navygreen: ('Affairs:' recap)
An update about me, eh? It seems so long ago that has happened. I received the sweetest email from [ profile] hearts_refuge a few months back asking for just such a thing, but it still has taken me so long to get here.

The truth is, my life really is about cookies. And sweets. And even foodie recipes, from time-to-time. I've become a "food blogger" over a "life blogger," and it almost happened without my consent. After all, I dearly love blogging, and have for almost a decade now (next month!). I suppose it has happened as my interests have changed, you know? Where I once was nothing more than a stay-at-home mom and my children were young, I had tales of creative afternoons, of butterfly kisses on boo-boo'd knees, and pictures of happy boys who always took a moment to smile for the camera. Now, however, I have been a work-out-of-home mother, and my boys have become independent young men that only ask for bandaids if there's blood and kisses in a "real" emergency, and who never have time to stop for a picture.

Life has changed, I suppose.

This month brings about the end of an era for me. In just three more days, my "baby" Jack will become ten. TEN! Oh, I cried and cried on that day when A.J. turned a decade milestone. I still don't know why... it's just a number even now. But, oh - it's THAT number. And once again, I'm faced with it, but this time? This time, my "baby" is TEN. YEARS. OLD.

And to add teardrops to teardrops, in just two more weeks, A.J. will officially become a teenager. THIRTEEN! Where has the time gone? Indeed, where have the three years gone since I lamented his babyhood?! I just cannot believe the young man he is becoming before my very eyes. In fact, he's almost above my very eyes, for we are spot-on in height with one another now (I'm 5'6"), and he is but one size away from Philip's shoe size already. I daresay that he will pass his dad in height (Philip is about 5'10"), and I do not think it will be very far in the future. Friends used to mistake A.J.'s voice for mine when he answered a call, but now they exhale in wild amazement, "That was A.J. on the phone? Not Philip?!"

It all happened so very fast. I do not want to speak of the days passing, for we have already realized that, though he only will attend 8th grade this year, it still means that next year we will have a HIGH SCHOOLER in our midst. *tears*

Those of you on my Facebook know more of the in's and out's of our days, and what falls here in my journal is not much more than a recap most times. The summer is passing, and with it, the days are becoming shorter. We're not yet to the point of "cooler," but I know that it is coming. School was scheduled to begin on August 24th, but the Minot school systems lost six schools to the massive flooding, and there has been a scramble to gain and provide enough portable trailer classrooms all over the city to recreate those that were lost. Therefore, school will not officially start here until September 6th. The governor was kind enough to grant Minot a 5-day loss of teaching days, and the students will attend on two planned holidays instead (ie. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) instead, but will end the year as scheduled on the 25th of May next year.

The flooding situation affects every part of our life, I'm afraid. On the military base, we are still not connected to the main water supply in town, as the line breaks that need repair are underwater even now. When we are connected once again, I'm sure there will be a longer process than normal to flush out over six weeks' worth of muck and sludge from the lines. Despite the water all around, we still have major thunderstorms every few days or so as well. While I wish that the city would not receive even one more drop right now as they try to dry out, I'm thankful for the water here on base. Without it, our filtration systems would not be running from the creek beds, and we would be in an even poorer situation. Finally, however, the state-issued "boil order" was lifted from the base, and that has been a welcome blessing.

The devastation downtown is unmeasurable. So many parts of town are still diked, and will likely not be "unearthed" before the fall season fully arrives. Many businesses and restaurants are still closed, their black windows haunting the main strip like sad skeletons. Friends post pictures of their homes, and they are nothing more than shells, walls barely standing and held together only by various layers of mold. It is such a sad, sad affair. :-(

I hope to keep writing on real life, but I won't make promises at this point. I thank my friends that have checked in here and there, and I still read almost daily, though I comment rarely. :-)
navygreen: (School)
I can't believe it's the end of another school year! The boys go through tomorrow, the 26th, but I think they're already down to just the fun stuff. Jack had his Field Day yesterday, and A.J. had his math class finals. Today, both have been told they'll be cleaning out desks and lockers, and I made them empty out backpacks to prepare for the amount of STUFF I'm sure they'll bring home! (And they don't go back until August 24th!)

I'm icing end-of-year cookies right now, but I'm taking a quick moment to post these cookies I made for Teacher Appreciation Day back on May 6th. Once again, my timeliness astounds you, I'm sure. ;-)

I was so jazzed when the school announced a theme for this year's Teacher Appreciation week/event: LUAU! There's nothing that says party quite like a luau, and I couldn't wait to make these special cookies!

Teacher Appreciation Luau Cookies.

Teacher Appreciation Luau Cookies.

And do you even know? I mean, can you even really guess just how much fun I had making these adorable little hula shirt cookies?! I absolutely *LOVED* them!

See lots more! )

I brought a gigantic platter to the school (over 80 cookies!), and I heard they disappeared quickly! I'm so glad the teachers enjoyed them, as I have sure loved the staff here. We are so blessed to have such big hearts teaching our children!
navygreen: (School)
Whew, but my throat is sure hoarse. I spent about an hour tonight chatting with my friend Jan at Jack's school, and we had to yell to hear one another. Tonight was the Book Bingo & Family Dance night, and the boys had a good time. Philip and I never got a bingo, but both of the boys did (A.J. first, and then Jack got one in the last round).

Philip and I ran some errands during the afternoon, and I'm working on something to share soon. In addition to that, I shipped off some cookies and am currently in the middle of icing two more batches (different designs). I baked a bunch of projects on Monday, and I plan to finish icing all of them by tomorrow. I imagine that Sunday will involve lots of Valentine prep for Jack and his classroom. His party is on Monday afternoon.

His buddy, Bryce, has asked that he go along as a "bro" to the Prom next weekend at the Youth Center. Prom... yes, really! They're throwing a prom for all the younger kids, and Bryce wanted to make sure all his boys are going. Jack had been thinking about asking his "girlfriend" Angela to go anyway, so now they can meet up and hang out. Oh, and speaking of "hanging out," I heard that last night after soccer practice, as Bryce's mom Amber and I were walking out.

Amber: Maybe we can have Jack come over this week for a playdate.
Bryce: Mo-om! We don't have "playdates" anymore. We "hang out." We're not TODDLERS anymore!

Jack asked me a few weeks ago if we could have Angela and her parents "over for dinner sometime," and I about choked. He's 9! I'm so not ready for all of this!
navygreen: (GLEE: Rachel - slushie wince)
I was up crazy-late last night, working on cookies. I iced them, but then I had to wait for them to dry before I could begin the next step. In the meantime, I busied myself with straightening the office.

As I mentioned last night, I cleaned my desk, and I'm happy to report that it is still spotless. I also bought some envelopes today at the UPS store and finished up all the things in my to-be-mailed pile. I'll do that sometime tomorrow.

Also last night, in the wee hours of the morning, Philip noticed a strange, tick-tick...tick-tick-tick-ing sound. He paused his movie to listen more closely, and he discovered water dripping on the hardwood floors... from the ceiling in the living room! I had learned from two neighbors on the block of leaking troubles, so I called last Thursday to pre-empt that ourselves. Maintenance came out on Friday and inspected the inside, and they scheduled an appointment for Monday (today) to clear all the snow/ice from the roof over the suspect walls. Well, I guess the ceiling just couldn't wait any longer!

Maintenance responded immediately this morning, and they cut out a 1'-squared section of ceiling. They attached a plastic runner to the hole, and taped it down the wall, running the end into a bucket. Sadly, this will have to suffice until springtime when they can actually rebuild the roof in that section. I thought it would be worse, but it's really just a small thing. It just makes life comical, you know?!

THEN, as I was moving a tray of cookies to the kitchen, I noticed a puddle on the kitchen counter. I thought to myself, "That's odd. I just removed dishes from that spot before I decorated this tray, and it was all clear..." I grabbed a towel to clean it up, and as I did so, more water fell onto my hands. I looked up, and found water dripping OUT of my wooden kitchen cupboards! Even in the four feet of ceiling above them, there was no bubble or dripping, and if you pressed the top of the cabinet frame, water seeped out. It was literally coming FROM my cabinets! Philip fixed a pad up there to collect the water, and we called Housing Maintenance back again. Oh, the life!

I'm off to wrap up some pictures for Jack's teacher. The yearbook committee is beginning this year's production, and I've brought my camera to every classroom event so far. She sent her "teacher disc" home with Jack and wrote a note saying, "I'm sure your pictures are wonderful. Please put them on here in place of any of mine to submit to the yearbook." So sweet!
navygreen: ('Affairs:' spitting)
I'm on a break between icings on cookies. :-)

I filed our taxes tonight. It feels wonderful to have that done!

These cookies are just not being what I want them to be. It's disappointing.

Philip works this weekend. We've planned for next weekend to be the big sleepover for January. Unlike in November, I won't be manning the millions of boys here all by myself.

I need to begin meal-planning tomorrow. A.J. wants to peruse my cookbooks for his choice this menu plan. I'll have to do my shopping on Sunday (the commissary is closed on Mondays), since there's no way I'll get it done tomorrow.

Today was the end of the 2nd quarter for the boys' school year. I cannot believe they are halfway done already! Report cards come home next week, but the grades are online at all times. So proud of them. :-)


Jan. 12th, 2011 11:48 pm
navygreen: (School)
Oh man, I am so tired tonight! I went to bed around 4am this morning, and then I woke up at 8 to get ready to volunteer at Jack's school. Once there, I copied, cut, pasted, and laminated my heart out! I was absolutely famished by the time lunch rolled around. For once, I actually finished all of my lunch tray before Jack or his friends finished theirs!

I stayed for an extra hour after lunch to finish up a project for Jack's teacher, and then I braved both the commissary and the Youth Center in the cold. I got Jack registered for this year's indoor soccer season, and then I stopped by A.J.'s school (which had just let out and loaded buses) for a quick chat with one of his teachers. They were all in a meeting, however, so I'll have to catch them tomorrow, I suppose.

This evening, I was starting to brown the hamburger meat for chili when I smelled something... off. I followed my nose to the basement, where we found one of the litterboxes to be quite full of pee. Cleaning the litter is one of A.J.'s daily chores, and I think he had been skimming it for a while. Ick! I rarely go into the basement/playroom except to do laundry, so this led to an entire family event: a "game night" consisting of deep-cleaning the basement from top-to-bottom. I ran upstairs a few times to add things to the chili, and when we finally finished, we had a warm, hearty meal waiting for us. Because of the later hour, I think we were all especially silly at the dinner table, too!

I'm turning in early tonight. Actually, this is super-early for me... before midnight, even!
navygreen: (Dr. Horrible: shoulder shimmy)
What have I done today? Hmm, just a little of this and that, I guess.

I went for a walk with my neighbor and her sweet Emma-baby. We walked a wide loop, and it was so warm. We've been warm since late last week, but we hit 80° again today. It's supposed to slowly go down, being in the 70's or so the rest of the week, and we haven't and won't have rain for a good ten days or so. It's kinda strange to be so warm right now, since all the leaves and such changed in the past two weeks for fall. I'm just glad I hadn't put away our shorts and such yet.

A.J. got his comic book he's been waiting on for a few weeks. It was the last of the things he ordered with his birthday money and gift card from Amazon, and it was a pre-order and wasn't shipped until last week. He jams to the Dr. Horrible soundtrack on a regular basis through his laptop or iPod, and he loves it.

I worked on a few pictures from our visit to the pumpkin patch last week. I've just not been sitting at the computer a whole lot lately, so the pictures are slow-going.

I called around and made TWELVE doctor appointments this afternoon. The boys have three each (physical, eye, dental), but the remaining six appointments are for me (including a dental). I'm not at all excited about some of the issues because I'm afraid I'm facing another bladder surgery in the near future. *sigh* On the positive side, the different offices really worked to get me in quickly, and all of my appointments are within two weeks, starting this Thursday. That's some fast scheduling!

I've been having lunch each week with "The Jack Pack" at school, but tomorrow I'll be changing things up a bit. I offered to his teacher to volunteer if needed, and she's asked me to begin coming in. I chose Wednesday morning for ease in my own schedule: I'll take Jack to school, stay through the morning, have lunch with him, and then come back home. I'm sure there might be times where I'll finish a project for a bit after lunch, too. I'm excited to go, as I'll learn all his classmates' names much more quickly than I have been during lunchtime.

Jack delivered the special soccer ball cookies from the rained-out game to his teammates at their last practice tonight (the rest of the season is comprised of games only). There were more kids in attendance for a practice ever, so that's a good thing. When they returned home, there were only four extra cookies.

I think that's it. I'm kinda tired tonight, so I'm going to turn in early, I think. ZZZzzzzzz...
navygreen: (Music)
First off, my heart is swelling! Look at my sweet boy, bedecked in a "marching uniform," and ready to perform in his very first parade:

A.J. ready to march in his first parade.

Philip and I were both band geeks, and the band hall was probably my most favorite place to "hang" at school. Over the years, I taught flute lessons, and I always worked hard to stay first chair. I also twirled batons, flags, and guns in marching band, and was section leader to boot.

My school years' heart resides with the band. Marching band, specifically, trumps even the joy I had playing in Symphonic bands.

I couldn't have been more proud this evening as A.J. marched in the Homecoming parade for Minot High School downtown. We were all there, and we were supporting!

More pictures! )
navygreen: (A.J.)
The start of the Duck Banding story begins HERE, and this just the pick-up. This is a picture-heavy post, beware!

The duck banding done at J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge is a special treat for the 7th graders at Memorial Middle School. Each year, the seventh grade classes return permission forms just to be considered for the trip, but only 20 students are drawn out of all slips received. A.J. was just lucky enough to be one of those winning the experience, and he was so excited!

The other entry covers a lot of the morning, and the getting there, so I'm just going to jump right into the how-to's of banding in this post. The process was more involved than I had imagined!

After we heard the feed rockets go off, the bus crept toward the water a bit more, and then we piled out. The feed rockets are mounted on steel poles, and the end of each rocket is attached to a string on the apron of the large nets used to capture the ducks. The barley rockets shoot out, the nets sailing along on the end of them, and the ducks flock and swarm to eat, captured at once. It's really a very cool procedure.


And my favorite picture from the day:

Duck flies into the sunrise.
A duck flies into the sunlit horizon.

navygreen: (High)
Last Wednesday was a busy, busy day. A.J.'s seventh grade class had a special field trip planned to go duck-banding at dawn, but there was a catch: only 20 students' names would be drawn. On Tuesday, A.J. learned he was one of the lucky ones! I was really hopeful they would let me attend as well, wanting to have some pictures for A.J.'s school scrapbook, but the office staff couldn't grant permission. They told me to arrive ready-to-go and hope for the best.

I did just that. I got out of bed at 2:50am (I was too anxious and wasn't sleeping anyway), and then I woke A.J. at 3:45. We'd planned all of his clothes and things the night before, so he got ready for the trip, as well as packed the things for the rest of the school day afterward. We arrived at the school at 4:30am, and the bus was roaring in front of the school. I ran inside, found Mr. Walz (A.J.'s science teacher) and said, "Hey, can I please come with you guys? I'd love to take pictures." He said yes!

I moved my car to the staffing side, and we all loaded up in the bus. It was the darkest of blacks as we lumbered down the highways in extensive morning fog. We went down small roads and eventually reached J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge. It was still the color of midnight when we stepped foot off the bus for a restroom break in the Refuge offices before heading to the water's site. It was very cool and windy, but I couldn't help myself from standing and staring at the sky in awe - the stars were countless and amazing! With no lights anywhere near, it almost seemed as if more stars popped up visible the longer you gazed.

From that moment on, the kids had to be super-quiet. As we approached dawn and the water, the bus pulled to a halt, and we waited in absolute silence. We turned off our cell phones (there wasn't any service anyway!) and didn't even chance a whisper. The silence was paramount to the birds feeling safe to flock and feed once the rockets went off and the nets went out. Within half an hour, we heard the soft boom! of the feed rockets, and we saw the smoke curling against the faintly lit sky. It was time.

The nets formed an apron and captured the birds as the bus moved closer. We shuffled out of the bus and straight up to the ducks - hundreds of them. Just as the kids moved in to begin sorting the birds, I turned to catch the sunrise over the water's edge:

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge.

The kids worked for a few hours, becoming cold, muddy, and sometimes, pooped on! Every single one of them had a fantastic time, though. They were hyper and chatty the bus ride back to the school, all wishing they could come to the Refuge and do it again!

We arrived back just after 10am, in time for the kids to head to their 4th period of the school day. I raced home, gathered a box, and then headed out to Jack's school to have our traditional Wednesday lunch together. The tables seemed more crowded than usual, and I sat across from Jack and very close to a new student from Louisiana. He was engaging, and had the entire table enthralled as he told them of alligators in the marsh at his old base. :-)

After lunch, I delivered some cookies to a teacher in the school. I came home, grabbed my list and ran a few errands, and then I prepped several boxes for mailing. I went to the post office, and I made it home just a few minutes before A.J. arrived. We gabbed about the morning, and then I set to making dinner and cleaning house a bit. I worked hard the rest of the day/evening, and when I crashed into bed at 11pm, I was POOPED!

There will be more pictures soon from the actual duck-banding trip. I'm working on them right now. :-)
navygreen: (Boys: fall guys)
I'm up, and I'm baking cookies. (Naturally!)

I had only three hours of sleep last night, and it was broken sleep at that. A certain feline was causing lots of mischief. *grumpy face* I gave up at 5:30am and got up for the day. Despite that, I attended a meeting at A.J.'s school, and I still met Jack for a lunch date at his school. I had a great time with "The Jack Pack!" (a term coined by A.J. for Jack and his friends), chatting with his new classmates over turkey and gravy. His friends really seem to love him, and that makes my heart swell!

While I was at Jack's school, his old teacher flagged me down and gushed about my teacher gifts from last year. She wanted to order 30 cookies for her students for next week, so that's what I'm baking now. With all the thunderstorms, it's taking an extra day for the icing to dry and fully harden, so I'll start doing the decorating tomorrow.

Meanwhile, A.J. has politely told me that he doesn't really want me to come eat lunch with him anymore. "Mom, I think everyone would be staring at me." I understand, as I suspected middle school would be too old to continue the tradition. Still, a little piece of my heart broke knowing how grown up he really has become. *sniffle*

In addition, A.J. has a middle school dance to attend next Friday night. I offered to teach him some moves, and the look on his face was one of pure horror! I told him I was just joking. He had been worried about not knowing how to dance, but I explained to him that most school dances were really more "stand-arounds" than dances. I slipped for a moment and actually quoted, "You can dance if you want to" (It's Safety Dance!), and again he let me know his utter embarrassment. "Mom, I don't think anyone else is going to know GLEE songs!"

Oh, my funny, funny serious-yet-still-silly preteen!
navygreen: (A.J.)
In A.J.'s new science class, the students are diving right in with an insect collection. According to the lesson plan, they start collecting bugs tomorrow. A.J.'s been telling me the specifics since last Friday (only one specimen from each order, etc.), so it's at the forefront of his mind, for sure.

Last night, I was weeding the flowerbeds, and as I headed to the rock bed in the backyard, I noticed a large dragonfly lying on the concrete of the driveway. He was beautiful, and I ran inside to call the boys so they could see before he flew away. Jack was intrigued, but A.J. said, "Yeah, I saw him an hour ago when I was playing outside. He's got a broken wing, and he can't fly. See?" And he gently nudged the dragonfly. Sure enough, the poor thing barely grimaced.

I was lamenting over how sad that was, and Jack bounced back indoors. A.J. piped up, "When he dies, maybe I can put him in my bug collection!" Whoops, I hadn't thought of that! I was sure this dragonfly would make a wonderful addition, and we agreed it was a great idea.

A.J. sat down on the concrete near the insect, peering at it closely. "Aww, poor guy," he said. "He's got a little mite crawling all over his back already." I looked, and sure enough, he was correct. We talked for a little while, and then it was decided that it would be more humane to capture the dragonfly and put him to sleep, rather than allow him to be prodded by other bugs, or smashed by a neighborhood cat or dog (or person!).

Since the class was to begin collecting on Monday, A.J. didn't really know the specifics of capturing and killing the insects. However, my mom had a very extensive bug collection in college that we've heard stories of for years. So, we called Nana up, put her on speakerphone, and she walked us through the process of what to do.

I helped A.J. gather the supplies, and then we went back out to the driveway.

A.J.'s first insect for his science collection - an injured dragonfly.
A.J. and the injured dragonfly.


Tomorrow, A.J. will be taking his beautiful find to school, and he will have a head-start on his project. While he didn't enjoy the process, he's excited to be ahead and to be working towards a good grade. The entire project is due Sept. 16th, and I know he hopes to be DONE before then!
navygreen: (School)
Thursday was the first day of school for my boys, and it has already been a whirlwind since! A.J. moved to a new school this year, starting the 7th grade as an official "Middle Schooler." Changing classes for each period, lockers, electives, clubs, sports and more: he's been very excited, and Mom has been very anxious!

The obligatory "First Day" pictures:

A.J.'s ready for 7th grade.

The middle school starts on an earlier schedule, due to bus-sharing between it and the elementary schools. That meant a 7:30am showtime for A.J., and a much earlier wake-up than usual. In addition, buses only run from November-April, so all the students walk or ride bikes for the first few months of school. I woke A.J. up at 6:45, and he had time to get ready, have breakfast, and have a few pictures taken before heading to school. These first two days, I drove him (to allow time for pictures, of course!), but he'll be walking other days. He walked home both days, and it only took him about 25 minutes. Speaking of which, he also gets out much earlier, released at 2:05pm this year. It gives him a full hour of "non-Jack" time each day, to tell us about his day, to do his homework, or just to relax. I think he's really going to enjoy that.

He came home the first afternoon just BURSTING with exciting news from the day. He enjoyed all of his classes, and he felt very confident about the year. He was most excited about his science class, as they are immediately starting a bug collection project. (My thoughts? Ewwwww!) He also picked up a sports schedule and intends to join boys' swimming this fall (with his eye on boys' track this spring). I couldn't be more thrilled for him, and had to swipe a tear quickly as I hugged him when he returned home. I hope he loves this new school and school year!

Jack began the 3rd grade, and he was just as chill as always about the upcoming school year. I swear, you just can't get much easier than Jack! He was still snoozing hard at the early hour that A.J. left, and that was a slight downside for this year. It meant that I couldn't have the traditional shot of both of them together on the First Day. However, by the time Jack was grooving for school, I was editing A.J.'s pictures, and Jack was requesting certain poses and settings for himself. Heehee!

Again, more obligatory pictures:

Jack's usually my chatty one, but by the time he arrived home at 3:35pm, he just wanted to get outside and play in the neighborhood. Thus, the description of his day went like this:

Me: So, how was school today?
Jack: Great!
Me: ... So, what did you do during school?
Jack: Nothing.
Me: You did nothing at all??
Jack: Well, we did some talking and some stuff in our planners.
Me: So, you learned some of the things you'll be doing then?
Jack: Yeah... hey, can I go outside now?

Luckily, we were able to draw a few more details out of him over dinner. *wink* On Friday, the second day of school, the boys both came home bouncing about their upcoming sleepover. A boy in the neighborhood they've played with all summer had invited them for his birthday, so they were only home for a couple of hours yesterday before they headed out for the party. In fact, A.J. and I ran out in that hour before Jack got home to get Colton's gift.

For my part, the days were really, really quiet. Philip works the night shift, so he was sleeping during the days, and I just worked on a cookie order. This coming Monday, I'm not sure what I'll do to keep myself entertained!

P.S. - there's more pictures from the morning HERE!
navygreen: (Cars: life is a highway)
We've actually been back for about a week now, having arrived around 9pm on Tuesday night, the 10th. However, my parents stayed for an extra few days, and they didn't leave until Saturday after lunch. Then, I set to work reclaiming and organizing my home, as well as putting away all new trip goodies and such.

I got my first speeding ticket a few hours from home. We'd been in my parents' new SUV the entire trip, and it was the first time I was driving it. Not only that, but it was in middle-of-nowhere North Dakota, and there hadn't been a posted speed limit in a long, long time (my mom and I had been looking for one). It was a two-lane road (which I hate, as it scares me to pass), and I had been stuck behind a semi-truck for miles. I would peek to the left, then scoot back to my lane when I could see a car on the horizon. Finally - finally! - I dared to pass, and I floored it as I did. (It terrifies me to pass big trucks, but even moreso when I'm on a two-lane road. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was my very first time doing so EVER.) And, BAM! A cop sitting just at the end of the horizon clocked me going 83mph. Of course, though the speed limit most places in North Dakota is 70 or 75, in this zone it was only 65mph. As the officer approached the car, I couldn't even figure out how to roll down the window! (Remember, it wasn't my vehicle.) He was a nice guy though, and he dropped the speed to 80/65, so my fine was only $45 instead of something outrageous.

He also cautioned me that, when passing, I should never have to exceed the speed limit to safely do so. Riiiiiiight.

I received a request for impromptu family portraits for a friend here on the last day of our vacation (as we were driving home, in fact), so I squeezed that in while my parents were here. I met them at a park in town and took some lovely portraits. It was a fun evening, and I hope to get back there soon with my boys. I know they would love the place!

(To see the rest of the photos from the Mott/Vance Family set, click HERE.)

The boys start school next week on Thursday, the 26th, and two days ago we headed into town to pick up all the school supplies, new shoes, etc. Their backpacks are set and ready-to-go, and now we just wait for the teacher lists to go up and orientation night (to drop off all the supplies). A.J.'s middle school supply list had some unexpected things on it: Silly Putty, camo pants, and a black T-Shirt, to name a few. I'm curious to see how these things are used during the year.

The morning after we arrived home, I took my parents to the commissary for a quick shop of just the three nights' worth of meals while they were here. As always, they found several goodies and deals in our commissary that they stocked up on. After they left, I was set to meal-plan and create a list for the next 18 days... and I just didn't have the *oooomph*, ya know? I was dragging and procrastinating, and I jokingly wrote on Facebook that I was too exhausted to think about dinner. The next thing I knew, my neighbor across the street showed up with a hot, fresh meatloaf for our entire family! I threw together corn, side salads, and fresh strawberries, and we were set! It was very awesome and very sweet of her to do that for our family. :-)

The boys have played nonstop with their friends since arriving back home. A.J.'s closest friend is a boy entering high school this year, and the two of them cruise the neighborhood on foot, walking and talking for hours. Jack and his best bud are scooter fanatics, and they are inseparable. Currently, in fact, I can hear Jack and his friend Riley singing the Indiana Jones theme song while they build with LEGOs in my basement. Thank you, John Williams, for an endearing classic. *wink*
navygreen: (School)
The boys finished school last Thursday, May 27th. I think the entire last week (four days) were nothing but fun and games, but they had a great time. Tuesday and Wednesday were both Field Days, and then Thursday was a whirlwind of events as well.

Packaged and ready to go!
Bees and flowers!

When I set out for the school, a torrential downpour was just beginning. Despite putting my hood up, my glasses were still spotted with rain, and everything I was carrying was soaked through on top... and I parked in the first row near the school! I arrived at the school at 10:20, just a few minutes before A.J.'s 6th grade "Appetizer Social" was set to begin. They had four long tables of food spread, and I couldn't believe how much these kids could put away! A.J. had asked me to make chocolate chip cookies for the event, waiting until 9pm to do so. I'd gotten the boys off to school that morning, then hurriedly threw together a batch of cookies, baking two dozen before putting the rest of the dough in the fridge and zooming off to the school with the very-warm cookies for his class.

It was a nice, leisurely time with him and his classmates, and I enjoyed chatting with his teacher, too. A.J. delivered his teacher gifts while I had the basket of goodies there. After an hour, I left his classroom and headed towards Jack's for what was to be a "picnic lunch on blankets outside." My fleece blanket was still wet on the one side, so we folded it down and ate our sack lunches together. He and his classmates looked adorable in their tie-dyed t-shirts (they'd made them in class the Friday before), but it made Jack a bit harder to spot!

His teacher was just over-the-moon for the little gift that Jack gave both her and her classroom aide. He delivered a few others to special teachers around the school (P.E. and music), and then we settled on our blankets for a short movie in his classroom. After an hour-and-a-half, I then left his room to return the empty basket and blanket to the car. I returned and spent the next half-hour speaking with the guidance counselor about A.J.'s transition next year to middle school. It was a great way to spend the time. I purposely had not wanted to leave the school for that short time... just to fight for a parking spot when I returned at 1:30 for the awards assembly.

During the assembly, I gave my second seat to Jan, a friend and fellow graduate from our high school in West Virginia. We reminisced and planned to get together over the summer with the boys, and it was nice. Once the assembly was over, the boys returned to their classrooms for ice cream cones served by the PTA. After they were finished, they were free to leave, and we drove away about 30 minutes before the "official" end of school. And even after over four hours at the school, my hood and blanket were STILL WET!

Now it's full-on summer break, and they are living the easy life! They don't return to school until Aug. 26th. :-)

For the boys' teacher gifts, I made special sugar cookies. The boys also each picked out and wrote notes in a card, and then they presented the card and cookies together. I didn't go with the boys as they delivered extra cookie packages to the other teachers (principal, counselors, elective, etc.), but I was present when their full-time teachers received the gift, and they both LOVED them!

End-of-Year Teacher cookies.

More cookie pictures. )


May. 10th, 2010 03:59 pm
navygreen: (School)
I was so jazzed to see that the boys' yearbooks and class pictures from their old school in Nebraska arrived today! A.J. was staying after school, so I grabbed his copy while Jack grabbed his own, and we pored over them. I was thrilled to see that the yearbook coordinator used thirteen of my pictures from events over the first half of the school year. In addition, both of the boys were featured in two pictures I'd not seen previously, so they are in the yearbooks often! The classroom composite photos had been ready for a while, but the school waited to send them with the yearbooks. It was sweet to look at those friendly faces once more, and they will be treasured inside their school scrapbooks, I'm sure.

What a wonderful end to our school years in Nebraska! We were blessed with wonderful educators who loved our children so much. :-)
navygreen: (R+J: Romeo - devastated)
I was fine all week. I was fine all Friday. I was fine for most of Friday night.

And then the Allergy Monster found me. :-/

I had taken the boys to their school's carnival on Friday evening. It was from 5-8pm, and we were there right on the dot. We ate pizza, hot dogs, and nachos, and then we got underway with all the games. Their games were different and so creative! Our old school always held carnivals in the fall, so it was a nice twist of fate for the new school to have theirs in the spring - the boys got two carnivals out of this whole moving deal this year!

At about 7:15, we'd done everything there was to do. Well, almost everything, that is. There was one hallway with three games left on it, but a little boy threw up in the middle of the hallway, and I made the executive decision that we were not venturing further past the smell and ick on the floor. We returned to the entrance of the school to do the very last item: a giant bounce house.

When we walked back outside, we noticed that the sky had turned a dark grey over the past couple hours (it had been clear and bright when we'd entered the school). The boys got in line, and I returned my camera to my car, having parked right near the bounce house. When I joined them in line, it was like someone flicked a giant switch: an intense breeze began blowing, and the air starting whoooooooo-irrrrrring loudly. I turned to the far end of the parking lot to see - literally - a wall of sand from the playgrounds lift from the ground and began barreling our direction, spiraling and turning end over end. I yelled to the boys to, "Face the house, and cover your eyes!" We felt the sandy wind hit our backs and necks, and for the next few moments, we marveled at how quickly the storm had come.

The crowd jumped to action. The bounce house was immediately shut down in the fierce gales, and I directed the boys to the car. Jack wanted to go back inside the school, but with only twenty minutes left of the carnival, plus having already done everything else, I explained that we were trying to beat the impending storm. "It wouldn't be fun to run through rain and lightning to the car later, would it?" We looked straight down at our feet, shielding our eyes from the dirt as we headed to the car. (It never did actually rain, by the way.)

Once home, we bathed and relaxed until bedtime. Once the boys were safely tucked in, I plopped down on the couch to begin labeling photos. Within moments, my nose began feeling... drippy. I added a box of tissues to my couch party and continued on. In another hour's time, I realized I'd been through a substantial number of tissues and that I was currently breathing through my mouth. A bit later, I was also using tissues for my leaky, watery eyes. By the time I went to bed, I was testing my voice out over the running of the bathroom water.


It's very weird to have a such a vividly clear mental picture of "the allergies attacking me." And, of course, I don't know if I might've developed the symptoms later that night anyhow. Regardless, I will forever blame this allergy attack on the rolling debris I saw lift to life and come straight for us.

It should also be noted that A.J. woke up in the same state I did the very next morning: sore, red throat, terrible voice, leaky eyes, and snotting through innumerable tissues. In years past, we've been the only ones to suffer from seasonal allergies in our family, so this only furthers my theory. I think the Allergy Monster didn't feel like waiting in line for the bounce house. *wink*
navygreen: (Jack: soccer)
I made Alfredo Chicken Primavera tonight, but I didn't take any pictures of it. This is an older recipe from my Recipe Basket™, and I've really only been documenting the newer stuff. As if it didn't have enough veggies already (carrots, red peppers, broccoli), I still served it up with green beans. I didn't, however, get my hind end in gear early enough to pull off the Fudge Berry Pie that was to be dessert. It will have to be some other day.

Oh my, but it feels busy around here lately. We got the call late last week of Jack's assignment to the orange team for spring soccer season, and it's been go-go-go ever since. The 'Orange Suns' had a Meet-and-Greet event with their coach on Sunday evening. We were already in town, buying more landscaping supplies, so we hung out for an extra 45 minutes instead of driving home to the base, and then all the way back out to town again.

Last night (Monday), we had a Jamboree to attend for the entire soccer association. We went extra-early, having been warned that there were 502 registered players this season. Wow, but it was crowded! It was well-organized, and the soccer club took a giant picture of all the players together in their team shirts. Then they ran skills and drills for the next couple hours. We had arrived at 4:50 to secure parking (the event didn't start until 6pm, but Jack's coach had all the players arriving at 5:45 to group together), so we'd not eaten dinner first. I brought water bottles for each of us, and I was so glad! To run many of the drills, parents were needed, and I was out there tossing and kicking soccer balls around for a few hours. A.J. stood close by and tinkered with my camera (I'll have to check out what he shot later on - maybe he got some great pics!).

Jack has practice on Monday nights for the next month, as well as games every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. His first game is two days from now, and the team hasn't practiced yet. In fact, they have TWO games before the first practice (Thursday and Saturday). I've never heard of such a thing, but he's excited about it nonetheless.

Also this Thursday, Jack chose Earth Day to have his birthday celebration at school. See, in Nebraska, the school year started after his birthday (August 9th). We were already here in North Dakota by his half-birthday (February 9th), but the teacher made the records at the beginning of the school year, and she didn't even think about it. During parent-teacher conferences last month, she told him to pick a day to celebrate and let her know. Now, in their old school, birthdays weren't a big deal - students weren't allowed to bring in treats or snacks at all. At their new school, there are no rules. As such, Jack is very excited for Thursday!

I wish I'd thought to take 'before' pictures of the yard, but alas. This house had been vacant for at least a couple years before we moved in, so the yard is completely bare. There's weeds, but that's about it. Philip and I built retaining walls for three, large raised flowerbeds using these pavers, and then we've been lining around our bushes/trees in the backyard with black edging, filling it with white rock. We also yanked up the ugly concrete things under the eave spouts, replacing them with discreet, bendable hoses. Now that we have the flowerbeds established, we can focus on the grass repair.

I've also been editing up a storm! At some point in the future, I'll have a "Marathon Posting Day," using so many of my pictures. Man, am I ever behind on that! However, it is so rewarding each night to clean up and file away more folders of pictures onto the harddrive. I swear, there's hardly anything on this computer since I upped to Windows 7, and it feels so nice.

I'm off to be a kitchen tornado for a few hours tonight. I'm prepping and freezing a few meals, hoping it will help with the soccer-induced chaos of the next month!
navygreen: (Jack: swimming)
I'm probably going to be Posty McPosterson for a bit, catching up on old, old photos and things. Bear with me, or just scroll on past. *wink*

At the end of the second week, our little school celebrated "Back-to-School" with a big shindig at our local, public Lied Activity Center. We'd been to them in the past, but we were forced to join this one an hour after it had already started (soccer practice? soccer pictures? I'm not entirely sure now, but I remember racing to get there.) We had some quick ice cream sundaes before the tables closed up, and the boys both chose to swim in the remaining hour of the night. (Last year, we didn't realize swimming would be an option, so we did every other activity available in the complex. This year, we came late... but prepared!)

AJ and Adonis at the Lied Center pool. Gabe and Jack. Jack, Gabe, and Hunter.

The boys didn't yet know about the orders to Minot AFB, but of course, we did. As such, I remember this night to be a little bittersweet: watching them interact with friends they'd known for years. Happy for the close relationships, but aching over the goodbyes in their futures. :-/
navygreen: (School)
I called up the boys' old school in Nebraska this afternoon for a few things. We'd ordered and paid for classroom pictures back in the fall, and at the time we moved, the composites were not yet created or printed. I wanted to make sure that we were still on tap to get them, and also to give the school our new address.

In addition, I wanted to make sure that we didn't miss out on these yearbooks. Especially for A.J., as these have been his classmates since kindergarten, and I really wanted him to have this special last memento. I ordered both of them, and the check then went out in today's mail. I spoke with the PTA gal in charge of the yearbooks, and she's excited about the pictures I'm emailing her. I had lots of pictures from many events this past fall: chaperoning the 2nd grade zoo trip, the Activity Center Family Night, the fall carnival, and the Halloween parties. I'm happy she can use so many in the yearbook. :-)

We miss the old school (it was our "home" six and a half school years!), but there are bright, wonderful things going on at the boys' new school, too. Their new elementary plans many more family activities - there's constantly something going on. This past Saturday, we woke early and all attended a Pancake Breakfast to kick-off the book fair and conference week. The boys both chose M&M pancakes, but Philip and I had plain ones. (M&Ms in maple syrup?!) The boys each picked out four books from the fair, and I flipped through several cookbooks, tempted.

They both had their conferences yesterday afternoon, and the news was just wonderful. You really just can't ever get tired of hearing teachers tell you your children are so incredibly bright, you know? Jack's teacher has run out of reading curriculum for him in the classroom, and she was recommending extra books and texts that are located in A.J.'s 6th grade classroom. (When we went to A.J.'s room for the second conference, Jack grabbed a recommended book from the shelf and sat quietly reading it at an empty desk. He almost made it through Chapter Two!) He's really enjoying cursive writing, and his teacher seemed amazed that his cursive handwriting is better than his left-handed printing. He's in the advanced reading club for the library, as well as the higher math club at the end of each school day.

A.J. is thriving as well. With the new methods of teaching and extensive testing, his teacher was amazed that he absorbs so much information without ever taking notes. Sometimes she doubts whether he's really paying attention, but she said he can always, always answer the question or recall what she has just said - even if his nose had been in a book just two seconds before. He's getting better about keeping his desk more organized (in his years of messy desks, I've never been able to understand how he can stand it. Now, however, he's straightening up, and it's great preparation for middle school next year when he changes classes every period.) His test scores are good, and he was very proud of his two most recent book reports (which were on display in the classroom).

We couldn't have been more proud! :-)

Also, last Friday, the 2nd grade classes invited parents to attend a small music concert highlighting many of the concepts and techniques they've learned. It was a lot of fun, and Jack was again one of the tallest students. (He's always on the back bleachers, I swear!)

A few videos from the concert. )

Also, I'm surrounded by school pictures. Their last school took them each year in the fall, and then they created a composite class picture for each room. We ordered those, but I hadn't mailed them out yet. (I had intended to include them with our change-of-address and holiday newsletter mailings, but I never wrote those items.) This new school did the same in the fall, but they also took spring pictures just last week, as well as an actual classroom photo (the kids standing next to one another), and we received those pictures at their conferences. Now, we hadn't realized that they would take individual pictures again (the school only sent home forms about the class photo), so we took the boys for updated professional pictures at the mall. Now I have ALL of these photos to mail out at the same time - eeep!


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