Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kaden rolls!


Not gonna do it

Darrell has decided to NOT take the drill sergeant school position. While in the short term, it means we won't see as much of him, it also means that he'll be off the trail faster.

We're still planning on moving some time next summer or early fall. No idea where we'll be going; hopefully we'll find out in December or January.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Way cool video/project

Check this out...

New pictures added

There are new pictures in Kaden's picture page, as well as J's 7th year picture page. Links are right there on the right side of your screen. Couldn't be easier, so check 'em out. :)

In other big news...

Darrell was asked yesterday if he wants to be an instructor at the drill sergeant school. If he accepts, it's adding another year to our time here. He'd finish up the cycle he's on right now (they graduate in about a week and a half) and go there for a probationary cycle (for them to see if he's a good fit). I asked if he was able to go there for that probationary cycle and have HIM choose whether he stays or not, but he didn't know.

- less hassle with the soldiers. He'd be dealing with other sergeants rather than privates.
- much more time off. Saturdays off by 1pm, every Sunday off. (Except for occasional 24-hour duty). Plus, they have 10 days 'off' between cycles where they'd only have to go in for half-days. Right now, they get about a day and a half 'off', but they're working like mad during that time.
- when he has 24 hour duty, he doesn't have to BE there, he's just on call. He only has to check in on the barracks twice a night, rather than stay there awake all night.
- it looks good for promotion (but then so does leaving here and having him be a platoon sergeant back in a regular unit)
- more time to make money on the house
- another year not deployed overseas

- it's very political at the DSS for some reason. He's not good at playing those kind of games
- he'd REALLY have to watch his mouth and attitude more than he does now
- he'd have to pitch modules (memorized blocks of instruction) twice a cycle. He hates that. But like I reminded him, it wouldn't be like it was when he was going through it. He'd only have to do two and he would not only know what they are ahead of time, but he'd have the same two every cycle. When he was going through it, they'd find out the night before which one they'd have to do. That was HARD.
- he's comfortable where he is now. Change is uncertain.

He has to decide by today. The sergeant major who asked him was hoping he'd be able to give an answer on the spot! He says, "most people would love this chance and would grab it up immediately." Well, duh, Darrell wanted to talk with me about it first! And take time to think through it all. Geez.

So my take on it? I don't know. Here's my pro/con list:

- another year of him not being shot at overseas
- more time off!!
- more time to pay off bills (he gets drill sergeant pay)
- more equity in the house when we leave

- I'm really getting fed up with Justin's school. They have a meeting on November 2nd, showing off their school choice program. In this school district, you can pretty much choose which school your child will attend (although I think there are limits? I'll find out at the meeting if he chooses to stay). The catch is that the school district only provides transportation to the 'home' school. But, we could leave home a little early and I could drop him off on my way to work... It's just the after-school thing we'd have to figure out. Definitely worth looking into if we stay here. April (and Britne and husband) is for sure leaving after this school year.
- I'm already antsy to leave here. And Sam isn't here, but her mother is... I was hoping somehow we'd move closer to wherever she is. Of course, she doesn't even know what is happening with them, so that was up in the air anyway
- I'm worried that Darrell will hate it there. And if he does, his stress level will go up, which is not good for his newly discovered blood pressure problems. But then again, all the time off will help with that...

I told Darrell it's up to him. It really is. My life won't be that different, but his will change quite a bit. HE'S the one that will have to deal with it, so I told him I'll back up whichever choice he made, told him my thoughts on the pros/cons, and left it up to him.

I just sent a text asking him if he's decided. He hasn't responded yet. If he accepts, and all goes well with that probationary cycle, we won't be leaving here until either the summer of '08 or possibly around Christmas/New Year's '08/'09. If he declines, we're outta here this coming summer.

Edited to add: he called me a bit later, telling me he's leaning against the idea, but he hasn't decided yet.
In FANTASTIC news -Justin's boy scout troop has this camping thing this weekend.

Now, there was no way in the world I was going to take Kaden camping, let alone with the colder temps we've had recently (down to freezing). So it just wasn't going to happen.

Earlier this week, we had a pack meeting. Chase's mom told me that she'd watch Justin on the trip. So I asked if it was possible to pay late. Nope.

BUT, another boy/father that had signed up ended up having to pull out (bad report card - I'm proud of the father for pulling his son out of the weekend like he said he would do) so Justin was able to take their slot!! He was SO over-the-moon excited!

Chase got a new tent that sleeps two and he'd already told anyone who would listen that he's sharing it with Justin. That should be interesting. (The parents sleep right next to the boys...)Since they're left EARLY this morning, Chase's mom (hereafter referred to as Carmen) picked them both up from school on Friday. I swung by later last night to drop of J's stuff. He spent the night at their house before getting up at the butt-crack of dawn.

He'll have SO much fun. They'll have BB guns (yeah, I'm not too thrilled with that, but they have qualified adults running each event) and all kinds of other boy scouty type stuff. He'll get these metal loop things to go on his belt. Maybe a patch or two? I don't know how it works.

And the best part? I get the weekend at home to myself (well, Kaden is here). Darrell is out in the field too with his Soldiers.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kaden needs surgery

*sigh* My little baby needs surgery.

He has an inguinal hernia. It's pretty common and the surgery is fairly straightforward, but still! *sniff sniff*

We're not sure exactly when yet. We have to get referred out to an off-post hospital, so we have to wait for the paperwork to get through the system.

Luckily it's not bothering him a bit. He's still a super happy, smiles-all-the-time little boy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Our mini-vacation


This is huge. Usually, even when he's doing something on his own, I have to be there to check out what's he's doing every 90 seconds or he comes over to show me.

We had been letting him choose where to eat on Friday nights if he got green for behavior all week in class. A couple of months ago (extremely tired of McDs and Burger King - the only places in town with play areas), I offered an alternative. He could still pick where to eat, or he could have five dollars. He loves it.

So yesterday, $12 in hand (we hadn't gone shopping for awhile, and I actually convinced him to save his last $2 from a couple weeks ago instead of buying some cheap little thing ), we went to Walmart.

I steered him to the art stuff aisle rather than toys and he found one of those fuzzy picture with markers things (dinosaurs) for $3.99 and a huge Cars coloring book for $5.82. He was happy. I was happy. Kaden was sleepy. This morning, I woke up at 7 (!!) to find him sitting at the kitchen table, happily coloring his dinosaurs. I'm in mommy heaven. He's now working on one of the Cars pictures.

Kaden's been eating up a storm lately. Still not at all interested in cereal. We've been adding it to his bottle at night just to give him some more substance (and in hopes of him sleeping a little longer - not sure if it's working or not). I don't want to put it in all of them, 'cause his poo is already a bit on the hard side. Not really HARD, but hard enough. I wonder if he's teething early - he's been gumming one of his fingers for weeks now... His left hand pointer finger. It's cute.

Kaden has also figured out how to pull on the toy on his bouncer-chair thing to make music. Justin has been keeping count all morning. Kaden is up to ten times.

So, last weekend...

We left Saturday morning. The plan was to hit the road by 8, but that didn't happen. Still, we left by 9, I think. We went straight to the South Carolina Aquarium. Stopped at Wendy's on the way. Did you know they have vanilla frostys now? I'd tell you how they are, but they didn't have any when we were there. Hmph.

Anyway, we get to the aquarium easily enough and find a pretty close parking spot in a parking garage right next to it. I had Kaden in a Snuggly, facing out. They had a military discount for the tickets ($2 off each) and I ended up getting Justin in for free using some grocery reward card thing. They also had free 'rentals' of umbrella strollers, so we took one. Glad we did, as Kaden wasn't really enjoying the Snuggly much.

We got inside and Justin wanted to see it all at the same time. Off we went. About 45 minutes later, we ran out of stuff to see. It's pretty small. Then again, I'm totally spoiled, growing up right next to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (if you've seen Star Trek IV, the one with the whales, then you've seen that aquarium - but it's not really big enough to put whales in the center tank - not even close ). The SC Aquarium is about an eighth of the size. We went around again, much slower this time. They had a little show for their anteater. That was cool. She was kinda cute, in an anteater way. And her tongue is amazing! About an hour later, they had another show in the big tank, with a diver spot feeding some of the fish and answering questions from the audience. Kaden needed a bottle by then, so it worked out great. I tried to get some pictures of fish in that tank, but it's hard to get the flash to not bounce off the acrylic.

When that was over, we left to find our hotel. I spent over an hour that morning trying to find a decent priced room, fairly close to town, with an indoor pool. Finally found one. However, once we got there and tried out the pool, it was FREEZING!! I wanted to swim around with Kaden, but there was no way I was getting in it. Justin wanted nothing to do with it either. So instead, we headed out to find something to eat, then went to a fun park kinda thing. I don't remember where we ate...

The park thing had mini-golf, a few amusement park type rides, and a go-cart track. Oh, plus some batting cages, a thousand video games, and gross pizza. The tickets were expensive!! $5.50 each, or four for $20. We got the four package - perfect for each of us to get 18 holes of mini-golf, plus one for Justin to go on the go-carts (they had small ones for 4-10 year olds; the bigger ones were only for people with drivers licenses).

Oh, I forgot - on the way, we stopped at Walmart to get a stroller. I didn't want a big expensive bulky one we'd never use again, so I told Darrell to get an umbrella stroller. ("What's an umbrella stroller?" "Like we borrowed today at the aquarium." "Oh, okay." Silly boy. ) I was hoping to get one with extras - but at least wanted one that would recline. He found the perfect one! Well, really the only one they had, but it was perfect. For $20, it reclines (a little, but enough), has a below-seat bin, a canopy, and a (tiny, just big enough for a cell phone and sippy cup) parent's bin. It folds up more like a bigger stroller, but is small enough that it folds down to just about nothing. For $20!

(Side note: Cammi is sunning in a sun-spot next to my chair. Ahhhh, warm bliss... )

Oh! I remember where we ate - a mexican restaurant. I LOVE mexican food, but just haven't found a good place around here. Anyway, it was GOOD. I love red enchilada sauce. And cheese. Lots of cheese.

Ok, so we get our golf balls and clubs and hit the course. It was so much fun. The music was loud enough that Justin could make as much noise as he wanted without disturbing anyone. And he did. He did pretty well, considering he had no idea what he was doing, couldn't remember how to hold the club (or even which way to stand) and hardly aimed. In fact, a few holes he even did well enough to score better than us! Go kid! Hahahah.

That took probably an hour, maybe longer. Darrell and I took turns tucking the blankets in around Kaden. It was so cold outside! (Ok, so it was probably only low 50s, but when you're used to mid 70s, that's cold! )

After that, we headed off to find the kids go-cart thing. Turns out it's the same one as the adults. We waited our turn (only took about five minutes, they weren't very busy). The guy working there got out a little car, strapped Justin in, and off he went. He was out there all by himself. I'm glad they don't allow the kids and adults to go at the same time. The adults were all about running into each other. Justin had SO much fun!!! He only hit the side once. Not bad, considering it was really his first time ever. He was on a high from that the rest of the night.

Darrell was sitting on a bench feeding Kaden, so he didn't see it. I got a video of it (see below). He was so cute out there.

After that, we called it a night. Packed it all up and we went back to the hotel. We brought K's pack-n-play, J slept on the couch with his sleeping bag, and Darrell and I slept on the queen bed.

The next morning, we packed everything into my car and we went to the aircraft carrier at Patriot's Point. - after stopping at an IHOP. The food was good, but it was a new store and it showed. We were charged for my water, Darrell's omelet didn't have half the fillings it was supposed to, and I got charged for two biscuits when I only got one. Now, any ONE of those things wouldn't have bothered me much, but three? So I went up to a manager and explained what happened. I made sure to tell her the service wasn't a problem (didn't want to get our waitress in trouble). Got a whopping three bucks taken off. But whatever. We were full and happy. Justin ate almost a whole belgian waffle!

The aircraft carrier place also has an old submarine, a destroyer, a Coast Guard cutter, and a replica Vietnam support camp. Again, we got military discounts. We started with the carrier.

It had six separate tours, each for a different part of the ship. We waited about five minutes for the first one to start. I'm so glad we did. The tour guide was a carrier sailor from WWII. He had a slightly different type carrier, and was in the Atlantic whereas the ship we were on had been in the Pacific, but that totally didn't matter. He had story after story, along with a ton of pictures. He had plenty of practice, he's been doing it for over 15 years! He's the last volunteer they have that had been there during the war. It just won't be the same after he leaves.

Anyway, the tour took over two hours. Darrell and I thought it was really cool (more the stories than the ship), but Justin was getting tired of all the waiting around and being quiet. After it was over, we left to grab lunch (at a sub shop a couple miles away ). After lunch, we went back to the carrier. Decided not to take any more guided tours, but wandered all around the flight deck, the decks above the flight deck (I think it's called the island? Don't remember), and the engine room. The whole time we were on there, I was wishing my Coast Guard uncle had been with us. I had NO idea where we were! Totally turned around and discombobulated. I couldn't tell you what deck we were on, how far forward or aft we were, nothing. They had a bunch of retired aircraft on the flight deck, including an F-14. Did you know they're ALL retired now?? Yep, as of a couple weeks ago. No more Top Gun. Eventually, we decided we'd had enough of the carrier. We probably only saw about half of what they had open to see, and probably a fiftieth of the whole ship. I can hardly imagine that modern carriers are a third BIGGER than that one was.

Kaden had been in the Snuggly the whole time, facing in. I took him for the tour, then passed him off to Darrell after. He slept a lot of it, and ate most of the rest of the time.

We did the sub next. There was NO way to take Kaden in there (the doorways were too small), so Justin and I went first. Wow, I can't imagine they had 80 men in that tiny space. They must have slept in shifts, since we only saw about 15 bunks. Even the captain of the boat had a tiny tiny space (but he had his OWN space, the only one on board who did). Darrell went next, with Justin going again.

The sub was kinda sad looking. A lot of rust damage around the outside. It just looked depressed. Like it knew it was out to pasture, past it's usefulness. Poor thing.

After that, we did the destroyer. They had arrows on the deck, showing you around the open places in such a way that you saw it all on one trip around. Pretty cool. Most of the interior spaces had been turned into museum exhibits. I thought that part was rather boring. I would rather have seen the ship as it had been. Oh well.

Darrell stayed with Kaden for the Coast Guard cutter. By now, we were all getting a little burnt out on the whole idea. There wasn't a whole lot more to see on that ship that was different than the others. I told Darrell he didn't miss too much. Again, I wish my uncle had been there to explain things a big more. I'll have to tell him it's there, see if he's interested in checking it out some time. He lives in Norfolk, so it's not that far a drive...

We decided to head home after that. Can't remember what we did for dinner... Oh, we went to a new Applebees that opened up a week or so ago and got 'Cano Cake for dessert. Yummm!! It's a chocolate cake with a hole in the middle that they pour hot fudge into. Plus a huge ball of vanilla ice cream. We all love that dessert. I got a three-cheese ziti dish that wasn't that great. I'll go back to my usual next time (chicken fajita rollups, minus the pico).

We all slept like the dead that night. My legs were feeling the super-steep ladders the next day. And my back a little, from carrying Kaden. He's getting heavy!!

I'm so glad we went. It was a lot of fun, and we haven't done something like that as a family in a LONG time. Probably over a year ago.

Next time we go, we want to do the tour of Fort Sumter and the Children's Museum.

Justin crashes

He drove for probably five minutes and only crashed this one time. Not bad for being only six years old and driving for the first time ever!

Justin drives

We went to Frankie's Fun Park on our mini-vacation. Justin rode the little kids' go-cart thing. He smilied for the rest of the night.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What's happening...

I have something new at work going on. Starting in early November, I'll be moving to the other side of the office (woo hoo, about 30 feet away on the other side of a door *hahaha*) for about six weeks. The basic training side of the house is short five employees and need some help while they look for new people. This is good because:

1) Hey, more training for me means more stuff on the 'ol resume. :)

2) There's a bit of an "us vs. them" mentality between the sides (started long before I got here), so I'm hoping that me working over there might melt a little of the ice. Might not, but I can hope...

I've always wanted to know what they do anyway, so I'm game.

Not too much else going on... I'm really hoping to get a chance this weekend to upload some pictures and comment more about our mini-vacation last week to Charleston.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Justin whistled!

Justin has been trying to whistle for a LONG time, and tonight he finally did it!! Yay!

We went to Charleston this past weekend. Hopefully sometime soon I can write up a full report, but until then here's the synopsis:

- went to an aquarium
- went mini golfing
- Justin drove a little car!
- saw a bunch of old WWII ships (including a neato aircraft carrier)
- (indoor) pool was freezing

Kaden is such a trooper. I'm so thankful I have two boys who are good at traveling.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nope. *sigh*

Well, the reigning spades champions are still reigning. We had to beat them twice since it was a double elimination tournament and they hadn't lost yet. We beat them once, then fell in the second game. I made a couple mistakes, but I can't decide if they cost us the whole thing or not. Whatever, what's done is done. It was fun, that's for sure.

Darrell has really been enjoying his week 'off.' He's been able to spend some time at the gym - something he always enjoys. He also got his army paperwork all caught up, making sure that what he's earned shows up on his personnel files/reports. He normally wouldn't have time for that during a cycle.

We bought Justin his first belt yesterday. He's in that lovely in-between stage; he's too big for toddler sizes, but too small for boys sizes. We figured out that he's a pants size 6-slim, but not too many styles carry that size. So we've been buying the size 6, using the internal pull-in tabs if they have them, and then now using a belt. He still needs a little help with the snaps - the boy is so strong in his arms and legs, but has little finger strength. I'm not sure how to work with that besides the snaps, something he just doesn't want to do... Suggestions? Some sort of game?

I also bought Kaden a few things. Most of the 3-6 months and 6-9 months clothes seem the same size if you hold one up against the other. Very frustrating, so I bought the 6-9 month stuff. He's fitting into 3-6 month clothing pretty well now. I still have a few 0-3 things that he can squeeze into, but not for long. He's growing up pretty fast, that's for sure!

I'm still not busy enough at work. I did have a bit to do this afternoon, but spent my time this morning trying to think of productive things to do. Why do I keep putting off talking to my supervisor?? For one thing, she's not very approachable, but I just need to get over that and speak with her. Sooner, rather than later or I'll lose my sanity.

(FYI - my spell check doesn't recognize Justin; it suggests Justine. And Kaden? It suggests kidney. Hahahahaha.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Saturdays and Sundays

Darrell gets to experience a real Saturday and Sunday this weekend! We've kind of forgotten what those days are supposed to be like. :( He's on what's called "Victory Trail Break." Basically, it's a week off from soldiers. Wahoo! He has some classes and appointments and such to go to, but then gets this entire weekend off. I'm trying to come up with something to do or somewhere to go as a family.

In other news...

My work had an Organizational Day on Friday. Amongst other things - a spades tournament. I had planned to play with a co-worker as my partner, but he ditched out on me that morning. I ended up getting paired up with a retired sergeant major. Now if he's been in the army that long, you know he knows a thing or two about spades... The version they play here is basic - no nil, no blind bidding, nothing fancy. Just bids and bags. At the end of the day, three teams were still standing: us!, last year's winners, and another team. We're starting the playoffs tomorrow at lunch. Whoever wins tomorrow plays last year's champs on Thursday. They're currently undefeated (they beat us on a ten-for-two hand when we were only playing for 250 points; tough to come back from, that) so if the winner on Wednesday beats them on Thursday, the two teams have to play again. Here's hoping I'm playing on Thursday!! (I really miss playing cards...)

Kaden had a good weekend. Smiling just about the whole time. I tried to give him a little cereal to see what he'd do. He just looked at me, "what in the world is this yucky stuff??" Haha.

Justin got to make boats out of food yesterday at Cub Scouts. He was the only boy (of three in his den) that was wearing his uniform. He was so proud. I brought my camera, so I got a bunch of pictures and mini-movies of the boys and their boats. Next week we go to the library to learn about boats. (Can you sense the monthly theme here?)

I was busy today at work. I LOVE being busy at work. But I pretty much did everything pending today, which means I'll have little to nothing to do tomorrow. I really need to ask my boss for more to do...

Monday, October 09, 2006

What to do...

I got a letter from J's teacher, inviting him into an enrichment program after school for Wednesdays and Thursdays. It's from 3:30 to 4:30. Pretty awesome!

The problem? They don't provide transportation. If we enroll him, the lady (April) that watches him in the afternoon would have to make two trips to the school - first to pick up her daughter when class gets out, then again to pick up Justin. She already does it on Mondays (the other way around) because her daughter is in dance lessons.

I could have him go from there to the after-school 'babysitting' program. Only problem is Justin can't stand it. All they do is yell at the kids. Seriously. And I don't know if I can pay for only two days a week anyway. I certainly wouldn't have him there every day.

I have to turn in the permission slip soon. I might go in this afternoon to talk with his teacher and see what we can do... I'd really like him to have this opportunity.

But first I need to call April and see if her daughter was invited. That could be awkward... If she IS, problem solved. I'm pretty sure she wasn't, or April probably would have brought it up.

He rolled again!

Last night, I put Kaden down for some tummy time and he rolled front to back so fast it's like he's been doing it forever. To see if it was a fluke, I flipped him over to his belly again and in about five seconds, he was on his back again. Wow, that was easy enough.

Then Darrell noticed while he was on his belly, he was trying to get his knees up under him. Scootching won't be too far off! He can scootch pretty good on his back (as evidenced by his bald spots back there). It won't be too much longer when he won't stay where we put him. *laugh*

He's also drooling quite a bit. I can't tell if there's a tooth close to erupting yet, but there's something going on in there.

*sniff* My baby is growing up so fast!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Secret Letter From Iraq Print Page: World -- The Secret Letter From Iraq

Just so we don't forget what our servicemembers are dealing with over there...

Ok, how cool is this!?

I had no idea I could put a video IN my new Blogger blog. Outstanding!!

And this post? Yeah, I emailed it to the blog.

Technology is cool. (Yes, I'm behind the times. I don't even have an iPod! *gasp* Hahahahaha)

Wiggle Worm

Kaden just wiggles SO much. Here he is, having fun on the floor.

Thanks for following me over...

Thanks for making the switch over from Yahoo 360 with me. I spend way too much time uploading photos all over the web - at my family's website, my Yahoo pages, my shutterfly page, and now my Google Web Albums. I'm hoping to cut that down a few, by centralizing everything within the Google umbrella of programs.

Anyway, here's a start. I moved over all of my posts from my 360 page - good thing I hadn't made too many. It luckily didn't take too long.

I'm hoping to figure out a way to use smilies on Blogger. If you know how, please hit that COMMENTS button below and help me out.

Not him rolling, but a new video of Kaden anyway...

I'm still trying to get Kaden's rolling attempts on video. Here is one of him just hanging out on the floor wiggling.

Lots of new pictures of the boys in the files...

He rolled!

I'll try to get a video of it soon...

Kaden ROLLED yesterday! And once he figured it out, he was a rolling fool. *laugh* Of course, he can't QUITE get that last little bit of arm out of the way, so it's really more like a half-roll, but I'll take it. For the record, it's back to front. And back. But he's nowhere near the true front to back roll yet.

I took him to his four month well-baby appointment today. Fifteen pounds, fifteen ounces. Twenty five inches. Don't remember the head circumference. All in all, he's fiftieth percentile on head and height, seventy-fifth in weight. Good growing Kaden!

Originally posted: Tuesday October 3, 2006 - 09:20pm

How did that happen so fast?

Today, Kaden is four months old. A third of a year. How did that happen already??

He was very smiley this morning, as you can see. He is almost always happy. Justin loves to play with him (sometimes a bit too rough, too loud, or too fast) and Kaden will just grin forever.

He's also starting to laugh. I dare any grumpy-pants out there to NOT smile when a child laughs.

Still no major attempt at rolling over, but he's gotten close-ish a couple of times. We're trying to encourage it by putting him down on the floor in such a way that he has to turn his head around to see us, thereby lifting up a side of his body.

He also still does not like tummy-time. He's pretty good at lifting up his head, but tires quickly and gets frustrated with it.

As always, I'm in no rush to see him grow up fast. I'm savoring every smile, giggle, and snooze.

Happy 1/3rd birthday, little one.

Originally posted: Sunday September 24, 2006 - 12:05pm

Not a whole lot going on

Justin and I signed up for Cub Scouts Wednesday night. There are quite a few things about that organization that I don't like, but what it boils down to is Justin wants to do it and he'll have a good time. So I'm just setting aside my personal objections to BSA and participating for him. So far, his 'den' is a whopping total of four boys. They break the larger 'pack' into grade groups and only four first graders were there. I know of one other who will probably come, plus whoever wasn't able to come to the meeting last night. One of the four's parent had to volunteer to be den leader. Nope, nuh-uh. I'll participate, but I will not lead. I ended up getting nabbed for committee member. I can handle that.

Kaden is STILL having poo issues. It has to be at least five or so weeks now. Majorly loose. It's not a dehyrating diarreah, but looks more like breastfed baby poo. Only he's formula fed, so that's not a good thing. I got a call from the daycare around 2 to come pick him up. I can't bring him back until 24 hours after the diarreah is gone. Geez, that's not good, considering it's been going on for over a month. Monday and Tuesday of this week were the only days in a long time where he was back to normal. I thought he was getting over it until right in the middle of the boy scout meeting I heard a huge diaper explosion. Oh man, what a mess that was. And super duper stinky. So, I took him to the doctor. Only had to wait for about an hour in the urgent care clinic on post. I'm to bring in a stool sample so they can try to figure out what it is. Other than the poo, he's basically fine. He's got a tiny bit of runny nose/congestion and an icky cough, but no fever, no vomiting... The problem now? His poo went back to normal again. Hopefully it's not a 'problem' but him finally getting all the way better. Here's hoping!!

We have a new baby in the family!! My cousin's wife had a little bitty girl this week. I'm so excited for them.

I've been trying to take Kaden in for his first professional pictures. It seems like every time I have a good opportunity coming up, he scratches his face a day or two before. *sigh* He's got a whopper of a scratch on the side of his nose right now. I have no idea how, because I trimmed his nails extra carefully earlier this week in hopes I could take him today. I might try anyway, maybe we'll get a good one with his head just enough to the side to not see it. Maybe... Justin wants to go to McD's for lunch and we need to get him some new sandals since his current pair are falling apart (hope we can find sandals in September... This might be tough).

Originally posted: Saturday September 23, 2006 - 07:25am


What's been going on... Hmmm.

Justin is having a blast in first grade. The first parent-teacher conferences are on Friday. This is good. The words Justin is to be working on in class are things like: is, that, on, a, the. The words Justin is reading at home are things like: fantastic, squiggly, scrumptious, clever. See the disconnect here?? Yeah. I got him a time and money workbook for fun (yes, my child likes to learn for fun! ) and he's zooming through it. It's a second grade workbook. He's brilliant. Hehe.

Kaden is smiling like CRAZY. Such a little happy boy! He's able to put his hands together now. And loves to chew on his fists. He'll shove a whole hand in there. Might be time to start thinking about cereal soon. I want to hold off until his 4-month well baby visit for that. He's able to reach and grab something. He loves to sit up, so I got him a bumbo seat. Check out this link to watch him in it. I love that thing!

Darrell has a new bunch of soldiers. This group is going to need a LOT of work. They had their first PT test yesterday and only one passed. Out of 40-ish soldiers, only a few others even came close. The rest are far, far behind. He's already noticed a couple of good soldiers-in-the-making, so that helps his morale level some.

I picked up a new responsibility at work while a co-worker is out for a few weeks. I now handle all the AWOL and DFR paperwork for trainees on post. Mwah-ah-ah! Actually, it's not that glamorous. But, I like being busy, so pile it on! I seriously wish I had about four times the work that I currently have. *sigh* I really need to talk to my boss about it. Now may be a good time, since another co-worker wasn't keeping up, so some of his responsibilities were portioned out to two of the other three ladies that do the same job I do. The fourth handles the airborne stuff. So now if I complain that I don't have enough to do, it's not like I'm saying the other ladies are slow. If you follow what I mean. That's why I hadn't brought it up before now. Nothing quite like the new girl saying the job is too easy, making the 'old timers' look bad.
So that's what's up with the family...

Originally posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 - 08:55pm

And it starts again...

About two years ago, I started having serious problems swallowing. Fast forward six months, and I'm having surgery for a condition called achalasia. Basically, achalasia is a lack of peristalsis in the esophagus, paired with a lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that is too tight and doesn't open correctly.

The surgery (a Heller myotomy with a partial fundoplication) was an amazing success. It was done laproscopically, so the recovery time was short. I could eat again without worrying about it!

However, they symptoms are coming back. I called my previous surgeon in Kansas City for advice. He suggested another barium swallow to see what was happening, followed by a dilation. Essentially, a deflated balloon is placed in that same LES and then quickly inflated, tearing the muscle fibers and allowing food to pass through again.

I met with a surgeon this week here, since I'm not in Kansas any more, Toto (*chuckle*). He wants to do a couple more tests to see exactly what the issue is. The problem? Two of the tests he wants to do are the most painful annoying tests there are for this condition. *sigh* I already had the barium swallow - totally not a big deal, and pretty cool in that I get to see what my insides look like. However, he wants me to re-do a manometry. This IS a big deal. What it entails is sticking a "skinny" tube of sensors up my nose and down my esophagus. I am to swallow when I'm told, and to NOT swallow the rest of the time. That is HARD! And let me tell you, I don't care what 'skinny' means when a tube is stuck up my nose! Blech. This test takes about a half-hour or so if all goes well. The intent is to find how much peristalsis is left, and/or what the muscles are doing when I swallow (sometimes they push the food the wrong way, or push up then down then up etc... until the food finally ends up where it belongs), and how much stricture there is in my LES. The other test he wants me to do is a 24-hour pH study. Again, a tube up the nose and down the esophagus (although from what I understand, this is a much smaller diameter tube than the manometry *whew*) for 24 hours to see what sort of reflux is or is not going on.

If there is no reflux, one of the options is undoing the fundoplication previously done. This may be causing the extra tightness in the LES. A fundoplication is when the stomach is wrapped around the base of the esophagus to cut down on reflux. GERD patients have this done all the time. If there is too much acid on the esophagus, eventually something called Barrett's Esophagus can form - a precursor to cancer. Not good. So it's a trade-off: lower the fundoplication so I can swallow without pain but am more suceptible to reflux with the chance of Barrett's/cancer, or leave it up and have more problems swallowing. OR, do neither and try some other options.

The problem with the "other options" is that they are normally shorter lived solutions. There are a couple - the aforementioned dilation, or an injection of botox (yep, same one, different place). The botox does what botox does. It relaxes the muscles. The dilation tears them. Either way, they both reduce the effectiveness of any future surgery. That's why I had the surgery FIRST last time. Both botox and the dilation rarely last long. Further treatment is necessary sooner, rather than later. Since I hope to live a long long life, I'm more willing to undergo another surgery with a potentially longer improvement, than nickle-and-dime treatment over and over for years and years.

Then again, I expected the surgery to 'fix' things a lot longer than only a year and a half.

Ok, enough talking in circles around this mess. I am waiting to schedule the manometry and pH study (they're done at the same time, manometry first, then place the pH study, wear it for a day, then have the tube removed). I'll let y'all know when I hear about the results from that.

Originally posted: Friday September 1, 2006 - 08:30am

J's cool new present

Justin got this awesome toy for his birthday. Here are some of the things we've made so far...

The helicopter

The bunny

The circle swing thing

The train

And just for fun, Kaden just chillin' (UPDATED 9/1: LINK ADDED)

Kaden was SO chatty today, I couldn't resist...

Originally posted: Friday August 25, 2006 - 11:05pm

Darrell's other new baby

We recently traded in our gas guzzling F-150 for something a little easier on the wallet. Here's Darrell's new baby! He's been after me for years to let him get one. I finally caved. He gets almost twice the miles per gallon.

As for mine, I get about the same with my 2006 RAV4 as I did with my 1998 Civic. Not bad, not bad.

Originally posted: Friday August 25, 2006 - 10:58pm

I owe you...

Forever ago I said I'd show you a picture of Justin on his sorta-new bike. Here it is.

Originally posted: Friday August 25, 2006 - 10:56pm

His first loose tooth!

Justin discovered his first loose tooth today. He is SO excited!

Now I have to decide how I'm going to handle the whole Tooth Fairy thing. We don't do Santa or the Easter Bunny at our house, but he's already told me that the Tooth Fairy will be leaving him some quarters under his pillow soon. (At least he's only expecting 50 cents! *laugh* )

What to do... what to do...

Originally posted: Friday August 25, 2006 - 10:40pm

I love this graphic.

Pluto will always be a planet to me...

Honey, I Shrunk the Solar System


If you woke up Thursday morning and sensed something was different about the world around you, you're absolutely right. Pluto is no longer a planet.

The International Astronomical Union, wrapping up its meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, has resolved one of the most hotly-debated topics in the cosmos by approving a specific definition that gives our solar system eight planets, instead of the nine most of us grew up memorizing.

NASA has already visited all eight planets that retain their official title: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In addition, the agency has its New Horizons spacecraft en route to Pluto, which the astronomical union has designated as the prototype for a new class of celestial objects, to be called "dwarf planets."

"NASA will, of course, use the new guidelines established by the International Astronomical Union," said Dr. Paul Hertz, Chief Scientist for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. "We will continue pursuing exploration of the most scientifically interesting objects in the solar system, regardless of how they are categorized."

Ceres, which orbits in a belt between Mars and Jupiter and is the largest known asteroid, is one of those interesting objects. In 2007, NASA will launch the Dawn spacecraft on a mission to study Ceres, which the astronomers have placed in the dwarf planet category, alongside Pluto. The dwarf planet family also includes 2003 UB313, nicknamed "Xena." When Dr. Mike Brown of Caltech and his colleagues announced last summer that they'd discovered the object, which is bigger and farther away than Pluto, many astronomers decided it was time to figure out once and for all, "What exactly is a planet, anyway?"

Here's how it all shakes out. The International Astronomical Union has decided that, to be called a planet, an object must have three traits. It must orbit the sun, be massive enough that its own gravity pulls it into a nearly round shape, and be dominant enough to clear away objects in its neighborhood.

To be admitted to the dwarf planet category, an object must have only two of those traits -- it must orbit the sun and have a nearly round shape. And no, moons don't count as dwarf planets. In addition to Pluto, Ceres and 2003 UB313, the astronomical union has a dozen potential "dwarf planets" on its watchlist.

What's to become of the other objects in our solar system neighborhood, the ones that are not planets, not dwarf planets and not moons? The organization has decided that most asteroids, comets and other small objects will be called "small solar-system bodies."

Despite the establishment of these three distinct categories, there are bound to be gray areas. As technologies improve and more objects are found, the International Astronomical Union will set up a process to decide which of the three categories are most appropriate for specific objects.

Even before the discovery of Xena, not all was calm in the planetary world. There was debate after Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. With its small size, distant location and odd orbit, some questioned whether Pluto was really a planet or just an icy remnant of the planet-forming process.

That issue has been resolved by the International Astronomical Union. Among those most keenly following the debate -- Mike Brown, who has been awaiting word on Pluto and the object he found, Xena.

"I'm of course disappointed that Xena will not be the tenth planet, but I definitely support the IAU in this difficult and courageous decision," said Brown. "It is scientifically the right thing to do, and is a great step forward in astronomy."

Although the revamping of our solar system might seem unsettling, it's really nothing new. In fact, when Ceres was first discovered in 1801, it was called a planet, as were several similar objects found later. But when the count kept on growing, astronomers decided "enough is enough," and they demoted Ceres and its siblings, placing them in a new category, called asteroids.

The International Astronomical Union has been naming planets and moons since its founding in 1919. For more information, visit the International Astronomical Union home page at or .

Media contact: Jane Platt/JPL (818) 354-0880
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A funny for the day

I have a Justin funny from today:

We were going through a book about space (just looking at the pictures) and I was explaining the idea of a spacesuit and how cold it is in space.

Justin says, "there's no air in space." Me: "Wow, you're right! How did you know that??" Thinking: "my son is a freakin' genius!!"

Him: "there's no air conditioners."

Originally posted: Tuesday August 22, 2006 - 09:46pm

The missing video...

Here's that last link... For some reason, Google Video had to approve this one. *shrug*

Originally posted: Monday August 21, 2006 - 09:28pm

New pictures posted

New pictures have been posted in Justin's schmancy new "Justin - 6 years" folder, plus Kaden's "Kaden - 03 Months" folder.

Originally posted: Saturday August 19, 2006 - 11:19pm

Justin's birthday!

How did the last six years go by so fast???!!?

We're having his party at Chuck E Cheese later today, but here are some little videos from the birthday activities on the 17th:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

At the restaurant (pending...)

Originally posted: Saturday August 19, 2006 - 10:20am

Kaden talks!

Here's another video of Kaden. I'm working on uploading a couple from J's birthday.
To see it, click --> HERE <--

Originally posted: Saturday August 19, 2006 - 08:47am

Not strep!!

So, it was just a sore throat. Only lasted another day and it was gone gone gone. Yippee!!

Even better news about my father-in-law; he's going home from the hospital tomorrow morning. He had his surgery on Thursday - that's only six days. Amazing. They'll hold off on the lung biopsy for him to heal a bit more.

I'm putting this out here, so that means I'll have more incentive to stick with it... Darrell and I are in a weight-loss race. We each put up a dollar; first to goal wins. He has more to lose than I do, but he loses it faster than me. I think it's about even... I'll try to update weekly.

Originally posted: Monday August 14, 2006 - 07:32pm

Not strep!!

So, it was just a sore throat. Only lasted another day and it was gone gone gone. Yippee!!

Even better news about my father-in-law; he's going home from the hospital tomorrow morning. He had his surgery on Thursday - that's only six days. Amazing. They'll hold off on the lung biopsy for him to heal a bit more.

I'm putting this out here, so that means I'll have more incentive to stick with it... Darrell and I are in a weight-loss race. We each put up a dollar; first to goal wins. He has more to lose than I do, but he loses it faster than me. I think it's about even... I'll try to update weekly.

Originally posted: Monday August 14, 2006 - 07:32pm

Testing, 1 - 2 - 3

Click HERE

If it works for you, please let me know (click on the "# comments" link just below this post...) For that matter, if it DOESN'T work, please let me know...

Originally posted: Saturday August 12, 2006 - 10:10pm

Yay for heart bypass surgery!

My father-in-law is feeling better than he did before the surgery! Yippee! He said he's feeling better than he has in years. Awesome. But, along with that comes some major life changes. If he wants to keep this from happening again, he needs to change his diet and stop smoking. Here's hoping he can...

Originally posted: Saturday August 12, 2006 - 09:04pm


Some of you know this, but I'm sure many don't... In January 2005, Justin was admitted to the hospital with scarlet fever. He went from feeling totally fine, to having a full-blown rash/fever/sore throat in about two and a half days. Long story short - he got over it quickly and all was well.

However, because of that, I'm very sensitive to his complaints of a sore throat. In May, Justin complained of a sore throat on the way to the bus stop. Off to the hospital we went. Sure enough, it was strep. He didn't even have a fever yet, that's how early we caught it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago... He, again, had a sore throat. Darrell took both boys in to get it checked out (Kaden only in case it really was strep; he can't exactly tell us where it hurts quite yet). Negative. Later that day, he felt fine.

This morning he complained of a sore throat again. I took his temp - barely over 99 degrees. I gave him some motrin and it got better, enough that he said it didn't hurt any more. Now I've had strep tons of times growing up, and I don't ever remember motrin taking the pain away. So I figured it wasn't strep, he's feeling better, let's hope that's it.

Nope. This afternoon, the motrin wore off and he was crying because it was hurting so bad. (In my defense, he took a nap and woke up in major pain - I wouldn't have let him suffer that long before giving him more motrin.) So, more medicine and a little bit of time (fever was just over 100 this time) and it went away enough that he could eat without pain.

So now I don't know what's up. I told him that if he wakes up in the middle of the night and it hurts again, we'll go back to the hospital. He's really hoping to go to a friend's birthday party Sunday afternoon, but I told him that if it's strep throat, he won't be able to go. Majorly bummed little boy! We're probably going to have Justin's birthday party next weekend, though, and this family will be invited, so he'll still be able to hang out with them - that mollified him a bit.

I'm guessing we have a trip to the hospital in store for us tomorrow morning some time. Lovely.

Originally posted: Saturday August 12, 2006 - 09:03pm

Bad news and good news. Good news and bad news.

My father-in-law had triple bypass surgery today. Bad. However, they were expecting to need five bypasses rather than only three. Good.

The surgery went very well. Good. However, they found a mass in one of his lungs. Bad.

Isn't it odd how life works out? If it turns out to be cancer, the heart attack he had Monday may have saved his life.

Originally posted: Thursday August 10, 2006 - 10:50pm

More pictures in the files...

Originally posted: Saturday August 5, 2006 - 01:19pm

Hope it lasts...

I ran across some fantastic sleeping advice online this past week. I've been following the recommendations and Kaden has slept over six hours straight the past two nights!!

He's also been taking better naps, IN HIS CRIB. He's still sleeping the night in the basinette in my room, but once he is sleeping longer every night we'll move him to the crib in his room. I'm very excited about this! Here's hoping it lasts...

I'd take a picture to post here, but I don't want to wake him up. *laugh*

Originally posted: Saturday August 5, 2006 - 08:59am

Got this one instead...

I had problems finding the Casio. So, I got this one instead. My only problem so far is getting it connected to my wireless network at home. I'll get it figured out... Then it'll be so much easier to upload photos!! That means more pictures for you.

Originally posted: Saturday August 5, 2006 - 08:18am

New gift for Justin!

Well, sorta.

J's birthday is coming fast. His biggest request? A digital camera. I think this is the perfect gift for him. He LOVES to borrow mine and take pictures of his world. The most common subject is Cammi, but close runners up are the doorknobs, tv screens, and carpet. *laugh* Now obviously I don't want to spend a ton of money developing random pictures of the house, so a digital is the way to go.

I went online looking for a quality, easy to use camera for kids. There really aren't any that are worth spending the money on.

So, I'm buying a new one for me and giving the old one to Justin. He already knows how to use it and is comfortable with it, and I get a new toy to play with! Score!

Everything I've read about this camera is not only good but great. And it's less than $200. And it has twice the megapixels of our current camera which already takes pretty darn good photos. I think Radio Shack has the lowest price, so once I figure out where there's a Radio Shack in town and I get a free 30 minutes without the boys, I'll go buy one.

Originally posted: Tuesday August 1, 2006 - 10:48pm

Kaden Cam!

Kaden was sent home 'sick' today. Not sure what was up with that, since once I picked him up, he was totally normal. *shrug* Anyway, here's where Kaden spent part of this afternoon. Totally need to fix the red eye on that one...

Not much going on right now... Darrell is in the middle of a cycle, Justin is finishing up his summer 'camp', Kaden is gaining weight and turning into a sweet little chunker baby, and I'm up too late updating the blog. And since I'm basically rambling, I'll just sign off and get some sleep.

G'night all.

Originally posted: Tuesday August 1, 2006 - 10:39pm

May 12th, 2005 - a day I'll never forget...

I wrote this soon after it happened, and ran across it recently in my files...

The plan was to fly down from Kansas to South Carolina to see Darrell graduate from drill sergeant school. Nothing went according to plan.

The first step was getting to the Manhattan airport for a US Airways flight at 5:10pm Thursday. A friend of mine dropped me off a bit early as she had a meeting at 3:30, but that was fine.

Soon after they dropped me off, a huge thunderstorm hit. I wasn’t too worried about missing the flight - these thunderstorms move fast and I had two hours before the flight was supposed to take off. Well, it didn’t ease up much. 5:10 comes and goes. I didn’t end up getting off the ground until probably 6:45.

Since the Manhattan airport is so small, the lady at the ticket counter is also the lady that does baggage and this-and-that and who knows what else. So she wasn’t around when I wanted to see about my connecting flight in Kansas City. While I was waiting, I call up the airline’s customer service desk. I explain the situation to her, “The flight I’m supposed to be on right now is delayed due to weather so I will miss my connecting flight. Can you help me get on different flights?” Her answer: “what day is the flight scheduled for?” Uh, TODAY???! The flight I am supposed to be on RIGHT NOW!!

Obviously that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. She keeps asking a bunch of similarly stupid questions and ends up telling me that I need to talk to the ticket counter. She didn’t care that there wasn’t anyone AT the ticket counter. Whatever.

So finally the lady shows up and starts to reconnect me, but just as she gets started, the pilot pops his head in and says that he just got clearance to take off. She had to get a bunch of other stuff done, so I just decided to do what I needed to do at the Kansas City ticket counter.

As we’re going through security, I was informed that I was the lucky “randomly chosen” passenger to be fully screened. (One way tickets will do that to ya’.) Lovely. Not a huge deal - I don’t freak out when people touch me, but still a pain. We finally all get on the plane, all eight of us, and the pilots start their preflight checks. They get that done and we’re off. This was a tiny plane - only seated 20 or so passengers, only window seats, propellers and everything. Perfect for turbulence! The flight should only be about 30 minutes, but we had to divert around some nasty stuff in the air so it ended up being about 50 minutes. Even WITH diverting around the messy stuff, it still was quite a bumpy ride.

Now, I LOVE turbulence, so I was having fun. The lady across the aisle from me wasn’t, however. Her hands were gripping the arm rests so much I thought she’d pull them off! The plane was bouncing all over the place. Never bad enough to get worried. Well, I wasn’t worried, but the lady across from me was.

We landed in the middle of a horrible downpour. The pilot told us during the taxi that the wind was gusting at 40 miles per hour. I wasn’t sure that we’d come down ON the runway, there was such a cross breeze! Since we were in such a small plane, we had to walk through the rain to get to the terminal. By this time, the Kansas City airport was shut down due to weather, so we just waited in the plane until the worst of it let up. Once it did, they fired up the plane again and got as close as possible so we’d only get half-way drenched instead of all the way drenched.

Once in the terminal, I made my way over to the check-in counter to get hooked up with new connections. She found me a Midwest flight to DC, then a connection from DC straight to Columbia. It was going to be close, but still doable. The flight arrival time to Columbia was 11am and D’s graduation was at 1pm. No problem!

Luckily I didn’t check any baggage, so I didn’t have to worry about where my suitcase ended up. I went upstairs to find the Midwest gates. I found where I needed to go and got in the security line, only to find out that again, I was the lucky one to be fully screened. Ok, so we go through the whole thing again.

As I’m sitting down, the lady at the check-in counter says over the loudspeaker that the plane we’re supposed to get on is late arriving because of the weather. They are circling Omaha until the weather clears enough here, then they’ll be allowed to finish the flight to KC. The delay will be at least another half-hour. Ok, I’m already late. No biggie. My layover in DC is about 7 or 8 hours, so I don’t care how long it takes to get on this flight, as long as I do get on the flight.

I needed to go to the bathroom, so although I know I’ll have to be searched again as I go through security (special note on my boarding pass), off I go to find the bathroom. I do my business and walk around a bit. When it gets close to the time the plane was supposed to land, I go through security again. Almost as soon as I sit down, she announces that the plane got clearance to head south but because it had to circle so long, they needed to land in Omaha and get more fuel. Another delay.

By this time, I’m super hungry, so I leave the area again to find some food. Just as I get to the food area, they’re closing up!! Un-freaking-believable. I brought some cookies for Darrell, so I dive into those. Sorry, D. Since there is nothing else to do but wait, I go through security again (I know the routine by now) and sit down. The next announcement gives us a final boarding time of about an hour and a half later.

I have a friend that lives in KC, so I gave him a call and he agreed to come over and chat for a bit. Once he got there, I had to leave the secured area again. We talked for about 45 minutes when they finally started boarding the flight to DC. So, through the security again, another pat-down by the friendly security people, and finally onto the plane. I ended up getting a great seat. Midwest is awesome! Huge leather seats, lots of legroom, nice. I was in 4B, an aisle. I prefer a window, but they were all taken.

We get pushed back from the gate and get in line to take off. About this time, the next wave of thunderstorms rolls in. It was wicked bad. Lightning everywhere! The pilot comes over the loudspeaker to tell us that he and his copilot have decided to wait out the worst of it. He says that they have clearance to take off, and other planes were, but that he felt more comfortable waiting awhile. Okay by me! I’ve already been through a bunch of turbulence already through this storm. And like I said, my layover was really long in DC, so I just need to get there - don’t care what time.

About 45 minutes later, the worst of the storm has gone by and we take off. No problems during take off. My row-mate was a 12 year old boy. His grandmother was in the seat in front of him; his aunts were two rows back. He’d flown before, but I could tell he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea. Ten or fifteen minutes into the flight we started to feel some turbulence. Nothing too bad - we were ahead of the storm at this point. I think.

The turbulence went from not bad to really bad quickly though. Did anyone hear of Midwest flight 490? Well, that’s the flight I was currently on. If not, after you read the rest of the story, do a google news search on it. Whew!

Anyway, let me finish the story first. For about 30 minutes or so (we never did agree on how long, some said 20 minutes, others said 45), we felt like we were on that roller coaster at Disney World called Tower of Terror - the elevator one where you don’t know when you’re going up or down, or how long. The plane dropped elevation so fast that we (and our bags) were weightless for stretches of ten seconds or longer. Then we’d pull up so fast that the skin on our cheeks pulled back - serious G forces! It seemed to me that the pilot wanted/needed some altitude because every time we’d fall, he’d pull back as hard as he could to make up altitude!!

By this time, passengers all over the plane had their barf-bags out. I was queasy, but not to that point. The guy across the aisle from me was extremely pale and throwing up often. It was pretty bad - remember, I LOVE turbulence, but this was far beyond what anyone would call turbulence!

After it was obvious that something was wrong, some of the mothers started freaking out. A lady in front of me was flying with her two boys (around 8 and 10 years old). She was holding their hands, one across the aisle, and telling them how much she loved them. A row behind me, the mother of a two year old was twisted sideways, holding her little boy with as much of her as she could while still keeping them both belted in. The two mothers both had tears streaming down their faces, scared to death, but really trying to hold it together so as to not freak out their boys even more.

This goes on for what seams like forever. It’s totally black outside, clouds everywhere, so we can’t see where the ground is. I’m pretty sure that we were still ahead of the storm, but the newspaper articles say otherwise. Although, those same articles got lots of details wrong, so I’m not buying a word they say.

Finally the pilot comes on and says that we’re going to be making an emergency landing in Missouri. No big deal, I’m thinking, we need to land to get out of the storm. No worries. Then the flight attendants start telling us that we need to brace ourselves in the crash-landing position!! I’m still amazed that at this point, no one freaked out. The whole plane was calm, the flight attendants walked up and down the aisles showing everyone how to do it (I think the pilots just coasted/glided as much as possible during this so they could walk the aisles, there is NO WAY they’d have been able to otherwise while the pilot was trying to maintain/regain elevation). The flight attendants told us that we weren’t planning to crash, but that we were in a true emergency and we needed to follow standard procedure. Not their exact words, but that was the idea they were getting across. Ok, I’m a little freaked out now - this isn’t just an emergency because we’re landing at an unanticipated airport, this is the real thing!!

After the flight attendants buckle in, the plane goes back to its ups and downs. Once we get close, the flight attendants start yelling, “brace!” every five seconds or so until we landed. I could hear some people muttering, either crying or praying or whatever, but not loud - not completely losing it.

We landed without even a bump. We slowed down super fast, but we found out later that was due to a shorter runway than that aircraft normally uses. We landed at an unattended airport in Kirksville, MO. Once we came to a complete stop, the pilot came out of the cockpit and told us that he wasn’t sure what happened or why we had gone through what we had gone through, but that at times, they had lost control of the aircraft! We never did get any more details directly from him, but over the next day or so, there was a lot of, “well I heard someone say that they overheard the pilot say”. One of those rumors - which I believe were factual, not just stuff people made up: the plane could not turn (the pilots wanted to turn around and land at KC soon after take off, but the airplane would not turn; Kirksville was in the direct path to DC so we were able to land safely).

I’m hoping to find the official NTSB report online in the future. I’m curious as to what actually DID happen.

Anyway, this was a tiny airport. They didn’t have stairs for the big planes, so while the crew was trying to figure out what to do next, the firefighters tried to find a way to get us off the plane. I’m sure they could have used the inflatable ramp thingies, but they’re probably super expensive. We were totally safe on board, so there was no hurry to get us off.

About an hour later (they were handing out drinks during this time), they found a construction cherry-picker thing to get us off. Not one of those huge ones with a long arm like the electric company uses, just an up and down thing. They’d load it up with six or eight people, bring it down and unload, go up again and get more people, etc. The nearby college volunteered their campus cops, a bunch of students, and every school van they could get their hands on. These vans drove us from the plane to the terminal.

There were 76 of us on the plane (a Boeing 717 that seated 88, with four crew members) so finding lodging for the night was a bit of work. We ended up getting split up into about six groups to different motels in Kirksville. They may have been a tiny podunk town in the middle of nowhere, but they volunteered what they had. The people were super nice!

The school vans took each group to their respective hotel, then picked us up again in the morning. On our way back to the airport, the driver told us that Kirksville had two fatal aircraft landings in October 2004, so the town had plenty of disaster practice. That’s why our event was so nicely and efficiently handled! Also, the night before during a thunderstorm, lightning hit a bar downtown and completely burned the place down! We couldn’t wait to get out of that town - too much dangerous stuff going on. Midwest arranged for some coach busses to take us back to KC. It was about a 3.5 hour drive. Once there, they arranged for each passenger to either keep going on their trip, or paid for a rental car in case people wanted to drive. A few did decide to drive, either home or onto DC. One guy said he’d never fly Midwest or a Boeing 717 again. Whatever. It’s still way safer to fly than to drive all the way to DC, but that’s how he felt. Okay.

Midwest sent me back over to US Airways to get to Columbia. By the time I got my tickets, Darrell’s graduation was over. I decided to go anyway, spend some time with him, take a look around at some houses, and drive back as originally planned. US Airways sent me through Philadelphia, so I called my mom to meet me there during the hour layover. She walked me to the next terminal. It was cool to see her.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. I got "randomly" selected AGAIN on my next flight, although finally NOT the very last one. (Random, my butt - I'm the least of their worries, I had a freakin' top secret clearance for cryin' out loud!!!) The flight from KC to Philly had some turbulence, but just the boring normal kind. The flight from Philly to Columbia was on a tiny plane (jet though, not propeller) and the line to take off was super long so I ended up talking to the flight attendant for about 45 minutes telling him all about the adventure. By this time, I’d told the story a bunch of times, to Mom, Darrell, Sam... Hahaha. Plus, all the passengers could talk about during all the waiting we had to do was the flight - it was cool to get so many other people’s experiences and feelings about what had happened. A few of the news stories said stuff like “we all thought we were going to die,” (uh, I didn’t), “we thought we were doomed,” (uh, I didn’t), and other crazy stuff, but most of the people I talked to were of the same opinion I was - while we certainly could have been killed, we didn’t think we were going to crash and die.

Everyone agreed, though, that the flight crew did an amazing job. The pilots got us through some terrible conditions (still not sure if it was weather related or mechanical) and landed us safely. The flight attendants remained calm and worked out all the post-landing details while keeping us up-to-date to what was going to happen next. I will certainly fly Midwest again and I have no problems flying a Boeing 717 again. I did get the slightest bit nervous when the bus pulled into the KC airport, knowing that I was about to fly again, but it didn’t last long. It’s still way safer to fly and I love to fly anyway. While I missed Darrell’s graduation, I’m still glad I made the trip, even with all the unexpected adventure!

So, that’s my story. Wish I could tell you that I made it up. But, I didn’t! I kept thinking throughout the whole thing - I am so glad Justin wasn’t there, and it’s a good thing this happened to me instead of my friend Steph (she doesn’t like flying)!!!

And the preliminary NTSB report:

NTSB Identification: NYC05MA083
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Midwest Airlines
Incident occurred Thursday, May 12, 2005 in Union Star, MO
Aircraft: Boeing 717-200, registration: N910ME
Injuries: 80 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On May 12, 2005, about 2321 central daylight time, a Boeing 717-200, N910ME, operated by Midwest Airlines Inc., as flight 490, experienced a loss of pitch control while climbing through 23,000 feet, over Union Star, Missouri. The flightcrew declared an emergency, and the airplane was subsequently recovered at an altitude of 13,000 feet. The airplane diverted to Kirksville, Missouri, and landed uneventfully. There were no injuries to the two certificated airline transport pilots, two flight attendants, and 76 passengers. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed from Kansas City, Missouri, about 2308, destined for the Ronald Reagan National Airport, Washington, District of Columbia. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the scheduled domestic flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 121.
According to the captain, the flight sequence for the day had originated from Los Angeles, California, and was scheduled to land at Kansas City. Due to weather at Kansas City, the flightcrew diverted to Omaha, Nebraska, where additional fuel was obtained and a further evaluation of the weather conditions could be made.
After reviewing the weather, the flight departed for Kansas City at 2100, and proceeded uneventfully, landing at 2146.
While in the company operations area, at Kansas City, the captain was briefed by company dispatch personnel regarding significant weather that was moving from west to east prior to the departure for Washington. The captain also noted the weather on a display screen that was located in the operations area.
As the airplane was taxied for departure at 2231, the captain elected to delay the takeoff, and wait for the weather pass further to the east. Once the weather past, and the flightcrew received a "ride report" from a previous departing airplane, the flight departed from runway 1L.
As the airplane climbed on a northerly heading, the captain observed a green area on the cockpit radar screen, "indicating the presence of rain." Areas of yellow were also observed on the screen, at a distance of 20 miles or more to the east. Once the captain determined that the flight was sufficiently clear of the weather, he requested a turn to the east. The air traffic controller subsequently cleared the flight onto a 060-degree heading and to an altitude of FL270.
As the airplane turned to the assigned heading, the captain observed a master caution light illuminate on the glareshield, and a "config" on the center console. The captain then observed that a "rudder limit fail" alert was being projected on the engine and alerting display (EAD). As the captain was about to call for the quick reference handbook (QRH), the airplane pitched down abruptly and the autopilot disconnected. Both pilots placed their hands on the control yokes in an attempt to arrest the descent. The captain noted that the airspeed was increasing rapidly and that they were losing altitude. The airplane then began an uncommanded climb, which was followed by a series of uncommanded descents and climbs, which lasted for several minutes.
After regaining control of the airplane, the flightcrew diverted to the Kirksville Regional Airport, and landed uneventfully on runway 18.
Examination of the airplane's exterior revealed that the oil filler door on the right engine nacelle was open, and evidence of a lightning strike exit hole was visible on the top surface of the tail cone. Further examination of the exterior did not reveal any other lightning holes.
Functionality testing of the airplane's flight control systems and avionics were conducted after the incident, with no abnormalities noted except for a disconnect of the flight control columns.
The airplane was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), and a digital flight data recorder (DFDR). Both recorders were transported to the Safety Board's Office of Research and Engineering for further examination.
Several other computer components were removed from the airplane for further examination and extraction of retained data.
The reported weather at Kansas City, at 2317, included 8 miles visibility; light rain and thunderstorms; ceiling 3,900 feet overcast, with cumulonimbus clouds; temperature 64 degrees F; dew point 64 degrees F; altimeter 29.99 inches Hg. The report also noted that frequent lighting was observed, and the thunderstorm activity was moving east.

I just did a google search and found this. Yikes!!

And the NTSB "Probable Cause" report

Originally posted: Saturday July 29, 2006 - 01:32pm

Kaden's first smile on 'film'

So it's not really on film, since it was taken with a digital, but it's the first capture of his smile. *snark*

Kaden has his first cold. Luckily, he doesn't hate the snot-sucker like Justin did. Justin would start screaming as soon as he saw it, even the first time I used it on him. It's just minor congestion for now. I hope it doesn't get worse.

Darrell had a ROUGH day at the qualification range yesterday. They've been at this same range for the two practice rounds and the soldiers were firing TERRIBLY. To qualify, you have to hit 23 out of 40. Most of 'em weren't even getting to 10.

So yesterday the drill sergeants got together to figure out what could possibly be wrong. There is no way that the entire company of soldiers were so bad at firing when the training hadn't changed a bit. The guy in charge of the range insisted there was nothing wrong with it, so they focused on everything else. For hours.

Finally they decided to see if it was, in fact, the range. They replaced all the pop-up targets on one lane. One of the drill sergeants borrowed a rifle, zeroed it real quick, and then fired on that fresh lane. He shot a FOUR out of 40. No way. So they went down the lane and counted the bullet holes in the targets. 37. So for some reason, the system wasn't registering hits.

No WONDER!! They'd been so frustrated on that range the whole three days they'd been there and as it turns out, the soldiers were doing just fine. They were quick to tell the soldiers so they knew it wasn't their fault. They'd been hanging their heads for days, wondering what in the world they were doing so wrong.

So, they lined up another range for next week. Today is the confidence course. Hehe.

Originally posted: Saturday July 29, 2006 - 11:59am

Still getting the hang of life...

Wow, I have had little to no personal time lately. I really need to get the hang of this two-children-household life.

Although I'm busy with them and work, I have no complaints. Justin loves his summer camp. They go to the park, the water park, the library, the movies, and the bowling alley - one thing per day. Kaden is right down the hall from him, so it's super easy to drop them off and pick them up. Loving that!

I still need to figure something out for Justin's after school care once the school year starts up again. They have a program at his school, but that's a last choice alternative. The only upside to that would be the taekwondo lessons they have two days a week. A friend might be able to watch him; I'm still waiting to hear about that possibility. I hope it works out.

Work has been busy, up until late this week. It only took about eight work days to catch up on six weeks worth of missed work. I have my review coming up next month; I need to ask for more to do. I'm not sure how to do that, however, without making the other three ladies who do the same job as I do look bad. *sigh* I honestly believe I could do the job all FOUR of us are doing - all by myself. Seriously, that's how little work I have. I'm used to being busy all the time. I LIKE having a lot to do at work.

Kaden has been wonderful. He's starting to sleep more each night - in fact he slept completely through the night on Tuesday!!! (Maybe it was Wednesday... can't remember now). Rather than getting up every three hours or so, he's stretching it out. Now the first part of the night is about four or five hours, so really I'm only getting up with him once during the night. I can handle that!

I still haven't uploaded the pictures, so I'll do that now. I'm hoping to get some more new ones before the 24th. I haven't taken very many during this second month of his life. Shame on me! *laugh*

Originally posted: Saturday July 22, 2006 - 10:50am

New pictures of Kaden

I'll be adding some new pictures of Kaden tonight or tomorrow. It's pizza night and the pizza will be here any minute or I'd do it now. Here's a teaser for ya.

Originally posted: Tuesday July 4, 2006 - 07:04pm

A new ride!

We got a new car!

I traded in my trusty Huey Honda. I got Huey in October 1997. He was a great car and kept me and my family safe for many years. But, it was time for something newer and safer. So, welcome *unnamed* Toyota RAV4! I'm thinking he'll be named Tommy, but I need to live with him awhile first before giving him a name. *laugh*

He's awesome. My favorite gadget is dual climate control. Darrell can happily freeze on his side while I happily roast on my side. He also comes with safety features galore, something Huey didn't have. Not Huey's fault, he was born before most of these safety features were invented. And I now have a six-disk CD changer!! Huey had only cassette, and even that I had to have installed when I bought him.

It's nice sitting higher on the road. I love feeling safer while driving. And there is plenty of room inside for both boys as they grow.

Originally posted: Saturday July 1, 2006 - 02:53pm

Hangin' in there...

Sleeeeeeepy momma.

Darrell has new soldiers to train, so I've had sole baby duty. We're sorta getting into a routine, but the last couple of nights have been rough. Seems like a certain someone who will remain nameless (*cough* Kaden *cough*) doesn't like staying asleep for longer than 45 minutes... *laugh* He's been eating like crazy, so he's probably growing like crazy. I don't mind when I'm coherent enough to know the reason, but it's tough for my tired body to listen to my brain at 3 am.

He's starting to give smiles, though, so it's impossible to be angry at the cutie.

Justin has been such an awesome help. I couldn't ask for anything more. He's patient, helpful, and very gentle. Go big brother!

I uploaded some more pictures to Kaden's picture folder. As with Justin's, I'll organize them by month for now. I'm done with his one month folder, all new pictures starting tomorrow go in a soon-to-be created two month folder.

Oops, he's waking up. Gotta run...

Originally posted: Saturday June 24, 2006 - 11:06am

All alone...

Darrell went back to work yesterday. My mom went back home on Sunday. Monday was my first day on my own with my two boys. Luckily, it didn't go too badly. We had errands to run, and Kaden slept through most of them.

At home, it was a different story. Kaden still isn't too thrilled with being put down when he's awake. For the most part, Kaden is super easy to take care of. He just needs to do more long naps at night than during the day. We're working on it.

I can't believe he'll be three weeks old tomorrow! I'll get a few new pictures...

Justin is dealing very well with his little brother. There's only been one moment of typical sibling behavior. We'd gone to dinner and the waitress gushed over Kaden, without saying anything to/about Justin. He got a bit pouty. *laugh* Other than that, he's been awesome!

Originally posted: Tuesday June 13, 2006 - 12:10pm

Updated Kaden's picture page

Check out Kaden's picture page (accessible to the right)! New photos!

Originally posted: Monday June 5, 2006 - 06:18pm

Ok, I'm back...

Well, he's HERE!!

Sorry it's taken so long to update. As you can imagine, life has taken a major turn around these parts.

Luckily for us, however, Kaden is an extremely easy going and mellow baby. Yippee!! He's still sleeping longer per stretch during the day than he is at night, but that's my only complaint. He fusses when he's hungry. That's it. Pretty easy to figure out, this one.

The c-section took less than a half hour. And surprised us all, even my OB, when out popped this HUGE baby. The biggest guesstimates were around 8.5 pounds, since my first was just over 9 pounds at three and a half weeks longer gestation. Well, Kaden beat out his big brother from his first moment. He came out two ounces heavier!

In any case, we're all doing well. My mom is coming to visit tomorrow, so I'm not sure how much I'll get on while she's here. And I know I need to take a bunch more pictures, plus update his picture folder. I'll get on that soon.

Originally posted: Thursday June 1, 2006 - 04:46pm

My last OB appointment

I had my last OB appointment yesterday afternoon. *cheer*

Kaden is still doing well. I'm not showing any signs of impending labor - which is good, as my OB is going up to Washington DC for the weekend. He told me "no funny business" while he's gone, and to "stick with the plan." *hahahahaha*

He didn't do a weight estimate (I think he got distracted), but we'll find out for sure what Kaden weighs in less than five days when he's born.

I'm to check into the hospital at 6am on Wednesday, with a surgery time of 7:30. Once I'm home again and have regained some sort of normal life, I'll be here to post how it went.

Originally posted: Friday May 19, 2006 - 10:37am

On the lookout for a digital camcorder

I'm just starting the search for a good, relatively inexpensive digital video recorder. Anyone have any suggestions and/or advice? If ya do, just click on the "comments" button there in the lower right corner and let me know...

Originally posted: Thursday May 11, 2006 - 07:49pm

Less than two weeks to go...

This is crazy. I'm NOT posting the picture of my bare belly. Too scary.

At my last OB appointment yesterday, the ultrasound measurement had Kaden at 8.2 pounds. Last week, he was at 7.4 pounds. Going with that, he could be pretty darn close to 10 pounds in another two weeks. Thank goodness I'm having a c-section.

Justin was measured via ultrasound to be 10 pounds plus/minus a pound a few days before delivery and ended up being just over 9, so I'm well aware of the capabilities of these machines. But while Justin was MINUS that pound, the thought that Kaden could be PLUS that pound is mind boggling.

In any case, my next and last appointment is next Thursday afternoon. The week after that is D-Day (delivery day). I'm not showing any imminent signs of labor, so it's looking like we'll be making it that far. However, a lady at work thinks I'm going on the 16th. We'll see. I don't buy that stuff. *laugh*

Originally posted: Thursday May 11, 2006 - 07:48pm

Work update

Dad mentioned to me a couple weeks back that he was waiting for my "third day of work" update. Oops. Sorry to keep him and the rest of you waiting so long. *laugh*

Work is going great. In fact, it's so easy to learn the job that I'm already bored out of my mind half the time. I just got another class to deal with on Friday, so I'll have a couple of days of solid work, but after that, it's back to thumb twiddling time. I don't know how I'm going to be able to deal with this. I'm used to keeping busy the whole time, but this job just doesn't have enough work for that.

Once they get me situated completely on the computer with all the passwords and such, I'll be able to do some online courses during my downtime. The army has something called eLearning - different from eArmyU - that I'm not only allowed to do during work, I'm encouraged to do during downtime at work. Most of the classes are business-related, some are computer-related (Microsoft and others), some are language-related (I'm thinking of taking the Arabic ones to refresh my memory). I've been asking coworkers to help them out, but they're reluctant to let me because they've learned out to pace themselves so they always have something to do. If they give me any projects, it takes stuff away from them. *laugh*

It's a nice easy job for now while I'm waiting out the rest of the pregnancy. I know I'll get bored out of my mind with it when I go back after maternity leave, but I'll deal with that then. I'll certainly be applying for other government jobs while I'm on leave...

Originally posted: Saturday April 29, 2006 - 05:13pm

Finally got J's 5-year pictures taken

I took Justin to Portrait Innovations last weekend and got a TON of new pictures. His kindergarten ones from school were absolutely terrible. I've been meaning to get these taken for months now... Well, better late than never.

The rest of them are in Justin's five year album in the photos section. I'm hoping to get them out in the mail tomorrow (well, get them ready tomorrow to be mailed on Monday). I am doing great on energy today, so hopefully I'll have some tomorrow so I can get it all done and sent out. Once I update the blog to say they're in the mail, and you don't get one, send me an email and I'll get one out to you. The picture place suckered me good and I have a million prints. It's so hard to say no when they all turned out so well! *laugh*

Originally posted: Saturday April 29, 2006 - 05:02pm

Feeling almost whale-ish

I'm about 34 weeks in this picture. Four weeks to go. Darrell, although he said it in the kindest manner possible, thinks I'm bigger already with Kaden than I was with Justin. *sigh*
We are all starting to get really excited. The c-section is only 25 days away! I switch back and forth between thinking

1) "Wow, only 25 days left!!!" or

2) "Oh man, there's still 25 days left...."

*laugh* I can't help it. I'm getting to that lovely stage at the end of most pregnancies where it's hard to move around, hard to sit or lay comfortably, hard to sleep... Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining too much, it's just how it works. I'm thrilled to be able to finish our family in the way that we've wanted since we got married. (People keep asking me if we plan on trying again for a girl. An emphatic NO! is my answer. Hahaha. I've only ever wanted two children and I don't feel the need to have a girl.)

Originally posted: Saturday April 29, 2006 - 04:58pm

Finished Kaden's room?

Check out the photos section for a bunch of pictures of Kaden's room! I finally had some time and energy to finish cleaning up, adding a few more touches, and taking some pictures. The only thing I'd still like to work on is some more transportation-themed stuff on the walls. I found some cute wallpaper cutouts ("Wallies") of trucks, airplanes, trains and such online, just want to look for them in stores around here. The pictures are in the "New Baby" album of the photos section. Unless, that is, I can figure out how to change the name of that particular folder. Then they will be in the "Kaden" album.

I did figure it out. Look in the "Kaden Anthony" album.

For what it's worth, I've tried to clean up the drop-down menu on the front of my 360 page. Not sure why it's dorked up, but no matter what I do, it doesn't get fixed. Once you click on something that takes you to the photo album page, it's cleaned up. *shrug* It's driving me nuts, but I can't figure out how to get it fixed, so I'm doing my best to ignore the fact there's a problem. *laugh*

Originally posted: Saturday April 29, 2006 - 04:52pm (EDT)