Monday, March 31, 2008

We're a Chevy kinda family

I'm happy to report that Robert took down all 7 of our yellow ribbons the other day and man did that feel good for us, especially since we know we don't have to put them up again. We have 7 trees in front of our house (for those of you that don't know this story) and every month Jim would add a ribbon around one more tree until all 7 were wearing their yellow...Robert's deployment was 7 months long and when he came home he was to take the ribbons down...we did this last deployment also.

Robert pointed out to me the other day that everyone in the family now owns a Chevy...that's a great thing especially if we need to do any work on the vehicles since Jim pretty much knows everything there is to know about them. So Robert now owns a Chevy Blazer, I have my Cobalt and we recently purchased a Cavalier for Jesse...let's hope it lasts a bit longer than the last used car that he got...fingers crossed.
Here's a picture of Robert's Blazer that he took back in Hawaii before he came home on his leave, he is hoping to have it shipped home when he is done and comes home for good at the end of this year.
I've been finding precious little blocks of time when I can to scrap some of our memories. Here is a 2 page spread with pictures from our trip to Disney Marketplace back on December 23rd of last year. We had a great time in the shops and Alex and I had fun trying on all the cool hats.It's fast becoming my monthly thing to do now, taking a class at my friend Laurie's house and this month the 2 page layout was Easter themed and I couldn't wait to come home and add the pictures of Alex with his Easter treasures.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An EGGspecially happy boy!

It's easter morning and Alex comes down to find a basket has been left for him along with some very cool candy filled eggs, he is very happy because he forgot that today was Easter.
Upon counting the eggs he realized that there are 5 of them..."One for each person in our family" and I am touched by his generosity and willingness to share his easter blessing with all of us. I learn something new every day from this precious little boy who teaches me love and caring on a different level no matter what he is doing.

I wonder which egg I will's a tough choice, they all look so cute and I'm sure the contents are yummy and tasty.

Today we reflect on our Lord and His sacrifice on the cross for us and we rejoice in His resurrection. We don't have a big easter dinner planned, just a quiet family day later on but we are going to be sharing a feast for breakfast just as soon as everyone wakes up around here.

Easter Reflections

With OUR EYES we see The beauty of Easter as the earth awakens once more
With OUR EARS we hear
The birds sing sweetly to tell us Spring again is here
With OUR HANDS we pick the golden daffodils and the fragrant hyacinths
But only with OUR HEARTS
can we feel the MIRACLE of GOD'S LOVE which redeems all men
And only with OUR SOUL
can we make our 'pilgrimage to God' and inherit His Easter Gift of ETERNAL LIFE.

Last night I actually had some time to scrapbook and it felt wonderful to sit at my table and create again. I chose some older pictures from almost 2 years ago and it reminded me of a time in our lives when we were happy and didn't have a care in the world...just having fun and playing in the pool at mom's. Who knows, maybe I'll get to scrap again later tonight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I miss scrapping!

Wow, it feels like a lifetime ago is when I last did a layout but so much is happening right now that I just haven't found a block of time to get anything done let alone the fact that inspiration isn't flowing lately but I'm sure it will come back soon!

I'm back in Florida but I have reinforcements with me this time...Robert came with me in order to spend some quality time with grandma because he heads back to Hawaii soon to finish out his last 9 months in the Marine Corps.
We sure have kept Robert busy with the home improvement projects around the house but it is making mom really happy and I'm sure that Robert is loving every second of it.

This is Pat before she left to go back home on Sunday morning, thank you so much for all that you did for mom, we all really appreciate it beyond words.
Mom started PT today and the therapist gave us some things that she needed to get for her safety such as flashlights in case of a power outage but I found awesome plug in lights that charge while they are plugged so that they come on during a blackout. I picked up the snack mate table and mom loves it to eat on, play on her laptop or paint her fingernails like she did tonight. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back home for a bit

Wow, it feels somewhat strange that I haven't blogged in several days, I really got into the habit of blogging pretty much daily while we were in Hawaii but since we've been home it's been a huge adjustment for everyone in terms of our sleep schedules and add to that daily savings time on sunday well we are just a mess here. On thursday Alex slept until 1:20pm and on friday until just past noon, good thing I didn't plan on sending him back to school until today (monday), huh? I don't think he got out of his pajamas all weekend either, it was just a lazy few days around here, that's for sure.

I went back to work yesterday and for me it was good to get back into the swing of things and take my mind off some of the stuff that's been going on lately with mom being sick and fighting this cancer that has decided to visit her door. I am amazed each and every day by her strength and determination and I am so proud of her that she is being very tough in the face of adversity and has decided to meet the challenge head on.

Our last full day on Oahu was busy and fun filled, much like the rest of our time there. We went to the beach in Kailua while Robert was at work and then later that evening had a wonderful dinner with some of the other families in our little 3/3 Yahoo group family.
Alex enjoying his last day on the beach and just watching the beautiful surf out there before heading down to get busy on building his sand castle creation, he sure had fun with that especially when he found a bucket that someone had left behind.
Robert and I in the restaurant on our last evening before we headed back to New York, the meal was delicious and I truly loved trying out some fish I had never had before and I guess that's the beauty of being somewhere that you can have freshly caught seafood on any given night.
Four very handsome Marines just back from Iraq and posing with their dads and siblings. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rewind back to Homecoming--Video

Finally was able to trim this video and have sound coming out of it, with it being an HD file I had a heck of a time with it. The video quality is not as clear because of the conversion but at least you can see it and hear it. I'm going to still be working on the file and try to figure out how to edit it in lossless quality so that might take me a while. So here we are in the hangar and all of the Marines are coming off the plane and walking towards us on the 'red carpet'. What a feeling when I finally spotted Robert!

I have pictures from our last day on Oahu, we went out to a lovely dinner at a restaurant called Buzz's in Kailua with 3 other families and I will post those either later today or tomorrow. For now, enjoy the video!!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Heading home

We leave for the airport in just under 2 hours so my next blog will be from New York....

Monday, March 03, 2008

Back to work for the Marines today...

...but we are still on vacation and here for another 2 days. Robert got up at 6am and headed off to work this morning and I was sad to see him go but they were done by about noon time and he called me to come over to the barracks and had one of the Navy Corpsmen check my blood pressure for me...hahaha...good deal, it was good...not high like it was the other day so I was pretty happy about that. Since Robert asked me if he could take the car we really couldn't go too far this morning so while we were waiting for him to be done with work we just hung out at the Lodge and relaxed a bit and then we took a walk on the grounds across the street and visited the Iwo Jima Memorial. The Lodge is the TLF or temporary lodging facility that is mainly used to house families as they are waiting for housing on base or for families visiting MCBH for something like what we are here for like the homecoming or just visiting their Marines for any other reason like vacations or whatever. This is where we stayed the last time we were here and for the price it is a very nice room and being close to everything on base is really convenient.
The grounds adjacent to the Lodge and across the street are filled with aircraft, helicopters and other vehicles and Alex really enjoyed exploring and having a closer look at all of them this afternoon.
Here Jim and Alex were walking toward the Memorial together and I was behind them taking pictures, of course.
The Memorial is surrounded by a round walkway and some of the bricks are engraved with names and I said my prayers for all of the brave heroes that we lost on the last deployment back in 2006. Ryan Miller whose name is in the middle in this photo was one that really hit close to home for all of us on our Yahoo group because his mom was one of us and we all came to know her and were so looking forward to meeting her in Hawaii at the homecoming in the fall of 2006 but her son was taken from us just before the boys were due to come home so we were all shattered and quite shaken when it happened. M. Estrella was a good friend of Robert's and he wears a bracelet to honor his memory as well as one for one of his friends from back home that lost his life on 2/22/2006 in Iraq-SPC Thomas J Wilwerth.
Today I reflected and said some prayers for all of these brave souls who gave their lives for our freedom and while I did that I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen and just had to take some photos of them to remember the moment by.Tomorrow is our last full day in Hawaii and I'm not quite sure what we will be doing but I'm sure we will find something really fun to do and make the most of our last day here.

What can I say about sunday?

Just that it was another wonderful day here for us.

Started out our day just like any other...breakfast in the lobby of the Lodge with the usual coffee, bagels, danish and donuts (I'm sure I've gained a couple pounds so far this trip but that's ok because I'll get right back on my program when I get home later this week, that's the beauty of being on Weight Watchers). We made a little pit stop in town just outside the back gate of the base so that Robert could get a haircut since he goes back to work tomorrow and I decided it would be a good time to get Alex his hair cut too since we were there. The lady gave him a cute hair cut with a 'flip' and he really looks good and liked it a lot. Just look at that adorable sun kissed face, how can you not love that?

We drove up to the north shore and stopped along the way to try out the famous north shore shrimp shack for lunch. Jim says that Dixie Crossroads in Titusville is still the best shrimp he's ever had!!

We decided to go back to Turtle Bay so that Jim and Robert could get some snorkeling in and then we could enjoy the pool there. Thought I'd share 2 videos today, one is at the beach and I panned out to show the hotel overlooking the little bay area where you can snorkel and there are turtles out there which is why it's called Turtle Bay resort, I guess. :-) The other video is at the pool and boy does Alex love that slide in the smaller of the 2 pools there. I really enjoyed watching Alex have fun with his dad and brother today.

I would have to say that one of the really great highlights of today was the amazing show we got to see out in the waters just beyond the little bay area on the beach. I couldn't believe my eyes at first when I saw the water spouts in the distance but there they were in all their glory...WHALES!! I was dumbfounded when I saw the first one and Jim and Robert had just come out of the water when I told them and the 3 of us stood there and watched them for a while and we got to see several whales breach the surface. What an incredible sight to see with your own eyes and it only proves that just when I thought this day couldn't get any better to share that with Jim and Robert was beyond exciting for me! God is so good! Robert wore his snorkeling shirt to protect himself from any more sunburn because he sure did get a lot of color at the beach yesterday. Doesn't he look great? Yeah, ok...I'm partial, he's my kid after all.

As always Alex managed to make some friends and played in the sand digging and just had a blast. At one point I turned to check on him and saw that the mom of the other kids bought ice cream for everyone, including Alex...I thought that was so sweet of her and Alex was just as happy as could be, can you tell? They put the cute paper umbrellas on top of the ice pops, really funny but I guess everything must be tropical around here, huh?
Oh yeah, I'm on this vacation too and every once in a while someone else grabs the camera and takes a picture of me. Man, I could have stayed there for hours and hours...the sun, the breeze, the sound of the ocean surf in the background, so relaxing.
By far this is my favorite photo of the day and I will most likely print this out in 5X7 for my scrapbook, maybe even 8X10, not sure yet. How can I explain the way my heart feels when I see my little boy reunited with his big brother and getting to spend time like this with him? I don't know if I can even find the words to describe what I feel when I watch them together because no words can adequately share the pure joy this brings me.Right now as I finish blogging it is just after 11pm in Hawaii and Jim just came in from the courtyard and is in bed. Robert and Alex are sound asleep and they look so peaceful and so content. Tomorrow morning Robert goes back to work at 7am and will most likely have to work at least until 1pm maybe a bit later (we are hoping they let them off early tomorrow since most of them still have family here). These past few days that we have gotten to spend together with uninterrupted and really special QUALITY family time have meant so much to me and I'm so happy that we have had this time here with Robert to celebrate his homecoming from Iraq. I look at him and the other Marines here and think of what they must all have endured over the past 7 months while the rest of us enjoyed our freedom, our warm beds every night, our 3 square meals a day, our televisions and other entertainment and just the every day things that some tend to take for granted. I'm so grateful that they are all back and even though they are all going back to work in a few short hours I am relieved that for now they are all back safe and sound and at the very least I know that Robert will not have to deploy again and that he has served his country proudly with 2 tours of duty overseas.

Tomorrow we will just be relaxing and not doing too much while we wait for Robert to be off duty for the day and then maybe we'll take in some shopping or whatever else he wants to do. I know that he hasn't spent one night in his barracks yet because he has stayed with us at the Lodge ever since he stepped off the plane so I suppose at some point he will want to get some things for his room and start setting things up for himself there. For now, however...I am happy and very content in that I can look over my shoulder and see him sleeping comfortably here in the room with us.

Until tomorrow....

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday in paradise

It is now 11pm on saturday night and the day is winding down for us. We went to the PX for a new bathing suit for Robert and then hit the road for our beach day. I think Robert is really enjoying driving our convertible...I'm really glad that we got it for the trip, he's been driving us everywhere and I'm loving it!The plan today was to head out to Hanauma Bay but when we got there they had just put up the "Full" sign so we couldn't get into the parking lot. We turned around and Robert drove to Bellows Air Force Base and we had lunch at Subway and then made out way down to their beach and I'm really glad we went there because it was such a nice beach and not crowded at all.
Alex found some other kids to play with after a while and of course didn't want to leave when the time came but we managed to get out of there without a problem. Robert and Jim had a good time sunbathing and being in the water together.
I just enjoyed sitting on a chair and getting a little bit more sun while watching everyone in the water. I'm not much of a beach swimmer but I do love the sun and the sights and sounds of the water.
We came back to base to clean up afterwards and then Robert took us to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner and treated us all to a wonderful meal, I had a delicious quiche which I haven't had in a really long time. We walked around the mall a little bit and did some shopping for clothes (not for us, for Robert) and then came back to hang out.

Right now a couple of the dads are out in the courtyard having a cigar and a beer with their Marines sons and Jim is one of them. I'm so happy to see Jim and Robert together. We are getting so much quality time with Robert and I'm really feeling wonderful these past couple of days, I couldn't ask for a better trip and visit with Robert.

Tomorrow we plan to head up to the north shore again and hit up the Shrimp Shack and then maybe stop in at Turtle Bay to hang out and get some snorkeling and swimming in. Every night I plan our next day in my mind and I don't give a second thought to the weather because it has literally been 80 degrees and sunny every single day that we have been here so far so I know if we do get any rain or overcast conditions I will be so shocked because I simply do not expect it at has been that gorgeous here the entire trip so far.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Family BBQ

It is 10:30pm Hawaii time on friday and another great day is coming to an end here. We spent the afternoon doing some shopping at the mall and upgrading Robert's cell phone before heading back to base to get ready for the 3/3 family BBQ that we all had planned. I was able to make deviled eggs because one of Rob's friends has housing on base and he let me use his kitchen so I could boil 2 dozen eggs! It was great to make my special deviled eggs for everyone (especially Robert) and we also really enjoyed the chicken cutlets I made yesterday in the room here at the Lodge. I managed to get an electric skillet at Walmart and spread newspaper on the dresser and cooked up a meal of chicken cutlets and steamed veggies. It was good to make some home cooked food because there's a Marine in the house...can you tell how by looking at the photo?I had this sign made back home before we came to Hawaii so that I could have something to welcome Robert's squad back. We all hung up our signs in the pavilion to decorate the place and get ready for the party today!
Jim was put in charge of the grills and I think Robert decided he was going to supervise a bit or at least partake of the good stuff coming off the grill as Jim was finishing up. We had 2 large grills going and Jim handled it really well with all of the steaks, chicken, hot dogs and burgers going at the same time.

Of course we had to get a group photo of all of the Marines attending the BBQ today and we had quite a nice group out here and everyone had a really good time and it was so wonderful to see them all enjoying the food, the company of their family/friends and just kicking back and having a great time. Hmmm, wonder which one is Robert in the group picture? Maybe the one whose football team won the Superbowl this year? :-) This is Alex having a terrific time playing with his friends Jordan and Jonathan who are the sons of my friend Kim and her husband Ssgt Woods. We have been through the past 2 deployments together and I have known Kim since Robert was in boot camp and we started chatting over message boards/emails. Robert is enjoying his new fancy phone with all of the features and bells and whistles on it. We now have unlimited text messaging for all of our phones plus My Faves for everyone so he can chat with those important people in his life for as long as he wants and we won't use up our minutes. Hmmm, wonder who he is talking to here sitting on the ground up against the building at the Lodge?And finally...those of you that know me know how much I love to take pictures of my boys Angela...just because you asked for you go. I know you're going to love it here and have a wonderful time on your visit out here.
Goodnight all, until tomorrow....a beach day for us.