Archive for January, 2010

Tips on Keeping a Military Father Connected While Deployed

January 31, 2010

A few days ago, I watched a Mommycast Video that really piqued my interest. I love all the work these ladies do, but this topic hit near to home. They did a video entitled The Military Father with special guest, Armin Brott, Author the book The Military Father. He gave some great tips on keeping fathers connected during deployment and touched on the “cycle of deployment”.

This family is no stranger to either. I can honestly say that I have personally watched the cycle play out time and time again in myself and my children. But we always pull through just fine, settle into a routine and move forward. We have been facing deployments since 1992 and back then, the communication available to families was strictly in-port phone calls and snail mail letters. How things have changed! On this deployments, Clay not only uses Skype to keep visually connected with the kids, but he’s been able to purchase a local phone # through Skype and is able to call each of our phones any time he finds a moment. It’s truly amazing the way that technology has changed the ability for military families to stay connected! Dads (and deployed moms) can still be an active part in bedtime routines, discipline and comfort.

Great show, Paige and Gretchen! Thank you for introducing us to Armin Brott!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Learning Lessons #10:One of the Hardest Things About Parenting-Stick To What You Say

January 30, 2010

~sigh~

Tonight I had to revisit one of the toughest jobs of parenting-Following through with what you’ve said.

Earlier this week, I grounded one of my girls. The terms of the grounding were one week no ipod and no going anywhere, other than to sporting events. The grounding will end next Wednesday. Tonight was the jr. high dance. THIS was a tough one! Yes, the kids that went through this stage of life, before her, had to miss out on things. And yes, they’ve turned out perfectly fine. But it’s SO hard to look them in the face when they’re crying and begging and apologizing and promising to do extra chores and saying that THIS is the ONLY thing that they want and proclaiming how very, very mean you are.

But, the lesson will be lost if we don’t stick to our words. A big breath, a lot of patience and a calm and even tone are required to make it through.

So, I packed up her sister and younger siblings and dropped her sister at the dance. When it was time to go pick up her sister from the dance, she asked if she could go. And the answer was yes. I said she couldn’t go to the dance. I didn’t say she couldn’t ride along on the pick up. So, she was able to accept her punishment and then came along on the pick up and was able to say hello to all of her friends. She got in the car in a good mood and I’m pretty sure she learned the lesson that I will stick to the punishment given.

I hope!

So, lesson #10 in the Learning Lessons Series is to stick to what you say. It’s a tough one, but it’s important!

Good night~

Bookmark and Share

A Fun and Educational Craft

January 27, 2010

I don’t often blog about work, but this week we came up with a craft that was fun, educational and can easily be done at home.

We have been talking about farms and ranches, the different animals on each and the duties of the people who live and work there. We came up with the idea to have the kids learn about sheep and wool. So we made each child their own wooly sheep to shear.
DSCF6529

Then we explained about the process and that they would be shearing their sheep with their hands.
DSCF6539

DSCF6598

Then we had them collect their “wool” and explained that it gets sent to factories and is made into different things that we use at home. We gave them the choice of making a sweater or a blanket.
DSCF6604

DSCF6601

It was a fun and easy project that taught them about sheep, wool and some of our household items.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

A Weekend Out and About

January 25, 2010

DSCF6435

After several days of heavy rain, the sun came out, shining brightly and begging me to take my kids out of the house for the weekend. It was too chilly to go to the beach, so I decided to take them to visit the Cabrillo National Monument and the tide pools in that area. Day 1 was cut short because one of  the other kids missed a ride they were supposed to get. So we arrived, walked up to the lighthouse, did a quick tour and then left to retrieve the stranded kiddo.

But on Day 2, we packed some food, put on our tennis shoes, grabbed the camera and headed back out. First stop-the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

DSCF6434
I can not think of a more beautiful, final resting place! The boys really wanted to spend time walking all through the grounds, but we’re going to save that for another visit. This time we just took a peek and I explained why the cemetery was there.

Then it was onto the tide pools

DSCF6440
The 5 youngest Lang kiddos, ready to explore.

DSCF6447

DSCF6451

DSCF6454

DSCF6478

After getting a little wet and enjoying the rocks, water and small sea life, we drove up to the lighthouse.

DSCF6483

DSCF6486
It was a beautiful day to be up there!

Yes, many household chores went undone this weekend and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

And Only 24 Hours Later…

January 23, 2010

DSCF6413

Really, little dog? Really?! I’m not that terrible!

DSCF6415

~sigh~

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

The Dog That Simply Won’t Stay

January 21, 2010

I have a dog. Well, at least I think I have a dog. I buy dog food and dog treats. I remember having to bomb my house for fleas this summer. There are dog leashes in my cupboard. Every morning Tristan goes outside and puts dog food in one bowl and fresh water in the other bowl. Each afternoon he walks the yard making sure it’s clean of anything the dog may have left behind. But where the heck is the dog?

She simply won’t stay in the yard. It all started with her digging under and breaking through the side gate. Once the hole was filled in, she started digging under the fence between us and one of the neighbors’ yards. THEN, she figured out that by going through the neighbor’s yard, she could wiggle out of their fence, where a slat is missing. So now, she comes to wake me in the middle of the night to let her out and when I go to let her back in…no dog!

And just where does this houdini dog go? She runs several streets up to our friend’s house. She used to live there and apparently is still pining for her former owner. When he was ill, a couple years ago, we agreed that it was best if we took her. She feels differently!

Well Sneaky Dog, guess what?! I have a few tricks up my sleeve too! Yesterday I had the neighbor’s missing slat replaced. Judging from this morning when you were sitting at the back door, wet and muddy from climbing under the fence…and then back again, I think you’ve discovered that 2 can play at this game. Let’s see how long the fixed fence keeps her home.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

3 yr old Explanation For Bad Behavior

January 20, 2010

Luke-Xavier was asking me about when I would die. I explained that we don’t know when anyone will die, but that we all, do in-fact, die. I told him it’s all part of the steps of our life-we’re born, we live and we die. He was concerned about being dead and never seeing anyone. I told him that we have a soul inside of us that lives forever and that if we are good, kind and loving that we get to live in Heaven and see all the people we miss and explained that God is in Heaven waiting for us.

He thought for a second then looked at me very seriously and said, “Then I will be naughty so I don’t go anywhere. I just want to keep living and stay here.”

I can see that this is going to take a little more explaining. Until he gets it…watch out!

Good night~

Bookmark and Share

Hiding in the Laundry Basket

January 19, 2010

Max-”Mooooooom!!! Luke-Xavier peed in our bedroom!”

Me-”Ok, I’m coming”

I got to the bedroom and couldn’t find Luke-Xavier or the pee spot. I called him a few times but got no answer. Then I heard rustling…
DSCF6312
…coming from the laundry basket

I stood over the basket and called again (ok, first I ran and got the camera)

DSCF6313

The little imp was hiding in the laundry basket because he had climbed under his bed and peed on the floor and was afraid of his punishment.

Great…just what I wanted to do, climb under bunk beds and clean the rug. He’s lucky he has such an impish grin.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

A Reminder

January 17, 2010

Yesterday, Arianna had her 2nd soccer game. She’s playing on her school’s team and it’s the 1st time she’s ever played. The whistle blew & it was time to start the game. But several girls started yelling, “we didn’t pray!” Everyone waited while all the girls gathered together and prayed an Our Father. Then the game started and the girls played with passion and skill.

It’s those little moments. Those reminders that the kids are in an environment where they remember, on their own, to include God in their daily activities that reminds me why we make the sacrifices we do, to keep them there.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

United Through Reading

January 14, 2010

United Through Reading is a program that believes in uniting families through reading. They have a military program that is offered through the USO at selected USO sites. A service members can stop into the USO and pick a book for each of their children and then make a video of themselves reading the book or books.

Yesterday, we received 2 packages at our doorstep. They were each filled with books and Beanie Babies (not sure if the Beanie Babies are part of the program or just a fun addition). There were 9 books inside, one for each of the kids (Kateri and JJ, I will send yours along). They were accompanied by a DVD of Clay reading some of the books and talking to the kids. They loved it! The 4 youngest sat down and watched the video. They followed along with their books as Clay read. Maddi took her book, retreated to her room and came out an hour later, declaring that she’d finished it and proceeded to tell me the whole story.

When Clay first left on this deployment, he made a video of himself reading one book and the video and book were sent to us. But the DVD was very small and I couldn’t get any of our players to read it. This new one is regular sized and played right on my computer. Everyone was happy to get the replacement!

DSCF6234
Lex with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (it was read SEVERAL times last night)

DSCF6236
Gabi, Max and Tristan with their new books

DSCF6240
Gathered around the computer to watch and listen to their stories

DSCF6241
Clay reading Love You Forever to the kiddos

DSCF6243
Happy faces

Thanks USO for making this program available. And thank you to the DFW International Airport Community which helped make our video possible and all the generous, everyday Americans who help to support this program and make it possible for so many!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Lice!

January 13, 2010

Over the last week there’s been an outbreak of lice in my children’s school. Two of my kids have had children in their classrooms with confirmed cases. The thought of lice always makes me crazy because of the magnitude of what it means in my house.

Over my 20 years of motherhood, I’ve had to delouse my children and house on 2 occasions. The many hours of hair treatments, bagging up stuffed animals, washing laundry for days on end (which is ALREADY the norm here, so now imagine the added laundry that comes with lice!) made me HATE lice with a passion and work hard to prevent it by hammering into my kids heads that they absolutely CAN NOT share hair items or scarves etc. It’s been about 6 years since we’ve had to deal with it, so I guess my rules have worked.

However, now that I’m also in the environment with the kids, I’m getting panicky. After much thought and checking the kids’ heads several times, my new advice is this;

Play only with hairless, naked children!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Saturday

January 9, 2010

At this very moment, I have 2 of my kiddos traveling. One should be leaving London and heading to Germany and the other is on his way to PA. They’ve both traveled quite a bit in the last few years of being away at school and they know what to expect and how to get through the airport easily, etc. But there’s ALWAYS some sort of travel drama surrounding their trips. This whole week has been filled with anxiety because Kateri knew that she had a flight on Friday morning, but that her visa might now make it in time. Long story and many phone calls later, she did, in fact, miss her flight, have to drive to pick up her visa and run to the airport hoping to catch the one  last flight that might just allow her to get back to Germany on schedule. With prayer, phone calls and good timing, she made it! I’m praying for no drama around her getting from Germany to Austria, next week for school.

JJ’s trip shouldn’t have any glitches in it. It’s 2 planes and should all go smoothly. I’m looking forward to hearing from him when he gets back to the school.

Having both of them here for the last 2 weeks was so nice. All the kids love to have everyone together. But the dynamics in the house change greatly when Kateri and JJ are added back into the daily mix. My parenting style has changed over the years and I’ve relaxed on some issues that I used to really be a stickler on. Kateri makes sure that the 3 little ones use their manners, eat all that’s on their plates and follow the rules. As mom to “my lil guys”, I sometimes let these things slide because they’re my “babies”. Neither Kateri or JJ were cut that kind of slack and they are both going to see to it that the whip gets cracked! For the older kids, it’s nice to have the 2 oldest back and be together to go places, watch movies, play card games and think of ways to drive mom crazy. I think that brainstorming ways to make me lose my cool is an official pass time of the 5 oldest.

Both Kateri and JJ left little things for me to find as a reminder of them being here. When I logged onto my computer yesterday morning, the first thing to pop up was a Word document from Kateri to me; a little, digital love note. She also left me MANY Photo Booth pics to enjoy and giggle at. And when I got back from the airport this morning, JJ had left Old One Eye, a teddy bear that Clay had passed onto him, on my computer desk with his missing eye beside him, waiting to be repaired.

~sigh~

The next time I see JJ will, likely be at his graduation. That may, very well, be the next time I see Kateri too. The year has only started and already I’m anticipating the months moving quickly. I know they will, because each year is flying past. In only 5 years, Tristan will be off to high school (the plan is for him to go to the same school that JJ’s now at) and I will have only 3 kiddos left in the house. 3! It’s been 15 years since I only had 3 kids in the house!

But now, it’s Saturday morning, I’m the only driver left and there’s a list of things to do and places that people need to be at, that started at 5 am and ends around 6 pm. I better get moving!

Here I go, Doing the Dance~

Bookmark and Share

This Day in My Life

January 7, 2010

There are simply too many topics to write about over the last 24 hours, to pick one and give it a title. So here is what’s in my head on this day in my life.

First off, I’m wishing that writing didn’t take time. Why can’t I just think the thoughts, look at the screen and have them appear…wait…that might be a dangerous invention! But you know what I meant.

As for JJ getting back to school, all is well. He will be going back to school on Saturday and no hoops had to be jumped through or begging done to make it happen. There might, possibly, be a chance that I need to clean out my email and that I could’ve been looking at last year’s itinerary. But that’s neither here nor there and I’m admitting nothing. He’ll be back at school when he’s supposed to be and that’s all that matters…right?

I was also able to get his passport taken care of yesterday. It was completely painless and devoid of any lengthy or time-consuming lines. 20 minutes in and out. Pictures done. Eyes on Spain!

When I got home from the post office, I checked my email and found an email from the casting director of a new game show, asking me if I could come up to LA for an audition this afternoon. Initially I was SUPER excited. Super Excited! I thought, “how fun!” and “whoa!!!! I already took tomorrow off and Kateri is here to do the kids’ routine and dinner etc. Yippee! Perfect!”. Then I shared my excitement for a day trip up to LA with a couple of friends and received an email from one of them, who had Google-searched the show, that put an end to my excitement. One word, that’s all it took. Underwear. Underwear?! Underwear! Apparently the title of the first attempt of this game show is/was Fashion Strip and involved participants stripping down to their underwear, putting together outfits from items on stage and walking a “runway”. Uh….!!!!! I promptly emailed the casting director and asked if THIS was what I was being invited to audition for. And I let her know that the world was certainly NOT going to see me in my underwear, no matter how fashionable…ever! She was prompt in her response and said that the show had changed it’s platform and that no “nakedness” would be involved. Hmmm…the bubble had burst. Yes, I had already taken today off for other reasons and yes, Kateri is here to pick up the pieces and keep everything running at maximum smoothness, but I think there are better ways for me to spend this day than driving to LA to audition for something that I don’t have all the facts for.

So…it’s Kateri’s last day in the US before she heads back to Germany to retrieve her personal items and then head to Austria for a semester of school. We’ve both been so busy during her visit, that we haven’t gotten any down time together. So, kiddos are at school, JJ is working on some reading and helping a neighbor with her yard work, so Kateri and I will be spending a little time together before tomorrow is here and she is gone again.

So, that’s this day in my life…so far.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

OOPS!

January 6, 2010

Apparently I got too comfy with having my oldest kiddos back in the house for the Christmas break. I didn’t check on their return flights until THIS morning. Why would I? They are 20 and 17 and are perfectly capable of knowing what their travel arrangements are. Right?

It seems that Mom is still needed for such things. I looked up Kateri’s itinerary to confirm that she does, in fact, leave on Friday morning (she was thinking that she may be leaving tomorrow) and decided to check on JJ”s as well. He’s been telling me and everyone that he leaves on the 9th. I pulled up the itinerary and read that he was to leave YESTERDAY! Yesterday. Hmmmm…I really can’t fix this right now. I’m in the middle of the morning routine and have to get to work and the kiddos to school in a couple of hours. He’s accepted a job with a neighbor for tomorrow and has plans for this evening.

I guess Travelocity will be my friend this afternoon when I try to find a reasonable ticket for him to travel on Friday. I wonder if US Airways will work with me if we tell them he missed his flight?

I’ll keep you updated.

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share

Break Over!

January 4, 2010

Two weeks FLEW BY!

Now, it’s back to the 4 am wake-up and Doing the Dance to get everyone, everywhere they need to be. There are still a few remnants of vacation left. Clay, Kateri and JJ are all still home. Clay leaves tomorrow and Kateri and JJ follow this weekend. So, I suppose it’ll be next Monday when the actual routine is back. But, the decorations are packed. The new toys and clothes are put away and the holiday foods are now taboo.

It was a good break, filled with family and friends.

I’ll wrap up the holiday season with this little tidbit from Gabi-

While I was packing up the nativity scene, Gabi pointed to the angel and asked-”What kind of angel is that?”
I said-”I’m not sure. Maybe it’s a guardian angel.”
Gabi looked at me and scrunched up her face like I had just said the most ridiculous thing and said-”Why would that be a guardian angel?! Baby Jesus has the power to guard himself!”.

And there you go!

Have a great day~

Bookmark and Share