Saturday, May 31, 2008

Remembering and Celebrating

Today was both sad and happy. This morning was the memorial service for John Alley. It was really good. There was a wonderful combination of spiritual, military, remembering, laughing, crying, etc. Anton was asked to sing with a couple of guys and I accompanied them on the piano. They sang Where Can I Turn For Peace. I was so incredibly nervous to play. I'm not that good of a pianist. I have never gotten so nervous that I felt like throwing up, until today. There were so many people there. But the guys sang great, and I managed to get through the song without messing it up.

It was great to hear people remembering things about John. His brother talked about past experiences, and our friend Andre talked about the kind of person he was. The CO promoted him to First Lieutenant and gave him his wings. At the end we all went outside and they lowered the flag to half mast and there was a fly-over that did the missing man formation. It was excellent. I can't think of a better way to send off a loved one. Of course, we all wish we weren't having to send him off, but it couldn't have been done better.

The actual funeral is on Friday in Utah.

In order to give Emily a happier memory from today, a few girls got together to throw her a baby shower. I got to make the cake for it. She found out the other day that she is having a boy. She's so glad because she will now have a little John Jr. I was glad too because I had the best idea for a boy cake. Here it is:

It didn't turn out exactly like I wanted, but well enough. It had a boat, a train,

a tractor, a plane,

a truck, and a car. They were really hard to cut out and keep looking decent. Won't be doing that again.

The shower was lots of fun. Emily cleaned house in the gift department:

She got gifts from everyone from the high school Honor Society to random people's neighbors. She won't need to buy a single thing for that kid.

There's the mommy-to-be practicing her baby skills.

We were all getting good laughs from Emily's ignorance of baby products. Being a first-time mom, you don't always know what everything is for, and there are a lot of fancy products out there.

Here here mom and sister are having a good laugh because Emily asked if you were supposed to put the baby into the basket at her feet. It was all good fun, and we all learned new things about baby paraphernalia.

Emily also got a fabulous diaper cake loaded to the hilt with all sorts of goodies:

Very cool. We all chatted and ate cake and had a great time celebrating the forthcoming John Jr.

So while we had to send off one dear friend today, we got to welcome a new one. It was a day of sadness and joy. John will be dearly missed, but we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Baby John, as Ella is already calling him.

Monday, May 26, 2008

John was found.

I want to thank all of you who passed on the information about John. He has been found. There is nothing else that can be said right now since an investigation is taking place. Thank you all again.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Help Find John Alley

My friend Emily's husband is missing. No one has seen him since Friday afternoon in Milton, FL, and they found his car totaled on Saturday morning in Pensacola, FL. He left his wallet, keys, and phone in the car. We believe he may be hurt and wandering somewhere. I know most of you don't live anywhere near me, but if you have the time to post this on your blog or email this info to friends, I would greatly appreciate it. They have a website set up for him. You can find it at:

If any of you know anything, please email:

Thank you!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Family photo shoot.

For ages now, my sister Andrea has been begging me to take photos of her family. And finally, this last time I was visiting her we had time to do it. Unfortunately, her hubby couldn't be there, so we had to make do with her and the kids.

We went to a really picturesque spot by an old bridge. The sun was a bit bright, but we worked around it.

The kids were a bit wary of me sticking a camera in their face at first. So I did a couple shots of just Andrea and the baby.

Aren't they cute? Then after letting them run around for a bit...

they finally warmed up.

Such cute blondies.

These boys sure do love their little sister.

This one especially.

Then we wanted to get a cousin shot. We sat them all down in a line, and no one wanted to cooperate.

Mom, he stole my rocks!!

What? Smile?

I'm really not having fun. But finally:

I had to photoshop 2 heads into this picture to get everyone looking half decent, but at least it was something. I laid down on the ground to get a better angle and all the kids copied me.

Silly goofs.

Ella, ever the model. But I'm glad they did because I got one of my favorites from the whole day:

So serious. I was trying to get him to smile in his pictures and I told him to think funny thoughts. This is what I got from that:

So I just went along with the serious theme and told him to act like a man instead. That got me a couple good ones:

Then it was both the boys' turn. Andrea was telling them to stand like her:

She didn't like that they were making fun of her, but I think it made for a cute picture.

Being the younger one, this one didn't like to hold still much at all:

I was lucky to get one head shot of him.

And during the break between shots big Cousin was so nice as to pick the bugs out of Alex's hair:

Nothing like reverting back to our simian roots.

Andrea offered to take some photos of me with the kids, but Alex had had enough.

Please, no more pictures, he says. So I'll just make do with this cutie:

And finally, a few more shots of the cousins:

White t-shirts on a bright day was not the brightest plan. Okay, that was a really lame pun.

I wish I'd had more of a zoom for this one, but never fear, I will soon!!

And that's that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stimulating the Economy

I have been ordered by my Commander in Chief to stimulate the economy. Not one to disobey an order that is followed with a check, I felt it my patriotic duty to obey. So today, I spent a lot of money. Wanna see what I got? Okay, cool. Shall we start with the least expensive and move on up? Sounds good.

Here we have a New Zealand guide book. Since the Navy keeps putting off letting us out of the military we figure we may actually be able to go to Anton's brother's wedding in New Zealand in November. And if we're already going to be in New Zealand for a wedding, you better believe I'll be spending a couple of weeks traveling around, without kids. So of course we need a guide book to tell us all the cool places to go to.

Next up we have:

A Nikon 50mm f1.8 camera lens. I've been wanting one of these for a long time so I can take photos in low lighting situations as well as those great blurry, depth-of-field type shots. I did have my eye on a much more expensive one that would autofocus on my camera, but I decided to give the much less expensive manual focus one a shot. Plus if I ever upgrade my camera it'll focus just fine.

And last but so not least:

The Sigma 18-200mm with optical stabilizing. I really wanted to get the Nikon branded version of this lens, but with a savings of a couple hundred dollars, we figured we'd give the generic a shot. Since we are fairly casual photographers, I don't think we'll notice. This is the lens that will stay on our camera most of the time. It's got all the zoom we could possibly want with optical stabilizing to keep our shots from being blurry.

I am sooooooo excited to get these. I actually thought that maybe I should have ordered them a week apart to give myself time to play with each of them. So be looking to see A LOT more photos from me in the near future. And you can all thank me later for helping stimulate the economy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We have finally heard something!

Anton came home from work yesterday with a piece of paper that actually said something about separation!!! Unfortunately it wasn't his actual separation paperwork, but I'll take anything at this point. All it was was a paper signing away his rights and agreeing to the terms of his separation. Now the whole thing has to go up to the Secretary of the Navy and come back down. We also finally got the phone number of a person who actually knows what is going on and he told us this process can take 45 days, 90 days, more. So in other words, more waiting. But at least there's an end in sight this time. Though Anton will most probably not make his school starting date of June 23. But hey, by now we're used to putting off life plans. Oh well.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Bi-Annual Trip to the Dentist

Now, I fully understand the importance of visiting your dentist every six months, and I am completely paranoid of losing all my teeth by the time I'm 30, but when you move a whole lot, you tend to put off things like finding a new dentist. I have been to some major quacks in the past and so I am a bit jaded when it comes to the world of dentistry. But the pending loss of medical insurance motivated me to get all my dental needs taken care of now, while they are a bit less expensive.

My biggest complaint was that I've had a tooth that hurts like it's cracked. It has been that way for over 3 years but no dentist could ever find the crack.

At first I was a bit leery of this new dentist office. I had made the appointment over 2 months ago and yesterday was the soonest they could get me in. It was all fancy with flat screen TVs all over. It makes me think they overcharge.

But once I met my dental assistant, all was changed. She spent over an hour x-raying and photographing my teeth to try and find the crack. Then she did all sorts of other crazy poking and prodding to check the health of my teeth and gums. It hurt like the dickens, but that's my own fault for not taking better care of my teeth. Then finally she cleaned them. But it wasn't that old fashioned spinny rubber polisher thing. Oh no. I got a baking soda pressure wash. It was messy, but so much better than nasty tasting gritty dentist toothpaste.

When the dentist came in he looked at all the pictures and x-rays and within a minute had found the crack that had eluded 3 dentists in the past. Hooray! I am so happy. Plus he says they will try and fix it first rather than crown me. Happy day!

When all this was done another lady took me back to her office to schedule my future appointments and set me up with a tooth guard (I clench my teeth, which is what's causing the cracking). And the coolest of all? I got a printout of all my teeth pictures:

I know you all wanted to see them too.

Final diagnosis: 2 cracked teeth and 1 cavity. Not too bad, I guess.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We figured it out!

See this cute little girl?

Well, for the longest time we thought she was a very obstinate, headstrong, stubborn child. She doesn't listen to a word we say. She ignores us and pretends like we haven't even spoken. It drives us CRAZY, to say the least.

So yesterday I took her to the doctor. And you know what? She has hearing problems. The doctor didn't expound upon exactly how deaf she is, but enough that we're getting referred to an ENT. It may just be something as simple as getting tubes in her ears. Who knows. But at least now we know she's not ignoring us on purpose. She really doesn't hear us. Though it will probably still drive me nuts.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crawfish Boil!!

I love me a good crawfish boil. And when Andrea told me they were moving their annual one to when I was going to be visiting, I was sooooo happy. Crawfish are delicious, but not something I will ever make at home. I just don't have to proper supplies.

First you need a giant pot. And I mean GIANT:

They actually used 2 that night because there were going to be so many people.

Then you need a big long table covered in trash bags set up in the dirtiest place you can find:

Here they opted for the horse barn. Though I must say, normally it would have been outside, but it had been raining all day and the barn was the only dry place large enough.

And of course you can't forget the most essential element of a crawfish boil:

The crawfish. One of the boil attendees happens to be a crawfish farmer (is that what they're called?) and they brought them freshly caught. Yum. Now you better believe I don't have access to freshly caught crawfish back home.

Here's one who got away. He made a valiant effort, but in the end it was to no avail. No crawfish is left unboiled.

Mmmm. Into the pot they go. And the second most important ingredient:

Crawfish just wouldn't be crawfish without this.

Then, after they boil for a bit, you need a large, dirty cooler in which to dump the finished crawfish:

I must say. There is nothing sanitary about a crawfish boil.

Finally, everyone needs a big plastic tray (which are merely hosed off after the last boil and stored until next year) to pile high with crawfish:

This is the master chef, Uncle Stacy. He makes a mean crawfish.

You better believe I got in on that action.

Ella and Alex didn't care much for the spicy crawfish, so they indulged in hotdogs instead.

Oh yes. and you always have boiled potatoes and corn with all crawfish boils.

And when all is said and done, you must have an enormous barrel on hand to deposit all the empty crawfish carcasses.

Good times. Now do you see why there is no way I could ever do this at home? But we sure do love taking advantage of our visits to Aunt Andrea to indulge in this fantastic Louisiana tradition. Thanks Andrea!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

When Mommy's away.....

... the kids get to play.

Part of our reason for going to visit Andrea was so I could go to a workshop in Houston. So while I was off working, Andrea watched my kids for me. Or I should say, spoiled my kids for me. She had a little too much fun.

First, she did their hair.

Look at that little ham bone! What a babe.

"Hello ladies." Yeah. He knows he's got the looks.

Ella will never hold still long enough for me to do her hair like this. But she loves looking all pretty.

Then it was photo shoot time.

Cousin got in on the action too.

What a bunch of cuties!!

Can you feel the love? They were making an Alex sandwich. He didn't appreciate it.

And then it was time to play.

And play they did.

Aunt Andrea let them play outside all day long.

She took them to the park, fed them pizza, and let them stay up late.

I don't think they missed me at all.