The People Make the Place


Caleb’s remarkably good drawing of Elephant and Piggy, of the Mo Willems books. Elephant says, “I’m scared.”

I thought this picture was perfect for that nervous, excited but sad, feeling that you get, just as you are about to move. We are four weeks out from the longest distance, most emotional move we’ve ever made.  This will be our 8th move. However, this is the very first move where our little boys are old enough to really get it.  We’ve been in the area for 5 years and in this house for 3.  We had NEVER lived in the same house for three years before! Saying good-bye is going to hurt this time.


the boys, 2 years ago

this yearDaniel and JD, last week



Anyone who has done even a little bit of moving around will tell you that the people are what make the place.  If you have an amazing community of friends, you can weather Siberia together and be perfectly happy.  If you’re living with a crooked bunch of questionable folks–Paradise itself will not be habitable.

So if people make the place, then this little D.C. suburban neighborhood has been a little piece of Eden for our family. We live on a street where the parents all socialize over our chain link fences, while we pull weeds (only don’t look too closely at my neglected gardens…), our children run from one house to the other giggling and carrying on, and I know when one of my kids stray, one of my neighbors will step in!! We have a neighborhood school, a park, and a pool.  Our kids all play on the same basketball, soccer, baseball, and swim teams.  Some of us even go to the same churches. It’s like a small town, in an urban area.


I made them wash the car–they loved it! I’m doing that more often.



Look, Mom! A slug! Oooo, Mom, are you scared??



“If I flick it (the slug) off, can I immediately go inside and wash my hands? Ew!  I touched it!  I touched it!!”



Joshua and Caleb both started kindergarten here. Daniel took his first steps here. JD was born here!  Geesh, I’m going to miss this place!

The people here are AWESOME, and that has just made all the difference. We have so many friends, we have so much in common, and they are all solid families with homes that I know I can safely send my children to.  I am just so thankful to have been a part of this!!!

Ok, you will notice I’m wearing the same outfit in a lot of these.  I had a little farewell lunch with some of my closest friends from our community this week.  These women, plus a whole bunch that are not pictured, are ALL incredible, and I can’t tell you how much I have learned from these gals. These are the “Park Moms” that got me through the birth of baby #4. They brought me meals, chauffeured my older boys, helped me with Daniel, and best of all–they were just there!! I will forever be a better person, just for knowing these wonderful women.

“17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

DCFriends DCFriendsCollage


Also, in defense of Betsy and me, we were pregnant in a few of those last photos!!

I’ve always felt like God put us here to provide a safe little nursery for our children to spend their youngest years. Do you know how you start your tomato plants inside so they get a solid start on life? While the weather is still too cold for them, you keep them warm and safe in doors. Once they are hardy, and the frosts are over, you take them out into the elements and plant them in the dirt.

Does moving out west mean that I am taking them out and putting them in the dirt now??  What if they aren’t ready??  Will we find another community like this one?? Ah, the timeless worries of a parent! Let’s hope I will find another nursery for them. They are all still so little. I mean, JD isn’t even walking yet.

I trust that we will be just fine.

I just remind myself, when I start to worry, “God will provide.” Where he leads, I will follow. He hasn’t failed us yet.


matthew 6


So we say thank you one more time to our amazing friends, and not good-bye, because a.) we’re not gone quite yet, but also b.) we will see you again. And we press on towards the future, knowing that God is with us wherever we go.


East Coast to West Coast in Only 6 Weeks!

working hard

planning, planning, planning!

So much has happened this past week.  Once our military orders arrived, all systems are GO, GO, GO!  You know all those stereotypes about men?  You know what I’m talking about:  “When men are sick they lay down, but women keep working,” and other such derogatory thoughts our society has attached to our males?

Well, let me tell you, Alan blows all those negative sexist remarks out of the water.  That’s right.  I said sexist.  Everyone’s so quick to call female stereotypes ‘sexist,’ but making fun of men is perfectly okay.  What’s up with that? Maybe you haven’t noticed.  I certainly have.  Being the wife of a high type-A, thorough planner like Alan, plus being the mother of four little boys, makes me a little more sensitive to the negative things our society likes to say about our men.

My husband, sick as a dog, plus recovering from surgery, has gotten more done in the day he got ‘request for orders’ than most healthy people could accomplish in a week’s worth of time. Alan, you are AMAZING!!!

Want to know his secret?  This is how he got this move plan running so quickly:

1.  Before he even secured the orders, he got me the smartphone I wanted, complete with synchronized Google Calendars.  This is my Mother’s Day gift.  I love it.  I used up my whole data plan in two days.  Oops.  There’s a learning curve to these things! But with this phone, I can be a touch more organized.

2. He sat down with me and even managed to get my UNDIVIDED attention to discuss EVERY DETAIL of our moving plan.  You name it, it is planned for on the calendar.

My undivided attention is about impossible to attain! I am never doing less than two things at once, and I’m often doing more than that.  C’mon, ya’ll, there are four little boys here!

3.  He went down to the orders office armed with a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts.  Plus, he’d dropped by and schmoozed with those ladies in advance.  Ha! Good job, Alan!

4. He went straight from the orders office to setting up the shipment of household goods. He whipped out the Google Calendar and managed to get the exact dates we had planned for.  Success!!!



5. On Saturday, we had our Yard Sale!!  We got rid of tons of junk this weekend!  But actually, I may never do a yard sale again:  sunburn, people wanting to buy all of my stuff for $1, and Daniel playing tug-of-war with kids that were buying the toys he really never plays with.  No thank you!  Never again.

Everything is running like clock work! At least I can claim the Yard Sale accomplishment as my own.  Remember “The Great Clean Out”?  I have gone through almost every drawer and cabinet, so I’ll be taking credit for that part.  : )


When we rolled into DC, 5 years ago, it was just Alan, me, Joshua, and Caleb.


….and I was 10 pounds heavier…deployment weight.  Can any other military wives relate to the deployment weight??  What causes that?  Ugh!

But look how cute the boys were:

Awww!  That was back when they let ME pick out their clothes.

And we’re leaving the D.C. area as a slightly larger group:


How far we have come!

I can’t believe we’re only 6 weeks out from our biggest move yet!

Here are a few quotes from our crazy week:

It was POURING RAIN the other day, and I had to get all of the children into the car.  As I was buckling Joshua in, he said, “Mom, I will buckle Daniel in so you don’t have to keep standing out in the rain.”

*heart melting in my soaking wet spot*

: )  Thank you, Joshua, and that’s why you’re the one we’re going to send to college. ; )  (I’m just kidding.  Caleb often voluntarily unbuckles Daniel for me, so he will get to go to college too. Yes, that’s what you go by!!!)


and bringing the funny as usual….

Caleb walked into the kitchen and said, “Whatever you do, do NOT talk to the toilet.”

“Why not?” I asked him.

“Because, it copies you.”

Daniel immediately ran to the toilet and started shouting into it.

Just another day in the House O’ Boys!



Our Day in DC: WWII Memorial and the American History Museum




We did manage to squeeze in one day of adventure during Spring Break.  My parents were visiting, and there were still a lot of DC spots that they had never seen, so we headed into town.  Believe it or not, my parents, the 4 boys, and I all fit into one minivan.  : )

One of Joshua’s friends came over to play while we were gone, and Alan answered the door.  Alan was under the weather, so he couldn’t go with us.  When Alan told the little buddy that Joshua wasn’t home, he said, “What?  How did they all fit into one car?”

The day went really well.  I was reminded of one great money-saving tourist tip that I’d forgotten:

-Museum cafeterias are outrageously expensive, and who has the space to pack a picnic lunch and lug it around?  Avoid the cafeterias.  Instead, eat outside.  In front of every museum is an outdoor cafe that sells hot dogs and such that cost less than they do inside.

First stop: Carousel


This is a tradition for us.  You just can’t take kids to the National Mall and skip the carousel!

That was Joshua’s first ride on the carousel:  2009.  He was a sweet little almost 4-year-old!!

Okay.  I’ll try not to get too nostalgic.  Let’s just say this will be an emotional move for us.  (We’re moving this summer:  far, far away!)

Carousel ride completed, and a good bit poorer, we headed across the Mall to the Smithsonian American History Museum.


SmithCastlethe Smithsonian castle: beautiful, but I’ve never found too much to see in there


People were so kind to stop and offer to take family pictures for us.  I did this one, and then a passerby took this one for us:


As I’ve said before, don’t knock “people today.”  There are still plenty of nice ones out there.

I’m so excited that we now have DC photos for JD and Daniel too.  Joshua and Caleb have gotten to do all of this so many times over the years, but the little ones came along, and then Alan and I became a little less adventurous!


We could not have picked a more beautiful day to go touring.  It was PERFECT.  It was warm but breezy, and there were beautiful spring colors everywhere.


I was all excited to get a photo of myself with all four of my boys, and most of them posed really well…..but then I blinked.  Oh, well, what can ya do?


Oops.  I guess the sun was in their eyes.



Joshua and Caleb were so cute, playing with these mannequins.


I was so excited to see Joshua, actually reading the information!!  He especially enjoyed the political cartoon exhibit, which I didn’t photograph, and everything in the presidential wing of the museum.

Joshua usually complains of boredom at all of these museums, but we couldn’t tear him away from the presidential area.  He was so interested in the presidents, that he insisted on sitting and watching the entire History channel video of the history of presidents in the public eye, that they play continuously on the 3rd floor of the museum.  I was rather delighted to see him taking such an interest!


JD mostly just enjoyed this water bottle. : )

historymuseumI decided to re-create this picture, 4 1/2 years later, same exhibit:

RecreateBusDC They’ve grown so much!!

RedoBus2DCAnd one more


more fun with mannequins…


Caleb said he was turning his pages for him.  Of course, I have a flashback photo for this mannequin too:


Same guy!!!

I can’t explain why this is so much fun to us….moving on…

President Joshua

We almost had to pull Joshua away from this presidential podium.


Dan got a little bored, so he just laid down in the floor….kind of like Caleb did, in the floor of the Capitol back in ’09, which is one reason we’ve never gone back to the Capitol:



the President of the United States, and his entourage: Daniel and Nana  : )


After the museum, we hiked waaaaay over to the World War II Memorial.  I had never been to this memorial before.  I’d seen it from the street, but that does not do it justice.  This is a memorial well worth visiting.  I literally had tears in my eyes, just thinking of all the sacrifices made in World War II.  I highly recommend visiting this one!

As we were walking up to the memorial, Caleb asked, “Wait.  This is a park???!!!??”

“Yeah, it’s a park!” I replied, hoping that would make it more interesting.

“Yes!  So we can play here??”

“Um, uh…yeah.  You can play.”

“Yes!  We’re here!  This is a park.  So I can go now?”

By this point, we were just coming up to the outside of the humongous WWII Memorial area, and I kind of just wanted to see where in the world Caleb was going with these thoughts, so I said, “Yeah, go ahead…..”

“YES!” Caleb said, as he ran over to the wall….


Mom asked, “Do you want me to go keep up with Caleb?”

I was so relieved!  “Yes, definitely!”

It was a good thing too, because when I glanced back over there, I saw Nana ordering Caleb off the wall, where he had almost managed to jump over.  I could just see Caleb and his one leg, headed back down.


Ah, Caleb.  You’re just a fun little boy, and I love you so much.  And thank you to Nana!!!


I can’t tell you how inspiring this memorial is in person.  You really have to see it.


There was a line of these scenes in the wall, progressing from beginning to end of the war.


Even the boys really seemed to enjoy this fountain.  Of course, they were just dying to put their arms into the water, but I’m happy to report that we all left DRY:  an accomplishment in itself.

LincolnDCThe memorial goes all the way to the reflecting pool that stretches to the Lincoln Memorial, another favorite of ours.


Then we made the long hike back to our van.  It was so sweet to watch Joshua and Caleb, just talking amongst themselves. Daniel was so tired, he climbed onto Granddaddy and caught a ride on the scooter.  Dan was passed out hard by the time we loaded him into his car seat.

bestfriendsDCI enjoyed watching the boys, walking and talking to each other.  I hope they will be best friends for life.

 How we will miss you, DC!!!

Oh, I just have to share this one last story!  My parents left on Easter, but they were still here when Daniel received his Easter basket, so Daniel is convinced that everything he got from the Easter Bunny actually came from Nana.  hehehe  “Look what Nana got me.”  “Nana got me this.”  “Where Nana and Granddaddy go?”

I could’ve corrected him, but eh…why bother.  ; )


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