Sunday, April 25, 2010

Downsizing and Upgrading

OK, I am just not in the blogging mood at the moment, so there will be no elaborate stories or amusing incidents told tonight. I am sorry. But we do have some exciting news this week, so I will just lay it all on the table in a very boring, matter-of-fact way.

Monday afternoon, Matt, Bennett, and I spent five hours in a car dealership and then drove home with a brand new, 2010 Ford Edge. How did this happen? Well I will tell you...oh great, I feel a long story coming on. So much for my previous paragraph.

When we moved to Texas two years ago we had hardly any furniture and the Army said they would pay us the big bucks to move ourselves, so we said, "Lets do it." Unfortunately, I severely broke our two-passenger Dodge truck one month before we were to load up. Who knew you weren't supposed to have a truck in four-wheel drive at 70 miles per hour on dry roads? Not me. So after Matt taught me some proper truck care and shed a tear or two over his beautiful Dodge, we traded it in to a dealership for the four-door Chevy Pickup that would move us to Texas.

This purchase was obviously unplanned, so we ended up being upside-down with the truck payment from day one, and I hated it. I also hated the gas mileage we got with it, and the fact that driving that truck was like driving a blue whale. Try parking a blue whale in a seven foot wide space at Wal-Mart. Talk about nerve racking. None of these things mattered too much though, thanks to the fact that we always had a second car that was either paid off or could be turned into instant cash, and which also got much better gas mileage than the truck. And because Matt enjoys building and hauling things, having a truck was a crucial part of our lives and income.

But Matt has a career now where the only wood involved is the desk he sits behind. Building is just his hobby, we are never going to move ourselves anywhere again, and a truck with horrible gas-mileage is no longer a necessity.

So we traded it in. Actually, we traded in both our cars, since we owed on the truck and could actually make money on our Explorer, so it all evened out in the end. Here's a few pictures of our new Edge that I took from the Internet because as I said, I am not in a blogging mood and finding my camera to download pictures would require movement on my part. This is exactly what ours looks like though, so don't feel cheated.

We had a great debate in the Automax parking lot over what color we should get. I wanted silver with black cloth interior, and Matt wanted white with beige leather interior. The dealer said there was no such thing as a silver with black cloth interior, so we went with the white. Seriously, who are these Ford designers? Silver and black would look way good together...

I have actually come around to really liking Matt's choice. Anyway, I hear black anything is a bad decision for the Texas heat.

So here we are with a car that only has 300 miles on it from test-drivers. Crazy. I never thought we would be able to afford something like this, but they gave us a great deal on it, and the ironic thing is we actually save a lot of money each month because now we only have one car payment and one car to insure, instead of two.

And don't worry about the "one car" aspect. Matt takes his motorcycle to work most days, so Bennett and I have all the freedom to come and go as we please. Besides that, Matt deploys in only three months, so I guess we can share until then...maybe. :)

Which brings up another positive aspect of this car. It has a bumper to bumper warranty for three years, including the year Matt is deployed. That means I never have to worry about oil changes or breaking down or anything else my mechanic husband usually takes care of. We are all breathing a huge sigh of relief over that.

So there you go. A lot longer than originally planned (but a lot shorter than last weeks!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

This One's for Court

Sunday night, Bennett and I got to welcome two of the bestest people ever into our home. My dad and Courtney (my youngest sister) were taking a road trip between college semesters and decided to swing by and visit us on the way. And we are so glad they did!

Before Courtney left she said, "You better blog about this. And you have to make it the longest blog ever, with tons of pictures." Well, OK Courtney, here you go. Lets just see how many readers make it to the bottom of this thing...

Here is Courtney, who we all have to thank for the following 53 pictures and three videos. Not only because she asked to have them put on here, but because she and my dad took most of them. I, of course, forgot to break out my camera the entire three days they were here. Why do I always do that?

This is my dad, who I decided is the funniest guy ever. Half the time I don't think he is even trying to be funny, but he cracks me up anyway. I sure love him, and I'm so glad I got to have some one on one time with him for a few days!

The remainder of this post is more or less in order of what we did from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, complete with captions and several humorous stories. Take a deep breath, because heeeeerrrrreeee we goooooooooo!

Me and Bennett welcoming Aunt Courtney to our house. Courtney says she looks "travely" in this picture. I don't think you can really blame her since this was taken only minutes after she drove in the car 22 hours from Idaho.

Bennett with his grandpa, waving hello.

Grandpa with his Bennett, waving hello.

What the heck, let's just all wave hello.

Courtney playing Matt's guitar. She is really very good, and we all know how Bennett gets around the guitar. Needless to say, he loved Courtney instantly.

After the initial tour of the house and settling in, we decided it was a perfect night for a walk. On the way to the park, we passed a field of Texas Bluebonnets and had to stop for a little photo shoot. In case you don't know, Bluebonnet photos are very popular here, and my dad and Courtney wanted to get the full "Texas Experience."

Oh, how cute.

Contemplating the flowers
(this is one for my grandma and grandpa Hazard to hang up)

This really is a very nice picture, but for some reason it just looks like an awkward polygamist moment to me.

Bennett and Grrrrr-am-paaaaaa. I love this picture.

Attempting to get Bennett to cooperate.

Checking things out.

OK, moving on from the flowers. Here's my dad, just being my dad.

And here's me and Courtney just...I really don't know what we were doing.

To get to the park we had to go up and down this big hill. It was at this point we decided Courtney could probably use a few strength-training classes.

Hahaha! I just start laughing every time I see this, I don't know why! I think it must be because of how he is sitting. He just bares such a strong resemblance to Forest Gump...

Walking in the park.

Grandpa is an excellent stroller driver.

The rest of the night was spent laughing and talking and eating ice cream. When we all went to bed later, my dad slept in our guest room and Courtney got to sleep with me in my bed, since Matt was gone. This would have been really uncomfortable on several levels if he was home. Anyway, it was really fun, and I think me and Courtney did more talking than sleeping most nights.

The next morning I treated my family to a dose of my daily life. Jace (the kid I babysit) came over and we played in the backyard and ate lunch and took naps and pretty much just stuck with our normal routine. It was unbearably exciting. Matt did get to come home from his training for a little bit during the afternoon though, (just to go to the tax office with me, but hey, I'll take what I can get) so that was exciting for us all.

I love this of Bennett taking a bath. It's like he's saying, "Mom, you can't take that picture, I'm naked!"

Squeaky clean. (notice Jace's hand with the bulb-syringe about to be plunged into Bennett's unsuspecting nose. Life is so exciting with these two.)

I guess even the changing of Bennett's diaper was considered picture-worthy. Like I said, most of these pictures came from my dad and Courtney's camera. I normally do not document moments like this.

Oh, I guess this is why that last picture was on here. For Easter this year my mom and dad sent Bennett one of those chicks that vibrate all over the floor when you pull the string. Bennett is fascinated with it. We give it to him whenever we change is diaper to keep him still, but he's not quite strong enough or coordinated enough to pull the string with his hands, so he uses is two front teeth. This kid is destined for greatness, I tell you what.

Courtney playing with Bennett and Jace.

When Matt came home he took my dad (who just had shoulder surgery, for those of you who haven't heard and were wondering about the sling) on his version of our home tour. It is amazing how different his tour is from mine, because he focuses on the things he thinks is important, and I focus on what I think is important. For example,

Matt showing my dad the shed in our backyard: "This is the shed we built last moth. We decided to go with one-inch nails and your standard fencing plank, due to the structural stability and visual factors."

Me showing my dad the shed in our backyard: "That's the shed."

I don't know, I guess it's good to have both points of view.

During the afternoon my dad took Bennett out to play in the backyard. A few minutes later I looked out the window and saw this...

Bennett was soaking wet and having a blast pulling out out the peppers and carrots from our garden. And where was Grandpa?

Why, he's under the tree, fast asleep. What excellent babysitters he and Little Boy Blue make.

After that we figured there was no point in trying to fight the inevitable, so we stuck Bennett in his swimming suit and let him go.

This is Bennett's "bear crawl." He rarely uses his hands and knees to get around anymore, it is always is hands and feet. Actually, now that I am talking about it, we have exciting news. Today I was watching Bennett play and he totally stood up from a sitting position and just stood there a good three seconds before I broke his concentration with my excited shrieking. Actually, I think I kind of freaked him out. Whoops. I will have to be a little quieter in my excitement next time. It was very exciting though.

Back at the garden, trying to rip out the squash this time. It will be amazing if we get any vegetables this year.

"Oooohhh, yeeaaahhh. What up, Punk?"

When Matt had to go back to the base we all followed him for a quick look-around at his office. Here's Courtney, Bennett, Matt, and my dad in front of the convoy that's about to move out to the field. Hoorah.

It was kind of cool seeing Matt in all his army getup. I know we have been married almost three years, but this was the first time I had ever seen this stuff on him in person. He looked very military.

In Matt's office.

Movin' out.

After saying goodbye to Matt, my dad treated Courtney, Bennett and me to a wonderful dinner at Alfredo's Mexican Restaurant, which is famous here for its great food. While we were waiting for our order to be delivered we got a little bored...

This is what we came up with for our cheep entertainment.

After dinner Matt called to say that we could come visit him in the field...if we brought 75 ice cream sandwiches with us for his troops.

It was a little scary at first because the point of field exercises is to completely simulate a base opperation in a combat zone--which means there was barbed wire and big tanks and guns that I was for sure were going to zero in on us. But once we made it to Matt's medical tent it was way cool, and we got a guided tour of all the equipment they use and their cots where they sleep and all that stuff. It was especially good for me to see, because now when Matt deploys I will kind of know what he is doing and how he is living. Oh, and his soldiers loved the ice cream, so nobody tried to shoot us. :) However, it was not really the time or place to take any pictures, so sorry for no visuals here (not that this post is lacking in that area or anything.)

The next day we started out bright and early with another walk along my usual neighborhood rout.

Me, my dad, and Bennett getting ready to go.

Me and Courtney, and of course Bennett.

And we all know who this guy is. I'm tired of writing his name.

Bennett fell asleep in the stroller before we made it home, so Courtney carried him in and got in some good cuddle time. I think Courtney needed the rest anyway. Those hills were pretty rough on her. :)

Well hello there!

This is me trying to get Bennett interested in reading a book, but he would have none of it. I think he is just looking at the ceiling fan here, but it looks like he is rolling his eyes at me in exasperation. I'm sure one day this will happen legitimately. I can't wait.

The rest of the morning was spent just doing whatever, like...

swinging in the hammock


Hanging out in The Man Chair.

Playing with toys.

Playing with Aunt Courtney.

Taking naps. But when Bennett woke up from his nap, we added some purpose to our afternoon and went into Killeen to do some shopping. I got a basket for our family room, and my dad was FABULOUS and treated me to a little shopping spree of some much needed clothing items. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dad!

When we got home, me and Courtney got a little crazy in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook.

I have to admit, I'm a little embarrassed to post this on here for the whole world to see, but I guess this is just who we are and there's no hiding it. Long live hand claps!

After dinner we bonded while assembling several endtables which arrived on my doorstep earlier that day. You know what they say, "The family that assembles together, looses fingernails and the skin off their knuckles together." Honestly, you'd think they'd make these things a little easier to put together. We did it though, and our family room is slowly, slowly coming together (more to follow concerning this topic soon). For now, some more pictures. Yay!

Making a fort/containment center for Bennett out of the endtable boxes.

Bennett helping to eat--I mean, use--my tools before he went to bed. (And yes, these are my tools.)

The next morning my fun visitors got up and moving by 5:30, and were out the door and on their way to Oklahoma and Griffin and Ashland's house by 6:00am. It was sad to see them go, but it was so much fun to have them here! And, for a final goodbye picture...


P.S- I hope you are happy with this, Courtney. It only took me like, seven hours to download all the pictures and write the little captions underneath. But I love you, so what can I do?

And to our loyal readers, if you made it through this entire thing, give yourself a pat on the back. I am truly impressed with you level of boredom. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Our Military Child

As most of you know, Matt is in the Army. (If you did not know this, you have obviously not been paying very close attention to our lives.) So because Matt is in the Military, Bennett and I automatically inherit some pretty great things, such as free health care, tax-free shopping, random hugs from elderly women in grocery stores, and the titles of "Army Wife" and "Military Child" (but no, we do not have any bumper stickers or banners proudly displaying these titles, as is so widely popular here. Tacky.)

On Friday afternoon, my friend Bethany called to inform me that the entire month of April is actually dedicated to military kids, and that they were having a huge fair the next day to celebrate them. She invited us to go along with her and her three boys. Need she ask twice? I don't think so.

Bethany was also husbandless due to training exercises at this time, so we all just went together in her minivan. Here's the little bunch, looking oh-so-excited for the day ahead.

This is a tiny section of the fair grounds, which were massive. There were seven different bounce houses, two rock walls, live entertainment from Radio Disney, face painting, craft corners, and tons and tons of FREE STUFF. I have never experienced anything like this before. There were literally tents set up that you could walk into and point to the "prizes" you wanted...and they just gave them to you. I had an entire bag full of free toys, games, books, DVDs, and cookies by the time we got home. It was awesome!

Most of the activities available were geared towards older kids, so Bennett spent the majority of his day riding in this stroller. We really just went to get out of the house and hang out with people anyway, so we didn't mind too much. I did find a few things for him to do though, like...

...the "Baby Bounce House," which was just a normal bounce house they dedicated to children ages three and under. Let me tell you, these little guys were just ecstatic about it.

This is the bounce house I should have taken Bennett on. It was the tallest one I have ever seen, and by far the steepest coming down. Totally cool.

They also had a few mascots walking around, including a cell phone person, Batman, Wonder Woman (who was more of a hit with the older boys, if you know what I mean), and this cow from Chick-Fillet who formed an instant friendship with Bennett.

Whenever we would stop at a booth for a particularly long time, I would let Bennett get out of the stroller and do his thing--which in this case was to push the stroller around and screech. He's also been working on a few dance moves lately. Unfortunately, I think he is taking after his mom in this area. Poor, poor white boy.

I fed Bennett in his stroller as we watched the older boys play, but around lunchtime everybody else was getting pretty hungry, so we stood in line for free food (pizza, hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, etc.) Bennett never made it.

He is an extremely scheduled child, and when it is nap time, it is nap time. You would be amazed at the level of noise and activity all around us while Bennett took a peaceful hour-long nap. It is too bad though, because he missed out on the free ice cream sandwich truck. I had to eat his for him. :)

When he finally woke up we decided it was probably time to go home, but were sidetracked for quite some time when we passed several sand boxes tall enough for wobbly bodies to lean against. Here's Bennett and Trey having a great time playing in the sand...

...and eating it. I later moved him to a box that was filled with birdseed instead of sand, figuring that was a little more edible. What a good mom I am.

And here we are going home with our new balloon buddy. It was a fantastic day full of fun and friends, and Bennett slept for four hours afterward.

Sometimes I really do love the Army, but never as much as I love our little Military Child.