous (albeit exhausting) trip. Spending the extra two days with Derek was simply wonderful. There was time just to hang out, for him to play with Jackson, and every moment wasn't scheduled! I will be forever grateful of Christopher Columbus and the fact that we have a national holiday to celebrate him!

(I know this was soooo long, but I wanted to fit in all in one post! I'm all done with lengthy vacation posts now.)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Visiting Derek, Part 3: Graduation

Finally! A chance to blog about Derek's graduation from basic training- the whole reason for our trip to Georgia to begin with! I am determined to finally get this done before it's Jackson's turn to graduate from high school.

The graduation was a the new Infantry Museum located right outside the post. It was a beautiful location and the weather was great! Jackson and I anxiously awaited to see our soldier!

The ceremony really was so cool. It wasn't just a graduation. It started out with the band playing a variety of music and that was very entertaining-- especially the Rocky theme song.

Then there was a presentation about the soldiers throughout our country's history, showcasing the different uniforms and weapons the soldiers would have worn and used in each of the wars we've fought.

Next, was a presentation about the infantry, which had some great visual effects! I really learned quite a bit. During today's wars, our Army is equipped with great technology to aid in many of the missions. However, during any mission, it is up to the infantry alone during the last 100 yards. All soldiers are trained in the last 100 yards during basic training, though the soldiers who are specifically infantrymen will undergo more specific training.

(pardon my lack of technical terms... I will make sure to update the wording upon hearing from my Army friends. I won't be able to talk with Derek until tomorrow evening, and like I said, I really wanted to get this done!)

This is one of the two infantry squads(?) coming up from behind the field, amidst the smoke from the cool visual effects, in the Flying V formation, much like the one the Mighty Ducks use to win the championship.

Each position of the formation carries a different weapon, each soldier having a specific responsibility.

 And then finally it was time to present our soldiers. Two companies graduated that day, both Bravo and Delta. Derek was a part of Delta Company, 1st platoon.

 This is 1st platoon-- Derek is in the second row from the right, 3rd man back. They are aligned according to height with the tallest in front, so it's kinda tough to actually tell its him.

Some awards were presented, followed by the hundreds of soldiers reciting the Warriors creed (video here). It was really neat to watch. Then our soldiers marched by!

That was basically the conclusion of the ceremony and then the field became a place of chaos while loved ones all went out to find their soldiers!

Words can't really describe the amount of pride I felt watching my husband graduate that day. Less than 1% of the United States population will volunteer to enlist and make it through basic training-- furthermore, these soldiers volunteered while our nation is at war. I have been a proud wife since day one because of the loyalty, discipline, and integrity that Derek beholds. But none of that even compares to the sense of pride that comes knowing that Derek worked so hard during the 10 weeks prior to that day earning the title of American Soldier. Stripped of all privileges, he crawled through mud, slept on the ground, ran miles upon miles, completed obstacle courses, among the many other unpleasant tasks that were required of him to earn a warrior status. Surpassing all expectations, he completed this challenge. And I am so honored to be his wife.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Small town and family fun

I look forward to the third weekend in October every single year. I travel up to my itty bitty hometown every year that I can for the MO Days Festival. The Marching Band competition along with the craft booths, pork tenderloin sandwiches, and running into old friends-- it's enough to get me excited every year.

Of all of the things I enjoy about the weekend, the marching band competition is by far my favorite, including the parade. I spent 6 years of my life being in every single parade around that I never got the chance to actually watch any, so I definitely don't take the privilege for granted! With over 33 bands competing this year, the parade is very long-- running over an hour and a half, but it's so worth it. And I always sit near the music judge to ensure the bands are playing when they march by (it's also where the Baptist association has free hot chocolate and cookies to share. What an awesome coincidence!).

This year we sat with Chacey's family (for those who completely didn't realize-- I went to High School with her mom, so that's how we know each other. We both just happen to live in the same place again, just under two hours from "home") so that the kids could entertain each other in case they weren't into the parade as much as us former band nerds adults were.

I couldn't quite figure out what Jackson was doing at this time, but I thought his Rough & Touch sweatshirt seemed appropriate...

And of course, with every parade comes candy!! The kids were so cute to pick it up and put it in the bag (unless it had a white wrapper, then they just refereed to it as trash). 

Jackson would get so excited every time candy was thrown in his direction. He would throw his hand out and squeal-- the very thought that someone would throw candy at his feet was the most amazing thing ever! And it never losts it's excitement, even after an hour into the parade he was still squealing about candy. It was very entertaining to us all and Elizabeth even got a short clip.

We spent a little bit of the day visiting with my grandma's before heading back down to my parents house, where we hung out for the rest of the weekend. We've been so busy lately that it was really nice just to have some family time.

Aunt Laura came home from college

We all went to watch Ashley's football game on Friday night

We had a great weekend!!! How was your weekend?!


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