Thursday, June 30, 2011

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Our first stop on our summer road trip to New Mexico was Carlsbad Caverns!
The fun begins before we even make it to the caves.
Our speelunkers are ready to see the caves!
We all created a handmade post card to send to our Soldier.
The kids also worked together on some puzzles and other fun things before we headed into the caverns.
Finally!  We're headed into the cave!
The kids are loving the caverns, but are amazed at how deep we're going underground.
My little spelunker
Jacob, the Bottomless Pit
Love these little cave-dwellers!
Joshua points out another fascinating part of the cave.  We loved this place!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Army Wife Blues

So I'm feeling a little blue tonight.  In the past week, I have attended the Memorial Service for a 2/1 CAV Soldier who was killed in a motorcycle accident, attended a funeral for a former Red Dragon battalion commander, received news of two Soldiers from our brigade who were killed in action in Iraq, and said goodbye to my neighbor and wonderful friend as they jet off across the pond to a new assignment. 

All were emotional in their own right and have me feeling a bit drained.  I am missing my Soldier, hearbroken for Army Families who received the worst possible news about their loved one, and saddened thinking about my friend who is moving from being about 6 yards away to another continent away.


The sun will come out tomorrow ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Faith and Deployment

Our church family praying for us before Nate's deployment began.
I received the nicest note from a friend this morning.  She said she was praying for my husband and my family and asked what specific prayers she could lift up for us.  It was such a wonderful way to start my day and started me thinking of all the many prayers I have for my husband and our sons, and for our Soldiers and their Families.

Safety and protection from harm are always first on my list for our Soldiers.  Patience and peace are top for our Families.  And for our children, I pray that they will have the resilient ability to find joy in all things.  It's not easy to wait for your Soldier to return, and even more difficult to find joy in that situation.  My sincere hope and prayer is that each Family is able to find the strength and faith to thrive in their current situation and find joy in the honor and courage that service to our country demands.

How to do this?  I can say for certain that I honestly don't know.  Sometimes I feel that I can breeze through situations with all the faith in the world and other times I'm not sure I could even spell the word "f-a-i-t-h" much less exhibit it.  No matter what, I do have a certain bag of 'faith tricks' that help remind me of God's enduring faith in me. 
First, my relationship with my husband is a clear expression of enduring patience, forgiveness, and love.  I am forever thankful that God chose my husband for me and that He stands by us, embracing us through our commitment to one another. 

Two, my family is a gift that not only shaped me from birth, but continues to add to my sense of self and worth.  From my birth  and step- parents to my siblings to the family I inherited upon marriage, I am so appreciative for this group of people who always constitute "home" to me.

Three, my church family is an amazing group of godly people that continuously lift me up and remind me of God's love through their sincerity and kindness.  I am gratified by their presence in my life.

Four, no matter my circumstance, my God always places people in my life to encourage and support me.  I am so grateful for a lifetime of friends and colleagues that are always in the right place at the right time.
My sister-in-law, Carole Ann, gave my sons this photo frame that contained a wonderful reminder of Nate's service and sacrifice.  It hold a photo of Nate in full battle gear (from a past deployment) and is displayed on a bookshelf between the boys' rooms.  I see it daily and it is another reminder of God's faithfulness to us in all circumstances.

It reads,

My Dad is a Soldier

He is STRONG and
because God is with him
wherever he goes.
The Lord will never leave
my dad or forsake him.
Joshua 1:9,5

He will uphold my dad
with his righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

The battle isn't my dad's,
but it is God's.
II Chronicles 20:15b

Proverbs 3:5-6


All told, I have quite an arsenal of prayer support in my life and for that, I am truly blessed and thankful.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Care Package Ideas: Keeping It Clean

Any deployed Soldier can testify to the amount of dust and dirt that accumulates during their time away. Here are some ways to help your Soldier keep clean while he is away.
A hanging toiletry bag is a convenient way to organize personal items when sharing showers.
Sea To Summit Dry Lite Towel
This "Sea to Summit Dry Lite Towel" is extra-large and extra-absorbent yet packs easily.
This is the SM102BK New Balance SM102 Shower/After Sport Sandal, important for keeping your Soldier's feet off of the shared shower floor.
Ace Fogless Shower Mirror 1 ea
 A Fogless Shower Mirror could prove useful for getting that Soldier-close shave.
Dove Men and Care Body and Face Bar, 8 Count (4.25 Ounce Each)
Bar soap is another way to make sure your Soldier gets nice and clean.
Travel Soap Dish - Blue
Don't forget a travel soap dish!
Dove Men+Care Active Clean Shower Tool 1 ea
Shower soap and "shower tool" will help scrub away caked-on desert dust.
Axe Dual 2 In 1 Shampoo + Conditioner, 22-ounce Bottles (Pack of 2)
Any 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner combination is great for guys on the go.
Dry Dark Temptation Invisible Solid Deodorant Stic AXE 2.7 oz Deodorant Stick For Men
Be sure to include your Soldier's favorite anti-perspirant/deodorant in your care package kit!
Violight iZap UV Toothbrush Sanitizer (Colors May Vary)
A toothbrush sanitizer keeps your Soldier's toothbrush clean and ready to go.
These are some starter ideas for lots of great things you can send to your Soldier. Other "keeping it clean" items might include: shower gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, shaving gel, shaving razors, body powder, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, nail brush, nail clippers, or washcloths.

What are your Soldier's favorites? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Describe the Perfect Dad

How can you describe the perfect dad?

You'd have to start with the man before he was a dad, before he was a husband, even back to when he was a kid himself.  What kind of child would he have been?  He would have been smart, adventurous, and fun, getting into all the messy trouble that young boys do.  He would love sports and the outdoors.  He would grow up with skinned knees, traveling by bicycle, and loving a game of backyard ball.  He would be a good student, a happy son, and a fun kid to be around.  He would have parents who loved him and brought him up to be independent, confident, and wise.

The perfect dad would grow up from a charming child into a terrific teenager ... popular, smart, and handsome.  He would have been a great date in high school and have had a long line of admirers.  He would be a school athlete and a great student.  He would study hard, set goals then achieve them, and be active in a variety of activities.  He would sing in the church choir, act in school plays, captain athletic teams, and win dozens of awards in both sports and academics.  He would be a school favorite and know exactly what he wanted to do with his life by the time high school came to a close.

He would then go far away to college to follow his dreams, building his character, expanding his horizons, and learning to be a great leader.  He would learn discipline, teamwork, and the virtues of duty, honor, and country.  He would select his lifemate carefully during this time and then ensure that she always felt cherished and loved.  He would marry her when college years were complete then enter the noble work of service to a country he loves.

He would quickly prove himself as an outstanding leader, understanding his role perfectly and caring immensely for those he leads.  He would easily balance work and home, loving his wife and exhibiting limitless patience, love, and care for her.  They would have a happy, carefree love that gained strength through every trial and never faltered under stress.
This perfect dad-to-be would be hardworking and reliable, always giving his absolute best at work yet having plenty of time and attention left over for those he loves. He would be honest and trustworthy ... someone you could always talk to, tell your secrets to, and he would forever keep your confidences safe. He would love God first and be a man of faith, standing on the rock of Christ's love. 

How now to describe the perfect dad?  You would have to describe those first few days after he became a dad for the very first time ... the endless nights, singing the baby to sleep, and countless diaper changes.  He'd be the dad who got up at night to comfort the baby, even when he was the one heading off to work the next day.  In no time at all, he would have mastered the art of baby bathing, feeding, burping, and dressing.  He could hear the baby's whimpers at night and calm even the crankiest infant.  He would continuously pamper the baby's mother, too, knowing that a strong marriage is the best gift any dad can give his child.
The perfect dad would be duly equipped with an abiding sense of humor.  He would have a great laugh and enjoy life with every part of his being.  He would enjoy every moment of fatherhood and be humble and thankful for the blessings in his life.  When he becomes a father for the second time, he swells with pride and is eternally grateful for his two wonderful sons.
Now the perfect dad really shines.  He is the perfect example to his sons and is forever involved in their lives and interests.  He coaches their sports, encourages their talents, and explores their hobbies with them.  He reads to them at night, hugs them in the morning, and is always there to pick them up when they fall.  He learns every minute detail of their personalities and makes their lives his lifelong study.  He is a great coach, comfortor, and confidante. 
He devotes his life to being the leader that God created him to be.  He is smart, organized, and dedicated.  He divides his time between leading our nation's finest citizens, United States Soldiers, and leading his family in life and love.  In the eyes of his wife and his sons, he cannot be matched.  Their love, admiration, and loyalty to him knows no bounds.  He is adored and deserves every ounce of joy in his life.  He is the perfect dad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Exceptional Educators

My mother spent 26 years dedicating her life to the education and fulfillment of students in public schools.  She loved them and cared for them, and she taught them, too.  Her motivation was finding the best in each individual child and ensuring that each student reached their fullest potential.  Her classroom was a bright, happy, safe place to learn and her students flourished under her care.  I grew up admiring her constant energy and devotion and love for children.  These are a couple of poems written by this marvelous woman, amazing mother, and exception educator.  Enjoy!

Make My Day

No two children are exactly the same,
No two children have exactly the same name.
No two children learn in the same way,
But every child can make your day.

~ Gilda Leigh Warlick

Look at the Heart

Look past the problem and into his heart.
Look to his feelings to start doing your part.

How do you know what he's been through that morning?
Maybe it's your caring that has his soul yearning
For something he isn't getting at home;
And for that something, to you he has come.

Look into his eyes past the hurt and the pain.
Find reasons to praise so his pride he'll regain.
There may be reasons, for today he's not learning,
Maybe a heart is broken or a stomach is churning.
He's turning to you for his comfort and calm.
Your love and understanding can be a healing balm.

Reading isn't all you are teaching,
Love for each other and life you'll be preaching.
"If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all,"
You'll hear yourself say.
And that will become your motto for each day.

You hope your example will be enough,
Though somedays are rough,
And kids can be tough.

Let them see your love for them shining through your eyes.
So "We love our teacher!" can be heard in their cries.
Look into his soul to see what therein lies.

~ Gilda Leigh Warlick

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our Day in 4 Photos

We started the day at the Harker Heights Medical Center ~ LOVE this place!! It's like they collected the very best of all medical professionals and put them all in this one building.  They are simply fabulous! 

In this photo, my boys bond with another DSi-loving child in the waiting room.  I finished up blood work for my annual exam and Trey completed his Boy Scout physical and is ready to go to First-Year Camp next week!
Trey and I dropped Joshua off at his friend's house for a birthday party then made a quick stop at Hobby Lobby for yellow ribbon, stickers, and this Plaster-of-Paris imposter.  We hope it will be able to hold our tree branches in place for our "Wishing Tree" crafts for battalion kids tomorrow night. 

Trey and I both adore Hobby Lobby and miraculously bought only what we came to buy!  (You're welcome, Honey!)
After we finished at Hobby Lobby, Trey and returned to the birthday party.  I really enjoyed visiting with three of my favorite Second Grade (oops! Third Grade now!) moms and Trey loved being a part of the Nerf Gun War party.  It was  a fun afternoon for everyone.  Happy Birthday, Jeffrey!
We trekked to Hutto to Uncle Danny and Aunt Rachel's house to help create these "wishing trees-to-be' using soup cans, branches lovingly cut and shaped by wonderful friends (Thanks, Kendal and Cristy!!), and "Pottery Plaster" ... whose label warned of probable limb amputation if used incorrectly.  Nice.  Even better that we were helped by seven small children!  =) 

Once complete, we headed home, stopping at Cowboy's BBQ in Salado for a yummy dinner.  Fun and productive day all around!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When They Were Babies

I remember watching this baby sleep,
His eyes are closed,
With baby-fine lashes fanned across his sweet soft face ...
Sweet baby breaths coming soft and slow,
Chest rising and falling with my own.

He dreams his baby dreams,
Lips pucker then smile,
And I take a long deep breath,
Taking in his sweet powdery scent.

My baby.
My boy.
My son.

Tiny fingers curl around my hand,
Eyelids flutter then rest, completely at peace.
He trusts me completely.
He knows no pain, no regret.

I am in love with him.
I cannot help it.
His fluttering heartbeat is like oxygen to me,
A lifeline to my soul.

I thank God for him,
For his life, his love, his trust.
I pray that I can raise him well,
And guide him along life's bumpy roads.

He is my baby.
My boy.
My son.

And I love him.

Care Package Ideas: Comforts of Home

When deployed far away, Soldiers can really miss all of the comforts of home. Sending a few items to make your Soldier more comfortable in his 'home away from home' is one way to show your support. Here are some ideas for enhancing their living space.

Dorm Bedding Set: Dorm-Room-In-a-Box: Comforter, Sheet Set, Mattress Pad, Pillow, Towel set - Navy Red - Twin XL 10 Pc SET
This is a "Dorm" Bedding in a Bag set, complete with Twin XL comforter, sheet set, mattress pad, pillow, and towel set.  Most Soldiers can utilize bedding provide for them, but finding a neutral bedding set to send is an easy way to boost morale and make sleeping a little more comfortable.
Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow
This "Sleep Better Iso-Cool Memory Foam Pillow" adjusts to body temperature and will help keep your Soldier cool at night.  A good pillow can go a long way to ensuring your Soldier gets the quality sleep he needs.
Crane Drop Shape Cool Mist Humidifier
This Cool Mist Humidifier by Crane provides moisture for dry cough, sinus irritation, and dry skin.  It can also relieve congestion from allergy and asthmatic type symptoms.

Home Dynamix Area Rugs: Tivoli Indoor Outdoor Rug: DT520-450 Charcoal Black
An area rug can catch (some of the) dust from the outdoors and provide a comfortable reminder of home.
Stacking Wire Storage Cubes - Set of 4 in Silver
Easy to ship, easy to assemble storage cubes are the perfect place to organize military gear and personal items in your Soldier's living area.
Brand New Motorola 7 Dual Digital Photo Frames With Slideshow Supports Multiple Memory Card Formats
A digital photo frame filled with snapshots of loved ones is the perfect way to keep your Soldier feeling the love from home.

A battery-operated lamp can be handy for late-night reading, writing letters, or catching up on emails.
Lysol Neutra Air Freshmatic Automatic Spray Kit, Fresh Scent
Battery-operated air fresheners can help your Soldier's living space smell a little more like home.
Senseo 7810 Single-Serve Gourmet Coffee Machine, Black
If your Soldier is a coffee-lover, this single-serve coffee maker by Senseo is a must.
I hope this list sparks some ideas for you to help your Soldier feel more at home while he is away. I would love to hear YOUR ideas, what you've sent, and what your Soldier loves to receive!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Care Package Ideas: Beat the Heat

For Soldiers serving in the oft-oppressive heat of Iraq or Afghanistan, one fun idea for a care package is a "Beat the Heat" collection. 

Start with tucking tissue paper or cellophane in various colors of blue, silver, or white into your care package box.  Feel free to decorate with 'cold' themed stickers, too (snow flakes, ice cubes, water drops, etc.).  If you have children, they can add paper snowflakes to the box.

Next, look for some of these items to complete your "Beat the Heat" box. 
Unscented, non-greasy Sport sunscreen
Sport lip balm with SPF
Water flavors like Propel or MIO
Dentyne ICE or Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum
USB or battery-operated personal fan
Personal mister like this one from MISTYMATE
Disposable "Cool Off" towlettes
Rubik's Ice Cube game
Hockey Ice Dice game
Supersoaker Arctic Blast Water Blaster

Movies like: 2012 Ice Age, Cool Runnings, Cool Hand Luke, Ice Castles, The Ice Storm, The Cutting Edge, or Ice Age
You can Google "ice" or "cool" to find book titles to send as well.  I like to try and see what they have; there were lots of book options there! 

Here are a few more fun ideas to add to your "Beat the Heat" box ...

For military duty in hot climates comes a combo with tan neck and wrist wraps, a helmet liner, and a canteen cooler! No ice needed.

The Chilly Pad from

The Chilly Pad® provides an innovative way to cool down while enduring outdoor heat and/or high levels of physical activity. Perfect for anyone engaged in sports or work, the Chilly Pad is made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch. When wet, the towel begins to evaporate and cool, providing cool, soft comfort to the user. When it stops cooling (about 1-4 hours, depending on conditions), you simply re-wet the towel in hot or cold water and wring it out. Within minutes, it's cool again. It's also machine washable, and comes in its own storage container for years of reliable use. Handy size: 27" x 17"