Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

2012 started off with old friends in DC. We rang in the new year old folks style (complete with early bed time by some) with the Halls. Just enough fun with three young kids. 

DC in January
We focused on school in January and February since John was busy at work. With deployment looming, his crew was busy with work-ups and all that stuff that goes along with leaving for months on end. 

A little bit of snow in February. 
Reading Night of the Moon Jellies 
We spent what little time we had together in March reading and playing together. The boys knew daddy was going to leave, but only Turner really understood what was happening. We enjoyed a quick little vacation to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg and then it was time for daddy to lead his crew in Bahrain. 

Enjoying an indoor vacation in the winter!
Mid-March we said by for now to John for half a year. While it wasn't our first rodeo, it never gets any easier! 

The boys and their count-down chain in March
April rolled around quickly as I tried to get my bearings. We were lucky enough to spend Easter back up in DC with our friends, the Halls. For some reason, I thought it was a grand idea to wake up BEFORE the crack of dawn to go to Arlington for a sunrise service. It was beautiful, but freezing!

The boys and I in Arlington. 

Berry picking in Pungo weekly until the season was done! 
May was done and gone in a flash. Again, I had a grand idea to take the kids on a trip...alone. We went to Natural Bridge for Mother's Day and it actually ended up quite nicely! 

Natural Bridge, VA
In June we drove to New Jersey for a visit. I asked Eli several times what he wanted to do for his birthday and he kept answering "I want to go to Grandmas!" So, birthday wish granted. 
 We celebrated his fourth birthday with John's family and just spent some time visiting. 

Hanging with cousins!
Eli turned FOUR! 
July was another busy month with Deacon's second birthday. He grew so much while John was gone; it was bitter-sweet to see him turn two. 

The last day of ONE. 
One giant summer cake to celebrate with his brothers, the most important
people in his life. 
Again, in an insane state of mind, I travelled several hundred miles alone with three kids. This time we found ourselves in Florida in July. We were able to time our visit so we were able to visit with my cousin that was in from California. 

Dude time at Legoland with cousin Nelson
I trained for a finished my first Triathlon. It was a blast and I was instantly hooked! My parents hung out with the kids while I did some longer brick workouts and got to spend some time on my friend's tri bike (I later treated myself to a Felt bike). The kids spent a lot of time between all the houses down the dirt road and loved every minute. 

Building a ladder with Pop Pop
Using fun tools

Dunkles took full advantage of the back yard swing.
August was spent thoroughly investigating our back yard and just trying to pass the time until John returned. We celebrated Turner's SIXTH birthday and watched him lose some more teeth. 

Up-close and personal with a cicada shell
I'm not sure what's going on here...

Last day of 5

Another trip to DC
Beach day in the OBX with Grandma and some New Jersey family 
First day back at Homeschool Out of the Box
September was a much anticipated month! John was set to return home from deployment and Turner was excited to start Scouts...finally! He's only talked about it since he was FOUR! 

First Cub Scout meeting in September
 We finally said BUH-BYE to deployment and HELLO Daddy!!

All done with the kiss jars for this deployment
 It was a weird home-coming since we picked him up at the airport, but exciting nonetheless. 
Welcome home!  
"Hey Dad, read my sign!"
We are lucky enough to have some very generous friends and got to head off on a very quiet little vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. The kids loved it and we really had a great time not feeling obligated to run around and see everything since OC was "off season." 

The boys and I on the Ocean City boardwalk

October was still busy for John but we were able to go camping and spend some much needed time just quietly hanging out. There were a few date nights but we mostly spent time letting the boys readjust to life with dad. Deacon got his first haircut, Turner really improved in his reading and Eli received five staples to his sweet little head. It was a busy month! 


Deacon got his first hair cut

Eli at the hospital
In November we welcomed our first dog, James Ewell Brown Stuart (Jeb) to the family. No, I did not choose the name. Yes, there is some Virginia military history involved. John and I quietly celebrated our 9th anniversary and that was that. 
Tiny Jeb (he's a giant now)
December was spent making cookies, eggnog and gingerbread houses! We really looked forward to Christmas this year. The kids just enjoy the whole month and we had lots of fun decorating the hose and making crafts. For school we learned of different celebrations around the world and it was quite the hit. The boys were also baptized while we were in New Jersey visiting. It was a nice way to end the year. 

Turner, Eli & Deacon at their baptism. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Another Christmas come and gone. I'm so thankful for a video camera, a DSLR and my smartphone. Between the three, I can capture every image, word and memory my heart desires. While I love just being in the moment and not taking pictures or recording video clips, having those digital bits to cherish later makes me happy! 
Grain free, artificial dye free gingerbread boys!
Christmas Eve, we were invited to a friend's for an open house. We have known the Brandt family for quite a few years now and are just now getting around to the same duty station for the first time since we met! It's so nice to have friends that are more like family because generosity like that always makes us feel at home, no matter where we are. 

Toby the Elf made his second annual appearance. 
After playing and eating with the Brandts, we headed home to read the Pajama Elf in new jams and scurry off to bed. We were a bit later than planned, so it was nice that The Night Before Christmas was read aloud at the open house. 

Reading The Pajama Elf. 
After the kids went to bed, Santa's elves got right to work pulling gifts from the woodwork. 

Thankfully, Turner and Eli were so excited Christmas morning that after running in to our room to tell us of the Jolly Man's arrival

Christmas morning 2012.

Deacon was obviously preoccupied! 
New bike!
Play-doh makes him happy. 
Cool Lego boards my dad made from this tutorial. 

Deacon and his car mat back pack that I made from this idea. 
Our first video game system that hasn't even been opened yet! The kids
don't even realize what it is at this point.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

School Update

I still call myself the most reluctant homeschooler...EVER. Here I am, though, 2.5 years in to this gig: something draws me back day after day.  

Turner is doing well reading, though I need to challenge him a bit more. He's working on "rule breakers" and learning about the nuances of the English language. Mostly, he's still in his Miquon books but I'm hoping to switch to Singapore Math (probably the US version) in January. He truly needs to be switched up often so math is not "boring" to him. The Story of the World and R.E.A.L Science Odyssey are still some favorites! 

Eli really thrives on art! It is rather amazing. He can come up with some intricate plans or a simple drawing and I feel like Jackson Pollack lives in my house. I really think if there is one child that really benefits from being home, it's him. I know Turner does, but he's such a rule follower that he'd go along with anything. Eli, on the other hand, is a rule breaker! He really, truly, belongs home for these years. As crazy as his crafting and creating can make me...

Deacon is pretty sure he's 4. Just ask him! He's reciting things and trying hard to keep up with his big brothers. 

Eli, counting. 

Turner working on some Miquon a while ago. 

Deacon, "working." 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Where Did We Leave Off?

 I'm not going to bother with a catch-up post because so much life occurs in just a little bit of time. There was a deployment home coming, a vacation, lots of fun school stuff, time with friends, melt-downs and crafts. 

I have fallen prey to the instant gratification that our technology saturated world offers. I was an Instagram-aholic. The filters and blurs and seemingly endless edit options. I could easily put up a quick picture I didn't really want to share with the Facebook world, add a caption and bam. No blog post, no stream of comments and "likes" -just a picture, worth a thousand words. 

A few days ago I found out that Instagram (purchased and probably run by Facebook) decided it was going to change it's privacy policy. As of January 16, 2013 they can sell any of my pictures without notifying me (or compensating). My kids sweet faces could be anywhere in the world, without my knowledge or consent (rare, but possible). 

I immediately deleted my account and then I realized: I haven't blogged BECAUSE Instagram is just right at my finger tips (so is Blogger, by the way, because I have an app on my phone). I can still share pictures and stories without having to post on Facebook AND I can continue to chronicle our life story...when I remember to do it! 

Here we are, in December. Everyone is healthy and happy and waiting on Christmas! 

Big boys, decorating the tree. 

The Jolly Men. 

The boys' ginger bread houses and a picture of one my Father In Law's creations. 

Eli and his Grandpa's house.