Friday, March 22, 2013

I'm a Liebster STAR!

I won an award.


The Liebster Award...

Never heard of it?  Well, despite being awarded this prestigious award by Carrie "CJ' Jean over at Military Wife Life I also had to google it. 

But...this may be my one and only chance to do Academy Award style thank you's so you'll just have to wait on what I found the meantime...

I'd like to thank my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Matthews.  This is what I remember most about her...she collected pigs and she would let me hide up in the reading loft when I was supposed to be doing something else.  Thanks for encouraging me to read and being the best librarian ever and instilling a love of words into a 5th grader.

Thank you to my teenage angst years, my adoration of New Kids on the Block and my complete nerdiness in high school that provided mountains of journal writing experiences of which I still have and cherish and laugh hysterically when reading.

And last, but not least...thank you to my parents who made me write essays as punishment.  It was those hours of writing no less than 500 words on "Why I should not lie" that has made me the blogger that I am today.

If i forgot anyone I'm terribly sorry...receiving the award has just gotten me all flustered!... in my google search...What I discovered is that the Liebster award has its roots way back in 2010 in a German blogger who decided to start an award for bloggers who have less than a certain number of followers.  I've seen numbers from 3000 to doesn't really matter in my case.  I fit both criteria.  Its kind of like a blogging chain letter...only MUCH cooler and you can't get arrested for it if you ask for money.  Which I may add to the Liebster award rules...nominate bloggers and then they have to pay you for accepting.  I may be onto something here.

Soo....I get the award...answer a list of questions asked by the one who nominated me and then pass the award along asking my own list of questions...

On to my award!  I get a badge and everything!

1.  What is your favorite quote?

I adore CS Lewis.  I find him absolutely brilliant.  This favorite of mine brought me much peace in the years I struggled with faith...

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

And then of course there is my second favorite which is much less serious, but still has a religious underton... 

"The 11th commandment:  Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator."

2.  What was the last song you listened to?

Ha!  Katy Perry - Firework.  LOVE her.  LOVE this song.  I just find it inspiring...and I LOVE the music video.  Bella and I danced while Jaxxy jumped in his exersaucer.  It was DANCE PARTY!

3.  What was your first blog post about:

I had to go back and look!  It was about starting a blog and writing like Dave Barry (who I find very humorous).  I'm not sure if my humorousness has reached his level....

4.  What is your favorite blog post on your site?

Oh, unfair!  I have no favorite.  (Booooo! Hisssss! say the crowd)   So if I absolutely HAVE to choose a favorite..I would say the one where I got this awesome award called the Liebster award....

5.  How did you come up with your blog name?

Ever seen Magnificent Seven?  There is a quote in there...

[as they ride to the village, Chico is following them]
Vin: Riding out there in all that dust and heat... what a chucklehead.
Chris: Yep. Not smart like us.
Vin: Yep.

And it was a good line.  And a good movie.  So when we started geocaching we needed a family name and became the chuckleheads. 

Also an interesting note...chuckleheads is synonymous with the word blockhead.  Guess what they call New Kid on the Block fans?  BLOCKHEADS!  I do believe everything in my life eventually ties back to New Kids on the Block.

6.  What inspires you? kids.  They are my love...  They make me want to be happy, healthy, kind, loving, exciting, energetic, active, spiritual, sweet, fun....

7.  Where so you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years....I shall be an old woman and I shall wear purple...

No seriously?  We'll still be in the Army...maybe living in Korea?  I'll have a 9 year old and a 5.5 year old.  I'll be on the PTA and have my own motorcycle to ride around on.  Oh, and I'll have actually crafted everything I have pinned on Pinterest.  Yeah Right.

8.  Describe yourself in 3 words.


Awesome, gracious, loving, sweet,  generous...and of course humble...

9.  What is your hometown and what is it like?

I always choose my birthplace as opposed to my hometown for questions like this.  I think deep down inside I liked being a country girl.  So, Vale, Oregon.  Little town of about 4,000 people.  One flashing stoplight.  It is as country as you can get...dusty, farms, migrant workers, trucks, one schoolbus to take all the kids to elementary, middle and highschool...

I loved living there.  I ran wild in the fields, swam in leech infested ditches, had my first boyfriend (Zach VanMeter - be still my beating 8 year old heart!)   Swam in a pool that had paint chipped in the deep end that I thought was in the shape of a shark....boy did I swim FAST in the deep end...I picked up potatos an beets from the side of the road as they dropped off trucks loaded high with produce.  I picked asparagus in the ditch banks and we drove an old Scout that could take a bump at 60 like no other car.

It was a glorious place to live.

10.  What is your dream job?

Dare I say writer?  My dream is to publish a book someday....

11.  How long have you been blogging?

Since 2004.  Thats 9 years...on this same blog.  And I love it.  Cheers to another 9...

And now for the moment you've all been waiting Liebster nominations...

1.  Southern Stepmom
2.  A Handful of Hannants
3.  A Daily Dose of Del Signore
4.  Mrs. Lawler's Lovelies
5.  My Life in Custody
6.  The Amburgular
7.  Lipstick Uniforms and Bare Feet
8.  The Pert Skirt
9.  These are the Days of Your Lives

(its not a real liebster rule that I HAVE to have 10...I always had a hard time following directions anyway.)

And your 10 questions...

1.  What was your weirdest hairstyle ever?
2.  Do you believe in love at first site?
3.  What is the last thing you put in your mouth?
4.  Why did you start blogging?
5.  If you could be famous for one thing...what would it be?
6.  If your mom was describing you what would she say?
7.  you could go back to highschool what would you change about that experience?
8.  Who do you admire most?
9.  First kiss tell all...what when where who how...
10.  Are you thrilled to receive the liebster award?


Another one bites the dust...

Its just too funny NOT to share...

The cutest little crawler...

Two days ago...March 19, 2013 we hit the crawling milestone!  We never hit it with Bella because she refused to crawl.  She only ever did the dead man's crawl...reaching out and grabbing the carpet and pulling herself forward.  It was like she was dying every time she did it.

But, Jaxxy is now a bonafide crawler!  I walked downstairs during the kids lunch and he was up on all fours rocking back and forth and then just started kicking his legs and moving his arms and tadum!

I was super lucky to see it...I just came down for a water refill...otherwise it would have been his nanny that would have had to glorious milestone first.  I love working from home!

It's only been a month? or It's only been a month!

Well, my intentions of doing a daily deployment photo were good at the very least...perhaps unrealistic for one with my procrastination and not stick to itness tendencies as reflected over the past year in my lack of blogging!

But, I am going to try and keep on it.

Today marks 31 days of Mr. Chucklehead deployed.  A month.  A full long month if you want to term it that way. I say, "It's only been a month!"  with a giant sigh of ugh...only 11 more to go...


Do I say, "It's only been a month?!" as I contemplate how MUCH has happened in just the last 31 days.

I'm not choosing just depends on the day.  Today it ends with an !...Eleven more to go. 

I think I can...I think I can...I think I can... 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Life in Bagram...

A second installment of bits and pieces of John's life in Afghanistan...

The First Few Days...

So, the part of Afghanistan I am in appears to be quite beautiful (as much as I can see over the 20 foot walls topped with a triple strand of concertina wire). The problem is that I was unable to discern this due to the constant rain for the first three days on the ground. The first day in the transient barracks was ok. The hundred or so of us had this giant two story warehouse style building to ourselves.  But on the second day, we started our training – the day started with a formation and a little march to the training site. The thing is that the guy marching us got lost and we walked for 20 minutes. The training site was literally right across the street from our barracks building...

...Anyways, there was a tiny break in the weather and I was able to see the mountains for the first time. It reminded me of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon; less trees of course, but otherwise very homey. The area I am in is ringed by mountains on three sides, so almost everywhere I look there are snow capped mountains. The glimpse didn’t last long though and the rain started falling again.

I , of course immediately looked up photos of Bagram on the internet and found this beauty.  It does look quite majestic. and beautiful.  Its hard to marry the idea that this is a war zone with the beautiful surroundings...

This is the airfield as seen from the air traffic controller catwalk.

On Saluting...(posted on his facebook page too!)

There is a main strip called Disney Drive and it is really the only North/South traverse of the base. The traffic (foot and vehicular) is terrible. What's worse is the lack of any traffic regulation to help pedestrians get across the street or for vehicles to enter the flow of traffic. The worst is the fact that this is a SALUTING post, so matter where I go, I am saluting. I am saluting my subordinates and my superiors. I have been working on some funny salutes in order to break up the monotony. It would be easier to just show photos, but I can try to illustrate the best I can.\
Pirate - where I cover my right eye as if I had an eye patch
Diving Board - my arm swings out and down to my brim and then quivers for a few seconds (helps to say boioiiiing)
Shark - my hand is vertical
Benny Hill - an exagerated British salute (mouth open and tongue out like a simpleton really makes this one work)
Cub Scout - salute with two fingers
Karate Chop - really fast up, really fast down
Arlington - opposite of the karate chop, really slow up, really slow down

Baby, it's cold outside...

We just finished up three days of sleet and dawned bright and beautiful and sunny..Its now two in the afternoon and Bella and I stood at the window looking out.  The playground behind our house was empty.  No children riding bikes on the path.  No footballs being thrown or bubbles being blown.

And I realized the sun was fickle.  Because you KNOW the minute I get the kids dressed and we venture outside we will F.R.E.E.Z.E our tushies off. 

Its kind of like white chocolate.  It looks so tasty on the outside and fancy drizzled over desserts, but its a whole mess of yuck when you bite into it.


And even my 4 year old knows it.  As she gazes out the window she says, "The sun looks cold, Mom." 


Can't fool us.  Thats why we stayed in PJs all day long. 

DD 11 - Jax and food!

March 2, 2013

Jax loves to eat. 

Did I mention that Jax loves to eat.

Oh, and by the way...Jax loves to eat.

I'm continually looking up the "recommended servings" for an 8.5 month old because the kid doubles and sometimes triples it.

But he's not big...or even chunky really.

Take today for example...For breakfast he ate about a cup of rice cereal, a baby food jar of tropical fruit and a handful of banana puffs.

Pre nap he had a 5 oz bottle of formula

Lunch was more cereal and green beans.  1/2 banana cut into chunks.

Pre nap another 5 oz of formula.

For dinner he'll have more cereal, food and formula...

And he can't stop staring at big people food.  He's finally broken a second tooth on the bottom so its almost time to give him more chunky options...

The other day he even tried to inhale it through his nose...

DD 10 - straw glasses

March 1, 2013
I found these on the dollar rack at the PX while shopping last week and just couldn't NOT buy them.  I know as a kid I would have been crazy excited to wear plastic straw glasses.   Who WOULND'T be excited? 
And, I've been having problems getting Bella to drink enough of anything...water, milk, juice....and I thought these might help.
They did.  She drank a whole glass of milk AND wanted water after that just so she could use the glasses 
Plus she looks pretty darn cute doesn't she....?

And of course Jax looking on...

Does that face say what the heck are you doing or what?

Making friends

Isabella just started preschool a few weeks ago...actually on February 5th.  I just realized I didn't put the date on her sign.  whoops!

Anyhow...she started school and within the first week had a best friend.  Brianna.  When I asked her what she likes about her and this is what I got...

"I just love her, mom."

"Why do you love her?"

"Because she wants to be my friend!" 

Is it that simple?  I want to be your friend therefore we are now friends. of those crazy things about moving around as much as we do is that you have to start over with friends everywhere you go.  I had awesome friends in Germany and maybe I'm just a little pouty that I had to leave them.  Of some point most of them will also leave Germany so the pouting is a little ridiculous.

And so this time around I actually got "involved."  I went to a spouse event and met a bunch of ladies (and one man) who are spouses of soldiers. We chatted over a game of bowling.  I discovered many of them worked in the same unit as John.  I was glad I went.  And, I specifically connected with two of them. 

And they couldn't be more opposites! 

One is just down the street from me.  She's funny...a little crazy and loud.  She's got energy and gets a little spazzy about stuff and extra bonus...has kids about the age of Bella. 

The other is quiet and reserved and has an older daughter (as in over the age of 20) who she still drives to school every day. 

But, they are my friends and I love them because they want to be my friend!  I'm lucky to have a couple of those. 

DD 9 - crazy bathtub kicker

February 28, 2013

I've been trying to get vidoe of Jax in the tub.  Why, you ask?  Because the kid is a maniac in the tub.  Like his sister he loves the water, but unlike his sister he could care less if the water threatens to swamp him at any minute.


When we walk in the bathroom he starts grunting because he knows whats coming up.  When I dip his toes in the water his whole body goes stiff and starts shaking in excitement.  And when I lay him down in the water the first thing that happens is he starts kicking like a maniac.  I'm not talking a little baby splashing...I'm talking water that is a mere 2 inches deep flying over the side of the tub...all over me...all over bella...all over the floor. 

It probably doesn't help that he likes to fling his little rag around...which is also the reason I haven't posted a video...he won't leave his little boy parts covered with a I just took a couple of snapshots of the last video I took and hopefully they give you an idea of his enthusiasm in the tub.

Despite cleaning up a mess...its really about the cutest thing I've ever seen. 

Just a little love from Afghanistan...

Its weird when you have a spouse that leaves for as long as John will be gone to Afghanistan.  What I mean is I think you miss them differently than one might if you just knew they were going to be gone for a week or two.  There isn't an acute feeling of angst...its more like a chronic feeling of loneliness that just kind of sits in your gut all the time.

Our family has been through so much separation.

Deployment from 2010 to 2011
Three months of school in 2011
Seven months apart/school in 2012
Deployment 2013 to 2014

So...since 2010 we've had a total of 11.5 months of dad living in our house with us.  Give or take a week here or there...either way...That sucks.   

So...when he is away we crave communication from him.  And he has not disappointed these past couple of weeks.  Its nice to hear about his life away from us....what he observes...what makes him laugh...what he thinks is interesting...even what his room/bathroom look like... 

I've included some tidbits of emails that he's sent describing his time in Afghanistan...

The Night he Left...

At 0130, We boarded a commercial flight with stewardesses and everything. I was very suprised to learn that it was a direct flight to Germany and a follow on to Romania. So by some freak luck of the draw, I ended up in an exit row. On this plane, it meant LEG ROOM - I mean I couldn't even touch the seats in front of me. The side of the plane also fit my head just right so I was really excited to sleep. I put my headphones in and started to doze off when they turned on the lights and started serving breakfast. WTH? So, I ate - again and then was able to doze for a while. I can't remember the movie, but it was one I had already seen, so I stared at it for a while in between cat naps. About two hours out of Franfurt, we ate again - dinner this time. They had a little slice of Tillamook cheese in the meal and I exclaimed to my neighbor how awesome the cheese was. He gave me his and I ate it without protest lol. We landed in Frankfurt at about 1800 local time. We had a 2 hour layover in a small concourse that had a gift shop, two little kiosks and a newspaper stand. I tried to hook up to the WiFi in order to let you know what was going on, but other people ahead of me captured all of the band width. Anyway, we reboarded the plane and flew the 4 hours to Romania.

In Romania...

When I got back to my room - 0230 - I decided to try to shower so that I didn't have to compete with the rest of the dudes. They hadn't turned on the hot water in enough time for night time showers though. Hmmm. I just remembered Wallowa Lake and the polar bear plunge (and swim practices in the Hillsboro pool in January) and toughed it out. It was colder than those other bodies of water. I ended up skipping some areas and shaved in the sink, but a couple people walking by laughed out loud at my plight. 

Arrival in Baghram...

They opened the back hatch of the plane to take out the pallets with the bags and it was raining - argh. None of my clothes were protected from incliment weather (except for my wet weather gear, which was in a water proof bag). The bags went one way and we went another. We turned in our ID cards and went through a couple briefings in the PAX terminal. We were released to get on the bussess, but first we had to load all of the bags onto a little transport truck. WTF? How come a baggage detail didn't have that done already? So - in the rain with our weapons slung on our backs and our carry on luggage at our feet, we created an assembly line chain to carry the bags from the pallets they were staged on into the back of the truck. We got on busses and went to the temporary/transient base. Again I got lucky and had a bottom bunk in a dark area of the building with an outlet right by the bunk. After unloading the bags from the truck - again in the rain - I got my bags settled, took out my tablet (thank you) and my credit card and ordered up internet service...