Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Thanksgiving 17 blog

We had Thanksgiving dinner at our home this year. My mom wanted to have it at her house and I told her how much it meant to me to have it at ours this year.

Jerome won't be here for Thanksgiving next year, he will be in a foreign country celebrating with his unit rather than sitting at our table, holding my hand and saying grace.

He won't be eating the turkey he helped me stuff, he won't be having a slice of my apple pie that he loves so much. He won't be able to sit and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with our kids, all of them snuggled in their pajamas while I'm in the kitchen cooking. He simply won't be here ......I don't know what he will be having or how he will be celebrating but it was very important that this year.... this year he sit at our table, hold my hand and say grace.

Because next year, he won't be here.

Thanksgiving 01 blog

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I took our kids to the library to return some books that I had forgotten about and were overdue. It was fine free week so it was important that I cram a library trip in with the grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, cleaning and everything else I had on my list to prepare for it.

As I was standing there going through the books with the librarian figuring out which books were on which of my kids cards I looked up to look at the time on the clock but my eyes saw this picture of soldiers at Thanksgiving in a calendar hanging on the wall instead.....

It took all I had in me to not break down in tears. I know he is here now and that I am very thankful for, but these past several months we've had this countdown hanging over our heads, a constant reminder as each holiday approaches that next year we will be celebrating it apart, from thousands of miles away.

My eyes filled with tears and I felt shaky seeing that picture. I took a deep breath,opened my eyes a little wider so that the tears wouldn't fall and looked away hoping that the librarian wasn't noticing what was going on inside my head, that she wouldn't see how hard I was fighting the tears.

She repeated a question to me about one of the kids names and I could see that she saw that I was distracted. She smiled a smile of comfort, I smiled back and we finished checking in my kids library books. I pushed away those feelings and came back to where I needed to be, not thinking about the deployment and being in the moment right where I was standing....telling Katie she was absolutely not checking out a handful of books right now and then when she asked me why I smiled and pointed to the stack of books on the counter that were turned in late.

We finished up all of our errands we had to run. We went home and the kids helped me tear up all five loaves of french bread for the stuffing we had to make. Jerome and I staid up until about 2:30am Wednesday night cooking and baking. He helped me with the turkey, actually he did everything with the turkey, it was to heavy for me to lift. I made a tripled recipe of stuffing, two pans and enough for stuffing the turkey. I also made his favorite apple pie. The apple pie that I usually dread making because of the time is completely made from scratch. But this year was different. I wanted to make this year special.

Thanksgiving 12 blog

Thanksgiving 14 blog

We slept in a little Thursday morning and then we all watched some of the parade. Natalie and Katie helped me fold the napkins (after using google to find out how to fold them) for the table. I bought them after Christmas last year and loved them. I couldn't wait to put them on the table this year.

Thanksgiving 06 blog

All of my family arrived and we sat down to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. We all sat around the table talking and enjoying being together long after our plates were cleared and our bellies full.

Caleb enjoyed playing with his cup.

Thanksgiving 02 blog

We all finished the evening up with dessert. Laci's German chocolate cake made it almost here in her beautiful cake stand, but as the brakes were hit the cake she made tipped over. It was delicious anyway....

Thanksgiving 13 blog

Mom made two pumpkin pies....

Thanksgiving 15 blog

Bradley and Caleb enjoyed playing with cool whip while the rest of us ate our pie or cake and a few of us will never forget the taste of the coffee Jolena made, haha. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed it very much.

Thanksgiving 11 blog

Apple Pie Recipe

Apple Filling:
Mix 1/3 c honey, 2 Tbs. sugar and cornstarch, 1 tsp. cinnamon and a dash of salt in a large bowl. Stir in 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Then add apples (about 6 large, peeled, cored, and sliced).

Mix 2c all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. baking powder in another large bowl. Cut in 3/4 cu shortening until pieces are the size of peas. In a glass measure combine 1 beaten egg, 1 tsp. vinegar and enough water to make 1/3 c liquid. Add liquid to mixed flour mixture and mix until the right consistency. Divide in half and form each half into a ball. Cool in refrigerator for about 1 hr. before working with dough.

Place dough in pie plate and pour apple mixture inside. Place the other rolled out dough over pie. Poke holes in top or make decorative cuttings and pieces and place on pie. Finish edges.

In glass measure combine 1 beaten egg and 1 Tbsp. water. Brush over top of pie. Sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes with foil around edges. Bake an additional 30 minutes without foil until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Peach Lemon Jam.

Natalie loves being in the kitchen with me.

She helped me make some peach lemon jam.

It was my first time canning anything, hers too.

Peach Lemon Jam Blog

The jam was delicious and we both loved making it. We are planning on making some more jam soon, maybe some to give for Christmas.

Earlier this summer I went to the farmer's market and bought A LOT of blackberries.

Jerome LOVES blackberries.

I brought them home, washed them all and put them in the refrigerator. I had planned to make blackberry jam.....but Jerome ate half the blackberries.

I froze the rest of the blackberries so that I could make blackberry jam.

I think Natalie and I will be making some blackberry jam soon.

59. cooking in the kitchen with Natalie
60. learning to step back to let her learn how to work in the kitchen
61. watching her cut the peaches with a knife
62. the peach lemon jam filling the kitchen with a wonderful smell
63. pouring jam into canning jars
64. looking at the jars of jam with Natalie and smiling because we were able to can
65. the sound of the lids popping letting us know the jam was sealed
66. sharing a piece of toast with Natalie, piled high with our fresh jam
67. listening to her tell me all the different kinds of jam we could make

Paintball Trip.

Jerome and Spencer love taking these paint ball trips together. All of Spencer's friends stay here the night before, then they all get up early, put on the extra uniforms Jerome has, get their paintball guns ready to go, load the truck up and leave here to go paintballing for the day with breakfast on the way.

This year it was drizzly and raining from the time they woke up to the time they came home. They always come home showing their "battle scars" (bruises from the paintball shots). They laugh and tell us who shot them on each bruise and do a little comparing as to who has more "battle scars".

Paintball 03 blog

Paintball 01 blog

Paintball 02 blog

This was suppose to be the last trip before Jerome leaves for deployment, but I think they are planning another trip over Christmas break. Spencer's friend Adam usually goes too, but he was unable to make this last trip. Maybe the "Full House" will all be at the next trip....I can only imagine how cold it will be though.

I know this is one thing Spencer will miss while Jerome is gone. He was talking about it the other day. Jerome told him just because he is gone doesn't mean he won't be able to go, it just means one of the other dads can take all the boys for a paintball trip. Spencer replied with, "I know dad, but it just won't be the same without you there".

54. the sight of all the paintball guns laid out on our dining room table
55. seeing Spencer spending quality time with his dad
56. the boys proudly showing their "battle scars"
57. laughing at them telling us to go next time, as they show us deep purple bruises
58. a day with just our girls

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Career Day At School.

October 20th was the day Natalie had marked on her calendar for her Daddy to come to her school for career day.

She was so excited to show her Daddy off to all of her classmates.

We went early to have lunch with her. We had planned on bringing a good lunch in for all of us to share, he request was McDonalds, but we were running behind because I was putting the finishing touches on the video and pictures Jerome was going to show the class. So we improvised, ran to the small local grocery and gas store, paid an arm and leg for chips, corn dogs and drinks, but we made it on time for her lunch break at school.

She didn't mind the awful lunch we brought, she was just happy her Daddy was there to show off.

Career Day Blog 10

Then we lined up with the class, went to her classroom and Jerome introduced himself as Natalie's Daddy to the class.

Career Day Blog 07

Then he showed the video that I had put together for him...

Career Day 06 Blog

He talked a lot to the kids about his job in the Navy.

The kids asked A LOT of questions....hands held high waiting to be answered.

Career Day 04 Blog

In this particular picture a boy had asked what all the ribbons on his uniform stood for. It took him a while to tell everyone what they were and how the ribbon was earned, but all the kids were very attentive and listening to everything he was telling them.

Career Day Blog 05

So many of the kids asked questions. Several asked what it was like over in Afghanistan for kids. Then that is when he started to tell the kids that most children over there don't wear shoes, some don't get to go to school and that the place he was at he was part of a team that built the first girls school in the area and that they were very excited just to get to go to school. They don't have grocery stores like we do here, some don't have enough food to eat. He told them how several of the kids would ask for a pen and paper and to them that was like Christmas getting to have a pen and paper to scribble on.

Natalie's teacher liked everything he was telling the class and asked him to talk more about this. Between the both of them they talked to the kids about being grateful for what you have....because in other places of the world others don't have hardly anything.

There were a few more questions and then the class thanked him for visiting them.

Natalie was very proud to have her Daddy there that day. You could see it in her smile.

Career Day Blog 09

46. freedom
47. our home we live in
48. grocery stores
49. food to put on the table
50. a roof over our heads
51. wonderful children
52. a school my children can go to
53. living in America

Passing Football.

Football in yard Blog 01

Passing football is one of Jerome and Spencer's favorite thing to do together. The trick is keeping the football away from Molly. She has put a hole in many of our footballs. She just thinks she is one of the boys....they go down to hike the ball and she is right beside them barking up a storm. As soon as the ball is thrown....she is running as fast as she can, in hopes that Spencer will not catch it. When he doesn't catch the football she gets it and takes off running, making us all chase her to get the football back before she puts another hole through it.

Football in yard Blog 02

Molly is a great dog to have around. She loves our kids, thinks she is their big protector. She loves to run and play with them. She waits on them at the bus stop every single day. As soon as she sees them step off the bus she starts wagging her tail in excitement to see them.

Molly 01 Blog

41. watching Jerome and Spencer pass football in the yard
42. soaking these moments up, knowing soon he won't be here to pass a football
43. laughter
44. passing the football with them, and hearing Spencer explain to me how to throw the football correctly for the tenth time
45. hearing the girls cheering for us from the front porch

Monday, November 21, 2011


There is no guessing on what to get Katie for Christmas. She has been fascinated with drawing lately. She will sit at the computer and search "how to draw" tutorials. She will follow it step by step and then come and proudly show me her drawing when she has finished it.
Blog 01

39. watching Katie create
40. the smile on her face as she proudly shows me her drawing

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Homecoming 03 Blog

Spencer's first homecoming was scheduled the same night as our Navy ball. Several weeks before we were planning and figuring out how we were going to do both homecoming and our Navy ball in the same night. I had a beautiful red dress to wear and I was looking forward to seeing Jerome in his dress uniform.

Then Katie became sick with meningitis, was hospitalized and it changed EVERYTHING. By Saturday she was doing better and was having to stay in the hospital until all of her test results came back. I had spent most of the week in the hospital with her so Jerome insisted that I take Spencer and his girlfriend to homecoming. He told me, "besides he wants you to go so that you can take some good pictures of them".

Spencer and his girlfriend, Danielle, make such a cute couple. He really loves this girl, I can tell. They are funny together, always goofing off and laughing. I haven't seen him this happy in a while. She is a blessing even if she doesn't know it.....she has been a wonderful distratraction from Jerome's deployment for Spencer.

We started out at the park taking pictures then I dropped them both off at Chili's to have dinner before the dance and I went and did a little shopping while they ate. Then I dropped them off at the homecoming dance.

I'm really happy that Spencer loves this girl so much. She is a sweet and beautiful girl.

Homecoming 01B Blog

The picture on the right below.....that smile....I can tell from that smile that he is in love...

Homecoming 02B Blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ruby Red Slippers

ruby red slippers blog

This is Katie's ruby red slippers she would wear all the time when she was little. She went through three pairs of these shoes. She would outgrow one pair and we would go buy her a new pair to wear. She would wear them with everything. She would run around the house in these with her Dorothy dress on. Her Dorothy dress was constantly in the wash. She took her naps in these shoes....she wore these shoes ALL THE TIME.

37. worn ruby red slippers
38. the smile on Katie's face at 10 years old holding these shoes and remembering them
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