Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday night stuff

Hard to believe the weekend is actually ending; harder still to believe that I'm actually ready for it to end. It was no day of rest today. Everybody worked in some way or fashion (although the kids finished up much quicker than the adults). The younger ones cleaned up their rooms and I worked on the living room. I managed to get my desk cleaned up and also ran the carpet cleaner. Brian worked outside, picking up the back yard and weedeating/edging, and Emily mowed. Brian also mowed and edged our neighbor's yard (her husband is deployed).

We had the above-mentioned neighbor and her kids over for dinner tonight as well. Brian grilled a tri-tip that we'd been marinating for a couple of days. Mmmmmm. It was delish.

Said friend is helping me figure out a new way to rearrange the furniture in the living room. Hopefully we'll have time to get it done next weekend.... it's possible that we could work on it in stages during the week. One idea actually involves moving the piano out of here and onto the landing between the two floors, while moving the bookcase that currently occupies that space to the upstairs landing. That would free up one wall in here. And now that we have the Macs, which are both wireless, we aren't tied down to keeping the computer desk next to the cable modem and router. That gives us a bit more flexibility with where we place them.

This week is going to be rather interesting... tomorrow afternoon the kids have an "enrichment" class with our church homeschool group in order to prepare for a field trip to Sutter's Fort next week. This event just got added into my plans today; I'd originally written off the whole field trip idea because the logistics of going to Sacramento and being back in time to pick Emily up from school were nigh impossible. However, I just found out that Emily won't have school the day of the field trip. So YAY... we get to go somewhere! (You wouldn't believe the cool field trips we miss out on because we have to be here to get Emily from school.)

This is getting so long, I'll bullet the rest of the agenda for the week:

  • Monday night: Christmas choir rehearsal for me; kids' musical rehearsal for Halle.
  • Tuesday: piano/guitar lessons in the afternoon (Halle and Noah), AWANA for Halle, small group meeting for me and Brian.
  • Wednesday: base field trip for the kids where they will get a taste of what it is like to deploy; orthodontist appointment for Halle immediately following.
  • Thursday: Base homeschool meeting in the evening.
  • Friday: Celebrate Recovery in the evening... I am supposed to be part of the worship team.
I have a newsletter to finish up before that homeschool meeting Thursday night. All that and trying to get the week's schoolwork done.... I sure do understand why some folks advocate "better living through chemistry!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

3 down, 17 to go

Well, I've finished the 2 Karen Kingsbury novels on my list. Those are almost always a quick read for me. I really liked them both. I'm not sure I've read one of hers I didn't like yet. I've also finished Blameless. That was one I had in the car with me this week. I've always wondered how folks could have more than one book going at a time, and I finally figured out a way it works for me. I keep one on my nightstand and one in the car; the latter one I read while I'm in the carpool line at Emily's school. Blameless was an easy read, not an extremely involved story. Think of it as an adaptation of Job for modern times. It was OK; I would actually have liked there to have been more to it.

On my nightstand now is Paula Deen's memoir. My exposure to Paula is pretty limited, as I do not watch The Food Network, so I've not seen her show. I did see her in Elizabethtown, though. And to my knowledge, I've only tasted one of her recipes.... that was just a couple of weeks ago at the ladies' breakfast at church (for inquiring minds, it was her Baked French Toast Casserole). So far, I am thoroughly enjoying this selection. It is delightfully written in southern dialect, complete with dropped g's on verbs ending in g, and colloquialisms that set me chuckling. The funniest thing about it is that Emily came in to talk to me last night after I'd been reading for a while and she stopped me in the middle of our conversation to ask, "Who have you been talking to? Your accent is back." I guess I don't have to actually hear southern to speak southern!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fall into Reading

It's that time again! The kids and I just made a library run yesterday, so the books I got then will be part of the list; I'll also add the books that are in my "request hold" list.
  1. Oceans Apart, Karen Kingsbury
  2. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe. This is one Emily is reading in her Advanced English class. When her teacher described it to us at Back-to-School Night, I decided I wanted to read it.
  3. The 5-Minute Face, Carmindy. Talk about "fluff." But after watching her on "What Not to Wear," I'm interested in what she has to say.
  4. When Faith Meets Fame, Guideposts.
  5. Blameless: A Novel, Thom Lemmons. This is a guy whose family I went to church with up until I got married. (He was there too... it's just that he was a bit older than I was, so I didn't have much interaction with him.) I've wanted to read one of his books and just happened upon it while browsing the "new books" shelf yesterday.
  6. Alpha Girls: Understanding the New American Girl and How She is Changing the World, Dan Kindlon.
  7. Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin', Paula Deen.
  8. The Sleeping Doll, Jeffrey Deaver.
  9. Sunrise, Karen Kingsbury. This is the first book in her new series. I actually got to read the second one first, as it became available sooner.
  10. Life's Healing Choices, John Baker.
Those are the ones I have right now. I actually finished #1 on the list yesterday. I read during lunch and while in carpool, and after getting home from Christmas choir practice last night. (It made me forget about the season premiere of Heroes. Guess I will have to watch it online!) Still on my hold list:
  1. It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff, Peter Walsh. This is the guy from TLC's Clean Sweep show.
  2. How Starbucks Saved My Life, Michael Gill.
  3. Down River, John Hart.
  4. The Other Mother, Gwendolen Gross.
  5. Keeping the House, Ellen Baker.
  6. Barefoot, Elin Hildebrand.
  7. 74 Seaside Avenue, Debbie Macomber.
  8. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold.
  9. Still Summer, Jacquelyn Mitchard.
  10. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards.
I think this is a much more doable list than the one I had in the spring. I am sure I will wind up with much more fiction on it as I run across new things, but these are the ones I am currently planning on reading.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Up and running

We bit the bullet and got a new printer today.... another HP and it is incredibly fast. Even better, it is networked so that Brian can print something wirelessly from his laptop. We were never able to do this before; we always had to unplug the printer from my desktop and connect it to the laptop. This is just too cool.

It was a nice day today. The kids all enjoyed a lot of outdoor time with their friends. I helped Brian get the shed put together and also managed to get a couple of loads of laundry folded. In addition, I got to visit with one of the neighbors and help her finish a jigsaw puzzle she'd been working on for a while.

We were so busy with all the running and doing that we opted for takeout for dinner (Godfather's... mmmm). Tomorrow instead of eating out after church, we'll come home and Brian is going to grill.

The kids are all bathed and tucked in for the night, and I will be following suit very soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some day my prints will come

So I am still learning the ins and outs of life with a Mac. My old HP printer (old as in 6 or 7 years old) isn't doing too well with the Mac. I cannot use it with it hooked up to the Airport Extreme, which is sad, because we really wanted to put it on the network so that Brian could print wirelessly from his MacBook Pro as well. It took some searching to find a driver I could get to work even with the printer connected directly to the IMac, and even still, it is incredibly slow to process the print job. I think we will be looking for a new printer. I had kinda been wanting one that does duplex (two-sided) printing, but I don't want us to spend too much money on it. We'll have to see what we can find. We've always had good experiences with HP printers in the past, but I'm wondering if there are other printers that work better with Macs.

Still left to do: get all the pictures and documents off of the old Windows desktop and onto this one. We may just get an external hard drive so we can have a safe place to keep extra copies, just in case anything were ever to happen. We can transfer the files to it and then copy them to this computer.

I guess the only other dim spot in this new computer life is that Messenger for Mac isn't as full-featured as the one for Windows. It doesn't offer video chat, which was something I was looking forward to doing with my mom and my sister. It does have IChat, which I think uses AOL screen names, so if they will sign onto AIM, I might be able to video with them there. Of course, neither of them have web cams (at least, I don't think they do), so they'll be the lucky ones who get to see and hear the goings-on around here!

We had the first rain of the season last night and today. Too bad the shed Brian bought is still sitting in the box in the back yard! If the weather is nice this weekend, maybe we can get it put together. I am enjoying the cooler weather; our days are in the 70s and nights in the 50s.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mac mama

I know... where have I been? It has been crazier than usual around here. The end of last week was fairly busy, what with Emily gone to her school retreat from Wednesday till Friday. Then Brian and I had the Celebrate Recovery kickoff at church on Friday night. We got there early to help set up, so we were basically there about 4 1/2- 5 hours.

Saturday was Joel's 7th birthday. We had a great time at the base bowling alley with a few of the neighbor kids, a couple of friends from church, and a couple of kids from our "backyard neighbor" family from the first house we lived in out here. Joel said it was the "best birthday ever." He even rated it higher than the one he spent at Disney World!

In news almost as big as Joel's birthday.... my IMac arrived yesterday! It is up and running with no trouble at all and I've managed to get my bookmarks and email addresses all transferred quite easily (thank goodness for Plaxo). I kinda miss my "right-click," but have begun learning the Mac way of doing things. I have so much more space on my desk now. Hopefully I can keep it uncluttered.

Monday night, Halle and I both went up to the church for rehearsals for the Christmas program for church. She is going to be part of the kids' musical and I will be singing in the adult Christmas choir. I missed the first rehearsal last week, but it won't be difficult to catch up. Thankfully, I don't have to learn it all by ear; we all have songbooks with musical notation. That certainly makes it easier for me, especially since I sing alto.

Tonight, Halle attended her first AWANA meeting while Brian and I attended a "growth group" from church. Our group is made up of about 6 couples... not too big and not too small. I'm looking forward to getting to know people better. Halle had a blast at AWANA and is busy working on learning her memory verses so she can get her first book and t-shirt. She has several "checkpoints" to complete, each with 2 verses to learn.

Tomorrow is hump day and means we will be on the downswing.... Brian has a meeting tomorrow night, though. Thursday will be Emily's early-out day at school (1:45), I may be attending worship team rehearsal that night, and then it will be Friday and time for Celebrate Recovery again. Oh yeah... no shortage of things to do here. Hopefully I won't put off blogging for another week!

Oh, I just remembered more news... Emily was chosen for Daybreak, the select choir at her school! Yay, Emily!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 years ago

(This is an edited repost from 9/11/06.)

We were on our way to Disney World to celebrate my youngest’s first birthday. We left Dayton, OH early that morning and landed at Newark around 8 a.m. After we arrived at our departure gate, we went to find drinks/breakfast for everyone. On our way back, I remember looking out the window and remarking to my husband, “That looks like the Empire State Building.” (At this point, I had no idea we were so close to NYC.) As we got a little closer to the end of the terminal, we could see a large crowd gathering around the windows. The first tower had just been hit. We could see the smoke billowing from the building.

At this point, we had no clue as to whether this was an accident or intentional. Seeing the second tower hit a few minutes later seemed to answer this question for us. From somewhere overhead, an announcement was made that all flights were “delayed”; shortly afterwards, that was amended to “canceled.” It shames me to remember that my initial reaction was a selfish thought of how our vacation had been ruined. I think at that point, all I could really think about was *my* family and how the events had immediately impacted us. All I knew was what I could see from my vantage point across the river; I had no news coverage or commentary to tell me anything more.

We had nothing to do but stand/sit and watch until the loudspeakers boomed once more, announcing the evacuation of the airport. We joined a mass exodus to the airport grounds, carrying/pulling our carry-on luggage, including a large carseat. We had 2 kids in arms and 2 walking, and we were trying desperately to keep an eye on the 2 walking so that we wouldn’t get separated, when we heard a voice next to us say, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they don’t get lost.” A very nice gentleman could see we had quite a bit to handle and helped us keep the kids close by us on the trek outside.

Once outside, we sat on the ground for what seemed an eternity. I have no clue how long it was; it may have only been an hour or so. However long it was, we were finally told that we couldn’t stay there indefinitely, but that everyone had to leave the airport grounds. To say the situation was stressful was an understatement. Here we were in a strange city at least 600 miles from our home… and we needed to find a way back. The lines for buses were horrendous, the taxi lines even more so. Brian noticed a man with a sign that said, “limo” on it and asked the man if he had room for us. He asked us what we needed, and we told him we needed to find a rental van or a place to stay for the night. He said he could help us with that. So began our introduction to Reggie Jackson.

It turns out that Reggie was a retired NYPD officer. He led us to his Mercedes sedan and loaded our things into the trunk. He drove us to one rental place, which wanted $200 for a van that they wanted returned to that office the next day. We really didn’t want to stay in Newark… we wanted to get *home*. He drove us to yet another place (it seemed to take forever) and waited while Brian talked with the rental agents there. We were able to get a reasonable rate there (and a van we could actually drive to OH, rather than just around Newark), and Reggie helped load our things. He’d spent at least 3 hours with us by this time. When Brian asked him how much we owed him, Reggie said, “$20.” We were overwhelmed at his generosity, and thankfully we were able to get him to take a little bit more than that. I think we count Reggie as our 9/11 hero. Things certainly would have turned out a little differently without him.

We only made it to Western PA that evening before stopping for the night. There were detours because of supposed bomb threats on bridges. We were still not sure of everything going on. Somehow I think that hearing the news on the radio was different than actually seeing it on television. We made it back to Dayton the following evening. Our luggage made it there that weekend. We weren’t sure when we’d attempt air travel as a family again… we bought our luggage-totin’ Yukon XL on the 20th of September.

Brian’s leave was canceled and he went back to work at the base hospital on Thursday. We were thankful that he wasn’t deployed anywhere until much later; he spent 3 months in Oman that next March through June. By the next year, our family was flying together again.

6 years later, we remember the day we all wish had never happened.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

She writes

Sorry it has been so long. My mom even called a couple of days ago to make sure we were still alive out here. Still alive; still running to and from Em's school; still trying to keep up with laundry, housework, grocery shopping, and music lessons; still working on honing our home school routine. In other words, not much has been happening worth writing about.

Until now. Don't take that to mean I have something earth-shattering or mind-blowing. It's just that I finally have something to say that isn't just a blow-by-blow of our day. (OK; you can pick yourselves up off the floor now. And quit checking the forecast for hell.)

Item Number One: If you have the opportunity to go see No Reservations, grab it. Emily and I went earlier tonight and it was so worth the time. It won't solve the world hunger situation, but it really was a good time. Aaron Eckhart was a treat to watch (when isn't he?) and his scenes with Catherine Zeta Jones were great. The soundtrack was awesome as well. Michael Buble's rendition of Sway, plus lots of the late great Luciano Pavarotti, including Nessun Dorma.

Item Number Two: I came across a blog post a couple of days ago that really struck me. What's funny is that it's one of those passages that conjures up a lot of different emotions. Have you ever read anything that both convicted you and made you kinda mad?? I suppose the whole mad thing is just because it forced me to admit all kinds of unpleasant things about myself... and who likes to admit those kind of things?? I don't want to copy and paste it here; you can find this passage on any number of blogs, so I think it would be redundant for me to do that. I'll just give you the link where I read it. Please go read it, especially if you are a mom. And if you're not a mom, I still think you will take something away from it. Even though the person who wrote it was referring to the job of motherhood, I think it applies to us all... whatever we do in life.

Now, for those of you who tune in because you love hearing about our days, weeks, and months... Brian is gearing up for yet another TDY, this time to Virginia. He leaves in the morning and will be gone until Thursday. Emily leaves for her high school retreat on Wednesday and returns on Friday. The rest of us aren't going anywhere (unless crazy counts as a destination... no, wait; Scratch that. I can't go there and leave the kids alone.).

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