Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Live posting from Virginia Beach...

Our lovely lady Irene is supposed to be here sometime in the next 2 hours.  So far things have been relatively quiet, though ti has been raining for more than 24 hours. 

Some scenes from our neck of the woods....



video

More later, after we survive Our Lady Irene!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Operation Purple Camp

Because my husband is deployed this year, my children had the opportunity to attend a camp for military children, put on by the National Military Family Association. In Virginia, this occurred at the beautiful, if a bit far-removed-from-us, Camp Horizons, located in Harrisonburg, VA.  Four of our children were there for this past week, and THOROUGHLY enjoyed themselves!  Without further ado, here are pictures from camp, brought to you by Heather, our 13-year-old. 

Heather with the girls from her cabin.

The JMU ROTC brought weapons for the kids to see.

Heather and Leah.  SO glad they were able to be there together!

Justin.

Katherine with a counselor and a friend.

Justin with one of his counselors.

Katherine with one of the counselors from her cabin.

Scenes from hiking.




Katherine trying her hand at archery.

Katherine on the service project, picking squash.

There was dancing on the basketball court. 

I think all four of my kids who were able to go had a blast.  They made new friends, and experienced new things, and learned more about how strong they were. 

I am very grateful that they had the opportunity to attend Operation Purple Camp this year!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where I prove that I *can* be organized (pictoral proof for my husband, who doesn't believe me)

I took one of my "free" days this week, while four of the kids were at Operation Purple camp (post to come later, with pictures...), to lay the foundation for just a bit more organization in my life.  Which revolved around school supplies, and the intense need for a place to store and organize the ever-growing need for supplies. 





So, I compiled my list...this is for *4* children.  The four youngest...

And I went shopping (of which there are no pictures...because I was alone!!)












And I bought out the store.  Maybe.
You can see (if you look carefully) that this receipt goes on *forever*.







And I brought the lovely supplies home, and plopped them on the kitchen table so as to get some picture of just how much crap was involved in my children's "free" education.  For which I am not finished purchasing supplies.  And have spent an insane amount of money on...and not bought one single stitch of clothing. 












THEN, I actually ORGANIZED them, in NEAT piles, in the closet...ready for use. 



























$175.00 later, and we are about half-way to being done with the school supply shopping for this year. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exhaustion. (AKA, the honest truth about this deployment)

I'm exhausted. 

I think that deployments do this to us. 

Many of us tend to take on the "I'm strong, and I am going to *beat* this deployment into submission" line. 

Somewhere down the line, some later than others, we get to the point where we just can't do it any more. 

We are physically exhausted trying to keep up with eleventy-dozen activities that the kids are in, and work, and keeping the house spotless, and the lawn mowed, and the pets to the vets, and the kids to the doctors...never mind back-to-school shopping. 

Oh, and God-forbid we miss a phone call or Skype date. 

So we don't sleep...because the kids are up early, and the husband is in a totally different time zone that sleeps when I'm awake, and so when I need to go to bed, he's available to talk, or play Scrabble, or fuss at me for not getting to the bank early enough....or (you'll love this!)...for not sleeping enough!

Then our bodies just can't handle the stress any more, because stress is E.X.H.A.U.S.T.I.N.G. 

And let's face it, having our best friend in that other place, the one that might or might not be dangerous, but he's not HERE to help, to give us a break from the kids, to take over the car maintenance, and get someone to take care of the huge branch that just missed the house when it broke, or just to have his shoulder to cry one...yeah, all of that...it's stressful. 

So we're already physically exhausted because we're trying to DO it all, by ourselves. 

And we're mentally exhausted, trying to cover all of the bases with the kids (they're KIDS, they don't understand), and the parents/inlaws (who may or may not understand, but generally aren't close-by to help out with the day-to-day stuff), and the schools, and the DMV, and the bill collectors, and the neighbors, and...and...and you get the picture.

You get the picture.  We're trying to hold the world together with spit and Duct tape. 

Meanwhile, we are falling apart. 

How do we prevent this falling-apart from happening? 

We know that our friends *promised* to help out. 
Yeah, we know you're busy, too. 
Meanwhile, I just need someone - ANYONE - to take my daughter driving to get her behind-the-wheel hours in.
Oh, mowing the lawn.  I know my teenager is supposed to do it, and he tries, but he doesn't know how to fix the weedeater...and he's in band camp...
Oh, and that branch?  The big pieces that got cut out of the tree are still sitting back there waiting to be cut into usable logs. 

We've all heard the stories - so heartwarming - of neighbors pitching in to help when the husband is deployed. 
We say we want to support our troops. 
But where the rubber meets the road...yeah, maybe there is a reason that the suicide rate for the families at home is on the rise.  Maybe there is a reason that more and more spouses are on medications to help them deal with life...

Most days are good. 
Most days I *can* get things done. 
My house is presentable...not spotless...but then, there ARE 7 of us living here...I'm happy with presentable.
Everyone gets fed.
Everyone has a roof over their heads.
The homework gets done. 
The laundry gets washed, and folded, and put away. 

There's just this list...the one that is going to have to wait, because I am only one person, and can NOT fill the shoes of my husband while he is gone.  Those are really big shoes...and I eagerly anticipate his being here to fill them again.

Meanwhile, life is going to get quite a bit crazy again here very shortly. 
School starts in 20 days for the kids.
Back-to-school shopping still needs to happen.
School starts for ME in less than a week. 
I need to shop for THAT, too. 
I DO work from home...that still needs to happen. 
I have two kids in band camp this week...backing-and-forthing....
I have to drive up to pick up the other four from Operation Purple camp this weekend. 
Grocery shopping.
Doctor's appointments. 
Getting yet another line added to the cell phone account.

Somehow people keep asking me to be involved in things. 
Really good things 
Band boosters.
PTAs.
This, that, and the other thing at the *5* schools the kids will be in this year.

I can't. 
I am only one.
And somewhere in this mess that is my life, I HAVE TO take care of ME. 

Which starts with SLEEP...

...working to beat back the exhaustion that threatens to destroy me....
Goodnight all!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Memories (Installment #30)

A LOT of time has passed since I last wrote up my memories posts, so I thought I needed to add some more.  I really am glad I am doing this...especially before I start losing the memories.  It really amazes me that my children actually enjoy reading what I have written up so far!

My last post in the series covered Katherine's birth...she is now a brilliant, cute 7-year-old, getting ready to go into 2nd grade.  We've covered a lot of ground, emotionally, relationally, and geographically, in the intervening years.  Time for me to do some catching-up!!

***************

A few days after getting home from the hospital we went back into town for Katherine's first doctor's visit, and a subsequent visit to the labs at the hospital where it was determined that she was jaundiced, and were supplied with a "billi-blanket" - a handy wrap for the baby to get much-needed UV rays to assist in the breakdown of dead blood cells.  We had dealt with jaundice with previous children, but never to this extent.  After a few days of this, and her levels not going down as fast as needed, it was determined that it would be best for her to be in the hospital under super-duper lights, and she and I packed up and went back to the hospital, where we stayed for another four or five days.  FINALLY, we were able to go home!

Soon after Katherine was born, our landlady decided to up our rent from the already-steep (for that area)  $900/month, and there was no way we were going to be able to pay that, since our housing allowance for the area had only just been raised to a lofty $780/month. 

An evening sunset view from our new front porch.


SNOW! From our porch.
We started looking around for another place, or rather - Jason started looking.  I was a bit busy with homeschooling, packing, and a newborn baby.  He was able to find a place that was going to be "cozy", but closer in price to our housing allowance, and he arranged for some guys from work to help us move...the first of February we moved into our "house" ...which was actually a mobile home placed on a foundation with a skirt under it.  The landlord was the head veterinarian for the state of Montana, and it really seemed like an ideal situation.  We were on 2 acres of land, in the middle of a field a few miles outside of Helena, but still in the valley.  We had well water, and gas heat - which was HUGE, because it was MUCH cheaper to heat the place than was the last place with its electric baseboard heaters! 

This was February, 2004.  By August it was determined that there was no way we were going to stay afloat, even with the reduced electricity and rent, without more income.  *sigh*  I had to go back to work.  Katherine was 8 months old when I started working full-time as an overnight cashier at Wal-mart.  I was also still homeschooling.  Yeah, I don't know how I managed to stay sane doing that, even for a short period, but the following year Frances, Jon, Heather, and Justin started school with everyone else, Frances going into 6th grade, Jon into 3rd, Heather into 2nd, and Justin into kindergarten.

*edited to reflect the correct years they were in school.  You'd think I'd remember....

Friday, August 5, 2011

The rest of July...

Since Jason left after his R&R, July both flew and dragged by.  


There were chess games...







...played between the dog and the TOP dog (also known as the cat!)...








There was fun with flashlights...AKA how we entertain ourselves when the power is out.






There were visits with friends...







...and haircuts for the little dog...







...who apparently thinks he's human...







 ...or maybe he thinks he's a motorcycle mascot?

And then there was sunburn...
















...and book buying...







...and cuteness in the form of GlamorGirl with her doggy-friend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Very Frustrated

Something is going on with Blogger...my "memories" post links are not working, it looks like installment #1 is missing, and part of #2 is not there.  Sheesh....back to the drawing board. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Super- Excited!!

I have some breaking news...only we're not going to break it yet...waiting on more pieces to fall into place.  Just some hints...the news involves several things I like...reading, giva-aways, and travel.

How fun is that?!?!  Can't wait!!!  WOO HOO!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

We're having SO much fun!!! (REALLY, we ARE!)

Life is hectic.  Always.
We have too much on our plates - nothing new.
The kids are involved in a lot.
Dad isn't home...
...so mom gets to play several roles at once...
...not news.

Things are getting ready to get a LOT busier. 
Today was Justin's school picnic for the new middle school he'll be attending in the fall.
It was HOT.
Four of the kids went with me, and we were all miserable.
Justin got to meet a bunch of kids that he will be starting school with in 35 days.

This next weekend involves back-to-school shopping
(along with the whole rest of the state, since it is tax-free weekend).
I hate Hate HATE shopping...
...especially when there are thousands of other people bent on doing the same thing.
Should be fun.

Next week sees the beginning of band camp.
For two kids.
At two different high schools.
Competing high schools.
Should be a blast...that lasts for 2 whole weeks.

Then, during the second week of the above band camps,
the other four kids will be at Operation Purple camp.
All week.
They should have a BLAST!!
(and mom's a little jealous!)

THEN, after driving back up to pick kids up from camp,
MY classes start the following Tuesday.
I am SO looking forward to that. 
It probably won't be a ton of fun,
but I AM looking forward to getting back into the books.

Finally, two weeks later, my kids head back to school. 

Yes, we are having fun...
...we are enjoying the last 35 days until school starts.
Kids are swimming.
Mom is working.
Kids are spending time with friends.
Mom is cleaning.
Kids are watching TV and sleeping in.
Mom is making shopping lists.
...and playing computer games...
...and sleeping later than I'll be able to soon...
...and spending time playing virtual Scrabble games with dad....
...and having lunch with friends...
...and blogging.