Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day

Our family celebrated Memorial Day on Monday in much the same way that I have celebrated it for as long as I can remember. We put on our red, white and blue and attended services at Albin Cemetery and Wesley Chapel Church.

The kids in their patriotic best.

From way before my time, the women of Wesley Chapel have made bouquets of peonies, irises, and whatever else is in bloom to decorate the veterans' graves. Before the church service, we take the bouquets and follow the color guard into the cemetery. The veterans' graves are marked with flags, and a bouquet is placed on each grave.

Mackenzie and Elijah wait to carry their flowers to the cemetery.

The procession follows the American Legion color guard.

Elijah looks for a marked grave.

After the flowers are placed, the American Legion firing squad shoots the traditional three rounds, followed by Taps.

That is my uncle and two cousins in the color guard. My brother, grandfather and another cousin have also served in the color guard at this service in years past.
After this ceremony, we enter the church for a small program.

Elijah recited "A Nation's Strength" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not gold, but only man can make A people great and strong. Men who, for truth and honor's sake Stand fast and suffer long. Brave men, who work while others sleep, Who dare while others fly, They build a nation's pillars deep And lift them to the sky.

Mackenzie sang "God Bless America" accompanied by Nana on the piano.

Katie played "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" and dedicated the song to her brother Michael in Baghdad. That made me cry a little.

Then my uncle reads the roll call of deceased veterans buried in Albin Cemetery, and those who were part of the Wesley Chapel community who are buried in other parts of the nation, dating back as far as the Mexican War. I confess that as a child, I found this part of the service to be incredibly boring. As I've grown older, however, I am fascinated and humbled at the names of these men. Ordinary men from an ordinary town like Newman, who answered an extraordinary call from their nation. Some didn't even get to come home for their final resting place. Several are buried in places like Andersonville, Georgia, Stone River, Tennessee, and even one who went down with his ship. I've listened to these names for thirty plus years now, and I've heard both my grandfathers added to this list.

I know for many people, Memorial Day is Race Day, or a day for cookouts and ballgames. There's nothing wrong with those fact they are part of what makes life in America so precious. We can gather with our family and friends in peace and safety--because of those we honor on Memorial Day.

I am so thankful that my parents took me to the cemetery every year on Memorial Day to teach me the reason for the holiday. I am sure there were years when I'd have preferred to do something else, something more "fun." I am thankful to all the American Legions and VFW's that organize services every year so that I can bring my children and teach them, even when only a handful of people attend. They are deserving of so much more respect than they are given.

I am also thankful for the families those men left behind, for the sacrifices they made in sending one they loved off to fight for our country and preserve a way of life for myself and my family.
I'm sure this is because earlier this year I sent someone I love dearly off to a war on the other side of the world.

And especially thank you to all the service men and women who have given so much for a nation that sometimes does not even seem to notice or care. Forgive us for our short memories. It is because you have done your jobs so well that we can afford to be so distracted.

And Michael, if you read this, thank you for doing your part to make the world safer for us. We love you and are so proud of you!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

He's home!!!

Elijah arrived home from his trip to Florida about 9:00 on Sunday evening. Not a moment too soon for his sisters (and mom), who missed him terribly. The house was so quiet while he was gone!

All four peas back in the pod!

His sisters decorated his room with a welcome home banner and signs.

Here he is showing off his pin collection. Apparently pin collecting is the thing now at Disney. He brought home a pin for each of his sisters, and also colored princess hot chocolate mix. Purple, green and blue hot chocolate. We tried the green and blue today. It's not half bad.

Grandma Nancy took almost nine hundred pictures through the week, so I should have some I can post in the near future. He is still talking about all the things he did. But--he's also glad to be home. In his own words, "I could live at Saratoga Springs (the resort), but only if my family was there with me." Aww. Now do you see why we missed him so much?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane

Elijah left last night for a vacation in Orlando with Grandma Nancy, Grandpa Jim and our dear friends, the Trimbles. He will be gone for ten whole days.


It's his turn. Grandma and Grandpa took Katie and Mackenzie when they were about his age. He's been looking forward to this for a long time.

I know he will be having a great time. They are visiting all the Disney parks, plus Sea World. The Trimbles are Disney experts, so they know all the best things to do and see. They go so often I wouldn't be surprised if Mickey himself met them at the airport and carried their bags!

But I miss him already. The house is so quiet without him here.

You would think since Dan works from home and we homeschool the kids, that after being on top of each other 24/7 , we would enjoy the break, but in all actuality, we like it that way. We are so used to being all together all the time, that when one of us is gone, we really feel the absence. Especially when the absent one is just so stinkin' cute!

So, if you read this, Elijah, we love you and miss you bunches. Have a great time and don't get too spoiled!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Elijah lost a tooth!

It's been wiggling for about a week, and Eleanor finally knocked it out this morning.
He has two more that are loose, so he may be toothless by summer.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why hermit crabs don't make good pets...

For Christmas last year, all Elijah really wanted was a hermit crab. The boy loves animals, and he had his heart set on a hermit crab.

Bad idea. Hermit crabs don't make good pets because:

1. Despite their small size, to get them everything they need to be healthy, they are quite an expensive proposition.

2. They are boring. I mean really, really boring. In fact if you even want to see them you usually have to dig them up. They do nothing.

3. Even when you spend an obnoxious amount of money on all the things that are supposed to help them live long and happy lives, they die.

4. And the last and biggest reason that hermit crabs make lousy pets is that after you've buried the fourth one and your baby boy's heart is breaking, you just might find yourself with one of these in your house...

a puppy.

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, to be exact.

Yep. After insisting that I did not want an indoor dog, ever, ever, ever, Elijah looked up at me with his big brown eyes and tear streaked face and said, "I wish I had a pet that wouldn't die so fast." To which my conniving husband said, "Like a puppy?"

And I said, in a weak moment, "well...maybe."

The next thing I know, we're researching small breeds online and Dan is making phone calls. I tried to backtrack and plug the crack in the dam, but it was too late. We were destined to be dog owners.

The truth is, I can't blame Dan too much. His technique in securing the dog was probably learned from me when I convinced him to replace our living room TV with a piano.

His name is Prince Caspian (like the Narnia character), although I'm not sure he's going to live up to his heroic name. He is slightly more energetic than the hermit crabs, but not much. This is one laid back dog.

He's pretty cute, and the kids are delighted with him. So far, he's been very well behaved. No accidents, very little barking. He's quite content to just lay under the piano and watch us all.

Still, if you ever think of getting a hermit crab, don't say I didn't warn you.

Tearing up our house

Grandpa Jim and Grandpa Rod have been here the past several days re-roofing the funeral home. It has been quite a distraction for the kids during school for their grandpas to be climbing around on our house, sometimes right outside the windows! The crashing and banging doesn't help any, either.

It's a long way up there!

After we said goodbye to them the first day, I told Eleanor that they would be back tomorrow. She relied, "I don't think they should," I asked her why, and she said "Because they're tearing up our house!"

One of the coolest things about the grandpas working at your house is that they have neat toys, like this scissor lift.

And at the end of the day, you can probably talk Grandpa into giving you a ride!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Foxes live in dens...

Thinking about the foxes across the street made me remember a cute story about when Elijah saw Nana & Grandpa Rod's house in Newman for the first time, about two years ago. As we were leaving, he said, "Mom, I got to go into Grandpa's den."

"You did?" I answered.

"Yeah, it wasn't underground or anything. It was just like an office," he replied.

It took me a second to figure out what he meant, but then I realized that when Nana told him that Grandpa had a den in the house, he was expecting a den like a bear or fox would live in. The room must have been a big disappointment.

Katie's Artsy Spring Pictures