Saturday, November 29, 2008

Only Date Night for 12 Weeks

Fred being home has been WONDERFUL! We've stuffed every day with fun family stuff (post to follow). My only worry is how the kids will cope when Fred goes back to Mississippi tomorrow. Luckily it will only be 3 more weeks until he comes home.

Good friends of ours (he was Fred's covert ride home from the airport) were kind enough to watch our kids for us for several hours, so we could go on a date tonight. We went out to this ritzy outdoor mall 15 minutes from home called, "The Greene." I felt a little out of place among all the sophisticated stores, but it's beautifully decorated for the Holidays and it has 2 vitally important attractions: a movie theatre and The Cheesecake Factory.

(I generally avoid pictures of my derier, but I didn't know Fred was taking it, and it captures the square nicely)
My sweet hubby humored me by taking me to see "Twilight" again. And yes, it was much better the second time... for both of us, I think. I could fill him in on what the movie left out and there weren't nearly as many swooning 14-year old's this time.
Then we walked to the restaurant. It was about a 30 minute wait, so we perused the square, admiring the gorgeous decorations and commenting on how much we love living here. We're so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country (decorations aside), even though it was about 33 degrees.

The restaurant had a waiting area outside complete with heating towers. We were the only ones out there for a while, so when a fun Christmas song came on, Fred pulled me close and we started dancing to it! It was so fun! A group of teenagers walking by went, "AW!" and were taking pictures of us. I LOVE my man!

The food was great and we ordered our cheesecake to go (my Godiva chocolate cheesecake is calling me from the fridge).

It was SUCH an awesome evening! Thank you to those who helped make it possible! Now I'm gonna go cuddle with my hubby as much as I can before I have to say "goodbye" again tomorrow at 7:00am :(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sorry, Ladies

This is to inform all that the greatest man on Earth is taken... he's mine!

I'd consigned myself to my first Thanksgiving away from not only family, but my hubby, too. I was sad about it, but this is what we signed up for, and at least he's not deployed and we get him for Christmas.

Last week he told me about a gift he was mailing me. He explained that I would get a series of e-mails, but not to open any of them until he said it was "time." For a fleeting moment I thought he might be coming to visit me and that all the fuss about timing would be around his flight schedule. When he explained on Monday that I'd have to wait until the kids were in bed to start the e-mails, I knew I'd been foolish hoping for a visit.

I made sure the kids were in bed by 8:30 last night and anxiously waited. The mailman had delivered a fairly small package that day, but I was under strict orders from Fred not to open them until he gave the "go." He had insisted it was something I've always wanted. Looking at the small, insignificant package, I had NO idea what could possibly be in it that I've "always wanted."

Finally he sent me an instant message online giving me permission to open the first e-mail, which was telling me to be sure the kids were asleep and reminding me NOT to open the gift yet. Done.

So Fred said I could open the 2nd e-mail. It gave me instructions:
1. Get changed into something very comfortable, such as warm pajamas
2. Grab a warm blanket
3. Make some hot chocolate
4. Turn the lights low in the living room
5. Open the package and proceed to ‘E-mail #3’
6. DO NOT read the letters, yet (the package had 2 letters in it)

He instant messaged me to take as long as I needed to feel totally relaxed. I felt a little funny, but I did as told to get comfy. I finally opened the package and found a DVD and a CD. The CD was Josh Groban's Christmas CD, "Noel". Yes, I really have wanted that one.

The DVD was so unexpected. I've always expressed how badly I want a house with a fireplace. Yes, I know all the hazards and mess they can be, but some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting near my parents' glowing fireplace, chucking our Christmas wrapping paper into it, cooking chestnuts, warming up by the fire after Christmas caroling, and just the ambiance only a crackling fire can create. So, you pop in this DVD and can select whether to watch a crackling fire full screen, morphing your television into a mantle, or you can view a full fire place, tastefully adorned in holly. You can also opt to watch it with the natural crackling and popping, or with a lovely arrangment of soft instrumental Christmas music.

SO, my instructions were to turn on the fire without the music and turn on the Josh Groban CD, while sipping my hot chocolate and snuggling the cat (I swear the cat was in on it). I was to listen to the first 2 tracks and then open the #1 letter from the package during the 3rd song.

The 3rd song is Josh Groban's adaptation of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with parts of the song consisting of expressions of love from deployed servicemen to their families. Of course I burst into tears, not for myself, but thinking about all the families and servicemen spending the Holidays apart.

The letter was so sweet. He wistfully told me how much he misses and loves me, often feeling lonely and wishing I was with him. He even made a few adorable comparisons to Twilight's Edward and Bella's feelings for each other. It made me laugh through the tears.

I was then to call him. He didn't answer the first time, which mildly annoyed me, so I tried again a couple minutes later. This time he answered and asked what I thought. I started crying again and he certainly sounded pleased with himself. I told him he's the most wonderful man in the world and that he was right: he had given me something I've always wanted (the "fireplace").

He said I could open the final letter. I struggled to get the tape off #2 and finally opened it to read:

"Please rescue your poor freezing hubbycicle out back! L-l-l-l-l-l-ove!"

I was too stunned for a moment to do anything. I started saying, "NOOOO, no way... no way." I finally got up and turned on the back porch light, opening the blinds. AND there he was, grinning at me! I was SO SHOCKED! I managed to open the door and fell into his arms sobbing. I just couldn't take it all in!

When he kissed me, I teased him that even though he'd been waiting in the cold, his lips weren't icy like Edward's. He laughed and explained he'd only been back there about 1 minute.

Here's how his scheme had worked:
He arranged with our friend Kaylon to pretend to be Fred, instant messaging me with Fred's IM name. He was on the phone with Kaylon, telling him exactly was to type to me, so I NEVER suspected anything on that end.

When Kaylon had told me to "take my time" it was because our friend, who picked up Fred from the airport, missed a turn on the way home. Unlike most logical places in the US, in Ohio when you miss a turn, it may be miles before you can backtrack, so they suddenly didn't know how long it would take to get home.

When I called Fred the time he didn't pick up, it was because he wasn't close enough yet. Our friend drove like crazy and managed to drop Fred off just a couple minutes before I opened that final letter. So Fred never got the chance to get truly icy.

SO, I cuddled with him on the couch in disbelief until we dragged ourselves to bed. I was still not convinced the whole thing wasn't a dream. I had talked myself out of hoping for this!!

This morning was so sweet. When Gregory came in to wake me, he was (obviously) surprised and delighted to find his papa, and crawled right in bed with us, hugging Fred excitedly. The girls were excited, too, although Leora's still warming up to him. They made waffles all together. It's been such a WONDERFUL morning!

SO, as I began, sorry ladies, but the greatest guy in the world is taken... and he's mine.

This is from Good Morning America. It's not the complete song as it is on the CD, but it's definitely worth watching, as they recognize several families and the artist expresses his love for the troops.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time-Out Buddy

When Gregory goes in time-out, he calms down fast, wanting to get over with it so he can go play again. Not Charla.

She screamed for a solid 45 minutes this evening. I went to find Leora to settle her in for dinner. This is where I found her. She was pleasantly sitting next to Charla, who was screaming on the top of her lungs. She looked like a tiny little support group. I think it may have been aggravating Charla more than anything. Me taking pictures certainly didn't help her mood either.

I just noticed in the picture that someone colored that door to the garage. Where's the Magic Eraser..?

MY Twilight Post

Several weeks ago I finally succumed to that addiction that has swept the nation, and much of the world.


The books are, well, amazing. I hope somebody does some kind of research on why it appeals so much, not just to the swooning 14-year old's, but to pretty much every young mom who picks it up.

And despite the small demographic it specifically caters to (females ages 12-30ish), I saw a handful of women in line for the movie who had long left the "young mom" stage, just as eagerly anticipating the film as the 15-year olds behind us. There were also a nice number of guys, probably trying to prove just how deep their devotion is to their obsessive girl friends/wives.

I went with my visiting teachers to the 10:20pm showing (I think we'll count it as their visit this month, since we chatted in line for 1 1/2 hours). I'm really good friends with them. We were about 30 people from the front of the line. It was entertaining (and pathetic) watching the neurotic 13-year olds trying to cut in line and then lingering around us hoping to squeeze in. We formed a solid wall of bodies to block them. It was so funny :P

ANYWAYS, about the movie itself...

Personally, I enjoyed it. I didn't realize that until after I got home and thought it over. OF COURSE, as with any book-to-movie there were disappointements, some worse than others. Thankfully the audience wasn't screaming and swooning the whole time. I think I'd like to see it again, and take it in more as a movie than as a visual representation of the beloved book. There were some additions to the movie I LOVED, which was unexpected :)

Regardless of the movie, I still LOVE the books. I'm happy for the author that it's been such a tremendous success (she even made a cameo appearance in the movie!). I just hope she still makes her 3 boys earn their mission money on their own.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Adapting AZ Driving Survival

People who live in Arizona have probably heard about "ideas" that can make driving in the scorching heat more bearable...

NEVER get a black car
NEVER have leather seats
NEVER buy a convertable and leave the roof down
ALWAYS park in the shade, no matter how far from destination
When the Car overheats, do the Arizona 4/60... 4 windows down, 60 mph
Driving with oven mitts is genius

Now that it snows, I certainly wouldn't leave my convertible's top down... actually, I'd never even consider GETTING a convertible- it would never fit 4 car seats :P

Tonight I went with a couple friends to see the 10:20 showing of "Twilight", so I drove my sitter home at 1:00am. Luckily I found a great coat at Good Will for $4.00, but my hands were ACHING with the cold- it was about 22 degrees. I laughed out loud when the remedy I thought of first was, "Oooh, I should grab oven mitts!"

Never mind gloves.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Exactly 30% Done

Pregnancy is divided into either:
40 weeks
9 months
3 trimesters
(FEELS like 10 years)

Well, I was bored one day, so I figured out EXACTLY how long each trimester is: 93.3 days or 13.3 weeks.

Which means, today I am EXACTLY one third done.

Cheesy, I know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little Nature Artist

(This was taken with a filter application on the camera itself... no other editing... I love my camera!)

Our leaves all fell off our tree at least a month ago. They weren't nearly as interesting as the leaves on the tree across the street. Those leaves had turned a BRILLIANT red for a couple weeks, and then all fell off pretty much in one day, about a week ago.

Since then, every day Gregory walks home from school, he grabs a handful of pretty, red leaves for me. It's just so darn cute! I didn't want to throw them away, so we're garnishing a candle with them. It's just so sweet how every day he proudly marches into the house with the new addition of leaves. I'll be sad when the Pikes finally rake them up and toss them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video From 1st Snow

Teaching About Bullying... the WRONG Way

My kids' favorite books right now are the "Little Critter" books, by Mercer Mayer. They're simple, have cute illustrations and always teach a good lesson. I also like that there's a wide variety, so I don't stuck with the same book every night!

Last night Gregory grabbed one we hadn't read yet. It's called, "Just a Bully." I've loved every Critter book before that, so I didn't hesitate reading it for bedtime. Near the end of the book I wish I hadn't.

The story is about the same Critter who is in all the books. This time he defends his little sister from a bully. The bully then starts harrassing him. For most of the story, Critter acts like I hope my child would act- no retaliation, no fighting... he never stoops to the bully's level. At one point he asks as adult for help, but it just makes the bullying worse. In the end the bully hits him and the Critter starts fighting back (after his sister had encouraged to punch the bully the night before). The principal breaks it up and the bully gets in trouble. When Critter gets on the bus all the other Critters give him hi-5's, applauding him. When the bully gets on the bus, the little sister calls him a "fat head" and pushes him down.

The final "moral of the story" is to "stand up for yourself."

I was appalled. I wish I hadn't read it to my kids. We talked about it and I asked what Gregory thought about Critter's behavior. He didn't agree with it (thank goodness), but I still hated the fact that I'd read him a story about his favorite storybook character acting like that.

I considered later how else it should have ended. I know Fred dealt with bullying and, to my knowledge, never fought back. It didn't get better. But he never stooped to their level. Gregory has had to deal with bullies on the bus already. We've always firmly told him to ignore them and focus on something else.
On I read reviews on the books. Most parents were also dismayed, but a few applauded the book, happy that someone is finally taking a "realistic" approach to bullying and insisting that the parents opposed to the book obviously never dealt with being bullied as children.

I welcome any insight on this topic. Did the book have a point about "standing up for yourself" and just didn't present it well? How do you teach a young child to stand up for themselves without adopting the same negative attributes that the bullies have? Or should they just take it all and suffer?

I would hope my son trusts me and his teachers enough to always tell us if he's being bullied, and I hope we'd know how to address the issue so it's taken care of. That darn free agency! It's such a shame that small children sometimes have to suffer because other children misuse that agency.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I LOVE the rain. Even though it was in the low 40's last night, I slept with the window open so I could listen to it. So I was happy, when it was still raining this morning.

The kids were watching the rain at the front door when Gregory exclaimed, "IT'S SNOWING!!"

For some reason I was skeptical, but sure enough, when I peeked outside, big, white flurries were softly falling. I was SURE it would just last a for a couple minutes before the rain would take over, so I threw some boots and jackets on the kids, over their PJ's, and let them go nuts outside.

They had a BLAST. It had been near 60 yesterday, so the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Charla was scooping up handfuls of water from a puddle, trying to throw it like snow. She cracks me up.
Leora was VERY impatient watching them. I finally managed to get a pair of Charla's boots on her and let her loose. She was DELIGHTED. The boots were way to big for her, so she fell many times, but never once even whimpered. Her tiny hands were red with the cold, but she was just so ecstatic about the white stuff falling all around her, she seemed completely unphased by the cold.
What's funny is that I would take a run of pictures, go to upload them, only to see the snow had picked up some more. So I'd take out the memory card, run out, take some more pictures, and do it again.
By the time I dragged the kids inside, the snow was really coming down (by my standards, I'm sure). The view down the street was obstructed by the snowfall. Leora was downright furious with me for making her come inside. She screamed at the storm door, watching the snow coming down, until I scooped her up, changed her and put her down for a nap.

The kids spent a long time sitting on the windowsill, watching in awe. There was eventually a thin blanket of snow on everything, but now the wind has picked up, the rain took over, and the snow is gone.

It sure was a fun morning! We'll see how long the snow is magical to the kids. I hope for a long time, although the pleading to go back out into the falling snow did get a little wearing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1/2 Way

Today Fred is 1/2 done with his training. It's surreal that he hasn't been home for 5 1/2 weeks, but luckily time seems to be speeding up. Probably because Chistmas is 6 weeks away and I am in charge of the Ward Christmas party.

SO, 5 1/2 more weeks to go!

Pajama/Disney Movies/Twilight Day

I'm usually pretty functional and productive (I suppose that's subjective). Today calls for chilly rains and I did my grocery shopping yesterday, so today the girls and I are staying in our PJ's, watching Disney movies (and Teletubbies) and I'll be re-reading some more Twilight (during Teletubbies).

This is the kind of thing I would dream about SOMEDAY doing, back when I was stuck in Zero Hour in high school, or starting my shift at Walmart. Considering my kids' foul moods lately and lack of husband, I plan on enjoying today :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking for a HEAVY Maternity Coat

I still won't say I want the Tucson July heat back. But I will admit it's cold.

Ohio is weird. I watched the evening news here for the first time tonight... mostly because it doesn't come on until 11:00 AT NIGHT. I was mainly interested in the weather forecast. I believed them when they predicted it will be 25 degrees when Gregory goes to the bus stop, and that there's a 60% chance of snow this weekend.

For the first time in my life I'm looking for a heavy, wool coat. Someone should start a business renting out maternity coats, since if I buy one now, I HOPEFULLY will never need it again (meaning, if we don't have more kids, I BETTER not be able to fill out a coat meant for a huge, pregnant belly!).

Old Navy has a wool blend coat for $70 online. I don't even know if that's a good price for a coat. I welcome insight on this topic!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

11 1/2 Weeks Along

Pregnancy has the weirdest was of warping my perception of time.

I feel like I've been pregnant for years already, and I AM less than 2 weeks from my 2nd trimester, but seeing the number "11 1/2" makes it seem like I just got pregnant! It's frustrating.

Anyways, I went to a party at Fred's Commander's house this evening and got a little dressed up. I haven't taken an official "pregnancy pic" yet, so this will do. Most "normal" people don't show during their first trimester, but you can count on plenty of people congratulating me on my "twins" by the time I hit my 3rd trimester... NO, we only saw 1 baby in there.

I'm at that awkward point where I can't wear my regular pants anymore, but I'm not showing enough for a stranger to have the courage to ask if I'm pregnant. I'll be wishing I was still like this in a couple months!

On a side note, I want to give a shout-out to my sis-in-law who just found out she's having a girl! YAY!!!!!! She's 7 weeks ahead of me with her first. That will make 5 Olsen girls and 1 Olsen boy, my Gregory. We'll find out in May whether he maintains that title.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Little Airman

Tonight at the dinner table Gregory suddenly burst into song. He was belting out the Air Force's song, "Into the Wild Blue Yonder."

We've sung it before, but this was a first solo for him! He sang it probably 1/2 a dozen times before everyone was done eating and I managed to get him on video. He wasn't quite as animated when he knew I was recording, but it still melts my heart anyways.

Yesterday he told me he built an Air Force base in his bedroom out of Lego's. My little Air Force brat!

I've included a Youtube video of the song being performed, in case you can't really follow all the lyrics from Gregory's performance. It's a nice arrangement. All the videos with cool graphics were actually set to the original Air Force fight song back when it was the Army Air Corp (a LOOONG time ago). The lyrics have been slightly modified since the Air Force was created as a separate branch of the military.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Baby #4's First Picture and a Name

I finally had my first prenatal appointment this week. I was pleasantly surprised when the doc rolled in an ultrasound machine. Even after 3 previous babies, I forget how perfectly formed they are at just 10 weeks! Baby's heart looked great. The baby kept stretching and wriggling. It never ceases to amaze me.

The 2 pictures they gave me don't do it justice (do they ever?), but for the ultrasound illiterate I tried to label baby parts. It still takes some imagination.


We have some exciting news that will surely drive our parents insane:

We're not finding out the baby's gender! Well, until birth at least. We figure we've got everything for a boy or a girl, and since this is probably our Omega, it's our last chance for that kind of surprise.

My only hesitation was in light of Gregory's enthusiasm over this baby. We've had to prod him with his sisters, but this time he's so excited. He kisses my tummy good bye at the bus stop and kisses it again when he gets off the bus AND "good night"... without ANY encouragement! I think it has a lot to do with several of his friends recently welcoming babies into their families.

I considered that he would like to know whether he's expecting a brother or a sister, since he actually seems to care this time. I also was a little leery of calling the baby an "it" for 8 months. Well, Gregory solved all that.

It occurred to me to ask him what we should name the baby while he or she is in my tummy. He concentrated for a while. Then his face lit up (a bit mischievously, I might add) and he sad, "Cindy-Lou!" (we've been watching "The Grinch"). I wasn't sold at first, but then I realized "Lou" by itself can go either way!

SO, for the pregnancy, we're referring to #4 as "Baby Lou."

1996 Election Flashback

I cleaned out my garage today so we can park the van in it, considering the layer of ice that claims my vehicle most mornings these days. Like most big-time clean-up jobs, I came across a few forgotten treasures.

(I should have taken a before pic, but maybe it's better I didn't... it was embarrassing)

The best (aside from my lost closet organizer and some clothespins) was this birthday card Fred received WAAAAY back in 1996. I'm sure there are virtually identical ones fitting this election year, but I still got a good laugh out of this one. I was in Junior High for that election!