Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What A Year!

What a year this has been!!

Nicole starts taking cake decorating classes
The Pickle Family blog is introduced to the world (yeah, I know. Monumental, right??)
Phil spends a week in Virginia trying for a job at a small boat unit
We take orders to an HSV ship and are certain that's where we'll be heading in June
Josh turns 4 and starts writing letters all on his own
Nicole’s Mom and Dad visit. Phil has to get stitches from slicing open his hand
New drywall on the basement ceiling, new kitchen faucet, rip out carpet in living room
Josh starts soccer for the first time
We pay to have the hardwood refinished downstairs
We buy the supplies to start the siding on the garage
Phil breaks his foot playing basketball (the same day as we were doing the one above)
Nicole completes all 4 Wilton decorating classes
Find out our orders to the ship have been canceled and we’re back to square 1
Josh starts reading (before he's even 4 1/2)
Accept orders to Riverine Squadron 1... With much fear and trepidation!
Siding project officially starts
Jeremiah says his first word: cake! (yeah, that's my fault)
Phil gets his cast off- finally!
Dryer breaks and has to be replaced
Josh’s first soccer season wraps up
We finally get around to replacing the refrigerator that has leaked now for 2 years
Phil’s Aunt Verna comes for a visit
Nicole teaches her first Wilton course
Phil starts two college classes
We finally list the house for sale
Nicole makes her first wedding cake
Jeremiah's big birthday party
Trip to California complete with a few days in Disneyland (where Jeremiah turns 2)
Get news of an offer on the house while we’re in the park and eventually accept
Have friends come spend days helping put up the siding and remove an old oil tank
Close on selling the house on the 30th
Phil leaves just a couple days into this month for school in Mississippi
Halfway through the month the movers come and pack up everything over 4 days
Nicole’s mom flies out and we make a week-long road trip from Chicago to Virginia Beach
Nicole and the boys stay with friends Jim and Cheryl
A whirlwind of house hunting for Nicole and the boys
Phil graduates from his first school
Spend Halloween trick-or-treating with friends
Phil arrives in Virginia Beach
Spend this month between a couple of friends’ houses
Close on the house on the 21st
Move in and celebrate Thanksgiving in our new home
Set up the new house
Gratefully celebrate the holidays together

Overall, we have so much be to grateful for this year! Circumstances beyond our control changed so many times it was hard to know what to do, but fortunately Someone else was looking out for us, and everything worked out better then we could have ever planned for!
When Phil tried out for that small boats job in January, he was so disappointed when he didn't get it. Now looking back, he's so glad he didn't! He would not have even known about this job with the Riverines he had.
We weren't going to accept the offer on the house at first, assuming Phil would be in schools for months so we wouldn't be able to be together anyway. Long after we closed on the house, we found out there would be a large gap between his schools, so we'd be able to spend the holidays together since the boys and I were already in Virginia Beach (which wouldn't have been possible if we were still waiting for the house to close).
So with all that said, Happy New Year this year! May God be as present in your life this year as He was in ours in 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting Ready to Leave Again

The Christmas decorations aren't even down yet and Phil is packing up to leave. We do have a few days left and are trying to make the most of them. Hope everyone has a great New Years tomorrow!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This was a good Christmas for us. No money coming out our ears, but enough to get us by. The boys got more then they could have ever wanted and Phil and I got a few fun things as well. We were able to find a church with a candlelight service last night and were even visited by Santa while we were sleeping (he must have received our forwarding address notice).
Even with all of that, this time of year tends to make me homesick. I lived 21 years of my life in the same house, following the same traditions and then I went crazy enough for a guy to follow him all over the world. I've found that my homesick-ness now is not just limited to northern California, where I'm from, but also includes all the places we've lived. I miss driving through downtown Gaeta and seeing the Auguri sign lit up above the street. I miss massive fireworks all around the Gulf of Gaeta on New Years at midnight. This year I really miss snow and really cold weather that makes you want to stay inside and cuddle up on the couch with cocoa and a good movie (in some cases even a bad one will work). I miss the smell of our old house and the friends we left behind. I miss all those things just as much as I miss the high school Christmas concert where all alumni are invited to join in the Hallelujah Chorus or how the air feels through my open window on the way to Grandma's house on Christmas morning. When I agreed to this life I didn't realize I was agreeing to a life full of missing. We've tried to learn how to "miss" well by staying in touch a reminiscing, but this time of year seems to bring to the front of my mind all of those things all over again.
And yet here we've started yet another chapter of our life together. Each chapter has had a bit of a rough start unique to the circumstances surrounding it but we're getting through the adjustments and all the missing just fine. I'm sure someday we'll be missing this place just as much as the others. In the mean time, we wanted to let all of our loved ones from all the different places in our life know that we miss you terribly and hope you had a really great Christmas this year.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cake Wrecks

Here's an admission to my cake-y geekiness.
Tomorrow is Christmas eve, so if I'm blogging at all, should it not be about something Christmas-related? Probably, but it's not.
I can't stop laughing out loud (making Phil question my sanity) reading this other blog. It's all about failed cakes. Miserably failed. Monumentally miserable failures. It's hilarious! No, I'm not being mean-spirited to others trying to get into cake decorating or anything like that. Just look and you'll see.
Tomorrow will start the festivities for Christmas for us. We visited the boardwalk here in Virginia Beach tonight to drive through a whole row of lights that the boys really enjoyed. I'll be baking a few things tomorrow and we found a local candlelight service to go to. Even with all of that, Phil and I are dying with excitement this year for Christmas morning. Hopefully we can wait just one more day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookies

It's that time of year again! One of my favorite Christmastime traditions from growing up is making cookies. Making a lot of them! If I remember correctly, one year we started just after Halloween. We would make hundreds of these little things, package them all up and freeze them. In the weeks coming up to Christmas, as they were needed, we'd pull a few out of each box and arrange them on a tray. Not making Christmas cookies ranks right up there with not having a Christmas tree.
The boys are big fans of this tradition, of course, and I love sharing it with them. Tonight we got out all my cookie books and talked about how some of these belonged to Nana and that's what those little notes are from. They had a great time looking at pictures and even got to choose which ones we'd make tonight before bed.
If you want to see the cookies we made tonight, I put the recipe on my other blog:

With some cookies in the freezer and a few more coming out of the oven, it's beginning to feel a little more like a normal Christmas for us.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Big Red Guy

Christmas is coming... whether we're ready or not. Currently we have friends with us who are waiting to move into their house here as well. There are still boxes to go through and projects around the house that need to be tended to. Most of all, there's no snow outside! I know. I grew up in northern California. I'm the last person who should expect snow to go with the Christmas season, but this year the lack of snow is definitely making it hard to sense that Christmas will be here soon. The boys haven't been nearly as affected, though. They're so excited and are counting down everyday! Hope everyone is feeling in the spirit of the season this year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Heroes at Home

This year we found out about a program Sears was doing called Heroes at Home. Anyone in the military could sign up for this program. They collected contributions and are dividing them among the people who registered. I just happened to find out about it through this commands family readiness group.

The other day I opened email and found out how much will be on our gift card once we receive it. Suffice to say, it more then we expected! Then I just received another email from them letting us know they're going to give us all another gift card with money on it for Christmas decorations as well. Overall, I guess I just had brag on Sears a bit and let you all know what a great thing they were doing for us military families.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Frustrations of the Stay at Home Mom

Nothing novel here. Women all over the country go through this every single day. It's hard to feel motivated when there are no pressing deadlines for things. The work is never-ending. As soon as the laundry is finished, there is more being soiled. When I take the dishes out of the dishwasher, there are more ready to be loaded. The house could be immaculate, but two minutes later there will be some sort of mess, be it macaroni and cheese or boogers. I could busy myself all day and the house may still look like a mess when Phil comes home. If maintaining the house weren't enough, lately there is still the business of setting up our home to tend to.
Most mornings I miss having a job. I miss having the best babysitter around to watch the boys so I didn't have to worry about them for a few hours each day. I miss feeling like life had a purpose other then changing poopie diapers and feeding children who lately have been hungry again 2 seconds after they finished eating.
I know in theory that this work I'm doing here is some of the most important work of my entire life, but it's hard to keep that in perspective when Jeremiah has broken the 4th thing of the day that he wasn't supposed to have in the first place and Josh is asking again for the thing I'm not quite ready to get for him. Someday I'll have a job again... and maybe even finish college. For now it is back to the daily grind, trying to do my work for Father more then anything else and believing that this, too, is part of the Grand purpose for my life.

And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible.
Colossians 3:22-25, The Message

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Decking the Halls

We got a Christmas tree up today so the boys had a really good time putting on the ornaments and just helping overall. Jeremiah had a hard time with the hook idea, but mastered all the ones with a loop.
Josh is much more coordinated at it all this year, which makes it much more fun. He's starting to understand that some of these were from when he was a baby and all.
Now that we're feeling a bit more settled, it is starting to feel more like Christmas is on the way. No snow but people are starting to put out lights, so it's reminding me more of Christmases growing up.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New House

Welcome to our new house!

Still working on unpacking, so there are boxes everywhere, but we get more done every day.

That's Phil's new TV Jeremiah is watching. We have some pictures on the wall, but most aren't where they will end up.

We're starting to decorate for Christmas a little as well. That fireplace insert actually heats the house more efficiently, which is nice.

This is the wet bar. A little psychedelic now with the mirror and the red light, but we're hoping to bring it into the new century while we're here.

I've actually hung pictures in here now. Just wanted to give you and idea of the room.
Sad news on my piano was that it won't play since we got it put together. Hopefully I'll hear back from the company soon and we can have someone fix it out here.

The kitchen is way bigger then it seems. This picture is taken from the dinning room table and the door off to the left is the living room. Directly to the right of this shot is the hallway that leads to the bedrooms.

The spare room is more a holding room for now but that will change soon.

The spare bathroom has developed the most noxious smell I've ever encountered. It's not outright bad like sewage so we haven't been able to figure it out. We have an exterminator coming tomorrow hoping it's something dead behind the wall and nothing more major.

This is Joshua and Jeremiah's new room. It has two closets that are adjoined so they each get their own. The horseshoes are cute, but I'll paint over them eventually with something more fitting. The bunk with slide is technically Josh's since it's a twin, but Jeremiah definitely feels it's part his with his little toddler bed underneath. He loves having his own little cave under there!

This is our new room that also now has more pictures then this. Still looking for our bed skirt if anyone has seen it...
The sliding glass doors lead out to the deck and to the backyard. Makes for a pretty nice view. Bathroom is off to the left at the end of the dresser.

This is the master bathroom that we've all been using due to the monstrous aforementioned smell.

This is our pitiful little backyard full if landmines from the old owner's pets. I'm hoping by spring they will have gone away. The shed is off to the left with the ramp.
So that's our new house for the most part. Kinda hard to take pictures in small spaces. As I've mentioned before, we have quite a bit less room then our last house, but we're making do. We are loving the kitchen. It's laid out really well. Eventually we'll be loving the garage, but it's full of boxes right now. We're starting to feel a little more at home here each day as we get a little more settled in. And to think... we might be doing this all over again in 3 1/2 years. We won't talk about all that quite yet. Focus on the task before us first.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Little Out of Touch

We've moved into the new house and even had our first holiday here! We still don't have internet, TV or phone (other then cell phones). We're making do and making headway with unpacking. Phil's Mom and step-dad were able to come down from Maryland for the holiday which made the whole day so much better. The boys love visiting with them. We had a couple of people from Phil's work come over as well. Jeremiah's new word from yesterday was, "pie!"
Now that the holiday is over and we have a bit of a break before Christmas, we can begin to tackle the millions of boxes that are hiding in our closets, garage and shed out back. We're comfortable for the time being, but would like to find things like our toaster.
I'd forgotten how much I dislike this part of relocating. It's easy to forget how much junk you've allowed to collect in your home when you don't have to sort through it all, pull it out of boxes and find a place for it in your new home. There's now a large line up of boxes in our spare bedroom of things to get rid of.
We hope all of our friends and loved ones had a great Thanksgiving this year, even though we couldn't be with most everyone. We definitely would have like to be! Have a great season and remember when you're out buying so much this next month that you'll eventually have to find a place for it all. Trust me, I know! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Church Shopping

I think this is my least favorite part about moving. It is impossible to take with you the church you've come to know and love. You have to start from scratch for the most part.
Hunting for the right church makes me question all I expect to find in a church. Is finding a church with music that I'm comfortable with important enough to be a make or break issue? What if the pastor that one week happens to be less-then entertaining that one week we visit? How do you judge an entire church on just one week? Ideally you could visit a church several weeks to get an overall feel, but with the number of churches here, we could spend our whole 3+ years here just trying out different churches! That seems to defeat the point. Last night I was up well past everyone else worrying that we'll never find a church that will feel like home again. It's an ungrounded fear since that has never happened, but my brain seldom works logically when it comes to fears. This morning, I still have no idea where we're going to "try out" this morning. I know that no church will be perfect since every church is full of imperfect people. I guess I'm just looking forward to this part of our settling in to be... well... settled.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to Our Humble Abode

We finally closed on our house today! The little blurry spot is where our address numbers are. Trying to keep things safe. We're down about 400 square feet from our old house, so we'll be consolidating a little. As you can tell, the truck isn't exactly going to fit in the garage. Monday is when our household goods shipment will be delivered and we'll actually be able to start moving in. I'll put up more pictures as we get more settled in. This weekend we'll be setting up Josh's new bed and hopefully picking up our new washer and dryer to take over... and a lot of cleaning so it really feels ready when our stuff arrives.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Way Things Are

No fun pictures for today, but some news.

Found out yesterday our house appraised for $2,000 more then we're paying for it. Our realtor said that never happens in a market like this, so we're excited and grateful at the same time. We are so anxious to close and move into our own home again!

Things have been a little crazy since the morning after we switched our living quarters for the time being, Josh woke up with double ear infections, refusing to even eat a waffle for breakfast. He's on a whole bunch of different medications and is just about acting normally again. He has a check up on Wednesday so hopefully he's totally better by then.

I was reminded last night that I needed to let family specifically know that the FRG (family readiness group) here is making hoodies and t-shirts specific to Phil's squadron. Let me know via email if you want one and I'll send you the information you need. I know we'll be ordering some. They even have toddler shirts, so I'm excited! Have to have orders in by the 30th so let me know early if you want one.

Other then that, in general news, Josh is still our little number whiz. Earlier today he wrote down from memory the numbers from our new house, our old house, Nana's house and Grammy's house. Crazy. Jeremiah is learning new random words all the time. The latest addition was "co-co" yesterday at the grocery store when I was pacing the aisle looking for cocoa powder. He's so impressed with himself.

I think that's all the new stuff for now. Hopefully soon we'll be more in a groove and I'll have pictures to put up again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Enjoying Having a Fall

I'm a little behind these days with everything going on, but here are some pictures from a beautiful autumn day we were fortunate enough to enjoy on Sunday.
Last night I looked up to compare the difference in the weather in Illinois right now to here. I suddenly became utterly grateful for the 60 degree days we've been enjoying. I'm sure at some point the boys will miss the snow, but they haven't mentioned it yet!
We found out yesterday we will be closing on our house on the 21st and our things will be moved in on the 24th giving us the Thanksgiving holiday to really start to settle in. We are so excited for the timing of that!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Trip to Maryland

Phil got a long weekend for work, so we went ahead and took the 3 1/2 hour drive up to Maryland so he could see his Mom and step-dad. The boys had a blast and it gave us a break from all the house hullabaloo. I think the highlight was bouncing on the air mattress every night.
I think the face and the shirt go well together.
Sorry, just a random one I took of Jeremiah that I really liked. In spite of all the craziness the boys have had to endure in the last month or two, they are still so happy and downright content. I wish I could be like that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homeowners Again

Things are going well today. Last night Joshua realized that they have Chuck E Cheese here too, which seemed to pretty much make his day. Then this morning we got the call that the offer we made on our favorite house has been accepted!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Welcome Back, Daddy... Farewell Daniel

Phil had barely made it in when the kids were giving him a hearty welcome... a round of Daddy wrestling on the floor. We love having Phil back with us!

We have been busy since he's been here, though! He's officially checked into his new command with the Riverines. We are so glad he doesn't leave until January for the rest of his schooling. We put an offer in a house and should get official word on the outcome of that tomorrow. Things are looking good, though! In the mean time, we're getting to know the area all over again. For me it's pretty much like the first time, but for Phil he's having to learn how to maneuver around all the things that have changed in the past few years. This is the carousel at the local mall here. It has all my favorite mall stores all in one place... I'm hooked!
We've also been able to catch up with some friends... and just in time! Some of our other friends from when we were in Italy, Daniel and Katie (and their baby Aubrey) are living here in the area as well. Daniel is preparing to deploy soon, so we stopped by to pray for him and wish him well on his trip. Please be praying for their little family in the coming months.
Overall, Phil and I were just talking tonight about how we are feeling really at home here. This feels like where we're supposed to be and we couldn't be happier about it. The speed limit just about everywhere around here is 45 and everything feels so convenient. Since I was the one from our family so opposed to moving back to Virginia, it has been nothing short of a small miracle that God could have changed my heart to feeling at peace with all of this! Hopefully more news about the house soon!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

There is no better way to wait for Daddy to arrive then home something major to distract you... like obnoxious amounts of candy being handed to you from strangers as you walk door to door. Last night we went out with Laura and Tyler in search of a full bucket of candy. Ours were paint buckets decorated up for Halloween that Phil's Mom made. We had several people comment on them!
Jeremiah was still not feeling well, but with the help of some Motrin he seemed good to go. I think he enjoyed the evening the most even though I ended up carrying him the whole time.

Here in Virginia, lots of people decorate things up a lot for Halloween, so it made the day even better! Jeremiah loved all the lit up pumpkins and things that made noise when you walked by. Josh had a bit of a hard time seeing in his costume, but carried his little flashlight/lantern (the little green thing in the picture above) and had several big kids holler a, "hi, Batman!" when he walked by.

Last week we carved a pumpkin over webcam with Daddy which was cool, but since he pretty much died on us as the week progressed, we decided to carve a new one yesterday with Laura and Tyler. Josh did the eyes and nose, Jeremiah did the mouth. They really liked scooping out all the seeds, though!
Today has been a great day!! The boys slept in a little and were still in their PJ's when Daddy drove up. They were so excited to see him! We all took a long nap and now are just enjoying having time to be together. It's definitely relaxing knowing he's not leaving again anytime soon. Hope everyone else found something fun and festive to do for Halloween!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Update on Us

Thing here are... well... going. I've picked out my top houses that I liked. Phil will be coming in this weekend so he'll actually be able to look at them. Because of a slight change in potential circumstances we are back at the place of deciding whether to buy or rent again, so hopefully once we get a second look at the top houses our decision will be clearer. Our realtor has been so patient and understanding in all of this with our ups and downs and waiting. We are so grateful for her!
Jeremiah has not been feeling well today, running quite a little fever. Motrin makes him feel a lot better, but keeping up with that with everything going on is not always easy. No other symptoms yet, so we're just trying to keep him comfortable with the fever so his body can fight whatever it's trying to fight.
Tonight I went to my first official FRG (Family Readiness Group) and had some major questions answered by the CMC (Command Master Cheif) and the CO (Commanding Officer) in person. I am so excited! Phil's next school doesn't start until the beginning of January so we'll have him here until then to help us with finding a house and to get settled in as well as enjoying the holidays together before we have to have time apart again. This is HUGE news for us! With his other schools coming up we'll have quite a bit more time apart to look forward to, but for now I'm grateful to know we have a break at least.
Tomorrow is Halloween which both of the boys have really been looking forward to this year. We missed it last year becuase Josh was sick. Please be praying that we all feel up to trick-or-treating.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Phil's Trip to New Orleans

Phil is not too far of a drive from New Orleans right now so he has made it there twice. He was finally able to upload some pictures from his ventures so I thought you'd like to see them as well and get an idea of what the town is like. It's still on my list of places to go! I think Phil took some really great pictures while he was there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Temporary Home in Virginia

Our home here for now is with our friends from Italy, Jim and Cheryl. They have two kids as well named Laura and Tyler. Josh and Tyler have become great buds! Tyler is 5.

Laura has been so helpful with Jeremiah! She is in 2nd grade this year and loves hanging out with our little guy.
So far everything is going as smoothly as could be expected. I've been out seeing some houses. Nothing seems to be a perfect fit yet, so we're still looking. Hoping it doesn't take too long since we'd really like to have our own place again.
We've started the countdown to seeing Daddy again which is very exciting for the boys. So much has happened since we saw him last! Please keep us in your prayers for finding a good house in a good school district with enough parking for our vehicles.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finally in Virginia!

Today we spent the day with Grammy and Papa Jackson in Cambridge, Maryland. The left the leaves out back for the boys to play in.
This is Grammy (Phil's Mom) having a good time with Jeremiah

We found out just how much fun it is to wrestle Papa to the ground!
Tonight we drove in very late to Virginia Beach. Tomorrow we'll take Nana to the airport to head home and go visit our friends that we'll be staying with while we look for a house. The road trip is officially done and the house hunt is about to begin!