Thursday, October 31, 2013 put up our Halloween pictures

...from the other day...

Halloween went by so quickly!

I feel like my children talk about the possibilities for their costumes for months.  And sometime, a week or two the big day, I drag out the bins and have them sort through their real options.

This year's winning costumes:

Isabella went as a cowgirl...a western horseback rider to be specific.
William as a creepy ghoulish guy.
Abigail was a witch...such a lovely one at that!
Audrey was a very warm butterfly.

This year the kids had two different dress up opportunities...the school parade and for trick-or-treating.

William's first choice for a costume wasn't exactly appropriate for school...

But he LOVED it!  Was it my choice of costume for my sweet little boy?  Um.  No.
But, perhaps he was trying to impersonate me at my worst moments?

So, for the school parade he was a wizard...

I love to see his sweet smile.

Abigail loves her witch costume and wore it over and over this week...

especially her spidery hat.

silly girls.
Audrey wasn't interested in being photographed at school...

The next morning she was more willing.

Special Note:

Please...please do not tell Audrey she is a beautiful Sean did at school.

She put him in his place as only a sassy preschooler can...

"Do you see a crown on my head?  Princesses wear crowns.  I am a fairy."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 keep myself honest

...If I write it down, then I have to check it off.

A deployment is a little bit like New Years.  Certainly not the celebratory part...but in the sense that it's a time where a whole new routine is developed.  It's a new start of sorts.

A month ago if I was talking about going out to eat less...I would reply: "After Mark leaves".
Or if I mentioned I was going to clean out my closet, my response was: "After Mark leaves".

Or if I said bed time was going to be strict...oh, yea.  Definitely not my strength.  Bed time is rather loose around here while Mark is away.

Well...Mark has left.

There is a lot to be done while Mark is away.  More than laundry, and homework, and making sure to get the oil changed in the vehicles....I have several personal goals that I would like to accomplish while Mark is away.

1.  Kiss our children after they are asleep each night.  Before I go to bed.

I do tuck our children into bed each evening.  Afterward, I head downstairs and work on my computer for a few hours before dragging myself to bed...which happens to be in the exact opposite direction of going back upstairs.  My too-tired-to-think head says that there are too many children to kiss goodnight and there are certainly too many steps to climb.  My heart says, sleeping children are so sweet, and I am capturing these moments for myself because Mark can't.

2.  Be Healthier.

This is exactly like my New Year's goal.  The one I was working on this earlier in the year.  Right?  While I always have the best of intentions, my behaviors these last few weeks aren't exactly health conscious.  Unfortunately, the last I checked consuming copious amounts of wine, desserts, and heavy foods aren't exactly listed as "Do's" in Fitness Magazine.

I am going to drink more water, drink less coffee, plan our meals, and eat out no more than one time per week.

Seems like a big list?  Perhaps I need to give these their own number.

3.  Run a Race.

This goes along with my 'be healthier goal'.  I have already committed to a Turkey Trot in Richmond on Thanksgiving Day.

And going well.  I am already up to 4.5 miles.  Slow.  For Sure.  But I am not trying to break any records.

4.  Complete my card catalog.

I love this little gem.  Zero progress has been made on it.  The poor thing has been demoted to a corner in my garage (to make room for my is already very cold up here in the north).  When I get to it...and finish is going to be awesome.

5.  Read.

I love to read.
I read to the little girls every night.  Dora, Pinkalicious, and Barbie books are fascinating.
I read with the big kids.  The Hunger Games is a fantastic trilogy (but I have already read it) and am nearly done reading it to them.
I read the news, and blogs, and cookbooks, and even girl scout manuals.  Page turners!

During this deployment my goal is to read at least three books.  One type of self-improvement book, one non-fiction book, and one bestseller.


I thought I would start with a small number of things to work on.  I can always add to my list later.

These are just a few of the things I would like to accomplish while Mark is away.

Easy right?  For sure.

One man down?  Weak excuse.

I think I can attitude...half the battle.

No worries.  I got this.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

...a fresh beginning

...for the next 9 months.

The tears have stopped.

The chaos has resumed.

The pumpkins that Daddy helped carve are now lit and in place.

Halloween...We are ready for you.

We'll call you milestone marker #1.

Friday, October 25, 2013 share a few things I was told


...that are NOT things a military spouse wants to hear.

The theme of this blog of late has been Mark's impending departure.  And while the last few weeks have been wonderful, the time has been incredibly emotional.  He's been home more, we've had extra family time, all with the caveat that he is getting ready to leave...for a pretty long time.

We have tried to approach this deployment with a certain level of matter-of-factness.  It is our turn.  Lots of Daddy's have to leave.  And we have a job try our best to do our best at all times.  Just like Daddy does.

We try not to feel sorry for ourselves.

This is how our family is coping.

Many, many families are going to say goodbye tomorrow as well.  Nearly 300 families.

These spouses, children, and parents will cry, and worry, and pray that their soldier will come home safely.


I wish my story ended there.

I wish people, (those who do not have a loved one deployed) when they hear Mark is deployed/deploying, would simply say something like, "I'll say a prayer for your family".

Maybe acknowledge we must really miss him.

But....they don't.

He didn't.

A well meaning, but otherwise thoughtless individual said each of the following phrases to me at soccer the other day...

1.  I didn't think we were sending people over there any more.

Maybe you didn't think so.  Perhaps you don't read the news.  Perhaps you haven't noticed all of the homecoming banners on the homes on our post.  Did you know you work on a post that has three infantry brigades?  Each of which is, was, or is going to be deployed?

Newsflash...soldier's are still "going over there."

2.  At least he's not going to be gone for a year.

You are right...well-meaning-but-otherwise-thoughtless-individual.  At least he isn't gone for a year.  Or thirteen months.  Or longer.  Why don't you tell my soon-to-be-six-year-old that it's a good thing her Daddy is not gone for a year when her Dad misses her birthday...again.  Or tell my children this fact on Christmas Eve when their Dad won't be here to listen to their Christmas dreams?

You are right sir.  I am so thankful my husband won't be gone a year.  However, I will argue that only a family that is going through this (or has gone through it) gets to utter those words...please don't say them for me.

3. have a lot of kids so you are going to be really busy.  It probably won't be that bad.

This statement is just as thoughtless kind sir.  Really?  Did you just say these words?  I am not sure if you are judging me because you think I have too many children or think that I won't miss my spouse because I have four children and they'll keep me really busy?

I'll just try to ignore this statement and continue to play soccer with two of my too many kids.

4.  I think that we should just send all the single soldiers over there.  I mean why don't we just send the people that don't have families?

Another statement that I really don't know how to respond to.  Seriously?  Did these words come out of your mouth?  Surely you aren't saying that spouses and mothers and fathers are more valuable?These young men and women are leaving behind their own mothers and fathers and siblings and friends and fiancee's, many promises.

If I were more eloquent...I would have said something remarkable to you.  Instead, your words were met with silence.

My particular favorite from our mercifully brief conversation was...

5.  It's really not that dangerous over there.

Is this comment meant to make me feel better?  Did you say it to make yourself feel better?  Did you say this so I wouldn't worry?

No matter.

Not true.  Not thoughtful.  Not helpful.

If you'll excuse me I need to coach my kids' soccer game...I don't have time to make you feel better about my spouse deploying.

This particular post may seem as if I am a bit bitter toward this man.  I am not.  I have no hard feelings toward him.

But he works with the children of the families who live on a post of thousands of soldiers.  Perhaps no one has told him...what not to say.

Maybe next time he'll simply say, "I am sure you and your beautiful children are really going to miss him".

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 check in.

...I'm not gonna lie...

...things have been a little rough around here....for me in particular.

I have always been one to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I am not very good at hiding my feelings.  Perhaps its my giant eyes?  Or maybe my pouty lips?

I try not to hide all my tears.  (Mostly because I can't.) But also because I think it is good for the kids to know it is OK to be sad.  It is sad that their dad is leaving for a really long time.  And it's better to share these emotions with others.

This past weekend, I was all tears.  I cried when I watched Audrey take Mark's hand.  I cried when I watched Will play catch with Mark.  I cried when we were enjoying our morning coffee.  I cried at the park.  I cried when I watched him tuck the kids into bed.  I could go on...but you get the picture.

You see...these are so many things I will miss.  Having him here.  His presence.  I love watching him interact with our kids.  He is a great Dad.  I cried because he'll miss them, he'll miss us, just as much.  Our kids are fun to be around.  They say funny things.  They have incredible ideas.  And they have cranky, sassy moments that only parents can joke about and love, with one another.

I am happy to say the kids are handling this newest transition on our horizon much better than I am.  To them, these have been the best weeks ever.  Mark's been off.  We've been on vacation together as a family.  They been treated to soda, and candy, and desserts!  And this week, though they are back in school, he's been home by the time they get back from school.


I love that our children live within the moment.

They don't anticipate the negative.

They just enjoy their experiences without caveats.

They'll remember these next few days with a lot of joy....

Thursday, October 17, 2013 enjoy our family vacation the Whiteface Lodge

What an great family trip we had this week up in Lake Placid, NY.

Mark is on block leave this week.

We took advantage of his time off, pulled the kids out of school for a few days, and took a trip up to the Adirondack Mountains.

Two of our kids decided that this place was better than Disney!  There were so many things to do.  So many family friendly activities.  I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked because I was enjoying our time together.

But here are a few highlights...


We did LOTS of swimming in the indoor/outdoor pool and probably spent even more time in the hot tubs.  The kids thought it was so great to be able to swim under a bridge to go outside...

Audrey spent most of her time hoarding the floaties.

William spent most of his time jumping to catch the football.  (The first day he shared his catches with a friend from Fort Drum that was also there.)

We spent time at the bowling alley that you can reserve for just your family.  The kids report this was there very favorite activity.  Really they lost interest pretty quickly.  Without bumpers they weren't able to get very many any pins down.

The game room was awesome!  Ping pong, foosball, air hockey, shuffleboard, pool and lots of blocks and other toys for Audrey to entertain herself with.

Interestingly enough, the activities coordinator told us that the biggest complaint they receive about the accommodations in the lodge is that the game room does not have an arcade-style games.  


Ice-skating was another favorite activity.  They have a huge outdoor ice-rink that they spray down and re-freeze each night.  It's been open daily since October 1 and remains open daily until the sun melts it too much.

Campfires and s'mores were another favorite.  Every evening.  All the fixings.  Yum.  

You probably are wondering about the robes...all over the lodge we would see people randomly wearing their robes out in the common areas.  We decided to partake in the trend one evening.

Besties enjoying the fire.


Hiking.  There are so many trails to choose from in the Lake Placid area.  We chose a trail called Cobble Hill.  

This was the kids' least favorite activity of the week.  

Mark and I endured lots of complaints.  Lots of whining.  The view at the top was worth it.  

This Lake we trekked by at the end of our hike was named Echo Lake.

It's name was not disappointing.  The kids had so much fun listening to their echoes.

The rest of the time at the lodge was spent eating, drinking, playing games, enjoying time with our friends, and just enjoying our time as a family together.

So many good memories were made.

Sunday, October 13, 2013 explore Austin


Can you believe we may choose to move to this ridiculously hot state?

Mark is in the process of applying to graduate schools.  He has taken the GRE, he has updated his resume, and he has begun looking at programs to apply to.  Upon his return from Afghanistan next summer he will begin work on his PhD in public policy.

The applications are due in the next two months.  He'll find out where he was accepted sometime in the spring.  And....he'll have to make his choice before his return to the US next summer.

Thus, the lengthy explanation, for our last minute trip to visit the University of Texas.

First, let me make it clear that neither of us are big fans of living in the South.

We don't like the heat.  We don't like bugs.  And we definitely do not like spiders or snakes.

**Do not click on these links if you have arachnophobia or ophidiophobia.

But...the policy program at UT seems to be a good fit.  AND the faculty and staff have been so incredibly helpful and welcoming.  So we both felt a quick trip to rule-out or keep UT in the running was warranted.

I was looking for reasons to not like place...

There are no trees:

It's too hot:

We would miss the lake!

Lake Travis.  Austin, TX
We have hobbies.  We have things we like to do in the North.  We couldn't possibly find similar things to do down there in the deep south.

Like watch football games:

Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium @ UT

Go out in the city:

6th street
or listen to music...


We loved our two days down there.

Perhaps if we had visited in July we might have hated it?

At the airport Mark promised me a speed boat if we moved to Austin....

I then walked into the gift shop and picked up some swag.

**We have not made a decision to choose UT.  We just decided that we could not rule Texas out.  We learned that if we did choose to move there....we would love it.  We have several other great options on our list.  Places (northern) we would love to live as well (e.g., Boston, Princeton, Ann Arbor, and South Bend).

Sunday, October 6, 2013 celebrate 9 years...

...for my little man.

Of course he wanted to open his presents right away!  You can see the pure excitement in his face.

We enjoyed an awesome breakfast out at a favorite restaurant in Sacket's Harbor.  He was lucky enough to enjoy the company of his grandparents as well as his godparents.

Why yes.  He ate the whole thing.
After breakfast he tried out a few of his new toys...

notice the biker every photo

a new football
and dinner at his favorite restaurant...

We topped the evening off with cake and ice-cream pie and whipping cream with the LaGrange family...

What a day.

Happy birthday son.