Wednesday, February 29, 2012

...to celebrate a very needed, uninterrupted night's sleep

...since certainly before our trip!

With a trip to Dunkin' Donuts of course...

Of course they needed to sit smack dab in the center of this enormous hallway to feast.

And just in case you were in doubt...the answer is Yes.  Why yes, Abbey did dress herself this morning all the way up to her hair tie.

Well, really the trip to DD was more or less a bribe  to behave while I was at the DMV this morning getting tags for the van.  (Of course!  Of course, they expire just a few weeks BEFORE Mark comes home...)

(Note: Something is considered to be a bribe if given before the expected event/behavior; not to be confused with a reward which is given after the requested desire has occurred. If I have conceded to anything during this deployment it is to bribery. I am not afraid to admit that I an not above such an atrocity when trying to coerce my little ones...)
Alas, the girls did luck out (or maybe I did)...the line at the DMV was NOT worth waiting in (and I did not have enough donuts to bide me much time).  I guess I'll be driving the truck for a few days.  Now if only that vehicle had a remote starter...the fact that it does not (and that it is particularly cold this week), will be the ONLY motivators for me to get the tags in the next few days.

I did however manage to get a couple of key 'to-dos-before-Mark-gets-home' marked off of my list:

Trip to the Class Six: Done
Get the van detailed:  Done

The class six: If you aren't familiar with this term, is a military post's liquor store.  I wanted to make sure to have a few of Mark's favorite beers, wines, and liqueurs on hand.  I am quite certain I went a little overboard but since I am not sure what type of indulgence I would want if I were away as long as he has been; I wanted to make sure to get a bit of each.  Besides, after ten months away, I would argue we can celebrate with a drink or two!

The van:  Ranks up there with 'best money ever spent'.  It looks brand new.  I should have had them sprinkle the 'new car scent' in there just for kicks.  It looks like a million bucks!  Now Mark will never know the true state of that van before it was cleaned...besides the state of what my van may have looked like on trips to visit friends and family...stays with those friends and family.

I digress.  I am very happy with it.  So happy that I may never get the tags for that vehicle after all.  I might just want to go into the garage and sit inside it, just to embrace its cleanliness.  Ahh.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

...to take care of baby #3

...she was the second one afflicted with the crud

I couldn't have cuddled up and savored my covers any more quickly than I did last night.  After our long trip and then a rough night with Audrey, a night of uninterrupted sleep was something I was intensely craving.

That night was not-in-the-stars for me last night.

Poor thing.

Poor me.

Poor Timber?  That dog is one-more-time-awakening-me-and-she-wins-a-one-way-ticket-to-the-kennel.  Four times last night she woke me up to go outside?  Really???

Maybe I should feel lucky I was only giving a bath to #3 and not shampooing carpets.  I suppose I could have had to bathe her at 2 a.m. too.

It is very hard to be thankful for these little things at 2 a.m.

Seriously though...anyone want an adoring fourteen-year-old shepherd to complete your family?

#2 also woke me to climb into bed.  Since he slept right between Abbey and I, I am quite certain he'll be visiting me for other reasons tonight.  Sigh.

Does anyone out there know why the stomach bug doesn't typically strike during daytime hours?  Unless of course you are in a vehicle?

Alas, I am not ready to throw in the towel yet.  Bring it on stomach bug.  Bring it on Timber.  The end is in sight for me fighting these battles alone.  And frankly, I would rather have all of this hit now than to cast a shadow over our time when Mark comes home.

In the meantime, I'll head to bed now and keep my fingers crossed than I am only awakened by my alarm in the morning.  Oh yes...and I'll say a little prayer my Abbey is back to herself tomorrow.

a lovely day at the park in Richmond

Monday, February 27, 2012

...to take care of my baby

...bless her little heart she has a stomach bug again.

I have been saying many prayers of thankfulness to St. Timothy that she waited until we got home until she started throwing up!  I think I may never have taken her on a road trip again...

She has been such a champ and is one of the most verbose throwing up persons I have ever known.

At midnight last night, after cleaning her up and getting her back in bed:
"Mommy, I fink I need my frow (throw) up butet (bucket)."
Without glasses on and by the light of my phone, I sorted through the toy room as quickly as I can.  I could not come up with the famous 'throw up bucket'.  Instead I picked a close second; a pink, baby doll bathtub.

Incredulously she reported:
"Mommy, that is not my red frow up butet!  That is the pink baby bathtub.  (As if I didn't realize this.)"
Very sweetly she pleaded:
"Do you think you could paint this bathtub red?"
Now?
"Umm...No.  It is dark outside Audrey.  It is time for sleeping."
Not giving up hope:
"Maybe in the morning you can take the bathtub out to the garage and paint it red with your spray paint Mommy?"
Maybe.

Mercifully...I found the red bucket this morning.

All day she battled this bug.

And all day she maintained her spirits.  I hope tomorrow is better for her.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

...to make it back home

...without anything sensational to report

We had such a fun trip through several states and back this past week.  My only wish is that we would have had more time to spend with so many other friends I could have connected with along the way.

Some numbers of interest for this week:

4 kids
0 dogs
10 days
2 tanks of gas
15 rest stops
6 times the Letter Factory Circus was watched
4 trips to Starbucks (for all but the last leg of the trip)
4 homes to crash
1 niece to love on
2 babies to cuddle with
1 day of snow (in Virginia)
1 trip a children's museum
1 beautiful day at the park
1 day at the bowling alley
many late nights staying up way too late gabbing
many glasses of good wine to share with friends
1 new pet acquired...a desert tortoise of course.  For the record her name is: "Mrs. Chuck Norris".
1 van that every friend commented, "You ARE NOT going to let Mark see this van like this are you?"
8 caring persons trying their very best to help me plan our trip in April
1 countdown we are about to begin very soon

Now I have really got to start working on my lists!

The race is on...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

...to take the kids to the Children's Museum

...in Richmond.

Actually, Richmond has a smaller satellite museum geared toward younger children and I took the five of them there.

My niece, my four, and I had a great time!

Isn't she adorable!

The train was a huge hit!

Isabella LOVED the art area!

The best shot of the five I could get...
What should we do tomorrow?


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

...to celebrate our vacation and today's holiday

What?  It's not called President's Day?

Take a look...here

Who knew?

Anyway...so far it's a great vacation filled with friends and family.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

... to see some snow

...well I didn't really;

but the weather fairy apparently did NOT get the message that we have driven nearly thirteen hours SOUTH for an early spring break....without snow gear.

It is lovely.

and isn't my niece sweet with her Daddy (she doesn't like the snow getting her wet)

Ironic that we had to drive so far south to see snow...but lovely no less.

Guess we'll be hanging inside for the next few days.

If we are lucky Uncle Kyle will get a 'snow' day in the morning.  Snow like this (as little as it is) is likely to shut Richmond down.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

...a better day

...and it is bound to go better when the day starts like this:


Normally I would say my perfect day would start with a run, a shower, and a load of laundry before the heathens arise.

But like many nights lately, I was greeted my the pitter-patter of little steps last night.  This time though, at three separate times throughout the night I was lucky?  It must have been a momentary lapse of judgment on my part when the third child arrived to find no room...and I moved even farther over.  

It was sort of sweet to listen to them slumbering peacefully while I laid there trying to maintain my precarious balance on the edge of my mattress throughout the night.

Needless to say going on a jog at 0530 this morning didn't happen.  But I did manage to take a shower before they all woke up.

And the day was better.  Not perfect...and of course crazy since we are I am packing (us) up to go on a 10-day jaunt toward more balmy weather.  But better.

Hopefully this little break will be what we all need.

As I woke the sleeping beauties up this morning I did announce a new rule, to be strictly enforced in the Crow household from this day forward...

If you are the third or the fourth child trying to crawl into bed with me....(meaning two have already beat you to the punch)...FORGET IT.  Find a spot on the floor or head back to the comfort of your bed, or the bed of one of your siblings.

That's the new rule..and I am going to try to stick to it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

...to recuperate

...from yesterday

I can't think of a Valentine's Day that was this emotionally charged since my early-teenage years.  You know the years when the 'secret cupids' sent cute Hershey-kiss shaped roses to you in your fifth-hour class?    Well, I remember NOT getting any.

The funny thing is Valentine's Day has a meaning that's very different to me now than it was then.  While of course I appreciate the significance of romance and love, I was brought up that it was also a celebration of love of the family.  And I love to try to carry that tradition over to the kids.

Of course we have had the house decorated for sometime already and I have also been trying to add in several ways to make the day, week, and the month of February special.

-heart shaped sandwiches in their lunches
-notes of compliments around the house
-valentine photos taken

And for this particular evening...a red meal (spaghetti and meatballs) with two fun pink/red themed desserts with PRESENT opening.

This saga is not about me...In fact I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers (with a note that we are less than thirty days out) and even more fun...several notes and messages throughout the day from Mark.

The real struggle has been #2.  The struggle for me to allow him to live through this nice dinner...to be able to partake in these festivities.

It isn't one event in particular that sticks out.  More or less the consistent presence of behaviors that I didn't even know he could exhibit.

The day presented like a seesaw...ups and downs.  One moment he was sweet and giving me a picture he had made for me.  The next...ugh.  Really, really rough.  Then again, he would have his arms around me in a hug, and the next I might see a book fly from his room.

I can only hope this isn't a snippet of what is to come during the teenage years.  If so...watch out.  That boy has a temper that I have never seen.

A comforting note from a friend suggests this might not be an anomaly for young boys around this age.

For certain, our little man has many stressors in his life.
  • He misses his Dad.  Mark's arrival home is so close; yet at the same time still too far away for his time-warped mind to fully grasp
  • He misses his friends yet is enjoying his new ones.  This struggle of loyalty must be so conflicting for his little brain.  I am so thankful the teachers at his school have helped him make this transition so smoothly.  He even mentioned to me that he 'pops into' his old class nearly every day to say hello.
  • Finally, I have already talked about the wrestling saga.
However...

I am trying hard to be compassionate and understanding of his struggles; yet he still needs to be respectful and mindful of me.  

I am not certain that a severn-year-old can grasp these concepts.  I wish he really didn't believe I was just m-e-a-n (as he spell yelled at me yesterday...I haven't experienced this 'spelling-yelling'  before); And instead believed, that I in fact, adore him...that is why I am mean.

But maybe...just maybe, this is the balance he and I will be trying to strike until the time he leaves our nest?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

...to wish those in our life

(especially to the guy who means the most)

...Happy Valentine's Day!


*It says: We hope you have a month full of love and smiles.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

...to make laundry detergent

...because when life gets stressful I like to throw in little unnecessary projects!

I have been meaning to do this forever!  And the real catalyst to try it on this particularly crazy evening was the several loads of laundry awaiting your truly...and no TIDE to finish it.

However, this proved to be a great diversion project for Abbey this weekend.

I had a houseful of kids on Saturday night and for a short time Abbey was playing the role of 'pesky little sister' quite well.  And KT and Isabella were getting...shall we say, a bit disgruntled with her.

This was the perfect activity to keep her nearly independently engaged and distracted her from trying to tag along with the big girls.

We just needed a few inexpensive products

We shredded the soap in the food processor


measured, poured and 

voila!
You won't be surprised when you see my source...

The project proved to be a success.  By the time that Abbey was finished, the big girls had moved on to something less appealing to Abbey's four-years-but-wants-to-be-eight-years-old self.

And then, we spent the rest of the evening in harmony.

I love this picture!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

...to attend Will's first wrestling meet

...who knew that wrestling meets were even more tortuous than swim meets?

For the record...I am not a big fan of surprises.  And if you knew this, than you should have spoken up!

I should have been told that if I was going to bring one novice wrestler and three uninterested sisters to this event that I should have come 'prepared'.  (Prepared with an extra-large bottle of wine chilling at home awaiting my arrival to help ease the pain of this afternoon.)

Yikes.

Talk about stress.  For the record at the moment I am talking about MY stress.

Over 400 wrestlers were competing in this event.

Parking?  Nope.  Really.  There was NO place to park.

Temperature?  Warmer than any pool atrium I have ever been in.

Tears?  Everywhere you turned.  Including: Wrestlers, mommas (me included), siblings (those wanting treats, those who had been hurt).

Length?  7 hours.

I had envisioned chit-chatting with my friend's in between matches whilst I watched my cherubs aptly coloring, reading, and playing their video games.

That not exactly how the day went.

Enough about me.  Now let's talk Will.

He started his day with the breakfast of champions,


was very excited,

and tried really hard!


Will won his first match.  And then the afternoon turned from great to bad to worse.  His second match was rough.  He got beat up and really lost his confidence.  He wanted to quit.  Told us all he wasn't going back out to finish the match.  He had tears.  Lots of them.  But bless his little heart he went back out there...and finished.

Stressful.

I felt like Will had the weight of the world on his shoulders.  All the people watching.  His coach.  His teammates.  His mom.

I haven't even mentioned the fact that it looks like wrestling hurts!  And it is hard, hard, work.

I am not convinced he exerted 100% effort on his last three matches.

By the time we arrived home....Will had chucked the medal he had earned, torn up whatever papers were handy, and had announced not only that he wasn't going to wrestle anymore (and that I could not make him) but that he wasn't going to take a shower either (that statement was just ridiculous).  And I don't know if he was more upset about his performance or the fact he didn't get a trophy.  No matter.

I suppose it is one of those life's lessons that has to happen.  Not everyone wins.


This is an event he'll remember for a long time.


I just hope that I supported him without coddling him.  That I encouraged him without filling him with false pride.  I hope that I did this one right.

By the time we had dinner, showers, and stories William was actually already talking about practice on Tuesday and maybe trying to wrestle in a match again.  Nothing like a full belly and a warm heart to make you feel better.

What more can a parent ask for?

Me: "I wonder how if there is a match near the END of March?"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

...to clean out the refrigerator

...and bake some cookies and make another batch of those Mississippi Mud Muffins

The refrigerator is one of the many things on my list of "things to do" before Mark gets home.  And so is the freezer and our fridge/freezer combo outside....maybe he won't notice if I don't' clean out the one in the garage?  This was on my top three list today.  Baking was #2.  Getting Isabella's haircut was #3.  Pictures to follow of that tomorrow.

The last time this fridge task was done...was when my Dad was here.

The time before that...when my in-laws were here.

Before that...when my Mom was here.

Clearly this is not a task I enjoy.  And when my family visits they try to help out as much as they can.

Overall I try to keep a pretty clean house.  But my refrigerator is embarrassing!  If you are my guest...please don't open my fridge.  I will get the milk for you.  I can assure you, the milk is fresh (we go through nearly a gallon a day...) but you don't want to see what other things may lurk in there!

First, while I will admit that I do NOT like most left-overs I have a very hard time throwing anything away.  This of course leads to me finding a very interesting array of items in the refrigerator.

Second, we have a side-by-side refrigerator.  And nothing can EVER stay organized in a side-by-side.  There simply isn't enough space.

Third...I have four children that help themselves.  And put things away...without lids.

To make the task more interesting I like to play a little game with myself while I do this task entitled, "What Was This?"


Isabella's retort to this whole cleaning-out-the-fridge quandary is:
If you made better meals, we wouldn't have so many left-overs.
Touche.

The most notable items I found were:

  1. Rock-hard pumpkin scones made the week before Christmas.  They were delicious then...I am not certain how these little ones became forgotten....very sad.  
  2. Three containers of cottage cheese.  No one except me even really likes cottage cheese; why then do we have 3 of them?
  3. An empty container of chocolate milk.  "Not Me" has taken responsibility for this one.
  4. A jar with 1/2 a sandwich pickle in it.  "Not Me" has also taken the blame for this one.
  5. Two boxes of band-aids.  Yes.  You did read that correctly.  Not one, but two boxes of band-aids.  Each hidden in a different compartment.  Audrey informed me it was so none of the other kids could find them.   She is such a compassionate child...I hope none of them gets a cut.  
Well the task is done.  The fridge is clean enough.  And the cookies are baked.  And the muffins are sitting pretty in the kids lunches for tomorrow.

So who coming to visit next?  And when?  My refrigerator hopes it is sooner than later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

...to play ring-around-the-rosy

...sounds sweet doesn't it?

Now that I have written those words I probably will somehow fit the game into my girls' day tomorrow.
Since the song just popped into my head...why not play this game at some point tomorrow right?
But I wrote the words because this is just how my mind thinks.  I think in circles.  This is the reason why so many projects get started and not many are finished.

Have you ever read the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?

That book could probably be a timeline from a-day-of-my-life, in my biography.

And yes, quoting the name of this books makes me think:
I should probably try to make the kids some cookies tomorrow.  
I start a task, move on to another, and another, until at some point in the day I am back where I started.

This brings me to one of the current quandaries I am facing:

I have been trying to plan a vacation for Mark and I.

We have a reasonable budget.  No set time limits.  And daycare arranged.  It couldn't be that difficult could it?

I have looked at resorts, cruises, a trip to Hawaii, even a trip to the Rockies.  Then I come full-circle back to the resort...or the cruise...or the...

I think that it would have been much easier if someone had said choose from these three options.  PERFECT!  I'll take that one.

But instead, I am still searching.  Calculating.  Googling.

And then, I get sidetracked.  I think:
I need to go and turn on the radio to concentrate better.  
Then I realize the kitchen needs tidying.  I have to bring something upstairs.  There are books all over the floor...

I am hopeless.

My day has finished and our vacation still isn't planned.

An no...my kitchen isn't tidy either.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

...to try to get a job

...as if I need something else to keep me busy.

Well Mark says I do.

Something about money....me spending it...blah blah blah.

I say, "In due time".

Mark says:  Before I get home.

I 'tried' to start working shortly after I got here.  Maybe not-so-surprisely, things were a little crazy trying to settle in.  My goal to start working changed to 'when he left after R&R'.

I went through the steps.  I made flyers.  Had business cards printed.  I even updated all of my information with TRICARE.

Then, in November, I received one referral for a family that I love working with.

Although my flyers are still circulation and my business cards are still out there, I haven't had any referrals since.  


I have said, "it is a sign".  (as in: I am not supposed to work right now.  I am supposed to be here for our children...to mold and shape them!)  

Mark's retort is probably, "a sign I am trying to avoid working". 


I have to be honest...I have been secretly glad about that I barely work.  I already don't know where the days go.  I can't imagine actually trying to cram reports and appointments in.  Besides, who would taxi #1 and #2 around for their extra-curriculars?

Now...I am beginning to panic about a lot of things that I have to do before Mark comes home.  Finding a job happens to be like number 22 on my list.

Unfortunately, I think it is number 3 on Mark's list of important things I should do before he comes home (having us all at the airfield is number 1, and planning a vacation for him and I is number 2).


In short

Mark's arrival home is on the horizon and my 'deadline' is looming.

I'll try to humor him and acquiesce to his list.

Wouldn't you know it...Tomorrow I have three appointments scheduled! Two new referrals that I acquired only today.   Apparently, these happen to be blind referrals from TRICARE.

It's funny...as much as I didn't think I wanted to work, I am really excited to meet these two new families tomorrow.  So family and friends, if you know of any families around Fort Drum looking for in-home speech therapy....

I am open for business again.

This time for sure.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

...to share a headline of the weekend

...and even though we were on a self-imposed quarantine...we had a lovely weekend!

Will still wasn't feeling well for most of the weekend.  And a trip to the doctor on Saturday morning ruled out a strep infection so we treated him with lots of rest, television, Gatorade, Tylenol, and video games.

On that short outing to the clinic we made a quick trip to the Library (of course for Harry Potter #2) and I happened to grab the post newspaper.

Was I ever surprised!

Guess who is gracing the cover this week?



I love the expression on her face and the caption next to her.  "Unlimited Possibilities"

There is one more photo of her with her classmates inside the paper:


What a fun surprise!

Note:  Grandparents, don't forget to reserve your copy today!  If you would like...




Friday, February 3, 2012

...to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

...a perfect compliment to finishing the book last night.

Will still isn't feeling up to par.  Poor little guy...

Thankfully the little girls are fine.  Just as temperamental as usual.  But healthy.

So the two little ones and I did our best to make him feel better today.

He drank lots of water, watched lots of TV,  and we made him some muffins.  Mississippi Mud Muffins.  Applesauce, Whole Wheat Flour, and lots of spices.  Yum.  An old family favorite!

never forgets her apron!

sharing the task of lining the cupcake tin

carefully filling the papers

This evening we had our somewhat-as-regular-as-we-can-manage-it-family-pizza-party evening while watching HARRY POTTER!  As a special pick-me-up for my little guy, I was able to somehow mange to download this movie to our Apple TV.  As a side note:  Since Mark left us from his R&R we have had more computer issues than I care to mention.  Typically, not only do I not talk about them...but I ignore them.  But iTunes was the only way to rent this movie so I hunkered down, early in the morning before any of the kids woke up, and I figured out how to get this feature to work.

The chapters are rather long and the print is pretty small.  My goal when we started this book was to read about a chapter a night.  However, the more we read of the book, the more we wanted to read.  And last night we read for over an hour to finish off the first book.

Clearly I missed the Harry Potter bandwagon that started many years ago.  Better late than never!  We all really enjoyed it.

Book vs. Movie?

Movie says Will.
Book says Isabella.

I guess tomorrow we'll be heading to the library for Harry Potter #2.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

...to take the kids out to dinner

...to celebrate improvements in their report cards

Mark and I are very lucky to have two kiddos who try hard with school.   Our goal is to teach them to try to improve on skills that could be better.

It was funny to watch Isabella hand over her report card...she always is so nervous.

They both improved on the areas that are quite difficult for them.  Any guesses?

For William:  Participation in the liturgy  Surprised?  :)
For Isabella:  Makes transitions appropriately  Meaning she isn't quite as gabby between activities in the classroom as she was last quarter.  Funny that talking would be difficult for her??  :)  I suppose...Like mother.  Like daughter.

To celebrate we decided we were going to head to their favorite pizza place.

I am sorry to say the stars in the sky were not aligned this evening.

Will began to complain and whine that he didn't want to go to wrestling.  He mentioned something about a headache.  I told him he was fine.  And he was going anyway.  (Yup.  Good mothering moment.)  On a whim I took his temp...102.2.

Oh dear.

Abbey seemed a bit more crabby than usual.  Took her temp.  99.9.

Uh oh.

Took Audrey's too:  99.8

Something's in the house. 


Only Isabella has escaped this bug.  


After breakfast for dinner (the next best way to celebrate) and a little Tylenol they all seem fine.  Here's to hoping they just have quick fevers and they'll all be fine in the morning.

Wouldn't that make Will the happiest (since school rules say I have to keep him home)?

I think he will say Yip Wiiiiiiii!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

...to take a field trip to the Fire Station

....with Will's boy's scout troop.

I am not sure whether or not to talk about this trip as something I enjoyed or something that was a pain in the a&%.

I have been on several fire station field trips.

For that matter the kids have been on several fire station field trips.  But none that 'completed badge requirements'.

The only real reason I was looking forward to it was because Abbey seems to have developed this fear of fire, firemen, and firetrucks.  (I think due to the fire drills the daycares have to participate in).  And I thought this would be a good opportunity to enlighten her a bit.

Quite possibly the worst thing about this whole boy scouting venture that Will is involved in, is that it requires total parental involvement.  Meaning, in order for him to participate in an outing or meeting, he must have a parent present.

This is where my story gets a little pouty.

No other child in his den has a parent that is deployed.  And three out of the four other kids in his den...have the luxury of having both of their parents accompanying them to the meetings...sans any siblings.

All I can say is poor Will.  At these events there are only five scouts, at least eight parents, and usually only three extra girls present (known in our home as #1, #3, and #4).

I'd venture to say, "We bring the party people!"

Tonight was no different.

Beginning of the tour:  

All of these boys were listening intently.  Audrey had ditched her rain boots and was shouting, "Tag!  You can't get me Abbey!"

Really...I can't make this shtuff up.  Here's a photo for proof!



Oh yes, I forgot to mention that no amount of persuasion could convince her to put her boots back on.   (Thankfully Abigail is much more reasonable.  Did I just say Abbey and reasonable in the same sentence?)  I am not afraid to admit it...I am afraid of her in public venues such as this!  That girl has stamina I tell you...I didn't dare cross her at such an early stage of the field trip either lest we be escorted out of the building.  Thus, the little Queen, remained shoeless throughout the entire fire station event.

Middle of the tour:

Little boy next to Will is thinking, "Seriously dude...get her out of here!"
End of the tour:

I think she is actually cackling in this photo, "I win, my pretty little mommy! I win!"
I can say that I am so thankful for evenings like this.  So thankful I can see the humor in her antics.

Awful.  Why yes...She was surely awful.

But you want to know something...I didn't once offer an excuse for her behavior.  

So, I suppose the evening was a success.  Sure, I would have much preferred the option of staying home with my little tyrant but...William got to earn several requirements, I got some great photos of the kids, and Abbey learned that firemen aren't so scary after all.

sittin' sweetly 

responsibly attentive

scout salute

fears put to rest