January 30, 2009

Aloha Friday: Blog templates



Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday. Kailani of An Island Life writes...

In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link below. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Today’s question is:

How did you decide which blog template to use on your blog?

January 27, 2009

WW & SEW: Tooth #2!



One week ago today, Timothy lost his first tooth. When I picked him up from school today, the gap seemed especially big to me. I looked inside and asked if he lost another tooth. "I don't know". And then he pulled a tooth out of his pants pocket! He had told his teacher it came out at home, but we think he was getting confused with the 1st tooth a week ago. Funny. I don't think we have any others loose right now. If this gets to be a weekly occurrence, I'll have to put it in my budget!

You can see more pictures at Wordless Wednesday and Special Exposure Wednesday.

Military Communication Part 2: Military Care Kits

Since our service members receive mail in spurts, every letter or package means the world to them. I want to let you know about "Military Care Kits". You receive FREE supplies from the United States Postal Service. It includes everything you need to mail something to a service member: 6 flat rate boxes, labels, customs forms, and packing tape! All you have to do is call this phone number:

1-800-610-8734

Ask for a Care Kit. They will take your name and address, and you'll receive the supplies in about a week. The nice thing about the flat rate is that weight doesn't matter! You can pack that thing full. Plus, military addresses get a $2 discount, so it's only $10.95 to mail the flat rate box to your service member! You will be amazed at how much stuff you can cram into one of those boxes! You can use these supplies for anyone who has an APO or FPO address, and if you want to send one to Dan, here's his address:

FC1 S. Daniel Smith
CF Division
USS Antietam (CG-54)
FPO AP 96660-1174

He would love it, as would any service member you know!

Military Communication Part 1: How Often Do I get to talk to Dan?

I get this question a lot. If everything is going well, he and I can shoot some emails back and forth to one another, and one of the big reasons my blog is filled with so many details that most of you wouldn't care about is that Dan is able to check my blog. He can see more pictures than through email, and it's the only way I can show him video.

Each branch of the military has its different pros and cons. These days the Army and Marines (and Reservists) are really getting the short end of the stick, but in peace time the Navy's schedule is pretty nasty. Hopefully, Obama will bring our soldiers home, but our sailors will be gone just as much.

One negative for Navy now is that we don't get to speak to our service members often. I know people who talk to their loved ones in Iraq almost daily. And since I DO NOT want Dan in Iraq, I'm happy to opt for no verbal communication. However, it is tough to go a month or longer without hearing his voice.

But imagine life without email? How did those military wives do it years ago when they had to actually depend on snail mail for communication? Yikes! Dan and I rely heavily on email, and the system does go down which makes us wait a day or so. So I laughed when I received this from the command of Dan's ship this morning!

Throughout this deployment there may - probably will - be times when connectivity is lost between the ship and our loved ones back home. This can occur for a number of reasons - operational necessity and equipment casualties to name just two - and it may last from a few hours to a number of days. You'll know this sort of thing has happened when our usually reliable e-mails stop arriving. If/when this happens, please don't fret: we will reestablish communications as soon as possible. In the mean time, please don't overwhelm the system with countless emails asking why we don't respond. If you don't get a response after an email or two please stop sending them. Too many emails may overwhelm the buffer that is holding our incoming email and that may cause it to crash and permanently lose all those messages you sent. You may not like it - and trust me we don't either - and it may be hard, but just wait a bit and as soon as possible we will be back in touch.

We've gotten so spoiled! I sent a package the first mailing day after Dan left and 9 days later he doesn't have it yet. It goes through the normal mail service to the aircraft carrier. Then once it's sorted there, it gets flown over to Dan's ship. Of course it's going to take a while! Two days is nothing compared to that! I really try to remember that it could be so much worse.

What's on your Nightstand?



Books I've read:

For the Tough Times, by Max Lucado. You can read that review here.

Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The few chapters I made it through seemed good, but I have decided to opt out for right now. Just too much on my plate.

Olivia, by Ian Falconer. That was part of January's Children's Classics, and I'll be doing a Book To Screen review in February!

Currently reading:

The Story Girl, by L.M. Montgomery. Technically, this book is not on my nightstand because I left it at my PT appt yesterday. Ugh. It's a library book! I have to call this morning to track it down. And the worst part is I didn't have it to read before going to sleep last night!

Golden Road, by L.M. Montgomery is the sequel, and I plan on reading it as well even if I don't finish by the carnival deadline this Friday.

For February:



The Gift of Psalms is the next book for me to review for Thomas Nelson Publishing. It' s a devotional book of 50 Psalms, plus 30 of them are on cd, read by famous actors.



Same Kind of Different As Me is another Thomas Nelson book. I am not required to review it, but this video grabbed my attention, so I decided to accept an online copy. Since February is Black History Month I am very interested in reading a book that portrays the story of two men from separate worlds coming together.



On a lighter note, I will be reading an A.A. Milne book for Children's Classics.

I think this month's "Nightstand" is more about what's NOT on it than what is on it. I had huge book reading hopes this year, but already 10 days into this deployment I can tell I've got to alter my expectations.

L.M. Montgomery books - I'll have to spread these out throughout the year!

Sound Mind, Sound Mom book club - I guess I'm going to have to opt for a Surviving Mind, Surviving Mom because I'm just not going to be able to do this. Maybe next year! But the books sound great, so if you are interested (just 1 book every 2 months), head over there and check it out.

Want to know if your Nightstand looks like someone else's? Click here.

January 26, 2009

The Facebook Phenomenon

I'm sure my Facebook experience has been similar to most. I first joined and didn't do anything with it for months, but every once in a while I would get a "friend request". The whole thing just seemed foreign to me, and then one day I decided to log in to my much neglected account. There was an entire network of communication between "friends". So I commented here and there and finally got brave enough to give a "status update".

Well, you know how you go through those friend request spurts in Facebook? About 3 or 4 months ago I stumbled upon a pocket of my best buds from youth group (yes 20 years ago!), and it has been so fun! Some embarrassing photos have been posted and we've shared our favorite memories from choir tour!! Good times.

But what I wasn't ready for was the reality of life. A few weeks ago I read on someone's wall, of all places, some tragic news. The mother of my best friend in 9th grade had been cancer free for 5 years, but it had returned and she had weeks to live. Suddenly I was back in 9th grade, and even though I haven't spoken to Michael in years (except for a Facebook friend request), it's all felt very close. Last Thursday Michael's mother went to be with the Lord.

I don't know if death hits me harder because of Samantha's CF...or maybe because my sister-in-law died at the young age of 15...or perhaps because I've watched a very dear friend deal with the loss of her husband? I guess none of these scenarios have to exist for me to know that death sucks.

So this Facebook thing has changed relationships. Childhood friends that I wouldn't have even been talking to several months ago, I'm now grieving with. In the last week there have been steady emails back and forth as we each try to show love and concern in our own way. We were young kids who depended on our parents to drive us places, so we all knew Linda well. She was a warm, welcoming "youth group" mom, who always had a beautiful smile on her face. She will be treasured.

Today my friends from years ago are celebrating her life in the church we grew up in. Oh, I wish I were there right now. Even though I know words can't fix things, I still want them to. And if I were there I wouldn't have to say anything...I could just show support by my presence. Unfortunately, life doesn't seem to always give us want we want.

And neither does Facebook.

January 25, 2009

Technical Difficulties

So I'm having some blogging problems. A friend of mine has gotten multiple "Upgrade to Pro" "Bandwidth Exceeded" messages from Photobucket on my blog! I was so confused because I don't even have an account with them. Well, I've discovered it's my new template. Those images are connected to an account that is full, and it's evidently going to show up on my blog. I guess my only recourse is to find a new template, so bare with me while I do that. It took me hours and hours to decide upon this one, so I don't know how long my blog will look "wonky" (to quote Stephanie). Any advice is appreciated!

Magic Marker Monday: Wrapping Paper



For the birthday party we attended on Saturday, we did something a little different. I wrapped the present in brown package paper, and then I let Timothy draw on it however he wanted. He really struggles with drawing (due to poor fine motor skills and some strange mental block), so I'm trying to find various ways to make it enjoyable. Plus, this personalizes the present a little and makes him think about the person he's giving the gift to. The blank space is where we had a stuffed animal attached.



And he wrote the To and From on the back!



For more Magic Marker Monday, click on over to 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

Weekend Wrapup #1: Keeping Busy

I just made it through my first week with a deployed spouse and most importantly I made it through my first Saturday! I find that day the hardest because it's the only day of the week that I don't have a regularly scheduled event. So I'm going to start highlighting our Saturday activities, and it may also include Sunday here and there.

Yesterday was busy...

We started the festivities with a birthday party. We are quite blessed to live in very nice military housing that has playgrounds every few blocks. There is such a nice community atmosphere here, and lots of people host b-day parties at these play areas. It's always fun to walk to a birthday party!





We left from there and went to AWANA Games practice. Yes, our AWANA Sparks and T&T kids will compete against other AWANA groups in Feb, but we have to practice before then! The first hour they walked all over campus (very hilly) balancing bean bags on their heads, and then the 2nd hour they practiced the games. Timothy was intense. Samantha played with all the excess toys, and then she took a snack break. She is meticulous about her orange peeling!



And if that wasn't enough to wear them out, I took them to the YMCA last night! Samantha fell asleep on the way there and Timothy was asleep when I picked them up. He never falls asleep like that-he was exhausted.

I signed them up at the Y because I was invited to a White Elephant party. I got one of the more normal gifts...a snow globe. Someone received 90210 Season 3. That's funny. The party was a lot of fun.

I also put my foot down about an ongoing issue of music in our car. The kids always ask to skip this song or that song (usually because it's slow), and I finally made a "no skipping" rule. Timothy caught it the first time, but Samantha is still learning.

We have a new "favorite" Veggie Tales cd called The Incredible Singing Christmas Tree. You can click on the link to hear excerpts. Make sure you listen to #7! Timothy has now decided to assign us all parts. He says that when Daddy comes home he can be Mr. Lunt!

January 24, 2009

Mario Kart Wii Champion

I haven't had any time for blogging because I've been doing something really important...honing my Mario Kart Wii skills. At least it's paying off!!!

This morning was a milestone for me...I got 1st place in ALL 4 races of The Shell Cup!! Yes, that's 60 points-the most you can get!!!

My son is proud to call me his momma!

January 22, 2009

Blog Awards

I have some awards that I need to accept! And since I'm stil playing catch up in my blogging, I'm going to nominate 1 person for each award.

On Dec 8, Jessie at Breezy's Bravery, a Fight Against CF gave me this award! I think who should get this award is pretty self-explanatory (a Superior Scribbler), but here's an interesting history of how this award came to be.



I'm giving this award to my husband, Dan at Making Strides to Cure Found. Yes, I recognize the nepotism. I may not agree with every word he writes, but he has a beautiful way with words. I love reading what he has to say, and I'm glad he now has a venue to scribble.

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On December 20th, Carrie at Housekeeping and Mommy Moments gave me this award. This is to be awarded to someone who exhibits the mentality "If life hands you lemons, make lemonade!!!"



EVERY time I see this award her name is THE name that comes to my mind. I have to give this award to my precious friend, Christi at New Mercies Every Morning. In 2 short years, Christi's entire family structure changed and there is lemonade for everyone!

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And on January 17th, Cindy at Cure CF for Reilly gave me this award. (Oh, and I just saw that Jessie has passed this on to me as well!) This award is supposed to be for "new bloggy friends. It should go to those who step outside their comfort zone and make new bloggy friends".



So I'm going to really step out of my comfort zone here and nominate someone who I don't really "know" yet, but who's blog is a continual enjoyment: Christy at After a Cup of Coffee or Two. Christy is a Christian military wife who really articulates our life humorously and eloquently, but she has great "civilian" posts as well like 7 Tiny Things that Really Hurt to Step On.

January 21, 2009

Tooth Fairy Cometh

Well, it happened! The boy lost his first tooth! It's been wiggly for many weeks now, and I was hoping it would come out before Dan left. This has been a fun night, nonetheless!



Timothy was fiddling around with it, an easy habit he's picked up. He and I were talking and out it popped. I told him it would bleed a little, but he wasn't worried one bit. He dabbed at the vacancy a few times and within a few minutes the bleeding had stopped.



He was so excited. We read The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss tonight. Actually, he read it to us (his 3 stuffed friends, Samantha, and me). He was so wired about losing his tooth he couldn't get to sleep! It was hysterical.



Samantha wanted to make sure I knew she lost her tooth as well.

WW & SEW: Navy Life

I had set this picture aside to put in today's Wordless Wednesday...


But my mother pointed out to me that this picture actually shows Dan and Timothy expressing their love wordlessly. For those of you haven't seen it yet, you may have to click on it to really see what's going on.


You can read about Dan's ship deploying here.

And you can see more Wordless Wednesday & Special Exposure Wednesday here and here.

January 20, 2009

Kids' Picks: Madam President


Mom: Timothy, tomorrow is the inauguration of President Elect Barack Obama. Do want to read Madam President?

Timothy: Oh yes, yes, yes, alright, yes!!!!



Author and Illustrator: Lane Smith
Copyrighted: 2008 (I don't think we've ever read a book this new!)
Publisher: www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com
Author website: www.lanesmithbooks.com

A government-themed book seemed appropriate for today, but how many of those could I find that would actually be a Kid's Pick? Well, this one sure is! We may even have to own this story of a little girl who is President of her own world. She has executive orders to give, babies to kiss, and school lunches to veto. Timothy's favorite page is President Katy's cabinet members, which include Mr. Potato Head for the Secretary of Agriculture and a piggy bank for the Secretary of the Treasury.

I'm slowly being introduced to children's literature, but you will know Lane Smith from James and the Giant Peach & The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. The "feel" of the book reminded me of Mo Willems, so I giggled when I found this. With President's Day just around the corner, this would be a simple and enjoyable way to introduce government concepts to 4-8 year olds. Both Washington and Lincoln are spotted in the book in various ways. And for any of you homeschooling moms, the publisher has this 9 page "Event Kit" which looks like a ready made lesson plan to me!

For more Kids' Picks, visit 5 Minutes for Books.

January 19, 2009

Deployment Prayer Requests


I know this suddenly feels like a military blog! It won't be military only forever, but this first week back to blogging you may see a little extra than normal. The biggie we need is prayer!! I'm such a big believer in it. I don't even think of it as "the thing you can do for me since you live far away". It's THE most important thing. And I'm going to list 7 items in case you decide to pray for us regularly. This way you can pray for one thing each day of the week.
  1. My physical health-The only thing worse than being single mom is being a sick single mom! Last deployment I had emergency gallbladder surgery. No thank you.
  2. Samantha's physical health-Obviously this is a constant concern. We want to keep those lungs maximized to their full potential! But then there are other complications to a hospital visit when I'm a single parent.
  3. Sexual purity for both of us
  4. Timothy's anger management and need for control-He has come a long way in 4 months of school, and I don't want to see him regress.
  5. Spiritual growth-what better time for both Dan and me to grow in the Lord than when we recognize our need for Him?
  6. Emotional strength-I think it's fine to long for when Dan returns, but I don't want to pine away for 6+ months. That's half a year of living I need to do!
  7. Support system-I have a good support system, but I need to develop it and remember ways to utilize it. Dan has a limited support system. I pray that God will surround him with men, both on and off the ship, who want to do the right thing.
Thank you in advance!

January 17, 2009

Ship Departing...

Dan's ship left yesterday, and it really could not have gone any better. Dan didn't have to be there until 10am, so we had a nice relaxing morning. Of course we played some Mario Kart Wii.

Two ships fit on each pier and Dan's ship was at the far end. I never get to take pictures (security), but everyone was snapping away so I took advantage.


The ship felt like Freshman dorm on move-in day. There were families everywhere, some extended family seeing the ship for the 1st time. Obviously, it's our second home.


Families were allowed to be on the ship until 11am, so we got the kids some snacks to make sure their bellies were nice and full. We met some families and had some pictures taken.




While Dan was getting snacks, I took this video.
video

I had teared up a couple of times before now when I accidentally saw some other families saying good-byes. I kept telling myself, "Alicia, stop looking at people!" But when Dan walked us out to the pier, it was our turn to do that. There was no delaying it anymore. As soon as I hugged him the tears flowed freely. While Dan and I were hugging, Timothy came up and put his arms around both of our legs, which was so precious to me. Timothy has a very hard time connecting emotionally, so when he can live in the moment and allow others to experience their feelings he's really stepping outside of himself.

Dan went back on the ship to "Man The Rails", and we stood on the pier as close to him as we could. We had another hour before the ship actually left, and I didn't know that my kids would make it that long. Since this was my first "Send Off" (last deployment the kids and I had just moved to Dallas), I was really hoping to see the ship pull away. Thankfully, God provided 2 very important things. One was shade. Timothy can only stand the heat for so long. And the second was this family. (Isn't Breanna adorable in her sailor dress?)



Steve is standing next to Dan on the rails. (A little to the right of center).


Kristina's son, Dillon, and my kids had a great time! They would yell things to their dads, run around, and then take a break in the shade. It allowed Kristina and I to relax and actually soak in the moment instead of being overwhelmed by crying/screaming children. I can honestly say it was fun, but more importantly it was memorable.



This crane is lifting the bridge off that allows us to walk on the ship.


These sailors are untying the ropes.


This smoke basically means someone has put the key in the ignition.


And my FAVORITE picture of the day.


In case you need the close up.


Dan, we love you.

We stayed the whole time, and we watched the ship leave until we couldn't recognize Dan's face anymore. There was laughter from everyone around when Samantha kept yelling, "Bye Daddy! Bye Daddy!!!" It was all very matter of fact and oh so cute. Kristina and I took the kids to McDonald's afterwards where they played for over 2 hours!! That was like the cherry on top to a great experience! Having to face something so miserable, I don't know how it could have gone any more smoothly. Thank you, God.

January 15, 2009

4th Photo Meme

Christy at Color Me Healthy just tagged me with the most enjoyable Meme!!! Christy not only has Cystic Fibrosis, she has been through a lung transplant, recent kidney transplant, and is gearing up for sinus surgery this year. Christy has such an amazing heart and is such an encouragement in the CF blogging community. She's also been blessed with a beautiful daughter, Casey.

So here are the tag rules:

1.) Go to your 4th folder where you store your photos.
2.) Select your 4th picture (no exceptions)! Seriously.. no exceptions.
3.) Post the picture with an explanation and link it back to your tagger.
4.) Tag 4 people to do the same!!

I know you're never going to believe me, but this is the photo that was really there! I went to "Pictures", then "2000-Previous Years", and this was the 4th picture:


This was taken in April of 2006. Timothy was almost 3 and still had some baby fat! Oh, it's fun to remember that! This picture was taken by the Hotel del Coronado, one of my favorite beaches here.

I'm going to give brief comments about each friend, just because I'm trying to spend as little time away from my family as possible. I'm tagging...

Stephanie-My blogging partner in crime, she always has a witty anecdote to share. Her kids give her lots of material!

Jenn-Bryan (Jenn's son) is in Timothy's kindergarten class, and she is the amazing photographer who's photo of Samantha is on our CF blog.

Pam-I can't get over the courage and wisdom of this woman! She is such a hero of mine, and always has hysterical photos to share!

Kristen-She moved to San Diego last year, and after "meeting" through blogging we are on the verge of meeting in real life. She and her husband have now started an awesome blog about great stuff to do here called Beyond the Zoo.

January 14, 2009

WW & SEW: Sibling Play

I got Larry!!!


Oh, them is fightin' words...


Larry is MINE!


Check out more Wordless Wednesday and Special Exposure Wednesday.

January 13, 2009

Children's Classics: Olivia



Olivia is coming to the small screen! Yes, that's right. Starting Jan 26th, Olivia is going to be on the regular lineup of Nick Jr. Published in 2000, it may not technically be a classic yet, but it is definitely a future classic! It is a Caldecott honor book, and since it's coming to Nick Jr I thought it would be a good reminder for anyone who hasn't read the books. The nice thing about it coming to television is that an entire population of kids who may have never read the books will be exposed to it!

Olivia is a little female pig who has a mom, a dad, a younger brother, a dog, and a cat. She is full of personality, has tons of energy and curiosity, and "is good at lots of things". Ian Falconer, the author, is a painter and brings his appreciation of art to the books. Olivia visits a museum and after seeing a Jason Pollock thinks, "I can do that," and goes home and does it! There are 10 books that I know of now, so I'll actually be interested to see how this translates to television. I'm sure it will be cute, but will we be watching the same 5 episodes over and over?

Olivia has a great website with tons of activities, so click here for that. I do think Olivia falls into the "Oh yes, I've heard of that" category that defines a Children's Classic. However, if you haven't had a chance to be introduced to this precious pig and her imaginative ways, check these books out at your next stop to your local library! For more Children's Classics, head on over to 5 Minutes For Books!

January 12, 2009

It'll be quiet for a few days...

I won't be posting much this week, just the bare bones. Trust me, I know I'll miss the break more than anyone else! This is just my last week w/you know who, and I'm feeling the time slipping away. I had to write it, though, because I'm living in SUCH denial! Plus, I knew if I posted it I would give myself more grace about not writing. Please pray for me, and I'll get back soon.

Texas CF Newborn Screening Funds

Those of you who have read our entire story know that Samantha was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis through a newborn screen. However, at the time this was not a state mandate. Samantha was born in Dec '05, and the California universal newborn screen was instated in July of '07. We feel so blessed because the CF doctor at our hospital (Sam's current Dr) was on the board pushing for universal newborn screening, and he was requiring it for every child born at our hospital.

When she was born there were only about 13 states that had implemented universal newborn screening, but in just these few short years almost every state has come aboard. There are 3 states that still need to implement it, but I want to focus on my home state of Texas.

According to the CF Foundation website, the screening has been approved, but the program lacks funding. On Tuesday, January 13 (which is tomorrow), the 81st Texas Legislature will convene to determine funding for all kinds of health related issues. Due to the needs of so many, Cystic Fibrosis newborn screening may get pushed to the side for the THIRD time. It is too late for a letter campaign, but if you live in Texas, you can contact your senator or representative by phone. Here is an example of what to say.

Don't know who to call?

Find your state senator here.

Find your state representative here.

If any of you living in TX call one of your representatives, please tell us how it goes. Was it easy? Was it a challenge? Did you have to hang up for being on hold so long?

January 11, 2009

Cutest Charger Fan Ever



Oh yes, there's Charger fever around here!
  1. Timothy's class made these adorable Charger hats on Friday.
  2. Our school district's home page is this.
  3. I went to a Sat night worship service at a nearby church to attend my friend's baby dedication, and the Pastor wore a Charger's sweatshirt and blue jeans.
  4. When Timothy saw 2 of his friends at that same church service he asked, "Why aren't you wearing Charger shirts?"

January 10, 2009

NFL Divisional Playoffs

This is who I want to see move on to next week...





Who are you rooting for this weekend?