Saturday, September 30, 2006

Animals, Animals!

Last weekend we attended the Oley Valley Fair. This is a little fair near my parents house. They have it the middle of September every year. We've been coming since Chase was a baby (when we've lived close). The kids love the animals. We saw lots and lots of cows, including a calf that was 5 days old. Ainsley liked to pet the baby calf. We saw really cute fluffy bunnies and thick wooly sheep and very close shaven sheep. We saw little goats that liked to nibble on MacGregor's fingers (I wish I could have gotten a photo of that!).

We saw a momma pig with 10 (yes that was 10) pink piglets. They were so cute and that poor momma was never left alone. (Women - imagine your nursing infant that is pulling at your shirt endlessly and whining, now times that by 10!)

We saw duck eggs in an incubator. Some of the ducklings were hatching as we watched.

We were also allowed to pet some ducklings that were about 10 days old. So soft and fuzzy. Ainsley was in HEAVEN!

I made mention of the taxidermy exhibit we visited. You already saw the fish, but here are the kids standing in front of an impressive wolf.

There are a few more pictures to come of our visit to the fair, but they'll have to wait for a new post.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ainsley's Projects

Just about every pre-school day, Ainsley brings home a project she made. Well, this week she was really excited about her "kite" (windsock). She told me that she was going to show it to her dad at Christmas. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I couldn't guarantee that all her projects would still be around by Christmas. But I said we could take a picture and post it for Daddy to see. So here are Ainsley's September projects.

Bunny- At her school each room has a label. There is the Duck room, the Butterfly room, the Lamb room, the Frog room, and the Bunny room. Ainsley's class is the Bunny room. Then they call the student's by these animal names - they have little ducks and little lambs. Ainsley is a little bunny. They made these bunnies on their first day of school. (my parents both told her what a nice "mouse" she made - she was quick to correct them - bunny! not mouse!)

Her family -

This week they have studied apples. They made little individual apple pies on Tuesday. Ainsley shared with me and it was really good. She's funny though cuz she made sure to tell me that put "white sugar" on it. She's really into sugar lately. (Infact we had something with potatoes this week and I had an extra one that was already peeled. My family likes raw potatoes, sliced with a little salt. Ainsley asked for a slice of potato with butter and sugar on it, but no, her mean mother wouldn't let her try it that way) Back to the pie - she also told me she didn't like the apples - so I ate the filling and she ate the crust. I really didn't understand why she didn't like them. She loves raw apples, although not a bad deal for me. The filling was great.
Here's the "kite" she really wanted to show her daddy. It has apple cut-outs in red, yellow and green.

Ainsley has had a real hard time understanding Daniels deployment. She knows where he is and tells people at the store and at church, but then when we drive into the garage and she sees his car she gets excited and says, "Daddy's home." To her recollection that is how it has always been - when Daddy's car is home, he's here. When his car is not home, he's gone. I continue to tell her every time that daddy didn't take his car he took an airplane, but it still breaks my heart. This last time she argued with me and said - "He IS home, he's in his room." I told her she could look but I don't think she'll find him. It's really hard. I think she'll get it with time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Out of Sight ...but...NEVER Out of Mind

Daniel may be out of sight but the kids continue to think of him everyday. It all started at the fair last Friday, we were visiting a taxidermy exhibit and the kids saw these fish. They said, "Mommy, Mommy, get a picture of this for Daddy." Then there were the boats..... Ainsley, my little 3 year old has been cultured already. Whenever we see a boat as we are driving down the road, her remark is, "Mommy, that's a nice bass boat." Well we saw some nice bass boats at the fair and the boys thought they needed to try it out for their dad.

Then on Sunday the kids were in the back yard of my parents. They were in a wooded area with lots of compost and MacGregor finds the largest worm I have ever seen. I think you could almost include it in the snake family! The poor thing was pulling himself apart at the middle though. He eventually pulled completely apart and had lots of fertile soil falling from his mid-section. I told MacGregor to sort of hold him together for the photo so we could see how long he really was. This was sort of difficult since one side of him was wriggleing quite ferociously. I said, "Wow, MacGregor, what a worm!," He said, "No Mommy, This is a NightCrawler" We all know what nightcrawlers are used for.

Then my 3rd grader comes home with THIS book. Just take a quick scan.

I guess Chase is hoping to learn all the tricks of the trade so he can outfish his dad when he gets back. I'm not sure this book's intended audience is a 9 year old but it was found in an elementary school library. So yes, Daniel may be far away physically but he's never far from our thoughts! :)

Thanks Daddy!

We recieved a large dufflebag from Daniel today. He sent it last week when he was in Texas. It was full of all the things he didn't need to take with him overseas - wrong uniforms, t-shirts, boots, extra civilian clothes, a computer bag and a few gifts for the family. Chase received a Harley motorcycle he had to put together himself. He did a great job! He got frustrated a few times (the instructions were awful) but I helped and we got it together. MacGregor also received a Harley but his was already assembled. Ainsley received a pollypockets doll. I recieved a desert camo hankerchief with a big heart drawn in the center. Inside the heart it reads DPH loves BLVSH. It's now hanging in our room over the bed! :)

Thanks DADDY! We all loved the gifts. You are so thoughtful and made us all feel special. We miss you!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

News from Kuwait

Daniel has checked in again. He's left several comments so if you want to hear straight from him be sure to check the comments of our last few posts - especially Shhh...It's a secret. I was happy to see he had posted and know he was safe and rested up. Then to my happy surprise he called in the late afternoon today. It was about 4pm my time and 11pm his. He again borrowed the phone he had used before and we got to talk about 20 minutes. He is thinking of buying one of these types of phones but I have no idea what the rates are. The calling card we got him with like 700 minutes doesn't work there. Apparently the phones only accept AT&T cards and we bought an MCI. Oh well. He said communication is difficult because there are so many people that want to email and use the phone that you have to wait in long lines.

He is currently in Kuwait still. I asked him what it was like listening to all the German being spoken in the airport. He said he didn't hear any German because they were herded off the plane and into a tiny room off to the side somewhere. There they waited as a group for their next flight. Good thing the layover was only about an hour and a half. He said that Kuwait just looks like sand. I said but what about their architecture - isn't it beautiful? He said he didn't get to see anything. They landed when it was still dark and then took buses to the base. But the buses had window shades that had to be pulled down for the whole ride. So he didn't get to see out at all. I had been a little jealous that he got to "travel" and see new countries but I guess he really hasn't seen anything other than these countries airports. :(

He is now on base in Kuwait. He said it's a rather large base with approximately 15 thousand troops from all branches of the military. They are currently waiting for the rest of the hospital staff in their unit to arrive so they can ship out to Iraq (I guess they were delayed somehow). He said he could be waiting for another 5 to 7 days. I hope that doesn't delay his homecoming. He said they have some light training on these "waiting" days but it's kinda slow. I think he is anxious to get to the hospital and do what he was deployed to do. He said they are sleeping in a large army tent that holds 40 men. It's just one big tent with 40 cots but they do have airconditioning. He said the day time is very HOT, well over 100 degrees but the nights are nice. He said it gets dark there around 7:15 pm but the sun comes up around 4am. Perhaps they should switch their times and have it stay light until 8 or 9pm and remain dark til 5 or 6 am. But that's probably cuz I am NOT a morning person. He said the food's not bad and there is plenty of it. So I don't have to worry about him being hungry - at least not in Kuwait.

The "east coast city", where he spent the night on Saturday when their initial flight had to turn around, was Boston. If he had only been able to tell us then I would have told him to call Aaron's cell because he and Christine were in Boston that day too. He was sad to hear that and said it would have been fun to see them. He told me one of they guys was able to have dinner with his son who happend to be in town that day.

It was good to hear his voice and hopefully he'll be able to post some pictures and messages soon.

7 Months Complete

Well I've reached another milestone - 7 months now completed. I'm feeling like things are getting kinda tight. The ribs and the bladder are getting poked quite a bit more. And the whole bending down and getting up routine is becoming much more cumbersome. I'm not sure I'm going to know how to share my bed again when Daniel gets home. I've sort of started taking up the whole thing and sometimes wake up completely diagonal. The baby is moving plenty and the kids like to feel it and watch as my tummy vibrates, ripples, and bounces up and down with little protrusions poking out and disappearing. The baby likes to put on a show each evening when we reading books together. Ainsley always asks me, "What is she doing in there?" I usually say dancing but I swear she's been crossing and uncrossing her feet lately.

Here are the photos - Compare to 6 months (Aug. blog) and let me know if you think I look MORE ready to pop or about the same.
P.S. - My dad told me over the weekend that I was looking like I could deliver. I was like - Thanks Dad, you are sounding like people at church! But at the same time, I sort of agree. I'm looking kinda large - how could I possibly have 2 more full months?

Monday, September 25, 2006


I have never made jam myself. I remember watching as a young girl as my mother made it, but I have never been an active participant. This season has been an exceptional peach season around here. There is a local farm that I have been frequenting. You can get their 2nds (very ripe - eat within 3 days) for a discounted price. They are incredible! SOOOO Sweet and Juicy. The kids and I would devour them several times a day. I was going in and getting a 1/2 peck once or twice a week. I dried a big basket of them - yeilding a sandwich size ziploc. Of course they were eaten quickly - a great snack though.

Well my mom said to me - Let's make peach jam. I was all up for learning something new and it was nice to have some company for a day. So last Wednesday my mom and sister, Brinn, came over and we turned this:

Into this:

I was glad to learn how to make it - not really that hard, but I don't think I would ever do it on my own. We had a nice assembly line going and I couldn't imagine having to do all the steps by myself. I think I would gather at least 2 to 3 people and split the cost of ingredients and end product. That's what we did. We each paid about $11.60 for the ingredients and ended up with 12 jars of jam each. You certainly couldn't get jam for less than a $1.00 a jar at the store nor the homemade taste. I told me mom - next up - I want to do applesauce!

The kids and I have been eating peach jam on everything! Toast, rolls, biscuits, pancakes, bread. Chase even dropped some in his homemade chicken noodle soup and told me, "You many want to add a half a jar to your next batch of soup, this is really good!" I told him. "We'll leave that up to the individual to add it to their own bowl if that's their fancy." Crazy Kid!

We had about 20 peaches left over and my mom and sister didn't want to take any home so the peaches sat at my house. The kids and I ate some but they were getting mighty ripe between Wednesday and Friday. So as I was loading my van to go to my parents for the weekend, I noticed our electric ice cream maker sitting on a shelf in the garage and I had a great idea to use up those extra 20 peaches. We loaded everything in the car and made homemade peach ice cream on Saturday at my parents. It was sooooo good! I decided when I finally get a freezer for my basement - hopefully before next summer, I will puree lots of bags of peaches to use in smoothies and homemade ice cream. It was a fun treat and not too hard. It would be a fun thing to make when you have people over for games or dinner. What I really need now is my own peach tree!

Let's just have one more look:

Aren't they pretty?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Shhhhhhh..... It's a secret!

I was going to let you all know what I knew from Daniel this weekend which wasn't much. It was nice to know that Daniel made it to Germany because as of Friday he couldn't tell me anything other than he was leaving that night. He couldn't discuss his itenerary at all. I wasn't allowed to know what time his flight left, from where to where, or if it was a commercial flight or military flight. He called me about 11:30pm on Friday night saying he was on a bus headed to AN airport. I thought that would be the last time I spoke to him for a week or so - until he got settled in Iraq. But he called 6:30am on Saturday (waking my parents because we were staying with them). He said he just wanted to talk to me one last time because he was probably the closest to me that he would be for the next 3 months. They had apparently taken a night flight landing early on Saturday in New York (again - I don't know which airport or airbase etc..) He told me they were about 100 miles away and they would be taking their next flight soon. Again I thought this is the last time I would speak to him. Around 4:30pm on Saturday I got another call from Daniel. I said, "Are you still in NY?" I was feeling really bad for him if he had been sitting around all day. He said no. He was in another city on the east coast approx 6 hours away. Their international flight had taken off earlier in the day but hit really bad turbulence and a flight attendant had fallen backward hitting the back of her head really hard. She lost concienceness (sp) for 10 seconds or so and then couldn't feel her right leg. They had to turn the flight around and get her to the hospital. (Good thing there were 40 doctors on the plane!) I asked him if he was nervous hitting the bad turbulence - His response was, "No, but you would have been!" I don't do well in those situations. He said alot of people were holding on really tight.

So Daniel was in a hotel Saturday night somewhere on the east coast. He said that their rescheduled flight was leaving very early on Sunday morning. I asked him how he was sleeping - he sounded sooo tired. He said sleep has been very erratic. He said his next flight was 7 hours. I then figured he had to be changing planes somewhere because I didn't think they could get to Kuwait in 7 hours but again he couldn't say if they were or not and not where either. (Now we know it was Germany). He said after the fact he can tell us all about it but not before or during their trip. I do understand that but at the same time it's hard not knowing where your husband is or where he's going or what time. I like detail and I like visualizing people in their different circumstances. If he's on a plane, I want to think about him on the plane, if he's in a hotel, I want to think about him in the hotel. I liked knowing his schedule while in training because I could think about him. Like at 7:30am eastern when I was waking up I would think about him finishing his breakfast at the same time (5:30am mountain) I guess I am weird like that. Well, we hope to hear from him by maybe mid week. I hope he keeps posting and I will try to fill what he leaves out after I speak with him. I'm a bit more of a detail person.

***** 30 minutes after I posted the above, I got a call from Daniel. The call lasted all of 90 seconds but he said he had just landed in Kuwait. He borrowed a phone from somone that actually had a phone that worked. My time it was 10:10pm eastern. He said there it was 5:10am. So it looks like the time change is about 7 hours for us. He said he had to go and finish eating quickly because they can't eat after the sun comes up or they could be arrested (It's Ramadan). I guess they were at a commercial airport and not on base.

Hello from Germany

I just set foot in your motherland Brittney. Everything seems beautiful. Love you lots and and I'll send you some photos when I get in country.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I Think it's Working

I wanted to see if my picture would come up now that it's uploaded...well, it did...sweeet!

Is it Working?


Next Try

Apparently the name of the URL was too long to upload it so I'm trying it again.

Posting A Photo

I am lookong to add my photo to my posts so I am going to give it a shot. Things are going very well and I have nothing to complain about...I wouldn't complain if there were things to complain about though. Thank you to everyone for taking care of my family, it means everything to me! I love you all and appreciate the strength you give me through your prayers.

Sincerely, Man

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Big Girl's First Day


Ok - so it really wasn't her first day it was her second. The first day was last Thursday and Daniel was still here and we were running a ton of errands and it was raining and we didn't get her all gussied up. So this was Tues. the 19th - her second day. She is doing pre-school two days a week from Noon - 2:20pm.

These pictures of for you but especially for her Daddy to see -

She looks so grown up - I just can't stand it. She is starting to act grown up too. Tuesday started the drop off. This means we don't walk them in, we pull up to the entrance and a pre-school staff member opens the car door and helps them inside. We pulled up to the entrance and just as the director was coming to the van a mother walks up with her child (instead of waiting in the car line like the rest of us). The director distracted by them went to help this little girl up the steps to her class line at the same moment that I was automatically opening our van door. Ainsley didn't hesitate at all - no waiting for the director to help her out of the car. She just jumped out of the van with her little backpack on and walked right up the stairs to the door. No turning around with a wave or a "Bye Mom", no worried look because she wasn't with an adult. The director caught her at the top of the stairs and got her to the right line.

Here's a photo SHE had to take -

The best part was picking her up that day. The teacher said she had had a great day. I had seen other kids from her class walking out as I was walking in. They were carrying their projects they had made that day - which were puppets they made of themselves. When I went to pick up Ainsley's, I had no doubt that it was hers. I thought it was so cute that the teachers had taken the time to cut out a pink bow that matched the one she had worn that day.

News from the Soldier

I thought I would just jot down a few quick things that Daniel has shared with me over the past few days. Yesterday they had to arrive at morning formation with all their gear on (and yes at 4:30am). That includes kevlar vest and helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, boots, goggles, full canteen etc... Later they did their shooting practice/exams and then had to do some PT training in full gear (all above mentioned items) and now carrying a gun. Their PT training consisted of jumping over walls, crawling under wire, thru mud, sand in the face, etc... I asked him how he did and he answered "Awesome!" but then told me there were quite a few people that had a tough time. I asked him if it was the girls? (they have nurses and scub techs that are being deployed with them) He said no it was the "old guys". He said there are a lot of doctors (Col. and Lt. Cols) in their 50s. It was tough on them. He said he has met a lot of doctors - many general surgeons, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, orthopedics, dentist, etc... He doesn't think they will all be going to the same hospital,most likely they will be spreading them out a bit.

Today they had lectures on Military Law, Rules of Engagement, and Suicide Prevention. They also had IED (Improvised Explosive Device)training. He still believes that they are taking a red eye on Friday night to Kuwait. He said it's a 20 hour flight plus an 8 hour time difference. I am assuming he will arrive midmorning on Sunday. They will then get their assignments in Iraq. Hope this is helpful. I'll let you know more as I hear although I don't know when he'll be able to contact us after Friday.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wildlife Interactions

Sunday we spent the afternoon at my parents. Chase found a beautiful monarch butterfly. It was on it's last legs. It seemed like it didn't even have the energy to hold up its wings. My dad explained to Chase that this is the cycle of life and this poor butterfly was old and tired and was getting ready to pass on. Chase gently put it on a potted plant on the deck and watched it for a while. He wasn't convinced it was going to keel over immediately because he came in and cheerily stated that it was still hungry because he saw it uncurl its proboscis. I said, "It's what?" I am not educated in the names of the parts of the butterfly unlike my 3rd grader. Anyway. It was neat to be able to look back at our pictures of the monarch catapillers we found around Labor Day -

And know that they will turn into one of these beautiful creatures. Here's the one Chase found on Sunday -

On another note. MacGregor and Ainsley had been playing army men in my parents basement and had a whole battlefield set up. Later in the day my father told MacG to set up his army men outside on the patio (they have a walkout basement). My dad was reading out there in his glider chair. MacG did just that and set up his base and men in little groups all over the patio. He left them outside while we ate dinner. After dinner, we heard my dad yelling to MacGregor to "Come quick!" Apparently an enemy squirrel had surrounded the base, sniffed the soldiers, picked up a hostage with his paws, put him in his mouth and carried him away. By the time we got down there the enemy was gone. I told MacGregor he needed to put together a and rescue the poor hostage soldier. Although we weren't sure where the enemy squirrel had gone or what he wanted with our soldier. We didn't see him again that afternoon. We hope they are treating our soldier well.


We also had a few Ainsleyisms on Sunday -

1. She asked my mother why she had dirty bananas. (Sitting on the counter in my mother's kitchen were some very ripe and spotted bananas.)

2. She asked my dad, "Papaw, do you want to watch me have a hiccup?" (what else could he say but Yes, of course.)

3. Tonight I asked Ainsley what she wanted for dinner. She didn't answer at first so I said, "What IS your favorite dinner?" She responded - Chicken Bones. (What she means by this is fried chicken - we had KFC for dinner last Saturday for Daniel's birthday. She absolutely loves KFC's fried chicken. The chicken she normally eats is boneless and this chicken comes on the bone)


Howdy everyone, from the Great state of Texas! I thought it might be nice to let y'all know how things are going. I, praise the Lord, am doing wonderfully well because I feel invigorated, enlivened and protected from all the prayers that are being offered in my behalf. The days are long and the sleep is little but the Good Lord continues to show mercy and give me strength, energy and performance when there should be none. We should be ready to head to Iraq within the next 5-7 days... I'll let you know after I arrive.
Lady, I just need to tell you how much I love and miss you right now. You are absolutely the best! I also need to thank everyone for contributing to the Family album....I literally cried my entire flight from Harrisburg to Chicago. Thank you so much for the letters and the precious things that you wrote, they mean an awful lot to me and I felt your love surrounding me and lifting me up as I read through them.

Here are a couple of pictures for your personal enjoyment. The first one is of the American Flag with a nice backdrop and the other is my beautiful bunk #35.

Thanks again to all who have given time, thought and prayer towards my family and me. It's greatly appreciated and helps more than you will ever know.

Love y'all,

I love you Lady most of all,



Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Tearful Goodbye

I thought I would post some pictures and some info about our Sunday, September 17th. It took me a couple days to be able to look at these pictures without being too emotional.

Daniel's plane was slated to leave at 8:03 am. We got to the airport about 6:45 or 6:50. So we had some time to just sit together before he had to go thru security. The Harrisburg airport is quite small so there really isn't any waiting to get thru security. I told the kids that it's funny that the next time we see Daddy, we'll be in the same exact same place. We'll just be waiting for him to come thru a different door ,we'll have a baby in a car seat, the lobby will probably be decked out with a big Christmas tree and lights strung around, and on over the speakers instead of hearing "On my Own" by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald ( no kidding - that is what was playing over the loud speaker as Daniel walked to security - and I thought "well that's fitting!") we will be hearing Christmas carols.

I had really been doing quite well that morning until Daniel checked in. The kids and I were standing back a ways waiting for him and woman waiting in line asked me if that was my husband. I said, "Yes", and she asked me where he was going. I told her Iraq and she responded "Blessings!". Then she asked me how I was doing. Well that question ended any composure I had. The funny thing is that as tears started welling up in my eyes and I couldn't speak - instead of patting my shoulder or saying something comforting - she moved away and tried not to look at me. I guess she didn't know what to say and thought she was upsetting me or something. I just found that strange. We waited until about 7:25 and then gave him our last big hugs before he headed for security.

One of the Kids took this one.

MacGregor and I cried and both needed tissues. Chase sort of isolates himself not really showing any emotion. While we were giving our hugs he was walking around the giant mosaic circle they have in the lobby. He came over to give his hug and went right back to walking the circle. MacGregor later said that Chase acted like he didn't even care, but I explained that everyone shows their emotions differently. Chase internalizes while we externalize. Ainsley didn't really understand. She tried to go with Daniel to the security line saying, "I want to be with you, Daddy" We watched him go all the way thru security before we headed out. Our stake was having stake conference that day in Hershey at a place I'd never been too so instead of dragging 3 kids to a 2 hour meeting in a place I'd never been, we headed up to my parents ward building and went to their ward.

The saddest part of the day was - on our way home from my parents, around 7:30pm, Ainsley asked when Daddy was getting home. I told her that he had left that morning for his really long trip and wouldn't be coming home for a long time. She then asked me what comes after the dark (the sun was setting as we drove home). I knew what she was getting at but I told her morning came after the dark and it would Monday, Sept 18th. She then asked if would be Christmas tomorrow. My heart was breaking for her because she was trying her best to understand when she would see her daddy again. (She knew he would be back at Christmas.) She then started crying saying she wanted to be with Daddy and she wanted it to be Christmas. I told her I couldn't make Christmas come any sooner but I would if I could. (Incidently she had told Dan at the airport that the baby was coming tomorrow, again because I had told her that when Daddy gets home the baby would be here) 3 yr olds have no concept of time yet, so it broke my heart to see her try and figure it out.

Daniel called me that evening. This has made the transition a little easier because as he trains this week in TX, I can talk to him each evening. I go from seeing him to not seeing him but being able to talk - then we take the next step where we won't be able to talk much. It's a waiting game to see how that will work when he gets to Iraq. On his flight from Chicago to El Paso there were about 20 service people all going to report with him, but only 3 were in uniform (Dan being one). The 3 in uniform were upgraded to First Class seats. Daniel had never ridden first class and said it was awesome. They served warm homemade cookies and fancy chicken salad sandwiches. I think that was great of American Airlines!

He arrived at the base and started going thru all the readiness programs. They have had a ton of paperwork, fitting for the new uniforms - the gray/tan camo (The Major overseeing him before told him to pack ALL of his uniforms ((green camo, brown t-shirts, black boots)) Well, he will be sending all that back home in a box. They have to have gray camo, tan boots, and gray t-shirts. They were assigned bunks in a bunkhouse and will be staying thru Friday (he thinks). He told me Revely was as 4am with formation at 4:30am. The rest of the week consists of first aid tests, more immunizations, being issued gear - vests, kevlar helments, new ID cards, medical/dental exams, shooting practice/tests etc... He believes they are taking a red eye to Kuwait on Friday night. I hope this sheds a little insight on what he's doing for all of you. I'll try to keep you posted as I hear things - although today's conversation consisted of about 6 minutes.

His military email where you can send him messages is:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Family Album

First and foremost, I want to thank all the siblings and parents that contributed to the family album for Daniel. It had to be small so he could pack light, so I got a 4 x 6 leather bound album with a magnetic strap that says "family". It had 18 pages with pocket sleeves on each side. I probably wasn't clear on the size when I called everyone so I did have to do some editing of some larger photos. I either trimmed them down a little or scanned them on my computer and reprinted them in a smaller size. This was a very casual album and since space was limited, I just folded up the letters and put them behind each picture. That way he can pull them out and read them as needed. After I got each person's letter and picture in a sleeve, I printed different pictures of the kids, Daniel and myself in wallet size and filled in the rest the pages with 2 wallets in each sleeve. Here is a random sampling of what the book looks like.

We had an issue with our ink - it ran out Thursday before I could get all the pictures printed. I got a new cartridge Friday night but was so busy that I didn't get all the pictures printed until about 11:30 Saturday night. I gave him the book but told him he could not open it until he was on his way. I said he could read it on the plane or save it until he got where he was going. I spoke to him Sunday night and he told me that he read it on the plane from Harrisburg to Chicago. He said the book was INCREDIBLE! He told me that he bawled and had snot running out of his nose. (I am sure he didn't have any tissues, ((unlike my purse which was full of them in preparation for his leaving,)) and his uniform sleeve is not very absorbent). I shared this story with my mom and she was wondering if he was sitting next to anyone and if they were thinking "Look at this tough soldier bawling like a baby". But the important thing is - the book made him feel and that's what we were after. He felt our love, support and admiration for him. He told me he couldn't believe what nice things everyone had written. I told him he means ALOT to ALOT of people. So again - Thanks to all of you who contributed - it was the BEST gift we could give him!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Special Birthday

As you know we were blessed to have 3 extra days with Daniel so that enabled us to spend his 35th birthday with him. Daniel had a friend take him smallmouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna River on Friday. Daniel was so excited for this trip and went out the night before and bought all kinds of specialty lures for smallmouth bass. Of course it ended up that the only fish they caught were with live bait. Go figure!

He got home late afternoon. We had planned to take the kids to Hershey Park on Friday after school. We had received tickets to Hershey Park for our whole family as a gift this summer. We had not been able to work it into our busy summer schedule and the tickets expire next weekend. Of course, Friday after school was raining. We knew Saturday would be a full day with getting Daniel all packed and ready but it WAS his birthday so we decided we had to give it a shot.

Saturday morning was raining too so we tried to get things done around the house. It began to clear up slightly so we loaded in the car around 12:00pm and headed to the National Guard Base about 40 minutes away. Daniel had a few last minute things he needed from the base store. After that we stopped for lunch and ate in the car as we headed to Hershey Park. We spent from 2:30 - 6 pm at the park. It was quite a bit more crowded than I would expect for a very cloudy day in September. We first split up and I took Ainsley on some kiddie rides while Daniel took the boys to do some bigger rides. While the boys were off on their own, Daniel and the boys tried the giant sledge hammer to see how strong they were. I guess each of the small boys got one turn and Daniel took two swings. He thinks he's strong or something. :)Well, he ended up winning Ainsley a monkey. She couldn't have been more happy. We met up later and tried to find some things we could all do together. One of the favorites (not if you ask the kids) was the Flying Falcon. You are in small cage-like car. It spins the cars around in a circle while the cars rock back and forth because they are dangling from the top of the car. Then it moves you up a huge tower while it continues to spin and rock. Daniel took Ainsley, I took MacGregor and Chase rode on his own. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the spinning and rocking until we rose 100 feet in the air. Chase's face quickly became a nervous almost panicked look. MacGregor said he felt like he was going to fall out and Daniel said Ainsley became quite unsettled. Everyone survived and we moved on to the Kissing Tower. Here are some pictures before the ride started.

The Kissing Tower is about as safe a ride as they come. Everyone could sit and enjoy the airconditioning. The Kissing Tower is sort of like a donut around a stick. Although this donut has large shaped chocolate kiss windows all around. Everyone sits on benches and looks out the big windows to see the view. The "donut" spins around the stick once you are at the top so you can see all of Hershey PA while they talk about the different points of interest. Kissing is encouraged. Here are some pictures from the top.

I'm not sure who took these pictures or how they got on our camera, cuz we were too busy MAKING OUT! I love the Kissing Tower!

Here are a few more pictures of our day:

We headed home for dinner. My parents were meeting us at the house for a mini party. We had a nice dinner. The cake was delicious. It was provided by the Bishop earlier that morning. The Bishop stopped by around 11am to wish Daniel a Happy Birthday. He delivered 3 cards for Daniel from the Young Men and a Maggie Moos Ice Cream Cake. I was glad not to have to worry about getting a cake made on such a busy day. Daniel then opened a few presents.

The kids and I gave him a new journal to take to Iraq, the Old Testament Student Manual, which he said is too big and heavy so he couldn't take it. I guess I 'll be studying at home. A Bass T-Shirt that says something like Lakes, Lures and Lunkers - Welcome to My World! and a head lamp. It's for night fishing but doctors often use them when doing surgery. It might come in handy over there. The rest of the night we packed and went over paper work. We didn't get to bed til about 1am. We talked til about 1:30 or so and then ofcourse this pregnant body needed to go to the bathroom at 3:30am. The alarm went off at 5:30am so we could get to the airport on time. What a long day and short night! I wouldn't trade it though. It was a wonderful way to spend Daniel's birthday and our last day together! I love you Baby - Happy Birthday!

Oh - I'll tell about the family album in the next post!