Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving

Some of my favorite Thanksgiving's are still from my childhood.  Aunts, uncles and cousins would all descend upon my grandparents small log home.  The cousins would often run around outside playing games like Annie, Annie Over or take walks around "the loop" or go upstairs to play battle ship or connect four.  The adults would get the meal prepped and set.  We always ate using the gold ware. There was always plenty of sparkling cider to drink; if there was alcohol, I don't remember. There was always an abundance of food.  My favorites were always the sweet potatoes, the dinner rolls and the banana cream pie... oh and the peanut butter candy that my Aunt RaeAnn made!
There were two separate tables, One for the adults and one for the kids. As a kid I always wished I could go sit at the adult table.  Having kids, of my own now, I realize how nice it probably was for the adults to have their own table and not have to scream over kids to carry on a conversation.
Card games, puzzles and lots of conversation could be counted on, after the meal was finished and the kitchen was buttoned up.  This is what I think Thanksgivings are supposed to be.  Family all crammed together with LOTS of food, sharing life together.

This year the boys and I were invited to a few different friends' homes, here in Minot.  It is amazing to me the amount of support we have received this holiday season.  We joined my friend Lawanna, her husband David, son Ares and daughter Ada for Thanksgiving.  Lawanna and I made a menu and divided the cooking in half.  We both spent some quality time, in our own kitchens, to make our beautiful spread.
I used my Grandma Bernadette's dinner roll recipe, in her handwriting.

My contribution to the meal

Our feast.

We ate our Thanksgiving meal shortly after 12:00pm.  The food was amazing.  Of course Dillan took roughly two bites of his meal and tried to run around the table the rest of the time.  Everyone else enjoyed mounds of food!  The kids spent a few hours watching movies and playing in the basement.  We three adults visited and watched a little TV as well.  I'm so thankful that we had a fun, relaxing place to go this year.

For the last few weeks, before bed I have been asking the boys to list 5 things that they are thankful for. Here are a few of the things they consistently like to talk about.
Tanner ~ Family.  Friends.  School.  Classmates.  His home.
Dillan ~ Tanner.  Mommy.  Daddy.  Me (himself).  Duckie.  Sprinkles.  Granola Bars.

The only picture I took that wasn't food related for the day... weird!

This week in photos;

We attended a went to a different church than the one we had been attending for the last year and a half.  The boys loved it said they'd like to try it again this week.  They read Luke 17:11-19 and colored in a picture. Dillan was able to tell me what he'd learned.  It was so fun to hear his excitement.  They also made these Thank You cards.  Tanner's was to me.  Dillan's was to Tanner.  They traced their hands and told four things that they are thankful for. I'm not sure who 'Sam' is that Dillan is referring to.  He said he was just saying letters! haha
Dillan's church craft.

Tanner's church craft.
Brandon loves Cowboy Candy, which is candied jalapeƱos.  I made a few batches up this week, so that he'll be able to enjoy some in his new place of residence.
Cowboy Candy simmering away.

Kameron and Kaleb enjoying some marble maze play with the boys.

Hanging their stockings.

The boys will be decorating he tree this year.  The upper third of the tree is pretty bare.

Dillan has been working on this little master piece above his bed for a while.  He takes some down and put some more up.

These kids ask for pancakes non-stop.  I'm lucky I always have flour, sugar, eggs, and milk in the house! Oh and sprinkles to make them look really awesome! 

Dillan is always trying to get me to take pictures of him and Duckie "snuggling".

Ralphy has made his reappearance back into our home.  They boys love finding him in the morning. They could really care less if he does or doesn't tell Santa if they've been naughty or nice.  I'm about to give up on that part of the game and just let them play hide and seek with him this time of year.
Welcoming back Ralphy!!! (Day 1)
(Day 2)

My parents sent us a Thanksgiving care package.  It was filled with lots of books, coloring pages, candy, a great coffee mug sporting the area code of my favorite state, and lots love!  



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Day to Day Routine

I'm a creature of habit. I thrive on routine.  Without Brandon around we have fallen into a very busy, but comfortable routine. Every morning we wake up, between 5am and 6am, and FaceTime with Brandon before he goes to bed. I get a 30 minute work out in and then the day begins with making lunches, showers, breakfast.

At this time a few of my commitments are; taking Tanner to school and picking him up every day, two Bible studies on different days, taking Dillan to story time at the public library, attending church on Sundays.  I have been wanting to do a couple play dates a week, I need to work harder at making this happen.
Coffee and Cocoa date after church.

Cookie he decorated, at story time, after reading a book about Turkey's.

Ready for my Thursday morning Bible study.

I'm currently trying to set Saturday aside where we plan on NOT going anywhere.  No errand running, no household chores.  Just baking, playing, staying in pajamas most of the day and relaxing.
This Saturday I took a break from making the usual pancakes, from scratch, (They had them five out of seven days this week) and made the boys french toast.  I gave the boys haircuts and and then threw them into the shower with Duckie.  I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. This was quite an experience.  Duckie's hair got EVERYWHERE and the shower curtain fell down on top of us.  The boys went to my shower to finish up! In the end everyone ended up clean and a little less hairy.

After school we do homework and then have an early dinner. The early dinner is a change for us.  When Brandon was home we'd normal have dinner around 5:00, now we eat closer to 4:00.  That gives us the rest of the afternoon/evening to get out and play.  One day, this week, my friend Ashley called us to her house around 5:00 and I helped her haul new mattresses and box springs into her house.  We tore down her kids' beds and put new ones together.  It was a challenging and fun evening!

This week in pictures;
Dillan is ready to go on a grand adventure after dropping Tanner off at school.

An evening scooter ride.  The sunset was gorgeous!

My friend, Morgan, dropped off homemade spiced bread and a latte! I put some of my homemade apple butter on it! A lovely day to start the day!

Ares and Ada, with the boys, watching the snow blow and waiting for their mom, Lawanna, to pick them up after school.

These two bottles of mixed red wine were such a fun gift!

Taking Ares and Tanner to school!

Dillan was so amazing at my dentist appointment this week!  He even got up and rubbed my leg at one point.
 This Friday Kameron and Kaleb's dad dropped them off with us and they spent a few hours, in the afternoon, with us.  Dillan enjoyed having a few buddies to hang with.  Their mom, Ashley, came over after work and they all had dinner with us.  It was a fun way to wrap up the school/work week!

Kameron and Kaleb tagging along to pick Tanner up from school.
 Tanner has been infatuated with the American flag for a few years now.  He'll get excited when he sees one flying as we drive through town.  He had told me that he was making an American flag at school, and Friday he came home with it! He wanted me to take this picture of him so that his dad could see it and be proud of him.
So proud of his flag.

A few of my favorite Saturday things; warm oatmeal cookies, a lotion from my sister Autumn, little boys with fresh haircuts!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Weekly Account

My 200th post on, Life is a Highway, is going to be the start of a series. Brandon left on November 8th to serve a year in South Korea. My goal is to write a weekly blog post while he is gone.

Brandon got orders in February to Korea.  We have always known that a tour to Korea would be a possibility if Brandon were to make a career out of the Air Force, which is what he is doing. Even though we had almost nine months to prepare our minds for this, there is never enough time to prepare your heart for something like a family being separated.

The day that I found out that Brandon got orders I started writing him letters in a journal.  I tried to keep up with it every day, but sometimes weeks would slip by.  Writing Brandon letters was therapeutic.  I would tell him about things we'd done that day, as a fun reminder.  I would tell him how much I love him and how much I'm going to miss him while he is gone.  Since his departure I have started a new journal.  Not letters to Brandon, just writing to write.  The day that he left I gave the journal to him.  I know it is something that he will enjoy reading over and over through this next year.

We waited until the last month to tell the boys that Brandon would be leaving. We put the atlas up in their play room.  We put a push pin where we live and another one where Brandon would be.  We got a calendar that Brandon and the boys marked off each day.  Tanner was able to grasp the concept that soon his daddy would be taking off.  Dillan struggled.  Tanner now misses his daddy, Dillan thinks his daddy is on an airplane still and will be back soon.


We filled the days, leading up to Brandon's departure, with lots of family activities.    We took them to Planet Pizza to play arcade games.  We had told them for two years that it was closed because we didn't want to open that door and be bothered all the time to take them.  It was fun though.  I can see taking the boys back there.  We went to The Peanut's Movie.  Lots of drives, hanging out and play.




I knew that our final goodbye was going to be super sad, but watching Brandon say goodbye to his boys, knowing that they would be so much older and bigger and wiser the next time he'd hold them, was so hard.  I thought it'd be fun for the boys to watch their daddy fly over us in the big airplane.  They enjoyed it, I HATED it.






I have been so blessed by the friends and family in my life already.  On the day Brandon left my friend Ashley brought over dinner, a gift basket for me, and gifts for the boys as well.  It was amazing to feel taken care of like that.  I have women texting and Facebook messaging me every day.  I know that God has put these women in my life. I know that He doesn't want me to feel alone or scared.  I already feel better about this time away from Brandon than I did about when Brandon was deployed to Guam for six months.



Seeing Brandon this week, on FaceTime, has been good.  We have gotten a tour of his dorm room and just having a face to face conversation with him is great.  He is 15 hours ahead of us, so it's a little bit difficult getting the time down just right, but every little bit of time together is great.
The boys love talking with him.  Tanner asked Brandon why he didn't bring us with him.  That has opened up whole new world of conversation for Brandon and I.

This week I kept extra busy, so I wouldn't have too much time to think.  I was exhausted by the end of each day and went to sleep after putting the boys to bed, around 7:45pm.  I hoping that next week I'm able to keep with staying busy, but not so busy that I have no time to think!

Our week in photos... We lived a lot more outside of these pictures, but when I had my phone with me I tried to capture the moment.