Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday, Jacob Brant!

Sweet baby Jacob at home in November 2001
Me with Jacob in November 2001
Ten years ago today, my Family was in turmoil. 

We had just learned that my baby brother had been killed in a car accident, only weeks before his 21st birthday.  After receiving this horrific news, my husband and I immediately boarded a plane in Georgia with our infant son, bound for Texas to be with my mom and sister. 

Just as the shock of his death was beginning to sink in, my baby sister went into premature labor at 29 weeks pregnant.  A little over 24 hours after my brother died, my sister gave birth to a tiny new baby boy.  He didn't have a name yet; that was still to be decided. 

He was the teeniest thing, at 2.9 lbs. and 15 inches long.  He was rushed into the NICU upon birth and spent the next three months there, growing and getting stronger each day. 

The day of his birth was monumental for us.  We were all still in shock over the loss of Randal and grieving would take many more days and weeks and months, even years, to bring any of us to any kind of normalcy again.  My sister, too, was very sick with a severe form of preeclampsia that she almost didn't survive.

Yet there was this brand-new baby boy who was struggling for his own life and we were thrust into a situation of many conflicting emotions.  We were devastated at our loss and exhausted from the first hours of raw anguish; worried about the health of my sister and terrified that this precious new life was in danger, yet elated that this baby was with us and now a part of our family.  It was purely outrageous and bizarre, and it was all ours.

My sister did survive her illness and my nephew, who was eventually named Jacob Brant, grew stronger each day and came home in November, over 90 days after his birth. 

He has grown into a marvelous little boy.  He is strong and healthy, amazingly athletic, smart, and handsome.  He has blonde hair and blue eyes and is the perfect combination of his mother and father.  He's mischevious and funny and popular with his peers.  He's the kind of kid you want to be friends with and the one you pick first to be on your team.  He will make you laugh and beat you at any game, so competitive is his nature.  He's my fabulous nephew, Jacob Brant.

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Happy Birthday, Jacob!
Jacob thought this picture was hilarious because his mom calls him the "bottomless pit" as he never stops eating.  This photo was taken inside Carlsbad Caverns this summer.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Randal Brant Paclik

Randal Brant Paclik
October 22, 1980 - August 24, 2001

My baby brother, Randal

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School Report

So my kids both survived the first day of school and are off for Day 2.

Trey is thrilled with Middle School and seems to be born for such a time as this.  He loves changing classes and looks forward to a new teacher and subject every hour.  He enjoys having a locker all to himself and the responsibility of taking care of his own things.  He has declared Science as his favorite class so far (primarily based on the lab tables and the jars of floating dead animals and body parts in the room).  He likes all of classes and says all of his teachers are very nice.

He cannot wait for Advisory periods where they get to read "for 50 solid minutes on Mondays!!"  He already knows the layout of the school and has his schedule memorized.  He says that the halls are very crowded in between classes; his friend Clayton adds, "If you're claustrophobic, middle school is not for you!"  So, middle school is a huge success, one day in.

Joshua is much more reserved with his praise ... after all, he could be enjoying summer if it weren't for this pesky school thing, but he, too, is enjoying his new year.  He loves his new teacher and says she is "very nice as long as you are doing what you're supposed to be doing."  He was very excited to see his friends again but lamented the fact that Jeffrey and Jonathan are sitting on the opposite side of the room right now.  Joshua is very analytical and is certain to present all the pros and cons in any given situation but seems to be mostly positive at this point.

I'm happy for both my boys and pray for continued positive reports and success throughout their school year.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School 2011

There are moments in parenting that simply make your heart swell with love and pride.  You just can't believe that these amazing little creatures are all yours ... created by you ... raised by you ... and an instant reflection of you and your love.  I have these moments often and this morning was just another one of them.  As I was walking with my kids toward school in the early morning, I just couldn't help but smile with pure joy at the two strong, healthy, intelligent, handsome boys that I call my own.  I pray that they have a wonderful first day of school and look forward to the fun adventures of the year ahead.
Two cute boys ready for school!
Off to Mountain View!
Joshua is ready for 3rd Grade!
A small, subtle reminder that Mountain View Elementary School is an EXEMPLARY campus!  Woo-Hoo!
Standing tall in Mrs. Cameron's 3rd Grade class!
Joshua is all done with photos for the day.  Okay, okay, Mom gets the message.
Now, it's off to middle school with Trey!
I snuck in a quick pic when he wasn't looking!

A Back to School Prayer

Dear Lord,

As my children leave for school,
I pray that you will keep them in your care.
Send your Spirit to open their minds
to all that is true and beautiful and good.

Help them to see the gifts and talents
you have given them and to use them well.
Help them to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
Help them to be kind to others
and lead others be kind to them.

Give their teachers patience and understanding
and help them teach what is just and true.
Send your angels to guide and guard my children
and to keep them from all harm.

Open their young hearts to your presence
and enfold them in your peace and protection.
Hold them in the palm of your hand
and bring them home safely at day's end.


Back to school is always a time of mixed emotions from my kids and from me ... excited for a new adventure, nervous about the unknown, sad to bid summer farewell, and relieved to get back into a routine, just to name a few.  This year, with Trey moving into Middle School (yikes!!) and Joshua starting his first intermediate year in 3rd grade, I'm doubly excited for them.  I look forward to the adventure and wish my two wonderful boys the best school year yet.

Find this prayer, written by Fr. Austin Fleming, and several other great back-to-school prayers at A Concord Pastor Comments.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Dragon Pool Party

Our battalion hosted a back-to-school pool party today. My boys were thrilled with one last chance to spend some time in the water before summer's end. I had to drag them out of the pool to wolf down a hamburger/hot dog lunch, then drag them out again at the end of the day, when exhaustion was clearly taking them over.

It was a really nice time with some wonderful Families ... very relaxed, comfortable, yummy, and fun. I was happy to have the opportunity to spend some time with friends and the boys had a great time, too. Great event for some really great folks!

Supercute kiddos in the Club Hood pool.
Trey on the seal slide.
"I'm stuck!" ... Perhaps the slide is not made for middle school boys?
Trey is happy to start the lunch line.
Trey and Joshua LOVED the back-to-school pool party.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Nate!

Wearing birthday hats, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Nate while he opens his gift care package from us.
Nate even lit the "4" and the "0" candles, made a wish, and blew out his candles!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Swim Lessons at Killeen's Family Aquatic Center

Joshua is very 'zen' about completing Level 3 in Swimming Lessons.
Trey rests after passing a vigorous Level 4 Swim Test.
After several years of taking swim lessons at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, I decided to stick a little closer to home this year and enrolled the kids in lessons in Killeen.  Lion Park's Family Aquatic Center (which is one of their favorite places to go in the summer) hosts swim lessons so we decided to give it a try.

Things we loved about swim lessons:  The price was reasonable, $40.00 per child for two weeks (M-TH) of lessons.  The facilities are fabulous; my kids had lessons in the pool only, not in the 'park' part of the facility.  My kids enjoyed their lessons and their instructors.  I was pleased with their progress and proud of them both for passing the levels they started.  A big bonus is that the kids had 'free swim' across the entire park on the last day of lessons (during their regular lesson time).

A few things that could be improved:  On the first day, the instructors seemed pretty disorganized.  We waited until after lessons should have started to engage the lounging group of teenages who were gathered around a table drinking coffee, yawning, and chatting with each other.  Once I asked where my kids should go for lessons, they casually got up and started a slow process of identifying their students then making their way to the pool.  This was not a huge issue, but certainly didn't inspire trust and confidence in the parents who were placing their kids in these teens' care. 

Disorganization was apparent again a few days later when one of my boys' instructors was absent and there was no plan for a substitute.  5 minutes into that lesson (when all the other kids were in the water with their instructors), my son asked one of the lifeguards what he should do.  She had no idea and began a search for someone who did know.  Eventually, a substitute instructor showed up and introduced herself to the kids.  She spent the next several minutes yelling across the pool to the other instructors, asking what level this was and what they should be working on.  In all, it was a wasted day for learning and I was left feeling a bit uncomfortable with their procedures.

Having said all of that, the minor disruptions due to disorganization were outweighed by the many positives of the lessons.  We had a good experience here and will sign up again if we are in the area again next summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Making Cake in a Jar

Joshua fills the first jar with cake batter.
Filling jars and hoping it turns out alright!
So far, so good!
Cooked, sealed, and ready to be delivered!
Um, we did have to open one and see how it turned out!

Happy, happy birthday to our wonderful Soldier!