Monday, January 4, 2010

Boxy snow.

I'm waiting on the moving company to come today and pick up all our boxes and packing material. I can't wait to have all the space back in the garage!

It's lightly snowing now - large, beautifully crystalline flakes that are so, so fluffy - but I think I'm going to head out there anyway. There's less than a 1/4" of new accumulation on the driveway and sidewalks, but I'm going to try to move the huge mounds of snow along the side of the house to... somewhere else? (I'm not sure where, but it just feels ominous where they are at right now. I mean, it's packed up as tall as me, and we've only just begun the winter season. If it's not moved, where will we put the new snow?)

It's 5° right now, but the wind is blowing less than 5mph at the moment. I don't think we've had winds that low since we arrived in North Dakota. Add in that we should stay in the above 0° today, and it's all the better to take advantage of it!

Edited to add: Whee! Philip just came home for the day (already, and it's not even 10am!), so now we're going out together. We should be able to knock out a lot of this! :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Funny expletives are issuing forth from the living room.


Whatever Philip is doing in his game on the XBox 360, he's really getting frustrated. He keeps exclaiming out loud, and it's kinda funny here in the office. I know he's playing online with a few of his NE peeps, so it sounds like they're getting their tails kicked!

Speaking of XBox, our unit began with the "red ring of death" last week sometime. Now, this is the second unit to do this, but I love Microsoft's way of fixing it: they send us a brand-new one! The first unit lasted a year, and then they sent us a new one. This second one lasted a little over two years, and we're sending it back tomorrow. They'll be sending us another new one, and I am grateful that Microsoft recognizes this "ring" as a glitch (not user-manipulated), and that they take care of it.

In the meantime, however, Philip had wanted to get a second XBox 360 for the boys to use in the basement playroom. He went ahead and bought a new XBox 360 Elite, and then the new replacement one will go downstairs when it arrives. I'm just happy I won't have to keep hearing the ditzy theme music for "The Bee Movie" game - heehee!

As for me, I'm playing with my new toy: Windows 7. I've got the software to upgrade our Vista now, but I've not yet installed it. I'm trying to decide whether to do an "Upgrade" or a "Custom Install." Do I want the newness of a 'fresh start' and the hassle of moving all my files and junk over to our external drives in the process (which is bound to make things even faster, as all the bogged down/unused registry files will be gone)... or do I want to just 'upgrade,' leaving all my files and stuff intact? I really can't decide, so for now, I research a bit more and look longingly at the green box.

For now, I'm off to enter some more Coke codes. :-)

Baby's drinking Coke at the Hobby Lobby.

There's only one day left of the boys' holiday vacation, and I know they're sad for it to be over. However, they're very excited to go back to school and begin riding the bus for the first time! All of their snowgear arrived on the 22nd, but their last day before the break was the very next day. That didn't give me enough time to 1) unpack the items (the movers didn't leave that night until 6:30pm), and 2) go to the school to let them know to add them to the bus schedule (which meant I would've gone in on Tuesday morning, and they would've had only the ride home that day... which seemed kinda silly). So, I'll take them to school again on Monday, and while I'm there, I'll head into the office to fill out the bus paperwork. They'll begin riding the bus on Tuesday...

... and I'll begin the jammied, goodbye-kisses-at-the-door! Wheee! (Yeah, I may be even more excited than THEY are! *wink*)

We need to find a larger size 'plate holder' for one of my Coca-Cola® trays in the dining room. We've hung the other ones on the wall, but the largest size we could find was adjustable from 11"-18". My tray is about 20" in length, so no dice. I had the idea of extending the stretchy brackets with zip-ties, but that didn't fully work either. (Philip tried for a good while, too.) We'll find or figure something out, I'm sure.

Speaking of Coca-Cola, we took two of my large puzzles to Hobby Lobby today to be framed. I put these puzzles together about 15 years ago, back in my freshman year of high school. In fact, Philip helped me to make one of them while we were dating. I've carried them from home to home for years, and they've never been on display. I am über-excited to get them back in a couple weeks and put them up in my dining room. Depending on how much I love them (and I'm sure I will!), then I'll take my largest puzzle in to be framed as well. It's about the size of Jack, so it'll be a pretty penny, I know. Still, Hobby Lobby was having a 50% off sale on custom framing, so I figured it was a great time to get them done.

Poor Baby kitty is so frightened of the main level of the house. The living room and the large office both have high ceiling fans, and she is just scared to death of them. Honestly, to see her expression, you'd think there was a giant monster with 200 teeth coming after her. It's been three weeks now, and she's just not warming up to them. The kitties have had their food, water, and litterbox down in the basement, but today, we moved the food up to the office. She has stood in the hallway and mewed at us in the most pitiful voice, and we keep inviting her to join us in one of these rooms. Philip and I have both brought her in here several times to show her the location of the food, calmly petting her and trying to reassure her. The last time Philip did so, she ate about four little kibbles. She'll get there, I know she will, but it's pretty pitiful to see right now.

Kiki, on the other hand, is perfectly happy anywhere now. She was cautious near the fans for the first week or so, but now she's very content. She's currently sleeping on my Coca-Cola bin near the windows while I'm here in the office.

I found a neat, wrought-iron plaque on clearance at Hobby Lobby yesterday with a cut-out design on it, as well as the text, "HOPE." I really waffled on buying it though, as I could see a small scratch in the finish. Philip and I tried to rub it out in the store, and it was almost gone... but I could still see where it was. Even though I thought we might be able to do a better job of it with a cleaner or a special pad at home, I walked away from it. I figured it just wasn't meant to be. I will be keeping an eye out for the perfect "HOPE" decoration this year, as I wanna celebrate and commemorate my word!

I've received a ton more Christmas cards, but I've been remiss this last week in thanking so many of you. Thank you to [info]donnajean2277, [info]hermioneluna, [info]m1x3d3m0t10n5, and [info]scarletharlot52. A special thank-you also goes out to [info]tabbyfoo!

I'm not sure what the day holds tomorrow after church. Maybe I can get all my guys to sit around the table on our new chairs in our gorgeous dining room and play the new game I picked up - Milles Bornes! I loved that card game when I was growing up, and I hope they like it, too. :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year. :-)

Let me be the millionth person to wish you happiness as we sashay into this new decade!

I was VERY excited for the New Year's Eve blue moon last night, but alas... the clouds were much too thick, and we couldn't really make it out. You could see where it was, to be sure, but there was definitely no photographing the bugger. Shucks.

I spent NYE with my family. If you'd asked me before I left Nebraska, I would have told you I'd loved to have a big party with oodles and oodles of friends (and I'd have flown Heather and her family in for the occasion). But I have a small frame that hangs in my bedroom, and it reads: "I have learned that being with those I love is enough."

And it is so true.

We spent the evening eating together, and then we saw our "reward movie" for unpacking the house - Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. We came home and spent the last half-hour or so waiting on that big ol' ball to drop, and then we headed to bed. We kissed, and Jack noticed that everyone was kissing on TV. "Why are y'all kissing?"

"Because it's what you do on New Year's Eve. It's fun!" Philip said.

And now it's 2010. Or 'Twenty-Ten.' Or just '10. Whatever you want to call it, it's the beginning of a brand-new year, a brand-new decade, and a chance at a clean slate. For us, it's still the beginning of a brand-new life in a brand-new place...

My friend [info]1grl_revolution likes to adopt a word for the year, and I think it's a neat-o idea. I'm taking a cue from my angel-friend Isaac and his family, and I'm going to keep "HOPE" as my word this year.

But I'm happy to share HOPE, too. *wink*

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Like I'm really going to answer a number on my phone that's labeled: "Professional Telemarketing."


*rolls eyes*

30 is as 30 does. (Nope, it's not a post about my age. *grin*)

Well, the local news last night said that we received right at 30 inches in that Christmas blizzard - wow! I guess now we understand our drifts a little bit more. *wink*

Here's some pics from after all the shoveling was finished. Well, another 1/2" or so had drifted over on the driveway, but you get the idea.

From the front door to the entry walk.
From the front door to the entry walk.

The other side. Those are about six feet banks to the top stair.
The other side of the door.
Those are about 6' banks up to that top stair, too.

The wall of snow on the kitchen side of the house.
The wall of snow on the kitchen side of the house.

The driveway.
The driveway.

A different view.
A different view.

We got the garage and storage room squared away yesterday. As it turns out, the storage room inside the garage is even much bigger than we'd thought it looked. We were able to put the pieces of the shed into the back, and then all of our regular shed items in front of them - and there's still room to spare! It looks soooo nice in there now. Also, today was Trash Day - yay! All we have left is to wait for the box/material pick-up from the moving company, and then we'll be golden.

Philip went back to work this morning. He's still finishing up training for this base, and then he's home in the evenings. I'm making a mental list of things to pick up tomorrow while we're out (gonna be seeing our 'reward' movie!), and I also want to find a quilt shop somewhere. Philip's looking for a small engines repair shop, as the starter is out on our snowblower, too.

Alrightee, I'm having some lunch and then getting back to work. Toodles!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Unpacking under the movies and the mail.

So. Much. Unpacking.

It feels like it will never end! Realistically, however, it will be done late tomorrow or Tuesday - I can't tell just yet. I am so very much looking forward to calling the moving company and asking them to come back and pick up all their boxes and packing material! (I'll have space in my garage again - whee!)

My dining room is just gorgeous and huge. I still cannot get over all the space in there. That, to me, is the most drastic difference between our old house and this one. I love the fact that it's not situated off the main garage entrance into the house, and it's not near a television of any sorts. It's awesome, truly.

The plan tomorrow is for Philip and I to move/unpack all the stuff in the garage. See, the movers unloaded all our shed and garage items directly into the garage, so we've got to unpack everything and get it moved into its proper place in the storage room in the back. Philip already took apart our shed, and we'll put the pieces in our "renovation space." (When they renovated this house, they built on an extra room along the basement wall, and they entered through there, bringing all their equipment with them. Once they finished, they closed off the room and left a large access flap. We can easily open it via the flap, and it's an 8x10' space, at least.) While we're doing that, the boys will be playing hard in the snow. Once we're done, we'll have all our space back in the garage, and we'll move all the boxes and packing material to the breezeway until pick-up. Trash Day is also on Tuesday, and it'll be great to have all that gone, too. (Gosh, but moving creates a lot of excess trash!)

Depending on how long we're out in the garage tomorrow, we'll work on the office afterwards. It's the only room left, and that's because I considered it the lowest priority of all the rooms. I mean, *I* love this room, and I practically live in it sometimes... but everything I really need (computer, bills, filing cabinet, etc.), I can already reach, and we brought with us ahead of time. What needs to be unpacked are the bookshelves and lots of Philip's military memorabilia and knick-knacks. He heads back to work on Tuesday, and I can finish this room by myself, if needed.

As a reward once ALL of the unpacking is done, we plan to go see Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. The boys are dying to see it, and I think it looks pretty cute, too. I thought the first one was good, and I'm sure this one will be about the same. The boys are also anxious to spend some of their Christmas cash at the mall, too. *wink*

Speaking of movies, we all went to see New Moon last Friday. It was the boys' first time seeing it, Philip' second time, and my seventh time. I probably won't see it again in the theatre, but it was just as good this time again. A quick rundown of the showings I've been to:

1st - with Marissa as my 'date' to Amy's midnight premiere party (11/20)
2nd - with Marissa again on Sunday afternoon (11/22)
3rd - with Liz on Sunday night (11/22)
4th - with Philip the following Tuesday (11/24)
5th - with Cheyenne on Thanksgiving night (11/26)
6th - with Aimée on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (11/28)
7th - with the family (12/21)

We also recently saw The Princess and the Frog (on opening day!), and we all loved it. I cried a little near the end, but it was wonderful to see the old-style animation again. And - I was so surprised when the first song began! I'd almost forgotten how the older Disney movies always had original songs - how sad is that?! I thought the characters were very charming, and I really hope the movie does well enough that Disney will do another one in this style again soon.

We saw Disney's A Christmas Carol in 3D, too. I found it to be much darker than I'd imagined, but the effects were amazing. Honestly, though, there were parts of it that unsettled even me, and I don't think I'd let younger children see it yet (though the Disney Channel promotes it constantly). We were late to the game on this one, having been planning on seeing it ever since we rode the official movie train back in August (what a neat experience, too!). After seeing the movie, we bought my favorite as a young girl: Mickey's Christmas Carol. I didn't have the movie growing up, but I had a record of it, and I played that over and over all year long. I still have most of it memorized. :-)

I'm hoping to have mail tomorrow, but I'm not terribly optimistic. There was, of course, no mail yesterday in the face of this major blizzard, and then today was Sunday. Philip and I did watch some lady trudge through all the snow with her key, falling down in the deep drifts and then crawling on her knees atop them to get to the box, only to open it and find it empty, of course. We learned long ago (in both Alaska and Nebraska, actually) that even though the post office's motto is, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," that isn't always the case. We've had numerous times with no mail delivery due to inclement weather, and on a day where no travel is advised, I'm surprised that anyone would think there would be mail.

Perhaps she didn't check her box on Christmas Eve, then? *nods* We'll go with that. :-)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Christmas blizzard.

Snowed in, for sure.

On Christmas Eve day, the snow started falling. And blowing. And falling and blowing some more. By 4:30pm, we knew that a Christmas Eve church service wasn't possible. By 11pm, travel warnings were issued everywhere.

Christmas Day the snow fell nonstop - from midnight to midnight. It didn't stop snowing until yesterday around noon, and thankfully, the winds let up a bit then too. The accumulation wasn't nearly as crazy as the DRIFTS. Philip shoveled twice during the snowstorm, but by the time we woke yesterday morning, you couldn't tell he'd done a thing!

The TV channels turned to static in the morning, along with a message alerting us that the road conditions were RED. No travel was allowed on base at all, and everything was closed. Fine by us, as we didn't need to be anywhere, either!

He shoveled for hours and hours yesterday. We had much higher drifts than our next-door neighbor, and when he was done with his own house, he helped Philip for another hour-and-a-half, at least. I still can't much see out of my windows, but I expect that's just how it's gonna be for a while. ;-)

Drifts up to our office window
Drifts up to our office windows.

A sideways view out the window of the front lawn, including the completely buried front three steps.
A sideways view out the window of the front lawn, including the completely buried front three steps.

The drifts up to the dining room window
The drifts up to the dining room window.

Out the kitchen window, the drifts blocked the garage and part of Philip's truck.
Looking out the kitchen window, the drifts blocked the garage and part of Philip's truck.

Opening the garage door to begin shoveling...
The view when we opened the garage door...

The solid wall of snow from the garage door to my kitchen window.
The solid wall of snow from the garage door to my kitchen window.

View from our master bedroom deck.
The view from our master bedroom deck.
This is a picture of our back-yard neighbors. The house on the left is the same floor plan as our own. Those neighbors were SLEDDING down their steps - that's how high the snow was!

Last night, Philip and I glanced out the dining room window just before I was going to start dinner. A beautiful dog was leaping through the snow, looking lost. Philip went to the front door and called, and the dog ran right to him. The dog had no collar, and Philip pulled him into the mud room for warmth. He had snow on his little nose, but he was just gorgeous. Philip and the boys sat in the mud room for over half an hour and loved on the dog. Finally, the police arrived to take him back to the squadron to read for a microchip, and they let him go.

Lost Snow-Dog.
The lost 'Snow-Dog.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yay, cards!

We received a ton of cards in today's Monday mail, and I'm loving it! Several were from fellow LJers, including [info]mayna, [info]laurushka, [info]posthaste, [info]butterflymama3, [info]dottey & [info]kechara, and [info]desertmommy. Thank you all!

I'm even more amazed that so many of these cards are coming addressed to the new house, rather than being forwarded. Look how on-the-ball you all are! :-)

Moving: Our stuff is here!

Wow! Color me amazed!

Last night, I wrote that I hoped we'd hear from the moving company about our household goods. At best, I was hoping they'd arrive today, and that we would be able to *squeak* in a delivery by Wednesday, the 23rd (they're off the rest of the week for Christmas Eve & Day, and they don't deliver on weekends).

But they just called ten minutes ago! And they're on their way right now! And they'll be here in an hour or so! Yay!

And now, it's time to become a "Nicole Tornado." Too-de-loo, my friends!

Advent, and we wanted to make it.

Philip woke early this morning, and he ran to the Shoppette to get a copy of the base newspaper**.

**Side tangent: the base paper is an awesome one here. It reminds me of the hey-days of the great paper at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska. It's chock-full of stories, happenings on base, etc. It even has a TV guide in it for the upcoming week!


He got a copy of the paper, and he also picked up some grape and apple juice for breakfast. We looked at the church directory, and we decided on a Lutheran church (Missouri Synod). Services started at 11am, and so I went back to snoozeville while the boys ate breakfast and Philip showered. Once he was out, we all got ready for church.

We left in plenty of time, and thank goodness for that! Philip had thought it would be about six minutes away, but it ended up being closer to sixteen. He dropped me and the boys off at the door, and we walked in at 11 on the nose. I noticed a guest book to sign, but as soon as I picked up the pen, the organ began playing. I told the boys we'd sign it afterwards, and I ushered them inside... down to the first few rows. You know, folks always joke that Baptists sit in the back, but let me tell you - those Lutherans had left 3-4 rows empty at the front of each of the three sections, too! We sat in the third row, and Philip joined us a moment later.

The church was much larger than we'd imagined, and they were presenting their childrens' program today. It was cute, and the congregation sang along here and there. Jack got a kick out of using a hymnal again (we usually attended the Contemporary service in Nebraska), and I enjoyed singing the alto harmonies of several of my favorite Christmas hymns. The church was extensively and beautifully decorated, and I couldn't help commenting on it. A very nice couple then introduced themselves, and we chatted with them for over an HOUR after the service...

... but that was because today was Jesus's birthday party, too! The fellowship hall of the church had been decorated with balloon centerpieces on every table, and each child received a birthday goodie bag. The younger children received red plastic mugs, and the older children received white stone mugs. They were filled with cocoa, candy, and stickers, and everyone munched on cupcakes, frosted brownies, and ice cream. The couple we had been talking with in the sanctuary introduced us to many, many folks (there is no way I can remember all those names correctly!), and one of the youth directors joked with A.J. for a while. He was grinning from ear-to-ear, and then she introduced him to a handful of other sixth graders, too.

It was a wonderful experience, and now we'll have to decide whether we want to try a few more churches, or go ahead and commit to this warm, welcoming congregation. Even if we don't end up joining this church, I feel very blessed that God has led us to what will be a wonderful congregation to share our Christmas Eve together.

After leaving the church around 1pm, we grabbed a bite for lunch. We stopped at Barnes&Noble for a quick return, and then we headed home. With a full tummy and in the warm car, I was dozing before we reached the base again. Once home, Philip set up the air mattress for me, and I was down for a nap (around 3:30 or so).

I didn't wake until 6:30! Baby kitty had joined me for sleeps, and I think we both needed it. We had easy dinners tonight, and then after the boys went to bed, I began the wrap-fest of Christmas presents. I had intended to do it tomorrow, but I got a jump on it instead tonight. I'll run some errands tomorrow instead because I ended up finishing all the wrapping in one go - yay!

And now, it's 2am, and I'm back to bed. Here's hoping we hear from our moving company about our household goods tomorrow... *fingers crossed*

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lazy security in Alaska.

We received more cards today, including ones from [info]hetterrific and [info]flyingwolf - thank you both!

Today felt mostly lazy on my part. You see, since our household goods are not here yet, we have no washer & dryer. It had been a week since we did laundry on our last night in the TLF, and we all were down to having no clean pants. The boys and I bluffed the day away in our PJs, while Philip headed out to the base laundromat, only to find it empty. He also had to take money out of an ATM, but then find a nice store that was willing to give him a couple rolls of quarters. Once he had the laundry washing at a laundromat downtown, he headed over to Napa AutoParts for a new oil cap for his truck. Then back to switch the laundry to the dryers, and then out to pick-up the BIG. NEW. TV!

Meanwhile, the boys played and watched a few videos here at the house, and I unpacked the cleaning supplies. It was the last box of stuff we'd brought with us in our U-Haul trailer, and I wanted to find my cleaners so that I could give my red kitchen trashcan a good scrubbing (we used it to haul items during the move, too). I made lunch for myself and the boys, and then I set about destroying fixing my computer.

I bought and installed new security protection, but in doing so, I then had to make sure that I had all the Windows Updates I needed. I didn't, and that took a couple HOURS to do - ugh. But now everything is running smoothly, and I'll have it do a deep scan tonight while I'm snoozing.

I also paid all the mid-month bills, paying a handful of them way, way ahead, too. I love the feeling that comes from sending $800 to a bill instead of the $100 it asks for. We are so blessed to have come so far in our finances, and I'm thankful every day for that. Also, I discovered a mistake on the Air Force finance side of things... I'm sure no one who is/has been military is shocked by that one. It always happens. Philip will go to Finance on Monday and let them know what we've found. Until then, we've moved the $1888 error to a side savings account so that we'll have it to pull from when the military then sharply deducts it from Philip's pay in the future. Wouldn't it be lovely if Finance could ever get anything right the first time?!

I took an evening bath/shower, and then we all headed out to dinner at Alaska Alder Grill. (I've just looked, and I can't believe they don't have a website!) It was very reminiscent of our times at Alaska Wild Berry, except that it was a food place, not just a chocolatier. Among the store area, we looked at a huge buffalo, a white ram, a cougar, a hyena, a wolf, and many deer heads. I loved all the beautiful wood carvings and stone pottery. It was a neat experience.

Now we're home, and the boys are headed to bed. I've culled the receipts that stacked up everywhere during these last two weeks of moving, and I feel much better about the state of things now. I still need to get my holiday cards in order, and I need to pick out a "Card Wall" here and get it going... :-)

It's here!

Our new TV has arrived at the store! Philip is on his way to pick it up right now, and we are SO EXCITED!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Whew, I'm beat!

Philip and I began the day earlier today than we have all week, and I'm bushed tonight to show for it! We had decided today would be the day to finish up the Christmas shopping, as he will begin working here on Monday, and it was best to take advantage of the full day with the boys in school. So, we dropped them off at 9, and then we were on our way into town!

We did all of the rest of our holiday shopping VERY early this year, knowing that the confusion of moving would put things into a tailspin. I'm so very thankful for that, as it's been a comfort to only have the boys left to shop for. We bought everything, I wrapped it all, and then I shipped it to everyone via UPS waaaaaaaay back on Nov. 7th... I think if those folks haven't received their packages by now, it's safe to call them lost. ;-)

For the boys this year, we had decided on one thing: A.J.'s gift would be easy, and Jack's would take a bit more searching. We purposely did no shopping for them ahead of time because we didn't want the movers to pack any gifts, and we had no spare room in our vehicles for packages, either. See, we've had things stolen from each move, and I figure a wrapped holiday present is just *TOO* much temptation, ya know?

I cannot WAIT for Christmas morning, as I'm so excited to see A.J. open his gift. He has a small handful of gifts, as well as his Christmas stocking, but that's because his main gift will be...

... his very own netbook!

Not just his own computer, but he's receiving his own mini-laptop! His mini comes with Windows 7, and I'm so geeked to set him up with his own email account. I've got a pocket full of addresses from several of his gal pals back in Nebraska to set him up with, too (they all made sure to give me their emails on the night of his band concert, and it was so sweet to see their *goo-goo* eyes). I just know he will have so much fun with his new computer. And probably the best news of all - he won't have to share it AT ALL. We're going to set a very strict rule: it is A.J.'s computer, and A.J.'s only.

That may sound harsh, but the reality is that my boys have to share practically everything. It's been this way since Jack was born, and I think that lately, it's really starting to affect A.J. how he never has his "own" things, and he really gets very little personal space from Jack. Sure, he can go to his room for alone time, but he still ought to be able to have some things that are his alone, and this will be one of them. I know he will be stoked, and we'll have to work with him on not gloating, even just a little.

As for Jack, he'll still have use of the secondary computer. It is on a LAN with mine, and it's what the boys currently use on a desk in A.J.'s room (which takes even further from A.J.'s personal space, but that's where it fit in our old house). Here, we'll either set up a smaller desk in the office with our computer, or we'll put one in our large dining room. Either way, A.J. will be free to use his bedroom desk for just his own computer.

So we were shopping today mainly for Jack, as well as for stocking stuffers. Along the way, I ended up with a new wardrobe. Now, I hate shopping for myself, but I badly needed to, and Philip insisted. In fact, Philip was encouraging me to "just get it, honey" with almost every single item I picked up all day. As a result, I came home with a LOT of goodies. I kept saying, "But what about you?" He just insists that he's got something in mind, so don't worry about it.


So the shopping is finally complete, and I have a ton of wrapping still ahead of me for next Monday and Tuesday while the boys are in their last days of school before holiday break. Right now, all the packages and items are hiding in the cabinets in the basement. See? I'm using them already! ;-)

In addition, we returned home to two large packages of Christmas gifts from our family, as well as a host of cards. These included ones from [info]happysmiles01 and [info]adiasplat. Thank you!

Squirrelly girl.

Happy Birthday, Kiki!

My Kiki girl kitty is 11 years old today. She won't be celebrating with a party and cake this year (I know you'll never forget that, [info]hetterrific!), but we love her even more.

What a fuzzy, sweet presence she has continued to bring into our lives. :-)

Moving: House pictures!

Since everyone has been dying to see... here are the pics I snapped when we got the keys to the house. They were taken at dusk, and I've not done anything to brighten them up, but you can still get a "sorta" feel to the house, I think.

The boys stand against the cut-out wall in the entryway

ALL of the pictures are located HERE. I tried to caption them with descriptions, too.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have as you look through them. I know it's hard to understand floor plans just by looking at pictures, ya know?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The bigger, the better!

As a Christmas/housewarming gift, Philip's parents have ordered us a new TV. Mind you, our current TV is still in excellent condition (it was a Christmas gift from my parents a few years ago when we did not have a working one at all), but his parents have been introduced to the HDTV age, and they insisted that we must have one as well.

The day after we took keys to the new house, the new TV was ordered, and it is still on its way. A 52" RCA LCD flat-panel TV that is so flippin' huge that it didn't have a chance on fitting in our current entertainment center. Soooo...

... the current entertainment center will go downstairs (when our household goods arrive, that is), along with the 32" TV from my parents. We have been carpeting the basement (in a tiled pattern, and I'm doing it slowly - I keep taking breaks!), and one half of the basement will be a relaxing area for the boys (entertainment center, TV, carpet, couch, and several of their toys). The other half will be my scrap/craft room, complete with the sink and all those lovely, lovely built-in cabinets.

We bought and built a beautiful new entertainment center to house our new TV in the living room. We subscribed to digital cable again, but for the first time, we joined a new club: those with DVR. We never really felt we needed it before, but it was only a couple bucks more with our internet/cable packaging, so we sprung for it. It's only been a day now, but I think Philip loves it already. ;-)

Merry Christmas to us, indeed! Now we just wait for the TV to arrive!

More cards!

Today's regular and forwarded mail brought only Christmas cards - yay! Nothing but the good stuff! :-)

Among those received were ones from [info]ashen_butterfly, [info]1grl_revolution, and [info]sdaisyk - thank you!

New school.

The boys have had almost a full week in their new school, Dakota Elementary. This is their first time attending an on-base school, and I gotta say: it is super-nice. The security from knowing the school is under more protection than a regular school, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that each and every one of their classmates understands and lives the same hardships, difficulties, family separations, etc. is golden. I wouldn't trade it away for any price right now.

In addition, the school is brilliant. I love the stage in the gym - the fact that their new school can hold their own concerts and assemblies without traveling away. I love that the get to experience a "true" school cafeteria, complete with sliding their trays down metal beams while their food is served. Near the front of the building, there is a special place for the pick-up children to wait - it's called the "Snow Den." The classrooms for grades K-3 have bathrooms inside, so there's not much instruction time missed for a potty break. The student ratio is a bit smaller than our their last school, and that's always a plus, too.

Their school day is now from 9am-3:15. I was surprised to hear that, having always seen schools start between 7:45-8:15 or so. The later start is great for these darker mornings though, and I have appreciated the extra minutes of shut-eye myself. We had to purchase school supplies over the weekend for the first time (our old school district supplied them), and the boys had fun picking out certain colors of their items. The breakfast and lunch choices are FAR superior, and I love that there is no set pattern in the lunch menu. Philip and I were reading the monthly menu, and even then, *we* each picked several days we'd like to join the boys for lunch, if only for the great selection!

The change in weather between Nebraska and North Dakota is apparent, and not in the least on the playground rules. Back in Nebraska, the boys had outdoor recess at school unless is was below 20°. In their new school, the school operates with outdoor recesses unless it is -5° or the windchill is -15°. Wow! Due to these regulations, students are required to wear full snow gear for recess (boots, snowpants, gloves, hat, coat). All students are provided bus transportation too, but they must wear the full snow gear while on the bus. This week, we have been dropping off/picking up the boys, as we're waiting on their brand-new (tags still attached) snow boots and snowpants to arrive with our household goods. They are SO EXCITED to ride the bus for the first time, and I'm excited to turn in my years of driving them for a bit of jammy-clad, kiss-'em-on-the-cheek goodbyes at the door. ;-)

Both of the boys have been placed into the Gifted & Talented program at school. A.J. had previously been in the HAL program (High Ability Learner) since 3rd grade at their old school, and they simply transferred him over. Jack had been pegged for the HAL program by his other teachers, but was waiting until next year to start. (He's in 2nd grade, and the program does not begin until the 3rd grade.) At this new school, however, the Gifted program begins in the 2nd grade, and he has already easily tested into it. In addition, his teacher has placed him in a special math club for advanced students. She also will be supplementing his reading curriculum with material from the 5th grade classrooms (that is where he has level-tested now). With all the extra reading he does at home, I'm not surprised in the least!

A.J. will be playing a bit of catch-up in band, as the school here began instruction in the 5th grade, so his classmates are one year ahead of him. I hope he is able to hold his own, but I'm encouraged by how well he enjoys playing his instrument.

The boys don't break at the same time as their old school for the holidays. Instead of having their last day tomorrow, the 18th, they will continue until next Tuesday, the 22nd. They return on the 4th, which is the same. We also noticed fewer breaks throughout the year, but they have a solid 90-day summer vacation, and I am very happy for them for that. School won't begin next year until Aug. 27th - which will be the first year A.J. has ever celebrated his summer birthday (the 23rd) by NOT already being in school. He is ecstatic over the news!

All in all, we have no complaints with the new school, and we have only joyful news to share. What a blessing!