December 28, 2011

National Marine Corps Museum

Today was a day I've waited over 5 months for...  We toured the National Marine Corps Museum as a family.  It's one of those things you are always meaning to do, you know, sight see in your own city.  When visiting a far off land, you cram so much into a short vacation in order to see it all but not when it is literally in your own backyard.  Oh, no, that's when it gets put off til next week, then the next and so forth.  We only had to travel the 2 miles up the road from our house to the museum but I was determined to get us out of the house to sight see this Christmas Vacation.

Although the museum is fantastic, the location stinks.  Sure, it is here at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, but not to many tourists from the city will venture down here to see it.  Picture this...

You enter this gigantic atrium and look up to see this...

The entire atruim has this glass ceiling with several aircraft haning above.  The kids were in awe of the entire space. During the day you can see the tippy top of the museum from the highway and at night the lights shine bright up into the night's breath taking!

Next, you're guided through the history of the Marine Corps, starting with "Making A Marine." The famous yellow footsteps start your journey through time.
Your brain is overloaded with the sights and sounds of boot camp.  There are two telephone booth size displays you can enter to listen to what grunts hear from drill instructors, one for males and one for females. The entire museum is laid out in such a way that you just stroll through each period of time, reading, looking and learning, so's wonderful. 

There are display cases everywhere, vehicles, and aircraft but also life size, walk through displays.  Making the visitors feel as part of the history was apparent.

Some display areas had doors closing off the area from the rest of the museum.  Below, is the Korea War.  The room was small but ice cold.  Marine figures were "talking" to one another about the conditions of the cold weather.  We truly felt transported back in time!

The kids did not like the Vietnam display walk through room because the helicopter vibrated making them uneasy. I loved it...I felt like I was in a operational helicopter about to disembark to fight the enemy.

Being that we are located so close to Walter Reed Hospital, there was a children's section where they could draw pictures and letters to send to recovering service men and women.  Of course my kids aren't old enough to draw something well enough that strangers can read and interpret the message but they had fun coloring anyway.

The museum designers wanted to make learning fun and a family affair so there were several stations throughout each historical time period with uniforms we could try on.

Today was truly a fun filled day. Olivia told us that the museum was not scary for little boys (Justin was pointing at everything clearly enjoying himself) but scary for little girls (she was not a fan of the loud noises and guns not behind glass) but it is ok because Daddy was there for protection! She understands everything was pretend but that did not comfort her when the floor of the helicopter was vibrating and the speakers were playing sounds of disembarking!!

Now to just go back without any kids so I can actually read the writing on the wall, all the stories about heroism and courage.  I was inspired today to continue feeding my love of history and learn more... since I was also humbled by how little I actually remember about history!

December 6, 2011

Christmas Traditions

 Before we had kids, we never really thought about blending our Christmas Traditions.  Every year, even after our first two kids were born, we traveled back to our parents homes to celebrate like old times.  This year is different.  With Little Guy being so tiny, we're staying put for the holidays.  So, we are now blending our childhood traditions.

Ryan grew up with artificial trees (I can't call them fake since technically they are in the shape of a tree just not living). I grew up with real trees (or as Ryan would say, recently cut down trees). He let me have my real tree since I'm willing to fork over big bucks for a great artificial tree on sale after the holidays.  See our real tree in the far right window of the house...beautiful!

I lived in Germany for a few years as a kid and every year we took part in the local traditions, like Advent Calenders.  Our good neighbor's here in VA are from Germany and  asked if we would let them get the kids Advent Calenders.  Of course I said yes since I was planning on getting them some myself.  It was extra special this year because the tradition was explained to them by Germans and I got it on video.  J-Man is super excited to open his calender every day, as is his big sister.
Update: Another German tradition is a visit from St. Nicolas on December 6th, who leaves treats and toys in children's boots.  Our home was visited this year and we were all pleasantly surprised.

Ryan's parents own this super ugly, green avocado colored, paper mache angel from the 1970s that they continue to use every year as their tree topper.  Ryan would fight with his sister as to who would get to put the angel up, so his parents came up with, "One for show and one for keeps."  Meaning, one child would put the angel up for show, it would come back down and the other child would put it back on the tree for keeps. Brilliant!! It switches every year so each child can put the angel on and there are no fights as to who's turn it is that year.  We're going to have to do some serious calculations to figure out a way for all three of our kids to put the angel on and make it fun!

As far back as I can remember, my sister and I made Christmas cookies with our dad.  Mom was never involved other than taking our pictures.  This is something I'm continuing with my kids, although Ryan takes the pictures now.  Justin got to help this year and I can't wait for Liam to help in a few more years.

The kids get to decorate the tree every year, with the help from mom and dad in the form of moving ornaments around the tree to even them out since they seem to get clustered at the bottom of the tree. This is something I always did and our kids enjoy putting the ornaments on so much I have to fight them off of the ornament box so they don't break anything!

This year the kids will open a new family game each and we'll play them both on Christmas Eve.  We'll leave carrots out for the reindeer, and Daddy will read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in to the kids right before bed.  Watching Olivia this year and Justin as well is such a blessing.  Seeing the excitement in their eyes and joy on their faces is just wonderful.  Some say you can spoil a child, but not at this time of year!

One family tradition that is brand new is Mr. Pop-In-Kins.  He's a special Elf who pops in and out of the house watching the children's behavior.  He then reports back to Santa on Christmas Eve with any and all naughty and nice acts the kids displayed.  Olivia and Justin enjoy searching for him every morning.  Watch out...he can't be touched or he loses his magic and must report back to the North Pole immediately to have it restored.
Merry Christmas!

November 29, 2011

I finally got one!

After 7 years of marriage and 7 fake Christmas Trees, I finally got my REAL Christmas Tree!  Reason...we're staying put for the holidays and I can tend to my real tree without feeling like it will suddenly burst into flames while I'm gone.  The smell in the living room is standing in a forest.

When we got it home and I cut the plastic wrapping off...I fully expected to feel a rush of cold air coming from inside the tree.  Not this year.  It was in the mid-60s the day we got our tree instead of snowing like in past years.  I'd be at my parents house in WI to pick out a tree hence the need to feel old air coming from the tree.  Olivia informed Ryan on several occasions during naptime that she just CAN'T wait for Christmas!

Ryan and I are super excited for the holiday season and Christmas this year because Olivia is at the age when this is just pure magic. She believes Santa's real and he's coming to our house instead of Nana's.  She is super excited to paint Christmas trees in art class at school, something she's already informed us she's done.  Justin is excited because his big sister's excited.  And Liam just doesn't want to miss a feeding, LOL!

Hope all your Christmas shopping goes well...we went a bit overboard at Target today...will tally everything up after the kids are asleep.


November 9, 2011

3x5 Folded Card

Truffle Ruffle Blue Thank You Card
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October 19, 2011

been Booed

A new tradition began this year at our house, we've been Booed.  Yesterday morning, as Ryan left the house for work, he found a bag on our front steps with a ghost on it and the word Boo.  To our surprise, it is a game the neighborhood is playing this year. I've been seeing the ghosts taped to front door's and was wondering if I missed an email from housing about displaying something for Trick-or-Treating.

The object of this game is to keep it going.  There is a ghost in the bag, a poem and lots of Halloween goodies for the kids.  You put the ghost on your door so you don't get booed again and pass the boo onto two other families in the neighborhood.  Basically, you place a brown paper bag with candy in it on the door step of any house without a ghost on the front door.  The poem is super cute and its a wonderful game to play with the kids.

Who ever booed us knew we had two kids and a girl in the house.  Olivia got a candy necklace and bracelet, there were two of every candy, some crayons and glow sticks.  Again, this is such an awesome game.  We immediately went out to return the favor.  Some friends down the street had not been booed yet so we set our sights on their house.

We filled the bag with goodies and Olivia delivered it after dinner.  It was scheduled to rain in the morning so we risked getting caught to ensure we were the ones to boo our friends.  And...we got caught! Despite not seeing any lights on in the house, they were home and answered the door.  Despite my best efforts to run back down the street pregnant with a two year old by my side, we were spotted.  Oh well, its still a fun game and Olivia had so much fun carrying the bag up to their house and ringing the door bell then running like mad!!!

October 8, 2011

love for daddy

The kids know something is up...that their brother is small, mommy has to go to lots of appointments, and he'll be here soon.  Olivia more than Justin, maybe, but they both know.

It breaks my heart when Ryan leaves for work or to go running and both kids spiral out of control.  When tired, they break down and cry, not wanting him to leave.  I feel helpless in trying to console them, but try my best.

Justin wants nothing to do with me for a few minutes and Olivia just stands there looking out the window.  Even though it breaks my heart, its nice to see them show so much love and emotion toward their dad.  They love him so much and I know the next deployment (whenever that is) will be super hard on them, and me.

We are a very close, snuggly kind of family and I wouldn't have it any other way!!

September 28, 2011

No news is good news

WOW! I need to step up my blogging.  But sometimes I feel I have nothing interesting to say or no body is reading, so what's the point.  Well, I have news!

Don't worry, the baby is fine, due date still Nov. 7th, measuring on track, however, we won't know where we're going next until Feb.

We are in limbo until sometime early 2012 when we'll get word we'll move cross country, down south or around the world! I've learned not to hold my breath about getting a particular duty station, considering my complete meltdown during TBS.  I actually pounded my fist on the steering wheel when told we were heading to 29 Palms, California but little did I know waiting for me was a person I consider one of my best friends. 

Now, I'm kinda excited to not know where our next destination til after our little lad is a bit older. Takes one more thing off my shoulders right now that I can deal with later.  Between not sleeping well at night and having only 1 monthish left til baby arrives, I don't want to deal with the mental task of reorganizing my house in my head before I have even planned where my Christmas decorations are going in this house.

Some people HAVE to know where to go, I being one of those people last time, but not now! No, sir!! I am content in living in the moment, walking my daughter to her school bus, giggling with my son for an hour and not getting my work done because we took a walk!!  Sure, I have preferences and dreams of the perfect house, but know I have friends around the world and that's all that matters. 

Living in a new place is always exciting to me.  After learning to love 29 Palms, a place I would not mind going back to, and having a wonderful labor and delivery at a hospital where so many horror stories circulated, I've come to the make a situation great by searching out what makes it great!! 

So...I'm off to organize my to do list for the spouse coffee I am hosting tomorrow.  Oh, and clean the house, which I already did on Monday but alas must do again!!

September 15, 2011

Webcam 101 for Seniors...

I truly hope this is what Ryan and I will be like when we are seniors! These two are still so in love and it shows.  "Drop your dress a bit and see your boobies!" says the man.  HILARIOUS!

September 10, 2011

starting her education early...

Ryan put it best, "Went to Border's close out sale. Instead of picking out the Berenstain Bears or a Dora book, Olivia purchased W.E.B Du Bois. I would like to think my little girl has an advance intellectual curiosity of the African American struggle. Yet, the odds are, she pick the book because it was purple."
 She carried this book around the entire store and wanted it so bad.  After realizing it was only a few bucks, I thought...Sure, why not, at least she can use it to learn her numbers and letters. Since coming home, it hasn't left her side!!

August 24, 2011

Willie the Giant Stomps Outside

According to Olivia, our earthquake yesterday was caused by Willie the Giant stomping on the ground outside the house.  It took her less than 5 minutes after I settled myself down in the living room to come up with that explanation! I love her imagination!!

Yes, a 5.9 magnitude hit our house yesterday afternoon, worse quake in over 3 decades.  I was sitting downstairs at the computer while the kids were resting/napping upstairs.  Oh, and it was Olivia's first day of pre-k, so this day will be extra special day!  All of a sudden, I felt the windows shake.  Curious...I didn't know artillery fire was occurring today

Then it didn't stop, it got worse.  My brain is going through all the different possibilities of what this might be, but earthquake didn't even cross my mind until I realized the kids were on the second floor.  Have you ever seen a 7 month pregnant lady bound up 15 steps to collect her kids from a natural disaster? Me neither til yesterday.  As I climb the steps, I trip but caught myself with my hands.  Again, did you know that as you climb the stairs to a second level, the shaking gets worse? My brain knew this but in my state of mind, I completely forgot.  I hit the top floor, round the corner, bracing myself with my hands against the walls as the house continues to shake, and make my way down the hallway.

Olivia is just laying in bed as I burst into her room.  "What is it mommy?" What, you don't feel your bed is shaking like you're on an amusement park ride? I pull her out of bed and plop her in her doorway, "Stay here in the door frame!" At least I remembered the safest place is in the doorway if getting outside isn't an option.  I tear into Justin's room just as the shaking starts to subside.  He was super tired but his eyes were open, telling me he felt the rumble.  I stand in the middle of his room as the shaking dies down, also hoping he'd just put his head back down and close his eyes.  No such luck, he wanted out of his crib.

My heart is racing, and I immediately take the kids downstairs and find my cell phone.  First attempt to call Ryan, fail.  Network busy! Great!! I walk outside expecting to see everyone out of their homes, but there were just a few neighbor's out.  We exchange the "holy cow's" and "was that really...?" and I text Ryan.  "We just had an earthquake. We're ok.  Hurry home!" He was scheduled to come home in about an hour but walked through the door 15 mins later. 

Our eyes met and then everything came pouring out.  Can you believe that?...CRAZY!!... Did you feel that?... Where were you?... How long did it take to realize what was going on?.  Apparently, he was in a large auditorium finishing up a lecture, gathering his papers when the earthquake hit.  All the Captains stare at each other in disbelief.  They thought the same thing I did, was that really an earthquake? Then it started to sink into their brains that if they felt the shaking, their families felt the same thing about 2 miles away.  They were dismissed immediately.

Needless to say, since the quake was felt up in NYC, news central, it was all over the news stations in less than 5 mins.  Local stations reported the epicenter was in Mineral, VA located about 63 miles southwest of our house, 1.5 hrs by car.  It was a 5.9 magnitude quake, buildings start falling at 4.5, and a very shallow quake, making it more dangerous. We were lucky not to feel any aftershocks this far north, but I will always remember yesterday. 

To celebrate yet another historic weather event, we all went up to the commissary and stocked up on non-perishables for Hurricane Irene scheduled to hit us this weekend.  Fun time for our family.  Olivia's first day of school and an earthquake...epic!  We ended the day by going up to DC and enjoying the Sunset Parade at the Marine Memorial.  Despite Olivia not napping and Justin's rude awakening from his nap, they both did awesome and we all enjoyed ourselves. 

August 9, 2011


With Ryan having already gone back to school, my goal was to have every box unpacked...yeah right, in this house hold, forget it!!  I know I need to relax and take a load off my feet, however, I have this nagging feeling to get everything in its place. Nesting maybe?

After having cleaned out our old house in Oklahoma to sell it, everything was so much easier to keep clean.  Of course, I only had two little one's and myself to keep after so it was pretty easy to clean up after meal time because I rarely cooked full meals.  I want to get this house feeling like everything has its own place, but I'm struggling...big time.

Not only am I dealing with a bigger house with a few less storage options (we had built in shelving in all of our closets) despite having more linen closet space and a huge laundry/storage room.  We've already given several boxes away of things we do not need anymore and have many more to give, but bending over and picking up every little thing is getting to me. I tire our much more quickly.  Yes, I am 27 weeks pregnant but feel more like 34 weeks!!

I want to relax with my kids, play with my family, cook wonderful meals for my husband, but feel everything else gets in the way.  It was hard for me to fall asleep last night because I could not shut my brain down thinking of all the things that need to get done. Finding wall space for all our pictures, putting them up or back in a box, getting a desk for Ryan's school work, do we need a bench next to the back door for shoes, bags, my purse and diaper bag? yes, but what kind, the budget needs to be looked at again and recalculated.  Lots going on inside my head, not to mention our little baby boy loves to go his gymnastics when I lay down to sleep!

Ryan is so supportive of me during this pregnancy, but sometimes I feel I am not doing my job properly.  Everything about this pregnancy, including my energy level and capability to complete tasks, is so different from my last two pregnancies.  I just feel like I am falling behind and cannot keep up or get ahead.  I know that things will improve, they must since the baby's room is still full of boxes. 

All I can do at this point is take deep breaths and slow down...hopefully!

August 4, 2011

summer fun

While we have a gorgeous swimming pool at our disposal here on base, the kids and I prefer to play in our tiny, but functional backyard.
  Justin is getting to the point he loves to do things by himself including filling up the pool.

I played around with my camera settings and got this great action shot.  They kept giggling with the water going everywhere.  It was super hot and humid so the cool water was very refreshing.

Ryan pulled out this Buzz Lightyear Rocket water toy from a box and I was super worried it wouldn't work.  Got it for Christmas last year and the Oklahoma winds would have frozen the water before it even hit the ground, so it was great to see it actually work.  They LOVE this toy!
(the rocket is just above the white garage doing flips in the air)

It was hot enough, I was more comfortable in my swimsuit than clothes!

Olivia enjoyed taking the pool water and painting with water using some sort of seeded weed bud.  She kept painted despite the ground being completely saturated with water.  Justin joined her on the steps to watch.  I got lucky with a few shots, but of course, none include both looking at the camera lens at the same time.

We're still unpacking the last few boxes, full of random little crap, and trying to find a place for everything.  Even though our house is bigger, the closets do not have as many built in shelves as the closets in Oklahoma, so we're down furniture and organizational tools to get everything straight.  Got the garage partly completed to put the van back in the garage, just have to stash all the decorations up in the rafters (plywood already up to create a huge shelf).  It will be nice when everything is completed!! Pictures to come later!

July 20, 2011

i'm still here

don't worry, i'm still here. so much has happened since the last post. ryan turned 30, we traveled to virginia via ohio, my great- uncle passed away, we got our house but wont have internet til monday. typing a post on a cell phone keyboard isnt much until we get intrnet, i'm going to complain just a bit because i'm pregnant and can.

*i'm tired of mcd's for lunch
*tired of rolling out of bed onto th floor
*no internet
*sittig on th floor
*aching body
*baby boy kicking @ all hrs of nite preventing sleep
*no internet
*aching body
the last two are very important

all in all the kids are doing great! thank goodness something is going well.

hope to get out furniture bight and early in two days

July 6, 2011

Baby 3.0

Yesterday, Ryan and I went for my 20 week ultrasound.  Although I was technically 22 week and 1 day, the ultrasound was scheduled so Ryan could attend.  We took bets as to if the baby was a boy or a girl...I said boy, he said girl.  Pictures and will have to wait since I'm not at my computer, which houses all the pictures (sorry).

This place was awesome, Woodwinds in Woodbury, MN.  Just in the two years since we had Justin's ultrasound, the technology has improved so much it was like looking at a 3D ultrasound.  The pictures were crisp, clear and showed the baby's movement very well.  We saw the baby yawn, suck its thumb and just tumble around!

Good thing our tech, Becky, asked if we wanted to know the gender, because as soon as she put the prob on my belly, the baby was bottom up and legs apart...BOY!! Plain as day and it was a wonderful sight to see.  I was right.  My brain has told me since we heard the first heartbeat it was a boy.  Both this little guy (no name yet) and Justin's 12 week heartbeats were right around or below 150...Olivia's was up in the 170s.

I asked Becky for some pictures, and she delivered.  We have arms, legs, nose/mouth, fingers, toes, hands, head, and of course the most important picture...gender! She said our baby boy looks good, no extra fingers or toes and weighs in at 1Ib. The baby is measuring 2 days behind my due date but with this kid, anything is possible.  I just hope my mom can come down in time to watch my other two while I'm in the hospital with this one!

So we leave MN in a week and take the following week to travel down through Ohio and Tennessee, to see family, before accepting our house in Quantico. Now that we know we're having another son (thankfully in the same season as Justin so we can reuse his clothes) we are both itching to get to our own house, to have our own space again and get our new flat screen TV.  After 2 months of big screen tv's our little 27 inch tube tv will no do anymore!

June 23, 2011

Olivia's Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy

up with the sun to drive to the hospital
We are so thankful for TriCare's use of civilian doctor's and their willingness to accept TriCare.  After seeing the ENT on Tuesday, she's having her surgery today, Thursday.  Getting this done now will allow for 5 days after her two week post-op appointment before we leave and a weight lifted off my shoulders.

However, being that there is no TriCare doctor's near my parents, we had to travel about an hour away to the hospital were the ENT practices surgery.  Not complaining though, just grateful we can make the drive without any trouble on such short notice.  She and I were up at the crack of dawn to make sure we had enough time in case mommy got lost (which I didn't). What helped mommy with getting up so early...COFFEE! Starbucks opens at 5am, something I didn't know til now!

 The drive was easy and the prep room already had cartoons playing...she was glued to the TV! All the nurses were great.  Showering her with stickers, being goofy to help easy her nervousness, and asking her all their administrative questions knowing she would just giggle. Spent about an hour and a half in the prep room waiting for her turn in the OR, so we entertained ourselves...

...with our new cool hats!

She truly was an angel this morning who was clueless as to what was exactly going to happen.  I purposely kept her in the dark as much as possible to keep her fears down and help her up until the very end. Told her the doctor was going to take his magic wand and say "Bibbity Bobbity Boo" and make her tonsils disappear.  The nurses told her their names and what they would be doing to help her today.  Her anesthesiologist showed her all the cool smells in chapstick form that she could have for her mask...she picked Berry!
She was so happy putting the mask on herself...until we got into the OR. The nurses asked her to climb on over onto the operating table which she did enthusiastically.  Once the nurse started to apply the stickers to monitor her vitals, her eyes indicated panic and fear.  The anesthesiologist showed her the cool lines on the monitor's screen that moved when she wiggled her fingers and that seemed to calm her for about...oh, two seconds.

Once that Berry flavored mask was applied and the gas started to flow, she freaked out.  I completely expected her to freak but she didn't freak out as much as I thought she would.  I couldn't hold her down myself, and she tried to sit up a few times, so the anesthesiologist said, "Ok, plan B."  He kept the mask on her through her screams, while two wonderful nurses held her arms and I talked to her and rubbed her forehead (while wearing my awesome hat and yellow paper robe).  After she took several deep breaths between screams, she was out cold.  I kissed her forehead and left...giggling to keep myself from crying and because she was snoring very loud and very deep, it surprised me.

Surgery took less than 40 minutes and the doctor said her adenoids were a bit small for the decent size of her tonsils.  I waited about an hour longer to see her up in her room.  We're staying the night.  After getting her iv's situated, she promptly fell asleep for about an hour.  Now she's pottied, had a few bites of lime jello...not her favorite, and is watch Go, Diego, Go!

UPDATE: Olivia is currently taking her afternoon nap after her pain meds kicked in.  She ate some ice cream saying she was hungry...a great sign.  Her grandparents visited and brought Dora the Explorer gifts which instantly put a smile on her face.  As long as she has pain meds in her system, I expect her recovery to go smoothly...knock on wood!

June 16, 2011


I am torn about how to proceed with this blog.  Normally, I post more detailed info about our adventures than I post on Facebook but always feel I HAVE to post something here instead of WANTING to post here.  Reading other friends blogs, I'm so drawn into their adventure by the great writing, awesome pictures, and format.  Then I feel I can't measure up to the same great standards and I feel my blog falls short.

SO, I'm asking for your help.  Just a little feed back to let me know how I'm doing entertaining you.  If my posts are too long and detailed, tell me.  If my posts lack enough pictures, tell me.  Any feedback would be appreciated because I only want to entertain my friends about our family adventures! You can message me on Facebook or post something here, your choice!

Thank You So Much

June 7, 2011

Surprise Visit

Ryan came up for a surprised weekend visit! I knew about it but the kids were in the dark. He walked in and their faces lite up and they had the biggest smiles! It was well worth everything to see him, even if it was just for the weekend.

 Kids wasted no time roping Daddy into playing with it really took twisting his arm to get him to play! They colored...
They read story's outside in a very tiny tent...
 Rode rides at the Mall of America...

 Then, just before Ryan had to leave, we drove to the U of MN campus and stopped at the ROTC Armory.  We, well mostly me, finds it very cool we can take our kids back to the place Mommy and Daddy met before Olivia was even a twinkle in our eyes.  The campus looks older, with taller trees and a few new buildings.

 Many wonderful memories about our time there together were thought about today.  It was great!
 Then it was time to say 'See-You-Later."  Olivia really misses Daddy.
As do Justin and I.  It was truly a blessing to see Ryan, even for a short time.  The kids needed to have him hug them, kiss them and read them stories.  Everyone really enjoyed themselves and it is less than a month, Ryan will be back and we'll hang out a bit before taking our time driving down to VA.  Olivia is very excited to go to our new house in VA!

June 3, 2011