December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

Waiting in line to see Santa

She did not cry but enjoyed herself

Eating at the food court after seeing Santa
(I am holding cousin Lydia)

December 17, 2008

December 16, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby...Ice!

When we woke up this chilly morning, the thermometer told us it was below freezing. So, we bundled up and started our day. Ryan had a different experience. He was slipping and sliding on the driveway trying to get the ice off the car window's. Olivia and I watched from the front window and were glad to be inside. It took him nearly twice as long to get to work due to the black ice on the highway. Needless to say, I won't be going to my much needed hair appointment. And so it has begun...crazy temps, even crazier wind, and ice, ice, Baby...ICE!!!!

December 12, 2008

A Different Christmas Poem

My sister-in-law, Sarah, emailed me this great poem. Please feel free to copy it and email to those you know who have a family member in the military.

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

'What are you doing?' I asked without fear,
'Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!'
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said 'Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.'
'It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,'
Then he sighed, 'That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.'
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.'

' So go back inside,' he said, 'harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.'
'But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
'Give you money,' I asked, 'or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son.'

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
'Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.'

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many
people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people
stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

December 11, 2008

Merry Christmas

This year has just flown by for our family. We started out in 29 Palms, CA and are now settled into our new home near Fort Sill, OK. It certainly feels like winter with the chilly weather and blistering wind. I think it might be worse that 29 Palms wind, minus the sand. The house is all decorated, the tree is up and Christmas cookies are warm from the oven. We'll be traveling back up north to meet our new niece Lydia and to visit family and friends. Our Christmas will be celebrated early and then we'll drive the new van north (cats included). We do hope everyone has a safe, exciting holiday season, and we wish the best for the New Year. To our friends from CA...enjoy the winter weather while you can...cause it's cold everywhere else!

December 5, 2008

Just Some Pictures

As I'm sitting here writing this entry, it is currently 24 degrees outside (feels like 16 degrees) and my toes are cold. Here's some pictures over the last few weeks I thought everyone would enjoy.

Olivia sitting in the same basket we let her sleep in after coming home from the hospital. At that time, she could stretch out inside the basket.

Talking with Grandma and Grandpa Collins on webcam...she knows they can see her.

Olivia loves her giant snow globe from Uncle Travis...she really enjoys making the music play.

Wearing a homemade knitted dress and sweater Grandma Collins wishes to become an heirloom.

Olivia standing on the bench in the background at Moppets (MOPS-Mother's Of PreSchooler's).

December 2, 2008

Our Thanksgiving Dinner

The Collins Family before dinner

Keira (sorry I don't know the spelling), Mike and Olivia

Our dinner mates

This year for Thanksgiving we stayed home once again. We traveled over across the street to our wonderful neighbor's, Mike and Sarah, to enjoy a lovingly prepared turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Mike's parents were there as well as good friends from their church. Olivia enjoyed being the center of attention after warming up to all the new faces. She even gave Mike a huge hug while helping him clean the dishes, something she has not done before because we think she was unsure of him. She devoured her dinner and enjoyed apple pie and ice cream for dessert. Next year, we've all agreed to have dinner at our house...come one, come all!!

December 1, 2008

The Mom Song

So, I haven't figured out how to post video yet, but here is a link for the greatest song about Mom's ever!!

It's called The Mom Song from the Northland Church in FL, and is a tribute to mothers set to "William Tell Overture". Enjoy.

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We'd like to wish all our friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving. As we look back on the wonderful memories we've made with friends these last 4 years traveling with the Marine Corps, it is hard to imagine life without those memories. I want to give a special thanks to my dear friend Robin Chartier, who took me under her wing and showed me how to survive deployments, how not to sweat the small stuff and always had an extra spot at her dinner table. I'd also like to thank my mother who came to my rescue by dropping everything to fly cross country to take me to the hospital, always helps me when I need it most, and loves me for who I am.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who means so much to this family. Safe travels for all our loved ones on the road this busy holiday season.

November 20, 2008

Correction and Olivia's Sick

My wonderful sister pointed out to me this morning that I called the large animals in the refuge by the wrong name. There are bison...not buffalo...roaming the vast expanse of the refuge. LOL, I get it but the locals think those that say bison are crazy and people down here are just that...crazy. Buffalo are in Africa and bison are here in North America. Well, it was still an enjoyable day watching the bison/buffalo in the park.

Oh, and this morning at 4am, Olivia woke up throwing up everywhere. After an early trip to Walmart for Pedialite, she is sleeping soundly. It's the first time she's actually been throw up sick so she's not feeling so hot. Hopefully, this will pass soon and I won't get sick.

November 19, 2008

Wichita Wildlife Refuge

Olivia and I went exploring the Wildlife Refuge 3 miles from our house today. I wanted to see buffalo since they haven't been out the last few times we've past through, and we found 2. Both were right by the road, darn near 100 ft from the car, and Olivia did see them from the back seat. The buffalo pictured below was laying down at first and was taking a dirt bath by kicking its feet into the air to get his/her back...quite a sight to see. Then it rubbed its huge head against the poll it was standing by...I think you can even see the rub marks from other buffalo. They are huge and the last time I remember being so close to one, I was 4 or something and camped out in Yellowstone with my family. We also checked out the visitor's center and Olivia enjoyed the children's section. It had interesting information about learning the various animal's scat...guess what that is? Poo!!

Not Much

There isn't much going on here at the house. Finally, the weather is cooling off which gives us a much needed break from the AC...which at times has been on during the day this past week. We really need to put heat film on all the window's facing south to help keep the living room cooler. Right now around 3pm there is a defineate temp difference between the living room and the hallway.

Oh, we had a security alarm installed just a few weeks ago. Ryan and I are getting used to turning it on in the evening and when we leave the house. It's nice to feel safe and secure (more so actually) when Ryan is at work.

Olivia is growing like a weed and finally hit the 20Ib mark. She's now legal to sit facing forward in the car. Also, she just under 31inches. We find it ironic that she is so tiny when her parents are so tall.

That's all for now. Must clean the kitchen and start preparing to host the December coffee for the Marine wives...what have I gotten myself into? Oh, I love it.

November 15, 2008

Welcome Lydia Cagle!!!

Travis, Lydia and Sarah Cagle

Proud New Dad!!

Finally together after waiting for so long

Ryan and I, along with Olivia, welcomed Lydia Cagle into this world last night at 12:39am. Ryan's sister Sarah, and her husband Travis, called at 5am yesterday morning telling us it was time and they were heading to the hospital. After receiving news Sarah was 9cm at 4 pm yesterday, we thought for sure Lydia would say hello before midnight. However, she had other plans and after 3 hrs of solid pushing by Sarah, a c-section was performed as Lydia just would not fit. So many people are excited to meet Lydia, who was 6 Ibs 11oz and 20 inches, although our turn won't come until Christmas time. We are so proud of Sarah for being such a trooper and sticking it out until the time came to go into the OR. Travis and Sarah have an adorable baby girl and we are so happy for the new family of 3!!!

November 2, 2008

Happy Birthday USMC!!

Happy 233rd Birthday to the United States Marine Corps!! This year was especially exciting because after all the festivities, Ryan and I could come home and sleep in our own bed. Oh, and I also got a new dress that wasn't red!! The night was very enjoyable but good friends of ours were unable to attend. Matt was out of town so his wife Trisha graciously volunteered to watch Olivia for us...and even attempt to put her to bed. Olivia enjoyed playing with Trisha's girls, Chloe and Cahla and their 11 month old son, Mathan. Ryan and I enjoyed slow dances and great company until we decided to pick up Olivia, travel the 20 min to our home and collapse into bed...again, the best part of the night. Thank you Trisha for watching Olivia.

Happy Halloween!!

The view of our street is behind me.

Our street this year was very quite for Trick-or-Treating. Last year we lived on base in 29 Palms, Ca and it is tradition that kids Trick-or-Treat between 6 and 8 pm. The hours were set this year for our new town of Cache, Ok, however, we only had 1 kid come by compared to the 200 kids last year. The fire pit was out in our driveway and was nice to have once the sun went down but no one was here to enjoy it with us. Our good friends Nick and Laura Whitefield are in Quantico this year so Ryan and I enjoyed watch the stars and kept the fire going.

Olivia went as a Vikings Cheerleader and walked across the street to become the neighbor's one and only Trick-or-Treater. She's still young enough not to understand what the holiday is about and was a bit scared when the strange man put candy in her bucket. She enjoyed taking candy out of her bucket in our driveway and try to eat through the wrapper. Success came when we weren't paying attention and she ate through the foil of a Reese's Piece but she was able to spit the foil out before swallowing...bad mom and dad for not paying attention.

The night concluded without any other kids coming down our street so we now have a gallon ziplock bag full of candy in our freezer. At least next year we know to go to a party somewhere and won't have to buy as much candy.

October 31, 2008

Learning Fast!

Olivia is learning new things everyday and very fast. Now, she is able to sign "sippy cup" and tell us "hi". When I took my toe nail polish off to redo it for the USMC Birthday Ball tomorrow, Olivia immediately sat down, took off her socks and started to rub her toes with a cotton ball. She takes tissues and rubs her nose like Daddy does when he must blow his nose. Climbing onto the couch to snuggle is no longer a challange anymore, she can do it with easy. Need less to say, we're going to have to watch what we do and say because her little ears pick up everything. It's fun and exciting watching her learn something new and then have the ability to show us these new things. We are amazed at her and love her with all our being.

October 20, 2008

Lesson's Learned!!!

Here's the scoop of the disaster that is the airline industry. Granted I owe a lot to the airline father works for one...but I'm a bit peeved as a paying customer. Instead of purchasing a cheap umbrella stroller to help me get Olivia through the terminals on my own, I took our expensive Maclaren, thinking it would be safe since I'd gate check the thing instead of putting it down in the belly of the beast. Well, was I ever wrong.

The stroller made it safely from Lawton to Dallas but not onward to Minneapolis/St.Paul. Instead, it sat at the Dallas gate by the ticket counter flashing itself to the world and saying, "I'm here for the taking!!" The Dallas gate agent told me I'd have to leave the stroller with her to put under the plane. To my resistance, she would not let me take it to the end of the jetway, which is a secured area not open to the public. She assured me it would be at the top of the stairs in the jetway when I exit the plane...oh, no it wasn't!!! Even the Captain went outside into the cold and down the stairs looking for it in Minnaoplis...our only hope was it had made it's way to baggage claim.

By the time we got down the claim our bags, I knew it was lost forever, for it was no where to be seen. I politely filed a claim, waited days for a phone call and nothing.

However, the clouds lifted day prior to flying home again...for as I return from flying a little 1940s military observation Cub with my Dad, the glorious stroller was in my parents entryway!!! The airline delivered the stroller on their it should be. I call the stroller glorious because I've never been so happy to see one. I felt horrible that the first phone call to my Grandmother in months was to ask for the recipet because she bought the glorious storller for us as her baby gift for Olivia.

So....lessson learned....spend the extra $20 on a cheap stroller to fly with in the chance it might get lost along the way instead of taking the expensive stroller that will cost 10 times as much to replace. By the way, it was American Airlines who both lost and found the stroller again. Do what you wish with this with another airline or buy a any case, please don't take the expensive baby gear with you unless you can't afford to replace it!!!!

October 11, 2008

Such a Helper

After getting new carpeting throughout the entire house, it was time to put all the furniture back into our master bedroom. Olivia saw me pick up a drawer and decided to help. Ryan noticed the drawer was just a bit to heavy and helped Olivia. She was so proud of herself for helping like a big girl...oh my, she's growing up way to fast.

Spoons...for dinner?

So, I forgot this picture was on the camera...a bad thing to forget such cute pictures. But Olivia was given a spoon to eat her green beans with one night at dinner and this was the outcome. Needless to say, she was given a prompt bath that night.

October 10, 2008

Our Little Toddler

It's official, Olivia is not longer a baby but a growing toddler. Ok, technically, I think she became a toddler the day she turned One, but we're now seeing her act like a toddler. Her first word, other than Dada and Mama, was Kitty and then came baby, doggy, and birdy. At nursery school this past Sunday the volunteer told me she pointed to a dove in a poster and said "birdy," we're so proud of her. This morning we heard her practicing saying Daddy, first by going Da Da Da then adding the 'ddy' for the full Daddy. It's just amazing how her little brain works and absorbs everything...must remember to keep pottymouth words in my head the next time I stub my toe.

Like most toddlers, Olivia likes to test our reactions. For instance, she'll slowly get down off the chair she's not supposed to be climbing then smile afterwards waiting for our praise. We do say "thank you for listening," but she does get put in time out quite a few times a day still. Yes, she might not exactly understand why she's there (we do get down to her level and give a short explaination)...she's only in timeout for less than a minute...but she is slowly, very slowly, understanding there are consequences to her actions. I need to call Robin and ask how she got her boys to listen to her without raising her voice...her boys, now 9, 7 and 4, are very well behaved.

Olivia also goes completely limp if she knows we're mad at her for something, or she doesn't want to do what we want her to do. When ever one of us is cooking dinner, and the other is doing nothing in the living room, she'll ultimately want to be with the one cooking dinner. To keep her safe we try to keep her out of the kitchen, so when we turn her around and she wants to stay, she'll go limp. Also, and here's the funny part, we try not to laugh at this but it's just so darn cute. She'll lay herself down on the ground, head and all, to throw a tantrum and will either find a soft spot for her head and lay down or slowly put her head down as to not hurt herself on the tile floor. We chuckle at that even though we shouldn't.

It's just funny to watch her learn how to try and get away with things, to figure out how to get what she wants and to show us she's mad. Just thought this would be something fun to share as she is our first born and this is all new to us...

October 5, 2008

Renaissance Festival and Traveling Home

Our week long vacation up in the great north ended with a trip to the Renaissance Festival held every year just south of the Twin Cities. It has been a tradition for years for the Collins women to go and this year Olivia and I were invited. We spent the day walking around an authentic village with employees, vendors and patrons all dressed in period attire. The weather was nice and pleasant making the day just that more enjoyable. We saw jousting and ate spinach pie. Before leaving we stopped by to get our picture taken in period attire, yet another festival tradition. Olivia really enjoyed pointing and saying 'doggie' to the very large, non-neutered, 1 yr old dog.

On our travels home, Olivia found the baby bouncy seat in the Armed Services Center (similar to a USO) at the MSP Airport. Then while waiting for the flight from Dallas to Lawton, she enjoyed her raisins and sat still for a cute photo op. All in all, she did very well traveling with little or no sleep for that day. I love her to death but I'm looking very forward to traveling back north with the help of Daddy.

Flying High

While visiting back home in WI, Olivia finally got her first small airplane ride. We took her up in an Apache, a four person airplane so Nana got to come along and take pictures. The first picture in this blog is of myself as an infant taking my first plane ride in a Cessna 140. I was so excited to take Olivia up since flying has been such a huge part of my life. We only went up for about 20 mins, just long enough for her to see the world around her and to fall asleep. I was looking out the window and did not even notice she had fallen asleep with her head on my arm until Nana pointed it out to me. It was an enjoyable flight and I look forward to taking her flying again.

September 17, 2008

Hanging Around...

After a busy day traveling, hosting a baby shower, and seeing the Blue Angels preform in the rain, it was time to relax. Olivia and I traveled back over to MN to see Grandma and Grandpa Collins. We went to the park to swing on the swings...something Olivia loves to do...and Uncle Travis (brother-in-law) made sure Olivia enjoyed her time on the swing. Then we met Aunt Sarah for lunch and Olivia showed us all how she could drink from a straw...she's growing up so fast. Then it was back to the house to enjoy the outdoors with Morgan the Dog who just couldn't resist trying to lick Olivia all over.

The last few days has been spent at my parents house in the semi-country of WI...I say semi-country because they do have 2 acres of land but the surrounding areas of the town are growing up fast. I'm amazed at how much changes between my visits. Olivia is catching up on sleep and enjoying the outdoors with Papa. I am able to run...when my knee doesn't buckle out on me...and help around the house. Olivia is currently awake at 10pm while I'm trying to finish this blog. After 12.5 hrs of sleep last night and nearly 4 hrs of naps today...I guess putting her down at 7pm was not going to work. We'll be relaxing for a few more days before going to the Renaissance Festival with my mother-in-law. Til then...enjoy!