Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Now

Aren't we adorable?  My love
 fresh off the plane from England
and finally home to me :)
November 5, 2012
I can't believe it's February already.  It's funny how fast time marches by when all is well.  Why is it that the harder the day, the longer it is?  A most unfair anomaly.  Well at any rate, Geoff has been home for three months now!  That's 1/4 the time he was gone.  I can hardly believe it.  So much has happened since we were reunited.

Having the house full of laughter again is the most comforting thing.  For those that know my dear husband, you can appreciate how much laughter he brings into our lives.  The antics are nearly never-ending and I am more than fine with that.... apparently, that's how I can know he loves me :)

I love that even after 13 years together, we are still so excited to be together.  Actually, I would say, our love has grown in infinite amounts as we have weathered the seas of life together... and the older I get the more license I have to be cheesy.

Devon, Geoff and Mom at The Little Chapel on the Hill

Just after Geoff got home, his family came to visit.  He was so happy to see Mom, Dad and his younger brother, Devon.  It had been almost five years since he had seen them.  We had a lovely few days together and were sad to see them go.  We are looking forward to a summer in Idaho!

The Monday after Thanksgiving, we took a plunge and enrolled all the children in public school.  It was very difficult the first few weeks and there were many tears, both theirs and mine, but currently everyone is adjusted and thriving... Even me.  I've taken a new job as a Special Needs Substitute at the elementary where my children attend.  It is a great fit for me, I can use my skills and education doing something I love, but only when I want to.

Our Gingerbread/Graham Cracker village.

Christmas all together was wonderful.  Being able to have a partner in crime, as we laid out presents Christmas Eve was the best part of my Christmas.  I think Santa is much more fun as an adult.

And we got to have our annual Gingerbread/Graham Cracker House party.  We had a few other families join us in the festivities and enjoyed a night of good food and sugar!

After two months of anxious searching, Geoff has also found the perfect job: working in the county juvenile detention facility.  He has been working for a few weeks now and is finally starting regular shift work after finishing his training.  He loves it, the hours are conducive for further his education (both in Criminal Justice and as a helicopter pilot) and the pay more than meets our needs.  God is good.

We are feeling very blessed and watched over.  God loves His children and He is a very attentive Father.  He knows our needs and longs for us to have joy.  As long as we trust in Him, we cannot fail.

Life is good.  It is oh, so good.

Enjoying quality time with Daddy at the park because we can do that in Texas in December :)
And what better way to utilize time at the park than burying one of your own.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Surgery and Sedation

Rock star in his new shades.
Mac had surgery today.  To be technical it was for Strabismus and Amblyopia.  In English, he had his lazy eye fixed... hopefully.  He had surgery on both eyes to make sure they would move in tandem.  We love the surgeon, Dr. Moody.  He brought Mac a super soft teddy bear, a shark 'cold' pack and a pair of sunglasses just before they took him back for surgery.   So, you know, it was similar to all our military doc surgeries.  Ehem.  We have many friends that are military doctors, but there is no way I am going to pretend that having surgery in a military hospital even comes close to having it elsewhere.  And today, Mac's operation was at a great pediatric surgery center.  Every staff member was kind and polite and great with the kids... they gave him a small stuffed monkey too.  He made out like a bandit!  The surgery went great.  Doc says he may develop 2 black eyes.  I say: if he does, we'll make up some amazing story as to how he got them :)

Right after surgery.  Asleep thanks to an extra sedative... no fisticuffs today. *see explanation below.

My sweet Mac is very passive aggressive.  So, passive aggressive that he usually wakes up from surgery screaming, kicking, biting, spitting and hitting.   I'm glad this surgery center actually listened to me when I told them that and decided to give Mac an extra sedative after surgery to keep him calm.  Worked like a charm.  Though this time he was quite weepy, like I usually am.  Ask Geoff about it sometime... I remember waking up and begging for my husband so pathetically that they finally brought him back to me.  Later he told me he could hear me crying and calling for him from out in the waiting room.  So sad.

Even though it's a bit sad and pulls at the heart strings, it is also quite humorous and adorable (NOT like me) when children are waking up from sedation--as long as they aren't trying to kill someone. Here are some of Mac most memorable comments after surgery today--all said while he was slightly weeping and/or whimpering:

*upon first waking "My eyes were casted."--really they were just patched for a little bit--which was closely followed up by, "I can't see, mom.  How'm I gonna get to the car?"

*a few minutes later, he awakes from a snore. whimpers."I can't open my eyes. When will I be able to see my beautiful mother's face?"*yes, moms heart squeezes at that... he thinks I'm beautiful :)

He was also very concerned that he wouldn't be able to actually see Geoff whenever he gets home.  See what I mean about the blind thing?  The poor kid thought his eyes were permanently damaged.  Anesthetic is an evil necessity.  I sure don't want to have surgery while awake... I guess I have technically, since I've had 2 c-sections.. but I digress.  I just really, really don't like what the anesthetics do to me and my kids.  Worst. feeling. ever.

Big hug for mom when he could finally open his eyes enough to see me.  I think he thought he was literally going to be blind for the rest of his life.  It was so sad, can't imagine what that would feel like to wake up thinking you are blind.  Glad to know he'd miss seeing me.

*again later after more sleeping and snoring and whimpering
"But mom, my eyes are all blurry. How am I supposed to do my chores and stuff?"

**such a great kid! he thinks mom is beautiful and he's worried about doing his chores while laying in his recovery bed! he must have been seriously drugged :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

7 weeks, 6 birthdays, 5 days with Geoff, 4 homemade cakes, 3... uh, I don't know what, but I'm sure something happened 3 times, 2 parties and 1 anniversary (#12!).

Yes, we've had a busy summer so far :)  And loved ever minutes of it, even despite this darn Texas heat.

Oh, the birthdays.
Our kids couldn't have had birthdays closer together if we had planned it.  And actually that's a question we get asked a lot.  When asked if our anniversary falls in October (since all our kids were due the same week in July, though they weren't all born on their due dates, like any baby is anyway), our usual reply is "No.  But don't you understand how cold it gets in the intermountain west in October?"
And wouldn't you know, the extra children we've brought into our home also has his birthday in June too.

We don't always do birthday parties, but this year I let the kids have that option to have a party or a small day trip--yes, I do overcompensate when dad is gone.  Jere-Miah's birthday is on the 17th and the twins' is on the 19th of June which fell on a Sunday and Tuesday this year.  They all wanted a swimming party at the neighborhood pool, so we decided to have a triple party for all of them on the 18th, the day between their b-days.  We ended up with about 20 kids and 10 adults and I was so glad we had it at the pool.  After swimming for about 2 hrs we headed back to our house for pizza and cake and ice cream.  Of course we couldn't just have one cake, the boys all wanted their own, so we had three cakes and three types of ice cream too.

Jere-Miah's Warrior's River Clan Cake
Mac's Halo Battle Cake
Daeglan's Pirate ship cake
Me and my boys and my... uh, their cakes!

Jere-Miah also got a private dinner for two (with me!) for to celebrate turing 14 and being ordained a teacher.  He picked Red Lobster and was out-of-this-world happy when I said yes, he could actually order a lobster.

Mac's xbox 360! (got it cheap on ebay)
Daeglan got a DS and was stoked.

Next in the birthday line up is mine and I had the. best. birthday. ever!  For my birthday, I got to fly out to Washington D.C. and spend 5 whole days with my love, Geoffrey.  
Totally enjoyed just being in the same room
Had fun exploring the Metro, much easier to navigate than the Tube in London

Tried our hardest to take our own pictures with monumental backdrops. #fail 

Funniest thing ever: The pedicab.  Our ride to dinner. 
I have to give a shout out to my amazing bestie, Mel Howard, who has always had my back and particularly this time as she came to stay with  my kids while I went galavanting around D.C. with my boyfriend!  Thanks, Mel :)

Brody decided he didn't want a party this year.  He chose a day trip to Glen Rose, TX... aka the dinosaur captial of Texas.  Anyone that knows Brody, knows that is right up his alley.  He was super excited when he got his new fishing pole as Dinosaur State Park is in Glen Rose.  The river runs through it and there are fossilized dinosaur tracks all up and down the river bed.  He was looking forward to fishing where dinosaurs had once hunted for their dinner too.  

The new fishing pole/kit.

Unfortunately, fishing didn't happen that day.  We went to Dinosaur World first and darn the Texas heat, it was 105 by the time we got out of there and the kids were exhausted from the heat.  Dinosaur World is all outside.  It's a walk through time down a path filled with life-sized dino statues.  There is also a dino playground and a fossil dig.  I think Brody was actually a little disappointed, it wasn't quite as awesome as he had hoped and the heat didn't help matters, but he handled himself like a champ and hasn't complained a word about it.  I promised I'd take him fishing in Dinosaur State Park in the fall when the weather is more accommodating.  Until then, he is content to fish in the creek in our neighborhood.

The clan with the triceratops.  This picture we took especially for Geoff as this is one of his favorite dinosaurs. 
Digging for fossils.  My kids totally rock bandanas.  My dad would've been proud.

Brody with his most favorite bday present, Cruncher, a robot-like dino and his donut tower cake.

Baby girl's birthday was the last in our summer line up and she was adamant about having an all girl party.  The boys were a little put off that they weren't invited.  Daeglan, in particular, kept complaining and nearly crying that he was being banished to my bedroom to watch a movie while the girls were here.  I relented and invited him to the party.  I said, "Daeglan, you know what, you're right, Emeryss was invited to your party, so you can come to hers.  We'll be painting our nails and putting on makeup so start thinking about what colors you would like, ok?"  Yeah, needless to say, he didn't join the party after he realized what an all-girl party entailed.  Emeryss, on the other hand, was in heaven!  It was probably the most girl time she's had.  Ever.  Except for the week she and I spent in Germany with our good friends the Moran's and their 5 daughters. After her party we spent the afternoon swimming down at the pool and we had her favorite dinner, bbq chicken and rolls with mashed potatoes.

My lovely 7 year old Princess :)

Having so much fun doing nails and makeup.
She L.O.V.E.D. open all those girly gifts.

We ended her birthday with a sleepover (with the boys) in the living room.

Actually Geoff and my anniversary kicks off the summer fun, but for the purpose of the post, I'm putting it last.  On June 9th Geoff and I celebrated 12 years of marriage, of course, from a few thousand miles apart.  I was depressed the whole week leading up to our anniversary, knowing there was no hope that Geoff could be home with me and at that time, also not knowing I was going to get to spend my birthday with him.  I was really not looking forward to all the summer days to celebrate without him.  Then, on the morning of our anniversary, I found a small package in the mail addressed to me.  It was the best. anniversary. present. ever!  Ever.  Seriously, I don't know how he will ever top it.  He was very much with me that day as I read his version of the story of us.  And yes, of course, I cried.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


As in this blog has gone far too long neglected and seriously stinks.

Working up the motivation to give it a full overhaul and a fresh breath of life.

Posts to look forward to:

-5 birthdays in 6 wks.
-My trip to Heaven... I mean, D.C.
-any other random bit of fun that might bring a laugh

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stonehenge and Bath

Well, since we still don't have any real idea of when or where we are moving we decided to make the most of our weekend and go to yet another place on our checklist, Stonehenge and Bath. We seemed to spend more time in the car than we did site-seeing, but it was still an awesome day out.

We stopped in Stonehenge first and it was awesome. It really is awe-inspiring to see such massive stonework and to wonder how in the world they did it. And to see how it is all laid out, the math and science that went into the structure is mind-blowing. To imagine that with such rudimentary tools--compared to what we have today--they were able to build (and on such a large magnitude) a structure that is 1) a perfectly geometric: a perfect circle and a perfect rectangle, perfectly overlaid, and 2) perfectly aligned with the sunrise and sunset during the summer and winter solstice. It really is amazing. We are so grateful we had the time and the means to get to see it before our time here was truly up.

Setting out on the path that goes around Stonehenge. Got our maps and our audio tour guides already to go :) Won't lie, we were disappointed that we couldn't walk among the stones.
But still, it was awesome.

Brody, Emeryss, Daeglan, Mac

Some of my favorite shots from the day.

Brody, Mac, Jere-Miah, Geoff and Emeryss.
Daeglan is there too, but he didn't want to be in the picture, so he's hidden behind Geoff.

Jere-Miah and Brody snapped a ton of their own pictures with their DSi's.

Geoff, Mac and Emeryss.
Geoff had just run his hands thru Mac's hair and made it a little fro...
Mac, as you can see, is not too happy about it.
Emeryss is studiously listening to her audio guide.

Another of my favorite shots of the day.
It was really difficult to get any without people in them.

Emeryss and her new favorite thing: the audio tour guide.

The flat stone laying on the ground is referred to as the Slaughter Stone. In medieval times, people thought that it was cursed because it turns red when it gets wet. They deduced that it must have been a sacrificial alter and that the blood of the victims sacrificed there was what made it turn red. Actually, it is full of iron just like the standing stones you can see behind it. Those stones would also turn red when it rains if they were laid down like this one.

This is the heel stone and it points the way for travelers coming from a distance. It can be seen from across the field, where there is a hill top that visitors would come up over anciently.
The travelers could then follow the heel stone until they could see Stonehenge.

One last shot with no people... well, mostly. I think there is one or two,
but you have to search for them, they don't just stand out.

We had a few people tell us not to waste our time and money going to Stonehenge. Can you believe it? That people would say this mysterious and ancient wonder of the world is for the birds?

Well, I guess they do have a point here. There were birds everywhere! Apparently, the stones are covered in over 90 different varieties of lichen and the birds just love it. Here are a few shots I got of the birds that love Stonehenge as much as we do.

After departing from Stonehenge, we took another gorgeous drive a little further Northwest to Bath. The drive made me long for Wales. It was the same sort of hill and valley landscape that we love so well. The windy roads weren't as scary as in Wales though, we weren't as high up. But it was the same sort of breath-taking experience, coming around a bend and into a new and completely different world. We knew that Bath had a strong Roman history, but we weren't expecting what we found there. It's like driving into Italy. The entire layout of the town is totally Roman. Unfortunately, my camera died shortly after arriving in Bath, so I only got two pictures of our time there :( Guess I'll have to go back again sometime!

The Roman Bath Museum. One of the few natural hot springs in the UK, this was once a large spa/resort in Roman times with several baths, an exercise area and a temple for the Goddess of the Sacred Spring, Minerva. My kids love learning about the Romans, and they were very into this, though they were put out when they discovered they couldn't actually get in the water.

The view down the street from the balcony at the Roman Bath Museum. All of Bath looks like this. The archways and columns and that fabulous white stone carved with such intricate details. It's no wonder it's been a major tourist spot for the last two thousand years.

I'm so in the mood to read some Jane Austen now! We even got to see the Pump Room. The Pump Room that was the social hot spot for many years during Austen's time and plays such a role in a few of her novels.

We love the UK and feel very blessed to have had this opportunity to live here. Wish it would never end.

p.s. I'm really going to miss the green and gray of England. I think it's beautiful.

Snowdonia National Forest, Wales

One of the places we were determined to go to before leaving the UK was Wales. And we finally made it there--thanks to some tips from our friends. We stayed in Snowdonia National Forest at a Royal Navy Charity cottage. The Royal military has a few such charities that we know of. They are cottages or old barracks that they now use for their military and their families to use for R&R. Fortunately for us, they are generous enough to let their allies use it too. This trip was also extra fun because we were able to go with our great friends, the Butikofer's.

Wales is literally breath-taking. On the drive, we came around a bend in the road and suddenly we were in mountains. I'm sort of embarrassed to admit, the beauty of it actually brought tears to my eyes. I'm not sure what it is, but, for Geoff and I both, something in this country speaks to us on a deep level. The drive was gorgeous, if a little alarming. Tiny roads with no shoulder is one thing when you are driving around daily in a flat farming community, but it's another thing entirely when you are driving on winding mountain roads with sheer drop-offs a few feet away. The landscape is simply majestic. The mountains are lush and green, dappled with purple heather and dotted with rocks and sheep. Picturesque is not a sufficient word.

Here is the view from the cottage:

See what I mean?

So, of course, as soon as we had arrived, unloaded the cars and had a bite to eat, we raced out the door to climb the mountain behind the cottage. It was a bit of a challenge. The kids took right to it and were little mountain lions, which lead to my heart trying to burst out of my chest. Seriously. I just had to shut my eyes. Watching their every step was too terrifying. I keep seeing them dropping right off the mountain. And, Geoff's achilles obviously protested the climb, but he didn't let that stop him. Also Jere-Miah was very apprehensive, but he persevered and we are so proud of the giant steps he took that day. We climbed most of the way up all together, then Jere-Miah and I stopped and took a seat and enjoyed the view, while Geoff and the other kids adventured the rest of the way up. We headed back to the cottage, had homemade pizza, hot showers and enjoyed the lounge with hot chocolate and a fire before bunking down for the night. A great first day there. :)

Our kids with the Butikofer kids waiting for the adults to catch up so they could climb!

Geoff and Jere-Miah starting up the path.

Looking up. We're climbing up there?

The view from the top... well, almost the top. That's our cottage down there. Jere-Miah was such a stud. He worked so hard to get up that mountain and though it was very difficult, he never gave up... Geoff wouldn't let him anyways, even if he had wanted to :)

Day 2 in Wales we decided to just do more exploring. There are plenty of castles and manor houses and gardens to visit everywhere in the UK, but we wanted to see Wales as God created it. We went to Fairy Glen, a magical rock-climbing, hiking experience. It's part of the Conwy river and has a few literary associations. One such is in Geoff's favorite book series by Terry Brooks, the Shannara series. Legend says that the fairy come from the crevice in the rocks where the river comes through. And in the world of Shannara, the first Knight of the Word is called and endowed with power by the Lady of the Word as she descends from the mists of the falls at Fairy Glen. You can see why we had to go! And it was everything we'd dreamed it would be. You can definitely see why people associate it with magic.

Emeryss and M. Butikofer taking turns sitting on 'the throne'
at the beginning of the Fairy Glen path. It is, as you can probably tell, actually the old chimney of house that once stood there. It did make a pretty great seat though :)

Brody in heaven, completely enjoying the serenity of the river.

Geoff and J. Butikofer rock climbing to get a better view of the river...
and their mini-me's, Brody and M. Butikofer, following after.

Geoff. Finally catching his first glimpse of the Fairy Glen.

Geoff, Emeryss, Mac and Daeglan exploring the rocks and giving me a heart attack.

Brody, Master of the Universe, triumphant at Fairy Glen.

Yes, that there is the Fairy Glen. *sigh* I really want to go back!

After working up our appetites at Fairy Glen we went to the nearby village of Betws-y-Coed and had lunch. It's a bit of a touristy village, but it was fun to walk through and look in all the shops. There was also a great old church there, that I can't for the life of me remember the name of... anyway, the kids and I had a look around inside. It had beautiful stained glass windows, but unfortunately, I was low on memory space on my camera, so I didn't get pictures. They also had candles out to light--for 20p each--and a sign that posted why they lighted candles. It was actually really cool, though, again, I can't remember exactly what it said. Jere-Miah really liked it though, so I gave him 20p and he lite a candle and said a prayer. Very memorable moment.

We then headed to Swallow Falls, named so because their appearance resembles the tails of swallows. They don't quite compare to my favorite place, Mesa Falls in Idaho, but they were worth seeing, and a real treat for the kids, who have no memory of ever seeing a real waterfall before and Jere-Miah, who actually hadn't ever seen a waterfall.

Daeglan contemplating life on the stairs down to Swallow Falls.

The Marrott's--Geoff, Miranda, Jere-Miah, Emeryss, Mac, Brody and Daeglan--at the Falls.

Swallow Falls.

As you can imagine, when Day 3 came we were sad to say goodbye to Wales. And can you blame us when we were waking up to this every morning?

But, alas, it was time to start the trek home, but we decided, since we were so close we had to make a pit stop on the coast and get a glimpse of the Irish Sea first. Our stop was brief, especially since it started hailing just 2 minutes after we parked the cars and got out, but it was well spent and memorable. Just as we were heading back to the cars, a little family that had been crabbing on the pier was letting their crabs loose and we got to stop and enjoy their spoils. There were crabs everywhere! The kids loved it. Then it started to rain hard again and we sprinted to the cars and made our way home. We love you, Wales. Someday, we'll be back!

The Irish Sea.... or rather a bay area of the Irish Sea.

Jere-Miah in crabby heaven.

Mac and Daeglan (holding the crab) trying to hold them without getting pinched.

Picture of the day: Geoff's lunch!