Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back (12 months of photos)

Wandering through Flickr, remembering the year through photos.
It was a hard year, but in so many ways, a very good year.

We enjoyed one of our favorite beach spots

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George learned to sit (fairly) still at the barbershop like a big boy


Emma was having a rough school year, but growing so much as a person

On Em's mind

Thomas Live caused George to nearly explode with joy

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Emma turned eight


The kids went on their first train ride

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More trips to the beach

low tide

Went to RideAble for the first time


Spring (and bug hunting season) began

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But we survived


We went on vacation (and caught more critters)


Enjoyed the beginnings of Summer, and learned how to slow down and enjoy each other


A family reunion for the 4th of July, so much fun!


Pieces of home, far away


George turned six


Met up with virtual friends in California

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George's first time at the County Fair (something we look forward to all year)


Kindergarten & Third Grade, both my babies in the same school


Getting used to early mornings again


Our first sports experience...Hockey!


Rainy days


Halloween fun


Missing Daddy


Spending time (in the cold) at the farm


A special surprise for the kiddos




It was VERY cold


Lego smiles and Transformer jazz hands, a perfect Christmas morning!



Thank you for joining our family throughout 2009, we're looking forward to a wonderful 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Sodier's Christmas Letter Home

We're in our Post-Christmas Recovery period. The house is a wreck, tempers are getting short, and everyone is getting sick of sugary foods. Until my brain can function again, I'd like to share with you (with Jason's permission) part of the letter he wrote to us and his parents on Christmas. He had had a pretty terrible day; nothing life-threatening, but filled with work frustrations and the general depression that comes from being half a world away on Christmas. The letter detailed the day of work where he was unsuccessfully trying to get awards approved for many of his soldiers, but then ended with this:

...I called home via video and saw my kids with the new gifts that Santa had brought and how excited they were. Emma was so anxious to start building her her Lego set and George was busy being a Transformer in his new Thomas the Train PJ' should see the pictures...they show such happiness. I step outside to let my eyes dry out a little bit and as I walk around my living area I hear Soldiers laughing, chillin' to music through their doors and several outside exchanging their own Christmas traditions with each other. I am so privileged to be amongst such great people. Whether they know it or not, they motivate me in so many ways. Then I realized, we aren't getting shot at, or rocketed. Convoys are at a minimum and those I did see throughout the day had garland straps on the most massive up armored vehicles you have seen. I saw Soldiers in full battle gear today laughing with full combat ammunition lads walking to their convoys wearing Santa hats. I watched my kids bounce up and down with joys at the sight of their new gifts. My family is safe, the sky is clear and the night is quiet with no one asking for an award of any caliber... all is calm.

For all of this I am thankful. I have the most supportive and loving family and am surrounded by some of the most amazing people who are willing to give everything and ask for nothing. There are no perfect awards nor are there the most perfect people, but there are ones you love and trust. I am a lucky man to have what I have and only hope others can have a part of what I have. My Christmas was awesome and I wish you and yours a very Special Christmas and a safe and happy new year. My gift you ask...easy...I'm thankful for what I have.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Peace of Christmas

Jason returned to work in the wee hours of the morning on the last day of school before winter holidays. I had a list of activities, travels, and crafts to fill the suddenly emtpy time and house. But day after day, for the last week, the kids have surprised me. Instead of needing distraction and comfort, they have been relaxed, lazy, and independent. We all sleep in late every day, nobody gets dressed until lunch, and they play happily with new toys and video games.

I had feared the second separation from Jason would be harder than the first, but it seems I was wrong. It was heart wrenching, for sure, as George understood the implications of Daddy saying good-bye in a way he hadn't previously. But, by understanding, he was able to deal with it more quickly and move on. Emma sent Daddy on his way with a smile and a wonderful, funny letter about the proper way to catch desert lizards. They both talk about Daddy often, and the Daddy Dolls have participated in many adventures this week; but now they see that, though he goes away for long amounts of time, he does return. And the peace we've experienced this week shows me that our temporary family of three has returned to the comfortable routines we established during the previous six months. We can do this.

Happy Holidays from our family to all of you.

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Morning, Round One

Before & After:

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There is something to be said for celebrating multiple Christmas mornings:
Many opportunities to eat donuts for breakfast.
Kids don't get overwhelmed with too many presents at once.
Seeing happy faces as presents get opened.
Shopping is done, EARLY.
Kids are totally occupied for the weekend.
Merry December 12th everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2009



This week, the temperatures have hovered around 10. At one point is was 8. EIGHT degrees. As my friend Becky posted on Facebook, "8 is not a temperature. It is an age. It is the number of cookies I might eat at one time. It is not supposed to be EIGHT in Oregon." It being cold, very cold, our activities have been a bit more limited than I would like.

Yesterday, the woman who runs Rideable called and confirmed my fears that all classes had been cancelled for the week. But then she said, "but if you want to, bring the kids anyway." She went on to say that she knew Emma really misses the animals when we can't go out there, and that George would have fun just running around in the pasture and stomping all the ice-covered puddles in the paddock. She knows my kids, and loves them, loves seeing them enjoy the farm. There was no therapy, no purpose to the visit, other than a chance to be there.



Our family has come into contact with so many great people and organizations over the last couple of years. I know a lot of people struggle in their journey with Autism and other special needs. Perhaps we've been lucky, or perhaps this town is filled with an unusual number of exceptional teachers, therapists, parents, and friends. Whatever it is, I'm so glad to be surrounded by their knowledge and support, and I hope I'm able to provide the same when needed. Happy Love Thursday.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Choosing a Tree


Choosing the Christmas tree is an important tradition in our family. And it is one that I was most worried about this year. It's the beginning of our holiday season, the day that all decorations are pulled up from the basement, and an activity we do as a family. Until a few weeks ago, I'd been trying to figure out how I would tweak day of activities to fill in the missing piece. As it turned out, no tweaking was necessary.


I could even sit back once we got it home, and let someone else wrangle the tree lights! It's so hard for kids to wait through that part of the process, and thinking about how I'd get it done without losing my patience with their "helping" was raising my blood pressure.


The kids did all the decorating themselves, with just a bit of help for the higher branches. This was the first year George took an active part. Previously, he would load one branch with about a dozen ornaments and then spend the rest of the time spinning through the house.


And best of all, the tradition that Emma was most worried about? Placing the star. Daddy always lifts her up to put it on when everything else is done. I could have lifted her (though not as easily) and we would have gotten the star placed, but I'm not Daddy. But this guy is, and they got it done.


We won't have him here for Christmas, but sometimes? It's not the presents and new pajamas and cinnamon rolls that make the season memorable. It's the traditions, the support, the laughter, the love, and the beauty.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

My Current Favorite Photo


It's not the best photo I've ever taken. But it's definitely the one that makes me smile the most. Why? Because it was taken last night, after we were able to "go to the airport, pick Daddy up, okay Mommy?"

Happy Love Thursday to all of your families! Ours will be intact for two weeks, we plan on making the most of that time.