Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday, Th!

My life forever changed the day you were born.  I had no idea how being a mom could teach me so much about the character of God: I have a better understanding of God's love for me because of the love I feel towards you; I also better understand God's ability to forgive because I've been both the offended and the offender.  I am better able to serve others because of the many ways I watch you serve: each week you look forward to going to the pregnancy center to gather up the garbage and take it to the curb. It's a job that seems so menial yet blesses so many people who work at and visit the center. It is an important job that must be done in order for the pregnancy center to function on its core task: to save the lives of unborn babies. You do your work purposefully and to the best of your ability, and you don't mind that you don't get recognition for it. It is a reality check for me as a mother because so often what I do goes unnoticed yet is so crucial to the functioning of our family. Thank you for the reminder that we are serving the Lord in those tasks and He sees all that is done!

You enjoy a variety of activities including football, baseball, and soccer. I love that you are willing to try new things despite how intimidating they might seem. I also love that you are determined to finish something you start, whether you enjoy it or not. You are not a quitter, and I take pleasure in sharing in the sense of accomplishment you feel when you have completed a task you don't really care to do (particularly cleaning the toilets!).

You enjoy critters of any type, especially insects and reptiles. I have enjoyed being your science teacher the past year and few months because I have been able to witness first-hand your ability to seek, find, and care for those critters. Even though I personally don't like them, you are able to share with me God's purpose in creating them.

But, mainly this year you have shown me how much you care about others, especially your siblings. I think this picture says it all- just look at their faces! You had just finished putting on a show for them and they were so excited to be in a picture with the "star" of the show! Your kind and compassionate personality shines through in all you do, and my prayer for you this next year is to continue to love God by loving others.

Happy 9th birthday!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Teagan!

Our family changed for the better the day you were born. Although you faced many developmental challenges, you have managed to overcome them by God's grace and great therapists. I am so happy to say that you right where you should be in all areas of development, and you continue to learn and grow each day.

You are so special and so sweet! We love you!!

Happy 3rd birthday, baby girl!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I'm sure everyone who's old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001 can describe vividly the details of the day and how it's forever changed our nation. I am no exception...

TJ and I were living in California at the time. He was still in the Air Force, and I worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Regional Office of Marshalls Department Store. TJ woke up first, showered, and turned on the TV to watch the news as he ironed his uniform. I awoke to TJ telling me that an airplane had hit the World Trade Center, and I remember watching the TV while trying to process everything. Keep in mind, living in CA, we were 3 hours behind the East Coast so the first plane hit at 5:46am PT. We continued watching the news coverage, and like many, were horrified as we watched the second plane hit on live TV. Even to this day, as I watch the news footage, I still find myself thinking it looks more like a scene from a movie than reality.

We both readied ourselves for work and proceeded on with our morning. I had to be at work early that morning because some buyers from the TJX, Co. in Boston (parent company of Marshalls and TJ Maxx Stores) were flying into San Francisco that morning to tour the stores in our region that week. They were meeting with the Regional President, my boss, that afternoon. It wasn't until I got into the office that it occurred to me one of the planes that hit the WT Center was from Boston. I quickly checked my email for the flight information and was immediately brought to tears: they were dead, along with so many others.

As my co-workers arrived at the office, we gathered together and continued to watch the news of the day as it unfolded. Soon the first tower fell, then the second, and soon the phone calls were coming in from the home office regarding the deaths of the 3 buyers. It was just an all-around sad day. Families ripped apart at the blink of an eye. Loved ones never to be seen or heard from again. No time to say good-bye. No warning, no preparation.

Life changed for TJ and I after that day. TJ was supposed to get out of the AF the following March, but Stop-Loss was put in place. Stop-Loss meant TJ couldn't get out; he was being forced to extend his time in service. There was no set time frame, so we had no way to prepare. At least if he had re-enlisted, we'd know it was for another 4 years. Since his time was extended, we were at the mercy of the DoD.

Also the deployments started for the squadron to which we belonged. Although I was no longer in the AF, all of our friends were military and many were being deployed to places unknown even to them. Security, of course, was put into High alert so troops weren't told of where they were going until 12 hours prior to departure, at which time they were already at the squadron doing their out-processing. Again, families were ripped apart and loved ones were saying good-bye to their soldier not knowing how long they'd be gone, where they were going, or how soon they'd hear from them.

Base security also became an issue, and it was more difficult to have guests on base. Without a military ID, people were being turned away from the gate. Also, personally speaking, my own sense of security was shaken to the core. Anything could happen at anytime, and I didn't feel safe outside the walls of the base. I only went off base when it was necessary, and it took some time for me to feel safe again.

TJ and I had plans to fly to Florida that October to go visit his grandmother. We weren't able to make the trip because he wasn't able to take leave. The squadron was pretty much empty because of all the deployments, but I was thankful he wasn't in a job that deployed (he was working in the computer office at this time).
I think it's important to remember the events of September 11, 2001. Soon enough it will be another day in history, much like Pearl Harbor Day and D-Day. Future generations, particularly those born after 9/11, can only learn about the significance of that day from those of us who experienced it first-hand.

So, to all of the lives lost on that day and in the days since, your sacrifice was not in vain. Our country is a better nation as a result. President George W. Bush read this letter at today's commemoration ceremony, and I agree it is very appropriate:
Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,--

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Friday, September 2, 2011

{ Endless Projects }

I had a plan that, during the summer while on break from homeschooling and taxiing my kids around from place to place, I would:
  • organize and file all of Th's schoolwork from last year
  • sort through toys and prepare them for consignment/donation
  • strip and refinish Th's school desk
  • strip and refinish T.G.'s bedroom furniture (which includes a double headboard/footboard, dresser, night table, desk, and chair)
  • sand and refinish Teagan's bed
  • swap out & pack away the kids' clothes for the next size up
  • unpack and sort through the pile of boxes in my dining room and bedroom that are leftover from our move (you know, over a year ago!)
Items on my list that actually were completed: none

Items on my list that are partially completed:
  • Th's schoolwork from last year is organized but not yet filed
  • Th's school desk is stripped and I'm in the process of painting it
I had high expectations and am a little disappointed that I didn't completely finish anything, nor get started on more of my "to do" list.  The furniture project is a big undertaking and I really don't have much more time before the weather no longer cooperates. I don't want to wait until next spring because, well, I'll probably have other items on my list to accomplish, not to mention a new baby. The toys and clothes projects I simply cannot do while my children are around- as I sort through stuff they want to play, and we all end up getting frustrated. The toy sorting and putting away takes all day, and I just don't have the extra energy at this point in time. We just don't have space in our playroom for their current toys plus whatever else they get for birthdays and Christmas (3 of my 5 kids have birthdays prior to Christmas. I'm not being mean by getting rid of toys, I'm simply being practical). However, the way I combat this "problem" is by having them go through and decide which toys they are willing to part with (if each child parts with 5 items, that's 25 items in all!).

Hopefully, once Th's school desk is complete, I can begin working on Teagan's bed since she'll need it when the baby arrives. Currently she sleeps in a toddler bed and Annie sleeps in the crib, but we'll need to move Annie into the toddler bed so Teagan is moving up to a twin bed. Teagan's and Annie's room is painted a light shade of purple, so my plan is to paint their beds a pale yellow. I already have their bedding (Christmas gift from last year) so I'm excited to see the finished result. Plus, with my new paint gun, painting is a breeze (it's the clean up I dislike!)

Th's desk before

Th's desk after (actually, it's just the 1st coat)
TJ has also had a few projects he's been working on this summer. We had talked about redoing our laundry room because the orientation of the washer and dryer was not making the most use of the space. Since I began couponing at the beginning of the summer, space became more important to us. He ripped up the ugly brown carpet, put linoleum tiles down, painted the walls, moved the washer and dryer, and hung a shelving system. He still needs to rewire all the electrical and move the water pipes so they will be hidden, along with putting another shelf up above the one already hanging over the washer/dryer. But, all in all, I am thrilled with the result and especially love the blue.
Laundry room before (picture taken prior to us moving in)

Laundry room after