Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Our Christmas Letter.

Looking back on 2007

Seasons They come and go, and sometimes it seems like it’s easier to remember things by just that. Ecclesiastes seems so cliché sometimes, but it really does seem fitting. There is a time for everything, and every season is interdependent on the next to form the life as we know it. It seems so perfect to end the year reflecting on the reason behind all seasons. Jesus Christ, Our Savior. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1: 1 – 5 It is a true peace and comfort that behind all circumstances, God is still constant. We hope that His presence is a constant for you and your loved ones as you travel down life’s path.

Winter We had just arrived to Columbus, MS, after living in San Antonio for a quick 4 months. We managed to spend our Thanksgiving with my parents and paternal grandfather in CA and Christmas with the Brooks family in SC. My grandfather has been diagnosed with colon cancer, but remains to be such a strong and healthy man, which we are so very thankful for. I guess winter and spring tend to melt together because it was a time of getting settled and readjusting our bearings.
Spring Ben has changed so incredibly that sometimes it makes us feel more time as passed. We are thankful that it hasn’t, because time already flies! As soon as we moved, he started changing so much on me that I didn’t know what to do. The “turning point” was the climbing out of the crib. So began “nighttime” struggles that were probably the worst issue we had to deal with. He wouldn’t sleep in his bed, he would scream and refuse bedtime at all costs. Every night we had a struggle, and once he fell asleep one of us would have to push the door open (because he was sleeping against it), peel him off the floor and put him in bed. I guess “they” call that stage the terrible two’s?! Yes, that’s it. It was a bit difficult on us, but now that he has adjusted to the age, he’ll be turning three! And so begins a new stage! I have learned that children are God’s little reminder to not get too comfortable and complacent in your life and where you are. Rob joined the 50th Flying Training Squadron, and has adjusted to living in the “backseat”. While it can be a bit stressful at times as the students progress, it gets more comfortable for him. God’s reminder of complacency to Rob is similar to parenting. Once his students get better, learn to fly, and graduate – it’s back to square one with a couple new classes. And so begins a new stage, right?! He has joked that he feels like a “cat being shoved into a bathtub”!
Summer So it’s pretty hot down here. I think that was the one thing that Rob remembered and I learned for the first time. The primary lesson was going to Disney World in July. Rob had asked me, “Are you serious? Disney World in July?!” I said, “Rob, how much more humid can it get?! We already live in Mississippi.” You see, folks, in the last few years….we have steadily moved from West to East. And as we moved it was a somewhat slow and steady change in terms of adding more and more humidity to the southern air. So my comment was based on that thinking, “How much worse can it possibly get?! We can’t go much farther east.” Rob just shakes his head at me. (Note: He also laughed at me when I mentioned that we needed to get sprinklers for our acre property. Apparently I didn’t realize that out here moisture is not a problem!) Well, I did find out that it can get a lot more humid and hot. And it is in Florida that this happens! However hot it was, we had a wonderful trip to Florida meeting up with my college roommate, Emily, and her husband, Herb. Herb was putting on a football camp for middle and high schoolers in Sarasota. After that July trip, the rest of the summer was spent in ‘Sippi. We enjoyed the pool with friends on base, and the pool on base. And the pool on base. See the trend here? Rob was also promoted to Flight Commander of his flight. Now he is somewhat of a “head honcho” which has seemingly translated into a lot of paperwork! We are very proud of him and the hard work he continues to do for the Air Force and our family.
Fall The end of September marked our first trip in two years back to Phoenix to visit Jenny’s parents. Ben was enjoyed very much so by his Lolo and Lola (tagalog for Grandparents in the Philippines). We were able to spend time with some of the friends made in Phoenix – where Rob and I first met! (Aw…) Rob and I also were able take advantage of some time alone and hop a flight up to Las Vegas. It was my first time, and Rob’s nth time. We took in a couple of shows and did the sightseeing thing. We enjoyed Halloween and Thanksgiving here at home. And work for Rob continued to become more and more saturated. They are experiencing a shortage of instructors, which causes many, many work hours. The reasons for this are that the Air Force is planning on decreasing the student load, which requires less instructors. The bad news is that those student numbers haven’t dropped yet, so it’s “deal with it” until the classes begin to decrease, which we expect it to be in another 6 months or so. Thanksgiving was quiet and peaceful. I made a turkey that I would actually claim this year, so that is an improvement for me in terms of domestic welfare! Ben got himself potty trained on Veteran’s day, and he is all sorts of big boy now! Between you and me and all the people I send this to, I thought it would be another merit badge on my “I’m a cool mommy” sleeve, but it seems that kids really do do it all on their own. You just assist and encourage, and let them figure it out. I also ran another half marathon, and my mom was able to fly in for the weekend. A good time was had by all, and I managed to shave a minute/mile off my previous time. I was super happy about it!

We love you all and look forward to hearing from you as your family makes its way into a new year!
Much love and hugs,
Rob, Jenny, Ben, and Rainey.

Monday, December 10, 2007

what's a "bunting"?!

Here’s a baby boy’s bunting I made this week. I just emailed a friend telling her what I do when I don’t want to finish things (which epitomizes what our house looks like right now with presents that need to be wrapped and shipped or crochet projects that need finishing): I start something new! And what’s worse is that I justify the new project’s need. “Laura and Guns are going to have a baby very *very* soon, so they *need* me to make them a bunting.” And don't get me wrong, I had intentions of "gifting" them, it was just a matter of when.

And there you have it….Laura, if you’re reading this….I will be sending it very soon for your little Levi, as soon as my hands can part with it, because I grow this silly attachment to the projects I finish! Plus, I know it will be so much sweeter with a baby boy in it! As an aside: Laura, I am very very *very* excited to hear news of your upcoming arrival. I never knew you could be so excited for someone to have a baby, and I remember you both constantly as you the days close in to your due date. You have been such an inspiration to me by your faith and strength. Really. I must apologize that I am posting this picture before sending, but I really love it, and hopefully seeing it first will make you look forward to receiving it?!

I must go now and do things that need to be done. I have dawdled long enough. I hope that this time of year finds you all procrastinating, um, I mean reflecting on this past year and enjoying the life you have been given!

St. Jude Half Marathon.

Here are some photos from our trip to Memphis for the St. Jude Marathon event. A fun time was had by all! My mom flew in for the weekend to spend it with us and to see Ben. Ben had such a fun time with his Lola, and I felt like I had two kids! ;) Joking aside, my mom is very good with Ben, and he loves to have fun with her, and have fun with her, and have fun with her. He has a hard time knowing when to quit. And Lola has a hard time telling him when it is time to quit! My mom is so very helpful with Ben, and she always has. She is the only person that has ever said to me, quite earnestly, "Ben's poopy, can I change his diaper?" Seriously.

We left Friday afternoon for the 2 and half hour drive to Memphis with the first things on our agenda of picking up race packets and picking up my mom at the airport. As Ben slept in the car, Rob and I were able to catch up with each other. I had also noticed that my frame of mind toward this race had changed quickly and drastically for the better. The reasons are twofold. One: racing (and not running for just fun anymore) is a paradox for me. When I first trained for a half marathon last year, I found myself not loving running as much anymore, because it was training and I *had* to do it. (I think it is a challenge to do the thing you love and get paid for at the same time, because it changes your love and your job completely. I have often wondered if Rob gets sick of flying because it is now tainted with paperwork, regs, etc and it isn't just flying anymore.) But once the race was over, I found myself missing the training and it was then hard for me just to go out and "run for the fun of it". I still don't understand why it is like this, but now that I can expect those feelings, I can better manage and control it. Two: this race was always a little bittersweet, because I had made the choice to run this after the miscarriage as a way to not focus on things and for necessary time to pass before getting pregnant again.

But as we drove up, I experienced the exact feelings and adrenaline I needed for this race. I was *solely* excited for it and thought of *nothing* else. Nothing. Now I know and am jealous at the fact that sometimes it seems easier for men to execute this, but for women it doesn't always seem as easy. Needless to say, this boost is exactly what I had been needing. I had higher expectations this time around versus last year's race in Waco. I had sped up a good bit in my running from my PR, and I really wanted my race time this year to reflect that. And the results I was very pleased with. Last year I finished in 2:00:11 and this year I finished in 1:47:42, which breaks down to an 8:14 min/mile.

Running has become such a big part in my life. I hate to sound so mushy, but it is a spiritual thing for me. It makes me push through the hard times and try to believe in the hindsight that I know will follow after. I know that we all have different things that motivate us, and I firmly believe that is the way it is supposed to be. I guess what surprises me most about finding the thing you love, is that a lot of times it finds you in an unlikely way. It makes me wonder what I loved before, and I suppose these are all things you grow in to and it couldn't have happened until your perspective matured more.

ramble ramble ramble....maybe it is running I choose, because I spare my loved ones and friends all of my ramble ramble ramble.....
Start and Finish!

ben always is first.

those emergency blanket things really work!

the one guy that knows me most. he found me at the 3 mile mark, but knew he would miss me at the 4.5 mile mark. at the finish, he said to my mom, "alright she's going to be here in the next five minutes." it makes me smile that he not only knows what I love, but he knows how I perform in the thing I love.

Michelle, Liz, me. This was just part of a much larger group. In our Sunday school, there were 3 girls who participated in the 5K, and 5 girls who participated in the half marathon.

the rest of the gang (L to R): me, Rachel, Heather, Shannon, Liz, Michelle and *kids*!
Shannon, me.
fellow Michiganders....we won't discuss the yellow shirt he's wearing...Michelle and Andy.
Michelle, Rachel.
Lola, Ben.
I hope you enjoy these photos.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

giving my thanks.

Giving my thanks…

I am thankful for so many things. Mostly I am thankful that God enables us.

Enables us, so that
we can be free
we can achieve
we can strive

Strive to
Find contentment
Find gratification
Be all that we can be for the ones we love.

Friday, November 16, 2007

conversations with Ben.

My Navigator/Co-pilot:

Ben: why are we going this way?
Me: because this is the way to the ice cream store.
Ben: oh. That’s a good idea.
Me: Yes, we don’t want to get lost.
Ben: God keeps me safe.
My Cheerleader:

Ben watching me go to the bathroom, standing in the doorway.

Me: what are you doing just standing there? (he is staring intently at me, and I am thinking that maybe he is going pee in his diaper, while watching me go in the potty.)
Ben: I am just standing here, holding door.
(I do my duty, and start to flush, etc.)
Ben: Yay!!! Good job, Mommy! I’m so proud of you!!!

Note: I know this is a common instance with many parents out there. The idea of praise is obviously lost on Ben at this point….
My Literal Son:

Me: Ben, aren’t you so glad that you’re potty trained?! (Trying to reassure myself and make sure Ben is mindful of this new concept that has finally clicked in him.)
Ben: mmhmm, yes… And I’m poopy trained!
Me: (speechless) Yes, you are. You’re potty trained *and* poopy trained.

it's a good think we don't *really* have to rake the yard. below: Ben in a "huey" helicopter from Ft. Rucker, AL. This picture along with the airplane picture was taken at "career day". We were not looking for careers, but student pilots are (there are a few of those here at Columbus AFB. Ha!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ben's class photo.

Here is Ben's first class photo. I am not sure why he looks so serious and/or borderline angry. And I can only imagine the fun getting them to take the picture. From left to right - Top row: Miss Pat, Austin,Jacob, Charlie, Miss Willie. Bottom row: Sabrina, Ben (with the ladies), Lauren. Another friend not pictured is Mirabelle, who missed that day.

This week they will be having their Thanksgiving feast. And Ben will be joining the potty people in his class! :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

if you don't find this funny....

A tribute to any mom out there - young or old, seasoned or wetter behind the ears! If you don't love it, I will be very surprised.

All that being said....I think potty training for the big two and a half year old in our house has finally clicked. While I know we're still going to have oopsies here and there, it was noticeably an "aha" moment for Ben.

Why might you ask? Well, for one - I haven't said "Ben, is your underwear dry?" a dozen times in a 5 minute window. Is this an exaggeration? Slightly, but not too far from the truth. I will not go into too much detail about the going-ons (literally and figuratively), as much as I KNOW that I have friends out there who love talking about poop! (Susannah, are you there?) And as much as I, too, enjoy talking about it, as I have had issues myself in the whole GI department. (not with potty training, thank you) Annnnnnnyyyyyyywayyyyyyy.....the fact is, this is the first day where I see a noticeable change in his behaviors.

But this brings me to a different subject: trust and faith.

Why does Jenny still get frustrated and impatient witht he fact that Ben isn't potty-trained in spite of:

A kindergarten teacher friend that assures me that no child has ever come to her class in diapers?

That countless friends say: you'll know when their ready. When they are ready, they WILL do it.

That when I was at a MOPS meeting and there were moms asking different moms parenting questions, there was not a single question about potty training?


IT'S TRUE! And kids do learn and they will learn. I guess, sometimes, the element missing is the experience that they will learn (pick your obstacle) in their own time. With a first child, you don't get that and sometimes it's harder to trust.

So, hopefully, when round 2 or 3 or....comes around, I will be better those next times around.

And I will keep you posted when that next time is! :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

halloween times.

Halloween's over...but here is a quick recap.

I was a geisha, will not love you long time.

Rob was Indiana Jones. We went to a friend's Halloween party, and for the guys, they were supposed to dress up as their "call sign". Rob's call sign is Rexxxx, and Rex means dog, and Indiana Jones was apparently named after his dog, Indiana. Not sure how many girls can figure this one out, but dudes are so movie-oriented it seems, that no one even questioned his costume.

We three Brooks...
Meg, Wendy, me.

Our Sunday school's Harvest Party. Getting this many kids in one area is somewhat an accomplishment.
on the count of three - everybody say "awwwwwwww...." to my darling little boy in his doctor's costume, and now on to Thanksgiving and Christmas. If his costume isn't that flashy, it's primarily because I made it....the only part of the costume I was super excited about was making his ID please mention it to me when complimenting me on what a stupendous job I did. (wink, wink.)
Trey, as Tony Stewart, and Ben, as Dr. Ben.
Setting out on Wednesday night.
Trick or treat...
Give me something good to eat...
Meghan, Trey's sister...the cutest cat there is.

Wendy and me.

Looking for Willy Wonka....or just some candy. We don't know these people, I just wanted to photograph them.

Wendy and Rick, aka Cage. (Rob's fellow work cohort....also an Eagle driver)


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

petting "zoo" 'sippi style.

Doesn't the name of the zoo just say it all?! Today we went to the "Back 40" petting farm, that just so happens to be on our street, just farther north and closer to Alabama.

Ben after some roosters.

This is a pot-bellied pig.
Some goats.
Ben up close and personal with an American pig (that lives in the mud, unlike the pot-bellied ones). Just so you know: this pig weighs in at over 400 lbs! It could squash a few of us!! But Ben, wasn't afraid. (Mommy was, however.)

Ben's second pony ride. His first one was a couple weekends ago at Caledonia day. An arts/crafts fair in a town north of us that has only has one ha. The funny/sad/really pathetic thing is that when we got to the fair, Ben started yelling, "Yay! Disney World!" (Apparently, we need to get him out more). He also has thought that the toll booth to the toll road in Tuscaloosa is Disney World, the part where you first enter the park, and it looks like...well....big...toll...booths. So, I guess in Ben's defense, I can see why he might think that.

Bouncing Ben.
Ben and Teddy, the horse. This is, in my experience, the most affectionate, gentle horse I have ever met. I kinda wanted to take him home. He was so gentle and eager, he kept following us through the petting farm and you could just tell that he wanted people to pet him and be near him. Very sweet.

a couple emus.

The cost of going to a petting farm: $5.
The cost of being away from home with your kid in underwear: an outhouse.
The cost of your kid thinking he's at Disney World: a free Caledonia Day fair.
The cost of your kid nose to nose with a 450 lb American pig: priceless.