Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, M!

It's another very big day in our house as my youngest son turns 10 years old today. He's left behind those single digit years and has joined the double digit age. Turning 10 is an even bigger deal for a military brat, for this is the age at which one receives the coveted military I.D. card. M is WAY excited about getting his own I.D. card. And that's not all... He's now of age to go to Jams, the youth center here on base. I told you today is a very big day, didn't I?

Here are a few pics of my little man, who's not so little any longer, as we celebrate his special day...

M poses with one of the birthday gifts he received at the party we had over the weekend. He adores legos, so I have no doubt he'll enjoy building the one he's holding in the photo.

M really enjoyed meeting his baby cousin while we were visiting family in Kentucky. He's never spent a great deal of time with babies, so I think she fascinated him.

M was happy to get his braces off the last time he visited the orthodontist. His smile is bigger than ever these days!

M is really a big fan of his older brother. They're three years apart in age, but they're very close. With all the moving we do and the anxiety and uncertainty that can go along with being the new kid on the block, these two have always had each other.

You know your kid is growing up when he's willing to wear his Scout uniform and read in front of the congregation at church.

M took some golf lessons over the summer and really enjoyed himself. We bought him a junior set of golf clubs. We may have a golf enthusiast on our hands.

M loves hanging out with Dad and D. They're like the three amigos! It warms my heart to see all of my boys spending time together, doing the male bonding thing.

Happy 10th Birthday, M! I love you MORE!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, D!

It's official... I'm the mother of a teenager as my oldest son turns 13 today. I'm having a difficult time wrapping my mind around this fact because it just doesn't seem possible that my baby could be this old already. Even though he's only 5'4", his size 10 shoe indicates to me that he's still got some growing to do.

Here are a few pics of my boy as we celebrate his special day...

This was taken at the birthday party he shared with his brother. You may or may not know that their birthdays are one day apart. He's still cool with sharing a birthday party with his younger brother and I'm grateful I can get by with one shindig a year instead of two.

Here the big man gets thrown in the stockade for misbehaving in Colonial Williamsburg. That'll teach him!

The big guy learned to make baked apples while at Boy Scout camp in the spring. He likes to make them for other people. Here he is in my mom's kitchen in Kentucky, making baked apples for the fam. Now if we could just get him to expand on this whole cooking deal, I'd have it made.

D is still dealing with braces, even though this isn't an updated photo. He now has braces on his lower teeth as well. It's all part of growing up, I tell him. He's not buying it.

Here D poses with Dad, M and Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun at a fairly recently held college coaches tour. D loves watching football and is gearing up to play flag football this year.

If you've seen D in only a few candid photos, you'll notice he has this thumbs up pose he quite frequently makes for the camera. It's like his signature thing to do whenever he's having his picture made. One day he'll look back at this photos and ask me why I allowed him to act like such a geek.

We were actually out to dinner when this photo was taken. D is totally uninhibited, can you tell? He's quite the clown wherever he goes.

Happy Birthday, D! Love you, big guy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A dog with issues

Some of you may have already seen the following video as it's been going around on email and Facebook. For those who haven't seen it, turn off the music on my blog first, and then click to begin the video. It's guaranteed to make you laugh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

All Jacked Up

Whatsa matta wit u? Drinkin' agin? Go sweep it off. Itta be alwight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

U.S. Vacation - Part IV

Today is the final blog post about our stateside vacation... really.

The last leg of our trip took us to Dover, Delaware, where we would visit with friends and wait for a Space-A flight to bring us back to Spain. We love Dover as we've been stationed there twice, first as newlyweds with a baby to follow, and later as parents of two children and my husband in command for the first time. Dover will always be special to us.

Our original plan was to get on a flight upon our arrival in Dover, but that didn't happen, and now I can't even remember why. We ended up getting a room on base and visited with good friends in the area...

Here I am in the passenger terminal with R, my girlfriend for the last 7 years. She's a riot and I love spending time with her! No matter what else might be going on in her world as a mom of four kids, she always manages to make time for her friends.

We found ourselves sitting in Dover for a few days waiting for a flight, and during that time we had dinner at a new restaurant in town with friends who traveled a couple of hours to visit with us. Another girlfriend in the area surprised us by stopping by the restaurant to hang out for a while. We also visited good friends at their home for a few hours.

My hubby got to play golf with a few local military types while the boys and I went to R's house where we had lunch and the kids played together as if 3 years hadn't passed since they'd last seen one another. Another local girlfriend stopped by with her son for a quick visit.

Here's the whole gang of kiddos. D always manages to strike some sort of goofy pose... just part of his quirky sense of humor. The one missing kiddo was R's youngest daughter, who was napping.

This time all the kids made some kind of goofy face or gesture... with the exception of R's oldest son. He was the only "normal" one.

Visiting with friends was great and we enjoyed our time in Dover, but the next part of the story points out how much our oldest is growing up...

We'd gone to the base housing pool while in limbo in Dover. We met a very nice couple traveling with their kids to Rota on vacation. They'd been to Rota before and we discovered we had mutual friends. It's definitely a small world, especially among miltary folks.

This couple had a daughter D's age and they hit it off at the pool... big time. D's never seemed particularly interested in girls, or if he was, he'd never admit it. When we asked him about meeting A at the pool, he said she was nice and pretty. I asked him if they were flirting with one another and he totally 'fessed up. He didn't even hesitate!

As it turned out, A's family and ours ended up on the same flight to Rota. D and A sat together on the plane and they chatted and watched movies the whole way. It was all very cute. They exchanged email addresses and have been corresponding a little over the last month.

And YES, I have invaded my child's privacy and read the emails these two have sent one another. I consider it part of my job as a parent to eavesdrop, but of course I didn't tell him this. I just reminded him that he needs to be sure he's behaving appropriately on the internet because whatever one puts in print is there for eternity and anybody can read it. It's for his protection as well as the protection of the person(s) with whom he's corresponding.

I won't share with you the conversations these two kids have had, as that would be more than an invasion of privacy. I don't want to completely embarrass my kid unnecessarily, but let's just say he's rather the smooth talker (Gets that from his dad) and he's definitely taken notice of the female species. Heaven help us!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

U.S. Vacation - Part III

Okay... let's see... where did I leave off in the U.S. Vacation saga? Oh yeah... we left the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and headed further east to Virginia. Our first stop was outside Lexington, to stay with my hubby's sister and her family. They live in the Shenandoah Valley, one of the most beautiful, picturesque places in the state. Check out their home and awesome view...

Don't you love this rustic home? The left side is the house and the right side is the barn. What a beautiful setting too... out in the country, off the beaten path.

This is what you see when sitting on the front porch of my sister-in-law's house. I'm imagining what these hills look like in the fall. We've visited at Thanksgiving, but most of the leaves were gone by then, so we didn't get to see the trees in all their glory.

M greets one of the three dogs who reside here.

D and M hang out on the back porch swing. Do you see the dinner bell and windchimes in the background? I LOVE the homey feel of this porch!

While visiting in the area, we went wading in the Maury River, a very shallow, rocky river near Goshen, VA. It was such a gorgeous day and the water felt great. We were having a wonderful time, just chillin' out, when suddenly these horse flies appeared and started to swarm. Seriously. They were all over us! I have no doubt that I put on quite a show for anyone and everyone looking our direction as the flies seemed to be particularly attracted to me and were dive bombing my head nonstop. Honestly, it was miserable! We finally had to just leave. I'm probably now on YouTube as the flailing lunatic with the flies in her hair.

After leaving the Shenandoah Valley, we headed further east to Richmond, VA, to visit with my in-laws. They went with us to Colonial Williamsburg and Water Country USA,which was a total surprise to us. I'd always wanted to visit Williamsburg, and of course the boys were thrilled with the water park. Here are a few photos of our day of fun...

I enjoyed looking at the colonial buildings. Some are restaurants, some are gift shops and some are homes. I didn't realize that people actually live in some of the historic homes.

This is Bruton Parish Church... the first Anglican church built in 1660. Apparently some very famous people had been members of this church... Thomas Jefferson and George Washington among the most famous. The boys thought that was really cool.

This is the inside of the church. It was used as a hospital during two wars and it's still owned by and serves its three-centuries-old parish today.

It was neat to see the horse-drawn carriages and people in period costume.

The boys get a closer look at the horses.

And speaking of period costume...

This gentleman walked through the historic village with oxen following him.

These big critters just followed the man in the previous photo. I found that interesting.

D and M got in trouble and were sent to the stockade!

We checked out the gifts shops with specialty items supposedly made "back in the day." These soaps smelled heavenly!

D tries on a tricorn hat.

M checks out some handmade games for kids.

Have you ever noticed that huge trees attract kids, particularly boys? Mine are no exception.

And of course if there's a cool tree nearby, climbing it is the obvious thing to do.

Although the boys enjoyed seeing Colonial Williamsburg, they were much more excited to visit Water Country USA. We were able to take advantage of the special deal offered to military families which allowed us free admission. Thanks to the Busch Company for making this possible!

The wave pool was a lot of fun.

It was nice that the park provided life vests for guests.

M is out in the middle of the wave pool.

This was just one of the many water slides in the park. The boys talked me in to going down this thing and one time was all I needed to decide I didn't need to go again. Water kept splashing into my face and I couldn't breathe, and then once I came out of the tube and splashed into the pool, I couldn't stand up in the water. I thought I might just drown right there in three feet of water. Yep, it's official... I'm gettin' too old for this kinda stuff! I rather like floating in the Lazy River. That's more my style.

The four of us decided to go on a family raft ride together, and we were all the way at the top, having climbed what felt like endless flights of stairs, and the young lady monitoring the ride told us we'd have to climb back down. Seems weather was rolling in and there had been reports of lightning and thunder. The boys were seriously bummed that our outing was cut short.

My in-laws took the boys and me shopping early for our birthdays and we went out to dinner at the Olive Garden, a definite treat for all of us as we'd been wanting to go there while visiting the States. Those breadsticks just melt in your mouth, don't they? I LOVE those things!

Our U.S. Vacation was winding down with one stop left... Dover, Delaware, where we would fly out of to return to Spain. More on that part of our trip later...

Monday, September 7, 2009

U.S. Vacation - Part II

After taking a short break in sharing our recent vacation details with you, I'm returning to the subject today....

We love the mountains... the hills, trees, fresh air... all of it! Our next vacation stop found us in the hills of West Virginia, where we visited Hawks Nest State Park. Man, what a beautiful place! We'd initially planned on spending a few days here, but due to our delay in arriving stateside, we had to settle for one day.

Hawks Nest is nestled on a hillside overlooking the New River Gorge in Ansted, WV. This is whitewater rafting country. One can also hike various trails, take a jetboat ride on the river, swim in the lodge pool or golf... the usual stuff.

Here are a few photos of our day at Hawks Nest...

This is a view of the New River from our balcony.

A little closer view

Mountain view from our balcony... I'm still imagining how beautiful this place must be during the fall months, when the leaves are brilliant in color. We might have to go back to see for ourselves someday.

We saw this deer from our balcony, and as we took photos of this one...

... another one entered the area. There would eventually be three deer grazing together.

We also saw this little critter hanging out on the lawn below our balcony.

These flowers attracted butterflies like this one...

... as well as this winged creature, which at first glance appeared to be a type of hummingbird, although I'm not 100% sure.

We rode the aerial tramway down the side of the mountain to the river below so we could take the jetboat ride.

Here are D & M on the tramway. This ride scared me a little. The older I get, the bigger wimp I become. What's up with that?

My husband and youngest son enjoy the jetboat ride as we look at the sights down on the river.

If you look closely, you can see the lodge at the top of the hill.

There were several homes located on the riverbanks, and this one called out to me. We were thinking we could live here... it does have that whole military look going on. Just get me an American flag, and I'd be set.

This is the New River Gorge Bridge. Interesting data... The main span is 1700 ft long, making it the western hemisphere's longest steel arch bridge. At 876 ft above the river, it's supposedly the 2nd highest east of the Mississippi River.

Here's another view of the bridge, taken from a different angle.

This is the New River Gorge Bridge taken from the top of the hill. Beautiful structure, isn't it?

I thought this was a nice view of the river below. The boys would have loved to go whitewater rafting on this trip, but we simply didn't have the time.

One of the boys took this photo of my hubby and me. We so rarely have the opportunity to have our photo taken together, and this one actually turned out well. My hubby is photogenic, but me? No so much!

Here we were leaving the New River Gorge and Hawks Nest State Park area, and soon West Virginia would be in our rearview mirror. Next stop on our U.S. Vacation... VIRGINIA!