Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas to all of our family and dear friends wherever you are today. Nolan and I have been blessed with a WONDERFUL day. We've been celebrating and opening gifts since we've gotten here and we couldn't feel more spoiled and special. I think Nolan's overwhelmed. Okay, I know he is, but he's also loving it. He adores being around his family, even though he needs to keep checking that I'm around. We're so thankful to both of our family's for being so awesome and so gracious and we are just sooo happy to be surrounded by so many of you this season.I am in denial that Christmas is almost come to a close and it's been without the love of my life. We miss him so much and as much fun as we're having, it doesn't make us miss Brian any less. We love you, Brian, and you are definitely here in spirit. XOXO to you hubby! Here's a glimpse at a couple photos. This is a bike that G&G M have had for a while (probably since Brian was Nolan's age) and Nolan adores it! I thought it would be a cute photo, but of course he wouldn't "freeze." And here's Nolan with his cousin, Nathaniel. These two add up to 2 things. ADORABLE and TROUBLE!!! As far as the plane ride here, well, it was...interesting. See, I planned for all the worst case scenarios, or so I thought. I planned for a delayed flight. I planned on the possibility of a very fussy, cranky, unruly toddler. I planned on the possibility of missing my connection. I planned that I may have to stay the night in Memphis. That I might lose my luggage. I did NOT, however, plan on sitting on a bag of someone else's left-behind puke bag. Nope, didn't plan for that. Nor did I plan on the flight attendant not letting me go to the restroom to clean it up because the plane was moving. Nope, didn't plan for that one. My bad. And so when thinking of the worst case scenario's, the missing luggage was suddenly a much bigger dilemma. And, yep, you guessed it, my luggage didn't get in. More on this story to come...or maybe not, how much more do you really need to know? Except that I'm grateful for a world where everything I need to find is at Target. And I'll forever have a new appreciation for a clean, dry, puke-free plane seat.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Birthday Jack!

Happy Birthday (a little late, sorry) to my favorite brother, Jack, the jerk. Ha ha! That was my nickname for him when we were growing up. If you think that's mean, ask him what he told me he was going to give to me (more like DO to me) on my 5th birthday. I cried the morning of my 5th birthday....
awww, the memories. What are big brothers for, but to endlessly tease their little (sweet innocent perfect) sisters? Can't wait to give you a big hug in a few days. We love and miss you!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One of Those Days

Yep, it has been one of those days. I'm not going to go into all the gory details, but trust me. I wouldn't kid you, it's been one of those days. Here's a clip of part of my day. Truthfully, this wasn't the worst and by this point I was actually amused. Good times had by me!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Tis the Season (FOR PARTIES)

Saturday Nolan and I had a crazy busy day. In the morning we headed to base for a Hearts Apart Christmas party, the one the newspaper article referred to in my earlier post. The base did a phenomenal job and the volunteers were wonderful. We saw Jamie and Donovan briefly, but unfortunately there wasn't much for the young babies to do, so since it was his nap time they headed out when he fell asleep. It was still great to see them! There were a bunch of tables with different crafts on them, a huge tree with LOTS of presents and plenty of food. Nolan was very overwhelmed at first. We made a present for Daddy (which is when we were interviewed for the paper). By the time we found the table where we got to decorate cookies and then eat them Nolan was getting into it. Sadly I haven't done the "decorate cookies with Nolan" this season and I actually feel terrible about that, but we've been pretty busy. So this helped with my guilt. Nolan loved shaking the sprinkles on the cookie, but better than that, eating it (of course)! There were clowns who did a small magic show and then made balloons for the kids. Nolan chose a sword and loved it! Then we heard that Santa was arriving! Holy cow, all the way from the North Pole!!! Santa sat by the tree and would pick a child to come up, and Santa's helpers would then grab an age appropriate gift for the kids. It was great for Nolan to see all the kids get presents, he started getting into it and very excited. When Santa pointed at Nolan and chose him, Nolan was in total and utter awe. He stood next to Santa (with me right there) and Santa asked him some questions, like "Were you a good boy this year? What do you want for Christmas?" Nolan just stared at him with HUGE eyes (I helped him answer). Then Santa gave Nolan a present...cars with a race track and a ramp. I didn't think Nolan's eyes could get any bigger, but they did...they got HUGE!!!! He did finally talk to Santa by saying "Thank you, Santa!" Then he wanted to play with the cars RIGHT THEN. It was a good time to leave. I thought he'd fall asleep on the way home and I could open it while he napped...you know how those toys have a million wires attached? No suck luck. He stayed awake and so before his nap we opened them. He keeps saying, "Santa gave cars!" Then he'll think and come tell me, "Momma tell Santa truck. Tell Santa football." He's starting to get it!
Nolan getting a Christmas tree painted on his face:
His sword balloon (and case around his waist):
Nolan & Momma decorating and devouring a cookie! Here's Nolan at home with his present from Santa:

Abby's Playdate

Abby (and Cheyna) had a playdate last week at their house. We had snacks and a light lunch, talked, played and just had lots of fun...both the momma's & the kiddos! Thanks so much girls, we had a blast!
Cutie patootie Zachary in Abby's "house":
Abby & Nolan on the swing: This picture makes me chuckle. There are only 2 chairs for the table, but what I love is that Nolan thought this was the absolute coolest thing ever...I get to eat on the DORA chair????Unfortunately I didn't get ANY pictures of the momma's, nor did I get any pics of the two youngest, Alex & Cade. Next time I'll be better!

Mom's Day Out Pictures

A few weeks ago I left my camera with the women in charge of all of Mom's Day Out so she could take a picture of Nolan's class. I wanted some snapshots to do a gift for his teachers for Christmas and knew that if I tried to take the pictures, either when dropping him off, or picking him up, he just would not have it. She took the pictures at the kids lunch time and it was just perfect. It was a special treat for me because I got a glance at what Nolan's like when I'm not there. His teachers, "Miss" Neoma and "Miss" Norma, are the greatest, sweetest, most talented women. They must be...look at this picture of all these 1 and a half to 2 year olds, sitting still, eating and behaving. I can't get ONE CHILD to do that on most days!!!! Mom's Day Out has turned out to be such a blessing in my life. The word on the street is that Nolan and Abby (and the other 2 year olds) will soon be moving to the next classroom up. I'm excited in some ways, because I know that it will bring more wonderful lessons, but it will be very difficult for me to say Good-Bye to these wonderful ladies who have earned my up most respect and trust. Anyway, here are a couple photos, I just think it's so cute!

Miss Neoma is on the left, Norma is on the right.

Duck Feeding--Florida Style

Cheyna, Abby, Nolan and I went to the park one day last week before the cold front moved in and I'm so glad we did! We hadn't been to the park in a while, actually, probably since the splash pad part closed, and the kids were thrilled. Nolan was WAY too brave for my taste, but I am happy he's over his fears (mostly happy). After we went to the park we persuaded the kiddos to leave by going down to the lake to feed the ducks. There were some ducks, but lots more seagulls and they are faster and more aggressive than the ducks. Nolan didn't know the difference, he was just happy to feed the birds!
Cheyna & Abby:
Nolan & a swarm of seagulls: Dialogue is as follows, just in case you are not fluent in toddler talk. "Come here duck. Come here duck. Come back here duck!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Feeling Behind....

Nolan and I had a busy weekend and a busy last week. Here are some things I am behind on posting:

  1. -A really fun playdate
  2. -A day at the park feeding ducks...mostly seagulls, actually
  3. -Hearts apart Christmas party
  4. -Get together/Christmas party at a friends house
  5. -How Nolan was able to get out of a nap because of a near-tornado.
  6. -Brian's fun night/Christmas party (waiting on pics from those)

That being said, I'm exhausted and trying to get to bed early this week or at least the early part of the week so my immune system will stay on my good side before and most importantly DURING our trip to St. Louis! So I will try to get some more updates tomorrow morning. Try not to lose too much sleep in anticipation. It will be okay, I promise. Night, night!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Northwest Florida Daily News Article

A celebration amid separation Eglin hosts party for children and spouses of deployed airmen Andrew Gant Saturday December 15th, 2007 EGLIN AFB — Justin Ainsley was 7 months old when his mom left on a deployment. She worried about missing his first steps. “When I left, he was lying there like a baby,” says Senior Airman Karen Ainsley, a single mother who works on air crew flight equipment at Eglin. “And when I got back, he was walkin’ around.” But Ainsley says she set up a Web cam while she was gone — just trying to stay connected with her son as he grew from infant to toddler in the few months that comprise many deployments. Dozens of other families affected by deployments gathered inside Eglin’s west gate on Saturday — many of their husbands and wives overseas — to relax and celebrate Christmas. Some families were counting down the days until a parent came home; others were looking ahead at a January deployment, said Jiri Crowder, director of Eglin’s Airmen and Family Readiness Center. So volunteers turned out at the center — to help kids and their parents “get their minds off it all,” Crowder said — with messy arts and crafts, musical chairs, cookie decorating and sing-alongs. The song leaders didn’t know all the words to “Frosty the Snowman,” but none of the parents did, either. The children didn’t lodge any complaints. Eglin’s A&FRC implemented its family readiness program seven years ago and today has three staff members that help families of deployed airmen endure the wait. Before that, “they were on their own,” Crowder said. The staff used every avenue they could to advertise their Christmas party, including e-mail and Myspace.com, hoping to get families on-base for the event. Sam McMenamy and her 2-year-old son, Nolan, don’t know exactly when husband and dad Brian will come home from Qatar, but it will be after their first Christmas without him. Sam said she gets through his absence by leaning on “friends, family and just staying busy.” Nolan was too busy painting a napkin to comment. “We understand what they go through,” Crowder said. “It’s our job to get them through it.” Daily News Staff Writer Andrew Gant can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1432.

Brian's Christmas tree

Brian sent me a picture of the Christmas tree in their office! They also had a Christmas party last night and as soon as he sends some pics, I'll post those, it sounds like it was a fun time had by all!

Forever Ago

This post is soooo late (but better than never). For Nolan's birthday, Grandma & Grandpa M got him one of the motorized ATV's. We came home one day and it was on our front porch!!! Luckily Nolan was asleep, because he would of course wanted to play with it that instant and it took 18 hours for the battery to charge! But he LOVES it and calls it his "bike." He rides it around like he owns our yard and he chases the dogs. Luckily they are faster!! Thanks so much G&G M, you rock!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

Okay, okay, I'm just not going to get the "perfect" tree picture that I feel captures how I feel every night when I turn on the lights and can just look at the beauty of its peace and be lost in all the memories and beauty Christmas time brings (not to mention every time I get the "snow" under the tree just a right, a certain red headed toddler grabs at it and plays with it). The first time I plugged the tree in, Nolan just stopped and said, "Happy." He can talk in sentences, but I think he summed it up pretty well...sometimes we just need to say how something makes us feel. I didn't tackle our big tree. This is our small tree that we bought and used our first two Christmas's. I chose a patriotic theme for obvious reasons. It really does remind me not only of Brian's sacrifice, but of all the soldiers deployed and away from their families, many of them for a year or 18 months. That could be 2 Christmas times they miss. Or they could miss 2 of their child's birthdays. Two anniversary's. It's a tough life for both the soldiers and their families. My hats are off and my hearts go out to you. I say that truly because I have thought so much about that and 4 months is really not long. It's humbling compared to a year or 18 months. Here's the tree not lit:


It's been strange getting Christmas decorations out. It's bittersweet and I almost feel like I am going behind Brian's back. This is our thing that we have always done together. It's why Christmas is so special, because amid the crazy hustle and bustle we have to pause and get those boxes out and decorate. And you can't decorate a house, and especially a tree, without reminiscing and taking a leisurely stroll down memory lane. Brian, the calendar says Christmas is December 25th. I know that's when we'll celebrate Christ being born. I'm trying to teach that to our son, amid all the Santa stuff. But I want you to know that Christmas for us will really happen when you step off that plane in a few weeks and we get to hug and kiss you non-stop for days. We love and we miss you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Squadron Christmas Party

Brian's squadron had their family Christmas party this past Saturday. I have been kept well in the loop and lots of wonderful folks that Brian works with and friends of ours, made sure I knew about it and let us know that Nolan and I were invited. There were crafts, a TON of cookies and a visit from Santa! Nolan was not sure about Santa, but when Santa gave him a present (a Thomas the Train book!), things took a change for the better. He's been talking a lot about Santa now and I think he may be getting over his fear. Still no sitting on his lap, but maybe next time. Overall, a fun morning with lots of yummy cookies! I did dress us both a little on the warm side. I knew it was warming up Saturday, but I forgot that the place we were going to be in doesn't have A/C so it got warm fast! This is blurry, but a cute pic of my mischievous little man eating a cookie. My usual view of Nolan...running away from me! Opening his present from Santa (Santa's helper was Brian's Lt. Col and helped Santa buy all the books for the kids who have a parent deployed).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Under the Weather

Last Tuesday Nolan started sneezing and coughing alot! It was strange because it happened all of a sudden and it came on strong. He didn't have a high fever, but his restlessness that night made me take him to the doctor Wednesday only to learn he had an ear infection in one ear. Poor little guy! That night, however, was the worst night...high fever, and coughing so bad he was gagging. I kept thinking he was in fact throwing up, so I brought him to bed with me. It was that or keep running in to check on him. The whole thing was sad, especially when he would start playing like crazy, like he was determined to feel better and then about a half hour later he would just CRASH. I am so relieved I bought the movie Polar Express right before this bout of sickness. Granted, I've now seen the "choo choo train movie" (as Nolan calls it) about 30 times, but it kept him calm and entertained while fighting this thing. Luckily he was all better for the lovely weather we had this weekend and we were able to enjoy playing outside, and even a Christmas party and just making up for lost "cabin fever" hours! So, Nolan got a little spoiled and was king of the couch while sick. This made me so sad...Nolan was watching TV and next thing I know he's asleep at 9:30 in the morning on the couch!!! Sweet baby boy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I lost my phone number...

Can I get yours, Captain? Eeeeowww, you are handsome! I can't wait till your home, you look fantastic babe!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The apple doesn't fall far...

I have had a lot of people tell me Nolan looks just like my dad. Of course, depending on his expression at the time people have told me he looks like a lot of different people in our family, but what's been strange is people who have only met my dad like one or two times or have seen his pictures on the blog have commented Nolan looks just like him. Well, it may be true, it may not be, but Nolan's never looked so much like his Pop Pop than Saturday afternoon.
Here's Pop Pop back in August when my parents visited. He was watching TV and the next thing you know....
And here's Nolan. Watching TV and the next thing you know....

Christmas Parade

Saturday night I joined Tara, Rob and Alex at the Crestview Christmas parade. Of course on the way down there I "lost" them (I was following them in my car). Not that I don't know my way around town, but it was SUPER crowded and we were hoping to park in the same vicinity so that I didn't have to walk back by myself in the dark (see, Dad, I'm still careful)! Anyway, I ended up at the most crowded part where everyone was parked and it was a MESS! I felt so girly, knowing if Brian was here he would find us a spot to park with no hassle, nothing to worry about. It was crazy...people were parked at the ATM drive up. To make a long, not very exciting story, short, Rob had to go move my car after I tracked them down on foot or my car would have been blocked in where I parked. Or towed...and no, I promise it wasn't a handicapped spot, I wouldn't go there. So THANK YOU ROB!!! On his way back to us women and children Rob even picked us up some food. It hit the spot. Nolan had the best seat in the house for the parade and LOVED the firetrucks, of course, and he really liked the drums in the bands because Moe, his favorite Doodlebop, plays the drums. We snuck out a bit early to miss the crowds. It wasn't a long night out, but nonetheless, it was great to get out and Nolan and I had good time.
Alex and Nolan weren't going to look at me when there were cool firetrucks going by!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dinner & Drinks

Friday night I got a babysitter for Nolan and Cheyna and I went to dinner and then out for a bit for some drinks. We ate dinner at the hibachi grill in Fort Walton and it was soooo good. It's making my mouth water just thinking about it. Of course we mostly watched the cute little almost-3 year old at our table the entire time the chef was cooking and entertaining. It was the age-old parent thing. You look forward to some time away, then you can't help but think how much fun your kids would be having. Thanks Cheyna for being my "date!" We didn't get many pics, but the ones we got are silly.
A Mai Tai to sip on while we waited for our table. YUM!
At the classiest bar around, The Rock. I think the name says it all.

I joined the Elf Gang

Hey, I just made a total elf of myself. Check it out by clicking the link below. http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=1139387441 This elfin' greeting brought to you by OfficeMax®. This makes me laugh so hard and Nolan kept saying, "Look Daddy dance!!!" Ha ha!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


More and more I am finding Nolan saying and doing things I do. It's like looking in a mirror and finding these little things you didn't expect to see. Not good, not bad, just...funny. After seeing Nolan drink his milk like this it occured to me I do the same thing often after drinking something I really like or when I've been really thirsty(say,"ahhh"). So silly. So fun. I love every second! I have been really trying to talk Santa up, as well, and seems to like him, but every time I ask if he's going to sit on his lap, he says, "Noooo." We'll keep talking him up and see what happens!

Fox 10 News TONIGHT

Hey all, looks like Brian will be making his television debut not only in St. Louis, but also in Florida tonight. Actually Fox 10 is out of Alabama, so that's 3 states in 1 day. I'm impressed! Anyway, for you locals who check our blog, he'll be on tonight between 5 and 5:30 PM on Fox10 News. Brian just called and it was funny to hear myself say, "I'll see you tonight." aaah, I make myself chuckle. In all honesty, it's not long before I'll start the day countdown. I couldn't be more excited!!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Brian's Trip to Bahrain

Last week Brian had the privilege of traveling to Bahrain to plan a Weapons and Tactics Conference. His organization (aka the office he works in) was responsible for setting everything up and running the 4 day conference that brought everyone from the area together to discuss today's issues as well as what can be done better in the future. Brian was in charge of a huge chunk of it and I am VERY proud of him, as it sounds like it went off without a hitch. Well, except the fire alarms went off the first day of the conference, but that was out of his control (or was it? ha ha)! So, for those of you who may be geographically challenged like myself, or just need a refresher, here's a map of Bahrain. It's in close proximity to Qatar. You can see how close by looking at the inlet on the map.

Besides working very hard, Brian was able to see some amazing sights and have a much needed break from the hum-drum of 12-14 hour days behind a desk. So, in Brian's words via email, here are some photos and descriptions of his trip. I am putting his text in orange. It is, after all, his favorite color.

This is a picture of the keycard in a slot on the wall. If you don't put your key in the slot, your lights won't turn on. I walked in and flipped all of the switches and nothing. I thought my power was out. I noticed a small slot on the wall with a little orange light and tried to push on it and tried to slide it, with negative results. Finally after about 5 min walking around the room with my flashlight and about to call the front desk to let them know my power was out, I decided to slide my card into the slot to see what happened and WHAM all of the lights came on as well as the A/C. It is their way to save electricity and ensure you don't leave the lights on when you leave……interesting! Everyone in our group said they did the same thing, but eventually figured it out. I'm sure the front desk has a chuckle when people call down because they can't get the lights to work.

This is a pic of the bathroom. It had a bedaeu (not sure how to spell but washer) that I did not use……..not even sure I would know how?

This is the room. It was a maritime theme. The bed had down pillows and a down blanket under a regular comforter. Very comfortable!

These are sky scrapers. All of their buildings have some sort of weird shape. Very few of them are square.

This is the group out to eat at Hardrock Café

This is Elvis, he's alive. This was a cover band that played for the Navy base. He dressed up as many different characters including Johnny Cash.

This was our last dinner in Bahrain. The one I was telling you about with all of the meat…..

And a view of Bahrain:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

St. Louis Area

Brian will be aired this Wednesday, November 28th on Channel 5 during the 10 PM news. Set your Tivo's or tune in, if you're interested! He is supposed to be on air with a seperate message in this area, so when I get the details on that I'll let you know!

Gobble, Gobble!

Nolan, the doggies and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We shared it with Cheyna, Andrew & Abby at their house. We made way too much food (is there any other way?) and pigged out and enjoyed a nice quiet day. The kids filled up on lots of pre-turkey goodies so we had to bribe them with ice cream to eat anything healthy, but we have no doubt they went to bed with full bellies. After dinner Andrew and Cheyna's neighbors came over and we had some drinks and dessert. We stayed up late chatting and laughing and it was wonderful...only to be made perfect if Brian were there.
The head chef:
A very thankful hug(and Tootsie toosh)!
The Vrabec's set a spot for Brian at the table and we put a picture of him there to remind us of him, and how thankful we are for him...and how much we miss him. It was a very special touch that got me teary eyed.Okay, this is just hilarious. The appetizer/snack table was low enough that the kids could reach it. So they were LOVING it. But they thought they were being so sneaky and that we didn't realize what they were doing. And apparently, only the first bite is the best.Here's a close up of the once bitten snacks and the culprit's cute pudgy hand:

Think he's "sharing" with Haley here? No, he's saying, "No Haley, go away!" In Haley's doggie fantasies there is a snack table just her size. Cheyna & I:

Nolan and I:

Andrew & Abby being silly:

Our hosts: