Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tales from the beach house -- Pig tail and football dreams

Well, we've been at the beach house for almost a week now. We really haven't done much yet -- haven't even gone to the beach. Been trying to stay pretty calm and create a normal routine for the kiddos after all our travels and the excitement of Dada coming home. Also, Elena is working on her bottom two molars and her four fangs, so she has been in a peach of a mood the last few days.

Yesterday we did go check out Surf City. I can't believe that we have lived in this area for seven years and this was only my second time, and Chris's first, to that town. We even found a cute local produce stand/grocery store that makes fresh food daily. Needless to say we'll be frequenting that establishment a lot this next month (is it really only a little over a month before we say "So long" to the east coast????).

So here are a few photos of our beachy living adventure thus far.
Elena was oddly quite while eating her snack the other afternoon. Here is where I found her, having a great conversation with her new best friend -- her reflection. Not that I have a vain child or anything, but the girl does know that she is pretty.

What, Mom? I'm just hanging out here.

Wow! Felix is sitting right here next to me!

Um, Felix, you could play with me a little.

My daughter has a new fascination with climbing under chairs and then whining for help to get out of her self-imposed caging.

Or she tries to fit into the cat carriers. She just can't understand why she doesn't fit.

Watching Cars with Dada (love the blissed out look on my hubby's face)

With everyone in BloggerLand putting their daughters' hair into pig tails, I thought I'd give Elena's another go this morning. This was the result.

Oh, Mom, you have the camera. Cheeessee!

Seriously, Mom. What have you done to my head? You know I don't like things in my hair.

Um, Mom, what are these knobs on Sissy's head?

Mooommmmm, Bubby is touching me.

Go Pats! You know we are going to win tonight and take the Super Bowl again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Welcome Home Dada!

Chris arrived home yesterday afternoon around 1:30. He was three hours later than was originally forecasted. However, even with this delay this was by far the shortest deployment we have had to date. The kids and I are just so excited to finally have Dada home with us! Now we get two years of having him around the house on a regular basis. I'm not sure if the kids have fully realized yet that this is Dada home with them, in the flesh, and that he is more than just a photo on the computer or a voice on the phone (Garrett screamed with excitement just looking at photos of Chris from yesterday).
With the delay, I decided the best course of action was inaction. Translate to: put the kids down for a nap and pray they get some sleep. This is what I saw when I opened their bedroom door at 11:15 (we were supposed to be at the Base by 11:30 and we live 45 minutes away now). I guess the excitement of the day was just too much.

At 1 they told us to head over to the hanger to meet the guys. The hanger means lots of space (not air-conditioned) and lots of helicopters. My two were in heaven!
I love this silhouette of them with the Cobra (Daddy's copter) in the background.

Of course, my son finds the only "puddle" in the place and decides to play in it. Yuck!

When is Dada going to get here? Momma you said any minute (and Momma is tired of chasing them around the hanger).

Momma! There's a BUS! My Dada is coming on a BUS!!!

Do we really have to wait for them to do formation?

Garrett ran to Chris and handed him his American flag. Too precious! I just wish I could have gotten Garrett's face in the photo too.

Daddy's girl getting a kiss, and still posing for the camera.

Dada with his babes

Happy, blessed family!

The fun of moving - from my kids point of view

So we left Maine on Saturday, August 18th to head for North Carolina. I wasn't sure where we would live once we made it back to NC since we had a contract on our house and the buyer wanted to take possession immediately, but that was beside the point. (Pictures of our beautiful house will be forthcoming on another post -- I'm so sad that we have to leave it behind.) The plan was to hit the road at 9am and make the journey in two days. Yeah, right. So much for the plan. We didn't get on the road until 10 and our lunch stop at Friendly's in CT took TWO HOURS! Very un-Friendly, my friend Justin said. So we stopped Saturday night in New Jersey, just off exit 8 on the pike. We didn't get to see our blogger friends Barb and Carlton in Delaware for dinner as was the plan -- a. my kids wouldn't have been happy driving that far, b. Carlton wasn't happy that day because he's getting his two year molars, and c. it just would have been too late by the time we made it. Barb -- I hope that we get to meet your family someday soon, and by then you'll have Baby GoGo home with you and we can't wait to meet him too!

Sunday was a new day and we got on the road by 9:30. Of course, with the move west meaning that it will be very tough to see my sorority sisters for the next two years. So, we stopped off in Maryland at Sarah's house for lunch. Of course, I again neglected to get photos (sorry Megers!). It was great to see Diana, Sarah, Kim, Justin (Kim's wonderful hubby), and Quinn (Kim's handsome little boy). Then after lots of visiting, and another two hour lunch, we were on the road again. This time we were able to stop just south of Richmond for the night, thanks to wonderful DC congestion slowing up the driving. Garrett and Elena decided that they had to sleep with YaYa and I, but we all got some sleep. This is their reaction Monday morning when I was trying to load the luggage trolley up so we could go bye-bye -- they thought they could get a ride too!

Finally, we arrived back in Jacksonville on Monday afternoon. Stopping for lunch around Wilson caused some concern for Garrett. He saw the hotel in front of Cracker Barrel and thought we were stopping for the night. "Nooo, nooo Momma! No night-night!" I guess that he had had his fill of hotels!

Thankfully my friends Stephanie and Mike offered their house as a stopping point until we could get more permanent sleeping arrangements for the next forty-five days settled. It was kinda appropriate to be staying with them -- Chris and I lived with Stephanie for the first month plus when we moved to Jacksonville seven years ago. But the kids and I didn't have to crash there that long this time. I found a beach house in Surf City for us to live in until we move in October. Whooo hooo! Of course, that meant that I had to pack the kiddos up again and move them again. I think the following photos accurately reflect my children's thoughts on the issue.

Photos of our beach house and our adventures here will be coming shortly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home (sort of) and news

Well, yesterday afternoon we arrived back in Jacksonville. In a move reminiscent of our first arrival in Jacksonville, my girlfriend, Stephanie, offered her house as a landing spot until we can find a more permanent place to live for the next month and a half. That is my project for today -- find and get into our house, hopefully on the beach.

As for news, one of Chris's mentor pilots when he first checked into HML/A 269 died in a helicopter crash in Yuma this week. Maj. Freitas was killed flying a search-and-rescue huey doing a training mission, not at war, just doing his every day job. His wife, Jenny, is pregnant with their third child, and their 4 year old and 1 year old will now grow up without their father. Jenny and Cesar won't get to celebrate their 9 year wedding anniversary (the same number of years that Chris and I have been married). It's just so sad.

I don't know why this is hitting me so hard. It's not like we hung out with the Freitas's all that often. In fact, the only time I remember socializing with them, outside of squadron functions (which were plentiful in pre-war days), was at a SuperBowl party at their house -- I was the lone Pats fan the year that they won their first SuperBowl and Cesar gave me plenty of grief for it, until the end of the game. Maybe it's because this is the first friend of Chris's that I have known that died in the line of duty. Yes, there was another friend, Robbie, who died five years ago, but that was when he crashed his motorcycle, not while he was flying his copter.

Please pray for Jenny, her babies, and the two other Marines and the Sailor who died in the crash. Pray for the safety of all our soldiers, sailors, and Marines who are training around the country and around the world. Pray for strength for all the families of our troops. Pray for our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they may all return home soon and safely.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nine states down

We have traveled through nine states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and now Virginia) in the past two days. Tomorrow, the final leg of our journey, we will make it most of the way through North Carolina on our way back home. Of course, home is a figurative term right now as technically our family is homeless -- that's right! We finally have a contract on our house and the buyers want to take possession immediately! Whooo Hoooo! Hopefully by the time Chris is stateside later this week we will have a residence until we head west in October, even better if I can finagle a beach house for that time.

Even better about our trip is that we got to stop in Maryland for a few hours and visit with the Big Freaks, my sorority sisters (wish you could have been with us Megers!) Silly me, though, forgot to take photos. It was nice to get off the high way and eat real food instead of fast food at a travel center. Plus, I love Kim, Dyana, and Sarah, and the kids and I got to see baby Quinn, Justin, and Sarah's parents, Jane and Jim. I don't even want to think about the next time we'll all be able to get together (Meg, I feel your pain, as we'll not be on the other side of the world for two years, but the other side of the country is starting to feel that way to me).

Well, Garrett has, thankfully, passed out in the hotel room, but Elena is screaming for all that she is worth. Seriously starting to worry that the other guests might turn me in for child abuse. Best to try to comfort her, but if last night is any comparison it won't be until about 10 before she settles down and then she'll simply pass out. Lovely -- Dada, won't the drive west be grand?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Assortment of Photos

Well, another week has passed. That means one more week and then the kids and I are back in J'ville anxiously awaiting Daddy's return. I can't believe that the summer has come to a close so quickly. Here are photos from the last week plus, since I missed posting about our last week in July. Again, how did it get to be the middle of August already?
We have been busy. I finally got up the "nerve" to call Karen, one of my best friends from high school. For reasons not worth remembering we stopped talking sometime during freshman year of college. Now we are both mothers of two children -- her sons are three and two -- and I decided it was time to look her up again. We've met up twice for playdates at our old elementary school and her family was there to celebrate Garrett's birthday this weekend. Why is it as women (I can't speak for the men out there) that we let petty little things get in the way of good friendships and then we drop off each other's radar, never to look each other up again? Karen was a life line to me freshman year of high school, the pretty girl who asked me to sit at her lunch table when my friends had dropped me and I was reduced to eating by myself. We cheered together all through high school, slept over each other's houses, plotted about boys together. Then, nothing. Nothing for over twelve years. I was so nervous calling her, my palms were actually sweating. Why? Did I think she'd laugh at me and hang up? That wasn't her personality then. Why might I think she would turn into such a person? Nonsense, plain and simple. I have to say that she hasn't changed at all from the girl that I knew -- she has just grown into a confident, successful woman who I am hoping will let me call her a good friend again. I don't plan on it being another twelve years before we talk again -- too much time has already been wasted on such foolishness (Guess I might finally be growing up past my high school neuroses -- is that possible?)
Well, without further ado, here are the photos. Dada, next time I post a long post like this I want your mug in the shots!
Tractor Show (July 28th):
There is a farm just up the road from my parent's house that hosts a tractor show every summer. People come from far and wide to display and see an assortment of antique tractors and small engines. Considering my son's affinity for tractors (he shouts with glee every time he even thinks that he sees one) we thought that it would be a grand time. The following are the photos from the show, plus a few from around the house that morning after the show and that afternoon.
Okay, Mom. We're ready to go!
Maybe not.

The (noisy) small engine that struck fear and trepidation in my brave boy's heart.

Is it okay to look? I mean, I don't want to miss out on anything.

Dada, this tractor's just my size. Any chance you might hook me up?

Big kid, bigger tire

Hmmmmm, so many tractors to see, so little time.

Here's the token photo of Momma for Dada. Garrett was totally enthralled with this antique fire engine. Imagine, a tractor show and a fire engine! What more could my little boy need?

Okay, Sissy. You take us for a ride, and I'll sit here enjoying my drink.
(Some kids have a lovey. My son has his sippy cup.)

Check me out!

What, Mom? You mean I wasn't supposed to climb up here?

Little girl, just like her Momma -- right at home on Papa's tractor. She looks like she is really driving the thing.

What a beauty!

Sissy, let me show you how it's supposed to be done.

Hey, Bubby -- you've got a hole in your ear!

Heeeeheeeee! I'm just the cutest thing ever! Don't you agree?!

Is this how they work? How do I look?

Papa, can I please have a ride on your tractor?

Little man learning the ropes from Papa

Papa's girl

Who needs a pool when there are puddles like this????

Afternoon at the Beach:
Amazingly enough, we have only made it to the beach one afternoon while we have been north. This afternoon we grabbed Papa after work and headed to Short Sands in York. The kids had a great time in the tidal pool and both wanted to run far into the sea. Guess we should have packed their bathing suits and a change of clothes for the adults. Oh well, fun was still had by all.
Check out these cute hineys.

Splashing away
Wow! Every time I throw rocks into the water they make a big splash and a cool plunking sound. Maybe I should try it again!

Being watched over by YaYa. She keeps me in line (well, at least until I smile at her)

Little Gymnast and Playdate with Ezra:

I saw this leotard at the gym and I just couldn't resist. She's already proven with her stunts at the playground and around the house that she's ready for class this fall, now she has the outfit to match.

Aug 1st, mine and Chris's 9 year anniversary, the kids and I had a playdate with my girlfriend, Beth, and her son, Ezra. Beth and I have been good friends since 6th grade and we've grown close over the past year now that we are both mommies. Ezra will be one in mid-September, and he is just the cutest little boy. What a love!

I love this photo of Beth -- what a fantastic mom she is, and this picture just captures how in love she is with her son.

Ez in the tunnel.

Elena peering out the port hole

All the kids romping together.

Elena's New Hat:
What do you think of my new hat? It's a little big, but I will actually leave it on my head.
(Check out The Little Hat Company if you are interested in your own -- started by a local mom who wanted a hat for her daughter that wasn't a baseball hat last summer and her company has taken off! Catalog due out this fall and just started her website).

Yeah, I'm styling.

This is a photo of Garrett's silloutte. I don't want to say he has long eyelashes or anything, but they even show up in his shadow! The girls had better watch out for him (He already has a team gymnast at Atlantic who fawns all over him, and she's in 7th grade! Maybe Mommy's the one who is in trouble!)

Playing in the pool:

Yaya and Papa got Garrett and Elena a plastic pool for the yard. The kids have had a great time playing in it, whether there is water in the pool or not. In fact, this afternoon after loading Elena in the car I found Garrett sitting in the middle of the dry pool with his snack cup and drink. Need to get photographic evidence of that cuteness.

Mommy, remember to stop and smell the flowers!

Garrett's birthday party:
Saturday we celebrated Garrett's 2nd birthday with friends at New Castle Commons. New Castle is a little island off Portsmouth that is right on the river -- in fact, Chris and I met on that island. Well, we found a picnic spot overlooking the lighthouses and river that was beautiful (well, the adults thought so, and the kids liked shouting at all the boats as they passed). Our friends Bethanne, her kids, Bobby and Elizabeth, and her mom, Josh, Monica and Maddy, Beth and Ezra, and Karen, Jeremy, and their kids, Timmy and AJ, joined my parents and children for the celebration. I felt very blessed to have so many dear friends there to celebrate the wonder that is my son. It was a great afternoon and we had a blast!
All these bags are for me? I get more presents? Wow!
(Note: a wedding party arrived to have photos taken with the river and the lighthouses in the background and all the kids were immediately entranced. Of course, some couldn't understand why those cameras weren't pointed at them, but then again, all our children are beautiful so they should have been :)

Ohh, a truck book. Yeah, Mom, there are other presents to open and enjoy, but I've got a new truck book. (Great idea, Monica. You've won my son's heart forever.)

Bobby, Bethanne's son, and Timmy, Karen's oldest, enjoying the bubble machines. Bubbles were everywhere all afternoon. What is it about kids and bubbles that is so facinating?

Reading our new truck book. There was no chance of Garrett paying attention to anything else once he opened this present. Poor Ezra desperately wanted to read with him, but Garrett would have none of it.

Garrett's fishy birthday cake. It was actually a bunch of cupcakes with loads of frosting on top. Gotta say it was the best idea I had for the day.

Blowing out our birthday candle. Garrett's wish this year was for Daddy to come home safely and soon. (Dada, this is the best shot that I'm going to send of my new 'do. You'll just have to wait till your home to see it for yourself!)

Elena enjoying a birthday cupcake. Garrett was too busy to stop and enjoy, but this girl dug right in.

Well, that is all for photos for now. It is amazing how we've been up here all summer, and yet as the time for our departure draws near I'm again cramming all sorts of visits into a few days. My girlfriend, Bethanne, and her kids are coming to Portsmouth for a playdate tomorrow after gymnastics. I'm trying to plan a visit to Portland to see Beth and Ezra one more time. Dinner is tentatively scheduled for late this week with Maddy, Josh, and Monica. Marcy comes back into town later this week and we are hoping to visit for a few minutes since we seem to have missed each other the rest of the summer. And I really want to meet Karen out for a beer one night. Hmm, yeah. Got one week for all that. Guess Chris, the kids and I will have to come back sooner rather than later for a visit just to see everyone again -- I can't let it be two full years before I'm back. Too sad to think about. So I won't.