Sunday, April 24, 2011



I love them, even when they are cold, wet and muddy.

And when they choose the creek over the nice warm and clean playground.

We needed to get the boys out of the house for a bit while visiting in Birmingham. I knew of the little park just a mile away. We took them there and let them go. We parked right in front of the playground and anticipated them to run for it. Instead, they both head around the corner, Jackson in the lead. They went straight for the creek that runs around the park. They spent the next hour searching for crawfish and putting snails and tadpoles into dirty water bottles filled with muddy water. We told them time and time again to NOT get wet. You can imagine how well that went. It's a good thing we are currently homeless and living in our car. (by choice and only until May 1) All our clothes go everywhere with us. It's actually been quite convenient. Just a quick change in the parking lot gave us dry and less rambunctious boys, at least for a few minutes.
Here is the playground that they chose NOT to play on.

Jackson explains to Lincoln that the tadpole will be a frog one day soon! Oh, and don't shake it up, you'll kill it. (while shaking the bottle to demonstrate)

Love my Muddy Men!

Look, escargot!

This is what we gave Lincoln for his second birthday! A stick. He would appreciate it as much as any toy we could think of!
When given a choice, my boys choose the muddy, COLD creek full of critters.


I love them!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What I'll Miss the Most

Tomorrow we leave Fayetteville, NC for the last time. It is certainly a bittersweet statement. Almost 10 years ago, my parents drove their oldest daughter here to move in with her new husband. We arrived in my new city greeted with more pawn shops, tatoo parlors, exotic dancing cabarets and title loan businesses than this southern belle had ever witnessed. While there are most definitely things I will NOT miss about this place (Skibo, massive traffic, Crosscreek Mall yuck!), there are many more things that I will miss seeing about the first city we called home. These are surely not all the things I will think on fondly over the next several years but these are the ones that came to mind lately.

10. Commissary shopping. Yes, it is usually a dreaded task. It's crowded, full of carts, kids and sometimes ungrateful baggers. I have come to appreciate the slightly lowered prices, fresher produce and reduced meats. I have also scored some great deals since beginning to use coupons so all in all, I think I just might miss it. Then again, I will gain Kroger.

9. Post. No, not the traffic, gate hassle and over zealous MP's. I'll miss the extremely patriotic, reverence of the rules followed by everyone around. You might not come into the Army knowing all the etiquette but this place makes sure you know it when you leave.

8. Linden Oaks. The Military housing community was built across the street from our neighborhood about 4 years ago. It started out as houses but then they built a community center with a pool and workout center. Although we didn't live there, we had lots of friends that did and that gained us access to all those great places on a regular basis. I can't count the number of runs on those treadmills as each of my kids banged their head on the glass from the child play area. Thankfully they both grew out of that and enjoyed it after all. The school was constructed that brought 2 GREAT playgrounds for us to enjoy after hours. They had the foam padding which was great when Lincoln still wasn't a walker yet. The neighborhood sections also had little parks with great picnic areas that were enjoyed by all. I'm going to miss such a great location within a mile from me. I will miss the friends that live there even more.
7. My back porch.
It's why we bought the house we live in. It was all that was constructed when Jason said, "this is it". My fondest memories will always be of sitting on that porch swing.

6. REA-It's people,helping people, help people. It's our recent bargain find and I'm going to miss it. It is the scratch and dent store that I recently discovered. We had wondered for years what was in that store that was once a Food Lion. Finally, another bargain hunter friend introduced me and I was hooked. Over the last several months, Mari and I have made more than a few trips to the "help store" as it was deemed by Jackson to collect snacks, juice boxes and other HBA products at a fraction of the cost. Name brand cereal and organic baby food are a few of the other purchases that we considered a total score in that place. I'm going to miss shopping there and coming home feeling like a million bucks without spending it.


4. THIS House...

3. Reveille. If you are ever on this post at 5pm, you will know it for more than just one reason. There is nothing my 2 year old Jackson loved more than being on post at 5pm to hear the sound of Reveille. He has always loved it with the enthusiasm that only a child born into the military can have. There have been times, during deployment, that we would play on Pope at 5 just to hear Reveille then drive over to the Bragg side so we could hear it again at 5:15. It commands reverence. People are supposed to STOP in their cars when it is played because it is followed by the National anthem. Patriotism is born here and I'm happy we've instilled it in the boys.

2. Diversity. We now know people from more states than the ones that touch Alabama. I have friends in half the states of the US. I have friends that are close enough to go in visit in at least a quarter of those. I have PLANS to visit states such as California and Hawaii because my friends are there. We have friends from all over and although I will miss them, those are the ones I'll see and hear from again.

1. There are no words to describe how much I will miss them...

The difference a YEAR makes.

Anyone that has known me in the last 365 days knows exactly what I was doing a year ago today. If you need a little recap, here it is...

Fast forward a YEAR to the very day he returned home from his last 12 months in Afghanistan and just this morning I watched him walk out the front door of this empty house in uniform for the last time. He never saw it and I never thought I'd say this but I'm going to miss that ugly drab uniform.

It has come to mean several things to me over the years. I'll never forget back in the day when the uniform was still green. We had only been married for a few months and I remember the day he brought home that drab tan and grey uniform. It's presence meant only ONE thing. Deployment. Man I hated the day he put that uniform on. It was the day we said goodbye for the first 7months we would spend apart. The next time I saw him in person in that uniform was still one of the happiest days of my entire life. That uniform took on a whole different meaning when i saw it march through the doors of green ramp in multiplying succession. It meant I could breathe again, that he was SAFE, that I was safe, that he was HOME. I've seen that roller coaster come around the tracks several times now. It still usually has the same stomach sickening effect when he leaves and similar relief at his return.

Today marks the ending of a VERY exciting book. One that I never anticipated to read. Some chapters have been joyful while others were very trying. The reading of this "book" called Army life has forever changed who I am. It has made me a better person. It made me more independent, patriotic, and understanding. It has made me and my children more adaptable because we all know, in the Army, everything CHANGES. Today we make our biggest change yet. We will leave the first house we have ever owned, the first neighborhood I ever loved, the first post we ever called home together. Today we begin a new book. In this book, the ending is yet to be written. We control our destiny. It is being set free. Free to go and do and decide. With the knowledge, lessons and integrity that was afforded us by our choices to serve among heroes in the United States Army, we have no doubts that our opportunities will abound. We are lucky to carry with us the life experience we gained as part of the Army family and I know we will always feel a part of it. I am so proud to have been married to a man that would sacrifice it all for the sake of his country. I'm happy to continue friendships with those that are called to serve and protect. I look forward to taking the things I've learned in this lifestyle and applying them to better our civilian life.

Today, we say goodbye to the Army but we both know very well that the Army will always be a part of us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blogging in the Moonlight

As I sit here blogging to the light of the moon, some people have no home to go to tonight. We are worried about the food in our freezer and they are worried where they will be living. I pray for those people and I hope you will too.

This is my recap of the storms and how fortunate we truly are:

Yesterday Jason and I headed to Walmart and a late lunch with some friends. We had not been informed of such severe weather imminent in the area. We saw the ominous cloud ahead and could only trudge forward. We arrived at Walmart and I opted to stay in the warm, dry car and play phone facebook. He got to the door and the power was already out and he was being summoned rather loudly to "get inside there is a tornado." Jason was not overreacting but when they wouldn't let him out, he decided to call me inside. We spent a half hour browsing around a dark walmart before deciding that they wouldn't reopen. When we went to leave, the traffic situation was HORRIBLE and as soon as we could get our bearings by dodging downed trees, police cars and strewn building pieces, we headed HOME. When we got home we were greeted with NO power. Clear skies and NO power. We were still clueless about the devastation that occurred close to us and throughout the area.
We had a cookout planned at my friend Jen's and the party must go on so without power, we prepared our neighborhood cookout. By nightfall we had eaten mac and cheese, garlic bread and a variety of grill meats all from the BBQ grill. A fire was lit and the candles were flickering all over the yard. There was even music from the ipod as we all discussed how lucky we were to have sustained nothing but power loss. The children ran around the house and yard with Army issued chem-lights to mark their presence. We had really made the best of a night without power. People to talk to, music on the stereo and food on the grill.
As we headed home from Jen's the reality hit that we didn't have a bed to sleep on and the faithful blowup mattress that I had kept out for us, well, it's electric. As I brushed my teeth to the glow of an emergency chem-light, Jackson used the 120V converter in my car to blow up our bed! Yay, we didn't have to sleep on the floor after all. It was actually quite a peaceful nights sleep. Both phones had to sleep in the car where the only chargers were located. We were still a bit surprised to wake up this morning to NO power.
That is when the real problem (for us) set in.
NO coffee.
We made a futile trip to Food Lion and joined probably 20 other people in line for coffee. We gave up.
Mari had invited us over to help eat their food that was quickly spoiling. We dinned like Kings for breakfast made on the grill. We had a spread of eggs, sausage, pancakes, bagels and cream cheese but most of all we had COFFEE!!!
We boiled water on the grill, then took it inside and poured it into the coffee filter and drank very strong mildly warm coffee. Oh, my, what people will do for a coffee addiction. But hey, we had coffee. Then we all decided we need to buy a French press, you know, in case of an emergency.
You may be asking yourselves where are the photos of this powerless bunch but sadly there are none. The cell phones used most frequently to take photos were all running on small bursts of energy from the car chargers. What energy was consumed was used to update the rest of us on pertinent weather and storm related information all obtained from facebook. Hey, it's reliable, right?
Well, it was all we had because none of us could get online, even on our phones.
The lack of Internet was harder for some of us than others, but I won't name any names here!

I'm happy to report the power is now restored and I feel caught up on the news and gossip that was missed in our short power hiatus.
Please remember there was MUCH devastation caused by the storms that came through our area. We were VERY lucky, others were not. Please pray for the families affected by the storms.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jacksonism's on Moving

We are about to move out of the only home they boys have ever known. They are accustomed to saying goodbye to people including friends. It's part of the life we live. While they haven't at all seemed sad, Jackson has said a few things recently that let me know it was weighing on his little mind.

On the way home from school recently Jackson asked me, "Mom,how do you and dad do it all by yourself?" I thought he meant in general and said, "well we work together like most parents do." He said, "No, how are you going to pick up the house and move it, just the two of you." I explained how we were not actually moving the house, that we have a new one but we will take all the things in it inside a moving van.
He considered this and then asked how we could drive the moving van and still drive both of our cars to Nashville. Smart boy! I then told him after he leaves for Alabama for a few days, movers will come in and drive it there for us.

In a related story, he woke up one morning and was looking around his room. I had been in there the previous day working on the wall hangings and toy clutter and clothes. As he was getting dressed, he sleepily asked me "Mom, why do things in my room keep disappearing?" Again, he doesn't fully comprehend the move.

We have borrowed a few video games for our Wii now that he seems interested in them. I guess I didn't realize how much he was interested in them. He quickly became slightly addicted to playing them and I had to start setting the timer for when he could play. One morning he woke up for school and said he didn't want to go to school. I asked him why not and he said "School is boring." I wanted to say tough luck but instead I asked why he had said that now. He said "they don't have video games there." Then is when I said tough luck buddy, you're going to school!

At a gas station recently Jackson saw a guy on a motorcycle beside us. He was drinking an energy drink out of one of those new black cans with a screw top. Jackson said "Ewww, look Mom, that guy is drinking shaving cream!" It did resemble the shaving cream Jason uses!

We took Jackson to the doctor for his Kindergarten physical and shots. I knew he had to have one and had told him all about it. I even told him the funny story about his Aunt Tracie hiding under the table when she was 5 because she was so scared of her shots. He wasn't AT ALL scared. He knew going in there would be shots and he was prepared. I wasn't prepared to tell him there were FOUR shots. I thought maybe one or two. So I started prepping him and he assured me he wasn't scared, he was tough like a MAN! I sure hoped so as I leaned over him and the two nurses administered two shots in each of his legs. I could tell by his face that it hurt a little worse than he expected but as I teared up, he sat up and said, "Look, I have 4 band aids to show Lincoln Mom!" He never cried once. MY BIG BIG boy!

At the same doctors appointment they assess his learning and cognitive abilities. They asked him to name 3 things that we can eat. He thought for just a second before saying "Apples, Oranges, (yay healthy foods!) and.......BACON!" He's a well rounded kind of kid!

Last week we went out for Mexican at dinner. We were seated near the back where they had a curtain pulled to section off the private room for a party. Jackson was talking to his dad and said, "Dad, what's back there?" Jason answered him by saying it was a private party. Jackson said, "Nuh, uh, no way." Jason assured him he was telling him the truth and again he protested that it was NOT that. Jason asked him, "Son, why don't you believe me, it's a private party?" Jackson with disbelief said, "So you mean it's a party where they show their PRIVATES?
Jason had to gain his composure before explaining to him that a private party simply meant that you had to be invited to come.

There's your insight into the mind of a 5-year old!

Run like a MOTHER!


Ten seconds is all it took to bring me to tears following my very first half marathon. This wasn't a commitment made in haste by any means. This race has been nearly 4 years in the making.

When Jackson was almost a year, we moved back to NC from Alabama and I decided running was going to be the way I lost my baby weight. Well, it worked! After that, I'm pretty sure is when I was hooked but Jen and I started running mornings around 9am and did it pretty consistently for the next 3 years. Through some pretty torturous weather (mostly extreme heat) we ran pushing kids in jogging strollers stopping for potty breaks and snack times. When we were both here and available, we did some 5K's and a couple of 10K's together and our time was always pretty good for our level. Last October, we committed to doing a 10 miler and started training more seriously. We had since ditched the strollers and made our kids RUN! (HA, kidding!) We would wake and run anywhere from 5-7 miles around 530-6am. We decided it was the right time for us and it worked. We increased our time and speed over that course and in November we ran the Raven Rock 10 mile trail run. WOW! We were quite prepared for the distance of that race but the terrain was a different story. It was quite possibly the hardest race I'll ever run. Our time didn't at all reflect our pace but more our completion. I'll never forget yelling at Jen 3 people in front of me at that race that I'd MUCH rather be running 13.1 on the road than this 10 in the woods! That was the beginning of our marathon dreams.

In February we decided rather quickly that with my upcoming move, NOW was the time for us to complete that goal. We found out the Raleigh Rocks Half was going to be April 10 and we hit the ground running. We started training with our long runs falling on Sundays while still maintaining our early morning 5's and 6's. We racked up 100 miles in both Feburary and March and we knew we were ready for this race.

Race week, I went out on a limb and booked us 2 hotwire hotels in hopes that we'd be close to the race. What LUCK that it was the hotel across the street from the RBC center where the race started. The Best luck was that it was $39 a night! And if you think it was a dump, think again! It was a great Ramada Inn with breakfast included.

Race day started out about 50 and ended at about 55. It was cloudy and slightly overcast with morning dew heavy. There were around 2000 running in the race making it the biggest one we had ever participated in. We took our spot in the mid-back right corner and the gun goes off.
Mile 1-dead duck was spotted making quite a spectacle.
Mile 2- my WATCH died. Are you kidding! I've been running with this thing as my pacer for years now and it dies today! Luckily Jen had one and committed to calling our pace at every mile to keep us motivated.
Mile 3- Jen-"We are at a 9:10 pace"
Mile 5- Me-"What should we title this blog? Any song you can think of that would be fitting?" We contemplated Bon Jovi, Living on a Prayer (Ohhh, you're HALF way there) and Justin Bieber's Never say Never.
Mile 6- Me "I'm hungry! Jen, aren't you hungry? Lucky us, I have these last few jelly beans in my sports bra!" Two thumbs up for Jelly Belly Sports Beans!
Mile 7- Jen-"We are at a 8:50 pace let's keep that up!"
Mile 10-Me-"Where are we?" Jen- "We lost a little on that last hill, we are at 1:32. If we are going to break 2 hours, we're going to have to pull a few 8:30 pace miles.
Mile 10.5-Me-"OK, Jen, you get me up these next 2 hills and stay 2 people in front of me and I'll follow you." This must have been the go ahead she needed because she took off and I followed. We ran the next 3 miles at nearly 8:30 pace.

I knew it was going to be close. Really close. We ran for our hearts out. We ran for the time of our life. When we saw the finish line we ran like a machine. I ran with focus only hearing the voice in my head that I COULD do this.

We crossed the finish line with an officially recorded time of 1:59:50. TEN seconds to spare for accomplishing a goal we didn't really ever think was possible this first time. UNDER a 2 hour half marathon for our first race was a pretty great accomplishment. We have set the bar pretty high for subsequent races. Will there be more? ABSOLUTELY!

Jen and I always talk about how we think it's important that our kids see us making our health and fitness a priority. Sometimes they don't even see us doing it, they just know we come home sweaty before they even get up but they see that we are committed to something. They take pride in our medals earned in the race but we take pride in knowing we are teaching them something more valuable.

We don't just run...we run like a MOTHER!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's my LUCKY day!

April 6

Nine years ago on April 6th Jason and I took the LONG way (we got lost) to Fort Walton Beach for the night. It was still chilly but we didn't care, we were in college and it was still cool to wear our swimsuits when it was 60 outside. We spent the afternoon on the beach again, trying to look cool and not freeze in the sea wind. Right before sunset, Jason hugged me, dropped down to one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. He placed a ring on my finger and I think the first thing I said was "Oh, wow!" and after he prompted me, I said "YES!" It's still one of the best decisions I've ever made and I love thinking about the last 10 years we've spent together and the next 50! These photos are from the pre-digital era and I have them affixed in my scrapbooks so they don't scan well.

April 6

Seven years ago on April 6th sometime around 4am a plane landed at Green Ramp on Pope Air Force Base and made me the happiest girl on the planet at that very moment. This was the return of Jason's first and hardest deployment. He left 6 months into our first year of marriage. It was a little unexpected and it was the beginning of the Iraq hotspot war. It was to an obscure place where they slept in tents, had little communication or long long waits to contend with. I saw him on webcam for the first time 5 months into this deployment and cried tears of JOY. I think I might have forgotten what he looked like in person it had been so long. He didn't have a phone or a computer. To send him emails, I would compose them in Word and send them to my FRG leader who would send them to the 1SG's email and he would download and print them and hand deliver the letters to the guys. Yeah, not very personal. It was the hardest for Jason because it was the most extreme area where he was located. It was the hardest for me because I was here...ALONE. I didn't have tons of friends, I worked 2 jobs to occupy myself and if it wasn't for Roxy greeting me at the door, I'm sometimes not sure I would have made it through it. I never thought it could be easier to suffer a deployment with kids but they take their mind off of things and seem to help with the loneliness. This deployment was a mere 7 months in comparison to his 14 and 12 month subsequent ones but this one was only supposed to last 4 and on Christmas Eve I got a phone call from an FRG wife that the unit had been extended for another 3 months. Merry Christmas to me! Seeing that plane touch down that night lifted the heaviest burden I think I have ever felt. There were more than a few nights during that deployment that worried for Jason and his unit's lives. I still say it was the happiest day of my life. I could finally stop worrying, temporarily.

April 6

Six years ago today, while working at my job as a Medical Technologist in a hospital laboratory, I wondered if my "timing" had been right. We had become homeowners and had offically began "trying" to have a baby. Since I had the most sensitive test on the market available to me, I had my blood drawn. What the heck, why not? It was a long shot and way too early. I did my morning work and then in my downtime, I started playing around with testing my own blood. For the heck of it, I asked the chemistry department if I could throw mine on for an HCG with the others in the rack. I even programmed it in myself. I walked away and thought nothing else of it. It was before lunch that she walked over with a duplicate test result in her hand with a smile. It was COMPLETE disbelief. NO WAY, that fast? I had NO symptoms. It turns out I was about 6 days pregnant with Jackson. 6 DAYS! Who else can find out they are 6 DAYS pregnant! My life changed on April 6. I found out I was going to be a mother. It took a little while to get used to the idea, it did happen rather quickly. I wouldn't take back ANY day of the last six years. Jackson has always been a little ahead of his time! ;)

April 6

I'd say it's my LUCKY day!