Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to us!

On Christmas Day this year, on the other side of the world, Brent got the present that he wanted most. He's hoped and dreamed of becoming an Oral Surgeon and just got his acceptance to the OMFS Residency Program. I got the present that I wanted most, too: Brent is blissfully happy.

I am so grateful to be married to this amazing man. He sets goals and doesn't hold back. If someone tells him he can't do something, he just becomes more determined to succeed. He's had many obstacles in his academic life, but he just keeps moving forward. He doesn't just believe, he constantly demonstrates faith. He prays, listens, and takes action. I don't think I'll ever know why I have been so blessed, but I am grateful every day for his love and example in my life. I hope that I can be just like him when I grow up (if that ever happens).

I'm also excited that we'll most likely be in Washington for the next 5 1/2 years. We will be within driving distance of our families AND finally stay somewhere long enough to be able buy our very own house! Yippie!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dear Seasoned Snow Driver,

Please accept my deepest apologies for slowing your drive. I understand that it must be VERY frustrating to be stuck behind a car traveling at 15 MPH, rather than 25.

But traveling at such a snail's pace is surely preferable to having my oversized vehicle rammed into your beautiful car.

Am I right?

Because that is the alternative.


Scared of Snow and Ice

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Musical Monologue

I don't stay up late enough to watch Saturday Night Live; with three kids who wake up BEFORE the crack of dawn it isn't even an option. But sometimes I catch a clip or two. I liked this one:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What we've been up to:

We said goodbye to Brent at the end of September. He was able to spend almost two weeks here with us before he left, which was wonderful. The kids have adjusted quickly, and just Mercedes gets sad once in a while. Cooper expects Daddy to come home at any moment, and talks about him often, but doesn't get sad at all. We're lucky to have two sets of grandparents to fill the void (which is the reason we're here, after all).

Cooper asks all day where Grandma and Grandpa are, and can't wait for them to come home and play with him. He goes to Costco with them every Saturday morning and guzzles down "the samples." He insists on watching "The Grinch" (Jim Carrey version) with Grandma every single night before bed (usually for 1/2 hour or so). It doesn't matter that he's now watched it 20 times, he still laughs and laughs.

Mercedes loves playing with her "BFF" Gabriella, who lives across the street. They've been playing together since they were two, and usually get along very well. She's enjoying school, and it's so fun to see her reading! She has the talent of getting along with almost everyone (boys and girls alike), and has made lots of good friends at school. She tells me that her teacher, Mrs. Rasband, is the very best teacher in the whole school, and that first grade is the very best grade. For Halloween, her teacher dressed up as a BYU Football Coach and when the kids got noisy she would blow her whistle at them and talk to them "just like a real coach."

Lincoln LOVES his Grandpa. He's learned to just look at a person and whine when he wants attention. If he's down on the floor, he'll try to climb up the person's leg. As soon as he sees Grandpa, the whining begins. And of course, Grandpa loves Lincoln to death. Grandma is a favorite as well. Lincoln is getting ready to start walking. He's determined to be independent, and to get into EVERYTHING, just like a normal almost-one year old. He's finally started swallowing a few bites of food every once in a while, which makes me ecstatic. His favorite seems to be squash. Not baby food, mind you. He won't have anything to do with baby food. He likes mashed up squash with butter, salt and pepper. Last night Grandpa got him to eat a little bit of banana too!

The kids also LOVE spending time with their Uncle Chris. My brother comes over every once in a while to do his laundry here, and the kids don't leave him alone for even a second! Cooper calls him "Uncle." That's all. Just, "Uncle." Sometimes he says, "where is the Uncle?" It's pretty funny. Chris plays with them on the swing set, watches their shows with them, and recently even participated in making up a song and dance with Mercedes. It's priceless.

Brent tries to call early enough to talk to them at least once a week, usually on Sunday night. He was really excited to talk to them last night and hear all about their Halloween. You know how some people like to not have tons of work to do? To Brent, not being busy is pure torture. Last week he hardly saw any patients, and was trying to keep busy by helping to do construction work. This Monday was his best day over there so far, because he actually saw 6 patients (which only occupied a morning). There just isn't a need to have so many dentists over there. One more example of how anything managed by the US Government is just a mess of wasted time and money.

The kids had a blast this Halloween. It was the first time that Mercedes has been allowed to wear a costume to school, and I think that they spent most of Friday "partying." My cousins came over on Saturday night and went trick-or-treating with both the kids for a little while, before taking Mercedes home with them to do some serious candy-collecting. On Sunday I had them each pick 10 (which turned into 20) pieces of candy to keep and sent the rest elsewhere. They were up bright and early Monday morning sneaking into their stashes.

Here are some pictures of Halloween morning:

And evening:

The Shaggy Dog, "Sharpay," and a little monkey.

Poor Lincoln only kept his costume on for a few minutes. He ended up with a fever that lasted two days. Thankfully, his fever is gone and just the head cold is left.

Mercedes on Friday morning before school:

(Not the best quality photos, right? Sorry - I'm terrible! I really don't know how to use our camera, but I did recently order "Photography for Dummies" from Amazon. Hopefully it will be delivered soon...)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

in-n-out is almost here!

I just found out that in-n-out will be opening in Draper on November 17th. Draper is only 15 minutes from us here in Highland. There's one still under construction in Orem, but I'm not sure when it will open. I am just SO EXCITED!

I'm not big on red meat. Once a month Brent will grill steak (and he does a super great job), and I'm usually good with two or three bites. I don't ever cook with beef. I'm better with poultry and fish. Usually the heavy proteins are just TOO heavy for me. But for some reason, I never feel bad after eating an in-n-out burger.

What's so great about in-n-out you ask? Well, here is just a short list of reasons why it's the best place to buy a burger:

1- They use the highest quality and freshest meat.
2- Their fries actually look and TASTE like real potatoes (because they are - no sugar added).
3- Animal style or no onion/extra tomato; they always make it to order.
4- The people working there are NICE!
5- Their restaurants are always clean.
6- FRESH iceberg lettuce, RIPE juicy tomatoes.
7- Lemon-up.
8- Yummiest buns.
9- "Secret" sauce.
10- Shakes made from REAL ice cream.
11- Affordable.
12- They give my kids stickers.

Last friday Mercedes told me that she wants to go to in-n-out for her birthday. Looks like that's where you'll find us on Nov. 21st.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

He did it!

I am continually amazed by Cooper. It's so fun to have a two year old who speaks so well, because we get to find out just how much he knows.

He loves to say the prayer when we eat, or at night when we have family prayer. Usually he will repeat what he's told, either by me or by Mercedes.

Tonight I asked him if he'd like to say the prayer, and he said yes. I asked him, "would you like to do it all by yourself?" Cooper is all about doing things all by himself, so of course his answer was yes. I was amazed when he just went ahead and said the prayer... perfectly!

What a kid.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A note from Brent:

It is starting to cool off here in the desert. The temperatures have been only getting up into the 70s and down into the 40s/50s at night. The dust still floats around like a fog. Fortunately I do not have to work outside, because they have to deal with it constantly.

I am starting to see more patients during the day. The word is getting out that I am here and people are taking advantage of the chance to get a cleaning (yippy skippy a cleaning) my favorite part of dentistry. I did get a more challenging case yesterday. A patient had a crown placed before she came. It was one of her front lateral teeth on top. The tooth had gone through some extensive dentistry before it came to me and to me it is a non-restorable tooth, but out here there are not the materials to fix a problem like that so I had to improvise. I drilled out some of the filling material from the root canal that had been done down about 5 mm. Then I bonded a piece of paper clip into the crown and cemented it back in place where I had made the hole. That seemed to work pretty well. She came back and I tried to move it and it would not move so we are going to see how long that will last.

I finished reading a book called "the Undaunted" last night. It was about the some of the pioneers that settled down near the four corners area. It was a pretty good book about one how these people from Yorkshire became converted and what they had to go through as a pioneer company to make their new settlements. Sounds pretty tough to me. I am glad that I did not have to go through that time period. Those were some tough people back then.

So Halloween is coming up in a little while. I am going to go as an army guy and carry a 9 mm around all the time. Then I will fix all the peoples halloween candy teeth because the are pulling there crowns out with the sticky pieces (happened this week). Sound like a good idea? How about you guys what are you going to go as? Dad probably as one of the Spanish conquestadores (not sure if that is spelled right). Mom as the wild cowgirl that tamed the west with her trusty sidekick Teddy. Suzanne as as Aspen tree hugger. Gerratt as the quick draw master with his .22 cal pea shooter. Lisa as the zoo keeper in charge of 3 wild animals. Cooper as the youngest taxi driver who will help you buckle your seat belt so he can drive fast. Mercedes as a princess of course, but which one will be the suprise. Lincoln as CPT smiley so that he can show off his new upper teeth.

Well, Love you all and hope things are great back in the states. It is a wonderful place to be. We really need to appreciate how beautiful it is. Yes, there are retards who govern it, but hopefully someday there will be somebody able to fix some of the problems.

A paper clip? Really? Who are you, MacGyver?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"I drive my car."

Cooper makes me laugh every day.

This morning he was pretending to "drive his car." He got out of the armchair that was serving as his car and said, "I'm home!" I asked him if he had fun driving his car, and then asked if he drove fast or slow. He thought for a minute, "uhhhh..." and then said, "I put my seatbelt on. Then go fast." And then, "I go feed the chickens now."

(My dad keeps chickens with a friend at the friends house - because my mom does not want them messing all over her yard - and sometimes has to go down to Provo to feed the chickens. Cooper loves to go with him.)

Currently, he is driving Mercedes and Grandma in "the little taxi car." They're going to Jupiter. When Grandma got in the car Cooper said, "I put on your seatbelt" and put Grandma's seatbelt on.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stryker Brigade

I've gotten to talk to Brent a few times this week. On Saturday night he called to tell me, "happy anniversary!" (Pretty sad that I didn't even realize it was our anniversary until that call, but that's a whole other post.) Each time I talk to him, I learn a bit more about what life is like at Kandahar.

Brent's brigade (Fort Lewis’ 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division), is the first Stryker Brigade in Afghanistan. They were originally assigned to Iraq, but as the need for troops there fell and the need for troops in Afghanistan rose, they were re-assigned. A Stryker is a kind of vehicle. It's kind of like a tank, but with wheels instead of tracks. Some have big guns, some don't. Apparently, there are different types of Strykers.

Here are a few examples:

Brent is the brigade's only dentist, which means that he is responsible for about 4,000 soldiers. At Kandahar, there is one Navy dentist, a Canadian dentist and I think a British dentist. He works from 8 to 5, Monday through Saturday. The tent that he works in is connected to two other identical ones, one housing the medics and one for physical therapy. Together, they are the brigade's "aid station."

Because his brigade is the newest to arrive at Kanadhar, they are living in tents and using "port-o-johns." There are about 15 bunkbeds lined up in each tent. (Luckily he's on the bottom because Brent has a history of falling out of the top bunk.) The showers are ice cold. Brent says that he has to warm the water in his hands and then splash himself. They should be moving into "chews" soon, which are rooms made from those containers that they ship things in. I don't know what they're called, but if you've ever been to Long Beach you'll know what I'm talking about. He says that they'll have a window and air conditioning, so they'll definitely be more comfortable. Once he moves in there, he'll have just one roommate, a really nice physical therapist. They'll still be using the port-o-johns, though. And there's no plan for heated water. I asked him why there aren't buildings for them to use, and Brent explained that since they're the latest to arrive they'll have to build everything themselves.

If you know Brent, you know how much he likes camping. I practically had to force him to take Mercedes on the ward father-daughter campout when she was four, and even then they slept in the car! So I'm impressed that he doesn't complain. He mentions often that the food is really good, so it seems that he's focusing on the positive. By the end of the day, he is covered in dirt. Because he has so much down-time, he has been able to entertain himself by studying things like drugs, and pathology; preparing himself for his oral-surgery residency.

Here's a website with news about his brigade:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Note from Brent

Brent sent this note out to all of his "dental" friends, explaining what life is like for him in Afghanistan. I don't even know what most of the dental terminology means, but I do think that RCT means root canal treatment or something like that.

Hey everyone,

So here is the low down on Afghanistan from the dentist point of view. I am the only US dentist on the Kandahar Air Field which is a base to 42 different countries and about the size of SLC in population. There are a few dentists from Canada and Great Britian. Our clinic is not very busy though, at least yet because not too many are aware that I am here yet. Most of the work that I will be doing is RCT, ext, minimal restorative procedures and prophy's. I am training my assistant to do the prophy's though so that I dont have to. The set up is almost exactly like AYUDA. The only difference is that I actually finish the RCT and the dental unit is electric rather than air driven. We ordered a rotary hand piece for doing endo so we will see how long that takes to get here. I work out of a tent that is about 16 feet in diameter and it is connected to about 4 other tents that are about the same size. It is called the aid station because we are combined with a PA and about 7 medics who take care of other health issues (minor sick call for soldiers). Our work day starts at about 8 am and goes to about 5. The dentist that was here before had a 2 hr lunch break during that time to go work out. I am not sure if I am going to have that or not I am still deciding. We have digital xrays that are pretty good (DEXIS) system.

The food here is really good. You could get fat real easy here if you are not careful. They have meals 3 different times during the day and a midnite buffet for those who have night shifts. They have fresh fruit (melons, peaches, strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges) not all at the same time but with different meals. They also have burgers, fries and corn dogs for every meal if you want them. Then they have fresh made omletts or different types of eggs, sausage, pancakes, french toast. Basically anything you would want for breakfast. Lunch usually has the same kind of lunch meals that people would be use to with salads, and sandwiches. Dinner the same kind of thing they have mexican nights, chinese nights. They even have 6 different cafeteria like places (DFAC) that specialize in different styles of cooking.

The temp here is in the 90s right now but is starting to go down into the 80s. The mornings are in the 50s. There is dust everywhere. Nothing stays clean inside or out. My nose is constantly full of dirt. I dont know how a person could live here constantly. No wonder they are so mad all the time. They use our garbage to make bombs against us. They learn to make bombs when they are about 5 yrs old here so there are many children without limbs or other missing parts because of explosives they play with.

It is fairly safe on the base where I am at. The size of it prevents too much from happening around here because if anyone tried anything they would not live to long after.

They do have some extracurricular activities around such as basketball, volleyball, lots of xbox, football games that are mostly in the middle of the night because of the time difference. The internet here is extremely slow so I dont email or use the internet much. I can make phone calls every once in a while, but again the time difference and the access to the phone is limited.

So that is it in a nut shell


Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

family fun

The best part of living in Utah is getting to spend time with family.  When we lived in Southern California, we were able to make two to three trips home every year.  While in South Carolina, we really missed those visits.  

Lincoln at Gram's house.

Linc and Aunt Suzanny

Gram and Aunt Suzanne

Gram has the BEST books, and Cooper 
loves to sit in her chair to read them.
This favorite is a pop-up all about the ocean.

In American Fork canyon, we had a fun picnic on 
the last warm weekend of the year.  
Here, Mercedes is cooking her own hot-dog.

And eating it.

With cousins on an Autumn Sunday afternoon.
Britton, Kimball, Mercedes and Avery.
Mercedes and Cooper LOVE to be with their cousins.

Cooper, Britton, Aiden, Kimball, Avery, Mercedes, and Liam.
(Lincoln was in the car eating).

Monday, October 5, 2009

He made it!

We finally heard from Brent. Yahoo!!! He's made it all the way to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Instead of forwarding various family members the email, I'll just post it here:

I have been trying to email, call, email, call, but it seems like there is everything not working to allow me to get in touch with you. Things are great here. It seems like a pretty safe place due to the size. It is like living in a city with thousands of people constantly going places. The food is pretty good with fresh vegetables and fruit and stuff. I dont think that I will be that busy here from the looks of it. I will be working out of a tent for a while and the set up is like an AYUDA set up, but that is okay. People here are pretty nice and the weather has been very comfortable, mostly because the air conditioning works so well. The temp is normally in the 90s outside. It is very dusty here though. Like a continual cloud hovering over the base. The mail system is pretty good supposedly so I dont think that it will be a problem mailing stuff. They have not given me an address, but I dont have space yet to get any mail anyway. Hope this email reaches you. I will try and figure out a way to call sometime soon. Glad to hear the kids are doing well tell them I love them and miss them. Love you lots too.


I am so relieved to know where he is and to have heard from him. I feel like now I can feel normal again. So life is good. Thanks for all of your love and prayers and concern. We're so grateful for your support and kind words.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Attention All Husbands!!!!

I have an important message for you.  Are you listening?  No, I mean really listening?  OK.  Here goes:



The last time that I talked to Brent, he was in Virginia and not even sure of what country he was flying to next.  That was Wednesday night.  I've been away from him for extended periods of time before (6-8 wks), and knew that I'd be fine.  I thought, "I won't get lonely for a while." 


It hit me the first night that I was alone and the kids were in bed and I couldn't call him.  I didn't know where he was or when I might talk to him again.  I felt a sort of hollowness, and it's stayed with me.  It's not overwhelming.  It doesn't keep me up at night.  It just gnaws at me.  Throughout the day I have thoughts like, "I wonder where he is," and, "I wonder if they're feeding him and if he's getting any sleep" (he doesn't sleep on airplanes).  I also have the "worst case scenario" of, "he could be dead and I wouldn't even know it."  

My friend Stacey has experienced a few deployments of her (then) Navy husband.  She called me today to see how I'm doing (thank you again Stacey!).  She explained that the emotions experienced during a deployment are similar to the grieving process.  There's shock (you mean this is what life is going to be like for the next 10 months?), loneliness, depression, anger (at HIM for leaving), and then guilt when you are able to cope and even enjoy life again on your own.  At least I'm not pregnant!  She had her last two babies while her husband was at sea.  Talk about terrifying.  

I really shouldn't even be worried.  He's not one of the heroic infantry soldiers who actually patrol the towns, clearing out terrorists.  They won't even let Brent travel by convoy (if he ever has to leave the base to treat soldiers), because he's the only dentist for his company.  These are the things I tell myself in response to worried thoughts.  I cannot express how much I admire the wives (and/or husbands, of course) of the infantry soldiers.  They are amazing.  Those soldiers return to combat zones again and again.  

But of course I do worry because that's just what I do.  It's pretty much who I am.  I know, I'll keep working on it.  And I'll feel a million times better when I get to hear his voice again and know where he is.  

Control freak?  Who me?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

far far away

That's where Brent is; far, far away.  It feels so weird.  And scary.  Just because he's SO far away.

Today he flew from Washington to Virginia to New Hampshire.  I'm not sure what's after that because right before his flight left for New Hampshire even he didn't know what was next.   We're expecting the rest of his journey to consist of stops in Germany, Kuwait and Iraq before ending at Kandahar.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Salt Lake City

Before Brent had to report for duty at Ft. Lewis, WA, we thought that it'd be fun to take the kids to Temple Square in Salt Lake.  Brent and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple almost 8 years ago; it seems like yesterday, and at the same time, forever ago.  We spent some time touring the Visitor's Center and then had the yummiest ever lunch at the Lion House Buffet Restaurant, which was once the home of Brigham Young (the second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  

I just love this picture.

The Temple doors.

Mercedes standing in front of the Christus Statue in the Visitor's Center.

On the Temple Steps, the same ones that Brent and I had our wedding pictures taken on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


That's what we're doing.  We're transitioning.  Last night when I talked to Brent on the phone, he said; "you sound like you're doing great. You're a lot happier than you were when I first left."

It's true.  It just always takes me a while to adjust to any new situation.  Once I get into the groove of things, life gets much more manageable.  So that's what I'm working on.  Still.

I'm not quite entirely unpacked, which is pretty strange for me.  I've always been one who has pictures hung within days of moving to a new place.  I like to make a home my own.  I like to feel comfortable.  Of course, compared with what we're used to, my parents' house is like staying at the Ritz Carlton.  

We finally made it to Lincoln's doctor today.  He's a wee bit behind on his immunizations, but the good news is that we're getting caught up, right?  He hardly even cried, the sweet kid.  And Cooper was a superstar.  

As an aside, might I comment that I SO DON'T WANT GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE!!!!  Let me just tell you that I've had not one good experience with it.  

But today was heaven.  It was so wonderful to go to a doctor of my own choosing, who got me in and out in less than an hour.  The nurses were actually SUPER NICE instead of big mean-ies, and the doctor was experienced, patient and understanding.  Instead of waiting in a room filled with puking soldiers for more than an hour (I'm not even exaggerating), we spent less than five minutes in the WELL BABY waiting room.  I LOVE LOVE LOVED it!

After a rocky first week of school in which she ranted about how much she hated first grade, Mercedes is loving school.  She often tells me that First Grade is the best (that's what her teacher tells them and they even sing a song about it), and that she has the nicest teacher in the whole school.  She doesn't even complain about the homework (which is what I was dreading).  She's gotten 100% on each of her weekly spelling tests (all three of them) so far, and that makes her feel great.  She's been on a soccer team and has loved it.  My dad gets a bit frustrated watching her play, because she's more interested in the people watching her than in watching the game herself, but that just Mercedes.  She's a people person.  Next up is gymnastics.  She's always had a knack for it, and I think that she'll focus better in that environment.

Cooper is suddenly OBSESSED with books.  He's always liked them, but suddenly it seems that all he wants to do is sit and read.  It's great!  Grandma and Uncle Chris read piles of books to him, and just this morning he was begging me to "go see the books," meaning the library.  He loves to help with the laundry, take walks to the park, and play with his friends down the street.  His imagination and speech amaze me every day.  Just today the doctor was commenting on how advanced his speech is.  I told the doctor that he must be making up for his sister, who didn't really start talking until she was three (the same month that she was potty-trained).  This morning as I was looking up directions on the internet, I heard him in the background saying into a phone: "Don't call me dumb.  OK, Stacey?  Don't call me dumb."  I have ABSOLUTELY no idea where that came from.  

And Lincoln.  He's my sweetheart.  He never talks back to me.  He doesn't yell at me.  He ALWAYS smiles at me.  More than anything else, he is loving.  I am so grateful for a peaceful baby!  He's finally graduating from the army crawl into a true hands and knees, tummy off of the floor crawl.  He's pulling himself up onto furniture and climbing over anything in his way.  He still won't swallow anything other than breast-milk, but he loves to chew (and spit out).  At least I don't have to worry quite so much about him choking, right?  Someday someone other than me will be able to feed him, right?  It's hard for me to believe that he'll be eight months old on Sunday.  Time flies, whether you're having fun or not.  But I'm trying to savor this time with him, and believe it or not, I'm mostly succeeding.

I've got TONS of pictures to share, but not tons of time to share them.  So hopefully someday soon I'll get around to posting them.

Here are a few that we took on Labor Day:

We had THE HARDEST time getting a decent picture of Cooper.  He kept picking at his face.

Poor Lincoln.  He suffers from an overabundance of love.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

loving it

This is just so weird.

It's August and 54 degrees outside (at noon). It's snowing on Timp (the local mountain). I am wearing a sweatshirt!!!

By the end of summer I'm always excited for "sweater weather." I'm sure that in a few months I'll be anxious for warmer days, but right now the cool feels so good!

The day that we loaded our moving truck it was 104 degrees with 85 percent humidity. I was excited if the low got to 70 degrees. So now that I'm back in the West I can be grateful for dry skin because it means that I won't be sticky as soon as I walk out the door.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

we're here!

Weeeeeeee made it!  Whew.  

When Brent told me his plan to drive the 2100 miles from Lexington to Utah in just three days with a nursing baby, I was skeptical.  Back in the days of car seats and seat belts being optional, it might not have seemed such a tedious task.  Of course, the speed limits were lower then, too.  

But we did it and it's over!  

Brent's mom flew out to attend his graduation (more about that on another day) and to help us with the drive.  While Brent drove the 24 foot Penske truck and car trailer, Kim and I took turns driving the Yukon.  For three days, we stopped every three hours for about an hour.  It only takes Lincoln about 15-20 minutes to eat, but then there is the diaper changing (two boys), the bathroom trips, the fueling, and sometimes happy-meal buying to attend to.  

After starting out, it was soon apparent that our biggest problem would be Cooper and Mercedes fighting.  When they're well-rested, they get along pretty well.  However, they were definitely nowhere near well-rested.  The problem was solved by Brent, who offered Cooper a ride in the big yellow truck.  For most of Thursday, Cooper just sat happily and watched the road go by.  He didn't watch movies.  He didn't listen to music.  I don't think that he even played with toys or colored.  He didn't have fun snacks or drinks.  He just enjoyed riding in a big yellow truck.

We traveled through South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah.  My favorite states were probably Missouri and Nebraska, though they were all (with the exception of Wyoming) gorgeous.

We were divinely protected and avoided at least (if not more) a few accidents, including one involving a hydro-planing car in Georgia.  

I'm so grateful to Kim for driving with me.  Not only did she trade the driving responsibility with me (I don't stay awake too well these days), but she was a calming influence for my overwhelmed and frazzled nerves.  She was always patient with the kids, which - let's face it - isn't easy with loud and persistent criers and whiners in a confined space for three days.

Lincoln was the quietest of the bunch.  He just ate and slept.  He always let me know that he didn't enjoy getting back into the car seat, but didn't throw fits.  I am constantly amazed by his patience and flexibility.

Now we're just working on the unpacking phase of things.  Brent left yesterday with his brother (thank you Garrett and Nietra!!!) to take the rest of our stuff up to Washington, where it will wait for us in storage.  He'll fly back here on Thursday, and we'll get to enjoy him until the 16th, when he leaves to report for duty.  

I'm enjoying my super-comfy bed (it's better than a 5 star hotel here) and the kids are enjoying a whole room filled with new (to them) toys.  The nice thing about being the only grandkids, is that they are spoiled, spoiled, and more spoiled.  The bad thing about being the only grandkids, is that they are spoiled, spoiled and more spoiled.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

fancy nancies

Being the silly girl that I am, I agreed to hosting a birthday party the weekend before our move. Mercedes hadn't had a birthday party in November, because I wasn't feeling up to it.  I'd promised her a party before our move.  It was a great way for her to get together with her friends one last time and say goodbye.  

Mercedes chose to have a Fancy Nancy Tea Party, using her great grandmother's tea set.  We had a fun time planning and preparing the menu.  To drink, we served hot chocolate in place of tea (complete with mini marshmallows and whipping cream), with the option of sparkling raspberry lemonade.  Then to eat we made heart shaped PB&J and heart shaped strawberry cream cheese tea sandwiches, fruit salad and dip.  

The darling Fancy Nancies getting to know each other.

Fancy Mercedes during the "fashion show."

High Noon Tea Time.  We couldn't leave Cooper out.

For dessert, I bought Petite Fours from our local bakery, and frosted mini brownie bites.

Before church the next day, showing off her "glamorous" sunglasses.  
I found them on clearance for the party, but didn't get any pictures of her in them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the final countdown...

Well, we've got eight days left here.  I've not been worried... but now we're hitting crunch time and I'm wondering what challenges are in store for us.  

Last night as I was trying to go to sleep I started thinking about our rental truck sitting in a hotel parking lot, filled with all of our belongings.  What if someone steals all of our stuff?  Is it safe to just leave a truck with no one watching it?  

Brent was supposed to be able to start "out-processing" at Fort Jackson today.  That was our plan, at least.  When he went in this morning, the person from whom he needs to get his "leave" form was not in.  He was told that he might be able to get some help this afternoon.  Getting his leave form is just the first step in out-processing.  He needs to get a ton of signatures from a ton of different people.  Let's hope that he made some headway this afternoon!  It's pretty frustrating when he's only given five days to complete his out-processing, but the people who "process" him aren't working!

We had planned on loading the truck next Wednesday, the morning of Brent's graduation.  Yesterday afternoon he called me and said, "You're not going to believe this..."  Whenever I hear that phrase, I know that the next sentence will not contain good news.  He let me know that he'd just been told that he has to go to a "graduation breakfast" on Wednesday morning, rather than picking up the truck.  The young men of our church are scheduled to be at our house on Wednesday night, as soon as we get home from the graduation.  Thank goodness we'll be able to pick the truck up a day early!

I've been getting a lot of, um, pimples lately.  Must be the hormones.  I haven't had this many breakouts EVER.  Not even as a teenager.  So yesterday the kids and I stopped by Target so that I could pick up some "zit cream."  When I'm at Target with three wild kids (including a Cooper who was running up and down the aisles), I don't really pay attention to what I'm doing.  I'm too focused on the kids.  So I just throw what I need into the cart.  Well, I got home last night and found that the box which was supposed to contain the small tube of cream was... EMPTY!   So today we took another trip to Target.

When we got home this afternoon, I immediately headed to the kitchen sink to wash my hands and get a drink of water.  Unfortunately, nothing came out.  I thought, "you've got to be kidding me!"  A few weeks ago I called all of our utility companies and scheduled each service to be turned off on the 31st.  After several minutes on hold with the water company, the receptionist verified that the "water service employee" had indeed turned off our water today.  I actually heard him in the background with his deep and heavy southern accent saying, "I just do what the computer says to do.  It ain't my fault!"  I cannot express how grateful I felt when the response to my question of how long it would take to have our water turned back on was, "fifteen minutes." 

So now I just need to get through: a Fancy Nancy Tea Party (I wasn't feeling up to a birthday party in November, and promised Mercedes a party before our move), packing the rest of the house, CLEANING the house, and a three-day drive across the country (with at least 12 hours of driving each day).  

Whew.  At least I'm too busy with the move to fall apart crying every time I think of being away from Brent for a whole year. 

 That will come later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing with Lincoln, Part Two

When the other kids aren't around, 
this is how Lincoln and I spend our time:

He's definitely a "tummy" boy, 
and never stays in one place for long.
He does NOT like being in his "jumpy" seat;
he likes the freedom of travel.

A few weeks ago,
 Lincoln started making this face:

He does it ALL of the time.  
I call it his "owl" face,
 since it is often accompanied 
by the sound, "ooooo, ooooo."

He likes to work out.  
Push-ups are definitely his favorite:

A sneeze:

I think it's funny that 
he can't decide between the 
car and the "my little pony" 
toy.  These are his two favorite
toys.  He doesn't seem to 
appreciate "baby" toys.

This is how his "army crawl" starts out:

He hasn't figured out how to 
stay on his hands and knees, 
and so lurches right onto 
his face every time.

The drool is a permanent fixture,
 even when he's rocking.

Playing with Lincoln, part one

Yesterday I walked into the family room and discovered this:

It was so sweet to see Mercedes playing with her 
brother without being asked.

After a while, though, playing with 
Lincoln turned into this:

Lincoln watching Mercedes, 
watching Barney.

After watching for a few minutes,
 she began to sing to Lincoln, which he loves.

If Cooper and Lincoln are both awake 
at the same time, 
you can be sure that 
Cooper is stuck to his 
little brother like glue.  

The most-often heard phrase 
in our house (after "I love you"), is:

 "Cooper, don't touch Lincoln!"  

The thing is, 
he loves his brother a 
little too much, 
and doesn't understand 
his own strength.

Every once in a while, Cooper focuses 
on something other than his brother: