Highlights of the past few days:
The Southwest Airlines
stewardess flight attendant who improvised (or perhaps it was scripted) the safety lecture: "If you are seated with a child or with someone who acts like a child...."
Same flight attendant advising the group of pharmacy students from University of Nebraska Medical Center on the proper way to imbibe while in Las Vegas: "One beer, one water, no shots."
Same flight attendant instructing passengers of the seatbelt inspection: "Our attendants will be coming around to make sure your belts match your shoes." (One wonders if this woman used to do standup or aspires to it.)
Seeing the beautiful green hills of Solano and Napa counties.
Dinner at Merchant and Main with Brian's old friend and soon-to-be boss.
Dinner with Thumper and her hubby.
Touring the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA.
Happening to meet KLOVE radio personalities John and Sherry Rivers at said tour. (We did not take their picture.)
But the best of all: coming home to our children.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Highlights of the past few days:
Thursday, April 28, 2005
I'm blogging from the Travis AFB "Guest Business Center." We found the house for us... We looked at it the first day we arrived (Tuesday). Nothing else we saw came close to it in terms of size, condition, or neighborhood. The only possible downside to this house is that it is not near the base. So the drive home could potentially take a while. Hey, it's California. What do you expect??
There are pictures of the house here. The kids will each have his/her own room. The yard/patio are AWESOME. And Brian won't have to do a lick of yard work; the owners will keep it up. Can I hear a hallelujah??
Today we are going to brave the rain that started last night and drive over to Napa. Then we are doing dinner tonight with Brian's friend-and-future-boss and her husband. We are going to try to meet up with Thumper and her hubby tomorrow night.
There are others waiting in line to use the PCs here, so I've gotta bug out. Hopefully I can fill you in on more later!
Update, 3:30 p.m.: The trip to Napa was very relaxing (at least for me... I didn't have to drive!!). The weather cleared before we arrived and it was just perfect for strolling the streets of historic downtown Napa. It will be a short trip there from the new house. There is a gorgeous Target there (at least it's gorgeous on the outside; I didn't go in.); it shouldn't take us more than 10-15 minutes in normal traffic to get there. There are a Home Depot, Office Depot, and Raley's grocery store all in that same shopping center. 20 minutes or so in the opposite direction is Six Flags Marine World. Not bad, huh?
Posted by Karen Koonce at 8:03 AM
Monday, April 25, 2005
Apologies to Peter, Paul, and Mary... Brian and I fly out in about 8 hours to hunt for a rental home in California. The kids are all set up with their "foster families" for the week. The 3 younger kids are with our friends Jeff and Jennifer and their 2 sons. When we last checked in on them, they were busy playing. This is the first time the 2 youngest have slept away from us, so it is slightly anxiety-producing for me. Emily is staying with Jennifer's parents (Dean and Kathy... yes, the Kathy who makes quiches and helps me rearrange furniture and books). Emily's stay will in all likelihood be akin to a stay at a private B&B. She may not want to come home.
We have packed about all we can tonight. All that is left are the things we need to use to get ready in the morning. We'll probably have to get up around 3:45-4 in order to be at the airport by 5:15 for our 6:55 flight.
I don't know if we'll have internet access in CA. If so, I will try to post something out there. Otherwise, I will write when we get back Saturday night.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 10:49 PM
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Halle and Noah each brought home a 3rd place trophy from the tournament today. I was very proud of them. Noah had a major case of nerves and almost backed out; that makes his prize all the sweeter. I think they both did great, especially considering it is the first tournament they have ever attended, much less competed at. Noah wants to go to another tournament next weekend... it's about 3 hours away from here. We'll still be in CA, so if he goes, he will go with some friends of ours (Brian's boss and his son, who is a blue belt... just 3 steps from his black belt).
Posted by Karen Koonce at 8:57 PM
Found this fun "test" via BusyMom. Apparently my pig tells us that: 1) I am a realist; 2) I believe in tradition, am friendly, and remember dates (birthdays, etc.); 3) I am analytical, cautious, and distrustful; 4) I am secure, stubborn, and stick to my ideals; and 5) I am a good listener. Oh, and apparently the length of my pig's tail says "More is better!" in regards to my sex life. Go figure.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 5:56 AM
Friday, April 22, 2005
Accomplishments so far today:
1. Bathed 2 children
2. Folded and put away 2 baskets of laundry
3. Took my shower
4. Baked 3 1/2 dozen cookies
5. Downloaded 3 new tunes into my ITunes library
One load of laundry is still left to dry and I haven't dried my hair yet. Hubby and I have an afternoon appointment, then tonight we are meeting with friends for a game night (that's what the cookies are for). To say I'm looking forward to tonight doesn't convey my feelings properly. I have so much fun with these guys and we don't have a lot of time left together, so I am going to cherish every minute.
Tomorrow, Halle and Noah are participating in a taekwondo tournament hosted by our taekwondo school. This will be their first tournament and they are mostly doing it for the experience. It should be a fun time, though.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 11:39 AM
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Thanks for all the cyberhugs and good thoughts from my last post. I'll try to limit those kind of posts ... I'm really not a whiner.
Sitting here listening to my ITunes library; earlier I had it turned up while I folded and put away 2 baskets of laundry. I love it when I feel productive. I guess I've earned some time to sit and write now.
Book recommendations: Just recently finished rereading In Search of the Source. This is a great first-person account of translating the Bible into another language. The author and his wife went to Papua New Guinea to live among the Folopa people in order to learn the language and translate it into their dialect. Just reading it made me see familiar Bible passages in a new light.
I just started rereading Bruchko, another missionary account. This one is about a man (Bruce Olson) who went to South America without monetary support and wound up living (via capture) with the Motilone Indians. His descriptions of his experiences are riveting. And like the author of In Search of the Source, he has to discover a way to explain God in ways these people will understand.
Today is my ladies' study/prayer group... heading off to that now.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 11:42 AM
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I'm finding it hard to sit and write these days. I think I'm in a funk because of the upcoming move. We have 6 weeks left. There are certain people and things I cannot think about right now without starting to cry. Example: On Sunday evening, our LTC group was at the building putting away and organizing all the puppets, props, etc. from our recent performances. It was a fun time of chatting, hauling boxes, props, etc. I was walking down the hall singing "Sanctuary" and as I passed one of the guys, he began harmonizing with me. That totally set me off. I had to run to the bathroom before I lost it. I guess I should explain that this fella is our worship leader and he and I share a love of singing. He had just been telling me earlier that morning that he was going to miss my alto voice... and that the last song of worship that day ("There's a Stirring") would have really whomped (my word) if I hadn't been singing. When I think of starting all over again some place new... I ache. Sheesh, I'm blubbering now. Imagine what it's like if I think too much about my best friend here.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 7:30 AM
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Well, we didn't get the house I mentioned. The owners had a lot of response to their rental ad and decided to give it to a family with no dog. :o( So the search is still on. We did talk to someone about another house that sounds very nice. You can see the floor plan and elevations here. The house has the extra 2 bedrooms (total of 5) and the expanded garage. The downside to this house is that it's 20 miles from the base and could mean an hour commute .... It's also a little bit more a month. We'll look at it when we fly out to CA next Tuesday. Maybe some other homes will come available between now and then as well.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 2:56 PM
Friday, April 15, 2005
It's official. I'm getting old. I used to love merry-go-rounds. You know, the ones in the park where someone else makes you spin around and around? We went to the park after dinner last night and I got on with the 3 youngest kids while Brian and Emily spun us around. It was fun... for a while. Then I really started feeling it. Maybe it isn't a good idea to get on one of those things 30 minutes after finishing a steak at Outback. I didn't get sick, but I sure felt it for the rest of the night. I came home and spent the next few hours in bed. Man, getting older whomps.
We got a tip on a house to rent out in CA. It sounds really nice and is a good size and in a good community. With the way the other houses out there are beginning to get rented out (we are hitting prime moving season in the military) we may need to take this one based on pictures and recommendations of friends, without getting to see it firsthand (at least until we get out there on the 26th). Just waiting to hear back from the owners about our application. If we get the go-ahead on the house, I'll probably post pictures. Thumper and her hubby drove over and took a look for us and snapped several pictures.
Brian finally got our taxes done last night. Didn't take too long (thank you, Turbotax!), and we came out owing less than we'd originally estimated. That's a blessing, considering we are paying more out of pocket for this rental right now, and that we might be paying rent on a house we aren't even in next month! I love how God drops things into place sometimes.
Plans for today..... cleaning up around here, laundry, and a haircut! (My bangs are doing that sheepdog thing and driving me batty.)
Posted by Karen Koonce at 7:25 AM
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Boys... you never know what they will do. Consider these examples:
4-year-old Joel tells us the other night as we were driving to church: "The devil lives underground." Then he proceeds to inform us all of our roles in his scheme to take out the devil. We were all going to take shovels and dig way down deep until we reached him. Then Noah would hit the devil with a shovel. My job was to "cannonball" him and then "toot in his face." Emily would skewer his eyes with a knife. We passed on this story to friends over dinner at Cheeburger Cheeburger, and laughed till our eyes watered. Of course, part of that was due to our rewriting of the old VBS favorite, "Roll the Gospel Chariot Along." Our new verse sings: "And if the devil doesn't like it, we will toot in his face (insert flatulent sound)." Aren't we mature? I guess one is never really too old for bathroom humor.
Then yesterday, 9-year-old Noah asked me to stop at the nearby gas/convenience store on our way home from some errands. He had money burning a hole in his pocket and had seen something there he wanted to buy. I asked him what it was and he said "handcuffs," only $3.99. OK, toy handcuffs... I can handle that. And I was pretty sure he had cleared this with his dad already. (He had.) So I pulled up to the entrance of the store and let him run in (I could see him at all times). He was back in 2 minutes. He pulled the handcuffs out of his bag... they were covered in neon orange fun fur! I just about died. Turns out Brian hadn't actually seen the handcuffs. I can only imagine what the clerk was thinking. Noah did say she asked him what he was going to do with them. He has since removed all traces of fur from them and they look perfectly respectable. Of course, I can't help but wonder what else was displayed there, but don't know if I should go look or not. Mortification. But I suppose that's what kids are for sometimes.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 10:42 PM
Monday, April 11, 2005
Here I sit in our temporary quarters.... the hum of traffic outside my window, children sleeping in their new bedrooms (except for Noah.. he chose the couch). Maybe this place isn't going to be as bad as I imagined in my head. Granted, I haven't hauled in a load of groceries yet (we're on the 2nd floor), but I think this will be a growing experience. Even the dog is adjusting well to the loss of his back yard.
Saturday went awesomely well. We had 8 guys show up between 8 and 8:30 a.m. to help my husband get our playset disassembled and relocated to the church playground. They had the whole thing deconstructed in about an hour and a half. One of Brian's coworker's husband brought his racecar trailer with him and they were able to load the entire thing in it to transport it to its new home. They took a short break to indulge in some of Kathy's yummy quiche (yes, real men do eat quiche!) and then headed out for the job of reconstruction. They finished that job up shortly after 1:30. Let me astound you even more with the fact that these men (with the exception of one high school male) were between the ages of 35-70.... the oldest 3 represented each of the age decades between 50 and 70.
The guys weren't the only ones breaking a sweat. I had the help of 3 of their wives, loading vans and SUVs with suitcases, laundry baskets full of frozen food, boxes of canned goods, a stereo, hanging clothes... And then they hauled it up the stairs to the apartment and helped me put it away. We finished up our job around the same time the men were finishing theirs. Brian and I still had a few more things to bring over later, but we women got the bulk of it done. Aren't good friends just amazing?
Brian is at the old place now, waiting for the packers to show up and begin boxing our remaining possessions. They'll have to wait until June to see their new home.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 7:46 AM
Friday, April 08, 2005
Just got back from Halle's belt test. She passed on to the next level of Tiny Tigers (as if there was any doubt!). It was fun to watch her, especially when she got to throw a 12yo over her shoulder (her instructor's son, a newly-belted 1st degree black belt). She did a great job, and answered up well when asked general knowledge questions (How many stripes on the American flag? How many stars?) and the form-specific questions (What is the name of your form? What is its meaning?). She is now the proud owner of an orange belt and is a 3rd level Tiny Tiger.
Tomorrow we have a work party coming at 8 in the morning to help get the playset taken down and moved to the church building. I had a phone message when we got back from belt testing from my friend Kathy (yes, the same Kathy who took my kids to the zoo and helped put the house back together after the carpet was laid). She is bringing FOOD with her in the morning... coffeecakes and quiches... and told me not to make breakfast. She is just too much. (Should I tell her I never make breakfast???) Anyhow, while the men are doing their thing outside, she and I will be working on getting our clothes, food, and other necessities over to the new place. Thankfully it is less than 5 miles from here.
Oh, and we ARE taking the computer with us and will have internet access.... Now I can
feed my addiction keep from disappointing the millions faithful few who read my ramblings.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 8:01 PM
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Ever feel like you are always in the middle??? It's an awkward place to be, in between 2 people or groups who just don't jive with each other.... I find myself working feverishly to convince one "side" of the wonderful qualities of the other, without negating any of their objections (unless I have a concrete way to rebut them). I don't know what it is in me that invites some friends to unload their negative thoughts about others to me.... especially when those negative thoughts are about people near and dear to me. No one likes to hear unpleasant or unflattering things about someone who is on her A-list.
I found myself in this situation today. I think I handled it OK. I wound up going back to a friend and encouraging her to rethink her attitude. It wasn't easy... I had to make myself somewhat vulnerable to do it. But I think we were both better off for it.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 9:32 PM
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Here's a fun little game I got from Donna. She asked me 5 questions, which I am answering below. I will compose personalized questions for the first 4 people to comment and agree to be interviewed.
1. What is the most difficult part of life in the military and moving frequently?
Emotionally, it is the whole starting over thing, especially finding a new church family. Then it is getting to know the new area and find our way around... making it "home."
2. What made you decide to home-school your children? What would you say are the positives and negatives of home-schooling?
Part of it is that as a military family, we can provide some kind of continuity for the kids; no pulling them out of schools in the middle of the school year, or difficulties because of differences in what is being taught from one place to another. Another reason is to protect our children from being introduced to some topics/agendas they are not ready for (i.e. Heather Has Two Mommies). We also feel homeschooling is a good way to give our kids a more individualized education.... letting them learn at a pace that is comfortable for them, neither being rushed when they need more time, nor being held back when they are ready to move on.
Positives: **Lots of time together helps me learn to know my kids. **We can take family vacations whenever our schedule allows, not only at school breaks; this means we can often take advantage of less-crowded times at popular vacation spots. **Greater control over other relationships in our children's lives... avoidance of negative influences. **Flexibility in scheduling allows us to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, to travel, or take a day off. **Being able to spend time focusing on character and spiritual training.
Negatives: **Sometimes we take advantage of said flexibility too often! Not always disciplined enough to make sure we start/finish our work. **Depending on where we live, reporting requirements are sometimes tedious. **Not always easy to find other homeschoolers to hang out with.
3. You mentioned your prayer group was studying the book Cultivating Contentment. Has this been a good study? Would you say your contentment levels have increased?
This was the book our ladies' class was studying on Wednesday evenings. It was an OK study. Not an extremely in-depth one... fairly light. I do think it gave me some things to think about and work toward. And I do think I am closer to being able to join Paul in saying, "I have learned the secret of being content..."
4. You mentioned that you do not have cable TV. Do you find that you rent more movies? Is this a way to have quality family time?
We have a Blockbuster Online subscription that we use. I don't think rent more movies now than we did when we had cable, though. I try to make tv/movie time a family activity, but my oldest often grabs the movies and watches them first before the rest of us have time. I'm not sure watching movies is a great family activity anyway... it's so passive and doesn't encourage conversation and interaction between everyone.
5. You have gone through quite a bit of remodeling/updating to sell your house. What advice would you give someone who is contemplating selling their house?
Check your paint and carpet. Those are the two easiest things to fix that will make the biggest impression on people as they walk through. Declutter.... box stuff and put it in the attic or in storage. Keep the kitchen clean. (Easier said than done!!!)
Posted by Karen Koonce at 5:13 PM
Monday, April 04, 2005
Now that I feel like I have more than 2 seconds to sit and write, I'll get down to giving y'all my opinion on Miss Congeniality 2. Simply put, I liked it. It was funny; it had references to the first movie, but you didn't have to see the first to enjoy this one. I don't remember a load of foul language (Screen It! labels it as "mild." I'd agree with that; "hell" and "d**n" were the worst words used, and even then, not in large quantities.). Bullock's character is still clutzy and lovable, and Regina King is great as her antagonistic partner/bodyguard. Deidrich Bader was a riot as an effeminate gay guy... not too over the top, but he had great lines. If you liked the first one, chances are you'll like this one too.
I forgot to mention that none of the kids tested for a new belt this past weekend. The school owner/head instructor wanted Halle and Joel to test together and gave Joel another week to tighten up his form. They will test Friday night at belt rank. It will be fun to watch; the youngest ones are always fun.
We decided to donate our Rainbow playset to our church and its preschool. Big work party here this Saturday to get it disassembled, moved, and reassembled. Plus I'll be trying to get our clothes and other necessities moved to the new apartment as well. Saturday will be BUSY.
Posted by Karen Koonce at 8:22 PM
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Yesterday could not have gone much better. I found nearly everything I was looking for in the vendors' hall at the homeschool convention. My plastic got plenty of use... at first I was a little shocked at how the total was rising, but then I remembered I was getting materials for 4 kids instead of 2 or 3. I'm really looking forward to getting started with some of the new stuff.
My kids all had a blast at Miss Kathy's house (this is the same Kathy who helped me get the house together after the new carpet was installed). I rode to the conference with Kathy's daughter and her husband; Kathy was keeping their 2 kids for them as well. Add to it my 4 (although Emily doesn't really count, since she is 13; we just didn't want her at home all day by herself). They played games (What special day is it today? not April Fool's Day... it was National Peanut Butter Day. Guess the number of quarters in the jar, etc.). They ate LOTS of food. And they spent the afternoon at the zoo. 1 grandma, 5 kids ranging from 4-10, plus 1 13-year-old. Is she brave or what??? I don't even like taking all 4 of mine to the zoo alone!
I was glad everyone was agreeable to letting us take them out to dinner last night as a way to show appreciation. We headed back to Kobe and had an even better time than last time. Our chef was much more talkative and entertaining. The food even tasted better. Brian and Emily were the only 2 in our party of 12 to catch a shrimp near the end of the meal. Noah was too tired to eat, though. He and Joel fell asleep on the way home, but woke up and managed to stay awake for a little while before falling back asleep on the couch while watching their dad play 007 on the GameCube.
Today brings a little bit of housework for everyone and then maybe a matinee in the afternoon. Emily wants to see Miss Congeniality 2, and the other kids want to see Robots. We may split up to see those.
Those of you who need to, remember to turn the clocks forward tonight! You don't want to be late for church in the morning!
Posted by Karen Koonce at 6:50 AM