Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday K.I.S.S.: Just hang on

Sometimes, all you can do is hang on. 

Our movers come tomorrow. No matter how much preparation I put into this packing thing, it seems like there are so many things, in the 12th hour, that we just say, "Just throw it in the box, we'll sort it when we get there." 

So today I say, when you are in a stressful situation, just hang on. It WILL all get done. (It has to.) It will be over in a few days. And then, you can reevaluate when the stress is lessened.

Tomorrow a whirlwind will begin sweeping through my house as the movers come and begin bouncing from room to room. It is so hard to believe that this is the third time in FOUR years that we have moved ACROSS the world!

On the other side? Chick Fil'A and Target.

Hanging on.

P.S. have a K.I.S.S idea? Please email them to me at!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Here's a homeschool pack I plan to use with Abigail: perfect for toddler sized fun with a movie we are just in LOVE with at our house! Click the picture above to download it for yourself.

Hubby is home

He's home.

Yesterday morning we picked up Grampa from the airport.

Last night we waited (not so) patiently for JB to come in on the military rotator. He came in. We hugged him a lot. He gave the kiddos presents (a Hulk and Ironman and Belle). We ate Indian food JB had cooked (and frozen) before he left. It felt so wonderful to have him with a kid on his arm.

So ... right.

Today the time changed in the Azores. We finally sprung forward.

And today we work like crazy people to get our house ready for the movers who will arrive on Tuesday.

Anyone who says, "Moving is easy in the military ... they move you" I say phooey!

The amount of work that goes into preparing for movers to come into your home is not for the faint of heart. We have four different "areas" that things can go into:

  • HHG: Household goods (the majority of stuff)
  • UB: Unaccompanied baggage (1,000 pounds of non-furniture)
  • Mail: Things we will keep with us and mail to ourselves in TN.
  • Luggage: Things that will fly on the rotator home with us at the end of May.
In the end, truthfully, all of our stuff will all end up where it is supposed to go. I must remember that.

I also wanted to share a fun bit of news. I was recently awarded Lajes "Spouse of the Month" for the month of February on the Base. Here I am with the Base Commander and to of the Commander wives.

Honestly, I really don't think I deserved this at all. The award was given for me helping to restart MOPs on the Base and for my work with Because of Isaac. I so appreciated the thanks though! I even got coined!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Choose your April Fool's

I recently read a blog post entitled: The Joke is Over -- Why I Hope Not to See Pretend Pregnancy Announcements on April 1st.

I wanted to take a moment to echo this author's sentiments.

I am no longer infertile. I now have four children. Those five horrid years of infertility are far behind me. Truly, they have become like a dream to me. I am able to see those years of pain as a good thing in my life. I am able to see that they are responsible for the direction my life has taken. Not only would I not have my infertility and adoption ministry, but more importantly, I wouldn't have Isaac.

I no longer find myself in a ball on the floor, sobbing from the feelings of loss. The grief no longer threatens to suffocates me. I am able to attend baby showers and baptisms and birthday parties without hiding in a bathroom, trying to pull myself back together.

But despite the fact that I have healed from those years, I am forever pricked by that pain. I am constantly thinking, "I wonder if there is someone sitting in the audience hurting hearing those words?" I am keenly aware and in tune with that pain.

"The English language lacks the words 'to mourn an absence.' For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only 'I am sorry for your loss.' But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?" ~Laura Bush
It is for that reason that this new "thing to do" -- posting fake pregnancy announcements on April Fool's Day has genuinely riled me up. Please do not take this personally. If you have posted one of these announcements, I am not mad at you and do not think less of you. I recognize that for the majority of your audience, it is funny. But for the few that dream, literally dream, of how they would share this news with their loved ones, the fact that you are able to joke about something that they want so desperately, is truly too much to bear.
In addition, there is currently a circulating message on Facebook from Breast Cancer Awareness groups that encourages people to pick an item to post to Facebook. One of these is a fake pregnancy announcement. Again, not funny.
Please try to remember the grieving as you choose your April Fool's

Friday, March 28, 2014

Reflections on the slow life: Grama Di

This is a guest post by my mom, Diane Huisman. What I love about this post is that she so accurately describes why moving back to the United States, while so exciting to me, is so terrifying. I have spent the last four years living a very slow-paced life. I'm not sure I am ready to return to the rat race!

When Wendi and John and family left our home after the birth of Hannah, I'm not sure if I was sort of depressed or just having trouble adjusting to getting back to our regular routine.
She spoke often of the beauty of her present home in the Azores as did my sister (Connie who lived with them for a time last year) and the many pictures she sent me.
I really had no desire to travel overseas on my own and knew that within the year they would be back in the States.  

I remember on different occasions envisioning sitting on her balcony with my Bible and coffee overlooking the beauty and enjoying the peace of where they lived.  I had such a desire to just 'be' but put the thought out of my mind because financially and time wise it didn't seem possible.  

I must admit that it took some convincing for me to even go to the "other world." I had thought, I'll have to make my porch time here in my own yard. God had other plans and worked things out.  I was apprehensive because I wasn't real comfortable with flying overseas alone but felt that this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I was nervous but knew I would be so sorry if I did not take the opportunity. So I decided to go for it. He took care of all the details on the way.

I met a wonderful young man and his mom-they made sure I got where I needed to be. I never got to say good bye to them which I was disappointed about. So thankful they were there.  Precious!

Finally got to the island of Terceira to a warm greeting from my darling kiddos.  How awesome to get their hugs and kisses.

And then to experience the beauty of the island! O my stars. 

A ride on a road alongside the water. Straight ahead is Split Rock.

I loved riding down the streets and seeing the towns and the water all around us....

Needless to say it was very busy there with 4 little ones but I was able to get out for walks. Each day I took one of the kids to the "Red Cafe" for a little date. They'd pick and ice cream cone and we'd walk to the beach and sit for awhile.

Walking around the corner to go to dinner at Buzius -- this was a windy nite!

I got to experience a couple of neat restaurants. At one of them, Quinta do Acores, there was a special moment where Isaac turned and said, "I love you Grama Di." Isaac doesn't readily do that and it brought tears to my eyes. Sat and watched Frozen about four times. Hugs and kisses and games and cuddles and "wesltes" (wrestles) and hide and seek and walking to the neighbors so the kids could play with their kids ... and every time I looked out the window I saw amazing beauty. 


I had some times that I could go and sit on the 3rd floor balcony and talk to God.  It was wonderful!  I just sat there and said "God I know you have some revelation for me, I am ready to hear it!"  I didn't sense anything unusual or special but so enjoyed the peace and the beauty and felt that He was ministering to my Spirit ... teaching me to rest.

It was tough for me to really be able to relax. I am so used to moving and doing.  I am so used to rushing here and there. How much am I missing in the moment

because I'm thinking about the next place to be?

A leisurely day at "Duck Lake" with the youngest of my six grandchildren

Now I have arrived home after a wonderful visit with my daughter and grandkids in the Azores

Too quickly it was time to come home. I hated to say good bye but really did miss the USA. It was a two day trip back. A special Florida friend had loaned me her iPad so I was able to listen to some wonderful music and hear great podcasts during my travels.  

Beautiful Azorean hydrangeas which were just starting to peek out! Soon, I am told, the island will be covered with them.

I felt like I was busy with Wendi and the little ones, but then I landed in Fort Lauderdale and headed home on I-95 at 5:00 in the evening. 

O my goodness.  I spent ten days on two-lane roads -- roads that seemed like there was only room for one car but allowed for two .... yikes!)  I saw ONE traffic light ( I have a picture of it!)

There is the traffic light!! AMAZING!!

I-95 was INSANE!  I couldn't believe all the cars and the crazies that HAD to get ahead of everyone else.  It was almost suffocating.

From the moment I got home my schedule was full. Work the next day, some other activity in the evening. Friday I had to go to Costco for some groceries and I literally had to stop and say to myself  "there is no need to need to rush...."

I didn't feel like I had a major revelation on that balcony, but since I've been back I have felt God saying"slow down."

The only traffic jams on the island are in the form of cows! They use the main roads to move them from pasture to pasture so they can often jam up the roads.

George and I sat and talked one morning before work and we both said, "Something's got to give. We cannot keep this pace."

At Wendi's there was dinner at home. Eating out was a special treat.  No fast food places to quick grab something. 

Wendi is home schooling her boys but it wasn't a huge deal.  She would spend maybe an hour total a day doing some workbooks.  I watched them play and imagine and run around outside and they are reading!!!

An afternoon field trip -- plenty of time for fun things when you aren't rushing from place to place

Everyone was not on cell phones. (I didn't have my phone for 10 days and survived!!!)

Here in the States I talk to people who have kids in school and then come home and have hours of homework.  When do they play?  When do they dream?

There, people talk to each other. I saw COMMUNITY!  Wendi's neighbor cut her hand ... contacted Wendi and Wen could step in and help with the kids.  Another friend came and sat with the kids so Wendi and I could go to dinner together.  We spent a morning at the park, exercising and enjoying each other.

Mianna, Wendi's friend who helped babysit one night so we could have dinner and then spent the following day having a delightful picnic with us in Angra.

Look at these views of Angra

So beautiful

Beauty while we were at the park

It has me thinking, now that I am home.

The pace has to stop.

I listened to a message this morning about INTIMACY.  How can we really know each other when we are running here and there.

When we have intimacy with our spouse, we shut the door.  We are in secret.  We know each other ... the secret things.  

I have felt God saying"I want you to shut the door!  I want to share things with you and I want to know your heart!'   

I am a servant.  It is my passion to serve those around me-to make their life easier.  To bring a smile to their face but I want to bring a smile to HIS face.  I don't want to be busy working FOR Him that I don't really enjoy Him!

How can we reach out and love our family and touch those around us if we are constantly running.  I can get impatient with the car going the speed limit in front of me, because I want to get some where more quickly?   

I found myself even in the Azores, stopping and saying to myself.. ".are you enjoying the moment or thinking about the next thing to do?"

Most everything closed on Sunday and Mondays over there.  People learned to plan their lives around that.  Here in the states most everything (except Chick Fillet) is open.  We go, go, go.....

It will hit some week ends and we are so exhausted we totally crash.  I think we need a Sabbath -- a time to reconnect with God, family and friends but it shouldn't be to the point that we are too exhausted to enjoy time together.

Such beauty from the third floor

The view from the third floor balcony

He's been giving me some ideas on things-planning a head a bit, letting go of some time wasters etc.  Since being back in the states I'm feeling more peaceful.  Instead of looking for something to do while George is at work in the evenings, I can come home and just 'be'.   

Thank you Wendi for the wonderful opportunity to share your life and your babies.

It's going to take reminding myself and working at not slipping into some of those old habits.

You are an amazing wife and mother.  What a great friend you are to those around you.

So very thankful to have you as my daughter and friend.  You teach me alot!

I am also so very thankful you will be living in the good ole USA!!!!  

See you soon!!!  Love you all so much!

Friday Funnies

The reason why Sidge wants to wear his collar up on his shirts: Martian Manhunter


I don't cook often, but when I do, I always pull the recipe on my iPad. While making Rice Krispy Treats yesterday Isaac asked me, "Mommy, how can you make those without your iPad?"


Take a look at Sidge during his tennis lesson. How gross is this? Sigh ...


Sidge: "Mom, how do we set the moon?"
Me: "Ummm .... What do you mean?"
Sidge: "Well, in The Little Mermaid, Sebastian said that he has to set the moon."
Me: "Oh! He says he needs to set the MOOD."
Sidge: "Oh. Okay. How do you do that then?"
Me: "Can you ask me another question instead?"


While Sidge was reading a book, Isaac kept laughing. I told him he was not allowed to laugh at his brother. "I'm not laughing at him," Isaac said. "I'm laughing at the way he is reading his words."


My mom showed the kids this picture.
My Mom: "See," she said. "This is like how God takes care of us. He puts us under his wings."
Isaac: "God doesn't have wings."
My Mom: "Well, right, but it's just sort of a representation of God."
Isaac: "But God isn't a swan."
My Mom: "Right."
Isaac: "And only angels have wings."
My Mom: "Okay. Never mind."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dynamic Duo

I love how my boys plan their costumes. They have to choose someone on the same "team." The characters have to sort of go together. Like Batman and Robin for instance: a perfect combo.

At the same time

Did you know it was possible to do the following things at one time?
  • Burn Rice Krispy Treats?
  • Help two boys write lower case letters?
  • Help navigate between three different people via phone who are in the wrong place at the wrong time due to language difficulties?
  • Hold a screaming baby?
  • Find a two-year-old attempting to brush her teeth by herself?
I'm here to tell you it is quite possible!


This morning, Isaac and I butted heads. I had a brand new pair of shorts picked out for him to wear when he got out of the bathtub. He informed me, before putting them on, that he did not like them.

I do not fight about clothes and food. At least that is my goal. I know those are triggers for kids, and so JB and I decided long ago that they were not fights we would get into.

I was fine if Isaac said he didn't like the shorts after trying them on. But I insisted that he at least put them on and give them a try.

He refused.

I told him to go to his room.

He began screaming and crying. He put the shorts on. I told him that as soon as he was done screaming and crying he could come out.

He kept crying and screaming.

So he stayed in his room.

Meanwhile little brother Sidge was waiting (not so) patiently for his brother to return to the elaborate Superhero set-up they had going in the downstairs playroom. He kept coming upstairs and saying, "Is he done yet, Mom?"

I'd say no.

Sidge would sigh and say, "Man, I really want him to come play."

"Well," I began. "You could go in there and talk to him."

I explained the rules for leaving. "Isaac may not get another pair of shorts from his shorts cabinet downstairs. And he has to exit the room with screaming and great gnashing of teeth silenced."

Sidge nodded and went in.

I wished him luck.

Two minutes later the boys exited the room.

The crying was over. Happiness spread over Isaac's face.

That's when I saw why.

They had switched shorts. Sidge had taken his off and given them to Isaac and Isaac had given the pair he didn't like (which by the way were not very different from the ones Sidge had on) to Sidge.

How can you argue with that kind of teamwork?

Wee-wind Wednesday

I keep hearing from people who tell me they really enjoy getting to "participate" in this across-the-world-move from afar. So I have decided to really allow myself to properly document and focus my blogs in the upcoming weeks and months to what it means to move across the world for the third time in four years.

This week's order of business?

Yesterday, we shipped our van out of Portugal.

Destination: U.S.A!

I was so proud of myself for getting everything ready to ship the van without the inclusion of my husband in our daily life. However, I did not do it alone. The day before, our neighbor, Josh, came over to help me do a few things for the van. He informed me that they instructed the van to be "clean" and he said, in a very nice way, that he was not sure this van would qualify. I informed Josh that I did not have it in me to try and get this van in tip-top shape. So he suggested I put it on the Facebook Yardsale page for our Base and see if some airman might want to do it for me.

Someone did. Someone who lived just a few blocks from me. He came to the house, picked up the van, let Scrubs lick him all over the face (some guard dog!) and returned it looking A-MAZ-ING. Sometimes, it is just worth paying for something.

In addition, I had the help of Josh and Rebekah who have graciously loaned us their second van for the two months that remain of our time. Only glitch? Their van is Japanese. That means there is a steering wheel on the opposite side of the vehicle. Egads! Mom helped me by driving my van to the port while I tackled the opposing side vehicle, and together, we got the van turned in!

So I thought it would be appropriate to flashback to July 28, 2010. This was the day our van shipped out from Baltimore to Turkey. They gave us an arrival date of October 7, 2010. It did not arrive until October 22, 2010. Not that long but VERY long if you are in the heat of the Middle East renting a car that does not have air conditioning.

Here is a blog post I wrote celebrating the return of the van October 22, 2010.

And here was a video of our family celebrating the arrival of the van. (This news was second only to the fact that my Mom and Joni had just arrived in town for a visit!) Most likely, I was pregnant with Abigail during the shooting of this video but had no idea:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Totally Against the Rules

This was a picture I snagged with my iPAD before my mom left. This is totally breaking the rules. Front paws, not allowed on couch. And there is Sidge rewarding him. Sigh ....

Public Service Announcement

My husband posted this on his Facebook page. It was too funny not to share -- especially considering he is a doctor who gives me medication "lectures" regularly. (He negates to inform the population that he took four of these things.) Also remembering the time, during my IVF journey, that I accidentally took the pill of a houseguest (anti-depressant) instead of my required estrogen pill. Not so funny when you are the one doing it!

One of these pills is a generic Ibuprofen. One of these pills is a generic laxative. Both pills come in similar sized and shaped bottles. When you wake up with a sore neck at midnight after not sleeping in your own bed for two weeks, please make sure you turn on the lights and read the label instead of assume you grabbed the correct bottle from your well-stocked, travel medication pack, or you could wake up at three in the morning to realize your mistake. This has been a public service announcement from your family medicine doctor who now has first-hand knowledge of how easy it is to make medication errors.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Facebook Conversation

Every once in awhile, a conversation ensues on Facebook that is worth of repeating. Here was one that I started that I wanted to keep for posterity's sake:

Question: If husband (John Kitsteiner) forgets to bring a towel into the shower and wonderful wife (ME!) lovingly brings him one when he yells, whose fault is it that he must emerge from the bathroom wrapped in a pink Minnie Mouse towel? Husband or wife?

My Facebook replies were included below:

  • Husband!
  • I say HIS. He's the ONLY one in your house that is big enough to wipe his bottom, his nose, and remember a towel WITHOUT you.
  • His of course!
  • I'd say he might be fending for himself next time!
  • It's Minnie Mouse or birthday suit. That's what I'd tell my husband anyway. Haha!
  • Good thing he didn't ask for
  • What, no picture for facebook??
  • I agree. Where are the pics?
  • I did this to Connor the other day. Pink princess towel. The kind with the hat and the top was a crown. Hehehe. Love it!
  • From our neighbor Rebekah: Tell him a real man would have dried off and emerged sans towel...
  • Shhhhhhh, i bet he was hoping for "minnie" anyhow!
  • From me: No pictures ... But I wish you coulda seen his face when he came out ... Not happy
  • Beggers can't be choosey.
  • Husband!
  • We had a good laugh about this!! At least he had the option of a towel. You could have handed him a washcloth or hand towel.
  • Hubby. But who cares? Pink should no longer be a big deal to a dad!!!
  • Awwww, I hope you said this in response to his grumpy face: "Bless your heart." snicker
  • Hands down, this is the best Facebook post and conversation I've seen all week.
  • This made me cackle out loud!
  • Your house must be an interesting place! Lol
  • His fault. Beggars can't be choosers or complainers.
  • You are 100% correct!
  • Husband--he knew he was getting in the shower!
  • My brothers' response: Yet another wife emasculating her husband. Not mine though...she never does that to me.
  • I laughed out loud.
  • BRILLIANT!! you do have your ways don't you Wendi?
  • Lol...I really was!!!
  • Lmbo!!!!! Sorry Dr.K but that's your fault!!!!! Love it Wendi!!!! Lmbo
  • I think it is always husband's fault, whatever the situation is.
  • JB's response: I had no problem with the Minney Mouse towel. My manhood is not contingent upon the material with which I dry myself. Going sans towel was not really an option as we have neighbors that frequently and randomly barge in unannounced (not naming names). And to all you asking for photos... I avoid them as much as possible. I try not to lead others to the sin of lust if I can help it. In closing, I feel obliged to add that this is irrefutable proof that my wife is a punk.
  • Mother-in-law's response: Ok, now you've done it- thrown out the "p" word! I've intentionally kept out of this-though it's been quite funny:) but since you said the afore mentioned, I think you should get your own towel in the future! You have an incredible gift of observation, so I suggest you check for a towel before turning on the shower! And don't worry about the neighbors, they love to laugh:) But certainly don't exit the room in your birthday suit because you have young daughters in the house. The boys think you a super hero whether you have a towel -or cape- on, but little girls are different creatures and it might shock their sensitivities. Well, maybe not Abigail-she'd just do the same thing and point to you when Wendi asked her why she was running around without any clothes on!!:)
  • My mom's response: Personally, I'm shocked JB forgot a towel!

      • Monday K.I.S.S.

        My husband once told me, "It takes a LOT to screw up a kid." I don't have to be great. I just have be "good enough." I saw this coffee mug picture and had to share. Reminding everyone this week that you don't have to be perfect. Okay will work just fine!

        P.S. have a K.I.S.S idea? Please email them to me at!

        Sunday, March 23, 2014


        When you live on a VERY tiny island, big events like the AVENGERS coming ... is really exciting stuff! The Outdoor Rec. group on our Base does a FANTASTIC job of putting on events to entertain the familiy. This one was no different. It will be here for three weekends, and we definitely plan on going again before it is over.

        Real looking costumes and great performances!

        You can just barely see Isaac in the back right of this picture checking everything out.

        Spiderman came down from the ceiling.

        Despite being incredibly excited about the AVENGERS coming, once we got there, Belle, Hulk, and Captain America had some misgivings. Overall, Isaac was okay, but Sidge immediately said, "I don't think this is a good idea." They are not big on new things with loud noises and lots of people. Then the guy went to take our picture, and I had to basically grip Sidge to keep him in the photo. Geezie! But once the show started, Sidge loosened up. Especially when Captain America gave him a high five!

        Here we are getting ready for the show to start.

        Sidge deciding this wasn't so bad after all. 

        I'm not using Pinterest

        I've decided that I just can't use Pinterest. It is too overwhelming, and I just can't manage another website. So I've decided that the good ideas I come across are going to go on my Blog instead. Why not? I'm going to label them "Pinterest" so that I can find them again.

        P.S. This is peanut butter just put in ice cube trays that you can then eat as "cold" peanut butter bites! Anyone have success with this?

        Exciting News

        Firstly, the big news!

        JB found us a house!

        Our house in America in an American neighborhood with American sidewalks and a Target closeby.

        Fast food too.

        We didn't think we'd get a house while he was home in the USA. Most of the realtors we spoke with said that they wouldn't rent us a place if we were within greater than 3 weeks of arriving. But JB decided to ask a realtor to look anyways. She found four houses that fit our needs.

        One was rented by the time JB could look at them. Another was just not the right house. But there were two others that really seemed like they would work for us.

        One of the houses was a PERFECT fit for us. When we get our land, JB's parents are hoping to have their own place on the land. But during this interim period that we will be attempting to find land, we will all be living together. We were therefore really hoping for a house that would give both families the privacy they needed despite being under one roof. This house was perfect! JB's parents will have their own little "oasis" which is what I really hoped for.

        And that's not the only exciting news in our family.

        Are you ready for this?

        This morning, at church, Abigail ... drum roll please ... went to Children's Church.

        I kid you not.

        Both our Base in Turkey and our Base here at Lajes did not have childcare for kids under 1 year old. The Base here does not have childcare for children under three. For that reason, Abigail has had ZERO practice at going anywhere with "strangers." Technically, she is still a few months too young for Sunday School, but I asked her this morning if she'd like to go with her brothers and, randomly, she said yes!

        It was so cute to watch them each holding one of her hands as they headed down the hallway. I followed her out and spoke with the teacher. For a moment, Abigail considered balking at her commitment, but then she took Ms. Tina's hand and was off.

        Tina said she did great. Other than giving her a HUGE pouty face when she found out there was not a snack, she did awesome. And her brothers said they helped take care of her.

        So excited about our house and our growing little girl!

        Saturday, March 22, 2014

        Let the games begin!

        Just in time for pack-out -- Hannah has decided to get mobile. So cute. So fun. But SO exhausting. How have I done this four times in five years? I have no idea. I'm too old for this!

        America (by JB)

        My husband is in America. Upon landing, he made his way to his hotel and shot me an email. (I was already in bed due to the time difference.) I loved what he wrote about returning to the motherland:

        Very weird to be in America again. I got in the car, got on the highway, and got my music playing, and honestly couldn't stop smiling ... It felt so good to be home. Although it felt very overwhelming to be walking in the airport with so many people. I think one was the sheer number of people. Two, was the fact that they were all speaking English - and I could understand everything, and that felt like too much information to process all at once....

        I know that I am gonna be in for some major reverse culture shock when we return to America in a couple of months.

        Friday, March 21, 2014

        Friday Funnies

        Sidge: "Do you think those ladies are picking the apples or hanging them?"


        We really work with the boys on being a gentleman. Learning to hold the door open for their mom and sister specifically. While on Base the other day, I held the door for them. Sidge turned to me and said, "Wow, Mommy. Good job being a gentleman."

        Military Reunions

        A friend of mine from Turkey posted this picture to Facebook. Her husband, a Refueling Squadron member embraces his children after returning from deployment at McConnell Air Force Base. He was returning to his family after spending more than 80 days deployed. 

        Insanity: Yes I am

        I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete.

        But following Hannah's birth, I had to wonder: Will I always be one?

        During Sidge and Abigail's pregnancies, I stayed in shape. I kept my body healthy.

        But Hannah's pregnancy spun me for a loop. I was so incredibly sick -- and ultimately so incredibly depressed -- that I was physically unable to exercise. 

        At all.

        I couldn't walk up and down stairs without dry heaving. 


        As a result, my body post-baby was shot. I honestly finally understood what people mean about their core. I never really understood what a core was because I always had one.

        Not any more.

        I realized: you can't do high knees without a core. You can't even get up and down off the floor (easily or gracefully) without one either.

        I spent from my pre-teen years until my twenties being physically pushed and basically forced to stay in shape. I had known nothing but being in shape.

        No more.

        For six months following Hannah's birth, I took things easy. Honestly, I had spent so many months unable to eat anything, that I decided to eat everything in sight. 

        The result was ten stubborn post-baby pounds. Nothing terrible, but something I knew I wanted to get rid of.

        Only, I didn't want to do the work to get rid of them.

        I had myriads of excuses. And truthfully, they were good ones. I had four small kids. I could no longer exercise with them by throwing them in my jogger. It rains a lot here. My windows of time, and therefore my windows of options, were slight.

        Enter a gal here on Base. She was organizing a Facebook "Motivational" group to help woman get in shape.

        We had dinner in a mutual group one evening. She mentioned the group. I got excited.

        I joined.

        I decided to do Insanity since my husband had that on his computer already. I took the initial fit test, and while you don't get a grade, there was no doubt that I couldn't have earned above a D. I was shocked how utterly out-of-shape I was.

        That was only two weeks ago.

        Today, I repeated the fit test and my scores went up on every single exercise.

        I have lost about 3 pounds, and while I haven't remeasured, I imagine I have lost some inches centimeters in some places too.

        While I am not "dieting", I am trying to watch what I eat. The "motivational" group is focusing on a different food group each week and offering tips and suggestions of how to improve our food choices.

        I want to encourage anyone out there who is thinking about getting in shape that YOU CAN DO IT. If I am managing it with four kids five and under, trust me YOU CAN TOO. You just have to decide that you want to get it done.

        It doesn't have to be big. Start small. Start with just 10 or 15 minutes a day and trying to cut down on snacking. Little steps will make big differences.

        Good luck!

        Moving with little tykes

        Before we moved from Eglin AFB to Turkey in 2010, I asked my blog readers for their best tips in preparing children for a big move. (My boys were 1.5 and 2 at the time.)

        I asked for advice in preparing/dealing/helping little children with a big move. And you came through big time! Your advice was incredible. I decided I should compile it. Not only for my sake but for the sake of people in the future. I'm still editing this list but here is what you suggested. If you have something to add, please leave a comment as I will be continuing to add/improve this and will post a link on the side of my blog.

        I used these again when we relocated from Turkey to Portugal in 2012. (My boys were 3.5 and 4 at the time and my daughter was 1.)

        And now, 2014, and we are preparing for a move from Portugal to the USA. (This time we will have a 5.5, 6, 2.5 and 8 month old.)

        I have decided to post this again! What a great list. Have something to add? Please leave a comment or send me an email ( so I can add it to the list.
        • article on preparing kids for a big move.
        • Keep explanations clear and simple.
        • Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out.
        • When you pack your toddler's toys in boxes, make sure to explain that you aren't throwing them away.
        • If your new home is nearby and vacant, go there to visit before the move and take a few toys over each time.
        • Hold off on getting rid of your child's old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house. It might even be a good idea to arrange furniture in a similar way in the new bedroom.
        • Avoid making other big changes during the move, like toilet training or advancing a toddler to a bed from a crib.
        • Arrange for your toddler or preschooler to stay with a babysitter on moving day.
        • I was older than your boys when my family made the big move from NC to South FL, but I remember a family friend bought a book called "Moving Day for Kelly" - I know the Berenstain Bears have a book about moving and I'm sure there are others - just something to give them some visuals. :)
        • We did a big military move when our kids were your boys age and we made a picture book that included snapshots that we had taken of our old base and then of our new military housing. We made sure to include pictures of things that they would see everyday and pictures of them talking on the phone to their grandparents, as we would not be seeing them as frequently. We also included a picture of our cat so they knew that we were bringing our cat along. We also took a picture of their room and used it as a model to set up the new room in our new townhouse.We read the book every night and they took it on the plane with them during the move, I think it eased the transition as the house seemed somewhat familiar.
        • Remember that at your kids' age YOU are home to them more than the place.
        • I'm sure you know, but it's okay for your kids to see you cry a bit (maybe not ALL of it!) when you say goodbye to those you love!
        • Call it "Our new house in Turkey". They don't understand this so-called place named Turkey. And to even make it harder, Turkey is a bird and something we eat. So adding the "our new house" or "our new home", those are words they understand - what a house or home is. Also, add the word "Turkey" to it, so when you are in conversation with others about Turkey, they know what you are referring to. As well as they can at that age.
        • Don't give away any of their toys in their sight, unless it's in bags and they can't see it. It will only add to the stress for them and you of trying to explain why they don't need it or play with it. Now, with mine being a little older I can explain it better. With your's ages, I would suggest the easiest is to put it in the garage while they are sleeping and give it away from there.
        • Use pictures online to help them through the story. Even print them and put them on the fridge. "Here is what the airplane looks like that we will fly on to go to our new house in Turkey", "here is what it looks like in Turkey", "Mommy, Daddy, Scrubs and Bubby will be ALL going together", "all our toys, couches, car, and everything in out house will go in the mail to see us in Turkey."
        • I understand your hesitation to show them a picture of the housing, but maybe the base. Also some surrounding pictures of items. Such as a park, swing, ice cream place, zoo. Those are familiar places now to them, and to show them that it's there too and they can go to those places will help.
        • When you box up toys or their items, give them crayons to write on the box once it's closed. Tell them you are decorating their boxes so when they get to Turkey, they know to deliver it to Isaac and Elijah.
        • Have them say "see you soon" or "see you later" to the items as they get packed up and moved. Rather than "Bye-bye".
        • Start preparing them the day before about the new thing happening the next day. Such as "tomorrow some helpers are going to put our boxes and house stuff on a truck so they can mail it to our new house in Turkey." That way they don't freak out in the midst of this happening and you are pulled into 15 different directions. Not saying that you still don't have to tend to them, or remind them through out the entire time they are loading your stuff up to explain what they are doing. But having that initial conversation when they are more calm before the chaos happens can help.
        • I know you will do this, but I'll say it anyway - bring a few familiar items on their flights such as stuffed animals, fave toy, and some familiar dvds and music.
        • They will be more clingy to YOU while changes are happening. Even people in their lives that they LOVE might not be able to pacify them at a certain time. It can be frustrating when you feel like you have SOOO much to do, and you are the ONLY one that can do it, but you have little ones on your hips. Step out of your head a second, take a breath, regroup, calm down. Take them aside and sit with them a couple minutes. Sing a song. Then gently after that say "can you do show {insert friend's name} your car for Mommy?" and try to distract them to go see your friend that is all to ready to help you.
        • We had a going away party with all of our friends about a week before leaving (even as very young children).
        • Lots of pictures were taken so that we had albums of previous homes to help solidify early memories.
        • Our rooms were the first things set up at each home we moved to.
        • A "moving package" was created by our parents and grandparents as well as close friends so we could find new toys, letters and pictures during the move and immediately upon arrival at our new home.
        • My parents found playgrounds, children's mu  seums and aquariums relatively quickly and took us on lots of day trips to some of the local attractions once we moved before my dad had to report to duty.
        • Probably not applicable to your young boys but my parents always arranged a tour and meet and greet at any new school or daycare before the year started. They also took us to the schools to play on the playgrounds during the summer. (Not applicable when I hit high school age)
        • I kept pen pals with friends and relatives left behind, my parents helped me "write" the letters and I drew pictures before I learned to write for real....maybe not applicable now with Skype and email but I loved getting mail in the mail box.
        • TRY not to worry, I know easier said than done! I cried sometimes when we left our old home but what I gained is so much more important than a few tears. I learned my home is always wherever my family is. At 34 that means wherever my 4 kids and husband are is my home, as long as we are together I feel whole. This is a gift given to children of the military, the ability to adapt and form strong ties to those who care for them and for whom theycare.
        • My daughter was not there when the movers came and I was hesitant to let her back into the empty house, but she was fine and we didn't stay long. She doesn't have the verbal abilities of Isaac, but I would think he could understand better since his vocabulary is larger. Finding the right words may be difficult for you.
        • We got the keys to our house the day before our movers came. We gave her a choice of two rooms and let her pick. (I actually like her choice better than the one I was planning on!) She was at daycare when the movers unloaded our stuff. Her room was the only room we set up before picking her up. We didn't set it up the same as at Eglin, but I think she likes it better! All her toys are in her room now since we don't have a space for them like before. Her little face was priceless when she walked into her room and got to see all her toys again!!
        • I think someone mentioned it already, but I definitely wouldn't move them from their cribs to big boy beds during the move. It may be too much change all at once! I think it will be easier on them than you. All the moves to come will be way more difficult than this one, in my opinion!