Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free Shutterfly Photo Book Credit

Shutterfly is teaming up with IKEA to offer a free 8×8 Photo Book credit to everyone.
Sign up or sign into your Shutterfly account through this link by November 4, 2013, and a free Shutterfly Photo Book credit will be added to your account. You’ll just need to pay shipping — which is around $8.
Your free photo book offer is valid through December 4, 2013.

Friday Funnies

Me: "Where does God live?"
Sidge: "In heaven."
Me: "Where else?"
Sidge: "In our hearts."
Me: "Right!"
Sidge: "Where is my heart."
Me: "It's right there." [points to it on his chest]
Sidge: "Is that what we check for with our telescope?"
Me: "You mean stethoscope?"
Sidge: "Yeah. And if it's not beating, then, we're dead?"
I've been trying to capture a "conversation with Sidge" so that those of you who don't know him personally could see how every day with this kid is. He talks non-stop (wonder who he got THAT from?) and uses his hands and whole body for every conversation (wonder who he got THAT from?)



One of the buildings/departments on Base, put on a little "trick-or-treat" evening for the kids. It was a little on the spooky side, but they toned it down for little kids, and quite honestly, none of the kids were scared in the least! They just wanted to get candy!

Abigail was supposed to go as "Supergirl", but at the last minute, she issued veto power and opted for a princess instead!

Flash, Belle, and Captain America

And with a dalmatian! This costume was Bri's (Isaac's birthmom) when she was a baby.

Our little Dalmatian

At dinner at the Club with "Ms. Chief". 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November on my Daily Blog

In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, I am hoping to implement two very special things, both of which YOU may be able to help with.
Firstly ... Because of Isaac is trying to find 30 people who will commit to donate $1 a day for the month of November. That's a $30 donation! We just started advertising this today and already have 6 people committed. Please leave a comment or send me an email at if you would like to be one of these 30 people!
Secondly ... I am hoping to feature a family-a-day whose life was touched by adoption. This can be written from a child, parent, grandparent, or even a friend! Please send your entries to me at Entries should include a picture and 1-2 paragraphs detailing your experience with adoption.

One of those mommy mornings

We have a gate to our home.

But we only have one gate opener.

This means that each day, we need to communicate about who is going to use the gate opener for said-day. If I am not going out that day, JB will just take it. If we are both going out, he usually opens the gate and then leaves me the opener. There is a button on the gate wall that will open said-gate, but it is a pain to get out of van, hit button, get back in van, go through gate, get back out of van, hit button again, and then do the same thing upon return home.



JB had committed to help some Portuguese friends make the "Holy Spirit Soup" -- it is used to raise money to celebrate a religious holiday here on the island.

Mom K. is still not feeling too good. She's been down and out for over two weeks with some nasty fever/cough bug that's been going around.

So I was running solo on Sunday morning.

While JB was running late.

I was going to church. He was going to make soup. So we both needed the gate opener.

He decided to open gate and leave gate opener on kitchen counter.

Mind you, we have a dog that always has to be factored into this equation. While Scrubs doesn't run off for good, if he sees that the gate is open, he will take that opportunity, every time, to take a little jog around the neighborhood. He'll mark a lot of trees. Visit the neighbors. You know, normal dog-stuff.

So JB reminded me that gate was open. "Don't let Scrubs out before you close the gate," was the last thing he said to me as he kissed us all good bye.

Not ten minutes later, spotted dog wakes up and climbs up the stairs, into living room where kids and I are hanging out. He then begins scratching at the glass to go out.

Not two minutes after scratching begins, I open the glass for him. He trots away merrily.

It is probably near an hour later that I go downstairs, see gate opener on counter and realize what I have done.


I walk outside. Gate is wide open. Dog is nowhere to be found.


I call his name a few times, but I am in no position to go on a dog look-around. Abigail is in the bathtub. Hannah is lying on the middle of Abigail's bed having just taken her bath. The boys are playing in the living room.

(It's moments like this that I think, "Why do we have a dog?" But that is a story for another day. As JB would say, "Can you blame your dog for being smart?" Gate is open. Wouldn't you go for a joy ride?)

So I leave gate open, hoping Scrubs will return on his own (but knowing this isn't very likely.)

Thirty minutes later, I am pulling Abigail out of the bathtub when the doorbell rings. I go outside. Our neighbor across the street (an American) is standing there in her pajamas, obviously having just woken up. She's a very to-herself-person and so I barely even recognize who she is.

"Did you know your gate was open?" she asked.

"Well," I said. "Yes and no."

"Well, spotted doggy here came right into my bedroom."

She was nice enough but obviously a bit perturbed that a doggy had woken her up on a nice Sunday morning.

(Why her door was open so that he could run into her bedroom is a whole 'nother issue in and of itself. Scrubs was known for going into the previous tenant's home as well so I have no idea what they are doing with a door into their bedroom that a dog can walk into. Doesn't sound real safe to me.)

I apologize to American neighbor, more than I probably need to, bring Scrubs inside, and shut the gate.

My morning drama didn't end there however. Later, Grama and I decide to take the four kiddos to church. Grama is still nursing a big-time cough. It hits her right into the middle of service, forcing her into a bathroom stall until she can stop the lung hacking up.

Wouldn't you know that it was right smack in that moment that Hannah decided to blow out of her diaper. I have no choice but to change her on the pew. We are in the back, sort of by ourselves, and so I don't feel too bad about this. There is no way I can leave the other three kids by themselves while I go to change a diaper. While I am changing Hannah, Abigail decides she wants to give Hannah a gazillion kisses, and, well, here comes the offering plate so all the kiddos want a quarter. The wonderful Richards family, gracefully sent their fifteen-year-old to my rescue.  And their twelve-year-old helped me get the boys to their Sunday school class.

It was during that moment that I couldn't help but think What in the world am I doing trying to go to church with four kids without my husband here? Am I crazy?

I think that a lot actually. (Not the part about going to church. The part about whether or not I am crazy.)

What in the world am I doing living in Portugal?

Why am I trying to raise a dog along with four tiny tykes?

How did we think four children under five was something we could manage?

But then this morning, Scrubs laid by my feet while I nursed Hannah. Abigail sat on one rug doing puzzles. Sidge and Isaac were perched on dining room chairs working in their homeschool workbooks.

And I thought, "I should get a video camera to capture this moment."

It was perfect.



Of course, it lasted only a few minutes, but it did happen.

This is the life God has given me right now.

And I must believe He will give me the grace to do it well.

The biggest brother and littlest sister

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bribed with jelly beans for these shots!

Candycorn Math Pack

A few days after I posted on the Lajes Spouses page on Facebook that I couldn't find candy corn on the island, someone found it! They posted a picture of it and directions with how to get there! Check it out:

I found the store the next day. Apparently, it's a popular place for Americans, but I had never even heard of the place! Don't know what rock I've been under. Either way, I love that these are called "American Candies." They definitely are a piece of exclusively American culture!

We were able to do our candy corn match activity this morning thanks to this find. It was very fun. The boys had a ball. The only hard part was, they only had three bags of the candy left when I got there. The bags were tiny. So I really had to limit the amount of eating of the candy that we did while participating in the activity. 

Oh and Abigail? She just cried the entire time because she wasn't getting to eat the candy. I could not explain to her that this was for a school assignment, and she had to wait until they were done to eat!

Here is a link to my Fall Homeschool Page

And here is a link to the Candycorn Math Pack Page

Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday K.I.S.S.

Ever heard the expression K.I.S.S?

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

In other words, make your life easy. This means just what it implies. Don't complicate your life. Don't make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. If there is a way to make things easier: do it!

Today's Mom K.I.S.S.:
    Use Paper!
    I recycle. I believe in saving the environment. But I also think that it is okay, sometimes in your life, to have a stack of paper plates on the counter to help make things a little easier for you.

    Isaac's birth grandmother suggested this after we had baby #3. I fought her on it. And it is still hard for me to do to the environment. But sometimes, it is just okay to take the easy way out. I don't suggest you do this all the time. But in a hectic season, especially when you are bringing a new baby home, release yourself from the guilt trip, and buy some paper plates. 

Because of Isaac fundraising opportunity!

November is National Adoption Month. I was so excited to hear that a friend on Base, Alexis Manning, is donating all profits from her meal business next week to Because of Isaac. 

Every Monday & Wednesday, Alexis makes meals and sells them to people on Base for $7-8 a serving! This is cheaper than going out to eat, and since there is no fast food on the Base, a really great option to get a night off of cooking!

If you live here at Lajes, would you consider supporting our organization by purchasing a meal from Alexis on Monday or Wednesday of next week. The menu for the week is located on her Facebook page.

Also, be looking for a lot of great adoption "stuff" on my blog during the month of November -- in celebration of the life of my son and lives changed every day through the miracle of adoption. I am also hoping to find at least 30 people who will pledge one dollar a day to our current sponsored couple: Ryan & Briana. Could you be one of those 30 people? If you are interested, please leave a comment on this blog or send me an email at

Providence times two

I miss my friend Kelsey.

We still write each other fairly regularly, but I haven't spoken with her in over five years. I miss her laugh. She has a great laugh!

Kelsey and I first met in Rochester, Minnesota. We worked together at the RLS Foundation, and we took a trip to Nigeria together on a 6 week mission trip.

Kelsey is "training" to be a nun. She is in her fifth year. She will make her final vows after year seven. She has studied to be a teacher and is now teaching in a catholic school. She is the godmother for all my children, and is just someone that I love with all my heart.

During the last five years, due to rules during her training, she cannot speak to me on the phone. So we have only been able to communicate via letters. She cannot get on the Internet so I have mailed her copies of my blog to keep her updated on my life.

There have been two rather incredible acts of providence that have occurred surrounding Kelsey and my lives. The first is one you can read about here. I will quickly summarize what happened by saying that Kelsey had a dream and woke up praying for me on the exact night I had to be shipped from Turkey to Germany in what we thought was early labor with Abigail. It was an amazing miracle!

The second bit of providence ...

On our way back to America to have Hannah, I was waiting to board our flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Fort Lauderdale, Florida when I happened to glance over my shoulder and see two nuns in the infamous Southwest Airlines boarding group line for a flight to Nashville, Tennessee.

I was busy feeding my kiddos a $17 breakfast from Starbucks -- trying to organize the muffins and juices and get everyone well fed before we had to board -- when one of the nuns turned to me and said, "I want to say thank you!"

I'm sure my face said what I was thinking. You want to thank me?

"Thank you for being a mom and raising these children," she said.

"Oh wow. Thank you for saying that," I replied. (I really needed to hear it at that moment being hugely pregnant and trying to keep myself calm with my three little kiddos on a two-day-travelling-trip.

"People are always thanking me," she said. "But so many other people deserve our thanks too. Like moms. Raising little children. God bless you."

I smiled and then decided to say something about my friend Kelsey. "I know you don't know her or anything, but I have a dear friend who is a nun who I haven't spoken to in five years," I began. "I miss her. You reminded me of her because, well, because you are a nun," I giggled.

"What's her name?" they asked.

"Kelsey," I said, and then corrected myself. "Well, now her name is Sister Joan of Arc," I said.

"We are from Kelsey's convent!" the nun eagerly replied.

We then spent the next minute or two talking about Kelsey. I asked them if they could please hug her for me and tell her I loved her.

I received a letter from Kelsey a few weeks later. Her fellow sister had in fact remembered and spoken to Kelsey. How amazing that in this big world I was able to touch a piece of Kelsey.

Little miracles remind us of how real God is, don't you think?

Military Moments: Clemens Family

I am excited to be adding yet another new feature to my blog. In addition to Friday Funnies, Wee-wind Wednesdays, Monday K.I.S.S., and Real in Red Heels, I am excited to be starting a Military Moments column. This will be a chance for military spouses that I know to share their experiences of supporting their loved one in the military.

The first installment is from my awesome friend Carla! Enjoy!

By Carla Clemens

So, we're in the military. Air Force to be specific. And I say "we" because I mean WE.  Our whole family lives this life. We all experience the ups and downs, the excitement and anticipation, inconsistencies and worries that come along with it.

We think there are some really cool perks!!  We love the travel and the meeting new people.  We hate the goodbyes. Right now we are missing the very owner of this blog and her beautiful family. Our boys were great playmates and that gave us the opportunity to become friends. That is how the military works sometimes. You are introduced to someone by circumstance or proximity and you realize you really like that person.  
Wendi asked me to write about what we do in the military. My husband and I got married in 2005. He thought I should include in this story that he left for Basic Training two months after we were married. He was gone for seven weeks, through our first Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year as marrieds. 
After Basic he was sent to Biloxi, MS for tech school training. I was able to get a nursing job there (I have my BSN) and so, we did get to be together for four out of the six months he was in tech school. Then, we moved to Oklahoma.  
My husband has one of those jobs that is hard to explain. He is supposed to work in computer networking, but he has not worked in that field since his tech school training. In fact, in pretty much his whole career in the Air Force thus far, he has not actually used his official job skill set. We began this career path eight years ago, and after tech school, he was pulled into aircraft maintenance working on AWACS.  AWACS are basically big radar planes that have really old computer systems on them. Mike had to do special training when we arrived in Oklahoma in order to work on the planes, but he became quite an expert. Working on the AWACS is nothing like what his tech school training prepped him for. After 5 years he was ready to move onto something else.  
During our time in Oklahoma, Mike deployed twice, each time for four months. He left once when our older son was 10 months old and then again, when our younger son was 14 months old. As anyone might imagine, being without ones's spouse for a long period of time is hard. We are blessed to live in the age of technology, so I posted videos of the kids for Mike to see, and we were able to Skype with him. The boys did fine with Mike's absence at those times in their lives. He has not deployed again since Oklahoma, so the next time will be different, with our boys being much older.
Next we received orders to move to Lajes Field, Azores Islands, Portugal. Mike was moved into a radio/telephone type shop, but then quickly moved over to Quality Assurance, so he still did not get experience in his actual job field.  He finished his time at Lajes in QA.
We moved again, this time to Hawaii, which is where we currently are. I know right? Sob, sob. So, we get here and he gets into his shop. First, we are told that he will be there until January and then move over into some kind of program manager type job. Mike felt pretty good about that, knowing that he would do a good job. But then comes last Thursday, the day on which he is told he will be staying at the shop. He came home and told me this, remaining quite positive about the change. They are supposed to send him on some kind of TDY (temporary duty) for a week for some training. So, after 8 years, Mike will finally be learning to do what he was actually trained to do in tech school.  
We should be in Hawaii 3-4 years. We moved into our house on base a little over a month ago and we are really satisfied with what we got. Lots of space, lots of storage space. This is the first time we have lived on base. We are liking it; I especially like the proximity to all things convenient:  the commissary, BX, gas station, post office, etc.  
We decided to stay on base for a couple big reasons:  we are having a third baby (a third boy!) and I wanted to have easy access to things when I am taking three kids around with me and also, the cost of living in Hawaii can be astronomical and staying on base makes that more doable. We have gotten out and around the island to see and experience Oahu and let me just say, it is so nice driving on American roads!! Oh the things you get to appreciate when you have an overseas assignment! I am sure Wendi has another post about that!
A big thanks to Wendi for requesting I write this post.  If you are interested in our Hawaii adventures, adventures in homeschooling, or military adventures, you can find me on my own blog too:)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ball dilemma

September 14, 2010. I wrote a post asking for readers' opinions on which dress I should wear to the Ball in Turkey. The consensus was the purple number.

Well, fast forward. We have a Pink Tie Galla here on Base (to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness.) Yesterday, I went to try on my three dresses and see which one fits me post-baby.

The results?

Purple dress. No go. Doesn't fit.

Orange dress. No go. Doesn't fit.

Black dress. Nowhere to be found!

How do you lose a black ball gown? Well, I'll tell you how. You loan it to a friend to try on and you think friend returns it and friend thinks she returns it, but she doesn't. The dress has been found, but it's in America now. With one week until the Gala, that dress is now a "No go" too.

So I have two choices.

And neither of them will work.

Now let me tell you that firstly, I am 6'3". Buying a dress that fits me is nearly impossible in the first place. The purple and black dresses were both purchased at bigger sizes and then lengthened with extra fabric. The orange dress was purchased at a Tall Girl Store.

Secondly, even if I could find a dress that fits, I live on an island that doesn't exactly have a surplus of stores to purchase dresses at. There is no mall for example.

What to do?

Thursday, in a last ditch effort, I went to the tailor on Base and asked her if she could work a miracle in the one week that I had before the ball.

(Don't ask why I waited until Wednesday to try these on and find out that I had nothing that fits!)

But, the tailor can work the aforementioned magic I had prayed for! Because I had bought my dress so much bigger, there was plenty of fabric to let it out and make it fit my still-need-to-lose-fifteen-more-pounds-frame!

So, I'll be wearing the dress pictured below. I first wore it at my brother and his wife's wedding back in 2006.

My niece grace (who is from the Kitsteiner side of the family) was a flower girl in the wedding. She stole the show!

I remember this being an emotional moment for me. I loved my niece to pieces, but we were so grieving no children of our own as she escorted us down the aisle.
And then I wore the dress again -- to the Incirlik Base Ball in 2010, a few months after we had arrived in Turkey.

My date for the evening.

While we had only been in Turkey for a few months, I had already made two "friends-for-life." Angelica and Stebbs will forever hold an incredibly special place in my heart. Love these ladies.

Stay tuned to see the dress worn for the third time!


A daylight savings time rhyme

FYI -- Portugal celebrates Daylight Savings Time this weekend -- a week earlier than the USA!

Dear child,

Last night was daylight savings time
And a secret you must keep.
This time of year, we fall back
(That’s one hour more of sleep)!

 So while the clock said six a.m.

Your normal time to wake
(which we already think is way too early
For goodness sake …)

It’s actually only five a.m.
And still real dark outside!
So if you would pretend with us
And just get on our side …

We could all sleep sweet one hour more
And in our house? What a gift.
But only if our little lambs
Would back to sleep you’d drift.

We discussed this much the night before
But each year you fail to get it.
Next year could you try again …
Maybe just a little bit?

Sleep for you may not mean much
That we really get
But dad and me? we’re a bit behind
We’ve quite a large sleep debt!

You’ve been worth the sleepless nights
That’s why we wrote this rhyme,
But a little extra sleep is all we ask
Next daylight savings time!

Wendi Kitsteiner

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abigail speaks

Our little lady's language is finally starting to blossom! She was in the right mood for me to ask her to try to share some of her words for the Grampas and the Gramas. Here's our little lady!

Facebook & Ray Fam

Our great friend Ron & his youngest son Cole
The Ray family and us go way back. To Kentucky before we were married. To Minnesota for Medical School. To daughter #1 going to high school where I taught. To daughter #2 living with us in Turkey.
They've been featured on my blog from the very beginning in posts like Ray kids spend weekend with Kits, And on this post, I flashback to our ties to their family as Veronica prepared to move to Turkey.
The Rays are just a fun family. One thing they do, constantly, is talk to employees. A lot. Be it at restaurants or grocery stores, they make small talk with everyone. Keep that in mind and read on ... Ron posted this on Facebook, and it was just too funny not to share!
Here's the end of the story:
Her: F*** OFF!
Me: You too! Have a nice day! [with a genuine smile]

The rest of the story:
So my son Cole and I went to the mall for a couple of things. While we were there we decided to get dinner at the food court. We're standing in line at Subway. [SIDE NOTE*** part of being a Ray is to strike up a conversation with the people who help us at stores and restaurants......we all do it...all the time] So, Cole starts a convo with our sandwich artist. Here's what happened next:

Cole: [to sandwich artist] you like working here?
Sandwich Artist (SA): Yeah. It's a pretty good j...
Random Strange Lady (RSL): THAT WAS RUDE!!
Me & Cole: [to each other] WHAT?!
RSL: Why would you ask that? That was rude.
Me: [to RSL] No...he was just making conversation...we do it all the time...
[to SA] Did you think that was rude? Were you offended?
SA: No! Not at all!
RSL: Well she has to say she likes it...she's on the clock.
Cole: NOPE! People tell me all the time they don't like their job.
SA: [to Cole] You want that toasted?
RSL: Well you shouldn't ask that. That's [wait for it]........retarded.
[Lie alert: the next statement I made was a total lie...sorry]
Me: Now THAT'S RUDE!!! I have another child that's mentally challenged!
RSL: Well good for you for having one...
[awkward silence by all]
SA: That'll be $12.62
Me: Are you 100% sure we didn't offend you?
SA: No! Not at all. Not one bit!
Me: [to RSL] time mind your own business.
RSL: F*** OFF!
Me: You too! Have a nice day [with a genuine smile]
Cole: What just happened?

Based on her mildly slurred speech and beet red, blood shot eyes, I'm pretty sure RSL was under some chemical influence. It was all pretty surreal. Cole and I couldn't stop laughing about it.

So there's that...

A-B-C Puzzle

"Abigail, did you do the ABC puzzle all by yourself for the very first time? Can I take a picture of you with it?"

"Can you hold it up so I can see it better for the picture?"

"Oh crud!"

Friday, October 25, 2013

Real in Red Heels

I am so excited to introduce a new special feature on my blog! My friend Kara has agreed to begin contributing to a (hopefully) weekly column we are going to call "REAL IN RED HEELS." Here is installment number 1. Stay tuned for hopefully more of a real chic woman who become a mom and now, has no idea where her red heels are!

Yes! That's me and my husband taken during pregnancy #1.

Hello webby friends! I’m Kara and I’m half the woman that our dear Wendi is. I am half of her height and have half as many children. Surprisingly, I am just as worn out, and she says that my two might be more exhausting than her four!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret ... I used to have it together. By “together,” I mean that my house was always clean according to my OCD standards, our dinners were homemade and fancy and my outfits usually matched and were actually a little bit stylish. Don’t get me wrong, my 5’0" self never modeled for Vogue and InStyle never called me for interviews, but I embraced fashion and used it as a way of expressing myself. I used to be a jet-setter and have traveled to many countries around the world. It’s a story for another day, but I even studied abroad in Africa, alone, at 21 years old. I did an internship in a second language and survived a military coup and malaria, simultaneously. I thought I was pretty tough, smart and independent. In many ways, I did possess those traits, but I was incredibly naïve when it came to love, marriage and babies in a baby carriage.

Then one cold, gray February day, I bore a son and became a mom. Other than a few awful HOURS of him crowning without any painkillers, it was a perfect day. 

(You read that right, sweet virtual sisters, he crowned for 2.5 hours but wouldn’t come out.)  

The second day, he started to cry and he wouldn’t sleep. He screamed all night long until I was physically shaking from exhaustion. My husband wasn’t in the hospital room that second night, because he was home sleeping after being at the hospital for 48 hours. He was a resident physician (with Wendi’s stellar hubby), and he was busy delivering another woman’s child when I arrived at the hospital. 

(I should have known then that this parenting journey was going to be the adventure of all adventures!)

My son cried for weeks and weeks and didn’t sleep through the night until 11 months old. It turned out that he had reflux and was an early teether, but in the moment, I was confused and so. very. tired. I took four showers a day, because we were both covered often in spit-up. I was clean, but a rumpled mess. I lived in t-shirts and yoga pants.  

Okay, I lied.

I saved the yoga pants for my dressing up days when people were coming over and wore t-shirts, giant hoodies and pajama pants most of the time. My chic wardrobe turned into cottons only and my most frequent accessory was spit-up. My hair was most frequently fashioned into a bun, but not a beautiful ballerina bun, more like a sloppy knot on top of my head away from the death-grip of sticky baby hands.

I looked awful for an entire year and this is from the girl who wore high heels to the L&D and left the hospital in a dress, leggings and high heels with my baby in a Moby Wrap.


I did that.

We even stopped at the store so we could pick up fresh groceries on the way home. I literally wandered the aisles of the commissary with an ice pad under a dress in high heels with a baby strapped to me.
You are actually laughing out loud, aren’t you?
It cracks me up now.
I started to get my groove back by the time my son turned two years old. I had caught up on my sleep again, reorganized my house and started doing creative things like baking cakes with fondant, taking pictures and wearing socially-acceptable outfits.
It was great.
Then, I got pregnant again.
Back to baggy clothes and leggings and practical shoes like ballet flats (or slippers.) I live in a cold, northern climate and I did the thing that I swore I would never do and bought Uggs.
Okay, I lied again.
They aren’t real Ugg’s, because those babies are expensive. I wore knock-off Ugg’s -- Fugg’s.
Here I am with a 3.5 year old wild child of a son and a sassy, spunky 6 month old. I spent three hours getting them to sleep tonight, and my husband is gone again. He’s a good man, but the military trumps our marriage so I’ve been a single-parent for the past month. During which, my lovely baby has started teething fast and furiously and has stopped sleeping through the night.
Who needs sleep?
In all honesty, I looked at the clock this afternoon expecting it to say 6:30pm and it said 3:30pm. Ahhh. Have you ever had one of those days? The kind when you think the power must have gone out and messed up your clocks, because there is NO WAY that it could ONLY be 3 o’clock in the afternoon?
I am at that crazy place again.
It’s the tired, frumpy, try-not-to-be-grumpy mom stage. My hair is back in a bun, my pants have babyfood on them, and I have only worn make-up three times this month. I should be legally required to wear mascara and concealer under my eyes, but I haven’t, because I don’t want to waste the time or product on a preschooler and a baby. I have a joke that the other parents at my son’s preschool must think we are homeless. If you think I am joking, these are the cartoons that have been sent to me by my friends and neighbors THIS WEEK!

I hope they made you smile. If you have little kids at home, I hope you feel encouraged. I want to normaliz mama’s!
In line with me "keepin' it real", here is my maternity photo from pregnancy #2. A far cry from pregnancy #1, don't you think?

Can you tell that an older sibling was present?

(This is Abigail's handiwork)

Friday Funnies

Sidge: "I don't feel good."
Me: "I'm sorry. When you get home, we'll have you take a nap."
Sidge: "I think I should just do 'quiet reading time.'"
Me: "Well, when you are sick, a nap is better."
Sidge: "I'm not sick."
Me: "You just said you don't feel good."
Sidge: "I just don't feel good. I'm not sick."
Sidge asked me what you use a burp cloth for. He asked if we were supposed to use the cloth to hit the baby on the back so they burped. Not quite.
Sidge: "Oh. I forgot. I always should wear underwear. Right mom?"
Me: "Sidge, slow down. Don't eat your cereal that fast."
Sidge: "But my friend Elijah Storey is very fast, and he told me that you get really fast by eating your food really fast."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Fest

There's not one single pumpkin patch on this island!
Not even a fake one.
Oh how all these Facebook posts with pictures of pumpkin patches makes me miss: Jackson's Orchard -- our favorite Kentucky patch. I didn't grow up around apple cider and pumpkins. I was a South Floridian, absent of tradition and void of seasonal changes. But take me to college and plant my college basketball team in a pumpkin patch for a picture, and I was hooked forever.
At least our Commissary thought well enough of us to ship some pumpkins in so we can at least sort of feel like we aren't thousands of miles away from home. We let each of the kids pick out a pumpkin, and away we went ...
Daddy, the former graphic designer, was the sole person behind this. He let each kid decide what kind of face they wanted on their pumpkins, and then he did the carving.

Abigail wanted a happy face. She was actually the most picky about her design, nixing many of JB's designs with her little, "Noooooo."

Here is the finished product: A silly face for Sidge, Happy for Abigail, and mad for Isaac. I think I'll remember this picture forever!


Wondering if this ...

is payback for this ...


Scrubs has grown up a lot. He very rarely eats socks anymore and manages to resist the temptation to gnaw a pacifier to death. But full bottles of milk left lying around? He can't resist. He eats the nipple off and then drinks the milk. Crazy dog!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A real house

When we were first married, I kept an incredibly clean house.

I was proud of it.

Before people came over, I would fret and frazzle as I got everything in tip-top shape for guests.

JB didn't get it. He agreed that a clean house was a nice thing. But for him, he was more interested in his time.

Early in our marriage, my husband informed me that he would never make our bed. "I have counted how many minutes it would take me," he began. "I multiplied that by the days in a week and the weeks in a year and the years in my lifetime, and I don't want to give up days in my life to make a bed."


After fifteen years together, we have both met in the middle. JB will now be the one who goes into our room to do a clean-up and, (gasp!), actually make the bed. I feel like I am too busy trying to make sure we keep our heads above water. Making a bed is a luxury. I don't have time for luxuries.

We live in a real house.

JB had said that to me once. He had told me, "I will not live in a fake house."

In other words, I will not pretend things for the sake of what people think. I will present to people the real people that we are.

So, if you came to visit my house today, you'd find ...
  • ... pee on the back of the toilet seats.
  • ... coloring books and crayons scattered on the dining room table.
  • ... dishes in the sink.
  • ... water bottles everywhere (I refill these to have cold water at my command)
  • ... clean laundry piled on the counter in the laundry room.
  • ... at least one of our three play areas currently covered with toys.
  • ... all beds unmade.
  • ... our office desks with scattered papers and notes and receipts.
  • ... burp cloths and baby bibs every few steps.
  • ... dirty clothes in various piles.
This is how people really live. Sure we can all do a major clean-up and make the house look like we don't have four kids and a dog living here.

But that isn't real. Real is living. If you live in a house and laugh in a house and love in a house, that is truly what is most important. (It really is!)

Our last four homes: Rochester, Eglin, Turkey, and even here in the Azores, our door seemed like it was on a rotating hinge. People are constantly flying in and out. And most of my friends say to me, "How do you do that? How do you let people just drop in unannounced?"

And the truth of it is that I do this by not caring.

If you are coming to my house than remember that it is my house. If you don't like how clean it is or how many toys are around, then you can leave my house. I will not present to you someone that I am not. I don't have time for that, and it is not fair to you. You should not think I have it all together if I don't. You should think I have it exactly like I have it at the moment that you knock on my door.

You should think I am real ...

and my house is real ...

and my life is real.

Wee-wind Wednesday

On October 23, 2008, I was beginning my third trimester of a completely miracle pregnancy. Isaac was just five and a half months old. Sidge would be making his debut at the end of January. I found this picture of Isaac, who was just learning to sit up.

Here's a flashback look at where we were on this date five years ago.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday K.I.S.S.

Ever heard the expression K.I.S.S?

K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid.

I am hoping to do a new installment on my blog. In addition to "Friday Funnies" and "Wee-Wind Wednesdays", I am planning on doing a "Monday K.I.S.S."

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

In other words, make your life easy. This means just what it implies. Don't complicate your life. Don't make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. If there is a way to make things easier: do it!

Today's Mom K.I.S.S.: Make it multiple!

We have lived in three different homes since having children (Eglin, Turkey, and the Azores.) I have made sure to have at least two diaper changing stations in each of my homes. In this home, I actually have three right now because it is so stinkin' big.

Even in a small house, make sure you have a diaper changing station available in easy locations. This is especially important if you have multiple children and one might be sleeping in a location where the changing table is while another is awake.

Don't worry about how it looks. You don't want to have to travel across the house for changing or risk waking another child. Put a station where you need it.

Keep mandatory items in both locations. Each of my stations have wipes, diaper cream, diapers, burp cloths, and changes of clothes.

Smells like ginger

On Sunday evening, I got a great surprise! As the kids prepared for bed, JB asked Isaac if he wanted to go to the "Red Café"* for donuts the next morning. Being as the next day was Monday, I reminded him that he couldn't do this. "Oh yes I can," he replied. "I have the day off!" Apparently, the entire Clinic was given an off day to use at their discretion, and JB saved his for this Monday and surprised me!
Having JB home for three days in a row is awesome. On Sundays, the boys know he has to go back to work because he "takes his whiskers off." They'll feel his face and say, "Do you have to go to work tomorrow Daddy?" Everyone loves when JB is home, and having him home an extra day was extra great since 3 out of our 4 kids have a cold. Only Isaac appears to have avoided some sort of head cold. Hannah has her first cold, Abigail has definitely gotten hit the hardest, and Sidge is also out of sorts. In addition, JB's mom has been really sick for the last 10 days or so with fever and cough.
Anyways, this post wasn't even planning on talking about that. I was going to talk about baking gingerbread cookies with the kids.
I am not a cook. You know those women who just bake and do all those wifely/motherly things? Yeah, well that is definitely not me. Cooking and especially baking, always fills me with anxiety as, quite honestly, I often make a mistake and something gets ruined.
But the boys love the story of The Gingerbread Man and they saw some of the mix in the Commissary the other day and asked if we could make them. So yesterday, we went for it. I pulled out our egg replacer only to find it covered with tiny little bugs! Ick! So, onto plan B. I tried using 1/4 cup applesauce and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder for each egg (thanks google!) It worked wonderfully!
And, because JB was home, I got some pictures of me doing stuff with the kiddos. Way fun!
Rolling the dough and using our cookie cutters to make a gingerbread man, a heart, a star, a car, and a motorcycle.

Checking on them in the oven

We made a last minute decision to decorate the Gingerbread man. We found some chocolate chips in the freezer and some M&M's in the cabinet that worked just fine.

These were my creations. (The kids used much more liberty in putting chocolate chips and M&M's on their cookies.)

Showing off our hard work. We had a great time. No one cried, I didn't make any major mistakes, the egg replacement worked like a charm!
*I plan to do a post discussing "The Red Café" in a future blog installment. It's a little neighborhood Café with a red awning that we love to visit for ice cream and donuts as frequently as we can!