So they are no longer two, but one.

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This week marks 12 years that  Alan and I have been married. God blessed the day I married my better half.

One of the best decisions I ever made was one of the ones I was most criticized for. I do think people’s opinions can be helpful, and I do listen to the advice of others. But what others? You have to be careful about which group you are listening to. Our closest friends and our parents never doubted us for a second. We had their unswerving support. It was our acquaintances and old friends that were shocked. (See, there was no Facebook back then to keep in touch with.) We had the support of those that knew the whole story, and the others were scandalized. “What!? I didn’t even know April was dating anybody!??”

We didn’t lollygag around. We dated for three months and got engaged. We were engaged for 5 months, and then we got married. We got married on the military’s time table because that’s what military couples have to do. People just couldn’t believe we did things so quickly. They didn’t realize we’d been friends and acquaintances for much longer than that.

You know what? I secretly enjoyed being ‘scandolous’ for once. It isn’t something I have experienced much. ;)

I remember vividly the day I sat with Alan, at a long cafeteria table, in Burke cafeteria, and realized that I had deeper feelings for this friend than I had even realized. We used to eat together, with a large group of friends, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I had even once observed (but kept to myself) that even on days when I did not eat with that group, Alan would still bring his tray over and have lunch with me and whatever friend I was eating with that day. We were friends. Pals. I thought that was all, and I hadn’t given it much thought–which was unusual for me, as I was something of a flirt in those days….

But there was that one day, when it was just the two of us, and Alan was talking to me about all of the great places he planned to go and adventures he hoped to have in his military career, that I suddenly felt this strong desire to go with him.

“Huh?” I thought, “Why do I care if Alan moves out west? A couple of boys that I’ve dated have already done the same thing, and I did not care when they left.”

“Wait. Do I like Alan?”

“Oh my gosh! I do. I like Alan!! I don’t want him to leave. I want to go with him.”

Once I figured all of this out, Alan didn’t stand a chance. ;) I had already racked up a couple of relationship failures due to playing ‘hard to get.’ Not this time. This time it was on. I would not chase him. I would not call him, but by golly I was going to act exactly how I felt: happy to be with him. I also made it a point to not flirt with others around him.

This was before our “group date”, but it did involve some of the same people. We all worked together on campus. We love these people!!

I even resorted to inventing a “group date.” My friend Katie was in town, and I told her, “Katie, I know who I am going to marry, and you have to meet him.” I called him up and told him a big group of us was going to Logan’s Roadhouse for dinner. He quickly accepted our invitation. Then I turned to Katie and said, “Oh!!  Now I have to actually make a group.” I got back on the phone and quickly but carefully put together a group of friends that knew both of us, included boys that my friends liked, and well…….the rest was history. Alan asked me out before he went home that night, and we have been a couple ever since.

For a look back at our last 12 years, see last years post:  11 Years of Marriage

Do you know what made Alan so great? Do you know how we “just knew” it was right?

Well, of course we were in love, but also we used our heads. I think you could possibly fall in love with lots of people, but you need to be smart about it. We both had the same faith, morals, values, and work ethic. We both love to laugh and don’t take ourselves too seriously.  The relationship flowed easily. There was no “Oh, I can’t tell if he really likes me” crap. We were just honest with each other and treated one another with respect. We complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I am a non-confrontational person. Alan will rise up to meet confrontation seemingly easily, and he can do it (normally) without being offensive. He’s an engineer. I would have never even gone near the Engineering school.

A friend of mine once commented,  “Who wouldn’t like Alan!?” That’s the kind of man he is.

He’s the kind of man that has turned down what I consider to be a big and important job because he knew it would not be family friendly. He helps with chores. He fixes the kids breakfast. He’s absolutely hilarious. He’s faithful. He loves me–even when I’m crazy-stressed-not fun-April, he still loves me. He’s still super-good-looking too. :)

This was a hard year for us. Going to four children was exciting, but it was HARD WORK. Plus, he had a very big project going on at work. PLUS, he had to take the exams, apply to universities, AND move the family this year. Meanwhile, I was juggling all that comes with managing a family of 6–the housework, oh the housework!

It’s been a wild ride. It’s been 12 years. I hope we have 100 more.

I’d like to stop and take a look back at the wild 12th year:

I was standing in Nevada. Alan was in Arizona.

I called this our 3rd honeymoon. :)

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!

I look forward to the 13th year. We will finally settle into a new house, we will tackle our first year of home-schooling–through the Classical Conversations tutoring service, we will be Californians, Alan will be in school, I will be blogging away, and who knows what else! That’s the fun of it.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together,  let man not separate.”              Matthew 19: 4-6

We have spent all of July apart, due to this PCS move, but I will be with you tomorrow, Alan.

Roadside Photographer: Beautiful Old Homes of the South

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We recently took a road trip to Georgia, and I had a great time snapping photos of beautiful old Georgia and Alabama homes. The South is a beautiful place. Believe it or not, we are not as backward down here as you may think.

Having lived in places all over the country, from the west coast to the east coast, and several places in between, it amazes me the misconceptions people have of the South. I have loved every place that I’ve lived, and now I want to share a little more about this great place where I’m from: the deep, deep South. It is a beautiful place, full of wonderful people. Yes, we do love our tea cold and sweet, we may over use the phrase “Bless your heart”, and our accents are thick–some thicker than others. What’s great about Southerners is that we truly do practice ‘southern hospitality.’ We do smile and nod at folks that we pass. I love how friendly everyone is down here.

We don’t eat as much fried chicken as people seem to think.  We do love fried okra or fried green tomatoes, though!! Most of us don’t have fried chicken any more often than anyone else. It comes in a bucket from KFC. I’ve never made it myself, to be honest with you.  I DO; however, know how to make a mean pot of collards or turnip greens–delicious and nutritious–fried okra, black-eye peas, butter beans, chicken and dumplin’s, and corn bread!!  We grow delicious vegetables down here, with our long growing season. Oh, and I do love to make homemade biscuits, and regular milk makes almost as good of biscuits as buttermilk. I never have any buttermilk in my fridge, so that’s what I use. I do wish I knew how to make a delicious pecan pie. We have pecans in abundance. Those are the true delicacies of the South.

Most of us do not live in one of these lovely, old homes. Actually, no one in my family lives in a house that’s more than 60 years old. The thing is that I just love this old style and wanted to share it with all of you.

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Just to reiterate: we do not all live in big, beautiful southern mansions, nor do we all live in trailer parks. We are also not all named things like “Jim Bob” and “Ella May.” ;) I don’t know anyone by those names. However, we do have cotton and peanut fields in abundance. Also, I don’t know of anyone at all, other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, that married their cousin. Oh! And Ashley and Melony Wilkes! What do you mean they were a fictional couple!?

Now that we have all that straightened out….

Sit back and enjoy these little snapshots of the dear, beautiful South.

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Ok. That’s just an old barn, but I like seeing these old barns.

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I love, love, love the wrap around front porch!!IMG_4097

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Every place has a story. I’d be so interested to know this one.

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I never thought of these tree farms until I married Alan, and his family does this whole tree farm thing. If you think you’re just driving through miles of untended wild forrest, think again. Very often that is very purposefully tended forests. They sell the wood and then grow more trees. It makes good sense, considering that this area is naturally forested.

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Many cities have these murals, usually significant to the history of that town.IMG_4067

a beautiful county courthouse in Georgia

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I love how this downtown area of Barnesville, Georgia is re-purposing old storefronts. It was once Barnesville Buggies. Now it’s Verizon Wireless. I’m so happy they left the old business name up there.

Lake Eufaula

You never appreciate how green, green, green it is down here until you visit the American Southwest!

…….And I saved my favorites for last. I took all of these in Alabama:

First Baptist Church

Kudzu…it is not a native plant, and it takes over everything.

“Big wheels keep on turnin’. Carry me home to see my kin. Singing songs about the southland. I miss Alabamy once again…”

I will miss you, sweet home, as we move to this next chapter in our lives. It’s been fun!!

All right. Ya’ll be sweet now, and give me a vote. Voting ends July 31st, and then you won’t have to worry about it anymore. ;)

My goal: Being CALM

As I’ve mentioned before, I have been a highly stressed and impatient version of myself lately. Last night I made a resolution for myself: Today I am going to be calm. I don’t care what happens. I am going to be calm, cool, and collected. I don’t care what the kids do. I will not freak out, panic, do the eyebrow thing, yell, or act irrationally. This is my goal for today.

This morning, when I gathered the boys together for our morning talk/prayer/calendar/Bible story time, I told them, “Today I have a special goal. Do any of you know what a goal is?”

Daniel and John David chattered at the window, ignoring me completely.

Joshua shook his head, and Caleb sat up and said, “OH!! I do!!  A goal is a net!!  It’s the net in soccer, and you have to get the ball in it. And in some other games, it’s a net, but not in football. In football, it’s like this big thing, and there is no net.”

I took that and ran with it, naturally. Good job, Caleb! I explained to them what a goal is, and I told them that today my goal is to be calm– all day long. They nodded. I think they were actually listening. I can’t remember if this was before or after JD knocked  over my coffee, which spilled into one of my drawers, all over my gym shorts. I was almost calm–not super calm, but I tried.

A few minutes later, I sent them off to get dressed for church. There are always protests to this, but this week they actually admitted that they DO like Sunday School, just not big church.

Caleb said, “Nooo! We HAVE to go to Sunday school. Sunday School rocks. I love it, but please, please, please no church!”

Joshua joined in the fun.

I explained how the day would go to them, and rejected their requests to just “have church at home”. Yet, Joshua kept on hounding me with his complaints, so I turned to him and said, “You know what? You are testing me, and I will not be moved. I am gong to be calm today,” and with that I walked out of the room.

It worked! They also walked out of my room, and the next time I saw them, they were dressed and sitting on their bed. Of course, I had to make them change their pants, as they thought Adidas jogging pants were the perfect Sunday clothes. :)

Do you have trouble staying calm when you are under heightened stress? We all have things we need to work on. As we speak, we are all ready for church. Nonna’s church doesn’t have a Sunday School class for Joshua and Caleb, so we are only going to ‘big church’ today. I told Joshua, Caleb, and Daniel to all go to Nonna’s room, where they keep the Legos, and be ‘master builders.’ They are having a great, quiet time back there. The baby is asleep. This calm, quiet house is providing the best rest that I can imagine. Oh, and this week the boys are going to VBS. They even have a class for Daniel’s age group. :) I might actually get some time to breathe this week! :) Then on Thursday, we are off to California!!!  Things are really looking up, I think.

Stories of our Boys, Skylanders, and the Flaky Tooth Fairy

Thank you all so much for the support and suggestions from my last post about our crazy military move obstacles.  I’ve always said that I have the best family and friends. The good news is that we may be able to actually move in on the 8th of August, so that’s just a few more days at the hotel than we originally planned.

Sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath, and say, “Everything will be fine.” Right? Why am I so stressed out? I don’t know, but I really am.

Here’s a little of what else has been going on during this month of Alabama:

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JD has been doing this little bashful act, which I find completely irresistible.

John David does lots of cute things these days:

-My favorite thing is that he’s finally sleeping better. Hallelujah!!!!

-He plays with dinosaurs and makes them roar. His roar is SO STINKIN’ CUTE.

-He plays with cars and makes them say “vroom vroom”.

-He will say random words, but then he won’t say that word again. He does say, “Mama” sometimes, usually when in great distress. Great distress usually means that Joshua is carrying him around in spite of his ardent protests.

-He LOVES Joshua and thinks he is hilarious, but JD would appreciate a little more independence.

-He has a new tooth, is finally being weaned off bottles, and stands alone– occasionally– for a few seconds at a time.

-Blueberries are his favorite food.

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He enjoyed Water World, but he was so serious about the whole thing. He never cried, but he also never cracked a smile. Maybe he will be more like Caleb (nonchalant) than Joshua (super excited).

Also, I thought his hair had a little bit of a red tint in the sun!!

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I thought this was a cool photo of the waves in action! See if you can find Joshua, Caleb, and Daniel in the waves.

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Dan LOVED the ‘kiddie’ pool. My mom and I took turns handling babies and handling big boys. That made it so much more fun–actually being able to enjoy a little ‘big pool’ wave time!!

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The boys had such a great time at the water park.

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By the way, I got so sunburnt that I am still pealing.

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Daniel is hilarious, as always. He keeps asking, “Can we go back to Mommy’s house now?”

He calls our house ‘mommy’s house.’ I’m not sure what that says about me…but in my defense, he refers to all houses as belonging to whatever female lives there. “Nana’s house” “Nonna’s house” I’d say he has a few things right, wouldn’t you?

We have had this conversation a few times:
D: We go your’s house now, Mommy?
Me: Um, well, Daniel, actually we’re going to have a whole new house, in California, with Daddy. We’re all going to go there really soon.

D: Wow! Me excited ’bout that!! We go there now?

Me: in about 6 more days

D: Yay! Me happy.

…….I promise we do work on his grammar a little…

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The Flakiest Tooth Fairy and the Cunning Children

Caleb seems to be having a very happy summer. He even managed to get a quarter from a tooth that Joshua lost last week. Yep. The tooth fairy paid CALEB for Joshua’s tooth. Isn’t that impressive? It’s not what you might think, either. Granted, our tooth fairy is the flakiest, lamest tooth fairy EVER. A few months ago, she didn’t show up until 7:30 am. I had to send Joshua back to bed, telling him that it wasn’t really morning yet. Then I had to go in and give him an extra hug or two and tuck him in really nicely (while reaching under his pillow), doing some fancy handiwork to make up for her transgression!

Then, last week, she didn’t show up until 9 am when Joshua said, “OH yeah!  Tooth Fairy! I forgot to check!”

My eyes got really big, and I said, “Joshua, you HAVE to use the bathroom first. Then you can go get your tooth fairy money.”

That was a close one. Our tooth fairy appears in the morning and works super, super quickly. We are not happy with her tardiness.

The boys do not seem to have noticed all this. They still have a high opinion of her. In fact, they decided to see if they could milk a little more out of her than just the customary $1 that they typically receive. They actually wrote her letters and put it under their pillows, along with a Skylander a piece. The note asked her to “Please replace this Skylander with another Skylander.”  (!!!!!!!)  Wha…???

Does this not ‘beat all’? Joshua wrote, “Dear tooth fairy, Would you trade Spyro the Skylander for Dark Light Crypt something toy for me please? And look under Caleb bed too and my tooth is right here.”

Our very kind tooth fairy wrote them each back a letter, explaining to them that she only deals in teeth and cash, but since Joshua was so sweet to include his little brother, she left Caleb a quarter as well.

Have a great week, ya’ll!!!

Bad news from the summer that just keeps on giving

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You wouldn’t believe the news I got today. Or if you are military,maybe you would.

It’s easy to feel happy and hopeful when life is going pretty well. Sure, life is hectic always with little boys to take care of, but at least you can find some sort of ‘normal’ in that. We are all healthy. Things have been okay. Isn’t it funny how easy it is to shake your head at the whiners when your life looks pretty good? I think it’s pretty common to become annoyed with people who are going through a hard time and are constantly whining about it.

Proverbs 14:20:

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbor:  but the rich hath many friends.”

There are many Bible verses that echo that sentiment.

No, we are not poor, not even a little bit. However, hard times do come to all of us. I have been without a place of my own since June 13th. Alan has his little hotel room in California, but the boys and I have gone between my parents’ and Alan’s parents’ houses in Alabama. We’ve been sleeping in their living rooms, invading their beds and kitchens, and in general totally disrupting their way of life.

THANKFULLY, both sets of them seem to be happy to have us. My parents were terribly sad to see us leave last week. (Sorry, ya’ll!! We do miss you!)

The thing is it’s been 40 days now, and we are ready to have our own place to call home, you know?

No problem, right? My house is mine in only one more week. We pick up our keys on August 1st. Hurray! Plane tickets are purchased, and movers are booked…..

WAIT! Not so fast. The current tenants have decided to delay a week. Oh, now, isn’t that cute?

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Do I get angry? Do I cry into my pillow and pound my fists on the floor? *Sigh* Why bother? That’s just life. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Life is just a series of problems to be solved.” Ha! It’s true, and you know it! But as Alan’s dad recently said, “It really is just a series of problems to be solved, but thankfully there are enough good moments sprinkled in there to make it worth it.”

:) Sprinkle. Sprinkle.

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chubby baby cheekies and Daniel quotes: At least I still have those!

Watching Joshua study animals and checking out Caleb’s latest fort–that he has constructed–in the hallway, blocking all hallway traffic…..how I love it.

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children on slip-n-slides, mint Klondike bars, hearing from someone who says that they enjoy reading my blog, and big giant hugs from my handsome and amazing husband (I MISS that right now!) These things DO make it worth it.

Plus, we’ve had bonus grandparent quality time, so at least we haven’t been living in a hotel all this time!

So what now? Will we rearrange Nonna’s plane ticket for later? Will that work? She was going to help us unpack, but there will be nothing to unpack until at least August 11th. I actually will have to live in a hotel for 11 days…..yikes! Is that even possible with four children???

Ya’ll! How is this four kids/hotel thing going to work? Anyone have any advice!?

The thing about problems is that they DO happen to everybody. Do you think I’m excited about spending two months (when it’s all said and done) of this year, basically homeless? Do you think I’m not worried about how this anxiety is affecting my children? Let me tell you. They are greatly affected.

We all have hard things to deal with sometimes, right? The important thing is HOW we handle our problems. You probably think I’ve handled this well, but that’s only because you haven’t had to live with me. Ha!!  Not kidding. I have been impatient with my children and probably also a slightly ungracious house guest. I do want to do better. It reminds me of that country song, “Heaven knows she’s not an angel, but she’d really like to be….”

Thank you so much, Mom and Dad, DaddyO and Nonna, for helping us through this time. Thank you to my brother for driving Alan’s truck across the country!

I hope to do better than my best through the rest of this stressful moving process. I hope to tackle the difficulties while still managing to share God’s love with others and decrease the amount of sighing and complaining.

Thank you all so much for reading my blog. It has been the perfect outlet during these years of figuring out the whole parenting/military life thing! I know it bothered a few of you when I made the blog public last year, but thank you for sticking by me anyway.

Now let’s just pray the tenants don’t push this back any more, or we will have to find another house. I really have my heart set on living on the military base. I like the efficiency of the move-in/move-out system. I also like the whole “no security deposit” thing. Pretty awesome, huh?

 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”        Psalm 34:19

“though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:24

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