About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Friday, December 31, 2010

It IS Worth It

I just read this:  Domestic Diva's Vision for 2011.  I recommend it.  It was a wonderful read and a great reminder that the role of mother (or father for that matter) IS worth all that it takes out of us.

I'm one of those parents that needs to be reminded sometimes, actually frequently, that I'm actually doing something!  Luckily I am reminded often and in many ways. 

The other night when I tucked Jace into bed he asked if I noticed that he tells me he loves me every night.  Of course I do!  It's one of those things that makes my world seem right.  And he's constantly looking for his opportunity to cuddle mama.  Even when I feel like I've been rubbed raw with his annoyances all day long, that fact is not lost on me.

I've heard many times over the years how well behaved our children are.  Hearing that has always helped me realize that I am doing something for them.  By being home with them I am making a difference in their lives. 

When the kids laugh or giggle, that joy in their eyes erases any doubt that I might have about being a stay at home mother. 

It is easy to lose site of the meaning of our work, as stay-at-home mothers, amidst the chaos of daily life...laundry, dishes, diapers.  But it's just as easy to see the reminders everywhere.  You just have to chose what to look for.  Consider yourself reminded!  It is worth it!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Word

Have you thought about one word to describe yourself?  I've been asked in interviews to use one or two words to list my best and worst qualities.  I've played a few version of the ice breaker when I needed to come up with one word to tell about me.  Most recently though, I read a couple blog posts that got be thinking about one word that can serve as my motivation throughout the upcoming year. 

Shauna and Courtney both talk about having a concept to guide us through the year rather than setting resolutions.  I haven't set New Year's resolutions in years.  Scott and I are talkers and planners.  We're constantly setting goals, discussing progress, and adapting.  So, I don't see the need to set certain goals at certain times.  Reading their posts, though, got me thinking about a motto for my year. 


In 2010 Courtney's theme word was connecting.  Under that umbrella she worked on connecting with God, family and her blog followers too!  She's chosen simplify for 2011.  I think that's a beautiful word and a wonderful theme.  I think she's going to have a great year creating space to focus on the connections she's worked on this year.  I was tempted to use that concept as my own, but I think I'm going to do something a little different.  After all, I think I'm in the process of complicating my life rather than simplifying it...maybe that'll be next year!




 

Shauna's new year will revolve around love, which I think is completely appropriate.  I don't know Shauna personally, but I feel like her posts are ones that ooze goodness and caring.  Whenever I read something on her blog I feel inspired.  I look forward to reading more about her journey this coming year to love and "doing what I can do where I can do it with all my heart and being."

So, I started by reading these two posts.  I put some consideration into it.  And I cheated...I've always bent the rules a little with these one word games.  It started way back in 4H camp when I had to come up with an adjective that started with the first letter of my name to introduce myself with.  I was at the end of the circle and wasn't sure what I was going to say until it got to me and I came up with "All of the above Annie."  I know, not one word at all.  But fitting. 

My theme for 2011 is also not one word.  But it's the carrot I want to chase this year...I want to be

be

It's a little word, although big on meaning.  But because it's so little I figured I might be able to get away with adding a couple others. 

be present
be intentional

And those will be the focus of my 2011.  I'm not 100% sure what that's going to look like yet.  I do know, though, that it'll involve less time on facebook and in front of the television.  I know it will involve exploring my faith more.  I know it will involve focusing on the moments that pass quickly.  Priorities will be determined and life will be lived.  That's what I know for now. 

In 2011, I will be
What about you? 
Will you love, connect, simplify, engage, organize, enjoy, hope, teach, learn, follow, shine, or maybe...be?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sizing Things Up

Tyler is three years old!  I can't believe it's been three years already.  It seems like not that long ago that he was keeping me up at night, nursing and cuddling.  Well, not everything changes...he still cuddles with me every chance he gets.


So, we went to the doctor today for his check up.  I'm going to fill out some paperwork and contact the school district to see about getting an IEP and an evaluation for speech.  Other than that, though, everything looks good!  He's a healthy and happy little guy.  Well, the doctor didn't know he was happy because he cried and fought the whole time we were there - cheered up as soon as he got to put his jacket back on!

I don't know about you, but I always enjoy looking at how much my kids have grown over the year since their last check up and comparing their heights and weights to each other.  Tyler's stats are always entertaining. 

Here are pictures of Jace and Gracie when they were two years old. 


 "Why two?" you ask, since I'm telling you about Tyler's three year old check up.


Well, both Jace and Gracie were taller and heavier at two years old than Tyler is at three!
Tyler was the biggest at birth (9 lbs 8 ozs, compared to Jace's 7 lbs 12 ozs and Gracie's 8 lbs 11 ozs) but the littlest ever since.  And he's has always had very short legs compared to his very long torso.  As an example he's just getting into 2T pants but has been in 4T shirts for several months. 

Tyler: at 2 years old - 23 pounds 8 ounces, 33 inches
at 3 years old - 30 pounds, 37 inches 

Gracie: at 2 years old - 32 pounds, 32 3/4 inches
at 3 years old - 35 pounds, 41.5 inches
(Yes, you read that right...Gracie grew 9 inches in one year!)

Jace: at 2 years old - 31 pounds, 35 inches
at 3 years old - ??
at 4 years old - 41 pounds 12 ounces, 42 inches
(See?  Even the first born gets forgotten once in a while!)

So, there's the latest measurements on Tyler and how he compares with his Amazon siblings! 



Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Not a Single Mom

I've been known to say that when Scott's not around it's like I'm a single parent.  I mean, let's be real...he's not here, right?  I'm not alone in this comparison either.  I've read about single/married spouses on blogs, heard it directly from family members and even seen it on various news shows. 

I have a few friends that are single parents and they've never called me out saying, "Hey, you're off base," so I figured there was some truth to what I was saying.  And, in fact, there probably is some truth.  After all, like I said, he's not here. 

I've begun to wonder if I haven't been called out because everyone is focused on that one similarity. 

I don't know if my ramblings are making sense...but here's where I'm trying to go with this. 

I am not a single mom.  Even when Scott's not here I have his support. 

See what I'm saying?

Last night a friend posted on facebook that she was leaving her husband after the holiday and asked for advice from single mothers.  That couple got married the week after Scott and I.  It hit me hard.  When I've heard about others getting divorced, even parents, I've been focused on the marriage part of things, and have mourned for that.  Last night, with her plea for help from single mothers, if occurred to me that she doesn't have her husband's support anymore, because she doesn't have her husband.

I have my husband.

When Scott's not here I still imagine what he might add to a conversation, how he might want to handle a situation.  I might not always (in fact, probably not even often) handle things the same way he would, but I am not alone.  I am part of a parenting team, even when half my team is floating in the ocean in a tin can. 

So, I'm not saying that I was wrong in drawing that comparison or that everyone else is either.  I am saying however, that I think our trials as military wives and parents, are different than those of single parents.  Not better or worse, simply different.  There are similarities, yes, but differences also. 

My hope for single parents out there, including my friend who is soon to be one, is that they have support similar to that I have in my teammate, my husband, whether they find it in their parents, their friends, their siblings, occasionally even their ex's.  Everyone needs that.  Even super moms.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are You a Holiday Crier?

Do you cry during the holidays?  Do you find an emotional message that speaks directly to you around every corner?  I do.  Truth be told, I cry all year round.  But the holidays seem to be especially heartwarming.

A few years ago I was pregnant during Christmas.  Kay Jewelers commercials made me tear up!  And if I hear The Christmas Shoes...well, that was it.  I pulled over more than once to sob my way through the beautiful song and recollect myself so that I could drive safely again! 

This year I've shed a few tears too.  A few days ago I gave the gives some change for the Salvation Army bucket and the sincere, "Thank you," that the bell ringer gave us brought tears to my eyes.  And then today...the kids got me!  We already went to talk to Santa and let him know what we wanted, but since then we learned that Dada has to work on Christmas day.  So, we waited for over half an hour to see Santa again today.  We went to the mall to play at the train table at Barnes and Noble and get some Kataluma Chai (pretty much the main reasons we ever go to the mall!) and the kids wanted to put those things on hold to go visit Santa again to ask him one question. 

So, we waited and when it was our turn they ran up to Santa and started talking all at the same time.  Santa laughed, "Ho, ho, ho," and settled them down.  Then he told him he remembered they'd already come to see him and asked if they thought of something else they wanted.

"Kind of,"  Jace said.

Gracie added, "Our Dada has to work Christmas day."

Santa sighed, "Oh, I see."

"So, if it's not a problem, could you bring our presents on Christmas Eve eve?  That's Thursday night, " Jace finished.

Santa put his hand on Jace's shoulder and said, "I'd be happy to do that for your family.  It'll lighten my load for Christmas night too."

I know I'm a sucker.  I know the kids asked more so they could get their presents early than so Scott could enjoy them with them.  But the tears welled up and had a difficult time not letting the dam break!  It really was special.  Tyler even gave Santa a hug and said, "Tank you, Ho Ho," before running away. 

They're loving, wonderful children.  I hope their Christmas Eve morning is everything they hoped!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Growing Is Not the Same as Growing Healthy

I started this post as a little bit of a rant about my children's food habits.  But as I was typing away, so frustrated with them I realized, they're probably doing OK. 

Here's the situation - I've eaten according to a few different plans that go along with conventional wisdom's way of looking at food.  Then, about ten months ago I found out about the Primal Blueprint and fell in love with the common sense of it all!  So, I started eating primally and have been working on changing the habits of my whole family.  We've made progress, but have a ways to go too.  Tonight, when I first started writing this, I realized that I have some more progress to make on my own too, and not only in my grocery choices. 

The topic I was going to growl about earlier was Gracie and Tyler leaving food on their plate every night at dinner.  I don't give them very much to begin with.  My strategy is that they can always ask for more, but I'd like to throw away as little as possible.  They're also supposed to try everything on the plate and if they don't like it they don't have to eat it.  That's it.  I've always felt like my rules around the dining room table are pretty simple.  But they seem to make it so much more complicated. 

Gracie makes up her mind about whether or not she likes something before the fork hits her mouth, not that there's enough on it to actually taste anyway.  Drives me nuts!  Tonight we had some pork that she really liked the first time I made it.  Tonight she wouldn't eat it.  ARG.  Well...that's what I felt at dinner.  And that's what I felt when I started typing.  I figured I'd list the things Gracie eats on a daily basis, for meals and snacks, and you'd all confirm that I had every right to be frustrated.  But as I was typing that list I realized that the irritation I was experiencing was coming from a place of conventional wisdom. 

Here's what I mean. 
  • Conventional wisdom (CW) says that we should eat every three hours, or several small meals a day.  The Primal Blueprint's (PB) way of thinking is that we eat when we're hungry. 
  • CW says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that we should never skip meals.  PB allows for fasting by skipping a meal or skipping several.
There are several other differences too.  But these are the two that I'm going to start working on.  What I realized when listing our meals was that we're all eating according to those two primal points, but I'm still getting aggravated according to CW thoughts.  No longer did I feel ARG, instead I felt a little smile.  Maybe all my preaching is working. 

Here's what I mean by that...the kids know all about the PB (we even did a unit study revolving around it).  They see me skip meals or eat just a little.  They see me having primal snacks when I need a little extra something.  The food I'm offering them is, for the most part, primal and, therefore, healthy.  So, they should be allowed to eat it when and if they want to.

As I was considering this tonight, before re-starting this post, I realized that Jace already does that.  He's been putting off lunch until later and not eating much.  He's still as active as ever, just knows he's not hungry after only a three hour break.  And it's not like any of my children aren't growing.  Even Tyler's little legs are getting longer.  And when I've discussed my food frustrations with people that's often been the way they've tried to help, "They're obviously growing."  It's true, they are.  But I want them to grow healthy, with good habits and the ability to know when they're hungry and when they'd just eating to pass the time or whatever other reason.  Upon consideration, and after calming down, I think they are.  They're not just growing, but are growing healthy. 

I'm keeping the dining table rules.  Gracie will still likely not like what she doesn't think she will, at least for a little longer.  But I'm not going to be upset with that. Because I'm going to keep chipping away at the years of conventional wisdom.  Promise.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fill-In #25

I haven't participated in this in a few weeks, but I'm excited to be back in the game and see what everyone else has to say too!  Without further ado...

1.  What is the best gift you have ever received or given?  (from Jessica Lynn Writes)

Gee whiz...I don't know.  One of the ones from childhood I remember most is a set of hair styling products, brush, comb and mirror I think.  Two of my cousins and I always got the same gift in different colors from Grandma and Grandpa and that year that's what the three of us got.  My set was mint green!


2.  Do you celebrate holidays differently when your loved one is deployed/gone or do you keep tradition? (from The Albrecht Squad)

I try to keep things pretty similar.  One year he was gone for his birthday and I even made a cake for him and shared it with friends!

3.  If you celebrate Christmas, do you put an angel, star or something else on the top of your tree?

An angel.  It was a wedding gift from friends of my parents.  It's beautiful.

4.  What are your three favorite websites?

Probably have to say Mama Loves Papa, Primal Kitchen, and Smrt Lernins...there are many, though, that I get excited to see new posts on, though.  And I have to admit that I can be found on facebook, blogging, and checking email most often!  But I wanted to list fun sites!

5.On your man do you prefer… boxers, briefs or boxer briefs? Or commando? (yeah, I’m starting to get desperate for questions!)

It doesn't matter much to me...I just prefer my man.  :-)


Now go check out other answers!  Go on now!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Carols

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How Do You Do It? (My Life as a Military Wife)

Perhaps one of my most frequently heard comments is, "I don't know how you do it.  I couldn't be a military wife/submariner's wife."  So, how do I do it?  I'm not sure I know.  But I usually answer, "It's not for everyone, but I just won't except the alternative."  And that's the truth.

But I will try to put a few notes out there for everyone...just in case something might speak to someone else.  So, here goes...

Let me start by saying that some days Scott and I think of his job like it's any other.  In many families, military and civilian, somebody goes to work and somebody stays home.  The worker bee may be gone long hours, may miss meals, might even travel for work.  And the one who stays home is often left shouldering the roles of both parents, living a single married life for a time.  Sometimes we don't feel all that different.

But those days are not these days. 

For the past month or so Scott's been carrying a ton of stress from work and there's little I can do about it.   Not only that but there's little time together to try to do anything to alleviate his stress anyway.  But what I can do, I do. 

  • I feed him.  He's not home for most meals, but the ones he is here for I make sure are things he loves.  I also bake to give him something sweet to lose himself in when he comes through our door. 
  • I adjust our schedule to his, when possible.  When he was working nights we schooled at a different time of day so that we were all downstairs, out of ear shot, when he was going to sleep and we weren't busy when he was getting up and free for five minutes.  And now that he's working at least 16 hours a day, I am almost always up when he gets home.  That means I frequently nap when Tyler does, but there's nothing wrong with that.
  • I listen.  I don't know everything he's dealing with.  I don't understand everything he tells me.  But I give him room to talk to me.
  • I talk to him.  I try to share stories of the kids.  I let him know what we're doing.  I don't pretend that we're not still going about our lives. 
  • I touch him.  I give him massages.  I kiss him.  I try to take some of that stress and provide a little relaxation.
  • I give him a break.  I don't call and ask when he's going to be home.  I don't get upset that he's not home for dinner, or bed time.  I don't complain that he doesn't have time for us. 
  • I love him. 
So, that's how I support Scott.  It also needs to be noted that he supports me in all the same ways, except the cooking and baking...I don't think he even knows where to find everything to whip up anything more than a PB&J.  That's neither here nor there, though.  He loves me and that's clear.  He makes sure it's clear to me.  Just last night he told me how much he appreciates me and all that I do.  I know that but it sure is absolutely wonderful to hear.  He also makes it clear to others, which is such a lovely pat on the back. 

Lastly, we give ourselves permission to feel all the emotions that go with the deployment cycle and we don't blame each other for them.  (Here's another link with a little more detail.)

You might be wondering if it's that simple.  Probably not, but maybe yes.  After all, neither of us have energy for drama, complication, or added stress.  And our default is simple:  just keep kissing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Comfort and Joy

So, I mentioned the other day that a dear friend of mine called.  She frequently helps me see things in a different light, even when I don't know the shadows I've cast over them.  So, while we were talking something was said that Gracie found hilarious and she let go a big ol' belly laugh. 

Over the phone I heard, "I love that laugh." 

It caught me by surprise.  It shouldn't have, but it did.  Gracie's laugh frequently wakes me in the mornings.  It overpowers the television, the story being read, the radio, anyone else who might be trying to talk.  She's loud.  And that's how I've thought of Gracie...loud.  But after that comment I realized she's incredible.  I mean, I knew that.  But her laugh is incredible.  It's honest and heartfelt.  What more could I want?  (Thanks, friend!)

So, since Monday I've been trying to enjoy laughter more.  It's fitting, I think, because this holiday season there's a word that seems to mean more to me than in years past: JOY.  It's such a little word, but I'm finding it packs a punch.  I've noticed the sparkle in the kids eyes - joy.  I've noticed the simple things like dinner with friends - joy, an embrace from Scott - joy, and laughing with my kids - joy. 

I hope that you find joy in the season, joy in life, and joy in your children.  Even when they annoy the poop out of you!  Love 'em, hug 'em...find JOY with them. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rhyming

Today we're playing with rhyming.  Seemed like something fun to do!  So, this morning during breakfast we thought of rhyming words and then made them into little poems!  Here's a few of my favorites before I forget them...

There was a very lazy cat.
All he did was nap on his mat.
Until one day he got a new hat
And ran off...pat, pat, pat.

*****
We went to get our Christmas tree.
It was my husband, my children, and me.
While we were in the field, Jace decided to pee.
Such a boy!  He just acted like he.

*****

If I were a boy,
And I had the right toy...
I could go riding on the Hatfield-McCoy.
Wouldn't that be a joy?

I think everyone should rhyme over breakfast!  It's a great start to the day!



Monday, December 13, 2010

Today's Revelations

This month I intended to continue with homeschooling, but in a much less formal way and with a lot more focus on activities, crafts, seasonal joys.  Last week I started to wonder if we were taking off more time than we were homeschooling.  But today I've decided that we're definitely schooling.  These kids (and perhaps others) are great! 

See, we were going to play with money today.  I had plans to count it, pretend to pay for things with it, separate the coins, and count it some more!  Instead, just as I asked the kids to get their piggy banks, the phone rang.  I thought about not answering.  I could see the caller ID and it was a friend whom I hadn't talked with in a while that I really wanted to talk with.  I've been missing her a lot lately, so I decided to answer and let the kids count on their own. 

Not only did they count the money, but Jace got his microscope out and studied it!  I never would have thought of that.  And, honestly, if he'd mentioned it I most likely would have brushed it off.  What's there to study?  It's money!  But while talking to my friend and watching him I discovered that there's a lot to look at.  He compared dollar bills - which was faded more, what letters were on them, how they were similar.  He loved it!  And I loved the sparkle in his eyes!  And Gracie counted lots of ways.  She found that she has 240 cents in dimes.  Jace told her that 100 cents equals a dollar and she knew immediately that she had $2.40.  Wonderful.

Wonderful! 

I don't know why I get so excited when they learn something or enjoy learning or something clicks for them or whatever...but I do.  It's just marvelous to see!

So, there's that.  And while we were talking, my friend pointed out that I probably wasn't that far off base focusing on the holidays rather than curriculum.  After all, the public schools tend to do that too!  She's always so great about putting things in perspective.  And she's right!  I got tons of crafts and went to holiday pageants and parties in the years Jace and Gracie were in public school. 

So, the kids are still learning.  And that means, in my eyes, that we are still homeschooling, just in a less formal way.  It's working!  Woo hoo!!!

And I had a great chat with my dear friend.  A great day, indeed. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is There a Gene For That?

It all started a few months ago before we left New York for our drive across several states.  Grandpa Gebel thought it would be lovely to teach the kids the punch bug game.  I was a little concerned about the amount of punching that I'd have to deal with over the week we were on the road.  Thankfully, though, the kids didn't hit while in the van!  I was thrilled and encouraged the game after that realization. 

We only called out "Punch bug!" for actual punch bugs, not all Volkswagons as the newest VW commercials suggest.  Scott is a traditionalist, after all.  The first hiccup came, though, when Gracie kept claiming Chrysler PT Cruisers were Volkswagon Beetles.  We couldn't argue with her, either.  She'd just say, "Well, I think they're punch bugs so they count."  (Picture arms folded across her chest and a nod of the head for emphasis.)  After a bit Jace decided that they'd be called PT Cruiser bugs and we could all get points for them.  I'm not sure where the point counting came in, but scoring points seems to have taken the place of giving bruises.  That's A-OK with me.

When Scott heard about this new addition to our game he said thought PT Cruiser bugs should be worth less that actual punch bugs.  So, VW Beetles are worth 5 points and PT Cruisers are worth 1 point.  And that's how the madness began!

I don't remember the exact course the additional rules to our game have taken, but here's what we currently have:
  • Volkswagon Beetles are worth 5 points and must be identified with a shout of "(Color) one!"
  • PT Cruisers are worth 1 point and are identified with a shout of "PT Cruiser Bug!"
  • "Bonus" can be called out and the vehicle identified for additional points when any official work vehicle is spotted.  This includes any vehicles with lights, writing on the side, buses, semis, construction vehicles, etc.   If the bonus vehicle is the size of a full size van or smaller it is worth 25 points, unless it is a Ford - in which case it's worth 30 points.  If the vehicle is larger than a full size van it is worth 30 points (35 points for a Ford). 
  • "Water bonus" refers to any large ship seen in the water, such as the aircraft carriers sitting at Bremerton's base.  They are worth 40 points each.
  • Bonus points can be redeemed whenever someone finds a punch bug or PT Cruiser bug.  Just simply state that you'd like to redeem your bonus points, and they're yours.
  • If someone else gets a bonus or water bonus you can call "boo-yah" and get the same amount of points.  In order to receive those boo-yah points the original person, who got the bonus, should say "Thank yah" in response to your "boo-yah."  You do not have to wait to redeem your boo-yah points.
  • If you happen to catch a clock at quarter after the hour or quarter to the hour, exactly, you can take bonus points from someone else.
  • Vehicles cannot be redeemed for points more than once in the same 12 hour time period.
  • Rules can only be changed and added on Wednesdays so that every one has a chance to get used to the new rules before the game gets even more confusing. 
  • It should be noted, that no one actually keeps track of how many points they have and Mama can put an end to the game for a set amount of time if there is too much arguing over who got what points!
So, now that you all know how to play for yourselves (Have fun!), I have to ask, do you think it's genetic?  You see, my mother used to make up rules all the time, probably still does!  Every time she thought the game of War had gone stale she'd add rules like flipping a 2 meant everyone gave their cards to the person on their left.  We'd play Sorry with a ghost player who couldn't get sent home and just went around the board trying to send everyone else home.  I have to admit that I enjoyed all her variations but was never as clever as she was in creating new rules.  But, Jace, who has come up with the majority of our punch bug/bonus game rules, is fantastic at it! 

What do you think?  Is there a gene?  Do you make up rules?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day Book (December 8th)


FOR TODAY


Outside my window...it's dark, but Christmas lights are sparkling.

I am thinking...about homeschooling plans for the month and FRG plans for the next few.

I am thankful for...joy.

From the learning rooms...we're having a lot of fun these days and talking about basics.  It's a very good place to start.  (When is the Sound of Music on again?)

From the kitchen...lots of leftovers are being served next to a salad. 

I am wearing...my "support the military" ensemble: Navy sweat pants and the 630th MP Company's shirt.

I am creating...balance.

I am reading...a James Patterson book.

I am hoping...for a night out with Scott before he leaves.

I am hearing...kids playing downstairs and the beautiful voices of The Sing-Off on TV.

Around the house...Christmas decorations are up!

One of my favorite things...when the kids get along!

A few plans for the rest of the week: holiday baking, schooling, maybe dinner with friends?

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


Scott (and Jim) decorated all these beautiful treats!

Feel free to mosey on over to the simple woman's day book to read others' entries or to take part.

Family Unit Review

Family.  What a fun thing to study this time of year! 

The Gebel family exists in it's own corner of the world, away from aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins.  So, in Gebel Family Homeschool we studied family last month.  We talked about how family is defined in different cultures, holiday traditions with family, and ancestry.  We found a lot of good books at the library, all of which I've taken back so I can't tell you what they were.  If you're interested, though, in doing your own study about family check out your local libraries for some great options. 

I remember one book we used was a Fancy Nancy book!  It was one of Gracie's books and when I read about Nancy asking her grandfather questions about another family member we both thought how cool it was that it fit right in with what we were studying!  I love when things work out so nicely.


The big project we did with this study was to make family trees.  However, the kids wanted to do something other than a tree...so they did!


This is Gracie's Family Bouquet.    It's kind of hard to see, but each side of the family has a different color flower.  The last name is in the middle with each family member on a petal.  Our immediate family is the flower with all the different colors in it.  The kids are red and Scott and I are each our original families' colors.  Pretty awesome, huh?


Jace chose a winter scape for his family tree.  Again, it's hard to make out, but there are thirteen little snow hills drawn in.  That's all I did.  He then created sleds for each family and pasted pictures of the people we had pictures for and drew in those we didn't.  Each sled had to be pulled by a dog.  After all, "We are in the North Pole Mama.  How do you expect the sleds to go?"  Uncle Jared and Aunt Kate actually have Pickle, their actual pet, pulling them around!  Our family sled has treads rather than tracks and is electric.  For fun he tossed Santa in at the top and declared us all elves! 

I love their creativity and imagination and all that other stuff!  They really do amaze and I'm still so honored to have this chance to be a part of their lives in this very intimate way.  Love them!

But before I get all emotional, let's finish our unit review, shall we?  The last thing we did was to create a list of questions for our extended family members.  Yes, that means all of you reading this will also be receiving a list of very difficult questions to answer and return.  OK, not all that difficult, but please do answer and return!  I'd like to use those questions to facilitate another study of families in the Spring.  In that unit I'm planning on covering a little more about the make up of family and what it really means (family that's actually related and "family" that's not).  We'll also use your answers as jumping off points for a few studies in social studies and history.  Yes, if you're a grandparent - your childhood counts as history for your grandchildrens' schooling.  

So, that's our latest unit.  December is a busy month for everyone and we're doing things a little differently with school this month.  I'll write a little more about that in a week or two!  Until then, happy learning! 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas

November was a great month of daily thanks.  I think it was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Starting last Sunday we've been looking forward to Christmas as the holiday season continues. 

We have an Advent wreath on the table and lit the first candle last week, symbolizing the hope of the season.  That's a tough concept for the kids to grasp, but we talked about it all week long, lighting that candle each night.  Tonight we got to light two candles, the second being for preparation: much easier to explain.  Getting ready for Christmas has been the name of the game around here, and today we kicked it into high gear. 

Each day of December we're doing at least one thing to celebrate and prepare for Christmas.  Let's see...what have we done so far?  We've sent all the gifts that need to go out through the mail and started the cards.  Hopefully we'll finish that task this week.  We've also made a batch of cookies and decorated them with friends.  We're doing more of that this week too!  We've read some stories, and checked out many more from the library. 

We got our tree today and Scott's got the lights on it.  The kids and I will be making some decorations and putting them and the ones we already have on the tree this week too. 

See what I mean about kicking it into high gear? 

We've also got plans for going to see Zoolights, go out for a holiday breakfast, finish our shopping, make more cookies, sing more Christmas songs, watch more movies and television specials, and generally have more holiday fun! 

What are you doing to get ready?  Whatever it is, I hope your season is filled with all the love and joy you can handle. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 30

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Today is the last official day of 30 Days of Thankfulness.  That doesn't mean that you or I have to stop being thankful.  So keep at it.  The next few weeks are often a combination of excitement and stress for many people.  Try to find the time to be thankful for what you have and even what you don't.  Chances are good that if you look around you, you probably have more than you need.  I know I do.
 
In fact, that's what I'm thankful for today...that we have all we need, more than we really need.  I hope I can keep sight of that during the holiday season when the kids are attracted to bigger and better toys everywhere they turn.  I'm sure they're a few years from recognizing that they've got a good life...so I'll try to keep it fresh in my mind for them!
 
Jace is thankful for himself.
 
Gracie is thankful for M&M's.
 
Tyler's thankful for me. 
 
I have to say I agree with all of their thankful things too!  And here's a quick list of all the other things I've been thankful for this month.  If you're counting I missed one day!  I was at the movies with friends that night...and I'm thankful for that time away.
-Scott
-cuddly kids
-nature
-beautiful fall weather
-being a supportive wife
-mindless TV
-old and new friends
-relaxing days with no commitments
-Internet
-massages, and other soothing and relaxing things
-laughter
-the military
-weekends
-chocolate
-my sisters
-blankets
-possibilities
-silence
-Scott spending a night in bed next to me
-libraries
-potato chips and ice cream
-Costco
-well-behaved kids
-extended family
-the chance to homeschool
-inspiration
-faith
 
Thanks for tagging along. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 29

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Jace is thankful for Kick Buttowski, a favorite cartoon where the main character is a dare devil, currently one of Jace's possible career paths.
 
Gracie is thankful for things that make us healthy, like chewy vitamins.
 
Tyler is thankful for me...I think it's a game now.  He's not thankful for Dada, only Mama (giggles).
 
I'm thankful for faith...with all it's assurances, questions, uncertainty, love...especially the love.
 
 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 27 and 28

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It's definitely not that I wasn't thankful yesterday, that's why I didn't post.  In fact I was very thankful...I got a night out with a few friends.  We went to the movies and out for snacks and chit chat after.  It was a great couple of kid-free hours.  I was out having fun during my normal blogging hours and that's why I didn't post yesterday. 
 
Today I'm back home and we had a nice family dinner.   We lit our advent candle for the day and talked about hope (which is rather tricky to explain to kids) and what we're thankful for. 
 
Jace is thankful for Dada, who takes him hiking, and his new sour gummy vitamins.
 
Gracie is thankful for food, so we can live, and candles and fire, so we can have light and stay warm when there's no electricity.
 
Tyler is thankful for me, Jace and Gracie.  However, he did stick his tongue out at Jace and blow a raspberry at him across the table after saying he was thankful for him.  Brotherly love, I guess!
 
I'm thankful for inspiration and the ability to see it every now and then.  I'm sure I've missed quite a bit through the years, but I try to recognize intangible gifts and be thankful for them when I do notice.

Friday, November 26, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 26

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You might be wondering the same thing as the kids..."Thanksgiving is over, why do we still have to be thankful?"  The easy answer is that we're participating in 30 days of thankfulness and we're only on day 26.  The longer answer is that it's nice to be thankful.  Wouldn't it be nice to think of something you're blessed with each and every day?  The kids didn't think so.  And, after a few more days, I'll stop posting my daily thanks on here.  But I do think it's nice to remind myself of all the things in my that are great and good in my life.  I might continue that privately and let you in on a few of the good ones!
 
 
But for today...
 
Tyler is thankful for water.  Gracie is thankful for babies (real ones and dolls).  Jace is thankful for sparkling cider.  I gotta say that I'm pretty thankful for all three too! 
 
Officially, though, I'm going to say that I'm thankful for the chance to homeschool.  Gebel Family Homeschool is great for our family...weird, huh?  LOL  It's like it's made to fit! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 25

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!
 
Jace is thankful for the Mythbusters marathon on TV today. 
 
Gracie and Tyler are both thankful for her toy phone, which, as you may imagine, means a little arguing.  I don't know why, though...there are at least two other toy phones roaming around.  Kids will be kids!
 
Scott is thankful for Thanksgiving.  And I agree.  I'm also thankful for my extended family.  As a traditionally family oriented holiday, it's appropriate to think about parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews, aunt and uncles, cousins...the whole lot of 'em!  And of course, I miss them all.  For those reading that aren't relatives of mine or didn't already know, we're a military family and don't live near extended family.  We talk to them on occasion, email, facebook and send letters.  But we miss them too.  Love you guys!  I'm also thankful for the family that isn't with me any longer.  My grandparents were special people, as evidenced by the special people they left behind when they passed. 
 
So, to Thanksgiving and family, Mythbusters and toy phones...today I'll raise a glass of sparkling apple cider and say a little prayer of thanks. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Days 22, 23, and 24

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You might have thought I stopped being thankful, but that's not the case.  I've just been in the dark!  We had snow on Monday, which we were all thankful for!  The kids had a great time!  (Gracie was not, however, thankful that gymnastics got cancelled because of the weather.  On Tuesday, when karate was cancelled, Jace was not thankful for that either.)  Monday afternoon and night we got a lot, as in a lot of wind.  That knocked our electric out, along with several thousands of others in the county. 
 
We were out of power for 36 hours!  During that time, the kids and I were thankful for the snow, flash lights, natural gas (fire place and stove), and board games!  We really had a fine time.  But we were all thankful when the lights worked this morning!  Well, the kids cared less about the lights than the television, but they're thankful anyway.  I wanted to go one step further.  I noticed when the lights came on.  I was sleeping, mind you, but in the living room and heard a click that woke me.  I looked up and the cable box was just booting up (or whatever cable boxes do).  It was 5:36 am.  I am rarely awake at this time of day.  But I said a little thank you to those who must have been working through the night to give power back to those of us who'd had it knocked out.  With temps in the teens last night...thank you!
 
Today I'm thankful for my kids.  Not only have they been pretty good over the past few days, but they were really good today too, which we spent at a car dealership, the mall, and the grocery store.  It was a really long day, but we had fun with it and were glad to cuddle up in front of the Dukes tonight!  Now, if only we could get Dada home...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Few Changes

So, I've been playing with my blog design.  You may have noticed.  Maybe not.  Either way, let me tell you about the changes I've made.  Basically I removed some of the links from the side bar and added them in my new pages at the top.  Directly under the blog's title you see four little tabs that say will bring you to different places here at Live it.  Love it (or not).  Write about it.

"Home" will bring you to the most current posts.

"Our Navy Life" gives a little blurb about our lives as a Navy family.  I haven't put any links on there yet.  I'm still deciding what ones I want to add.

"Homeschooling" provides you with a short story about how and why we homeschool.  Those of you who know me are likely surprised that it's such a short story!  I figured I was writing pages and pages on here, so readers could always find out more if they wanted.  Or they could ask!  It also includes links to other blogs about homeschooling and to the unit reviews I've posted on here.

"Living Healthy" tells you a little about primal living and lists several other sites that can help you live primally, mind, body, and spirit. 

I hope you enjoy the little differences.  To some it may not seem like much.  I'm obviously not an expert in the world of technology.  I am excited, though, to have made a few little improvements.  Let me know what you think.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 21

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Jace has no idea what he's thankful for tonight.  He's being a grump because we're watching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on televsion and he's not impressed by the cute outfits and incredible dancing.
 
Tyler is thankful for me!  I love that he says that practically every night!  Earlier we watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and he was walking around singing, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I love you!"  So adorable!
 
Knowing what we're watching on TV, you might not be surprised that Gracie is thankful for dancing!
 
I'm thankful for Costco...it's a great place to waste an hour on the weekends!  Samples galore, toys to see, and a little shopping too! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 20

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Jace and Tyler are both thankful for ice cream, particularly peanut butter cup with cookie dough!
 
Gracie is thankful for fanciness!
 
Scott is not thankful for anything.  I don't think this is true...but I won't push it.  I think, at the very least, he's thankful for ice cream too!
 
I'm thankful for cookies dough wrapped in chocolate, BBQ Ruffles chips, and ice cream...we took today off from eating well!  YUM!

Friday, November 19, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 19

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Jace  "I'm thankful for myself today."
Me   "Really?  You're going with that?"
Jace  "OK.  And, my sidekick over there."
Me   "Tyler?"
Jace  "Yup, him."
Me    "And, why, may I ask, are you so thankful for yourself?"
Jace   "Because I'm going to be a famous stunt biker!"
 
Gracie - thankful for almond milk and Jace, "Because I love him!"
 
Tyler - thankful for Mama and Buzz Light again
 
Me - I'm thankful for libraries, and all that they offer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 18

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Jace - his motion detector

Gracie - her sparkly shoes

Tyler - his rawr light (a tiger flashlight)

Scott - for the prospect of sleeping in his own bed, in the dark, at night, next to me...

Me - "What Scott said!"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 17

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I completely forgot to ask everyone what they're thankful for today.  I was just playing on facebook and saw a friend's status, where she said what she's thankful for.  So, you only get my thankfulness tonight.  And I'm thankful for silence.  There doesn't seem to be enough of it around sometimes.  And lately my thoughts have been quite active as well...which means there's not even silence in my head.  But when I do get it, I appreciate it more the older I get.  I think I understand why mom used to turn off the radio in the van sometimes.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 16

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Over half way through the month.  Just over a week from Thanksgiving.  Time sure flies...

Jace is thankful for Top Truck Challenge, which I'm going to assume is the show on TV right now...some 4 wheeler review show.

Gracie is thankful for nail polish.

Tyler - "I'm thankful for...um...YOU!" 

Scott - patience.

Me - I'm thankful for possibilities.

Monday, November 15, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 15

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Jace - books.  After all, he did tell me that reading is his job.  And, it turns out that he likes Little House on the Prairie.  That's the first book I've picked out for him that he's enjoyed!  (Can I get a little "woo hoo?")

Gracie - the computer. 

Tyler - cars.

Scott - his new memory foam mattress on his rack on the sub...he got five whole hours of sleep last night!  "And, actually," he says, "They (the people he works with who can't seem to do their jobs right) should be thankful.  If I'd woken up this morning grumpy, it would not have been pretty."

Annie - blankets.  I like feeling warm and it's getting a little cooler outside these days.  We're lucky enough to not only have heat and money to pay to use it, but blankets to cuddle in.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 14

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Gracie is thankful for cartoons today. 

Jace is thankful for Dukes of Hazzard.

Tyler is thankful for Buzz Lightyear, again.  I asked him if there was anything different he might be thankful for.  He said, "Hmmm...no.  Thankful Buzz Light." 

Scott didn't say what he was thankful for before leaving for work...but I'm sure it wasn't going into work.  Hopefully he's thankful for the time he got to relax at home this weekend. 


I'm thankful for my sisters. 

Jody, getting her 1st tattoo, corrupted by her younger siblings!

Mary and Lu, chilling at Jace's birthday party
I could write pages about what incredible sisters they are, but I'll try to keep it short and sweet.  It should be noted that we're three different generations.  Our ages span 15 years.   We're all mothers now, married and living our lives with the strength modeled by our parents.  We all have a little of Mom in us and a little of Dad.  We probably also have a little of each other...and I think our influence on each other will only grow as we do.  Not only are Mary and Jody sisters and friends, but they are inspirations to me.  I love them dearly.  And, for them, I am thankful.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 13

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Jace is thankful for the movie "Beer For My Horses," that we watched before, during, and after dinner tonight.  I know, quality TV for their still forming minds.
 
Gracie is thankful for hot dogs and hamburgers.
 
Tyler, like his sister but with his own twist, is thankful for cheesburgers and ketchup.
 
Scott is thankful for having a watch that tells him what day of the week it is.
 
And I am thankful for chocolate.  It really does make me happy. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Money Unit Review

This week we talked about money in homeschool.  The kids really enjoyed it.  It was an interesting unit, actually. 

We got a book from the library, The History of Money (Barbara A. Somervill), that was great for kids.  There were a lot of pictures and it didn't go too far into anything, but gave a very nice overview from bartering to the Euro. 

We also spent a good deal of time on a website that Mary (my little sister and member of our Gebel Family Homeschool Directors Board) suggested to me.  Planet Orange was succinct, informational, and fun!  We learned about budgeting, saving, and investing. 

Between the book and the web site we learned several new words to add to our growing dictionary (like mint, inflation, and interest).  We also talked about the ways we get, spend, save, and give money.  Our week also included a few activities.  We brainstormed names for money or words having to do with it.  I think moolah is their new favorite!  And Jace kept track of how much we were spending at the grocery store this week.  He was only $17 off at the end.  I didn't think that was bad, but he wants to do it again next week and see if he can do even better! 

All in all, it was a great week.  We changed out schedule because Scott's schedule was different, but I think they did really well with it.  I'm not sure if that's a result of it being something new, being on their best behavior so that Dada could sleep, or if they work better in the afternoon than the morning.  But we're going to keep working with it and see what happens!

How was your homeschooling this week?

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 12

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Tonight I remembered to ask the kids what they're thankful for.  Here's our list...
 
Gracie insisted on having two things, to make up for yesterday.  They are cheese and clothes, pretty clothes.
 
Jace - "Sandwiches.  That gave me the idea to make sausage and pancakes sandwiches.  They were good!"  That's what we had for dinner last night.  They were good!
 
Tyler - books
 
Me - I'm thankful for plumbers, and other skilled workers, who work hard to take care of the things we can't or don't want to.  I'm especially thankful when they're efficient and don't cost an arm and a leg!
 
I'm also thankful for the weekend.  Scott's worked some insane hours this week and I'm looking forward to having him home a little.  So are the kids.  They cheered when I said he should be around, and awake, on Sunday.  I can't ask him what he's thankful for today because he's at work still, going on 21 hours!  I hope he got a nap. 

Friday Fill-In #21


1.  Were you named after anyone?


I was.  Grandma Kral's name was Anna.  My name is Ann Marie.  That makes me smile.
2.  What color, if any, are your toenails usually painted?

Usually my toenails are not painted.  However I got a pedicure, including purple nail polish, for my brother-in-law's and sister-in-law's wedding.  Back in June.  There's still a touch of polish that hasn't grown out on my big toe...is that TMI (too much information)? 

3.  How do you flush a public toilet? Hands? Feet? Something else?

Most of the time with my foot.  That is unless Tyler gets there first!  He loves to flush for me!  He uses his hand.  Come to think of it, I'm glad he doesn't try to copy me and use his foot...that would probably end badly!
4.  When you were a little kid, which TV character did you have a crush on?

We watched a lot of dramas, things like Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Highway to Heaven.  There weren't many cute young kids to have crushes on.  But I do remember Boy Meets World...Cory Matthews was pretty darn cute! 

5.  Let’s say you had to lose one of your five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). Which one would you choose? Why?

I hope I never have to choose.  If someone is torturing me to get information (I don't know anything worth torturing for, by the way) hopefully they'd choose.

So, now that you've read what I have to say...go get to know some other military spouses!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 11

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I totally forgot to ask the kids what they were thankful for tonight.  It might have something to do with going and going all day today.  Well, the morning started with some relaxing, playing, and a little schooling.  The kids were a bit bummed that we had to do school on a holiday.  They were also bummed that Dada wasn't home and/or awake so that we could go out to dinner.  But, as Scott said, "When your not yet a veteran you don't get the day off."  He's been working overnights that are at least 17 hours long! 
 
On that note...Scott's thankful for coworkers who look out for him and think they know what's best for him, even if he doesn't listen. 
 
I'm thankful for Scott, his coworkers, other submariners, others in the Navy, others in the Armed Forces, other who've been in the service....thankful for all of them!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 10

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So, I figured out what happened with my titles...I labeled two at day #7.  Whew!  Glad that's all taken care of.
 
On to today's thankful thoughts....
 
After Tyler asked if Dukes of Hazzard was on yet, Scott decided that today he's thankful that the children have such love for one of his childhood favorites. 
 
I'm thankful for laughter today.  There's nothing quite like a child's joy and I'm lucky enough to have it all around me.  Their laughter is contagious and makes me smile and giggle and belly-laugh too! 
 
Jace - thankful that he's a dork!  Me too, they're kind of endearing, don't you think? 
 
Tyler - Buzz Lightyear, again...maybe I'll have to rethink what we were going to get him for Christmas! 
 
Gracie - colors! 
 
 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Does It Ever End?

In the midst of this thankful month...I'd like to share a few thoughts on housework. 

I don't like laundry and dishes.  Mostly I don't like the fact that they never end and stack up so quickly.  A few weeks ago we had a really busy week.  Along with being busy doing things other than laundry and dishes, we were still eating and wearing clothes.  This is what I saw one night:

dirty dishes

clean clothes
I eventually got everything cleaned up and put away.  But in the meantime, there was even more...it just never ends. 

So, what do I want to share with you about chores...I'm thankful that I have them, that I have the ability to complete them, and that Scott never judges when I don't.  I know some of you have probably had clothes piled high on the couch too and would never admit that out loud.  If that's you, you don't need to tell me, but try to hear what I'm saying...there's nothing wrong with that.  Life is about priorities and finding contentment, among other things, perhaps.  During that crazy busy week I still read to the kids and relaxed in front of the computer after they went to bed.  I could have taken those minutes to empty the dishwasher or fold clothes, but I didn't.  I'm good with that.  No guilt. 

Also, I'm not always so positive, but I try to be.  The gifts and blessing that have been given to me come with responsibility.  I like to think that anything worth doing has an upside and a down side.  My favorite example is sledding.  It's a thrill to go down that hill, with the crisp, cold wind in your face.  Then there's the walk back to the top.  Totally worth it.  It's the same with raising a family.  I'll gladly, although not always with a smile on my face, climb that hill again and again.  And again.

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 9

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Did I miss a day?  I thought I'd been pretty on top of things, but I just realized it's the 9th and I only have 7 Thankful posts...hmmm.  Oh well.  We're going to call this one day 9 and tell you what we're thankful for today.
 
Jace and Tyler are both thankful for fish sticks.  Yes, I asked during dinner.
 
Gracie is thankful for Dada.  She popped out with that earlier today, when we weren't even talking about Dada or being thankful.  Brought tears to my eyes. 
 
Dada says he's not thankful for anything.  Jace even offered a suggestion.  "Work?"  His response was clear, "No."  I softened it a little, saying he's probably thankful for work, just not this week. 
 
I'm thankful for things that soothe and relax.  I got a massage today.  I feel a little guilty that I got a massage while Scott was home with the kids after being at work for almost 24 hours.  He did not say anything about being left with the monkeys.  Good man (or just too tired to carry on a conversation). 
 
 

Monday, November 8, 2010

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 8

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Scott's not home yet.  I'm not sure if he'll be home tonight or not.  His overnights might start tonight.  He's probably thankful for something, but I'm sure it's buried deep down under the stress he's feeling.  Hopefully he's getting the help and cooperation he needs from his guys.  If so, I'd be thankful for that.
I'm also thankful for the Internet.  There's a lot I don't know and don't use online.  But I do love my blogging, facebook, the ease of email, and the ability to search anything anywhere.  We use it quite often in our homeschooling too, at least for research, if not games to play related to the topic we're talking about.  Who doesn't love to learn something without knowing that they're learning!?
Gracie - gymnastics
Tyler - chocolate (and he offered that up all on his own - so proud!)
Jace - "I'm thankful for Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.  After all, he makes The Dukes of Hazzard...The Dukes of Hazzard."