Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mail from the White House

Last year the President came to visit the USS Ronald Reagan. I have a picture of Steve shaking the President's hand. I sent a copy of the picture to the White House, along with some nice patriotic (and photo safe) paper. I enclosed a letter, explaining how my husband is assigned to the Reagan and here was a picture to show the President shaking his hand. I asked if I could have an autograph on the photo safe paper, not the photo itself, because the acids in the ink would eat through the picture. Nothing like a little scrapbooking education for the leader of the free world, huh?

I also enclosed a self addressed, postage paid photo mailer so the photo and signature paper could be sent back to me with no addition to our budget deficit. I'm such a good citizen.

Well yesterday I got a response! I was so excited that when I tore into the envelope I almost tore up the White House's return address & postmark! Inside was a letter on watermarked, embossed and letterheaded paper. From a secretary.

The letter thanked me for my letter, and Steve for his service to the country, and said the President was unable to fulfil my request.
I thought, hmmm.

He isn't in the White House much, so I expected a computerized signature. I wasn't too picky because I wanted it for my scrapbook, not for Ebay.

I finish reading the letter that was sent, and it says they have enclosed something that they hope will make up for it. It is an 8x10 of the President, and underneath his head it says "To Stephen McConnell, God Bless America" and what is after that? A computerized signature!

Part of me says, why couldn't they just print that signature out on my photo safe paper? The other part of me says who cares? This photo is personalized to Steve, and signed! Yay!

I sent this in late November or early December, meaning for it to be a birthday present for Steve. It's a little late, but oh well! I am putting it in his USS Ronald Reagan scrapbook. Now, onto acquiring a unique Father's Day gift...

Steve got his package!

Yay! He said that the "vultures" were circling when he opened it, wanting goodies, and that the homemade candy didn't melt, so yay! I am already compiling a list and rounding up treats to go in the next box, to be sent out on the first.

It has been 11 days since I last posted. Not much going on here at our end. The kids go to school, I volunteer at the school, then come home and wage war on the dirty house, the kids come home and mess it up again, and so on. We still keep to the routine, but field trip Saturday has been sorely lacking since I don't drive the interstate. There aren't a lot of places to go here on Coronado.

Anyway, the ship pulled into Australia, they had a good time, and pulled back out. Steve had duty while in port and Australia was expensive so he didn't do much, but it was still nice to eat a nice meal and get off the ship. He also was able to get ahold of a phone and phonecard, and call home. That was the highlight for us! We have missed hearing his voice.

Hopefully we will get to hear his voice again when he hits the next port: Singapore!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Golden Shellback!

Here is a picture of Steve! He is now a Golden Shellback! Polliwogs are those who have never crossed the Equator before, and Shellbacks are those who have. Normally when a ship crosses the Equator, the Polliwogs become Shellbacks. But when a ship crosses the International Date Line and the Equator at the same time, they become Golden Shellbacks.

Steve is dressed as a pirate, complete with a pretend sword, parrot and eye patch. In the days before (and the day of) the crossing, there is a little friendly competition between the 'Backs and the 'Wogs, since the 'Wogs are impertinent and have to be shown who's boss.

Steve sent me this picture today, but since he crossed the IDL, it is already tomorrow for him. Confusing, huh?

I made a "Daddy Time" clock with a photo collage of Steve on it, and numbers too, of course, so we know what time it is wherever Daddy is.

Today is Tuesday, I can't believe it has been a full week since I last posted. Not much happened. I sent off Steve's first care package today, full of cookies and homemade candy, which I am hoping doesn't melt before it arrives onboard ship. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

At night, the dog has taken to sleeping on my legs, atop the covers, facing the bedroom door, as if keeping watch over me. Thank goodness he is just a mini dachshund and not a St. Bernard!

Katie is currently painting a ceramic tea set, which I will "fire" in the oven to set the paint. Jonathan is munching on some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans that came in the mail today from my mom. Today we went to the farmer's market for a few strawberries, oranges and flowers. And tonight's dinner will be tacos. Woohoo!

That's about all that is new in our neck of the woods. More later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It has been a week

...since Steve left. I remember last Tuesday night he put the trash out for Wednesday morning collection because I would have forgotten. I was a little more concerned with squeezing in a few more minutes of Steve time than taking out the silly trash.

By this time last week, liberty had expired and me & the kids were killing time in Audra's van. There were people manning the rails of the ship.

So what has happened since then? We have kept to the schedule. We saw Chicken Little with Audra and her friend Briana, who has the cutest baby girl! We had ice cream on Sunday. I was out of bananas and all the fixin's but ice cream alone was fine. Katie and I did a craft on Monday, which the dog promptly chewed up. I told her not to leave it on the floor because foam is the dog's favorite snack of choice, but what do I know?

Jonathan got some modeling clay from the store but didn't want to sculpt it, and I didn't make him. Yesterday, Tuesday, we went to the farmer's market, which had a lot of things, but not what we usually buy. We got 3 pints of strawberries, but most things we like were out of season. Peaches, cherries, blueberries, and those tiny little grapes, all not there. They did have avocados, citrus, broccoli, apples, dates and other fruits & vegetables. Beets, ugh. And flowers for sale too. They had some really pretty roses and tulips. But I didn't get any, just strawberries this time.

Today is park day, so we will go to a park in town after school. There is one off of Second Street with public toilets in case we need to *go.* Features like this are important with 2 kids.

Katie will get a double dose of parks today, since it is early release day, we go to the little park by the school for the 30 minutes between her dismissal and her brother's.

Speaking of school, I need to get them off and running. TTYL.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The weekly schedule

So to pass the time and have a little bit of routine that we can count on, the kids and I are going to keep a schedule. It goes as follows:

Monday-Games or crafts day -play board games in the evening, or make a craft, on alternating weeks.

Tuesday-Farmers market day-go into town and shop at the farmer's market, and dip our toes into the water at the littl ebeach that is up there, too.

Wednesday-Go to the park. Coronado has 14 parks. Most have public bathrooms. We can visit the ones withthe bathrooms, anyway.

Thursday-Library day-guess where we go today?

Friday-Popcorn & movie night-make popcorn and pick a DVD or watch a movie on TV. It is a privilege to stay up late on Friday night!

Saturday-Field trip day-a trip to the zoo or other lengthy outing that takes too long to be enjoyed on a weekday afternoon.

Sunday-Sundae Sunday--banana splits all around, to mark the end of one week and the beginning of another.

We didn't do the park on Wednesday, I didn't feel like it, and the kids were tired from being up so early. Katie actually fell asleep on the living room floor in the afternoon.

On Thursday we went to the library and checked out books and some CDs to listen to in the car.

Tonight's Popcorn & a Movie selection was Bambi. I am hoping that the kids will sleep in a little from being up late. We'll see.

Tomorrow is Field Trip Saturday. We are not going anywhere special, just to a free movie on base--Chicken Little. But the kids haven't seen it and so I am sure they will enjoy it.

That's all for now. We are hanging in there.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

12 hours...

It has been 12 hours since liberty expired & we put Steve on the ship. I wonder how far away they are. I wonder how many cookies (of the 14 dozen or so that I sent him off with) are left?

The pier was a sight this morning. There were lots of people there, sending off their Sailors. Little knots of people, hugging, kissing & crying. Sigh. The ship pulled out at 9. We sat in Audra's van for 3 hours until the ship pulled away, then we came home.

It has been a quiet day today because everyone knows that the ship left today. I put a sign on the door that said Do Not Disturb. We received packages from FedEx today. He didn't even ring the doorbell. For some reason this made me laugh hysterically.

I miss my Steve. I have been numb for weeks to the fact that the ship was leaving, but the numbness is wearing off because it is past dinnertime and I haven't cooked. That is a sign that the Steve is not home. Whether he is simply on overnight duty or underway for a while, the kids and I eat less formally. Last night's dinner was chicken parmesan over angel hair pasta. Tonight's dinner? Leftovers for me, and the kids want ramen noodles. That's ok though, since I don't really feel like cooking.

I complained in my last post that my latest posts were not showing up, and lo and behold, they did! Woohoo! Let's see how long it takes this one to load up...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

21 hours...

...until Steve is gone. I am dreading it. My stomach is a knot. I am numb right now thought because I am busy doing guess what? Making cookies! Oatmeal walnut--thanks to Audra for that yummy combo! And plain chocolate chip, and chocolate cookies with tiny PB cups as chips, and also chocolate cookies with dark chocolate-covered-raspberry-filled morsels. Yum! I have a few minutes before the next dozen is done to update the ole blog. Hopefully this post, and the last one I wrote, will actually show up on the site because all I can see is the one marked Christmas Eve...where are my posts???

Monday, January 02, 2006

Yay, 2006!

I am so ready for 2006. Oh already *is* 2006. January 2nd, to be exact. It is just past midnight and I am up, waiting for my cakes to cool so I can decorate them. I have made 2 round cakes, and then cut and shaped the 2 rounds into butterfly wings for my friend Trinice's daughter's birthday cake. They are celebrating early so her daddy won't miss the party, since her daddy, like Steve, is on the Reagan and leaving in 2 days. My stomach twists up in a huge knot when I think about it.

But we have had some good quality time with Steve lately. We had a nice quiet Christmas. The kids got lots of games and we spent the last week or so playing them with them. Disney Scene-It, Zingo, Green Gators, Audio Bingo, and so on.

I have been taking a lot of pictures so that I can make a "Daddy wall" for the kids. I am going to do the paper chain again, with one chain link per day, between now and when he comes home. Each night, the kids tear a link from the chain and we watch it get shorter. We did it the last time he was gone for a long period of time.

My friend Audra does this thing with her son, where there are Hershey kisses in a bowl, one for each day Daddy is gone, and each night before bed, the child gets to eat one. We all do what we can to mark the passage of time.

I have been feeding Steve up, so he can get home cooking before he has to exist on ship food. Thanks to Poppy for her chicken parmesan recipe! I am saving it for tomorrow night, the night before he leaves.

I tried to get all the things Steve will need for his out-to-sea time. Today I am making cookies, oh, pretty much all day long. That way I can send him off with a lot of cookies. Tomorrow night, after the kids go to sleep, we are breaking out the video camera and I am recording Steve reading various stories to interest both kids. So they can hear Daddy read a story whenever they want to, just by popping the tape in the VCR.

We are doing all kinds of leaving prep, as you all can see. I have a routine worked out for when he is gone as well, to have as much structure as possibel for the kids. We have an organized schedule for school days, everything set up the night before to make the mornings more laid back, etc. Well I am going to mark the passage of time by having Sundae Sundays and making a trip to the bookstore each payday to get a new book to read, and to mark the passage of time. One payday closer to Daddy being home, you know? Every Tuesday is farmer's market day, and we usually go to the library then since we are in town. Tuesdays are actually pretty full , since by the farmer's market there is a little beach where I let them run around utl they are exhausted! Then we hit the library and they each choose 3 books, then it is home, dinner, homework and bed.

I am sure there is more that I have planned. It is late and I am getting tired, though. We have zoo passes so I will probably find a friend wo also has passes and go a few times. We like the zoo.

As for me, I plan to clean the house. Stop laughing! I want to clean the house, top and bottom like I did back in October. It took me 10 days of non stop cleaning. I was constantly on my feet and cleaning, and Steve wondered why. I was throwing him a surpise party and I didn't want him embarrassed by our clutter hole of a house, so I took care of business. After the party I was exhausted for days. Before the party I would not allow myself to sit down because I knew I had to get it done, and I was so tired afterward!

Well this time around, I will go a little slower, but still, clean & maintain the house. I can do my maintenance cleaning while the kids are in school and then the afternoons are mine to do what I want, or vice versa. Then after I get the kids from school I don't have to worry about cleaning the house or anything, and I can focus on them and doing homework and stuff. Then I can relax in the evening and do my cross stitch or crochet.

Speaking of crochet, a great big Thank You to Mrs. Feher for sending me more yarn to work with!

Well my cakes should be cool now. I need to go decorate them so Iwill post again in a few days, probably after Steve leaves. If you all want his address on the ship so you can send him a card or a little care box, let me know and I will email you the address.