Monday, November 30, 2009

Kerry's Coming Home Early!

Kerry called this morning to give us the amazing news that he will be home for Christmas!!

God is blessing my socks off!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Face Plant

Our Thanksgiving started off with a bang.....literally.

We met some friends at a nearby stadium to spend some time running and walking around the track. I only walk, but the teens like to run. They usually run a mile, then they go "free run" because regular running isn't dangerous enough. Free running involves leaping over fences and running up walls. I tried to find some videos on you tube to link to, but most of the ones on there involve people doing back flips and other extreme moves that Ben doesn't do (yet).

On Thursday, Ben and Nate were leaping over two chain link fences. One was four feet high the other was six feet high. They were practicing going over one fence and then the other without pausing. Ben cleared it the first time he tried, but the second time, he didn't quite get his feet up high enough. His shoes tangled in the top of the fence and he landed smack on his face in the dirt from four feet in the air.

He was dizzy and slightly nauseated when he stood up; there was dirt all over his body and blood from the nose down. He was literally thrilled with what an awesome tumble he took. I took a picture with my cell phone to commemorate the moment.

I took this just after he had leaned down under a faucet and washed a good bit of the blood and dirt off.

I was nervous when he looked at me and said, "I see two of you," but the dad of the other family with us is a PA and checked him out and once his vision returned to normal they gave us a ride home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blond Moment At The Bank

I'm car shopping. I HATE car shopping. This is Kerry's area. He usually does the research. He usually does the dickering. I stink at dickering. A car salesman can tell me why I need this car right now, why I can't leave the lot without signing the papers today, and why he just can't reduce the price of the car one bit and I will say, "Oh....okay then."

They train on people like me. My southern girl politeness won't let me be rude or possibly hurt their feelings (yes I know how ridiculous that sounds) by walking away after all the time and effort they have put into showing me their available vehicles. Knowing they will do this to me, I have so far only surfed on line for cars and have not set foot on an actual car lot for fear they will get me in their clutches.

I did, however, go ahead and get an auto loan approval. I wanted to make sure I had the financing taken care of before I ever get to the lot. I figure it might make me sound like I know what I'm doing. I went to the bank, filled out all the necessary paper work and sat down with a very nice lady who would approve or deny my request.

Now, let me just say, I'm used to people mispronouncing my last name. This is nothing new, and I barely even bat an eye when it happens. Kerry doesn't even bother to correct people any more, and Ben used to actually introduce himself with the incorrect pronunciation because he said they were going to get it wrong anyway so why bother giving them the correct version.

But no one ever gets my first name wrong. When you see the letters A-M-Y you know how it's going to sound. There are no more exotic pronunciations of Amy floating around out there. AIM-mee. AIM-mee. AIM-mee. See? It never changes.

So anyway, the nice bank loan lady is looking over my paperwork and she looks up at me and says "AHH-mee?"

"No," I say nicely (wouldn't want to hurt her feelings!) "AIM-mee." I even pointed at myself to make sure she knew who we were talking about.

She looked at me with a completely deadpan expression and said in a thick New York accent, "Is your husband in the AHH-mee or is he in the Air Force?"

I'm surprised she approved the loan. Clearly I don't have brains enough to figure out how to use the coupon repayment book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Elf Yourself!

If you have never Elfed Yourself, now is the time! It is very simple to upload pictures of yourself onto this website and make a hilarious video clip that will superbly entertain your kids (and you too, really).

Here is the "Singing" version of Elf Yourself.

You can also see us Shake Our Groove Thing!

Or see us bust some cool moves in the Hip Hop version!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kerry on The Bonnie Hunt Show!

Put your curser over the picture for the play button to pop up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Heeeeeere's Bonnie!

Remember this video? It's the one where Kerry came home for R&R and the dogs went berserk when they saw him for the first time in seven months.

Well, I was browsing The Bonnie Hunt Show website this past week and there was a spot in there to submit a funny video. So I submitted the video of Kerry and the dogs.

Lo and behold they called me this morning to ask if they could use the video on the show! I almost didn't answer the phone because the caller ID showed it was a call from "The Culver Stud". I thought at best it was short for "Study" which would probably be a long drawn out poll or at worst, that obscene phone calls have gotten franchised.

Then someone started to leave a message and he identified himself as being from The Bonnie Hunt Show. I snatched up the phone and got the exciting news that they want to play the clip on the show! (It was from Culver Studio, by the way.)

He's supposed to email me when they know for sure it will be on. He said they were going to try to play it during the taping today and that it would air tomorrow. But if they ran out of time, it would get bumped to the next day.

While we are very excited about this, when we got home from Ben's chemistry class today, the dogs had gotten into the trash and my kitchen looked like this:

So they may not survive to see their own television debut.

Here On Gilligan's Isle!

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale........

We went to Gilligan's Island this week! Actually, it's really called Coconut Island and Gilligan's Island was not filmed there.

Well, the opening scene of the show was filmed there. You know the part where they show an aerial view of the SS Minnow beached in the lagoon? THAT is Coconut Island off the coast of Oahu. The rest of the show was filmed in a studio in Hollywood.

But I was thrilled, thrilled I tell you, to be visiting the uncharted desert isle where the Minnow was beached. I watched Gilligan's Island every single day after school for years. If there were a Trivial Pursuit game which only asked questions about that show, I would kick butt.

Today, the island is the home of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology which is part of the University of Hawaii. We set up a field trip for our homeschool group to take a tour. A three hour tour. Heh heh. We set out on this little boat which ferried us over to the island. All the kids in the group seemed to think this was the highlight of the day.

We were split into three groups. Ben, Emily, and Katie were each in a different group; I wound up in Katie's group. That's why I only have pictures of her, it's not because I love her more or anything. Not at the moment anyway. She was pretty obnoxious earlier. But I digress......
We were shown various experiments that they are researching on the island. This one had a cool little flower in it. When someone poked it with a finger, it vanished immediately into the coral it was growing on.

Then we were taken down to a body of water where the kids raked up a type of seaweed to perform experiments on.

We had to root through the seaweed and remove any live critters in there as quickly as possible and put them in bowls of water to keep them alive. There were little tiny fish, little tiny crabs, something called a squirt which shot water out at us, and little starfish called Brittle Stars which crawled around really fast.

It turns out, this seaweed is not native to Hawaii, it was introduced to the area in modern times. It promptly started to smother and kill the coral reefs and all the creatures that live in the coral reefs. So one of the jobs of the people who work there is to go out on a boat and send scuba divers down to the coral reefs with a big suction hose and suck up all the invasive seaweed they can. Then the biologists on the boat sort out the live creatures just like we did and send the back down to the coral reefs but keep the seaweed.

The seaweed is then sent to taro farmers who let the rain rinse the salt out of it and then use it to fertilize their fields. Very organic.

We then were taken to a lab where we were able to look at microbes which are normally found in the ocean water. If I get violently ill in the next week, tell the doctors it was a marine amoeba.

We also got to visit a pond which had manta rays, puffer fish, and various sharks and fish in it. They pulled out the jawbone and teeth of a shark to let the kids hold. There were an amazing amount of teeth in that thing.

Katie got to hold a shark tooth that was almost as big as her face! This was definitely a very cool field trip. Everyone should go on a trip like this!

I wouldn't even have minded being stranded there for quite a while.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gas-Mask Bra

The world has evolved to a scary place. Normal, every-day clothing is now being designed to protect people from terrorist attacks.

Consider the brassiere - now it not only lifts and separates, it can save the lives of two people should a gas attack occur. Whip it off and convert it into two useful gas masks! (Full story here.)

"It only takes 25 seconds for any woman to use," she joked. "Five seconds to convert and wear her own mask, and 20 seconds to wonder who the lucky man is to wear the second mask."

Talk about uplifting research.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scuba Dooba

See those little heads bobbing up and down way out there? One of those little heads belongs to my son.

My firstborn, my baby boy, who is far too young to be that far out in the ocean, or diving that deep under the water.

But this was his official first scuba dive after a week of class (which is not nearly long enough). Two nights in a classroom, two dives in a swimming pool, and they take you out in the ocean two days in a row for four consecutive dives - as if you know anything about what you are doing.

Well, Ben must have known what he was doing because he is now officially certified as a scuba diver!
I was terrified he might die out there.
He was unconcerned that it was a possibility. Silly mom, teenagers are immortal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm Tired

I am.

I think I have handled this deployment beautifully. I've kept things running, unpacked our entire house (except for those last three boxes that I just can't make myself care about), learned my way around the island, homeschooled the kids, and handled every crises that has come up, including having the car break down twice in the space of a month back in February. I have been relentlessly upbeat, I have not complained, I have accepted the situation and continued on with my life because, honestly, what choice do I have? I could whine and cry, but it wouldn't change the fact that my husband is deployed for a year and I have three kids who need two parents and I am both right now.

But I'm tired. I'm tired of being the only one who can drive. I'm tired of planning meals and shopping for groceries and teaching three different grade levels. I'm tired of sweeping and laundry and dishes and dog hair. I'm tired of being exhausted all day and unable to fall asleep at night. I'm mentally and physically drained all the time.

Saturday night I came home late. It was dark and rainy and I was frustrated and tired. I parked in front of the house and sat there a minute just to have some quiet time. When I decided to come inside, the keys wouldn't come out of the ignition. This is a common problem for our car. It doesn't like to let go of the keys. I've learned that if I just restart the car and then turn it off again, the keys will slide right out on the second try. So, when the keys wouldn't come out, I immediately tried to crank the car again.


The engine wouldn't turn over. It made no noise other than the click. And the keys still wouldn't come out.


I tried over and over and over. The car wouldn't crank. The keys wouldn't come out of the ignition.

I figured I could take the house key off my key ring and let myself in the house. But my mind was racing ahead to the next morning. I was scheduled to work with the two and three year-old kids at church. I would have to get hold of someone at church and let them know I couldn't get there. And I would have to call a tow truck to see if they would come haul my car in on a Sunday and I was calculating how much money this new development would cost me.

But the first order of business was to cry.

I sat in the car and cried and cried and cried. And the entire time, I kept trying to crank the car or get the keys out.

And I prayed. I prayed for patience and for wisdom and for this not to cost too much.

When finally the well was dry, I gathered up my purse and started to take the house key off the ring so I could get inside. Then I realized I hadn't put the car in park.........

I put it in park, cranked it up, turned it off, pulled the keys out and went inside with my prayers answered.


Friday, November 6, 2009

From High to Low

Kerry called on Tuesday to give me some exciting news - he wasn't supposed to come home until January, but he was being sent home with the second wave of soldiers returning and would be here for Christmas!

They had been telling him for weeks that he would be leaving in early December, but he didn't want to tell me and the kids and get us all happy and excited in case the date got changed again.

He had lunch with one of his colonels on Tuesday and verified all information:

"You're sure I'm going home in time for Christmas?"

"Absolutely. Your name is on the manifest, I've been telling you that for weeks!"

"So it's definite? I can tell my wife?"

"I'm surprised you haven't told her already!"

So he told me.

The next day the other colonel called him into his office, "You're not going home in December, we're keeping you back until January" (give or take a few expletives).

Thank you, Lord, that I did not tell the kids.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hawaiian Halloween

Halloween can be a sticky topic among Christians. I usually keep very quiet about my stance on Halloween celebrations. I've found it can lead to an all out attack by those who are convinced they are right and that they need to tell me the truth.

So here it is:

I take my kids trick or treating. I do. I always have. Every year of their lives. And not once did we stop and worship satan along the way.

(Please do not email me to tell me the history of Halloween or the true meaning of All Hallows Eve. I've heard it all. We still trick or treat.)

Anyway, I was actually surprised (and a little disappointed) this year when my kids said they wanted to attend the trunk or treat at our church instead of trick or treating in our neighborhood.

We have a lot of homeschoolers at our church and many of them do the same history program. Currently they are all studying the Amazon. So they decided to have a themed alternative party at the church on Halloween with a South American theme. We aren't used to working with a theme, and it actually made it much more difficult to come up with costume ideas. Plus with Kerry gone, my mind is overloaded with all I have to do each day and I just didn't have the brain power or energy to work on this a lot.

Katie went as a flower.

Emily went as a monkey.

Ben went as an explorer with two snakes wrapped around him. (I made him rearrange the snakes so that neither of them was coming out the leg of his shorts after this picture.)

I didn't know what to expect. I've always heard of "trunk or treat" so I thought there would be cars parked in the parking lot and the kids would go to each car for candy. Didn't sound like much fun. Didn't seem like it could take very long. The parking lot isn't that big.

It turned out, the students had really been working hard on decorations and games. They had painted jungle scenes for their class and those were used as backdrops for the games. In this game, kids had to toss Amazon beanie babies into the bowls to win candy.

There was a giant Easter Island type statue which was used as a hula-hoop tossing game.

Kids had to throw two green snakes (green tube socks filled with a tennis ball and stuffing) at this pyramid and knock it down.

The games were fun, but one of my favorite things about the evening was the food! Everything had signs on it describing it as some exotic Amazonian cuisine. The drink of the evening was Swamp Juice which smoked and bubbled with dry ice in it.

This is what it looked like when the dry ice had sublimated. It had fresh spinach, raisins, and gummy worms in it. I thought I saw a wash cloth in there at one point too. I declined to try it.

"Brazilian Dogs - Contains Galapagos lizard livers and crocodile meat."

"Hot Amazon Watercress - made from the non-poisonous parts of the deadly man-eating Amazon Watercress Plant (All poisonous parts of the deadly, man-eating Amazon watercress plant were carefully removed by authentic tribesmen of the Notsosmartse tribe who eat the deadly plant as part of their daily diet. There are only 3 tribesmen left in existence today.) Enjoy!!!!"

"South American Tribal Buns - Special thanks to the Bigbunzy tribe of Peru for making and providing these buns."

"Bananas (duh) - from Costco."

There wasn't a costume contest, but if there had been, this little girl would have gotten my vote. I laughed every time I looked at her!

There were plenty of great activities, but one of my favorites was a maze made of refrigerator boxes.

You wouldn't think it would be difficult to find your way through, but it really was. They had cut hidden doors in some of the boxes and you had to locate those spots in order to make it back out.

Various teens would yell to me, "Just follow my voice!"

"I can't!" I yelled back, "I'm at a dead end and there's no way over there!" I eventually found my way out after running into a few plane crash victims and a snake-covered explorer who gave me some hints.

The students had set up an area with displays of the studies they had done about South America as well. One adult exclaimed, "Wow! These look like something you'd see in a real school!" The teens thought that was hilarious.

There was a piranha-infested pit of shredded paper in which brave children could dive for candy. It took forever to clean those giblets of paper out of the girls hair!

There was also a "snake stomp" where long balloons were tied to the kids ankles, and each person tried to pop everyone else's snake before theirs was stomped out of existence.

I'm not sure who came up with the idea of giving every kid a pea shooter and all the Kix cereal they could blow thorough it. There were all out wars breaking out left and right with people shooting Kix through their straws at each other. Some folks were laughing so hard I was afraid they were going to inhale their cereal instead of blowing it back out.

Turns out trunk or treat is a lot more fun than I thought!