Thursday, December 18, 2008

A year ago this week...

our little bundle of joy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

T-Day in KC

We had a great Thanksgiving! (What? Late in posting this? Nah...)

We went to Kansas City to be with Jon's grandmother on her 85th birthday! She had never met Sophie before... nor had she met 3 of Sophie's cousins who were there too! What fun!

After a long Thanksgiving Day spent in the airport (thanks to a 4 1/2 hour long layover), we finally made it to KC late that night. On Friday we went to the WWI Museum there. It was a great museum - very interactive. If you ever have the chance to go, you should.

(As I write this, there is a pile of shiny gifts in the middle of the floor that I wrapped while Sophie was napping. True to the saying, she is literally playing with the empty box of one of her gifts, completely ignoring the bright presents next to her...)


Ok, that was yesterday. Anyway, that evening all (well, most) of Jon's siblings and his dad came into town, and we all went to the church to hang out! It was great having it at the church instead of someone's house - we ate in the gym, so the kids could play on one end, we could talk on the other, and we weren't all on top of each other. They even brought in some nursery toys for the little ones. Fabulous.

The next day was Grandma's birthday party! Jon and two of our brothers-in-law took the young kids in the nursery to play - it was great! They got to talk, and the moms didn't have to worry about the kids! Sophie had a great time playing with new toys - and her cousins! Ok, she probably wouldn't have known one way or the other if her cousins were there, but I like to think so...

Saturday evening we all played Apples to Apples. Now, you have to understand something. Growing up, my family got a board game every year. Though we actually rarely played between Christmas, we ALWAYS did that day. Trivial Pursuit was a perennial favorite, though never mine. Jon has been telling me for the past four years that his family "doesn't play games." Ha! We all sure did have a great time that night! Then we played The Name Game, and Amy and I pretty much kicked butt.

Sunday Jon's dad and siblings left for home, so we went to Grandma's church. After that we went to his uncle Jeff's for lunch - leftover Thanksgiving! Since we at at Friday's in the airport for our Thanksgiving dinner, Joanne's leftover turkey, stuffing, and potatoes were FABULOUS!

You can see all the pics from the trip here!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Once around the sun...

My darling, on this, your first...

In some ways I can't believe it's been a whole year since you were born, but in other ways I can't imagine life before you. You have added such joy to our family!

I love how your face lights up when you see your dad. Yesterday when he had to leave for work, you laid on the floor and sobbed, brokenhearted.

A few weeks ago you learned how to smack your lips to make "the kissing sound." You are even getting the hang of doing it at the same time you get (or give!) a kiss!

We gave you a push-behind walker for your birthday the other day. As soon as you saw it, you flashed up a big smile, pulled up, and took off! It is now your favorite thing to walk around the house - if only you could figure out how to turn!

You love your independence. You have been self-feeding for months, barely letting me get a spoon in your mouth. Now that you can even drink out of your sippy cup by yourself, you drink water all day long! Part of it is probably that you are thirsty - but I am convinced that part of it is because you just like being able to do it for yourself.

When you get a very special treat (usually chocolate), you giggle. It doesn't matter what kind of mood you were in before - sometimes even crying - but unexpected chocolate is enough to make you giggle with glee.

You go through phases with things. Like, the kissing sound you made for about 3 days, then stopped for about 2 weeks. You also went through phases with sticking out your tongue (not straight out, but touching it down to your chin), "bubububing" your lips (when you stick out your lips and run your finger over them to make that sound), clapping, waving, and pointing. If things in your life go from cool to not cool that quickly, I don't think I will ever be able to keep up come junior high...

You have recently developed separation anxiety. It makes me feel good that you like to be with me so much, but I do wish you would let others hold you without screaming! Yesterday a friend from PWOC saw you cuddling with Dad at the Christmas party, and she was amazed you would go to anyone but me. I am so grateful you love your dad just as much!

You LOVE your doll. Every time you see her you say "aaoow" in your cute little way, smile, and give her hugs. You even pat her back (just like you do when you hug Dad or me!) - you somehow know how to treat her differently from the rest of your toys. The things you pick up on are amazing.

You are such a peaceful child. You are content at every stage, but excited to reach the next. You always want to know what's going on - if people are talking, you want nothing but to be in the room. You don't talk or try to be the center of attention - you just take it all in. Aaron said that you have that look in your eyes that says you know what's going on. You are so aware.

You're also fun! One of my favorite things you do is when you start laughing because other people are. Sometimes I laugh for no reason, just to see yours. You have recently started playing games and teasing too! Yesterday you were giving Dad kisses, then I asked for a kiss, and you turned away and laughed. Three times.

Sophia Anne, I love you. I can't imagine life without you. You have filled my life with so much joy. I am so proud of the little girl you are and the one you are becoming.

Happy birthday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Peace

My friend Megan wrote a beautiful post that is a great follow-up to my last one. Though many are hurting, we know that the Prince of Peace comes to offer hope! If you don't have time to read the whole thing (which you should!), at least scroll down and read what's in green toward the bottom...

A Revelation

I have been given an amazing gift this Christmas season. It was probably costly, but not expensive. It is laced with beauty, but not found in diamonds or jewels. No, this Christmas season I've been given the gift of understanding.

Understanding how awesome it is that Jesus came to our world.

Understanding the idea that He began His journey to redeem the world on that lonely Christmas night.

Understanding what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

In my devotions, I've been reading about the promise of Christ throughout the entire Old Testament. How Christ has reigned supreme since the very beginning of time. God revealed Christ for the very first time when He said to the serpent, "You will bruise His heel, but He will crush your head." Again, He declared the promise to Abram when He declared that "all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed through you." Abram knew God wasn't talking about Him, but of the One who was to come through Abram's line of descent. David received the promise of the Messiah when the Lord God said, "your kingdom will reign forever." Again, David knew it had nothing to do with him, but everything to do with God redeeming the world.

In the book of Isaiah, we find four songs of the servant, which can also be referred to as Messianic prophecies. One that has always been read during the Christmas season is Isaiah 9:6-7:

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

What I find to be amazing are the verses that precede this text, rarely ever read together:

"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan - The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For unto us a child is born...."

Do you see what I'm getting at? How incredible it is that the one who brought peace came in the form of a baby! I have many other thoughts on this that I will write in another post, but for now I want to focus on the issue of peace. Reading my friend Sara's blog the other day, reminded me of the war-filled world we live in. Having her husband as an Army Chaplain, I doubt that she is ever able to think otherwise. It is sad for me to read stories of real people who are losing their lives. Men and women who are fighting for our country, but also wars that are taking place around the world that we don't even know about. Civil wars like the ones in Africa, tribal wars, religious wars, etc. take place always. Will peace ever come to be in this world of hatred and hurt?

Yet, in this passage in Isaiah, God says that there is One greater than all of this. There is One who will bring peace. And peace means so much more than just an absence of war or an inner calm. My devotion suggested it as, "completeness, wholeness, fullness, soundness, firmness, safety, well-being, prosperity, and contentment." Being a Wonderful Counselor indicates wisdom and royalty; "Mighty God" is associated with power and victory; "Everlasting Father" points to His eternal and divine origins; and "Prince of Peace" means he brings peace and well-being to the earth.

It is so humbling to me to think of my God coming to earth as a human. Think of a baby you know and love; maybe your own child. Think of Christ in that precious form. Knowing that those tiny hands would be nailed to a cross. That those tiny little feet would take the grueling steps toward redeeming the world as the world threw insults and hatred at him. That his sweet, soft skin would be covered in stripes of blood. And that through all of this, we have the promise of peace. True peace that no President, pastor or peace treaty can provide.

Why is it we tend to bypass this great truth? Why do we only look to the cross on Easter? For truly, that little baby was looking to the cross on that miraculous Christmas night. I will never cease to be thankful.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Return of the Red Baron

Last January, as Jon and I sat on the couch in the sunroom, one phrase stuck out at me:

"I'll be home for Christmas..."

And he is. When he first told me he was deploying this year, neither of us really knew the details, how long he would be there. What we were fairly certain of was that he would be home for Christmas.

That means so much to me... we all know another deployment is down the pike, and with all these calls for surges in Afghanistan (wait... not a surge, right? Just quickly sending more troops...), who knows if he'll be here next year...

You know those messages that are on radio and tv this time of year, from the war? "Hello, this is Sergeant X stationed in Baghdad, wishing a Merry Christmas to my wife and kids back at Fort Stewart." They make me cry every time. Jon will come home from work to find me in tears, listening to Christmas music.

Especially if "I'll be Home for Christmas" happens to come on. It's over then.

I have found another song this year that makes me emotional. I remember it well from my childhood; it was always one of my favorite Christmas songs. Remember it?

Yep, The Return of the Red Baron. Growing up I just thought it was a fun song - it is actually quite significant. Though the events specifically aren't from the famous Christmas Eve Truce of 1914, similar events were told of all over the war zone.

Don't know what I'm talking about? In 1914, when WWI started, no one thought it would last more than a couple months. On Christmas Eve, stories are told of both sides agreeing to not fight on Christmas. They really are touching stories - I think what's most amazing is to hear Soldiers talk about how that made the war more human to them. They realized that the enemy Soldiers were men just like them, with families and lives back home.

If you've never seen it, I'd encourage you to watch Joyeux Noel. I wrote about it two years ago in this post. (Though, I feel the need to caveat that there is one scene you may need to skip through...)

Christmas is happy for me this year. I have a beautiful daughter and a wonderful husband at home. Yet, I can't help but think about all the people it isn't happy for. Whether those around me whose Soldiers are still deployed, or others who are hurting in many different ways, this is certainly not "the most wonderful time of the year" for everyone...

Remember these people in your prayers this season. Be grateful for what you have. Help others when you can.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

my mind is on the brink

We have family here! My sister Andrea, her husband, and two girls are here for a visit. I would say "you won't see much of me because my family is here"... but the fact is, you haven't seen much of me around here anyway...

Not really sure why that is. I suppose part of it is that a lot of the things I would want to blog about, I can't, because I never am exactly sure who all is out there reading...

Another is that my mind is tired. I sit down to blog and find myself staring off into the distance instead. I am frustrated at my class (BY FAR the WORST professor I've ever had!), busy with PWOC, and trying to keep up with an ever-changing little girl!

So, let's talk about her - she's much more fun to talk about than my frustrations! :-)

She's on the move! She is now cruising (walking along furniture), talking nonstop - we are even starting to be able to discern some things! She has said "Mom" and "Dad" with discrimination for a while now, and these last couple days I've been pretty sure she's saying some form of "down/done" when she's done eating - or done with anything! She was pretty sick last week - poor little girl. Fever, thick runny nose, clingy - just all around miserable. (That explains it, Lori! ;-)

She's loving her aunt and uncle and cousins being here! The first night she had to make sure Mom & Dad were close by, but now she's taking off to go find them around the corner! She's being much more adventurous with eating and is a ton of fun!

If I don't "see" you before then, have a great Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

MER Weekend

Now this is irony.

I'm sitting on the couch, eating leftover chocolate cake and watching Food Network. Alone.

The reason I'm alone? Jon's at a Marriage Enrichment Retreat.

Yes, 'tis the season in life in which I can't leave Sophie overnight, and this is a "No Kids Allowed" kind of thing. My dear friend Lori has graciously agreed to watch her tomorrow so I can go join them for the day. It will necessitate 4 1/2 hours on the road, but it whatever it takes to be with my husband!


I actually wrote that Friday night. Jon is now happily by my side! I did go yesterday and had a great time meeting some of Jon's friends and enjoying the beautiful island! (It was at the Westin on Hilton Head Island, SC). Unfortunately, Sophie didn't have quite as good of a day. She's cutting a tooth, so it would seem - today she was drooling and had a runny nose. Many thanks to Lori for doing everything she could to console her yesterday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picture update

"Hmm... not totally sure what this is..."

"Ooh... it's good!"

"I wonder how I can most efficiently get this all in my mouth at once..."

"I have an idea!"
"This works even better!"

"Happy Birthday, Mom! Good cake!"

A couple weekends ago we were able to go on the Savannah Riverboat Dinner Cruise! That's something we've talked about doing since we move to Hinesville 2 years ago and told ourselves we would after the deployment. Well, a few weeks ago a fellow Chaplain's wife offered to watch Soph any time we needed it - so we took her up on it! :-)

It was SO much fun! It was pretty dark after dinner when we went up on the 3rd deck, but it was still pretty cool to see all the lights. We took the Savannah River out to the Atlantic, then back in.

Unbeknownst to us, there was a Seafood Festival going on at the same time. As an attraction there, there was a tall ship that is run by a commune of people. After seeing the tour cost only a $1 donation, we were all over it! We were able to spend about 15 minutes there before catching the cruise!

Jon loves boats, and that evening made him want one even more! Maybe when he retires...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come again no more...

It's been a long couple of weeks.

I've been putting off writing about this, for various reasons. One is that I've been too unfiltered and wouldn't trust my judgment in writing. Another is that I wasn't sure that I even should write... but you know, one of the purposes of this blog is to tell the story of a military Chaplain's family... so here goes...

Two weeks ago, Sunday morning, 6:00am. I heard my phone ring, and sprang out of bed to the other room to get it. If there's one thing that's certain in this world, it's that 6am phone calls rarely contain good news...

I missed the call, but it was the Commander's wife. Jon hadn't heard his phone ring just before, so they tried mine.

There had been a suicide.

Jon spoke with the Colonel and took off... I barely saw him over the next couple weeks. He came home exhausted every night, working seven-day weeks.

More details have unfolded since that morning, but the one big question has remained unanswered: Why?

It was actually a good friend of Jon's. Tragic situation, difficult for everyone involved. And because it was a staff officer, the people making decisions and handling the situation (the other staff officers) were all his friends.

The Memorial Service was Wednesday. The sculpture of the helmet, dog tags, weapon, and boots adorned the front of the chapel, next to a large picture of the deceased. Jon sat on the stage, stole around his neck, friends by his side.

His wife was out of town at the time (with their five-month-old daughter). I went with the Commander's wife and another Soldier to meet her at the airport. That made it more real, to see her standing in front of me. She's my age. She left a wife, and came home a widow.

A few nights ago Jon went with the Commander to visit her. At one point she turned to Jon and said, "How could a merciful God do this?"

The fact is, our merciful God did not do this. Living in a sinful and fallen world did this.

A couple weeks ago I wrote that the 60-90 day window after a deployment is statistically the hardest. It's true.

I have had this blog post sitting in my drafts folder for over a week now. Somehow, I haven't been able to bring myself to post it. I haven't wanted to write about anything else until I published this, but I just couldn't do it. One of the reasons is that I have no idea how to end it.

Sometimes I think we have to add that "but" disclaimer to everything - "but it's okay" "but God's in control, so it will all work out" ...

Unfortunately, there is no happy disclaimer for this post. No "On the bright side...", no "it'll all work out". Not knowing the state of his heart (do we ever?), I can't even confidently say "he's in a better place"...

Sometimes there aren't answers.

Sometimes there aren't bright sides.

Sometimes we just pray and have faith that our God loves us, even when the world doesn't look the way we think it should.

This is one of those times.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

toddlers, dads, and wives (oh my!)

Sophie went to her first library story time today! I think she was a bit overwhelmed at the 15 or so toddlers running about, but the storyteller did a great job at keeping her attention! By the end she was smiling and clapping her hands in excitement - so I guess she liked it! We sang songs and listened to a story, then went to Panera with friends. I think this might become a regular part of our week!

It was an interesting feeling... it was the first time we have been a part of something like that. Really, it was the first time I was included in a group collectively referred to as "mommies." ("Mommies, help us sing!" "Help your little ones find their seats, mommies!") Again, I'm in that stage.


In other news, did you see that the new defense spending bill includes 10 days paternity leave for all male service members who have babies? That's pretty awesome! (Congress wanted 21, which admittedly seemed quite steep to me...)


I went to the new Commander's wife's welcome party with the spouses last night. It was a really great time. A couple of the other battalion Commanders' wives were there, who attend PWOC. They did some great recruiting and got a few more to commit to coming! This was the first unit spouses function since a large transition - coming back from the deployment, a lot of people left. It was a little weird for some of my friends who have left to not be there, but I'm excited to get to know the new spouses!

Maybe soon I can construct a thought longer than a paragraph, but not today.

So long!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

HAAF PWOC in the news!

One of our Brigade's journalists came to our PWOC Kick-Off and wrote an article about us for the Stewart/Hunter paper! I have been waiting for it to be posted online so I could include the image. What great publicity!

Hunter PWOC Kicks Off New Bible Study
SPC Monica K. Smith,
CAB Public Affairs Office

The sound of women chatting and babies squealing filled the fellowship room of the chapel as the Protestant Women of the Chapel held their Fall Kick-Off, Sept. 18 on Hunter Army Airfield.

“We hoped to expose women who have never been to PWOC to what we do and what we’re about,” said Sara Fisher, president of the PWOC and wife to Chap. (Capt.) Jonathan Fisher, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion.

The PWOC is a group that exists in many military chapels. At Hunter, the group of women, many of them military wives, meet each week to socialize and take part in a Bible study.

“For the ladies who come, building relationships is very important. It’s what draws them in,” said Fisher. “Our belief in Christ is the common denominator and the friendships are what keep people coming back.”

The kick-off began at 9:45 with from the Fort Stewart PWOC, Misty Raybon, wife of Chap. (Capt.) Phillip Raybon, the 92nd Engineer Battalion.

“We all want to be a woman of excellence, but sometimes you need help and that’s what this group is for,” said Raybon. “That’s why I think the PWOC is so great – to know that you can come here and someone will be here to greet you and help you along your road to growth.”

The group meets each Thursday morning at 9:30 -11:30 a.m., at the Hunter Chapel. The kick-off began the group’s study on marriage. Fisher said the first few weeks will cover an overview of the Bible and be an opportunity for women to ask questions on the Bible and Christianity.

“You don’t have to come to the chapel to be involved with PWOC,” said Fisher. “Any woman involved with the military in any way is welcome.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Updates via Crayon Box

We had a great time away last weekend! Jon got a 4-day weekend (thanks to Columbus Day), so we headed up to the mountains of North Carolina with some friends from Fayetteville, Rocky & Carolyn. It was so good to get away for a couple days and be with friends. I was a little concerned about how Sophie would do with the two golden retrievers, but she fell in love with them! If only they would have stayed still long enough, I think she would have "loved" their eyes out!

We went out on the boat, and Jon & Rocky found an area with really thick mud... we had fun! Carolyn and Sophie stayed clean on the boat!


Those pics were taken with Rocky's phone. Remember when we were kids (well, at least when I was a kid) and we had toy cameras? We'd hold them up and have everyone say "cheese" and pretend to take their picture. If only we actually had all the pretend pictures taken with the toy camera at my grandparents' house, I think we'd have some stories to tell!

Anyway... a couple weeks ago we were at a friend's birthday party, and this little boy had a toy cell phone. I thought it was hilarious when he held it up and said, "Say cheese! I'm gonna take your picture!"


Yes, I have entered that stage of life. The stage where things like goldfish and Cheerios are bought in bulk. I officially feel like a mom.


I have also entered the stage where I go to sleep on a Friday night with snare drums playing in the distance. (read: I went to bed before the high school football game was over.) And that was AFTER sleeping on the couch for a half hour. And when I did go to bed, can you guess what was competing with the snare drums for playing time in my mind? "Super why, Super why, with the Super Readers, we're gonna fly..." If you have never heard those words, you are apparently not presently in that stage.

Ah yes, how the mighty have fallen. Some of you know how ardently I have kept Soph from the TV. Well, she still watches very very little. But what can I say, at 6:30 in the morning when she thinks it's playtime, a lap tray full of Cheerios and PBS Kids allow me that few extra minutes of sleep on the couch...


Sophie is pulling up! Of course, the first place she did it was her crib... Jon went in to get her and found her standing up at the end! Time to take out the bumper... Since then, she has started pulling up on pretty much everything. She gets such a look of accomplishment on her face when she stands up!

She loves to watch the rain from the slider. She also loves to play with the blinds.


Jon has been super busy. A lot of marital and PTSD issues come out in the 60-90 day window after redeployment... which we're currently right in the middle of. So, his counseling load is incredible. He really is glad he is able to help so many Soldiers, but we're both looking forward to things calming down a bit.

Every couple of months, he has EOC (Emergency On-Call) duty. There is a certain cell phone that all the Chaplains take turns with. That way, if anyone needs a Chaplain after-hours, they don't have to track down their unit Chaplain... which also means no one needs to give out their personal numbers. It really is a great thing - a lot of problems that happen happen at night and on the weekends. Jon has it right now and was up from 2-4am on the phone. Again, it's so great to help people - and great to pass the phone off to someone else! :-)


I start a new class on Monday. Blah. I took Classical Social Theory last term (which I loved, by the way) and am starting Contemporary Social Theory now. I am really not looking forward to it. I love the actual subject matter - it's the reading and writing I hate. More so the writing than the reading. From the syllabus, this class looks like less work than the last one, though, so hopefully it will go ok.


All for now - have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stream of consciousness, condensed edition

Took a final today. Feel confident. 2 week break before the next class!

PWOC is wearing me out...

Sophie has been deciding it's play time at 6 am for the last two weeks...

Weather is high 80s. Feels more like spring than fall...

Sophie is working on another tooth.

Does anyone know what this is? It is in our kitchen pantry. We stuff plastic bags into it, but that is quite obviously not its intended use.

Did you know you can recycle plastic grocery bags? Reusable ones are still the best choice, but it was good to learn that for when I forget to bring them in...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Clearly Gray

We had a very interesting discussion at PWOC last week. A few weeks ago, I asked if anyone had any questions/ topics they'd like to discuss. We had just had a conversation that day about baby dedication, and one of the ladies asked what a baby dedication is- why wouldn't you just baptize? So, needless to say, baptism was on everyone's mind.

Being an all-protestant group presents some unique challenges. At no local church (at least that I've ever been a part of) would a group have such varying backgrounds and beliefs. We are very conscious to respect everyone's faith traditions, and I think sometimes that clouds what the Bible says. We tend to focus so much on our commonalities that we avoid our differences.

I think it's important, though, to focus on our commonalities... and discuss our differences. This is a very tricky and blurred line. What is appropriate for me to "teach"? I have had to pull back my presuppositions as much as possible, and look at the Bible for what it says- not viewed through the lens that I have always looked at it with. It is so important to not dogmatically teach views that truly aren't so black-and-white in Scripture. The difficulty is when it comes to things I believe ARE black-and-white, but not everyone agrees. If I were in a local church, it would be easy. But in this setting, where it is right and appropriate to respect and allow other beliefs... not so much.

So, in beginning the conversation on Thursday, I made that caveat. Obviously, my beliefs were going to come out. But those who had different opinions shared theirs as well. I also spoke about how there are things that I believe and KNOW to be true from the Bible, and there are things that I believe, based on scriptural evidence, but the Bible is factually unclear. Those things I believe, but hold more loosely.

For the study, I had several passages that talk about baptism, we split up into groups and sought to answer:

WHAT is the purpose of baptism?
WHY get baptized?
WHO should get baptized?
WHEN should they get baptized?
HOW should they get baptized?

I was afraid these questions would be too ambiguous (my brother calls them "Guess what I'm thinking" questions) - but I was very impressed with how well everyone was able to glean and learn from their own reading. That's really one of my goals this year. I think it is SO important for Christians to be empowered to read the Word on their own, but all too often they feel that they are unable to know its meaning and instead rely solely on others.

I was also afraid they wouldn't really get into it, that it would be too boring. Anything but! We discussed this for over an hour, and almost everyone spoke up at some point! One woman said she was so glad to study it, because her pre-teen stepdaughter had been asking her just the night before about if baptism makes a person saved and if not, why do it. The woman knew what she believed, but wasn't really sure what the Bible says.

It gave me a lot of confidence that we can dive into some deeper issues this year. Everyone is yearning to learn - what a great place to be!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Training her up in the way she should go...

So it's been a while since I've posted pictures of Sophie. Like I said before, I haven't been as diligent about taking them, much less uploading them. But, I know she has grandparents and aunts & uncles who need a fix, so here you are! In these videos, she "crawls," eats, laughs, and claps. But mostly it's just Sophie. Nothing out of the ordinary- just a day with Sophie. Also, since these videos were taken she has learned to use a sippy cup (mostly) on her own and can crawl from room to room without me noticing, if I'm not paying attention! Enjoy! :-) (ETA- for some reason I can't get rid of the double-video. The 2nd & 4th videos of her crawling are the same- sorry!)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend of 603d

My pumpkin candle is lit, and I'm eating carrot-sweet potato-ginger-lentil soup. The windows are open, because it's in the 70s. Aah, fall.

We had a great weekend- albeit incredibly busy! Friday evening we had a farewell dinner for Jon's Commander. That basically entails an hour of mingling, a nice dinner (it was at an Irish pub instead of the typical roasted chicken-beef stroganoff meal we're used to having at these events!), followed by another hour of speeches and gift-giving. It was cool to meet some of the spouses of the guys Jon deployed with, but I could do without the hour of speeches...

After that we went out with Aaron & Jenny. Aaron was Jon's roommate in Iraq, and Jenny and I also became good friends while they were deployed. They're leaving in a few short weeks to go to their next duty station- sad to see them go!

Saturday was the battalion "Welcome Home Party"- basically a 5-hour long picnic. It was pretty fun. Jon got to push Sophie on the swing which she LOVED!! She had been on one before, but not since we were up north over the summer, and never with Daddy! Somehow everything is just more fun with Dad around...

Sunday after church we headed over to Aaron & Jenny's- Jenny & I went to the Commander's wife's farewell with the spouses (Aaron and Jon stayed with the kids- I could get used to that! ;-). Another chance to talk and eat food- gotta love it! I think the chocolate chip cookie dough cheese ball was the highlight, but maybe that's just me... Dawn went out of her way to make me feel welcome in the unit, even joining in the middle of the deployment, and I appreciated her a lot. She has a son about 6 months older than Sophie, so it has been fun to watch the kids grow! It was great to get together with all these spouses one last time, as many of them will be leaving soon... only in the Army are you one of the "old hats" after 6 months in a place! :-) We came back, made homemade pizza, and hung out past Sophie's bedtime... again...

Anyway, that was our weekend. Lots of fun!

As soon as I can find my camera cord I'll be posting some pictures of Soph... now that Jon is home, I'm not so diligent about taking and uploading pics. The fact that I haven't been able to locate my battery charger since Michigan might just play into that too...

Ok, much to catch up on- later!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good day.

What a great day yesterday!!

We had our PWOC Kick-Off- I couldn't have asked for it to go more smoothly! We had 24 women there! (To put it in context, the first time I attended 3 months ago there were 5...) 7 of them were brand new! I know numbers aren't everything, but it was very encouraging. I think the most encouraging part was that 5 of the 7 came because a friend invited them- that is awesome!

One thing that really struck me yesterday was how much of a group atmosphere we have. We had six ladies come out on Wednesday to help set up, and everyone (who wasn't new) pitched in in some way yesterday. Really, I did very little. They work together so well and will do anything they can to help out. I think, too, that since it's a smaller group, there is more ownership- they know there isn't "someone else" to do what needs to be done.

I left there (after 45 minutes of clean-up, of course- but again, we had about 10 people there to help clean up!) and went to Jon's office to see what he was up to. He showed me a newspaper article- "Wanna go?" he said. I looked down to see that Indelible Grace was in concert near Savannah!

What? You've never heard of them? You obviously haven't been reading my blog for long! :-) IG is a collection of various singers (including Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and Andrew Osenga of Caedmon's Call fame) who write new music for old hymns. Like any music, some songs are great, some not so much- but all in all they're probably my favorite group. Matthew Smith was the only singer at the concert last night.

We really had a great time. Sophie danced away- it was really cute! I was able to get a little video of it (before she saw me with the camera), so I'll have to post that later.

Ok, much to do- busy weekend ahead of us- have a great day!

Monday, September 15, 2008


Remember how I complained yesterday? Today's "true" high is 93- heat index of 103. Sheesh.

Mon, September 15
Time Condition Feels
Mostly Sunny
95°F 20% 74°F 65%

Mostly Sunny
98°F 20% 74°F 61%
Mostly Sunny
99°F 20% 73°F 57%
Mostly Sunny
100°F 20% 73°F 55%
Mostly Sunny
102°F 20% 73°F 54%
Evening Commute
103°F 20% 73°F 52%
102°F 20% 73°F 54%
98°F 20% 74°F 61%
Partly Cloudy
94°F 20% 74°F 67%

Saturday, September 13, 2008

At least I have a pumpkin candle.

Fall is finally here!

Though you wouldn't know it. Yesterday the high was 93, with a heat index of 97. *sigh*

On the upside, fall being here also means that everything is kicking back into gear... most groups on post take the summer off, so now I have a life again! :-) You know, OTHER than being a wife and mother and college student...

Tuesday evening we had a Chaplain Spouse Coffee. I really enjoyed being a part of this group last year, and I think I will even more so this year. The new Installation Chaplain's wife is dedicated to creating more of a group atmosphere, so it is already more organized. There were 21 ladies there Tuesday night, when last year we averaged around 10. It seemed like a reunion in a lot of ways- several women from Stewart were there whom I haven't seen since we moved- but SO MANY of them are brand new! Two of them had only been on post for a few days. I look forward to getting to know them!

Actually, one of them came up to me and said she's been reading my blog for a couple years! I'm so glad I've been able to be an encouragement to her as she and her husband have begun their journey. The internet really does bring people together! :-)

PWOC is going great. We have our Kick-Off next week, but we've spent the last 6 weeks getting ready for it! We have had three new women just in that time who have kept coming. We're going to spend the few weeks after Kick-Off doing a survey of the Bible, then we'll start our study on marriage (as soon as the books come in...)

I missed the Hunter Spouses Club Super Sign-Up last week because of Sophie's fever (don't you love how everything has such exciting names? Kick-Off, Super Sign-Up... does that somehow make it more fun? Still not sure...)- the monthly meetings for that start up soon.

Add to that Classical Social Theory (MUCH more interesting than it sounds, trust me!) and chasing Sophie around (how is it they make a b-line for anything they're NOT supposed to get into?), and I stay pretty busy!

So, though it's not quite hoodie weather yet (and won't be until, oh, Christmas or so...), I'm glad "fall" is upon us. Apple crisp, here I come!! :-)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Undelivered Address

"Oh yes, they will agree, war is horrible. War is hell.

And yet, in the pale anemic minds, there is a kind of worship of this same horror of war...

Now, you and I don’t stand in such awe and adoration. We don’t think war deserves it."

April 12, 1945. America had faced economic depression and all-encompassing war. Franklin Roosevelt was in the midst of his fourth term as president and was to give a speech in honor of Jefferson Day the following morning. He was posing for a painting in Warm Springs, Georgia, when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away.

Jon & I saw this speech at the FDR museum a few weeks ago. Struck by it, I came home and promptly Googled it... what I found was several versions of it, but not this one. I called the museum about the inconsistency. Apparently no one knows what version was the last, but they do know that the one that follows had his handwritten notes on it, so it was definitely a draft he was considering.

This blog is not a political one. I have ventured more into that arena in the past couple weeks than I usually do. And I post this not as a political statement, but as a realistic one. War is hell.

As a Christian- and a realist- I know that "the end to the beginnings of all wars" will not happen until Christ returns. I am fully aware of that. Yet, I applaud the sentiment in this speech. I, too, think that war gets romanticized, glorified. I personally believe there is a line between supporting the troops and glorifying war- and that line gets all too often blurred.

For now, I will let the speech speak for itself.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Undelivered Address:

My friends:

Knowing that you are gathered tonight in cities, in towns, from one end of the country to the other, to give expression of your loyalty, I wish that I had the power, just for an evening, of being a thousand places at once.

I, too, feel the old need of a homecoming, the old urge to show up among the folks, and to take pride with you in the fact that we are Democrats.

I have spoken to my doctor about my inability to be in more than one spot at a time, but he tells me the condition is chronic. There is nothing he can do about it.

But, I am with you in heart. And in these times of trial, this greatest of all tests of men and the leaders of men, of nations, and the community of nations – up to this decisive hour, I know that you have stood, and you stand now, most loyally side by side with me.

Let me tell you that I am strengthened by that knowledge. Let me assure you that my hand is the steadier for the work that is to be done, that I move more firmly into the task, knowing that you – millions and millions of you – are joined with me in the resolve to make this work endure.

The work, my friends, is peace. More than an end of the war – an end to the beginnings of all wars. Yes, an end, forever, to this impractical, unrealistic settlement of the differences between governments by the mass killing of people.

Even as I speak these words, I can hear, in my mind’s ear, an old, old chorus. You have heard it, too. You will hear more of it as we go forward with the work at hand.

It is the chorus of the defeatists, the cynics, the perfectionists – all the world’s sad aggregation of timid souls who tell us, for one reason or another, it can’t be done.

They have been afraid to come along with us as we approached this task of destiny. And they will shrink, they will pull back and try to pull us back with them, as we get further into it.

Oh yes, they will agree, war is horrible. War is hell.

And yet, in the pale anemic minds, there is a kind of worship of this same horror of war. They tell us there can be no end to it. They endow it with immortality. They certify it to us as the ultimate fate of mankind on earth.

Now, you and I don’t stand in such awe and adoration. We don’t think war deserves it.

You and I are not willing to concede that we were put here on earth for no better purpose. And from here on, the wars that would come if we let them would leave precious few of us to argue to the contrary!

You and I call war stupidity – not plain stupidity, but enormous, brutal stupidity, a crime that makes no more sense to its perpetrator than it does to its victims.

Well, today that cult of the faint-hearted, the credo of those cringing adorers of a criminal precedent, is on its way out. And in a span of time as far back as history goes, there is something new under the sun.

To me there is not greater hope for humanity, there is no better sign in the world of our time, than the fact that this abject worship of war has become – for the first time – a minority belief. We have struck boldly forward in the inner world of our thinking, in the world that we project for our kind, and we have discovered that the world is not flat.

True, if there are new corporals who will want to become rulers of the earth, we can not legislate wild fancies out of their minds. If there are other impractical dreamers who must indulge themselves in their private nightmares – the pipe dream that war is inevitable – we cannot pass laws abridging the freedom to dream.

But we can and we will stop these murderous hallucinations from reaching us. We can and we will keep them confined to the dream-world of would-be conquerors and of the defeatists who are their accessories before the fact. We can stop them from wrecking the lives of sane, sound, peace-loving, practical humanity. This we can do. And this we will do.

I say “we,” for I know that I am only one in many millions who share this belief and are so resolved. We have had it proved abundantly to us in America that our people, whether Democrats or Republicans, want to strike boldly against the threat of war. They have demanded a sane, practical end to it. And they have their feet on the ground.

To this I can add – for I have seen it just as abundantly in my recent travels – that the other peoples of the world will be with us every step of the way. The thin-blooded timid souls who are now in a minority in our country are also a minority in the world.

I remember saying, once upon a time in the long, long ago when I was a freshman in college that all men had to fear was fear itself. We were in fear and economic collapse. We have struck back boldly against that fear. And we overcame it.

Today, as we move against terrible scourge, and as we go forward towards the greatest contribution that any generation of human beings can make in this world – the contribution of lasting peace, I ask you to keep your faith.

I measure the sound, solid achievements that can be made at this time by the straight-edge of your own confidence and your resolve. And to you, and to all Americans who dedicate themselves with us to the making of an abiding peace, I say:

The only limit of our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sophie update

We went to the doctor today! She is 17 lbs 2 oz, 26.5" long, and, uh, I don't remember her head circumference... but she is around the 25th percentile for all three. For those of you who saw her over the summer- I don't think she's gained much weight since then, but she sure has grown longer! Her cute little fat rolls are disappearing!

She's also cutting two teeth on the top (I think they'll be through tomorrow- you can see the white bumps pushing their way out!) and has had a bit of a rough day after the shots this morning. She just wants to be held and sleep. Not eat, not drink.

She officially started crawling this week! Well, it's more of a schooch still, but definite forward movement! It's actually quite cute- she doesn't lift her belly off the ground, but she reaches one arm up at a time to pull herself forward while she balances on the other arm, pushing off with her feet. It looks like she's climbing a rock wall on the floor! I didn't think she could be any happier of a baby... until she gained independent mobility! She loves it!

If this post was too boring for you, I have more semi-political thoughts for later in the week. Something for everyone- I aim to please! ;-)

Friday, August 29, 2008

In the news... maybe...

In the midst of the Olympics, the DNC, McCain's VP choice, and tropical storms, sometimes other news stories get lost.

Like this one.

I'm not blaming the Soldiers- they were given a bad tip, and there is a multitude of other factors that can be analyzed. I guess that's what gets me- we'll analyze the path of every tropical storm and every possible VEEP choice all day long, but not look at a tragedy that killed 90 civilians- 60 of them children...

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, according to the United Nations mission in Kabul.

Residents of Azizabad, Afghanistan, on Saturday walked around a home that was destroyed in an American airstrike on Friday.

If the assertion proves to be correct, this would almost certainly be the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations statement adds pressure to the United States military, which maintains that 25 militants and 5 civilians were killed in the airstrikes, but has ordered an investigation after Afghan officials reported the higher civilian death toll.

Keep reading the story here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remix: Supporting the Troops

Last Saturday we spent some time with two couples, the husbands of which were deployed with Jon in 05-06. We had an incredibly fascinating conversation (gotta love those 2am solving-the-world's-problems discussions! :-) precipitated by a question posed from Jon.

First, let me give some background- Shawn has been in the Army in one fashion or another for 16 years. Active Duty Enlisted, then later as a National Guard Officer. They have a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 1-year-old.

Andrew (aka "Mac") has been in for... uh... a little help here, Lori? I don't know. I think longer than I have been alive! He was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and has led a fascinating life. He also spent time Active Duty and National Guard, Enlisted and Officer. He has deployed with the Army 3 times (I think?) and last year went back to Iraq with Blackwater working security.

I tell you that just to say- this group is as "Armified" as any. Experiences are broad and varied.

So when the question was posed: "What does supporting the troops mean?" - the answers were equally as broad and varied.

I think that's what was most interesting to me. For each of the three Soldiers and each of the three spouses, it meant something different. It meant different things to each of us both on the giving and receiving end.

What we agreed on was that it is different for everybody, and that basically, if a person FEELS like they're supporting the troops, they are. Or, if a Soldier (or any other person in uniform) FEELS supported, then someone is doing the supporting. We agreed that it is an attitude above all, but that actions must follow.

Lori made a great point that love languages play into it- which is why how Mac feels "supported" and how Shawn does and how Jon does is different.

Some thought that the yellow stickers on cars were a great sign, others thought it was a futile showing. Some thought packages and letters were great, others wanted to be left alone. The guys (and spouses) appreciate being thanked by people, though most admitted that was more because they know it really meant something to the person saying it than that they wanted to be recognized. The idea was also thrown out that getting involved in the political process- even just understanding the war- is the best way to support our troops.

I think it's easy to find ways living in a place like Savannah, Georgia, where every other person you see is military. But what about someone living in Cedar Springs, Michigan, who possibly NEVER sees or is exposed to the military?

I have a lot of other thoughts on this. Our conversation the other night was well over an hour long...

But, before I rant too much, I'm going to ask again, whether you're a member of the military, a spouse, or a civilian- What does "Supporting the Troops" look like to you? You can read people's comments the last time I posed this question here.

Just curious.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pumpkin Pasta!!

In my opinion, dinner is not dinner unless it has a starch. Be it rice, barley, pasta, bread, or sometimes potatoes (I view potatoes as the "Y" of starches- sure, "y" is sometimes a vowel, but you wouldn't want to depend on its vowelness too much...).

Of those, however, pasta is my favorite. I could probably eat pasta for lunch and dinner every day and wouldn't tire of it. I love it.

So in an attempt to creatively serve pasta (we already have red sauce about once a week, and creamy white sauces don't fit well with an Army-fit lifestyle...), I stumbled upon Rachel Ray's "Penne-Wise Pumpkin Pasta." Well, actually I saw her make it on her show last fall and have made it a couple times since.

As a disclaimer: I don't like pumpkin. I'll have a wee slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but that's really more because I have a ridiculous obsession with the holidays than because I actually like it. But this doesn't taste like pumpkin! I'm sure the flavor is in there... come to think of it, maybe it's just nutmeg and cloves I don't like...

Using pumpkin as an alternative is quite healthy- it has a goodly amount of fiber and protein, and many fewer calories than other sauces. I added some sausage (RR doesn't)- in my opinion it adds a lot of great flavor. However, it would be much less fat if it were meatless. I also put in some chopped tomatoes & mushrooms because I had them on hand- whatever you want to add works.

A tip: We always keep fat-free plain yogurt on hand, and it is fabulous for those times that I make food that is as spicy as Jon prefers! (which makes my nose run...) The yogurt really helps counter the spicy heat, and makes it even creamier- Win-Win!!

Anyway- you can click the link above to see the original recipe. Here's my version. All spices are to taste... I don't measure...

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 sweet Italian sausage link, taken out of casing

1 bay leaf
crushed red pepper
1 chicken boullion cube
2 cups water
1 can pumpkin- make sure you get pumpkin puree- NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!!
1/2 cup milk

plain yogurt

Saute onions, garlic, and sausage until sausage is cooked.

Add 2nd set of ingredients, bring to a boil, then cook on medium about 15 minutes. Or 5. Or 20. Whatever.

Add yogurt (either to the sauce itself or let each person spoon it on his own serving according to taste)- DO NOT BOIL after yogurt is added!

Serve over pasta (I prefer ruffles :-) with Parmesan cheese!!

Monday, August 25, 2008


You know how when you know you need to do something, the longer you put it off, the harder it is to ever come back and actually do it?

Welcome to my blog. Sorry for the silence.

We've been busy! I am stewing some actual real thoughts for later this week; for now, it's bullet points:

~ We went to a cabin in Pine Mountain, GA last week for a few days. Full kitchen, cable, fireplace, jacuzzi- that's my idea of camping! :-) (Jon swears that's not real camping... whatever... close enough for me!)

~ While there, we visited the Little White House in Warm Springs. FDR went to Warm Springs to help his polio before and during his presidency. In a time where heated bath tubs had yet to be invented, natural springs that flow warm (an average of 88 degrees year-round) were very helpful for sore muscles. He had a house built there that later earned the nickname Little White House. I would highly recommend this site- it is fascinating. I really appreciated that, instead of using it all for himself, he donated much of his own money- and raised more- to open a center there that other people could come to- especially kids. There were pictures and videos of him playing in the pool with these kids who would otherwise never be able to swim- very cool.

~ We also went to the Naval Civil War Museum in Columbus. It was pretty interesting. I don't know. I don't really like war. I don't like people dying. I don't particularly enjoy seeing it and reading about it. The only thing I hate worse than the thought of people dying is the thought of people dying in water. I hate open expanses of water. I wouldn't have married Jon if he were in the Navy instead of the Army.

I joke.


But- Jon really enjoys boats and history, and he went to the Tea Room with me the day before...

~ On the way home we stopped at a big peach farm for some homemade cobbler and ice cream! They had some big tractors at a playground- Great-Grandpa Nave would be proud...

~ We went to our friend Mac's birthday party on Saturday! It was supposed to be a surprise... alas and alack, such things rarely work out. Mac and Jon became good friends on their first deployment, and it was so good to get together with them. We talked about how we all (Mac & Lori, and Shawn & Tracy) got together at their house just days after they got back from Iraq... little did we know what would happen! Two babies, Jon went back to Iraq, Mac went to Iraq through Blackwater, Mac & Shawn are gearing up to go to Afghanistan next year... things have come full circle, it seems...

Ok, I suppose that was more paragraphs than bullets. Ah well, whatareyagonnado.

Anyway, here's some pics of vacation!

Getting ready for about 15 years from now...

As you can see, Sophie loved the FDR Museum... btw- that little "Moses" is in her hand pretty much all the time- she'll throw down a teething ring after about 10 seconds but has been chomping on him for weeks!

She must take after her dad- she's a little water baby!

Sophie striking a Vana pose- notice the title on the wall...

Monday, August 18, 2008

signing in to sign off

Sorry for the silence... we've been busy relaxing! :-) Well... Jon has been doing a lot of unpacking since he came home.

Sophie is doing great! She has gotten so much more interactive. She signs "All done!" when she's done eating, and her face lights up every time she sees Dad.

PWOC is going well. We have some pretty significant challenges, but we're already on our way to overcoming them! I can't say enough good things about these women... they have really taken off!!

Ok, that's it for now. I'm still half asleep, and we're leaving in an hour for vacation... just wanted to check in! We'll have vacation pics soon!! :-)