Saturday, January 28, 2006

And the Results Are In!

Well, here it is! The infamous altered car! :D I got 4th place in the Adult league so fell shy of a prize, but man, I looked GOOD! LOL

Now to the REAL news of the day!! Remember I mentioned the little problem of the stuck wheels, resulting in my having to get new ones? Well, with that same car, Thomas got 1st place Overall!!! The grand Champion of the Pack Derby today! Kevin got 3rd place in the Bears, and Caitlin got 1st place in the Siblings category! It was a grand day for the Banks family!

We missed the basketball game because the derby lasted so long. But hey, this event only comes once a year, and there will be basketball games every Saturday for the next 2 months. So, it was obvious where we needed to be.

Yes, indeed, it was a very satisfying day. :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pinewood Derby: Family Fun or Pain in the Butt??

OK, this is driving me nuts but at the same time I'm totally getting into it.

Both my boys are in Scouts. So, two cars for the pinewood derby. With the man of the house gone, even. :P Thank heaven for other dads that are willing and able to use a saw. LOL

THEN the fact that our pack is way cool, and lets the siblings and parents have their own pinewood derby league. So, that means a car for Caitlin. And...well...competitive spirit that I am, I do one, too. Last year I came ****this**** close to winning! LOL Sure made good ol' Doug nervous that he almost got beat by a pink glittery car! *grin*

Anyway, that makes 4 cars. FOUR stinking blocks of wood to turn into something that will actually roll. Yes, they are working (for the most part), but what a PAIN!!

My car is the CUTEST thing, though! hee! I was working on it and Thomas came in and said, "Um, MOM??? You're scrapbooking on your CAR?"

Yes, son. This is what mom does. Now go away and let me create. :D :D :D

I covered it in KI Memories paper, with Doodlebug flower sequins on the sides in diamond glaze, then MM metals on it, MM ribbon, and an Energizer battery. LOL!! And on the front is a little metal plaque that says "spirit". :D I'll post pics soon, I promise. I think it's different than any pinewood derby car ever made, that's for sure!

So, 3 cars are working. One needs new wheels because in an attempt to make the axles immovable, I got diamond glaze all over the durn things and now they won't roll. But we'll fix that tonight and get new wheels, and the derby is tomorrow. After the derby, we're off to a basketball game. Whew. What a weekend!

Looking forward to it. Especially now that the looking task of the cars is out of the way...almost.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Life's a Whirlwind!

Well, I'm not very regular on updating my blog! LOL...I got tagged by Rach but I'll have to figure out how to do it and find 4 others to tag who haven't been tagged yet. I'll play, Rach, just give me a little time! :D

Well, the last post talked about the Scrapworks DT which I didn't win. But that's OK! I really feel there will be a company come along that is a good fit for me. Until then, I'll work on honing my skills, submitting to the mags, and building my portfolio. Looking at this as a business rather than strictly a hobby has changed my mindset about some things. But there will always be that fun, creative, rewarding side to it, especially with my buds at 123-Scrap! And, my friend Melissa and I are putting together some great ideas for cropping with the military wives! It's going to be a blast, and a wonderful time for us all to get together and support one another.

I even made myself some business cards!

They follow my current style, which April christened "feminine grunge." Love the messy ink and love the pink and sparkle, too! :D

I'm having a big MK sale to try and get rid of as much of my inventory as possible. The deadline for my product return is approaching. I am sure it's the right decision...there are numerous reasons for it, and I've prayed about it a lot. It was a good thing for a season, and I've learned some things that will serve me well in the future, but it's time to let it go.

On another note, Kevin, Jr. made the speech team at school. He is very excited and will compete in Austin on Feb. 18th. He shows natural talent for speaking in front of people--must've gotten that from his Daddy! Another wonderful thing about this is that he, as the middle child, finally has something of "his own" that he is good at, and not competing with his older brother or baby sister. It's a good thing. :)

Guess that's it for now!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Love the anticipation...

Today the Scrapworks Design Team winners will be announced! I may be sick, but I love this part. The butterflies, the hopefulness, the anticipation waiting for a big announcement. Especially when I've actually made the effort to enter, LOL! Who knows when it'll be my turn to see my name on the list? :D

The icky part is when the list is posted and I'm not on it. But one of my resolutions this year is to have fun with it and not worry if I don't win any of these things. I love my hobby, I love my scrappin friends, and anything else that comes my way is just icing. I want to enter more contests this year, to motivate myself and stretch myself, and put my work out there. And whether it gets picked up or not, it can always be seen at 123-scrap where they love me even if I don't win! ;)

But it sure is fun to daydream! LOL :D

On another note, I'm excited about the crop nights we'll be doing for the wives of the deployed soldiers in our Brigade. Should be big fun and a great way to connect in a relaxed setting!

Plus, the ladies at 123-scrap just sent a couple HUNDRED cards for the soldiers to use for notes home! And my girlfriends back in Yucca Valley are following their lead and sending almost 70 more! WOW. We've been so amazed and touched by the outflowing of support from all these ladies. Thanks, girls!!! You're the best!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Look Back at 2005

Well, the new year is a time for looking ahead and setting goals, but I haven't really taken the time yet to look back at 2005. It was a very eventful year for us!

Christmas Day 2004 found us leaving California and turning our faces toward Texas and HOME! :D

January 2005, the kids and I stayed in Texas to get settled in and Kevin left for CHOBC (the Chaplain Officer Basic Course) in South Carolina. The next few months were a blur of getting situated in our new home and neighborhood, learning Army life and lingo, and homeschooling the boys while trying to keep Caitlin occupied as well.

Those months apart from Kevin actually drew us closer. We talked for hours on the phone (gotta love free mobile-to-mobile!) and wrote e-mails and chatted on IM to replace the time we would have spent together. Our 15th anniversary went by with us apart, but he didn't forget to send flowers. ;)

In April Kevin graduated with academic honors from CHOBC and we drove out to SC to see the graduation. We were so proud of him! I attended a spouse's seminar that was extremely valuable and made some new friends. During this time also, I signed up as a Mary Kay consultant.

In May I turned 35! My twin brother calls it "the back side of 30." Sounds lovely, doesn't it? ;) We passed the long, hot summer in Texas and had a few little excursions here and there. We met up with my mom and most of my siblings at the lake and had a great visit.

Sometime in there Kevin was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. Yes, it's typical for Chaplains to get promoted that quickly due to their higher education being counted toward rank. Even so, we were proud and happy to pin on those double bars.

Kevin went to NTC (the National Training Center) in Barstow, CA with his battalion, in preparation of the deployment to Iraq, and earned some honors there including the Army Commendation Medal. Once again, he done us proud. :) While he was there, a lot of our friends from southern California got together in Barstow to visit with him, which was such a blessing to him.

In August the boys started private school rather than continuing homeschooling. It was quite an adjustment, but has been good for all of us...I have more time with Caitlin, she is speeding along in her Kindergarten homeschool curriculum, and the boys are making new friends and adjusting very well. They both have excellent, caring teachers, and we are so thanful. Plus, my friend Julie carpools with me, so the 30 minute drive to Temple doesn't seem quite so bad.

In November, my siblings all came to our house for an early Thanksgiving and family photo. My dad was in on this one and was so surprised when all the kids showed up, including our half-brother Chris! Karla was tickled to death too, I could tell! We really loved all being together, and our photos turned out really well. My youngest brother Neill, his wife Jess and their two kids came the farthest distance--from Kansas City, MO--and I was so glad they did. The next reunion will need to be near their house!

Our plans for Thanksgiving were to spend a week at the little house in Grand Chenier on Kevin's grandparents' property. Hurricane Rita changed all that. She hit with fury, and the little house was completely wiped away, along with many other houses in Cameron Parish. :( It was a sad blow for the family, but the grandparents' home in Lake Charles only sustained minor roof damage and fences and garden sheds blown down, so we were thankful for that!

So, our plans changed for Thanksgiving, and Kevin surprised us by booking a cabin in the TX Hill Country for several days. What a blessed time we had! We went to a couple of different state parks and hiked together, had a fire in the fireplace and s'mores every night, played board games and sat on the porch swing sipping hot cocoa. There was no TV, no cell phone coverage, nothing but peaceful time together. Rio Frio Lodging even gave us a nice discount, because the owners' daughter is serving in the Air Force and they have a heart for military families. So nice.

From there we went to Lake Charles and had Thanksgiving with Kevin's family. It was a really nice time--we got to see his sister, Shannon, and most of his cousins. The boys had a sleepover with Blake (Shannon's son) and one of the second cousins, and they had a fun time, eating pumpkin pie, watching Free Willie, and playing PlayStation all night long.

Arriving home, it was time to get serious about preparing for the deployment. Kevin packed, I shopped for things he needed, plus we sat down to discuss the budget and other important items. Kevin went to the JAG office to prepare a will. Some of the things we had to take care of were difficult, but so very important. The kind of things that you hope you never NEED to have, but if you do need them, it makes things so much easier if they are taken care of in advance. In the midst of it all we cherished and savored every moment we could grab.

We celebrated Christmas a couple of weeks early, and then he was gone. The kids and I traveled to celebrate Christmas with my dad, then on to the TX Panhandle to be with my mom, and back home again. Kevin called us from Maine, then Kuwait, then Baghdad, and finally the end destination of Taji. And here we are, January 2006!

In one short year we went from quiet Preacher's family to an Army family with a deployed soldier. We moved half-way across the country. We altered our educational choices. Through it all, God has watched over us and kept us safe, and we trust Him to keep us all safe in the coming year.

My hopes for this year:

Take more solitary time to develop spiritually
More "fun" time with the kids
More scrapbooking time, and to develop my skills in this area
Cherish my friendships
Encourage the other wives of the soldiers in Kevin's unit
For Kevin to thrive in his ministry and make a difference over there, and stay safe
Finally get myself organized!

There's lots behind us, and lots to look forward to! I want to drink it all in, the happy and the difficult. I want to hang on tight and ride the waves of life with my eyes wide open. I want to relish every moment and every breath! Knowing God is in control if it all, I want to trust Him, let go of my struggling and striving, put my hands in the air and just shout "Wheee!" What a ride!!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sweet Sixteen

Well, look at the flowers the FedEx man brought today!

Today is our 16th wedding Anniversary. Sweet 16. Kevin usually gives me the same number of red roses as our years of marriage, and then one yellow one in the bunch 'cause I'm his Yellow Rose of Texas. ;) But this time the note said he wanted to celebrate with a whole dozen yellow ones. They are so pretty and smell just lovely.

From half a world away, no less! Ain't love grand? :D

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

De-trimming the Tree

This morning, after the boys went to school and before Caitlin woke up, I finally took down the Christmas tree. I admit, I had been procrastinating doing this task. It wasn't so much the inconvenience, but the intese emotions wrapped up in it for me. But I bit the bullet and decided to finally just get it done. That, and Kevin's comment that if I didn't hurry it would become a Valentine tree. Smart aleck. ;)

Note to self for next year: When putting on the lights, start at the bottom, go all the way up, then back down again.

Even more important note to self for next year: When taking off the lights, do the same thing: start at the BOTTOM, go up, then back down again.

The process felt significant to me because I was taking down, alone and by myself, the tree that Kevin had been here to help put up. Not only that, but next year I would be putting it up *and* taking it down... alone and by myself. Yes, putting it up next year will involve the children--maybe we'll do something different and get a live tree. But this year, I had to do the taking-down when they were not around, because I could feel what was coming.

Anyway, half way through the process I had boxes and tissue paper everywhere, and had broken only one ornament (and not an important one, thankfully). That's when the wave hit me. I gave myself permission to mourn. To just sit down and cry, and feel all the sadness and grief and loneliness that was trapped inside. To let it come out and wash over me, and express itself fully. This is all part of the journey we are taking, and to squelch it would be to invite numbness and apathy. No, I needed to allow the emotions of it all to carry me for a little while into a place of pain and sorrow, until my sobs turned into prayers and I found the comfort and peace I needed. Then I'm reminded that I am never truly "alone and by myself."

I sometimes wish I could just have one good, long cry, and let that be the end of it. It would be nice not to have to revisit the same sorrow over and over. But that would belie the depth of the relationship, and therefore the sorrow as well. I don't want this blog to end up a morbid journal, depressing to any who happen upon it. But I also need to be true to myself, perhaps to come back for journaling to add to my scrapbooks, to pass on the true "me" to my children; to be transparent with the good and the bad; to record this journey with honesty.

Now, looking around the living room, it looks empty. That is, until Caitlin wakes up and comes downstairs...until the boys come home from school...until next year when we do it all again.