Tuesday, November 22

25 Days of Christmas - Advent Activities

After some Googling, researching, brainstorming and help from friends, I have compiled our list of advent activities.  We hung our advent stockings last weekend and the boys are very excited for next week when we get started on the events.  The activities are things the boys will enjoy, but most focus on giving. 

In no particular order...

Lighting of the Christmas Tree at the library
Make Christmas Cookies
Go through DVDs.  Donate to Kim S.
Take cookies to the Fire Station
Fill a Christmas stocking for Ms. Catherine. Deliver without her knowing it was you.
Make a card and give a gift to the Mailman
Take a plate of cookies to the librarians
Drink hot cocoa and read Christmas story books by the tree
Sleep by the Christmas Tree
Deliver Cookies/Treats to Neighbors
Take a donation of dog food & old towels/blankets to an animal shelter
Read the Christmas story in Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-21.
Make something or send a letter to brighten someone’s day.
Write a note to daddy a letter describing the 10 things you love most about him.
Look up Samaritan’s Purse and make a donation.
Hot Cocoa and Christmas lights around town
Share a compliment with everyone you meet today
Shop for gifts for Toys for Tots
Paint/decorate ornaments for the senior home
Take ornaments to the senior home
Make the crayon letter for your teacher
Board games, popcorn & Christmas music
Christmas performance for Payton’s school
Kobylak Wigilia Christmas Eve Dinner

Saturday, November 19

The Season of Giving: Need Your Help!

Over the past few Christmas seasons, Matt and I have worked hard to remind the boys that the Christmas season is a time to GIVE and focus on FAMILY, LOVE and CHRIST.  Not the "getting" and not Santa.

We do this in several ways.  We participate in Operation Christmas Child, we donate our outgrown coats and clothes, we adopt a family or child off a Christmas Tree, we make donations to local food banks and we donate toys the boys don't need anymore.

In addition to those activities, we have our 25 days of Christmas advent countdown.  In the past these activities have been more fun things - less giving oriented.  This year, I want to tie in a few more activities that inspire the giving atmosphere.  But I'm stumped!  I can't come up with more than 5 or 6 that I have. :/

Can you help?  What are some things you do? Or some ideas you have that would be appropriate for a 4 year old and an 8 year old?  (I'm not willing to take them to a soup kitchen just yet.)  Activities could take as little as 5 minutes and as long as an hour or two.  I'm open to just about anything!! 

Adjustments All Around

So much going on in our lives!

Matt has been home for more than 45 days now.  We're still adjusting...I think we'll continue to for sometime.  I learned to live alone and handle schedules, cleaning, working and cleaning how it worked for me and the boys.  Matt learned to be self-sufficient and not have to think about others' schedules and needs.  Now, Matt is back to work, so we're having to work around several different schedules.  It's taking time, a few disagreements, and lots of compromise, but we're getting there. 

Payton is doing SO well at his new school!  He's happy most days and has made some great friends.  He has learned some new social skills and is fitting in really well.  The academics are at his level and he's being challenged in most subjects.

He is also taking karate twice a week.  He is doing better than we could have imagined and loves the instructor.  His perfectionist nature is allowing him to memorize and master his skills.  He's not allowing his gross-motor issues get in the way.  He's pushing through and making the best of it, even if it requires him to work hard.

Maxwell has learned to read in the last month too!  He's sounding out 3-4 letter words and can read a full "beginning reader" book.  He's so happy!  Next time you see him, ask him to read a word for you!

We're getting ready for the holidays around here.  It's our favorite time of the year and I can't wait for the joy, the celebrations and the time with family.

We pray you are all doing well and hope to see many of you this upcoming season. 

Monday, November 7

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I have a few recipes that are my "go to" recipes for when I can't think of what else to make or when we have activities that leave our schedule short of time.  One of the family's favorite is Crockpot Salsa Chicken.  I don't have exact measurements because it changes depending on what I have in the fridge and pantry.  Here is about how it goes down:

Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless) - 3 breasts feeds the 4 of us plus leaves us enough for a second meal
Salsa, 1/2 a jar
Canned or fresh corn, 1 can or 2-3 ears worth
Black beans, low sodium, rinsed and drained
1/2 a packet of fajita or taco mix

Place the chicken in the crockpot.  Sprinkle seasoning package on top.  Pour the salsa, corn and blackbeans on top and cover.  Cook on high for 4-6 or low for 6-8.  Shred the chicken in the crockpot using two forks or tongs.  It should shred easily.  Allow to soak in the juice for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve over rice.  Or use to make burritos.  Or use for quesadillas.  It's good LOTS of ways!!

Add it to your menu and let me know which way you prefer it!

Friday, October 21

Home Sweet Homecoming

Although we planned it, knew it would be emotional and such a wonderful experience, nothing could prepare us for the moment our boys actually saw their father for the first time...in a very surprising way.

The boys had no idea that Matt was coming home.  Matt came home and we grabbed the camera to head to get Payton from school.  We waited for "THE moment"...waiting for Payton to come out of school.  I was anxious and excited for him. Several friends were there with us and were anxious to see Payton's reaction.

Ms. Niemi brought the third graders around the side of the building.  There was Payton, the last in line.  He saw me, but Matt was hiding behind a pillar and couldn't be seen.  I said "I have a surprise for you, Buddy." and Matt stepped out.  Wow.  What a moment.  No one could predict Payton's level of excitement.  There was a two second delay and then he loudly repeated "DADDY! DADDY!!!  IT'S MY DADDY!!" over and over again as he ran and jumped into Matt's arms.  It took a few minutes for the shock to wear off while he stayed close to Matt and held his breath.  He took a few moments to introduce Matt to Ms. Niemi and a few other people, and then was back at his side. 

We left Payton's school to get Max who was at his daycare/homeschooling teacher's house.  Payton was so excited to see Max's reaction, but was also very understanding that he needed to let Max have a few minutes with Daddy just like he got.

When we arrived at Liz's house, Matt hid in the back area of the van.  I went up to the porch and Liz had Max come outside.  I asked him to wait on the porch and then told him I had a surprise for him.  I opened the van door and there was Matt.  Maxwell's reaction was instantaneous.  He ran straight for Matt and jumped into his arms.  Where Payton was yelling and announcing his joy to the world, Maxwell was more reserved and private.  He just cuddled up and didn't want to be put down.

That night, we spent lots of time as a family.  The boys cuddled and hugged their daddy for a long time.  There have been a lot of reunions and loving moments in our family, but this was one of the best.  The boys showed such free, unrestrained love for their father.  Nothing can compare to that.  It's a memory I will have for a long time to come. 

Post Deployment Adjustment

Where has the time gone?!  My goodness! Over a month since my last post.

Everyone is doing well here in our little home.  Matt came home earlier this month and we've been enjoying having each other around. Learning to readjust...that's another thing.  I know people have to adjust after long term deployments, especially to war zones, but I knew that wasn't our situation.  I guess I knew things would be different, but didn't expect this different. 

I knew Matt and I have changed individually, both in very positive ways.  But now we're trying to make those changes work together.  I have become more independent and I have a routine that worked for me and the boys.  I'm used to only thinking of myself as the decision maker and now I'm having to relearn to consider him and his needs & thoughts on everything.  Matt has gotten used to being a bachelor.  He doesn't have to consider anyone else's routines and needs.  It's not a bad thing when you're living by yourself, it's just that we aren't in that season anymore.  We have both learned to be different people that worked well in the situation we've been in the last six months.  Now we have to relearn to be a couple and a family.

However, we are doing well on our routines.  Matt is helping out a LOT with getting the boys to and from their activities.  That has been a huge stress reliever for me.  And helping out with making dinner!  What a relief.

Overall, we're doing well.  The boys are loving having him home and so am I.  We're a family again.  And that is the best feeling in the world. 

Tuesday, September 13

Welcoming Fall

It's that time of year.  I love this weather; jeans and sweaters, Ohio State Football, cider mills & doughnuts, picking apples...  There is just so much to love.

Fall has also brought change.  Maxwell (Thank, our LORD) has not had any serious injuries since his broken nose, which healed up just fine.  Payton is attending Warren Woods Christian School.  It's the school run by our church.  Payton absolutely loves it there and has come home happy every day.  His teacher is amazing and is firm, but loving.  They are a good match - which is great because she is the only teacher for the small class of 18. 

This crisp weather also brings me back to school/work.  I am still loving my job and the work I get to do.  In my third year now as the librarian, I'm developing what I want the kids to focus on and how to get them interested.  It's going to be a good year.  My boss is allowing me to work part-time until Matt gets home.  That is a huge burden lifted.  I'm able to run errands and take care of some needs without two boys in tow.

Matt is still in D.C.  He's still loving that as well.  I'm not sure where things stand on when he'll be home and how long he'll be home, so I'm keeping that information top secret.

I hope you are able to enjoy this beautiful weather!

Tuesday, August 16

Maxwell the Mighty

Maxwell has quite a history of injuries in his short four year and seven months of life. In January 2010, he cracked his mouth on the coffee table and ended up with stitches in his lip.  He knocked out his tooth in March of 2010.  Earlier this spring, he broke his collarbone and ended up in the ER twice; once for the collarbone and once for a concussion from the fall.  That's on top of all the random bumps, bruises, cuts, scratches that don't warrant ER visits. (Not to mention his other shenanigans!)

But his timing of this weekend's event was...let's call it "special".  Sunday was my birthday and as you can see in my earlier post, I wasn't having the best birthday.  Maxwell, in his nature, decided to make it special.  In his words:
 "I was trying to get my balloon from the ceiling when I fell and landed on the coffee table right on the edge.  We're going to get rid of that bad coffee table."
He was climbing on the furniture while I was in the kitchen and BAM! smacked his face on the coffee table.  Yeah.  (That coffee table's gotta go.) From here I'll summarize: bleeding, call Matt, discuss, ER (same ER, same Dr.).  Diagnosis: broken nose.  Follow up with the ENT on Thursday.  Today he's bruised and swollen.  But he hasn't complained of pain once.  Tough kiddo!

With Max, life is an adventure...usually including a trip to the ER.

Sunday, August 14

It's Just Not the Same

Birthdays. Usually I look forward to them all month long.  Small celebrations with all my family and friends.  But this year...it just feels different. Maybe it's my age.  Maybe it's the fact that Matt is gone.  Maybe it's the weather. (I don't remember it ever being rainy and dreary on my actual birthday.)

I had a very nice dinner with my inlaws and my parents on Friday night.  My mother in law, God bless her, went out with the boys and got me flowers and let the boys decorate their house with streamers and balloons.  At dinner, the boys were excited for the party hats they had brought to the restaurant.  My parents brought my favorite cake, a Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake, for me to enjoy as well.  The waiter was incredibly nice and even took a picture with me with a birthday hat on. 

I have a lunch and a dinner planned with a friend or two over the next few days, too.  Those are always enjoyable. And so many people have extended me kind words and birthday greets today on Facebook.

I am sorry I'm "down".  It's not like me.  I guess I'm just missing "normal"...whatever that was.

Sunday, July 31

Jealousy...why didn't I see it then?

Since very early, Maxwell has been a momma's boy. He's very adventurous and outgoing, but if someone else has my attention, he can get a bit jealous.

I was just looking back at some older pictures for a project I'm working on and found this. The idea was to be a shoot of Matt and I...but Maxwell snuck into the background. I'm not sure if he's jealous he's not in the picture with me or that I was cuddling with Matt.

It cracks me up.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26

Tattoo: What does it mean?

Proverbs 31:28
Her children stand and bless her.
Her husband praises her:

To some it might seem like I'm claiming that this is what my children and husband do; bless me and praise me.  And while I don't feel I have to explain myself and my new tattoo to anyone, I want to share the meaning behind it.  Here it goes; my confession.

I know this might be difficult to believe, but I haven't always been the (rarely) perfect wife and mother that I am today.  Just five years ago, my life was much more centered around me and my needs and wants for life.  I wasn't as patient with Payton as I could have been and I wasn't as accepting of Matt as I needed to be (among other things).   

During a bible study a few years ago, I was reading this passage and God clearly told me that I needed to work to be A Wife of Noble Character by today's standards.  (I obviously don't need to make sure my "hands are busy spinning thread" (Proverbs 31:19) but I can make sure my time is well spent. )  I needed to change.  I needed to focus on what God had called a wife and mother to be.  I began making changes in my life; some were much harder than others.  But over time God changed my heart and showed me how I could be what he was calling me to be.

The tattoo does not make me a Wife of Noble Character.  It is not my claim that I am a Wife of Noble Character.  Only God, lots of hard work by me and support from people who love me can do that.  My tattoo is not a boast of what I have become, but a reminder of what God, my children and my husband need me to be.  I need reminders in my life...lots of reminders. 
A Wife of Noble Character (Proverbs 31)
 10 [b]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
      She is more precious than rubies.
 11 Her husband can trust her,
      and she will greatly enrich his life.
 12 She brings him good, not harm,
      all the days of her life. 13 She finds wool and flax
      and busily spins it.
 14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
      bringing her food from afar.
 15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
      and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
 16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
      with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 17 She is energetic and strong,
      a hard worker.
 18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
      her lamp burns late into the night.
 19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
      her fingers twisting fiber.
 20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
      and opens her arms to the needy.
 21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
      for everyone has warm[c] clothes.
 22 She makes her own bedspreads.
      She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
      where he sits with the other civic leaders.
 24 She makes belted linen garments
      and sashes to sell to the merchants.
 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
      and she laughs without fear of the future.
 26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
      and she gives instructions with kindness.
 27 She carefully watches everything in her household
      and suffers nothing from laziness.
 28 Her children stand and bless her.
      Her husband praises her:
 29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
      but you surpass them all!”  
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
 31 Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Washington DC: Weeks Two, Three and Beyond

Sorry I didn't get to write to you all about the rest of our time in DC.  We were having such a great time, I forgot! 

The last two and half weeks were filled with lots of family, friends, fun and PICTURES!  Be sure to check our picasa album to see what we did.  The boys each had their own favorite memories and experiences. 

Saying good-bye to Matt was hard, but knowing I'm going back in October to celebrate our ten year anniversary made it easier.

Thank you for ALL the love, support and prayers during our time together.  It was amazing!

Friday, July 1

Washington D.C.: Week One

Wow.  First, let me start by saying the emotions that we experienced seeing each other again was like nothing I've felt before.  It'd been 92 days since we'd seen him last and that moment of first touch was like no other.  I climbed out of the van (after I let the boys have their moments) I hugged Matt and cried.  I knew I was excited, but I cried.  It just felt SO GOOD to be in his arms again.  And wow! What arms they are!  He's been working out!! ;)

Our first night was spent just getting settled in and reacquainted. Sunday, we took the boys on their first ride on the Metro and went to see Chinatown and Cars 2.  Since then, we've been busy almost every day.  (I was down with a flu/cold type thing and a high fever for about 12 hours.)  We've been to a lot of great museums, great sites and had a lot of great experiences. I would love to recap each and every moment, but I just don't have the time to type it all out.  I have uploaded a lot of images on Facebook, and I also posted them in our Picasa Album.

Although I was worried at first, I am falling in love with D.C.  It's very easy to navigate the city.  I love all the walking, the closeness of things and the ability to get to everything via the Metro.  Matt's apartment is only about a 5 minute walk to a metro stop and we've used it most everyday.  The boys are doing really well with everything too.  Payton has his own Metro card and he knows how to work it to get himself through the gates.  Max is free, but loves to use my card to get us through.  I would love living here...at least for a few years.

For the holiday weekend, we'll be spliting our time between Baltimore and D.C. Tomorrow, we'll be joining my brother and sister-in-law at the Baltimore Aquarium, then heading back to D.C. for Sunday and Monday.  We hope to make it to the fireworks on the National Mall, but we'll see how that pans out.

That's all for now.  Thanks for all the positive thoughts, encouragement and love.  We're having a GREAT time together enjoying our temporary home.  See you "next time".

Monday, June 20


Summer has arrived.
School's out.
Maxwell is healing very well and you'd never know he was broken.
Payton is excited for summer and really excited for his new school next year.
Matt is loving D.C. and doing an excellent job there.
I am anxiously awaiting our departure to join him for three weeks!!! Oh, and I got a new camera.  <3

Friday can NOT come fast enough.
I will update from D.C. as I can.  

Monday, May 23

Way to Go, You!

I guess I've spent too much time at school looking to reward good behavior.  I've noticed lately that when I'm out in public and see someone do something that would be outside of our normal behavior, I want to reward them with something.  At school we use tokens.  I'm not sure what would be appropriate to give to the guy who picked up trash that wasn't his.  Or the 10 year old who stood up to his friend who was being mean to another kid. 

Maybe Dairy Queen should pass out "Good Citizenship" tokens for residents to give to other residents.  Or McDonald's.  SOMEONE!  Until then, I guess, "Way to Go, You!" will have to do. 

Sunday, May 22

Maxwell. Yep. Again

I swear...this child!  He is giving me grey hairs already.

Last weekend, my inlaws had the boys for the weekend and went to "Cottage Cleanup", a Kobylak Family event where everyone gathers to prep the family cottage for the summer activities.  While there, the boys went for a ride on the golf cart with their cousin, Spencer.  Somehow, while the cart was stopped, Maxwell slipped and fell off onto his right side.  Apparently he didn't cry much and in fact fell asleep quickly.

My inlaws called me after a bit and told me they were taking Max to the ER.  He had woken from his little nap and was having trouble moving his arm.  It wasn't long before I was on the road too...dreading what I would find when I arrived at the ER in Ohio.

After some xrays, the doctors determined he had a broken clavicle on his right side.  Other than that and a few bumps and scrapes, he seemed fine.  We went back to my inlaws for the night where he rested and we iced this newest wound.  He even slept fairly well that night.  Sunday was pretty low key around here as I made accommodations and plans for Maxwell for the week. Monday we went to the specialist who determined this was a "boyhood injury" and didn't warrant any further action.  Yep.  I was shocked.  And so are most people, including other doctors, who see the xray.

Tuesday was weird though.  Maxwell seemed to be "off".  He'd fall asleep at a moments notice.  He had a headache most of the day.  He even vomited once.  I took him to the pediatrician and she said it was the flu.  But by Thursday, it didn't seem to be the flu.  It was more than that.  I ended up taking him to another ER on Thursday evening and the specialist there determined that he probably had a concussion or a very very minor brain bleed from the fall.  Whether he hit his head or just rattled his brain during the fall, we'll never know. 

He had some weird changes in behavior for a few days there, but today, Sunday, he seems to be pretty much back to "normal" Maxwell behaviors.  I'm still keeping a close eye on him, but he escapes me more often than not.  He is lifting his arm above his head now and I have to remind him that it still hurts sometimes.  He carries it in a sling position when it's really bothering him, but he never says anything or even slows down. 

I can only *imagine* what the next 14 years have in store for me with this little man as my son. 

Wednesday, May 11

Crayola Color Bubbles

I love Crayola products...normally. As any mom with a child under the age of five knows, their Color Wonder line is AMAZING! Nothing to stain my carpets or my carseats yet they get the color they want. It's amazing.

But this time, Crayola needs to rethink their product. The boys got some of the Crayola Color Bubbles from a well meaning friend or relative for their birthday back in March. I'm sure they thought the same thing I did when I saw them on the shelf; "Those look cool!" I mean who wouldn't want colored bubbles, right?

But after reading several reviews online about people having stains are their carpet, clothes and children, I decided to play it safe and toss the bubbles. I knew we had two bottles...but I could only find one. That is until this afternoon. Maxwell found it in his room (thankfully sealed still) and brought it out to me. Of course, he wanted to play with them.

I made sure I wasn't overly concerned about the clothes he was wearing, made him promise to stay outside with them and then sent him on his way. Within 30 seconds he was calling me outside. When he removed the wand from the "spill resistant" thingy that covers the bottle opening, it flung the bubble solution all over his face and into his eye. Yep. Awesome. Way to go Crayola.

We did a quick rinse and he was fine and wanted to continue playing. I sat outside with him and within a minute my feet were speckled with green bubble splatter. I stole the bubble wand away and started blowing them myself thinking maybe it was just his technique. Nope. It wasn't. Those things are MESSY! Max likes to play "clap the bubble" too...so that didn't help.

In the end, we got about five minutes of play in before I was sick of seeing green dye all over. All over my son, his clothes, my hands, the flowers the bubble landed in...even Max's hair! My sidewalk looks like I smashed a bunch of tiny Kermits! I tossed the bubbles with promises of buying "normal" bubbles soon.

I will say that the dye did come off our hands easily with just some soap and water. I just hope that the clothes...and sidewalk...and aluminum siding fair as well.

Tuesday, May 3


October seems so far away.

I want to cuddle Matt.

I want to sleep next to a (larger than the dog) warm body.

I want to talk to him face-to-face...not through a phone.

I want to feel his hands.

I want to kiss his lips.

I miss him so much.


Saturday, April 16

Payton: Selfless Act

Payton is just an amazing little man. He's so caring and thoughtful. He has his quirks (that drive me crazy), but he's so loving and giving to those around him (except Max of course).

Last week, someone in his class did something that deserved a consequence. However, the teacher didn't know who did it. He asked for whoever did the action to step up before the end of the school day. Five minutes before the end of the day his teacher again asked who did the action. No one fessed up.

That is when my little man did what he felt God would want him to do. He went to the teacher privately and said "Since no one will say they did it, I will accept the consequence." As he was telling me the story in the car from the backseat, I was glad he couldn't see my face. I was tearing up. My little man was willing to take the consequence for a classmate...without even knowing what the consequence would be. His teacher was awestruck and removed the consequence. He told Payton that someone owes him a BIG thank you.

I've been reflecting on this for a week now. What would I have done? I think as adults, we get burned by other's actions too many times that we often hope someone else will take the blame or even look for someone else to take our blame. Am I selfless enough to do what my seven-year-old did? I hope so.

When I asked Payton why he did what he did he said "God just told me to. Pastor Amy taught us to give to others around us and God told me I needed to do that."

There is so much wisdom in that little man.

Saturday, April 9

Two Weeks In

Two weeks in and it feels like forever.

The boys are more emotional now than at the start, but I've learned (and they've learned) how to comfort them to make it through. Max likes to look at his "Daddy Book" that we put together for each boy with pictures of them with Matt. Payton needs a moment. Usually his emotions get the best of him and he needs a break to recompose. He's learning to identify that he's missing Daddy or if something else is bothering him. They are both using their "Daddy Bears" a lot too. And they are both sleeping better, but still not "normally".

As for me, I'm doing ok. I have moments where I forget he's not here. I think things like "I wonder what he'd want for dinner?" or "Matt will really like that!" or "Maybe Matt can take care of that tomorrow." I've had my share of crying moments and a lot of the time I still feel overwhelmed. I didn't realize how much he helps! It's true that old saying, "You don't know what you have until it's gone." I'm feeling that a lot. I need to remind myself often that I can do this. And I need friends to help. That's what they're there for, right?

I'm sure Matt's lonely too. But he's settling in really well to his new place. It's an amazing apartment! And he's enjoying his freedom to do things on his time. At first I was jealous. Now I'm just realizing that it's part of the commitment; he might as well make the most of it, right?

But that's not going to stop me from wanting time on my own when he gets home. I wonder if my company would send me somewhere for awhile...maybe Cancun?

Monday, April 4

My Secret

When I was maybe 8-10 years old, my oldest brother, Loren, got me a BIG teddy bear. Because I loved my brother so much, I loved that bear very much. At first, he just sat on my bed. Then during my years of heartache and teenage drama, he snuggled with me. Later, I used him as a pillow, resting my head on his belly each night.

When I went to college, I took him with me. He was a comfort of home that I didn't know I needed. Eventually, he moved into my first home with Matt. It was there that he lost his nose and eye in a tragic wrestling match with my German Shepard, Midway. She was a good dog, but she had a thing for stuffed animals.

As I became older, my need for this bear kind of waxed and waned like the phases of the moon. When I became a mother, he found a spot on a shelf and stayed there for several years. I didn't think of him much for quite sometime.

When Payton was about five years old, he asked me what my bear's name was. It hit me then that I'd never named this good friend of mine. He'd been such a comfort to me, yet I'd never thought to name him. I thought momentarily and told Payton, "His name is Secret. He keeps my secrets."

When we moved into the home where we live now, there just wasn't room for Secret. His home became the floor next to my bed. He was quickly forgotten. Until last week...

(I've mentioned before I'm an emotional cleaner. When feeling emotional or stressed, I clean. A lot.)
So last week, I was throwing out stuff along side my bed and saw Secret next to my gym bag (also gone unused for too long). I tossed him up on my bed thinking I'd figure out where he'd go later. When it was time for bed, there Secret was. Positioned on my pillow as if waiting for me to need him again. And with Matt gone, I did.

Secret has slept with me and listened to me cry through many times in my life. Now, he has a purpose again. But at almost 32 years old, I appreciate him much more. I see his value and the love and wear he's gone through. He's very, very special to me. And I'm so grateful to my brother for giving him to me. He had no idea what that bear would mean to me, even 20-odd years later.

Hamster Races

The last weekend Matt was here I ran into the pet store to grab some chewies for our beloved pug, Ringo. As I walked in there was a table set up advertising the Hamster Derby. I knew we'd need something to keep us busy that first weekend Matt was gone. This would be perfect! I purchased the track and headed out to the van. The boys were less thrilled than I expected, but soon excitement built. We trained all week...ok, a few days and soon it was race day.

When the races started, Lucky was one of ten hamsters racing. Payton was realistically optimistic though. Watching the 'warm ups' he realized we probably wouldn't take first because of a little speedball dwarf hamster. But we had a shot at the top three. There were three heats that would advance five hamsters. Then two heats to determine the finals. Lucky was a pro and won her first heat and the semi-finals without any trouble. But soon, I think she was bored and tired. We were unable to take a place higher than third, but Payton was really happy with that result. He claimed the third place prize was better than the other prizes anyway.

We are planning on attending the races again in October and hope to take a higher placing. But either way, we had a great time!

Saturday, April 2

What's Adult Conversation?

I've had this need to cry all day.  I've just blamed it on the new life and challenges we're dealing with.  But then in a conversation with my mom and another with a friend, I finally pin-pointed it.  It's loneliness that makes me want to cry.

Other than work, where we mostly talk about...well, work, I feel like I haven't had a real adult conversation in a week.  I have a ton of people who care about me and lovingly ask me how we're doing.  That's awesome.  I'm so very grateful for that support and compassion.  But it's not a conversation.  They're usually two or three passing sentences en route to the next job on my list or theirs. 

I want to talk about...something.  I don't even know what.  Not the kids.  Not how they're adjusting.  Not the lack of sleep I'm getting or the stress and exhaustion I'm feeling.  That's so real that I don't want to talk about it.  (Ok, except with my mom who has to listen to everything I tell her because she's my mother).  I guess when I finally have that adult conversation I'll have to think of something to say. 

So there, you have it; ramblings of a lonely woman is who desperate for a conversation - preferably a trivial one so I don't have to think too hard.


Thursday, March 31

4 days and counting

I've survived day #4.  But I wasn't sure I would.  It's been a long four days.

The boys aren't sleeping well.  Lots of nightmares and waking up crying.  I know my body doesn't react well to stress, so I can only what their little immature minds are going through at this time.  Not having the words or understanding to explain what you're really feeling, even with Payton at 8 yrs old, has to be difficult.  There have been a lot of tears and fits that last few days.  Often, we deal with the issue at hand, and then when I say "What's going on with you today?" I get, "I really miss Daddy!" as the reply.

I know it's hard for them, and having this week be so busy and be our first week without Matt hasn't helped.  I hope tomorrow night can be a movie and cuddle night on the couch.  Saturday, we'll have a nice brunch and then head to the hamster derby at the local pet store.  I hope to keep them busy most of the day Saturday and then Sunday have another "chill at home" day. 

We're doing ok, really.  It's hard, but we'll be ok.  We have a lot of amazing support and have been blessed with friends who care and love us in so many ways.  Only 90ish days until we get to see him in DC!

Monday, March 28

Good-byes Suck

That is all.


From the moment of the news of Matt's deployment, I knew that we'd have to do Daddy-Bears.  I needed a way for the kids to do an activity with their daddy that would be a comfort to them when he was gone.  These bears would be (hopefully) the comfort they needed.

Friday, after recovering from Great Wolf Lodge, we headed out.  When we arrived, the boys each picked out their bear; Payton picked a "rockstar bear" that can plug into any audio device and Maxwell picked the softest bear he could find (he's all about the softness of things).  Matt took them over to the stuffing station.  The young lady, after being informed why we were there, had special plans in store.  Matt recorded sound for each boy and placed it in their feet or hands (whichever the boy chose).

She then had each boy stuff their bear.  They then each chose a heart and Matt took two. She said something like this:

Hold them to your head so you know Daddy's always with you.
Hold them to your ear so you can remember Daddy's voice.
Hold it to your cheek so you can remember Daddy's kiss.
Spin around so the love doesn't get lost.
Now give Daddy a hug.

I'm sure there was more and I'm sure the words were different, but I was too busy staying composed and trying to take pictures.  They then placed the hearts into their bears while Matt placed one into each boy's bear.  From then on, it was standard Build-A-Bear routine; the bath, the clothes, the registration and the box.  The boys LOVE their bears and they haven't gone anywhere without them yet.  I hope they will bring them great comfort through the next difficult weeks and months.

I almost wish I'd had him make me a bear. :/