Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Adventure

If any of you are like me, you are thrilled that the Stringer Zoo has made it back to California safe and sound. But at the same time you miss tracking them on their adventure and living vicariously through them. Well, I have a new traveler for you to follow. His name is Justin, I have never met him, he goes to our church, HHBC. You will not believe what he is doing, he is riding his bike from Oklahoma all the way to Argentina. He is crossing the border into Mexico today. I think you will enjoy his blog, The Nomad Life, I am inspired at his sense of adventure...much as I was with the Stringer Zoo. With my love for maps that I mentioned in my previous post, I think it would be great if he had a map that tracked his route. It will be great to join him on this trip. He stated in a blog last week that he gets 1000 miles to the gallon, his fuel is that which he uses to cook his food, AMAZING.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I LOVE maps

Most of you who know me know that I love maps. I may have even mentioned this in a previous post. For some reason I just love maps. I could sit and read them all day, I know this sounds geeky but it is true. Today on my friend Alycia's blog I saw this great way to visually see on a map who is reading your blog. Please sign in, with this cool guest book. The kids will love seeing where are all of our readers are located... so will I.

BTW, go check out the blog I mentioned above, it is totally awesome. Do I sound like someone who went to high school in the 80's or what?

Monday, May 28, 2007


The words to Taps
to hear the music click on the picture.

Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
Safely Rest,
God Is Nigh

This is the end of our Military Tribute. Thank you so much for joining us throughout the past week. I hope you have learned something, laughed, maybe even cried but if nothing else you left with a deeper appreciation for the men and women in uniform.

Gob Bless America.


Please take a moment today and think about why today is a holiday. It is not just about the pool opening, cookouts, and breaking out the white shoes. :)

The reason we have a day off work today is to remember those who have died defending our great nation. We were reminded earlier this week that three of Adam's fellow classmates from the Naval Academy Class of 95 have died in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom: LCDR Erik Kristensen, MAJ. Megan McClung and MAJ. Doug Zembiec.

These are TRUE heroes and we are eternally grateful for their service.

This video was made for Veteran's Day, but I think it is just as appropriate for Memorial Day.

On this Memorial Day we remember all who have died in service to our great nation. To their families who have been left behind, we are so sorry. Your loved one did not die in vain, and we are so grateful for thier sacrifice. May God comfort you and may you find His peace.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Any family that has been separated for months at time looks forward to this day the entire time. I have heard of many creative ways families have done this with Hershey Kisses, paper chains, etc, some days it feels like it will never come. It is the time that makes it all worth it.

The Homecoming...the sweetest time of all.

I will let these pictures speak for themselves.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fashion on the High Sea

One of our favorite blogs to read is the Stringer Zoo, one of the members of the zoo is currently deployed on the USS Stennis. A couple of months ago he wrote a post that was informative as well as entertaining about Navy uniforms aboard ship. Due to security reasons I could not link directly to his post, with his permission I am posting it below. I thought this would be helpful after yesterday's videos. Now you will be able to tell what the different color jerseys signify. Scott, thanks for your fashion article.

What color are you?

Today was another quiet day. No watch, no alert, no flight. On the rare days like this, I have the opportunity to switch uniforms for the day. I actually have quite a few uniform options on the ship. First, there's the standard green flight suit--like wearing pajamas to work. I now understand why grandpa Ernie used to wear jump suits all the time! On the green flight suit, I have the option of full color patches or subdued green patches (very tactical!). Option two is the tan flight suit, which we always wear in a desert environment, but it's an option on the boat. The tan flight suit always has tan patches to go with it. On days like today, I wear a flight suit jersey, which is a cotton knit long sleeve turtleneck shirt. Everyone who works on the flight deck who is not a pilot wears a jersey, and the color of the jersey is determined by the individual's job. I mentioned in an earlier post that PC's jerseys are brown. All of the aircraft mechanics and technicians and arresting gear mechanics are green. Safety, medical, and quality assurance are white. Ordnance and crash/salvage are red. Aircraft handlers (those who drive tow tractors) are blue. Aircraft directors (they direct taxiing fixed wing aircraft and all towed aircraft around the flight deck) and "shooters" (officers in charge of the catapults) are yellow. Fueling personnel are purple (affectionately known as "grapes"). Enlisted men and women wear green camouflage or dark blue pants. Officers wear tan camouflage or khaki pants. The jerseys are always stenciled with the job that the person does. For instance, our Aviation Electricians' jerseys say

on the front and the back. Many of our jerseys also have a front facing helicopter pictured in the middle of the jersey between HS-8 and the "rate". A rate is an enlisted job in the navy. My green jersey says HS-8 MO, for Maintenance Officer. Most of the officers in the maintenance departments of squadrons have green jerseys. The QAO's jersey is white, and the Ordnance Officer's jersey is red. It's nice to have a little variety in what I wear while we're on the ship. It helps break up the days and their monotony. The only problem is that I really miss having 10 pockets! I often have something (if not many things) in every pocket!! Some day, I'll have to dump out the contents of my flight suit pockets and take a picture. It's pretty ridiculous.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Blowing off some steam

This squadron illustrates so much of what was written in the article we posted a few days ago, they decided to have a little fun while out to sea. Naval aviators work hard and play even harder as you will see demonstrated below. Thanks to the Sun Kings of VAW- 116 for having fun and entertaining us at the same time.

I just want to warn any parents of little ones that the first video is set to a Black Eyed Peas song and there are a couple of bad words, remember this was made by Naval Aviators after all.:)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Difference

Title: Military spouses 9/1/2001
The Difference
by retired: Lt. Gen. Edward J. Heinz

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses ... how special they are and the price they pay for freedom, too. The funny thing about it is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses.

They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flair tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room-dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say goodbye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for getting the hose reconnected. Military spouses will cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying hello to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying goodbye to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events .. birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

And the television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says 'Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been 60 today.' A military spouse is the one with the card. And the wall is the Vietnam Memorial.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

And I will say that our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. And I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives.

Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give. And God bless America

To learn more about the Service Flag pictured above just click on it.


I need to interrupt our week of military tributes to share what happened this morning.

We were awoken this morning to the sound a winds like I have never heard before, we get a lot of wind out here in Oklahoma but I have never heard anything like this. It really did sound like a freight train was coming towards us, I was thinking"what is happening?" The kids were asleep in their beds and as I woke up to the wind I heard the girls screaming for "Daddy"(he had already left for work) and Emma screaming "what is going on?" Andrew slept through the whole thing. When we looked outside there was stuff everywhere. Our grill blew across the yard and was in pieces, lawn chairs were snapped in half and other things were strewn about. We went outside to clean things up and then the rain started.

After I took the kids to school I was chatting with my neighbor and they heard the noise too. They confirmed the sound I had heard at 6:45 this morning...the train. They have shingles off their roof and a tree snap off right at the trunk. That same tree fell on another neighbors boat and caused it to roll into another neighbor's yard. We think it must have been a straight-line wind or a plough wind at the beginning of the storm front. Whatever it was it woke me up in a hurry!

I am so thankful we are all OK.

Update: When I went to take a picture of the tree they had already cut it down and cleared the debris.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hero Salute

This is a simple yet moving commercial.

It is great to know that there are companies out there such as Anheuser-Busch that support the men and women in uniform. Not only do they make a moving commercial such as the one above, but they have an amazing program called Here's to our Heroes that boosts morale and gives military families something to look forward to. Once a year the active duty(or drilling reservist) AND their immediate family can go to one of the many Anheuser-Busch Theme parks FREE. The policy is the active member plus three immediate dependents, so we were thinking that we would have to buy one ticket(remember we are 50 toes), which we were totally fine with. However when we got up to the window the attendant told us that as long as they were all are kids, which they were, we could all go in for free. We have taken advantage of this two different summers, going to Sesame Place both times. Laura once a had soft spot for Elmo, we have moved past that now. This year we are hoping to get down to Sea World San Antonio.

This is by far one of the most generous and continual military appreciation programs that I have known of, to date over 3 million people have entered one of the parks for free on this program.

I am so thankful for companies such as Anheuser-Busch that give so generously and honor military families.

We Salute YOU.


Bob Norris is a former Naval aviator who also did a 3 year exchange Tour flying the F-15 Eagle. He is now an accomplished author of Entertaining books about US Naval Aviation including "Check Six" and "Fly-Off". Check out his web site at In response to a letter from an aspiring fighter pilot on which military academy to attend, Bob replied with the following.

by Bob Norris

12 Feb 04
Young Man,
Congratulations on your selection to both the Naval and Air Force Academies. Your goal of becoming a fighter pilot is impressive and a fine way to serve your country. As you requested, I'd be happy to share some insight into which service would be the best choice. Each service has a distinctly different culture. You need to ask yourself "Which one am I more likely to thrive in?"

USAF Snapshot: The USAF is exceptionally well organized and well run. Their training programs are terrific. All pilots are groomed to meet high standards for knowledge and professionalism. Their aircraft are top-notch and extremely well maintained. Their facilities are excellent. Their Enlisted personnel are the brightest and the best trained. The USAF is homogeneous and macro. No matter where you go, you'll know what to expect, what is expected of you, and you'll be given the training & tools you need to meet those expectations. You will never be put in a situation over your head. Over a 20-year career, you will be home for most important Family events. Your Mom would want you to be an Air Force would your wife. Your Dad would want your sister to marry one.

Navy Snapshot: Aviators are part of the Navy, but so are Black shoes (surface warfare) and bubble heads (submariners). Furthermore, the Navy is split into two distinctly different Fleets (West and East Coast). The Navy is heterogeneous and micro. Your squadron is your home; it may be great, average, or awful. A squadron can go from one extreme to the other before you know it. You will spend months preparing for cruise and months on cruise. The quality of the aircraft varies directly with the Availability of parts. Senior Navy Enlisted are salt of the earth; you'll be proud if you earn their respect. Junior Enlisted vary from terrific to the troubled kid the judge made join the service. You will be given the opportunity to lead these people during your career; you will be humbled and get your hands dirty. The quality of your training will vary and sometimes you will be over your head. You will miss many important family events. There will be long stretches of tedious duty aboard ship. You will fly in very bad weather and/or at night and you will be scared many times. You will fly with Legends in the Navy and they will kick your ass until you become a lethal force. And some days - when the scheduling Gods have smiled upon you - your Jet will catapult into a glorious morning over a far-away sea and you will be drop-jawed that someone would pay you to do it. The hottest girl in the bar wants to meet the Naval Aviator. That bar is in Singapore.

Bottom line, son, if you gotta ask...pack warm & good luck in Colorado.


PS Air Force pilots wear scarves and iron their flight suits.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bust a Move

In about a week this young man will be graduating from the United States Air Force Academy. I have a feeling that this dance session may follow him throughout his career. I can imagine when he checks in to a new command he may expect people to say "you are the dancing cadet, aren't you?" This is the sort of thing that earns you a call sign(nickname) that sticks.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Military Spouses Should Come with a Warning Label
By Sarah Smiley

If I could rewrite my military man's marriage proposal to me, making it more fair and forewarning, this what I would have had him say:

My dear Sarah -- dear, sweet, perfect, wonderful Sarah -- would you do the honor of being my wife and sharing your life with me?

But wait, before you answer, let me tell you a little about the job. First of all, I am a Navy pilot and I move often. We will have very little control over when or where we go, and sometimes we will be told we are moving one place, only to find out at the last minute we are going somewhere else. Are you good with flexibility? Can you pack and unpack quickly?

There will be times you have to handle our moves by yourself because I go out to sea for six months at a time. Now, judging by your reaction to this, I won't go into detail about the additional months I'll spend on detachments and assignments because I really want you to say 'yes' today. Are you a sentimental person at all, Sarah? I'll probably miss a lot of Christmases, birthdays and anniversaries. But we can always celebrate when I get back, and I'll be sure to call you from the boat on Valentine's Day. (Keep in mind, however, that calls from the ship are expensive, so we'll have to keep it short.) Oh, and don't count on me being there when you have our babies either.

How good are you with home repairs and handling crises? Since I will be gone 60% of our life, you will be responsible for fixing toilets, fertilizing the lawn, and dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes, and any
other natural disaster that comes your way.

You will also be responsible for coming up with new and inventive ways to remove the smell of JP5 (jet fuel) from the clothes I bring home from the boat, and you will spend a lot of time washing and drying dingy flight suits as well.

How quick are you with the iron, and can you hem pants? There will be times I forget to tell you I need my uniform for certain events, and
at the last minute I will depend on you to pick it up from the cleaners. Are you good at finding lost covers (military hats), belts, and uniform T-shirts?

Are you attached to your career plans at all? It may be hard for you
to build a career as we move from place to place. And are you a worrier? My job is dangerous, and when I'm on deployment you might not hear from me for long stretches at a time. Sometimes I may not be able to tell you where I am at all. You will need to handle these situations with grace and dignity and try to go on with your normal life without crying every time you see someone else's husband coming home daily for dinner. Try not to dwell on the magnitude of my job or the commitment I have made to the country. I am at the mercy of my command, and though I will treasure you and our family above all things, at times it will seem like I am married to the Navy and that I spend more time on the boat than I do at home. But you will get used to the feeling of being alone. Trust me.

Lastly let me say this: Through our time and travels with the Navy you will meet some of the best friends of your life, and you will see and do things you never thought possible. You will join the ranks of all other military spouses who are some of the strongest women in the world. You will have the personal satisfaction that as my wife you have made enormous sacrifices (with little reward or commendation), but you have helped me to serve our country and protect its freedom. For that, I (and others) will always be grateful.

So if all of this sounds good to you, I'll need your answer soon; I have to report to duty in ten minutes. Oh, and can you plan a quick wedding?

We'll be moving next month. And Sarah, Don't say I didn't warn you."

Copyright Sarah Smiley. All rights reserved.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy
-How to decode Military Jargon
-Wife's Comments lead to new call sign

Thank you Sarah for your humor and for the encouragement you bring to so many military wives.


We have decided to devote the next week leading up to Memorial Day to posts relating to those who serve our country. A "Blog Tribute" to the men and women in uniform, if you will. Check in with us each day to see what we have posted. Expect to cover all ends of the spectrum, some posts will having you laughing others may have you crying, many will just open your eyes to things you have not thought of before.

We are proud to be a military family and proud to be Americans.

Thank you to all of you military bloggers out there for your service to our great nation. We are so grateful for your service. We look forward to your comments.

May we not forget the ultimate price many have paid(and will continue to pay) for our Freedom.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

We've been tagged

We have been tagged by The Gough's to list 8 random facts about ourselves.

Here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Here it goes:

1. Both of our cars have over 100,000 miles.
2. We met as lifeguards.
3. We once collected beanie babies.:)
4. We both enjoy Starbucks.
5. We view home ownership as a necessary evil.
6. We love the beach, any beach.
7. One of us likes vanilla the other likes chocolate.
8. We have moved 8 different times in the last 12 years.

Now it is our turn to tag 8 other bloggers, the problem is the Gough's tagged most of the bloggers we know (you could say we run in the same blogging circle). Here are the only other bloggers we know: Katie, The Tate School, Meggo, and The Watkins.

You're It!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Rock On

The children's ministry at our church performed their spring musical, Praise Rocks, last Wednesday night. They did such a great job. Emma and Andrew were so cute. They were both beaming from ear to ear as they performed.

Emma had a drama part. It was so fun to see her move through the process of auditioning, receiving a part, being overwhelmed when she received her lines, putting in the hard work to learn her part and when the lights came up, enjoying the fruits of her labor. She thought it was cool that she got to wear a boom mic. during the performance.

Charlotte and I tried to offer her some encouragement to really get into her role and to be dramatic after we watched her somewhat timid performance in the final dress rehearsal. Her reply to our encouragement presented a great teachable moment. She didn't want to overact because the other actors weren't. She didn't want to be different. We talked about being yourself and not following the crowd. I was so proud of her in the final performance when she delivered her lines with all the drama you'd expect from the drama queen of our house. She has a flair for the dramatic and it was fun to see her channel it into "Dru" on stage. I was thankful for the people who came up and complimented her after that performance. It's rewarding to see your child do something they enjoy.

Andrew had a choreography part in two songs. He was such a dude up on stage. He enjoyed wearing a baseball cap crooked, which is something I never permit. He never stopped smiling and really put himself into his choreography. Charlotte and I were a little worried as he and some of the boys around him started edging closer to each other and their parts called for them to execute some side to side kicks. We envisioned someone taking down the boy next to him, but they managed to execute their movements safely to our relief.

The musical itself was very cute. Watching over 150 kids singing praise songs with choreography was quite moving. The children's ministry team did such a wonderful job teaching the children to "Think God" this year. The musical was the culmination of their Wednesday nights together. This ministry is one of the many reasons we love our church so much.

One of our favorite songs was "Message From the Mountain." The song was sung by the the tablets of stone God wrote the ten commandments on. It was our favorite because of the cute way they sang the ten commandments. I'll end this post with the ten commandments as sung by the tablets of stone

put God first 'cause He's the best
work six days then take a rest
love Mom and Dad and you'll be blessed
don't swear or steal or lie
do not kill, that's really bad
don't worship stuff like golden calves
don't want what other people have
like someone else's wife

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Andrew

Look at this little cutie! He was two here.

It is hard to believe that 8 years ago our little man was born. He came into this world weighing 9lbs 9oz and our lives have never been the same since.

Andrew is such a sweet kid. He has a laid back personality and a HUGE heart. It is so fun to watch him grow up and develop. We are so proud of him.

Last weekend we had his party. We took 3 of his friends and went to the Omniplex, the local science museum, and then out for pizza and gave them all quarters to spend in the arcade. They all had a great time and one of the little boys even hugged me and told me, "this was the best party ever". I was thinking you should have come to some of the bashes I have thrown in the past(train party, petting zoo, beach party, dinosaur party, I could go on and on). Kids are so cute, I really didn't go all out or anything, like many of you have known me to do in the past in the above mentioned parties. If I have learned anything, it is to SIMPLIFY my life, even when(especially when) it comes to kid's birthday parties. They really just want you to spend time with them, and they could care less if the invitations match the napkins and if the food fits the "theme" of the party. Well, it only took me 35 years to start to mellow, that is progress...I guess.

Tonight I think Andrew wants to go out to dinner and then home to watch a movie together, sounds like a great birthday to me.

If you are a parent you may enjoy this humorous article about birthday parties. It wouldn't be funny if it wasn't true. I can relate all too well!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Mistaken Identity

Some friends of ours went out of town and we are watching their dog. I always thought their dog was a larger Golden Retriever. That is... until the Stringer Zoo came to town.

When the Zoo was in town I called these friends because I thought it would be fun if all four Goldens could get together and play, you know a doggie play date. When Ben(the so called large Golden) came over, the first thing Janell asked is if he was part Hovie. I am thinking "what in the world is a Hovie?" Janell told us all about the Hovawart, nicknamed the "Hovie". The Hovawart breed is a German herding dog and many times they get mistaken for Golden Retrievers, even by veterinarians and Golden Retriever Rescue organizations. Thus people end up thinking they own a Golden when in actuality they own a Hovie, apparently things aren't always as they seem. Hovawarts come in three color variations, black, black and tan and blond. The darker colors do not resemble Goldens but the blond ones really do. Of course Janell is practically a Dog Expert, specializing in Goldens and I was not surprised that she could pick a Hovie out of a group of Goldens.:)

Well now that we have had Ben at our house for a few days I am noticing that it is more than his looks that differ from Cooper, our Golden. Their temperaments are totally different too. Ben is more aloof and Cooper much more sociable, Ben is much more interested in food, Cooper in playing fetch, even their gaits seem different: just to name a few.

Is Ben a Golden or a Hovawart? Who has even heard of a Hovawart? (besides Janell, but she doesn't count being the dog expert and all):)

Does it really matter what Ben is? No, not really. His owners still love him and that is all that matters.

I am still curious and can't help but wonder if Ben is a Hovie.... or is he just a large Golden?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Doggie Drama

Yesterday on the way home from church we came upon an interesting situation. I'll describe the facts and see if you can guess what had happened.
1. A car is stopped part way in two lanes, straddling the double yellow line.
2. There are skid marks leading to the parked car, probably about 50 feet long.
3. There was an lady frantically chasing a small dog, with it's leash attached to its neck, in the on-coming traffic lanes.

This was the situation when we arrived on the scene. Can you tell what had happened?

Emma was the first one to say, "I think the dog jumped out of the window." She was correct.

The lady captured the dog and returned to her car. The car sat motionless for several minutes as cars piled up in both directions. As we pulled around her, I rolled down my window and asked her if she was OK. She clearly was not.....
I parked our car in front of hers and walked back to see if she needed any help. I was worried the dog had been run over. I felt like it was fine because I'd watched it elude her grasp in the oncoming traffic lanes but I was concerned the dog could have been in shock as it ran around. As I approached her window the lady was sobbing and repeating "MY BABY, MY BABY" as she cradled the shaking dog. Both dog and owner were terribly shaken up. It was quite a scene. I quickly assessed the situation and realized they were both fine....whew. They just needed some encouragement to begin driving again. I offered to move the car out of the road but thankfully the lady was beginning to snap out of it and stated she was fine (I am not sure I agreed) and was almost to her destination.

Thankfully the dog and its owner were alright. It was quite a scene and though it wasn't a funny situation, it served as a great teaching point for our family. We told the kids as much as we love Cooper it is never a good idea to chase an animal into oncoming traffic and put both of your lives at stake. The other lesson we taught them is to use caution when driving with dogs and don't roll the windows down too far. It also provided quite a few laughs once we knew everyone was going to be fine. I don't think that lady will ever forget the mother's day her baby jumped out the car window into oncoming traffic, and I bet that is the last time she lets the dog sit on her lap with her window all the way down. Our family sure won't forget this mother's day. :)

Andrew has even recreated the scene a few times at home this afternoon.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I love this picture of Charlotte and the kids. It represents many of the lessons we're trying to teach our children. One, they are all close. Two, it was taken on a family trip. As you all know we love trips. Trips are a chance for us to break from the norm and spend time investing in relationships. We hope that our children learn that the most important parts of their lives aren't things but people.
I'm thankful for Charlotte and the investment she is making in our children's lives. She is the person who's there for them the most. She's a great Mom and I'm thankful for her willingness to sacrifice for our family.

Happy Mother's Day to all the blog reading mothers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Her Coot

Let me translate... she is cute.

When Andrew was much younger he would notice Laura doing something that he thought was sweet and would say "her coot". For some reason, this expression has stuck. Although Andrew is capable of properly pronouncing the word C-U-T-E and we all know that this is an incorrect use of a pronoun. We all still say it.

Laura is usually the "her". But now that I think of it I think Emma has been the subject of "her coot" a time or two. Nine times out of ten this statement will be a discussion about Laura.
Andrew will be observing her and will just glance over at her and say "her coot". It is coot.:)

Let me illustrate...

I also want to point out that the thief mentioned in a previous post is in the bottom picture. :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Pop Quiz

I love maps. I am not sure why, I just do. I have always enjoyed reading maps and getting the aerial view of things.

A friend sent me this link, it is a fun test to see how well you know U.S. Geography.

Can you pass Third Grade?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spell Check

You know you are a bad speller when...

The correct spelling is not one of the first few choices of replacements during a spell check. It is even worse when it is not even on the list.

Your second and fourth graders bring home spelling words that you think are "hard".

You lose a spelling bee to a student who speaks English as a second language.

Not that I speak from experience.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Starting them young

This story has to be told in two parts to understand the title.

Part one, the kids all have an online character in a game we refer to as "Millsberry". (Emma also plays another online game called Webkinz. Webkinz is the latest rage. You purchase a stuffed animal, IF you can find one, and the tag on the animal has a code to create the online version of your new pet.)

Millsberry is a virtual town. It has basically everything a real town would have. It's a free on-line game so it doesn't have everything, but to the kids it pretty much has everything. When you sign up to play the game you create a character. Your character has a house, for which you may purchase furniture and other home accessories. You can also purchase a pet, clothes and food among other 'stuff'. Your character earns money by playing games. Once you've earned money you can go to the store and purchase stuff. Now this is where the game gets interesting for both the parents and the kids. The kids enjoy buying an item, a new couch for instance and then seeing how it looks in their house. Emma has even been known to spend a fair amount of time positioning her virtual couch in her virtual house, taking great pride in her new decorating motif.

The virtual spending habits of the kids are interesting to us as parents because each kid's spending suits their personality. Andrew's money burns a hole in his pocket and disappears as fast as he earns it. He lives in a three story mansion that he has paid for with his hard earned Millsbucks. You could say he is House Poor. Emma, is the miser and saves and shops carefully before making her purchases. She even contemplated making her character a vegetarian when she saw the difference in price between meat and vegetables at the gorcery store. Laura spends her money on sparkly dresses, pink shoes, and other assorted accessories. Laura and Emma also enjoy browsing through their virtual closet and trying on different outfits.

The kids enjoy playing Millsberry. The family goes in cycles. We'll play a bunch for a few weeks and then won't play at all for a period of time. One time when we hadn't been playing for a while, when Laura signed back in she was sad to find out that the pet store had taken her cat back because she wasn't feeding it. She thought it died, but thankfully the game doesn't allow their pets to die. They only return them to the pet store.

Part two, we purchased a new table for our patio today. It didn't come with an umbrella so Charlotte and I were shopping for one online. Andrew came by and began looking over our shoulder. He watched us select the umbrella we liked, put it in our 'shopping cart' and proceed to 'checkout'. He laughed and said, "that's just like Millsberry". What made his comment so funny is that our actions to really make an online purchase were the exact same as his actions to make a purchase for his Millsberry 'dude'. The only difference was that we had to enter a credit card number and Millsberry just debits his account.

Fast forward about two hours. Charlotte and I were shopping for a base to hold our new umbrella. Emma stops by to see what we're up to. Within minutes she makes the same statement as Andrew, "that's just like Webkinz". Now this is funny to me on one hand and troubling on the other.

What to make of this 'innocent' game? Andrew and Emma's observation showed me that our kids are being initiated into the world of the consumer. The problem here is, the 'virtual' world doesn't make the connection to the real world for them. They're too young and we haven't taught them all that they need to understand about money yet. Think of Andrew's perspective, we click a few keys, empty our 'shopping cart', 'checkout' and a few days later a umbrella shows up on our doorstep.....magic.

Laura certainly doesn't understand. She understands saving to purchase an item (which is a good start, yea Laura) but not how we earn money. The other day she told Charlotte "we need to buy more stuff so the people will keep giving us more money that we can use to save up for our RV" (side note: we've changed our mind and are no longer saving for an RV). Laura thought the change Charlotte had received with each of her purchases that day was ' extra money'. We were making money with each purchase as far as Laura was concerned. She's so cute. :)

So where does this observation leave us. It leaves us thinking through what our children are learning in all their 'innocent' activities? Are they learning what we want them to be learning? Our kids will still play Millsberry and Webkinz but Charlotte and I will help them gain a better financial perspective as they play.

As parents, we can use these virtual towns as tools to teach responsibility with little to lose...except maybe your virtual cat.

Friday, May 4, 2007

It's growing on us

This started as a joke....

a deployment 'stache if you will, but it's growing on us. Literally on one of us and figuratively on the other.

I have received many comments, some positive and some negative. My favorite was that I looked like an "old school Naval Aviator." My favorite negative comment was when one of the other Dept. heads asked one of the JOs, "don't be scared of the O-4, what do you think of the 'stache?" Her reply...."I thought it was a joke. I'm not really a fan."

I don't know how long the 'stache will last, but for now the whole family is enjoying it.

If any of you civilians are confused by my military terminology, Scott of the Stringer Zoo has compiled a Bloglossary of many military terms, you may find this helpful. BTW he is also sporting a deplyoment 'stache.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fun Hurts

A woman we saw during our vacation to Mexico was wearing a hat that said "Fun Hurts." Charlotte and I laughed and enjoyed the discussion that ensued. It's such a pithy statement and as we say in our family "it wouldn't be funny if it wasn't true." Fun does hurt sometimes. I'd argue anything worthwhile hurts. Raising kids hurts but it's fun. Being married hurts, or at least it's tough, but it's still fun.

We actually struck up a converstation with the lady wearing the "Fun Hurts" hat toward the end of our vacation. She was a nice widow who was on vacation (from Oklahoma actually) with her son's family. Andrew and her grandson hit it off and enjoyed playing together in the kids club. As it turns out a friend of hers named his boat "Fun Hurts" and he gives hats to many of those he takes out on his boat. It's such a great saying. He should copyright it, if it hasn't been copyrighted already.

So as you set out to have "fun" this spring and summer, enjoy thinking about how "Fun Hurts" because it does.

(C) 50 Toes 2007 :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

"I'm Blogging This"

Charlotte saw a t-shirt one day that said, "I'm blogging this." This is probably only funny if you have a blog. Our blog has made us view the world with new eyes. We have laughed and joked with each other as funny events happen during course of our day. An event will occur and we'll say "Oooh that would make a good blog post."

The internet is such an interesting piece of technology. It connects people, at least electronically, and on some level emotionally too. We've found that it's not a substitue for interacting with flesh and blood but the internet does connect people. The t-shirt Charlotte saw makes me wonder, have we become part of someone's blog? Have we stirred their creative juices and made them smile or maybe even frustrated them enough to write a blog post about it?

A friend of Charlotte's told her that she's enjoying following the Stringer Zoo on their adventures accross the country. What makes this statement funny is that they have never even met the Stringers, yet they feel like they "know" them through their blog. They tune in daily to read the adventures published by the Zoo. As we stated in our first post Entering the world of the Blog, we began our blog in the hopes of drawing the relationships in our lives closer. We are seeing this happen. Many of you are discovering how to reply to our posts and this has turned the blog into a many sided discussion.

Happy blogging.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Landlords no more

Ten years ago we lived in Enid, Oklahoma with our first adorable little baby girl. We stood ready to embark on our first "sea duty" in Oklahoma. ( I know it sounds strange to be on sea duty in Oklahoma, but it is true.) We made the hour and a half drive down to the "city" for house hunting. For those of you who knew us then you'll know that with much consternation we bought our first house. We really had no idea what we were doing and were scared out of our minds.

About a month and a half after we moved into our house we were burglarized. Thankfully, this occurred while we were out of town. Needless to say, we were a little shook up. We were newly married, had a new baby, were reporting for our first sea duty and had thus far been unimpressed with home ownership. We had left our name on the base housing list even after purchasing a home. Shortly after our house was broken into the base housing office called to offer us a home on base. To make a long story short, we listed our house for rental and moved on base. Our house rented within two hours of listing it and the same renters remained in the house continuously for nearly ten years.

Well, the tenants moved out two months ago. We always intended to sell when they were done renting. Yesterday was the day we have been waiting for a long time. We closed on the house and are no longer landlords. Although the rental worked out fine for us, it is still a relief to know no one will call and tell us it was hit by a tornado (which happened) or the sewer pipe has to be replaced (happened).

Now, what to do with the proceeds? The Stringer Zoo (among others) has us seriously considering an RV, but that's for another post.