Monday, May 31, 2010

Just one of the faces

I thought it important, today, to remember how many families are missing a loved one because they felt it important enough to serve our country. Here is just one person I found online. I picked Mr. Kennedy because he looked like someone John would have been friends with. It could have been John or any of the men and women he works with. Please remember our servicemen today and always.


Chief Warrant Officer Kyran E. Kennedy grew up in Boston but fell in love with living in the Kentucky countryside. He and his wife bought a farm, kept a variety of animals, managed an ambitious beekeeping operation, and tended a garden and an orchard. "He absolutely loved this place. We were going to retire in Kentucky," Kathy Kennedy said. Kennedy, 43, was killed Nov. 7 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was riding crashed near Tikrit, Iraq. He was assigned to Fort Campbell and lived in Hopkinsville, Ky. Kathy Kennedy said her husband made a dulcimer that he carried to Iraq and was teaching himself to play. "He was a wonderful woodworker," she said. The instrument was important to him and provided a sense of peace in the midst of the war, she said. Survivors include his children: Christopher, 11; Katie, 9; and Kevin, 3.

Washington Summary

What a wonderful week we had in Washington. From the quality time we had as a family, to getting to see my cousin and his wife, to touring this beautiful part of the country, and at the end, to getting some time with Jeff and Bobbie and their wonderful children. It was a great vacation!

Here are a few closing pictures I wanted to share:

Here was my attempt to get a picture of the four kiddos: Brooke, Robert, Matthew, and Paige. At first the "fight" over the toy Matthew was holding was innocent enough.

But it soon got quite heated.

The girls with my boys before they took over babysitting while the grown-ups went out for dinner.

Elijah with Mr. Jeff. The boys loved him! And he loved them! You don't meet many men who want to spend as much time with the kiddos as the women do. But Jeff loves babies!

To say we loved Washington is an understatement. We have to see where God guides, as always, but we certainly have this place at the top of our list for somewhere we would like to live after our military service is done. Yes, it does rain a lot. But it is so green. Not humid at all. And the seasons are very similar to the Kentucky part of the country. Mild winters. Long growing seasons. Fantastic. Land prices seem very reasonable. I am voting to live on Whidbey Island which is actually quite possible financially.

Only time will tell.

Anyways, we are back home now, planning to spend Memorial Day getting ready for what should be a very "telling" week. Since JB's orders are in, we hope that by week's end we have moving dates and flying out dates and all the details we have wanted for so long.

Let's remember today, while celebrating with our families, that we are living in the "Land of the Free because of the Brave."

Thank you to all those who serve unselfishly so that we can all live in a free country.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can't get this song out of our head!

The boys have a Veggie Tales sing-a-long video that we've watched many times on the trip. Isaac will ask to watch "Cucumbers" and on it goes!

Anyways, this one song is majorly stuck in both JB and my heads. We can't get it out. And it's mighty cute too. You gotta check it out:

You decide: worth it or not?

Hindsight is a funny thing.

Upon arriving in Memphis, we made our way to our connecting flight to Fort Walton Beach. Upon arriving at the gate, we found out that the flight was oversold by three seats.

We had three seats exactly. Did we want to give them up?

In exchange, Delta was offering us $1200 worth of flying vouchers ($400 per ticket). We would also receive meal vouchers for dinner that evening and breakfast the next morning before our new 9am flight out on Sunday.

JB was off on Monday. We would still have some time to recover from our trip. And since we are going to be living overseas, money for travel is definitely appreciated.

We decided to take the offer.

What we didn't know, and what only hindsight would reveal at a later moment, is that there weren't any hotel rooms available, like, anywhere, in Memphis.

We stood at the ticket counter from 6pm until 8pm working with the agents. Everyone calling hotels. Everyone begging for a room. Technically we had earned three rooms. But we just wanted at least one. At least one room. Anywhere.

In the end, Delta could not find us a room in their "approved" hotel list. So, instead, we could go to an unapproved hotel on our dime and get reimbursed from them later. In exchange for this additional hardship, we would earn an additional $100 voucher for both JB and me.

Okay. That was fine. We'd pay for the rooms and dinner upfront and get reimbursed later. Fine. Just get us a room.

Okay, so now we have $1400 worth of free flying money but no hotel.

The only unapproved hotel we could find was a Budget Inn & Suites.

As JB and I sat on the edge of our beds two hours later, eating delivered Chinese food in our room, JB lifted an eyebrow and said, "We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are getting paid $1400 to sleep in this room tonight."

Yeah. Remind me. Again and again and again. Keep reminding me.

Honestly, I am pretty sure that this hotel was being used for some fairly illegal business practices. (Think drugs and prostitution for starters.) There were people in the lobby cussing and nearly having a fight. The lobby had no air and that Memphis humidity was killing us after having been in Washington for a week. A woman at the counter was trying to negotiate if she only used one of the beds in the room. There was a sign in the lobby saying we could not have guests come to our rooms? The air did not work in the "suite" part of our room forcing us to put the boys to bed in just their skivvies. There was no telephone anywhere in the room. No clock either. The housekeeper showed us to our room and ran up the flight of stairs while we stood at the bottom with a stroller and two car seats and two suitcases. At the top she yelled down: "Do you need help?" (And there was no elevator either.) There was a dead cockroach in the bathroom. There was a TV and some channels but they were very fuzzy. And the sign at the front desk said: "Wireless Internet available in some rooms." No telling which room you would get, and we obviously pulled the wrong room when I tried to sign in later that evening.

We did manage to get two pack-n-plays after explaining to the people at the desk, who spoke next-to-no English, what they were in every way we could imagine. But by that point we really didn't care. We were both just planning on picking a kid and taking him to bed with us we were so tired at that point. I slept on a sheet that had a mattress pad for a single bed spread out in the middle of the bed. I decided not to even touch the comforter.

This morning we are back at our house on Eglin AFB. Our flights this morning went flawlessly. We enjoyed spending our voucher money in the airport, and we will enjoy, even more, spending the $1400 worth of free tickets that we have to use.

In the end, it was worth it.

But barely.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Know the diiference

It is important that your child knows the difference between a "toot" and a "sneeze."

While waiting for our flight, I sneezed. My little sweetheart Isaac turned around and as loud as he could muster yelled, "Mommy tooted."

I nearly choked on my water and made a point of correcting him loud enough for everyone to hear me.

Something tells me this will not be the first time I am embarrassed by one of my kiddos.

Vehicle Submersions

JB wrote this after his conference in Utah awhile ago. I have had it in my drafts and completely forgot to post it. Better late than never.

Please read this – it may save your life.

If you know me, you know I am not a melodramatic person. I think this information if really important.

I just finished a conference in Utah put on by the Wilderness Medicine Society. One lecture topic that was eye-opening was on Vehicle Submersions.

Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht from the University of Manitoba gave a great presentation on his research of dumping over 50 cars and trucks (with people inside) into lakes. His research has shown, and debunked common myths, about the best way to survive if you find yourself in this situation.

I'll summarize here:
  • 350-400 people die each year in the U.S. and Canada when they accidentally drive into a lake or river.
  • Of all types of vehicle accidents, vehicle submersion has the highest rate of death.
  • Based on polling data, the average person does not know the way to survive a vehicle submersion.
  • Most people will grab their cell phone and call 911 or a friend. This wastes the 50 second average window that a person can get out of a car and survive. If you stay in the car longer than 50 seconds, your chance if living almost drops to zero. We listened to 911 recordings of people who spent over a minute talking to the operator trying to describe where they were and find out what to do… all of them died a few minutes later.
  • The average car will sink in 60-90 seconds.
  • The average multi-ton truck used for snow-plowing will sink in less than 10 seconds.
  • The car will fill-up COMPLETELY with water shortly after it sinks.
  • THERE IS NO AIR POCKET!!! (okay, RARELY will an air pocket form, but only if the car stays horizontal (very rare) and settles gently on the bottom (also very rare)).
  • Most vehicles will flip right side up in a few seconds regardless of how they entered the water (sideways, upside down, etc.) before they start to sink.
  • Most vehicles will tip forward (due to the weight of the engine) and will sink to the bottom headlights first - all the air escapes through the back seat and out the back of the car so no air pocket forms.
  • Most people CANNOT kick in a window to break it (unless you practice!). This was tested multiple times on dry land by many different sized and strength individuals. For those that did break the window, it took more time than they would have before the car filled with water. You can’t hold your breath and exert yourself hard at the same time! They did develop a “trick” though. If you kick at the bottom angle of the window closest to the hinge, then you have a greater chance of breaking the glass. I will now be carrying a glass breaking tool in my car – IN AN EASILY ACCESSIBLE PLACE (like hanging from my rear view mirror or on my key chain). Here is a great one that I make no money on :Res-Q-Me- Crank windows are best in cars!
  • Electric windows will not work once the computer that runs the motor gets wet.
  • NEVER try to open the door! The pressure of the water against the sinking vehicle will slam it shut hard (maybe trapping an arm or hand – or chopping off a finger!).
  • A back hatch like in SUV’s and Minivans are a good means of escape if you have an inside latch – practice this!
  • YOU CAN CLIMB OUT A WINDOW WITH WATER RUSHING IN. I watched multiple videos of people climbing out while water was rushing in. You do not need to wait for the car to fill up first.
  1. Don’t touch your cell phone
  2. Remove your seat belt.
  3. Get your child unbuckled (if a child or children are in the car).
  4. Roll down your window or break it if you cannot roll it down.
  5. Climb out of the car and swim to shore.
If you can do these steps (it takes less than 30 seconds if you know what to do first), your chance of surviving will be dramatically improved. Hope this helps. JB

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good friends!

Here we are out for pizza with our friends Jeff and Bobbie last nigt while the kids babysat. Such great friends!

Sorta S'mores

I am constantly amazed at how different two little boys can be, all the while remaining the best of friends.

What better way to illustrate the differences between these two miracles then by giving an example.

So here, in just two quick photos, I give you Yin and Yang.

On our second night at the cabin, we decided to try (sorta) S'mores with the boys. It was raining. It was cold. So we couldn't go outside. Chocolate would be too messy inside a cabin we don't own. So we decided to let the boys eat, well, just the marshmallows, while we put chocolate on our marshmallows.

This is really the first time the boys have eaten marshmallows. I think at my mother-in-law's house one evening a few months ago, Ray gave them some little ones. But never a big ol' honkin' big marshmallow just to themselves.

The differences between our boys show up all the time, even when they eat marshmallows. Observe for yourself through the photography and descriptions below:

Here is Elijah. He shoves the whole thing in his mouth and then makes the sign for "please" even before he has attempted to swallow.

And here is Isaac. He holds the marshmallow in one hand. He thinks about it. And then he starts sucking on it but not eating it. We finally had to take the marshmallow from him because it became such a sticky mess.

Whatta Day!

Yesterday Bobbie took the boys for us for the day so that could have some "couple time." What an AMAZING day we had.

We took a short car ferry from Bobbie's house to Whidbey Island. We did some driving around and then got out at the Meerkerk Gardens. "Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, a not-for-profit garden open to the public, encompasses ten acres of display and educational gardens enveloped by forty-three acres of woodland preserve with 4+ miles of nature trails." Here are some pictures from our time in these beautiful gardens.

This is called a Monkey Puzzle Tree. Apparently JB has wanted to see one of these for his entire life. These are not native to the area. The woman who owned the gardens bought it at a world fair in 1962 and it bloomed for the first time in 2007!

After our time in the gardens we stopped in Coupeville and ate at Mosquito Fleet Chili. This was the best chili and cornbread I have ever eaten. (And I don't even like Chili that much.) We finished it off with a piece of apple and triple berry pie. There were binoculars at the table so you could look out and see the seagulls dropping clams on the rocks. Simply delightful.

We finished off our day with a drive across Deception Pass on our way back to Jeff & Bobbie's.

It is amazing how just a few hours being a wife and best friend rejuvenates you. It's been a long time since John and I have taken a date. And this will go down as one of my favorites. What a time we had. Thanks Bobbie (and kids) for giving me this chance.


I got this email from my online friend "Funky Monkey." We have both traveled a hard road. And after years of infertility, we now both have two boys, and we can now both laugh at what she wrote below:


One of the things I love most about Jon Kai is his verbal skills. They are very strong! It has made the Terrible Twos somewhat more bearable, because he can voice his problems instead of just crying.

But the other day, he sat on the sofa next to me while I caught up on some blogs. I was busy reading yours when Jon points to the laptop screen and goes, "Who dat Momma?" I said, that's mommy's friend Wendi. Wendi has two little boys at her house like you and Evan.

I point out the picture on the right of your blog screen where Isaac is straddling Elijah and appears to be putting him in a headlock. Jon immediately goes, "No hit boy! Dat not ni-ice! Be dentle (gentle)" LOL!

We are constantly telling JK, be gentle to the baby. So I hope he takes his own advice once our Bubby gets old enough to defend himself. :-) But I do foresee a lot of wrestling around at some point. My "little" brothers are well on their way to their 30's and still wrestle at every chance they get. There is something about close brothers that prevents them from honoring each others' personal space ... they are touching, smacking, hitting, noogy-ing at every opportunity.

So fun!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Orders are in!!!

We got our orders!!! We are heading to Turkey for absolutely sure. Now we can start getting moving dates and rotator (military flight) dates.

The good thing is, this trip doesn't put us behind at all. Tomorrow is a family day on Base, and Monday is a holiday, so he can't do anything until Tuesday anyways.

If you think of it, could you please pray for a few things for us over the next few days?
  • That we would get moving dates that work for us and especially that allow us time to spend with our families in South Florida before we leave.
  • That there would be room for Scrubs' on our rotator. These do not fly very frequently, and we therefore will basically have very options for dates. We really need him to get on this with us.
  • That our condo will find a buyer or a renter soon. We still have it up for sale, and we are also entertaining renters now thanks to our good friend Ronnie who is "managing" the property for us. Our current renters just moved out so we want to fill the space soon financially speaking.
  • Safe travels and calm baby boys on our flight back home this weekend.

Thanks everyone!

Old friends

Here are my boys spending time with Paige, Brooke, Robert, and Matthew. They are preparing to move in one week so there is plenty of fun boxes and things to play with. With four "big kids" around, their is constant entertainment!


Who knew that the ABC’s and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star were written to the same tune? Are John and I the only two who didn’t know this? While trying to entertain the boys on one stretch of our car ride, we were singing every song we knew when suddenly JB said: “Are those two songs written to the same tune?” We weren’t sure until we sung them each simultaneously. Sure enough. They are the same. Please tell me if this is something obvious that we’ve not realized our whole lives?

Anyways, I digress. While in the car singing our ABCs and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at the same time and remarking how amazing it is that all the time we didn’t know that they were written to the same rune on the way to dinner on Monday evening, we told Isaac he was going to see Briana and Ryan. While Briana pronounces her name Bree-anna and Isaac’s birth mom is Bri-onah, Isaac still thought this meant he was going to see “Bee.” He immediately launched into a “Joni? Bee?” serenade despite my efforts to explain to him that this was not the same Briana/Brianna he was used to.

And that isn’t the only funny thing Isaac has done lately. His vocabulary seems to be growing by the minute, and he continues to bring a smirk to our face or a hearty laugh to our souls on a continual basis. Here are some other cute “Isaacisms” from our Washington trip.
  • Whenever JB drives by the water, Isaac says something to the effect of: “Driving by the water. Daddy be careful. Mommy by careful. Elijah Wuke? Be careful. Isaac be careful too.”
  • I told him weeks ago that we were going to go on an airplane to go to Washington and see Bobbie. Any and every time we get into the car he makes a point to say: “See Bobbie? Go to Bobbie’s house?” I try to explain that we will see her in a few more days, but he doesn’t seem to comprehend that.
  • I suppose Isaac has heard me tell JB or JB tell me “don’t have a cow” at some point on this trip because all of a sudden while driving yesterday he said, “Have a cow.” He loved that this made us laugh and so he said it a multitude of times.
  • “Spoon,” Isaac said while holding up a long shoehorn. “No, I said. That’s a shoe horn.” He paused and said, “Shoehorn spoon.”
  • We will often reach into the backseat to tickle the boys. One time when the tickling stopped, Isaac said: “Do it again right now please.”
  • Isaac’s answer to “Who wants ____ (fill in the blank)” is always “Elijah did.” Who wants their diaper changed? Elijah did. Who wants to be tickled? Elijah did.
  • While driving down the road Isaac shouted “Cucumber!” When we asked him if he saw a cucumber, he paused and said, “No.” We have no idea where that came from.
  • If I turn around in the rental car to check on Isaac while he is eating a snack he will say, “I’m doing good Mommy.” I guess I ask him how he is too often.
  • Isaac has been obsessed with “go buh-bye.” The moment he wakes up in the morning he will ask if we can “go buh-bye?” Whenever he gets slightly bored it is “go buh-bye.” I can clearly remember that Bri did this when she was little a lot as well.
  • Like most kids, when Isaac gets something on his mind, it is hard to get it off. In the car he asked for some “p-delly” (peanut butter & jelly). We were about 10 minutes from our cabin so I told him he had to wait. We then counted as he asked for “p-delly” 31 times in a row, took a short break, and then asked 21 more times. These numbers are NOT exaggerations. They were actual counts.

Pike Place Market

It was hard to get pictures at the legendary Pike Place Market with two boys and a lot of shopping to do and a lot of people around. On our way to Jeff & Bobbie's, we stopped downtown, bought a ton of seafood, some vegetables, bread, and beautiful flowers and then headed to our friend's house. JB made an excellent seafood paella for all of us for dinner. What a very cool place! While I wouldn't like to live downtown, Seattle is a beautiful city!

Car ferries

We've already taken two car ferries on this trip! It's way fun!

Playing Church

After a hardy rainstorm filled all the potholes in the streets and alleys, a young mother watched her two little boys playing in the puddle through her kitchen window. The older of the two, a five year old lad, grabbed his sibling by the back of his head and shoved his face into the water hole. As the boy recovered and stood laughing and dripping, the mother runs to the yard in a panic. "Why on earth did you do that to your little brother?!' she asks as she shook the older boy in anger. "We were just playing 'church' mommy, ' he said. "And I was just baptizing him . . . in the name of the Father, the Son and in . . .the hole-he-goes."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ruby Beach

We stopped at Ruby Beach on our way to the cabin on Monday. Here's some snaps from this gorgeous getaway.

Another big rock for Elijah.

Isaac is telling me that this rock looks like a skateboard.

Elijah was always trying to pick up the biggest rock he could.

This picture is so classic Isaac -- all focus on the mission at hand.

Flashback . . .

The following post was written on Tuesday morning. I am just getting Internet access now to post it.

Our cabin is breathtaking. We took the room upstairs which is graced by windows nearly floor to ceiling. The boys are nestled in the master bedroom under the stairs.

I wish I could say I awoke to the light streaming in on a beautifully clear day. But truth be told, for one, it was raining. And for two, my congested husband was the one who woke me up. Snoring. Again. He only snores when he is sick. And he’s got quite the head cold right now. Oh, and my internal clock is set to central time. So sleeping in and waking with the sunlight isn’t something that is coming easily right now.

But all that aside, the cabin is incredible. Simple. Quaint. Unbelievably peaceful. Everything you need but not overly luxurious. Nestled in the woods, a deck overlooking the water. No computer or television. Just a simple retreat. There is a walkway that leads down to the beach and our host left us all the fixins for s'mores to be enjoyed in the fire pit down below. We are hoping we can do that this evening.

We couldn’t do the fire pit last night as we spent the evening with my cousin Ryan and his new wife Briana. They live in Portland, Oregon and so we met up in Olympia, a bit north for them and a bit south for us. We had dinner at a Red Robin (never been to one of those before but it was a great place -- a nice family-friendly atmosphere) and then concluded our evening at a play area near in the mall across the street so the boys could entertain themselves and we could talk a bit more.
I didn’t grow up knowing my cousin Ryan extremely well. Many of my cousins came and visited us in Florida with my grandparents each summer while I was growing up, but, well, there were fourteen of them and so not all of them had the opportunity to make the visit before they were teenagers and running in their own directions when summertime rolled around. Ryan’s older brother Jeremy came one year, but he never made the trip. Briana and I have connected online, however, during their months of engagement and subsequent wedding. She reads the blog and we touch base on Facebook every now and then. While we had never met, I can see why we have gotten along so well via technology. The conversation was easy and fun, and I know if we lived closer, I think the two of us would be good friends. She is a beautiful person, both inside and out. Easy going and easy to talk to. Ryan is currently finishing up college and even playing basketball for the small Christian college he attends. Briana is working at David’s Bridal and beginning her career as a midwife. (How cool to help with weddings and births!) We had a wonderful evening and even managed a picture in the parking lot as we were leaving. Joia, you would have been so proud of my effort.

We plan to just relax around the cabin throughout the day today. There’s no Internet access, so I am casually typing this on our laptop while sitting on the sofa and staring out through the glass doors down to the water. So peaceful. Everyone else is asleep. I’ve got a blanket over my legs and am enjoying the sound of the rain on the skylights above me and the birds waking outside. A wonderful retreat.

Tomorrow we will head out and finally get to see Jeff, Bobbie, Paige, Brooke, Matthew, Robert, and Scrubs’ pal Deuce, who I am sure will be incredibly disappointed when he can smell Scrubs on us but can’t see his ol’ buddy in person.
For those of you who don’t remember, Jeff and Bobbie lived around the corner from us during our first two years on Eglin AFB. Our dogs actually brought us together as on a walk one evening shortly after they moved in a few months before Isaac’s arrival, Scrubs spotted Deuce and the two began a romp in their front yard. For the next year and a half, I walked over with first Scrubs and then Scrubs and Isaac and then Scrubs, Isaac, and Elijah to take advantage of their home right on the Bay and enjoy some great Christian fellowship and friendship. Scrubs and Deuce would play off-leash while Bobbie and I chatted under the huge pine trees.

Bobbie’s two daughters were just reaching babysitting age. They would often show up at my house when boredom struck to sit and play with Isaac or take Scrubs over to play at the Bay. Her two young sons loved to make the boys laugh and get down and play with them. In fact it was their youngest son Matthew that coined Isaac “Chubba-chubba,” a nickname that stuck until he wasn’t so Chubba-chubba anymore.

When I went into labor with Elijah, Bobbie helped get our mothers on Base while we were in the hospital. She actually joined my mother and mother-in-law in the birthing room during my three hours of pushing and was part of the three-person-prayer team when things got very tense right after Elijah was born.

Their move to Washington with the military last summer was incredibly hard for me. I think it was the first time that I wasn’t the person doing the leaving but watching someone else leave. It was so painful to see them go. They were my support system – the people I knew I could lean on when I became overwhelmed by the new life I was living.

But God knows best, and just as they left, we started the babysitting co-op, and I got to know Brittny across the street on a more personal level. He always takes care of our needs, and I still had the support I so desperately needed despite losing these great friends.

All that said, I am so excited to get to see them again tomorrow. We are going to spend quite a few days with them. How wonderful it will be to reconnect. And as always, more details to come. I promise.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Opryland Hotel

This is the hotel that JB and Iwent for the first night of our Honeymoon in Nashville, TN. We also returned there on our 3rd anniversary when JB surprised me with a spa day and evening away. These pictures were sent to me by my cousin Josh and his wife Sarah after the flooding there a few weeks ago. Unbelievable.