Saturday, August 31, 2013

Keeping busy to pass the time

I had this post mostly prepared with the intention that I'd finish it and post on Thursday night, the day before Derek was scheduled to come home. Only, he surprised me Thursday afternoon calling and saying he was almost home! Needless to say, blogging fell to the bottom of the priority list. ;)

Here's a quick rundown of some of the things that kept us busy while Derek was at annual training, mainly just the things I actually I photographed and haven't already blogged about. 

We visited the local farmer's market one evening and the church across the street had a lady doing face painting. 

We spent several days up at my parent's house and one morning we ventured out to explore a new park!

Dad helped me clean out the van. It REALLY needed some attention. I've managed to keep it clean for two whole weeks! I didn't inventory the items as I cleaned it out because it was far too gross to document, but here's a post from 2010 that might give you an idea. 

The kids and I ventured downtown to visit the library, home to the city block book facade. It's my favorite landmark in Kansas City.

The kids each picked a book from the awesome kid section of the library and they loved exploring the roof patio!

Jackson really wanted to learn how to play chess... I told him that it's a daddy game. :)

Belle went to church as Repunzel

We visited the zoo with some friends

And the kids ended up with more face paint. 

And we met at the park to play with friends!

We kept ourselves busy to pass the time and now we're super glad that Derek is back home. Jackson has filled Daddy in about all sorts of preschool stories and Belle has turned into Daddy's little shadow. We have a low key weekend planned to just hang out and I couldn't be more excited!


Monday, August 26, 2013

Naming Jackson

I have been meaning to write a post about how we decided on Jackson's name since around the time that Belle was born. I suppose now that it's been 2 1/2 years, now is as good of time as any. :)

After finding out that we were having a little boy, Derek and I began to casually have discussions about baby names, though none of them were productive. After going through our original ideas that we each brought to the table, it was evident that we'd need to look elsewhere. While some people seek out baby name books, we critiqued all of the names of the graduates during a never-ending high school graduation. No names were decided upon, but it opened up the conversation beyond our individual top picks. 

Derek eventually shared that he liked the name Jack. After thinking about it, I did too. We didn't pick his name for the meaning (officially, Jackson literally just means "son of Jack"). Moreso, we picked it for what the name represents.

The original inspiration for Jackson's name was this guy-- Jack Bauer.

 Other relevant "Jacks" at the time included

 Jack O'Neill from SG-1

 Jack Sparrow

Jack Shephard

(remember, Jackson was born before the series finale air and everyone realized that the entire show was a colossal waste of time...)

Jack is also the name in a series of books by Derek's favorite author, Tom Clancey. In fiction, Jack is a name often reserved for strong male characters.
The real life, Jackie Robinson embodied character traits far greater than his fictional counterparts!

While we each liked that name, I kind of wanted to have a name with a little more "substance" so that he'd have some flexibility. We then decided upon Jackson.

While you won't find this meaning in a baby name book, this is the meaning that we attribute to the name Jack/Jackson: to lead, to do what is right, to be strong and persistent, to stick up for and protect others. And in the case for Jack Sparrow-- to be whimsical and unique.

Of course, I hope I don't have to endure the stress of being the mother to the man who saves New York from terrorists in a 24 hour period (and is captured, torturued, so and so forth), nor do we wish for Jackson to be the leader of plane-crash survivors on a mystic island. I certainly hope that my Jackson never needs to endure the hatefulness and evil of prejudice. 

Who knows that Jackson's New York/island/baseball diamond might be, but whatever it is-- we want our Jackson to be bold and brave enough to face it and to seek God for wisdom, stength, and direction.

We had planned that at some point, Jackson would go by Jack... only I was expecting it, maybe in high school or something, not at age 4, but that's okay! At the beginning of this year, Jackson began to request to be called "Jack". I wondered if this was a phase, but it has stuck. When I enrolled him in preschool, per his request, I filled in "Jack" for his preferred name.

Of course, to me, he'll always be Jackson. But, if he wants to be Jack to everyone else, we're okay with that.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Annual Training

For the past week, Derek has been gone for what the kids call "army work" and what adults call annual training. If you've ever seen a National Guard commerical, this is the "two weeks in the summer" obligation, only it consists of less rapelling and jumping out of helicopters.

This is a different than when he was away for two weeks at the beginning of August, which was a training course for his new job that accompanied his promotion to sergeant. Annual training is a group exercise, while his training was for an individual role within his unit.

Derek has been spending his time at annual training between St. Joseph (his "home" station) and Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. It's not common for the National Guard to work inbetween states. The National Guard is federally and state funded and so typically operations run at a state-level. Derek's unit, however, provides all of the signal support for the entire 35th Infantry Division, which is spread over multiple states. While he often gets to work here in Missouri, his duties always support the division. With his promotion to E-5, Derek switched from working in NetOps to COMSEC, which has to do with security and encryption... and other techincal stuff that is far beyond my understanding.

The Family Readiness Group (FRG) hosted a family picnic today so the kids, Derek's parents, and I ventured up to visit! It was a nice treat to be able to spend some time with Derek in the middle of annual training.

Derek gave a tour of the armory and all of the equipment.

Everyone loved Belle's dress!! (and of course, I do too!)

Local emergency services came by and the kids got all sorts of goodies and they each got to sit on the police motorcycle.

Jackson enjoyed the bounce houses, but he was really hoping to get to do this game (whatever it's called) with Daddy.

We had a great afternoon and it was followed with more great news: Derek was released for the evening after the picnic! After spending a few hours up at the armory, Forrest and Linda brought the kids home and Derek and I got to have an impromtu date! Derek has been so busy with 15+ hour days that we hardly even talk. It was wonderful to enjoy a nice, uninterrupted dinner catching up on the last 9 days.... only six more days to go!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Jackson's first day of preschool! He was so excited and I have some video clips to prove it. He was particularly excited to play at the play ground and eat snacks. He clearly has high academic expectations for the school year.

Jackson was pretty cooperative for my mandatory photo shoot and I got some great shots, but only because I let him have "silly face" shots in between. He's a funny guy.

This is actually my favorite photo, but Jackson prefers the first one because it shows off his backpack. 

Captioned: Are you done yet, Mom?? Oh I just love is brown eyes. 

And check out our Aller-mates bracelet (and the remnant of a "temporary tattoo that refuses to wash off). Jackson was so compliant with his bracelet! That little piece of rubbery-plastic just makes me feel much more at ease (and perhaps the three phone calls to and from the school nurse helped, too). 

This was at the school waiting for the doors to open. The sunglasses were definitely helpful because it was bright and sunny day, but also to mask the few tears that surfaced. It wasn't really about dropping him off, but hearing him pray before we went in. On the way to the school, I prayed for him to be brave and good listener, to have fun and learn lots of new things. He prayed similarly, but also added "for the time to go by quickly because three hours is a long time and I will miss my Mom."

He's going to have a great time with Ms. Mary Kay!! 

When I picked him up, he was beaming with excitement and He could hardly wait to Skype with Derek at bedtime. It's going to be a good year!


Monday, August 19, 2013

My ears are so tired (also a belated apology)

Once upon a time when Belle was an infant, Derek was soaking up her cuteness and commented, "I can't wait until she can start talking!" I knew what he was getting at-- Jackson really started talking while Derek was away at AIT and so he missed out on that fun stage, but I still remember thinking that he'd probably eat those words someday. 

 You've heard this old adage before, right?

When we picked Julie up at the airport a few weeks ago, she was so impressed on how much Belle had grown and that she was talking. It was only two days later when Julie spent the duration of the 40 minute drive home from my parents house with her hands over her ears trying her best to drown out the noise.

Both of my kids talk. A lot. Jackson has always been a good talker. I sort of worried that my second wouldn't be as much of a talker she wouldn't have as much of an opportunity to talk. However, that's simply not the case. In fact, my kids constantly fight over whose turn it is to talk. They talk to me, they talk to strangers, they talk to everybody. In fact, Jackson said one day, "just going to talk to myself!" when I told him that my ears were tired {which is something my mother finds great humor because I apparently said that myself...}.

I don't know if I can say that either of my kids talk more than the other, but Belle's incessant talking brings on the most attention. She talks so much that people actually approach me to comment that she talks a lot when we are out and about. This happens at least twice a week. In fact, at her two-year checkup, her doctor actually had to recheck the chart to see if it was the two or three year appointment. 

Driving time is the worst as there is no escape. It does no good to say to Belle, "we need to take a break from talking," Then she'll cry and say, "I just want to talk," which leads to an entire monologue about how much she wants to talk. She'll whine and repeatedly ask, "Can I talk now?" Turns out, it is really just best to let her jibber-jabber away. Or sometimes, I'll just turn the music up. 

My ears are tired. So, so tired, especially now that I am home full time again with the kids. But, it's not just me. My brother once made a decision tree that pretty much sums it all up. 
Anyone who actually knows me in real life is probably thinking this entire post is like the pot calling the kettle black. But there are TWO of these little talkers and only one of me. Also, I'd like to apologize to those whose ears I once made tired (Derek not included, because he knew what he was getting into). 

Of course with all of the talking that they do, my kids say super sweet and/or funny things. Here's a few from this week:
  • Jackson: Mom I love you the most. And I'll love you even after you're dead.... and if you're dead, you won't yell at me anymore.
  • Belle: "alligator" = elevator, "soup case" = suit case
  • Jackson: You need to see the doctor so that you can be adopted.
  • Belle: She loves to tell secrets, and my favorite is when she leans in and whispers so quietly in my ear, "I love you most."
  • Jackson: I am so starving, I'm starving up to God!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Our new favorite park!

Derek left for annual training this morning. He'll be spending two weeks at between his armory in St. Joseph and Fort Leavenworth. Last night, the kids "helped" Derek pack and Belle was hoping to sneak along in the suitcase.

This morning, the kids and I ventured out to explore a new park nearby. It was an amazing find! The kids played their hearts out for two hours. When we got home, Jackson put himself down for a nap!! Unbelievable! 

We visited Brumble's Forest at Meadowmere Park in Grandview. If any of you live nearby, you should check it out! While this park had all the usual amenities like a playground, slides, and swings... they were just so uniquely put together. The climbing mechanisms weren't simple ladders-- they could be climbed several times using different techniques. I loved the creative play and I'm certain that's why my kids were entertained for such a long time!

Isn't this so much more fun than a ladder??

Days at the park are so much fun! We'll have to go back when Derek can go with us! 



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