Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reenlistment, the Fourth of July, and a Time-Warp

Back at the beginning of July, Brandon signed on for another 6 years with the US Navy, which is a pretty big deal.  Since they're drawing down the military, they're being really choosy about the people that they allow to reenlist.  The fact that they not only re-upped his contract, but that they signed him for another 6 years (the maximum, by the way), really speaks to how awesome he is.  I, for one, really just could not be any more proud of him for doing what he does, and for doing it so incredibly well.

The girls and I drove out to the command for the little reenlistment ceremony.  It was very quick--the drive down there took longer than the ceremony did.  But not only was it a major thing for his career, but it's a big deal for our family.  On the one hand, the Navy kind of owns us for another 6 years.  We'll be moving soon, because he's up for new orders, and he'll be going back to a boat for the first time in 6 years, for the first time since we had children.  It's inevitable that he's going to have to go out to sea, and I'd be lying if I tried to tell you that I'm not terrified of being left alone.  But, to balance that, the Navy has been very, very good to us and it's reassuring to know that we are going to have a steady income and health care for the next 6 years.  So yes, it was good to be there, to witness this commitment being made, and to show our support.

They also gave me an award, which I was definitely not expecting.  It 's an achievement award,  recognizing and thanking me for my support as the one standing behind Brandon and his work in the Navy.  I was pleasantly surprised, though I also felt a little put on the spot...there were actually a lot of people there, and I'd met only a handful of them a handful of times.  Still, I thought it was pretty cool.  :)

So, that was July third.  I thought it was an appropriate way to celebrate the Fourth, especially since we didn't actually do any celebrating on the Fourth.  Saturday we went out to Virginia Beach for some Fourth of July family fun.  We tried out one of the local seafood places for dinner, then headed on over to the strip to have some old time photos done.  This was not done on a whim.  I've actually been planning that very photo session, at that very location, for a year or two.  You see, Brandon was stationed here back in 2003 for his C-school training, and he flew me up to see him a couple of times.  One of those times was over the July 4th holiday weekend, and while wandering around in Virginia Beach, we had some old time photos done then.  So how could we not go back and do it again, exactly 10 years later?  I couldn't resist, and even Brandon said that it pretty much had to be done.
 I didn't want to take the original photos with us, since we have only the one copy, so we snapped a picture of it with Brandon's phone, to show it to the people at the studio.  Of course they were all over it, and perfectly happy to help us try to recreate the original:

How awesome is that?  10 years, 3 duty stations, and 2 kids later, and neither of has changed much at all.  How's that for a time warp?  Here's the rest of the shoot (because of course I had to have the CD with all the digital images on it...) :

The girls LOVED getting all dressed up, and playing with the props.  Heck, so did I, for that matter.

Elora looks unhappy in the first one, because the photographer had handed her a gun, and told her to hold it up for the picture.  "But, guns are dangerous!"  And she continued to look worried until he took away the gun, and handed her the fan.  She was much more comfortable with the fan.  Kaylie, on the other hand, was in 100% dress-up-loving-toddler heaven.

We got done with the photos just before 10, when the fireworks were supposed to start, so we just headed across the street to the beach walk. We waited patiently there by the beach, but I couldn't help noticing that there wasn't anyone else standing around, looking expectantly at the sky out over the water.  Sure enough, there were no fireworks that night.  As it turns out, I'd misread the schedule.  They weren't Saturday night at 10, but Sunday night at 10.  Oops.  Thank goodness for smartphones!  Since Brandon was able to double check the schedule, we didn't wait around too long, but got the girls loaded up and headed home.  Poor Elora was heartbroken.  She'd been so excited to see the fire works!  We kept telling her that we'd go back the next night, that she would still get to see them, but she was so tired and so disappointed that she whimpered the whole way home.

We did go back, and she did get to see them.  Elora loved them.  This is the only picture I was able to get of her once they started, because she was so excited that she kept jumping up and down.  Apparently, holding still also meant that she had to stop grinning, but at least I got a picture!

Kaylie was not so impressed.  She didn't like the noise, but kept peeking through her fingers to watch them anyway.  She spent part of the show in the stroller, and part of it with Brandon.

I hope everyone had a happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A photographic sampler of the month of June.

June 1: Water Play

June 2: Chuck'E'Cheese
or, More On Potty Training  Reinforcement

Elora, while fully capable of using the potty, has consistently shown a lack of enthusiasm for doing so.  Why gt up and go to the bathroom, when it doesn't seem to bother her in the least to have wet pants?  So, we've been trying to inspire the proper enthusiasm in her, both punishing her bad choices and rewarding her good ones.  This reward chart is actually something that I made for her back in January, but that I never blogged.

Note:  I made this exclusively for our own personal use.   I do not own the rights to any of these images.
These are the counters.  

I made 3 for Chuck E Cheese, 5 for the ice cream, and 7 for the movie.  I printed it all out at home, then took them to Office Depot to have them laminated.  I cut out all of the counters, and used Velcro in the squares on the chart and on the backs of the counters so that they could easily (and repeatedly) be moved around.  Then I hung it all on the wall right next to the potty, right at her eye level, with the card board sleeve from the movie hanging over it all so that she would be able to see that, too.
Based on advice I'd received and articles I'd read, I thought it might help to give her something to work toward, and for her to be able to see it and be reminded of it every time she went to the potty.  Initially, she was really, really excited about it, but she would never go more than a day or two without an accident.  Fast forward to June, and she FINALLY got her 3 days in a row!

June 6: At the Zoo (with Aunt Bekah)

We've been zoo-ing about once a month or so, since it got warm.  By this point, it had gotten hot, and knowing that they have these awesome water fountains just inside the zoo, we dressed the kids in their bathing suits.  We ended up getting there shortly before story time, though, so we did that first.

The kids could not wait to go play in the water, but when they got there, they were super shy about getting in it.  Elora, in particular, does not like to get water in her face, so she just kept backing into the fountains.  And of course, whatever Elora does, Kaylie must also do.

And then we learned that a baby giraffe had just been born that morning.  Have I ever mentioned that giraffes are Elora's favorite animals? These pictures aren't great, because they were taken through the glass and my camera kept wanting to focus on the fence rather than the giraffes (I forgot about manual focus), but isn't he sweet? Only about 7 hours old here, and already standing and walking around.  So, so cool.

June 14: Hopscotch

It was late in the day, either just before dinner or just after.  The girls and I had been inside all day--we hadn't even changed out of our PJ's.  It was a beautiful afternoon. not too hot, and Brandon decided it would be criminal if we didn't get at least a little fresh air.   We opened the garage door, set out the blue lawn chairs, and watched the girls play.

I didn't really take any pictures of their faces.  I was fascinated by the light, the nightgowns & boots, and the chalk lines.  Is it weird that I'm kind of in love with this picture?

June 28: Farmer's Market & A Speech Therapy Update

There's a farmer's market at the local park every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer, and Rebekah and I finally got around to taking the kids to check it out.  

We ended up eating half of our strawberries right there, they were so good!  We haven't made it back yet, but I'm thinking we really ought to.  

That afternoon, Kaylie had therapy.  We're still going twice a week, and Kaylie is making great progress!  She's added lots of new words to her vocabulary, and is signing for a lot of things as well.  Jennifer has moved from just trying to get Kaylie to repeat simple words to focusing on specific letter sounds and final consonants.  For example, Kaylie says "eee" for "eat", dropping the T and speaking only the beginning of the word.  We're trying to teach her to say the whole word.  At the end of each session, Jennifer always makes suggestions for what we can do with Kaylie at home, so that she continues to learn in between visits.

Elora always goes with us, and is always very good while we're there.  Jennifer either brings something special for Elora to play with, incorporates her into the lesson, or allows her to play one of the kid's games on her tablet.  Frankly, I think that might be Elora's favorite.

And that brings us to the end of June.  Next time, I'll try to bring us up to date in July.  :)