Friday, December 31, 2010

Army Wins the Armed Forces Bowl

Nate and me with Brad and Jen
It was a wonderful treat for us to have both of our alma maters playing in Bowl games this year ... Baylor in the Texas Bowl and Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.  Even though both games were played relatively closely to us, we decided we weren't quite up to making both games (within 24 hours of each other, one in Houston and the other in Dallas).

We cheered for the Bears from home and were sad at their loss to Illinois, then headed to Dallas for the Armed Forces Bowl at SMU's stadium, hoping for a better outcome.  Nate's best friend from high school (and best man at our wedding), Brad, graduated from SMU and lives in the Dallas area.  We were excited to visit with Brad and his wife, Jen, before the game at their tailgate party ... but participated in NO cheering for the Mustangs, we promise!

Ready for the Game!

Go, Army!
We were happy to visit with Nate's West Point classmate, Jack Strother, at the game.

Go, Army!

Cheering with Gram and Granddad
Army WINS!  16-14 over SMU.  Go, Army!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meeting with the Morales Family

Christy and me with adorable Matthew
 We were thrilled when we found out some great friends were in town, visiting from their current home of London, England.  Rich and Christy have been friends of ours since 2005, a friendship solidified during our shared 2006 deployment.  Nate and Rich worked together on the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division staff while Christy and I got to know each other back at home.

They recently adopted a beautiful little boy, Matthew.  They are wonderful friends and amazing parents and we were thrilled to be able to catch up with them -- and meet their precious son -- on their Christmas trip-across-Texas.

Nate and Rich enjoy catching up.

Matthew enjoys lunch with Mom.

Matthew meets Leo, who is not concerned at all about his face being baby-smashed.

Trey enjoys reading with a new friend!
Matthew wrestles his dad for the camera.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Wonderfully Lazy, Rainy Day

Trey's one-man band contraption
We had a wonderful day of nowhere to be today.  We spent the day getting all our Christmas loot put away and catching up on laundry and other around-the-house stuff.  It was a blissfully uneventful day.  Part of Trey's activities included concocting a crazy system of carrying his new Paper Jamz guitar and amp plus a voice changer on his body.  Love this kid.

Joshua, for his part, accomplished great feats in the land of Lego today.  He and his daddy completed an entire vehicle of Legos while Trey worked on a Lego U-Build-It Pyramid game.  A few new Wii games, a little time on the DS, reading new books, and watching "Despicable Me" and "The Guardians of Ga'hoole" rounded out a lazy, rainy day.

A highlight for me was playing a new version of U-Build-It Monopoly as a family.  My sons crushed me in this game and I was easily the first one bankrupt.  My oldest was gleeful about my destitute position but my sweet baby kept trying to slide me some Monopoly money to make me feel better.  It was a really fun time and my husband quickly amassed his millions and won by a landslide, but we all had a great time.  Afterwards, we ate together in peace and enjoyed some delicious chocolate chip-walnut cookies from a cookie-dough gift from a fabulous neighbor.

All in all, a beatiful day with my three favorite people in the world.

Christmas at Mom's

My family at Mom's house

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Visit with Friends

Trey, Joshua, Ali, and Madi
One challenging aspect of Army life is leaving behind friends when you move to a new location ... and being the ones left behind when good friends leave you.  My children have experienced the loss of best friends moving across the country -- and sometimes across the globe! -- and although painful, oftentimes they are more resilient for it.

One such family became dear to us starting in 2005.  Trey and Madi were in Kindergarten together and quickly became good friends.  They maintained and built upon that initial friendship, enduring the teasing and taunts of their classmates as they got older.  Are you boyfriend and girlfriend?  Are you getting married?  It was (mostly) in good fun and the two of them did a fine job of ignoring the jabs.  They were simply great friends.  They both have a love of Pokemon and played it endlessly on the playground, after school, on their DS games and with the Wii system.  They share codes and tricks and have a great time doing that.  They're both super-smart kids and enjoy the outdoors.  Mostly, they just enjoy being together.

Their friendship has caused a few interesting conversations between her mother and me (which, incidentally, we became good friends as well!).  When Madi had a sleepover birthday party in the 2nd grade, should Trey attend?  He was her best friend and she really wanted him to be there, but was the only boy invited.  Madi's mom and I discussed it and, with the opinions of our husbands weighing in, decided Trey and Madi could celebrate her birthday at another time. 

The year before they moved away, Madi's younger sister, Ali, and my youngest son, Joshua, were in the same Kindergarten class as well.  They attended a private school in Killeen that is very family-oriented, creating a whole new aspect to our families' growing friendship.  Joshua and Ali remain friends to this day, but it is still Trey and Madi who insist on maintaining an active friendship.

It's been 2 1/2 years since we were neighbors, but the friendship established then is still going strong.  In a wonderful twist of fate, Madi's family's new home is on the route to my own parent's home!  We try to stop and see them every chance we get ... Christmas and summer, usually, and they have become regular attendees at my mom's annual Halloween party as well.  We're happy they still get to enjoy each other's company and had a simply fabulous visit this last week.  We had lunch at their house and let the kids play ... as we visited and played a few board games, too.  It was a wonderful visit and I am forever thankful for good friendships.

Trey and Madi
Fun times with the Wii

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Joy Magic Story Christmas 5x7 folded card
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day Two of Gift-Wrapping Fun

Our (extremely handsome!) battalion commander stops by to visit his gift-wrapping elves.

Busy, busy, busy!
These ladies can wrap ANY gift ... any size, any shape.
Big thanks to these wonderful gift-wrapping volunteers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Merry, Merry Christmas Coffee

Wonderful group of ladies at the Christmas Coffee

More wonderful ladies gathered in the holiday spirit.
Molly and Elena worked together to host the December Coffee for our battalion spouses.  It was held at our Elena's house and was a total blast.  We had an amazing meal, shared homemade cookies, and participated in a very fun ornament exchange.  I am very thankful for this amazing group of ladies!

FRG Fundraiser: Gift Wrapping

Red Dragon elves ready to wrap gifts at the Clear Creek PX
Day One of wrapping gifts for donations.
We had a wonderful day of fundraising today at the Clear Creek PX on Fort Hood.  Six Red Dragon ladies served as elves helping wrap gifts for donations.  We had a great time together and enjoyed the shoppers who stopped by for help with their gifts during the busy holiday season!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Red Dragon Wreaths

My Red Dragon wreath for the battalion front door.

The battalion CSM's wife's wreath
I love our battalion CSM's wife.  She's pretty private so I won't name her here, but she's fantastic.  She and her husband have been a part of the battalion for over two years and will be with us through the upcoming deployment ... a fact that I am very grateful for.  She's fun, energetic, and has Soldiers' well-being in her heart.

Recently, we were together for one of the myriad of meetings and events that we attend and decided to pick up a few things at our local Wal-Mart.  While we were there, we came up with the idea of creating a couple of wreaths to hang in the battalion headquarters.  My two boys were with us so the four of us had a ball picking out all the red and gold glittery ornaments we could find.  The boys even agreed to temporarily donate the use of their stuffed red dragons to the cause.  She and I each took our goodies home and created wreaths.  When we met a few days later, we were excited to hang our wreaths on the entrance doors to the unit headquarters.

Enjoy the photos of the fruits of our labor!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Our Battalion Christmas Tree

The Red Dragon Christmas Tree 2010

Merry Christmas!

Our wonderful decorating crew!

Several ladies from our battalion gathered to decorate a tree for the battalion headquarters.  We had a great time together and loved providing a little holiday spirit for our beloved Soldiers.  Note the cluster of gold ornaments on one tree limb ... courtesy of our youngest elf - the three-year-old son of our battalion XO.  So cute!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spend Less, Give More

Today at Legacy Church, we were encouraged to spend less and give more. It was a good message for me to hear and one I plan to take with me into the holiday season.  Instead of trying to fill my kids' closets with more and more and more toys, I want to try more meaningful gifts for them.  Instead of counting how many toys they each receive, count the joy they show when they receive them.

The point was illustrated by forgoing the usual bag of goodies for each child at church and instead, providing a bunch of empty boxes for the kids to play in.  It was a point well-illustrated.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Decorations

Christmas Tree
Breakfast Nook
Christmas Cards
Kitchen Tabletop tree
Front Entryway

Snowman corner
Dining Room
Boys' Nativity Collection
Boys' Bath
Santa Bath
International Santas