Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Wow! It's hard to believe Christmas is upon us. Even harder to belive that we have only about 5 more months in Kansas before we move again!
We started our Christmas festivities with Gingerbread houses followed by James and Shawn watching the Nativity movie on DVD.  James was very intrigued by it all but we were thrown for a loop when he asked where babies come from and why Mary was screaming. I thought the video was a bit much but let Shawn and James bond over it while Ethan and I did other things. Then on Christmas Eve we made cookies for Santa. James really enjoyed this (as well as Shawn hehe) and took his time to make sure the cookies were perfect for Santa. Ethan enjoyed licking the frosting off the knife..glad we were the only ones eating them :). Then it was time to put the cookies out for Santa and for the boys to get to bed. But not before having the talk with James that he is to wake us up first before going into the living room to ensure that it wasn't too early.  Thankfully they zonked out very quickly allowing Santa to make an early arrival. :).  I have to admit I think I went a little overboard this year and ahve decided in years to come I will tone it down.

I think James came into our room around 3 a.m. and tried to get us to get up. I told him it was way too early so I agreed to lay with him in his bed. That did the trick until about 7:30 which was great. Aunt Andrea and Maw-Maw were able to join us via Skype as the boys opened their presents. This was the first year Aunt Andrea hadn't been at our house on Christmas. The boys tore into their stockings and presents and enjoyed each one. Both boys go the remote control Kevin Van Dam bass boat they wanted along with leappad, tag jr, basketball goals (over the door), fishing pole amongst other goodies. While they played with their toys I was going to attempt to make breakfast consisting of monkey bread and hashbrown casserole. Thanks to my sister in law, Susan I felt confident in doing this. Shawn grew up having a large breakfast on Christmas morning so I thought that would be a fun tradition too. After the monkey bread finished we put candles in it and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Both boys were so sweet and sincere about it. I must admit the breakfast was pretty good. Of course the casserole needs a little fine tuning but overall tasty. 

Shawn and I had the bright idea of leaving on Christmas day to drive to Alabama. Well after unsuccessful napping on adults part we left out on the LONG drive home. Shawn was determined to drive the 12 hour (NOT including stops) through its entirety that night. About 3 hours in we decided we needed to stop for dinner before going any further and before the boys went to the car.  I had done some research and found that IHOP and Denny's would be open on Christmas day. So that was our plan to use one of those for our stop. Well low and behold none were open. The only thing open nearby was Hooters, yes you read it right. I do love the food there but I was in a sweatsuit but we went in anyways. It was kinda humourous because the only people in there were families with small kids and older adults. I guess when it's the only joint open for miles you sacrifice. Then back on the road we went. I am not one who can sleep in the car so when 12-1 a.m. rolled around I was getting quite ill ans begging Shawn to get a hotel room but he declined. We pulled into his mom's house around 5:00 a.m. and the boys slept until 7 or 8. I can't recall the whole trip is a blur. But we ushered them out to Gran and slept a few more minutes...well I did and then Shawn came rolling out about 11ish. Ethan complained about his tummy but he says it quite often so I thought nothing of it. Then Shawn gets a little shower of vomit on him while in the media room. Yup the stomach bug invaded Ethan for about 6 hours that day off and on. That ws the night we had planned to do Christmas dinner with Shawn's dad. I was torn what to do because I wanted to see the family but didn't want to leave my baby. After much thought I decided to leave Ethan with Gran for some one on one time. He was fine the entire night and didn't get sick at all. We all ate at Tokyo (Japanese restaurant) with Papa D and then went back to Aunt Chresta's to open presents.  The cousins had a good time and I enjoyed just playing around with them.
The next day we were suppose to have dinner at Grans with all the cousins. Notice key word "suppose to".  Then Shawn gets hit with the stomach bug. I hear him come in our room hurling. Not a great wake up call.  Shawn was sick pretty much the entire day which called for cancelling dinner at Gran's :(. This was the first year that we had not done Christmas with his entire family. Aunt Susan couldn't make Tokyo so we woulnd't get to see them. We couldn't reschedule because of peoples schedules and Gran was headed out of town. Quite odd for sure. The recoup time from the stomach bug for Shawn lasted for about 3 days. He was just very worn down from driving and being sick.  However we were able to do a small Christmas with my side of the family the following day. It was nice to see all the cousins playing football and climbing the tree at Maw-Maw's. But what I was looking forward to the most was a night out with my besties, Kristin and Courtney! We all met up and went to BWW which is our normal place it seems to meet. It was such a fun time filled with laughs galore. They wanted to see a 9:00 p.m. movie but for some reason I was EXTREMELY tired and decided not to go. I was bummed but I could barely hold my eyes open.
Well the next morning would give me my answer...yup I got the stomach bug!! All I gotta say is I am glad my mommy was there with some pheregan! I don't care how old I get when I am sick or hurting I still want my mommy!! Shawn took the boys out so I could sleep that afternoon which was nice. Then they surprised me by bringing me a zebra coffee mug with my initials on it. Such sweet kids (and hubby of course).

Once we all ran the course of the stomach bug it was time to head home to KS. Although I enjoyed seeing family and friends and Alabama will always be a place we love it just didn't feel like Christmas this year. I got to thinking this is the first time since James has been born that we made the trip home together as a family where it took that long to drive so soon after Christmas. Other than the years Shawn was deployed we were close enough to make day trips back and forth between our home and families. The strain of the drive, sickness and jsut the exhaustion between families definitely has us rethinking how we will do Christmas in years to come. We want to enjoy the holiday as a family of 4 without added stress or exhaustion.  We always said that our boys would wake up in their house on Christmas morning which we feel is important. We hope to start/continue traditions for our family of 4 for many years to come. Time is too precious!! I still can't believe I have a 5 year old!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Branson, MO 2011

We started our Christmas celebration a few days before Christmas by going to Branson, MO. The show capitol of the world...or so we heard. I must admit that what really drew us was the Big Cedar Lodge that is always pictured in the Bass Pro Shops. However to stay there was $160 a night which was way out of our budget. So Shawn went to Bass Pro Shop and signed up for one of the travel agencies to score a nearly free trip in return for a 2 hour spill trying to sell us a cabin. Well I was in because it was super affordable and allowed us to hit a show or two while we were there.
I was in charge of James Christmas party at his preschool so after I was done with that we headed to Branson the next day, Wednesday.  The drive wasn't too bad and the boys enjoyed it. Ethan loves hotels so he was thrilled with knowing we would be staying at a hotel. We didn't stay at the Big Cedar Lodge but at a Radisson hotel in the heard of the city. That night we drove through a large Christmas Light display and Ethan ooh and ahhed over it. He was so funny with Christmas lights. He would beg me to ride around the neighborhood and at each house get so excited and say "pwetty Christmas lights mommy". It made me smile to see him enjoy the simple things in life. Ok back to Branson.

Upon check in we were told the "sales pitch" tour would be at 8:45 a.m. Oh yeah! The first night we just kinda drove around to see what there was to do. We also hit an all you can eat buffett which I normally am not a fan of but hey it's the holidays and I LOVE sweets. After filling our bellies we went back to the hotel where I ordered Dixie Stampede tickets for the following night. Then we all snuggled into bed so we could get up for our super early tour.  James woke up and told us that his head hurt and his belly felt funny. I figured it was from the sugar overload the night before and gave him time to take care of business in the bathroom.  Well then the vomitting began.  Shawn went to see about just him and Ethan going on the tour but by law because he is married I had to accompany him. I asked James if he felt ok to go and he told me he did. So we loaded up in the van and rushed to the Big Cedar Lodge tour. In the elevator the puking began. Oh sheesh was I embarrassed. Luckily we were the only ones in there so we just tried to pretend it wasn't us...but James being James and the honest boy is he felt the need to tell EVERYONE who got on or off the elevator he just threw up in there. And James ran up to me and said "mommy i'm sorry i lied to you, I wasn't feeling better".  I took him in my arms and told him it's ok but always tell mommy the truth. He was pitiful.  To make matters worse the agent they sent us was undergoing chemo so couldn't be exposed to any viruses. That really made me feel awful. I know that these people thought we were awful for draggin our 5 year old around while puking but I honestly thought he was ok, he NEVER gets sick.  Well we got a new agent and toured and let her give us the spill about time shares blah blah blah.  James made it to the bathroom one more time and then we went back to the hotel for a long nap. He woke up feeling like nothing happened. Boy was I thrilled because our Dixie Stampede tickets were for that night and they weren't cheap.

We got to the preshow and the boys loved it. They both loved the juggling act and were quite entertained. Then it was time for the real deal. I wasn't sure if I was more excited or the kids. This was a show I had always seen advertised and it was always a desire of mine to go. This particular show was a Christmas one whic made it even better!! The food was A LOT and you ate it all with your hands which was kinda neat. The boys were in such awe of the show they didn't eat much at all. The show was AMAZING!!! I was so bummed that no cameras were allowed in there because i missed some great shots. Both boys talked about how awesome it was. It made me so happy that they enjoyed it too!!

Because of James sickness we didn't get to check out much more before we had to head home to bake cookies for Santa's arrival the next night!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fun to be Five

It is hard to believe that we are celebrating James FIFTH birthday. I remember finding out that we were expecting and then the culmination of his birth like it was yesterday. I always dreamed of being a mommy but never knew how wonderful it truly would be. James was the best baby and was always so beautiful in my eyes. I loved his chubby little self and his sweet demeanor.

I tried to entice James by offering a family celebration at Great Wolf Lodge here in KS. I was totally shocked when he asked if he could go to Chuck E Cheese with his friends at school. I guess I was in the mind set that we just wouldn't have friends that would want to celebrate with us but of course my social butterfly already has his best buddy this year, Japheth. I went back and forth and even solicited advice from FB :)...then I decided with our lifestyle it is important for James to have good memories with the friends he meets during our travels. I have no doubt that GWL will see us soon. :). Jame 3 best buds at Pre-K were able to join us and it was so fun. Since it was a weekday morning it was very pleasent. On the actual day of his birthday we made Hotwheels cupcakes to share with his class. That night he wanted cheese fries so off we went to oblige this birthday boy. I think his favorite part was when the restaurant sang happy birthday to him!

James has brought such laughter and joy to our lives. He has the best personality and can always make us laugh. James never meets a stranger and is always so kind to people...well for the most part.  He adjusts so well to the moves that we make due the Army Life. James is so smart and wise beyond his young years. He loves to learn and picks up on things so fast. He has such a bright future ahead regardless what he chooses to do.

James is in his 3rd year of AWANA's and he loves it. He always learns his verses so quickly and comes home with such happiness on his face. Our one wish as parents is that he knows and accepts Jesus on his own one day. We know that each child comes to terms on his own.

James has begun a Pre-K program in Leavenworth, KS. He goes in the afternoon for 3 days a week. It has been more of an adjustment for me than for him. He LOVES it and has met his best buddy Japheth Nowlin. I love that James always finds new friends wherever we go. James has learned to spell his last name and has my phone number memorized. He will begin wrestling in December and I am so nervous. But I know he will succeed and give it his all.

Just within the last 2 weeks James has conquered the task of riding a bike without training wheels. He nailed it on his first try and I am so proud. Shawn actually worked with him one day I was out running errands. He couldn't wait to show me. I was one proud mommy!!

You have brought so much joy to my life. I never knew that I could love someone as much as I loved you even before you were born. Labor with you wasn't the easiest...from start to finish was about 27 hours. :)You were always such a happy baby which helped with your daddy serving our country in Afghanistan.  The past five years have seemed to fly by and I can't believe you will be in school this time next year. It is so bittersweet to watch you grow, but I am so proud of you. You are so kindhearted yet you are ALL boy. Over the past five years you have brought so many giggles to our family. I couldn't be prouder of you than I am now. I pray that you continue to love to learn about God and will devote your life to Him. I feel if you do that than everything else will fall into place for you.  I love your hugs and kisses more than anything in this world. I pray I am the mother that you deserve each day. You make me want to be the best person I can be. I love you big boy and you will ALWAYS be my baby no matter how old you get. I thank God daily for giving you to me. You are such a wonderful boy with a bright future. I can't wait to see what it holds for you,know whatever it is I will be there cheering you along!!
"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be!!"
p.s. yes I will climb your window and rock you even when you are bigger than me :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Kick It

James played  his first city league sports league this year in Lansing, KS.  He played for the Dolphins in the 4-5 year old league.  He of course was the superstar in our eyes. After playing in a Christian league I was a bit anxious about how playing in a city league where we knew nobody would go. Thankfully we got a great coach and teammates. There were 12 kids on the team but they split them into 2 seperate fields on game day so that the kids would get more play time. James would be on the field alot and was quite competitive. Sometimes I wanted to crawl under my chair because he was soooo competitive. Everyone would get a kick out of his facial expressions when he missed a goal or if someone got in his way. Luckily he only pushed into another player in an unsportsman like way. :)..whew.  I was very thankful for such a good season. Oh yeah, I am 'that' mom on the sidelines yelling for my baby! It was also so cute watching Ethan kick his little soccer ball into the goal during half time. He is going to follow in big brother's footsteps I do believe.

The season ended at the end of October with a parents vs. kids game. It was quite humorous to watch because some parents were really getting into it and keeping the kids from scoring. I am thinking some of these men were quite sore the next day.  In the end the kids beat the parents with 1 score. Now on to wrestling season...I am a nervous wreck!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011


While we are in Kansas I want to explore and do things that are fun for our family to do together. Since this next year will probably be our only time in the midwest I am determined to make the best of it. Due to the weather today i chose to do an inside activity. So we all gathered into the van and made our way to Wonderscope Museum in Shawnee, KS which is about 30 minutes from Leavenworth. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised that we got in free since we were military. There were several rooms for the boys to explore but while they played they also learned....pretty sneaky :). There was a rollercoaster room (you used golf balls to explore different types of energy), art room, market room, water room, hospital room, and Lego room. The boys favorite rooms were the rollercoaster room and art room. Once neat thing about the lego room is that they had huge sea animals made out of Legos only!! To think of the time and construction it took to do it was awesome. It was a great time with my boys! I was so glad that Shawn came too!
After leaving Wonderscope we headed to Fritz's Railroad Restaurant that a friend highly recommended. We walked in and immediately both boys eyes lit up at the train that circled around the entire restaurant. But wait it gets better! Once we are seated more fun comes. We place our order by calling it in through a phone at the table. The food is then delivered by a train car overhead that drops the food on a shelf that lowers the food down to the table. Everytime the train car went overhead Ethan would raise his hands anticipating it being our food. Finally the food dropped and we ate some good old fashion burgers. This was one of the only meals that Ethan was somewhat behaved. He was mesmarized by the trains which was so sweet. Of course James loved the restaurant too. This restaurant will definitely get another visit from the Dalrymple Family!! It was a huge hit!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ethan is terribly two

It's hard to believe that our baby is TWO years old! When he was born it was such a wonderful blessing...then shortly after that the challenges began. Ethan has been quite a challenging child and very much of a mommy's boy. However, since I know this is our last baby I enjoy it to an extent. I didn't rush him to walk or talk like I feel I did with James. I want him to be my baby and he will be forever.

We moved to Leavenworth, Kansas shortly before Ethan's 2nd birthday so we knew it would be just us celebrating. But in the same respect I wanted him to have the fun and memories of his birthday.   Several days following up to his birthday we talked about how he would be two and he was very adimint about a "choo choo" cake.  The morning of his birthday, James and I took him to Play, Bounce, Jump here in KS. Ethan and James bounced untile they were bounced out! Later that night we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, the kid loves salsa!! Of course the evening was finished by enjoying a slice of "choo choo" cake. Ethan got several new, fun toys. His favorite that night was the Dancing Mickey Mouse. To hear his sweet laughter was music to my ears.

Ethan is communication so much better now. He talks alot and I often have to interpret for him to others. He gets so frustrated when you tell him "no" and will have a meltdown wherever we are. He also loves to yell and i mean YELL 'no' if things don't go his way.  His newest thing is to cross his stubby little arms and say "no fwair". He is gonna be my little spitfire for sure. He thinks he is bigger than he is and tries his best to keep up with his big brother.

Ethan loves anything you can dip. That is my trick lately, whatever I fix him I put a dab of ranch or ketchup for him to dip his food into so that he will eat. He is such a picky eater that anything he eats is a victory. Of course he is only picky for me :)....anywhere else they talk about how well he eats :). That's my baby! He loves fruit and cheese. I always catch him in the fridge getting some type of cheese out :).

On the other hand Ethan is such a sweet boy. I love to hold him and read books. He loves to read and itneract with the stories. His favorite right now is a book my mom bought about Alabama Football. He will yell "Woll Tide" after each page on cue. It is so sweet. I love when he first wakes up and grabs his Mickey Mouse to love on and says 'good morning'. I love that he says he's sorry and hugs his brother when he knows he did something wrong. I love that he is independent but still needs mommy to kiss his boo boos.  I love that he still likes to be held as we walk at times. I love to see the bond between my two boys and to hear them giggle and enjoy life together.

Ethan is following in the footsteps of James when it comes to sports. He loves to hit the tball, kick the soccer ball and jump into the pool. Ethan is James biggest fan and yells for him at each soccer practice and game.

My baby is growing up so fast. I do feel guilt at times b/c the time I had with James just isn't there for Ethan since my time has to be divided. However, Ethan is adjusting and progressing just fine for his age. I am so thankful God chose me to be his mommy and that he is a healthy (active) toddler boy. I love his little personality and hope that he continues to bring smiles to himself and to others. My hope for him is to know and trust God and Jesus and to live his life in accordance to Their plan. I honestly believe if this happens this will allow everything else to fall into place.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Final Splash

Before moving from Alabama I was determined to have James one final hoorah with his friends. So amongst the chaos of moving and being homeless I decided to book the Muscle Shoals splash pad and le the kids have some wet fun. Of course I chose the hottest day which was great for the kids but the adults were sweating like nobody's business! Several of James school and church friends came. It was such a fun time, I think we were there about 3 hours total! We took a break to hydrate and feed the kids and then they went back to playing. James enjoyed this time with his friends. We have met some wonderful people through Kings Kids and Highland Baptist Church. Saying goodbye is so difficult especially when your child has to say goodbye. James is so strong though and told me he will miss his friends but he will meet new ones in Kansas. Gotta love his strong, sweet spirit. James battled at first because he would come to me with a sad look and say he didn't want to move. I pray he finds some friends in KS to fill the time while we are there!

Leavenworth or Bust!!

Well it's that time again, moving time. This will make our 4th move in almost 9 years, compliments of the good old US Army :). For me this will be my hardest move probably just because we are leaving home, aka Alabama, AGAIN .But on the flip side I have got to spend a little over two years back in Bama! I have enjoyed family time, spending lazy days with  my best friends and finally found a church we adored. Ethan was born in Alabama and James actually got to attend a MMO program for 2 years in a row! He is 4 and has been to 3 different ones. Picking up and moving to the unfamiliar is hard. I often ask why I married a military man because I don't like change at all, I am a very structured, scheduled person :). All I can say is God had a plan for me :).

After drying my eyes from goodbyes I hit the road running! So we left out on Saturday July 16 to drive to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home of the largest military prison :). Since Shawn decided to do a full DITY move (where we move our selves entirely) we had to drive seperate vehicles since he had the boat to pull. So I drew the lucky straw to drive the So we loaded up on movies and snacks and hit the road running. We made a few stops along the way so the boys could stretch but overall it was a pretty smooth ride. Ethan did remarkably well which was my biggest concern. Even now at almost 2 years of age he is the worst traveler. We timed it so that after we stopped for lunch he would take his nap which would put us stopping for the afternoon once he woke up. it worked out well. We drove about 5 1/2 hours and stopped for the night. We let the boys swim before supper and bedtime which helped wear them out.

We got up on Sunday morning to begint he final drive to our new, temporary home for the next year or so. We finally arrived that night and I was VERY pleased with the home and the neighborhood. It seems like a lot of ILE students live here and there is a playground 2 houses up from which is awesome!! The boys loved their rooms and James loved the fact that the house is a "stair house". The house has 2 levels but we use the downstairs for a playroom which is awesome. The living room, dining room, and bedrooms are all upstairs. It has a nice fenced in back yard and deck. Overall I love the house!

I attended my first PWOC meeting last Tuesday. This is a bible study for military spouses which is awesome, being back in the military population is so refreshing after being away for almost 2 years. I hope that I am able to build some great friendships out of this group. James and Ethan both clung to me when I dropped them at the childcare rooms but when I returned they both seemed to be fine. I hate leaving them when they are upset.

After unpacking some boxes I explored the town...Wal-Mart is 0.3 miles from our house! Lots of good shopping within 30 minute radius. I think I was more excited to hit the commissary!! I know that this is a huge adjustment for us. Moving definitely was as hard when we didn't have children especially children who comprehend moves and miss their friends and families. I pray daily that i can provide what the kids need to make the transition as easy as possible. James has been defiant and difficult lately but I hope once he begins a preschool program he will be ok.

This is Army life...many moves and changes still to come :) since we have 12 more years to go!

Take Me Out To the Ballgame....

We had one more load of goods that Shawn's sister was bringing the following weekend. So we decided that we would all go to the Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay baseball game in Missouri. It was only about 40 minutes away and we got a great deal on tickets! After enjoying a wonderful dinner with them we headed to the ballpark. Our seats were way up in the stadium but it worked out well because there were a lot of empty seats and with 4 young boys we  needed room for them to roam. James paid attention rather well to the game and learned a lot which he gladly showed me while we played baseball outside the next day :). He called strikes, fouls etc. Even Ethan did good at the game. The temperature was 104 when we arrived so it was super hot. We stocked up on beverages, snocones and funnel cakes.

The game was so fun. Although I really didn't watch much of the game I loved the enthusiasm of the crowd. I loved when they played music and vamped up the crowd. Just watching my boys enjoy something new was worth it to me. I am sure we will have many more fun adventures while here in Kansas.

By the way...Kansas City won in overtime!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paradise 2011

We took our annual trip to Destin this past week and as usual it didn't disappoint! We stayed a full week at the MWR Campgrounds and it was a little slice of heaven. We got there on Wednesday and immediately hit the beach for some fun in the sun. James boogie boarded all by himself and was a pro at it. Ethan loved the sand and loved stomping sand castles as I build them. It kept him happy so I just kept doing it :).

My favorite part about the beach is always the yummy food. We try to find the restaurants where kids eat free or for cheap. Well we lucked up and found several at the HarborWalk. We ate at Harry T's which was delicious!! (Thank you Chresta for the wonderful suggestion)I found my favorite new place for fish tacos...wonder if I can convince Shawn to drive there when I have a craving?!. We got a ocean front dining table where the boys could watch the boats and waverunners pass by. Of course they loved it and all I heard the entire time was "boa" from Ethan. After finishing there we explored the rest of HarborWalk which was awesome because it was kids night there. They did free face painting and both the boys got their face done. James chose spiderman and everyone loved it. Of course we rode the little train that went up and down the HarborWalk....anything to do with "choo-choo's" and we are suckered into it. To top the night off we watched fireworks which was so pretty. Ethan was terrified and even after they were over kept saying "scare me" and "pop, pop". He is so funny.

AS if this place wasn't wonderful in got even better when my sister and the Conner's arrived on Saturday. This was Ava's first trip to the ocean so they were so excited. As soon as they arrived we went to the beach and bathed in the gorgeous sun. She loved it and loved the sand even more. After fun in the sun we headed to Fudpuckers for dinner to see the gators. The food wasn't that good this time but it was fun with our family and friends.

Of course we had to it Harborwalk while everyone was there so we did. It was so nice down there. The adults (minus myself) headed to the adult slushy machines :). The kids enjoyed just walking around and riding the train.  Also earlier that day we went on the pontoon boat. It was AWESOME!!! We left out abou 10 a.m. and cruised down the harbor....we were thrilled when dolphins jumped out of the water. There were so many of them, it was beautiful. Everyone in the boat squealed with excitedment as we tried to get as close to them as possible. Mike even attempted to swim with them which was quite humorous. After that amazing specticle we headed to the sandbar to do some snorkeling. James of course caught on so quickly and loved it. He loved seeing the fish, crabs and other little critters. He was determined to catch some fish so he grabbed his empty cheetos bag and gave it his best.....but boy are those fish fast. So he put a couple of hermit crabs in the bag. We all snorkled and it was so fun. The water is so clear, like glass. I love it there.  They have an inflatable slide in the middle of the sandbar which of course James wanted to do. So after a few slips and slides we were ready to head back. I attempted to swim out there but the current was so strong. I began to panic b/c I had Ethan with me so I hollered for Mike to come get Ethan. Talk about working hard to get nowhere...Whew!

Our final day in Destin we spent kayaking that morning. James and I shared a 2 man kayak while Shawn and Ethan shared a 1 man kayak. James (of course) was awesome and paddled great. Shawn was filming us on the kayak and all of a sudden a huge splash...yup Ethan toppled in while trying to look over the front. Thank goodness for his lifejacket :). In the video you can hear him splash in and the camera goes wild while Shawn is trying to pick him up. Oh my accident prone little man.

I love our camper during our beach is one of the few times I don't mind staying in it over a hotel. I know we couldn't afford to go if we didn't have the camper. It is great family time to just relax and enjoy one another. This trip definitely was special because of Andrea and the Conner family joining us. I have gotten so close to them all and to have a final...HOORAH was so nice!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Day Out with Thomas

Being a mom of two boys I am learning that anything with wheels, water or dirt are their top interests. Both James and Ethan love trains, more specifically Thomas the Train. We noticed that railroads hold an event called "A Day Out with Thomas". I was determined to hit one of these before we moved and thankfully Birmingham had it. I'll be honest I was more excited to stay in a HOTEL while out of town opposed to a camper :). Our hotel was awesome by the way...probably only chain we will use now :).

Ok back to Thomas. We arrived just as Thomas was coming back to the depot which was an awesome sight. Both boys eyes lit up and we could hear Ethan yelling "choo, choo". I think he was a little more excited than James this time. After buying our tickets we boarded the train and took a ride down the track. The day offered so many different event areas. James favorite area was the huge sandbox. We met Sir Topham Hatt, played putt putt golf, jumped on the bouncy house and petted animals. It was so hot that day which really wore us out. This is an even that was so great for our entire family.

The next day we went to Birmingham zoo. It was just the right size for us, not too big but not too small. With an almost 2 year old who HATES to travel or be confined long periods of time, it is hard too do much. But he was a trooper and loved the animals. James of course was in awe and enjoyed all the different animals. He is so smart and loves to learn about things.

This was a much needed minivacation for our family. Shawn's fishing has him gone a lot so to get a weekend away was so nice. Anytime together is so fun and memorable!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

First off let me say that I think Valentine's Day is a highly overrated holiday. However it is nice to take that day to really go out of your way for those that you love because let's face it, we all get consumed in everyday tasks and KIDS :). I am determined to make any Holiday fun and hopefully it is the little traditions that they will remember and cherish.

I started the morning off by making heart shape strawberry cheesecake muffins and bacon. Of course Ethan and I were the first to get out of bed which made for making anything difficult. Between stirring, spraying and pouring I was pulling my monkey off tables, stools, chairs, etc. James slept late today which is odd but as soon as he woke up he kissed me and told me I was his Valentine. I love that kid...last night he held his hands up in the shape of  a heart and told me "Mommy, you are my Valentine". Seriously this kid is a smooth operator!! Once I got breakfast on the table (on none other than heart shape plates) I let the little boys open their gifts. Of course Shawn got his favorite candy and a card (Shawn's "real" gift isn't suitable to share; :). Nothing big but just little fun stuff and CANDY that my boys love. Shawn made the day great by telling me to go run because he knows I enjoy that few minutes to myself. The weather was gorgeous so I took him up on it for sure!! Then he surprised me with yellow roses and a card which was so sweet. Then all my Valentines went to Zaxby's for a delicious salad.

To top the night off my best friend, Courtney, and her family joined us for making heart shaped pizzas. Each child got to make their own and then we quickly baked them. It was so fun and the kids enjoyed playing together. It is the little times like this that I really enjoy being home. To make memories with my best friend and her family is priceless. Although I don't mind military life, those that never have to leave their friends just don't understand how precious this time is for me. I couldn't have asked for a more pefect day!!!

I love my husband so much and am so proud of him. He is an excellent provider in every aspect. It's hard to believe we have been together almost 10 years! I love my little boys so much and am so blessed that God chose Shawn and I to be their parents. They both have very different personalities but that makes them unique. Ethan is my wild, "tiny destroyer" while James is my sweet boy who knows just what to say and when to say it :). I love all of my boys beyond measure!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ethan-18 months

Ethan is 18 months, going on 19 months this month. He is FINALLY a sweet,loving, cute baby who sleeps thru the night. I swear I thought we would never get to this point based on the first 12 months of his life. He was so fussy, clingy and just was determined to love his mommy to DEATH :). I knew he would quickly outgrow this but I just wasn't sure when. We would joke and say he was a terrorist in training with the whole sleep deprivity and crying :). He still loves to be held but is also becoming quite independent. He enjoys playing with choo-choo's (Thomas the Train), cars and balls of any type. Yup he is definitely all boy! He is happy most of the time but has a little attitude on him. I can remember James going thru this around this age though. Ethan will get mad and hit a wall or chair which results in him getting time out or a pop on the leg. He gladly sits in time out which is odd. He is still quite a finicky eater and mainly grazes not eating many real meals. But he is growing and seems content so that is all that matters. Ethan is much smaller than James at this age so he seems so small to me. Ethan loves to give kisses and hugs and adores his older brother. Ethan is my "tiny destroyer" because any room he is in he makes sure to leave his mark that he was there by leaving everything in the floor. Ethan sleeps through the night but he still has his bumper pads in the crip because he snuggles up to them at night! It is so cute...he has always had the  need to feel snuggled since he was born so I guess those soft pads do the trick still. He will bury his head in them and just snooze away.

Ethan is saying some words. Of course I am usually the only one who can interpret. He says a lot of "B" words...ball, buzz, banana, boat. He can also say da-da and ma-ma (when he wants to) as well as his version of James. He will stand outside James door and yell "Ames" or something similar. He can say choo choo, cachow, that, chip,and toodles...of course some are not always clear but he will point to "lightning mcqueen" and say ca-chow. And yes he has learned "pug".....the name for his manhood. He is fascinated with this little part on his body, he will constantly touch, pull, put things on it while changing and just laugh! I guess they start young!  He is also very smart and a good clean up helper. He will put things back where they belong in the living room, he helps put dishes up (and in the right place).

Ethan loves the outdoors and swinging. He enjoys climbing up the playgrounds so he can shoot down the slides. He really has  no fear. He is still not the best traveler but he is better than he was for sure (not sure if he could get any worse!!). Ethan also loves to dip his food....ketchup, cheese dip, crackers into soup, veggie dip, it doesn't matter he always wants to dip something :).

He is such a sweet baby boy and his smile will honestly melt your heart. His big blue eyes and chubby cheeks lure you in so fast.  I am so thankful for my 2 healthy, happy boys and the blessing to stay home with them and watch them grow!


On February 4 we had Shawn's Major promotion ceremony at UNA. This was such a special day for us to be able to pin him Major at the same place we pinned him as a fresh 2nd LT entering the Army back in August 2002. The day was made complete when COL Atencio arrived home safely and in time from Afghanistan to read Shawn his Oath of Office.  COL Atencio has been such a huge support to us and our family through this journey called Army Life. James has really grown to love him and prayed for him nightly while he was gone. Then when he found out he was home he thanked God every night for his safe return.

Ok..back to Shawn :). We were so excited that our family and friends could share in this special day with us. I was overwhelmed with how many people were in attendance to be honest! It was a special day for all of us for sure. We decided before hand that James would pin the Major rank on him. It was so precious and although James might not understand the significance of it he will one day and I am sure he will be so proud. During the entire ceremony James would not leave Shawn's side. He clung to his leg and just stood there.

Shawn has worked so hard to get to this point. After our struggle with CPT promotion this was such a wonderful blessing to be promoted so quickly to Major. It definitly shows his hard work while he was deployed as well as stateside. To have the lives of hundreds of men on your shoulders has got to be such a overwhelming experience. To lead them into battle, to see them wounded and even lose a comrade is a wonder that they continue to do the job so few can truly do. Shawn is truly an American Hero.  When he found out he was getting promoted he was like a kid on Christmas morning. I have never seen him so happy and so proud.

Army life isn't always easy especially deployments. I dread our next deployment so much especially with 2 boys who adore their daddy. Ethan already yells for Da-da when he isn't around or if he gone for the weekend fishing. James enjoys fishing with Shawn as well. In 4 shorts months we will be preparing to move to Ft. Leavenworth, KS for Shawn's ILE school.  This will probably be one of the toughest moves for me because living near friends and family again has been nice. My best friend recently moved back to the Shoals which has been awesome as well as me growing close to another Army Wife here. The debate of whether I should stay or should I go is definitely weighing on us. I know that I will not have the option of sending James and Ethan to MMO program there which truly will mean full time SAHM. Shawn's school will occupy his time a lot as it did in Ft. Gordon. We love the doctors here as well as James making friends at church and at school. However, I also know that we  need to be together as a family as long as we can before he deploys. Just hard to make that leap from here after coming back "home" for 2 years to Alabama. I know regardless where the Army sends us that we will make any house a home for our family. At the end of the day, that is what is most important!

About Me

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Shawn and I have been married almost 10 years. We married right before he commissioned out of college so we have gone thru military life together. Not always easy but makes you appreciate the time together. We have one son, James, who was born in Nov. 2006. Ethan was born July 2009 That's it for us! Two is a good number.


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