Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Here is a bunch of pictures from the retirement ceremony.  Thank you so much to our friend Erica Fritz for being such a caring and selfless person that she would take the time out of her day to help us capture, not only this, but many special moments while we were stationed in Germany!  THANKS ERICA!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The End of an Era...

Chris's View-

Today has been such a bittersweet day!

I retired today, ceremonially.  It wasn't on my terms, but we have resigned to accept the medical retirement from the Air Force.  It is a long standing tradition to honor a retiree in the military with a retirement ceremony.  It was a day full of pats on the back and hand shakes and hugs.  It was a celebration of the past 17 years of mine & my families lives.  It was a time to reflect on all the accomplishments that I achieved and all the sacrifices we made for the Air Force... for all of ya'll out there in bloggy land!

I have planned a ton of these ceremonies... about 37 at my last count.  It is part arts & crafts, part history, part party planner, and all stress!  As an air traffic controller, I have known stress, there is nothing like trying to plan a retirement ceremony... the very last impression that someone will remember you and their service by.  The guys who planned mine knocked it out of the park!

There was a much larger showing than I expected, which was pretty awesome!  I am so thankful to everyone who took the time out of their busy schedule to support me & my family.  Then there were the mementos.

The Shadow Box - There are many stories to how the shadow box came about.  I prefer the one born out of the naval tradition.  The presentation of a shadow box to a retiring sailor is a practice that goes back to the time of wooden ships. Legend has it that it was once considered bad luck for a sailor's shadow to hit the pier before he descended the gangway and landed on the pier. If the legend is to be believed, the shadow box served a dual purpose: It served as a perpetual reminder of the sailor's career accomplishments, and it held the retired sailor's shadow in check until he completely departed the ship, thereby ensuring a smooth and lucky transition into civilian life. Sailors are notoriously superstitious, and many of them believe the shadow box legend to be true.

A Pair of White Converse All-Stars - I like to tell stories.  One of the stories I tell is from my childhood, and how I was not able to play basketball for the schools team because I did not have a pair or all white Chuck Taylor's.  The Airmen of the AOC got together and bought me a pair (Size 13... come on Fran, am I Kobe?) and many members of the unit signed the shoes.  It is such a great gift.  There was a very comical narrative that went along with these too.

Retirement Certificates - Me and Maria were both presented with certificates of appreciation from the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the most senior enlisted member of the service too.  They are very beautiful & very big!  LOL!

Letter from President Obama - Yep, if ya'll know me, he's not my favorite guy, but hey, everyone who retires gets one.  I also received letters from all of the presidents I served under... Clinton & George W. Bush.  Also letters were requested from my Senators & Representatives, the Governor of Mississippi, and the mayor of Purvis... which, from what I was told, was quite a comical exchange when the guy called to inquire about receiving a congratulatory letter!

The Air Force Meritorious Service Medal - This is the highest medal I received during my time in the military.  It was given to commemorate my entire career, but highlighted the things I accomplished while I was here in Germany.

A United States Flag - This flag flew over all the northern countries in Africa.  I have learned more about this continent in the past 3 years than I have my entire life!  It was the area that seemed to be the focus of many, MANY hours of my life!  One of the members of my unit also took this flag and jumped out of an airplane with it here in Germany.  It is a special gift.

None was more special than this though, and it almost made me cry like a little girl who got kicked in the shins!

When I fell ill with my joint problems, I was training for a half-marathon.  Being unable to complete it, four Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, took it upon themselves to contact my wife & complete 2 half-marathons & a full marathon in my honor.  They ran with a US Flag that they encased in a box of it's own.  This in itself is enough to make many grown men cry.  What happened next literally took my breath away!  One by one, they presented me with their marathon completion medals.  Now, I ran the Paris Marathon, and  to be honest, even though I did not place anywhere near the front (not even in the front half!), it is one of my most prized possessions   These men, gave up their medals to me.  Still, it makes me well up with tears and takes my breath away.  I do not think I will ever be able to wrap my head around this selfless action!

All in all, it was a great day!  Fellowship with friends and family to commemorate the time I have spent in selfless service to my nation.  I will post more about the events of the day when I get pictures back from our photographer.  Hopefully I will be able to get a video up soon too!

Now, we are in a hotel (an apartment actually) with all of our belongings somewhere between here & there.  Preparing as best we can to live with family until I can find a job that will support us again.  It's scary, but if the Air Force taught me anything, it is give it all you got and you will be rewarded!

Off we go, into that wild blue yonder!

See ya'll later!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Routines Are Good and Bad...

So, if you've been following along, one thing that you have surely learned about me is that I have a strict routine.  Well, this move has totally taken routine out of the picture and I'm actually thinking that the lack of routine is better for Griffin in some ways.  I've seen him do a few things that I had no idea he could or would do!

For instance, we have no kitchen table right now so I have been putting their booster highchairs on the floor.  Griffin will walk right over to it, sit down, and attempt to put the tray on.

Today, I didn't use his booster chair at all.  I had his food on a plate and I told him that if he was ready to eat, he needed to sit right in front of me (I pointed to the spot).  He walked right over, sat down, and waited to be fed.  I think he's showing off!  haha.

I'm glad that the lack of routine is working out for him because I'm sure this is the way it's going to be for awhile.  I have got to give him more freedom to explore and find himself... I need to loosen my reigns a bit...but I still have to keep him safe.  A lot of the stuff that he wants to do is still too dangerous.  The fortress has been packed away and we won't have it when we move into the hotel tonight.  Should be very interesting!

As of right now, the kids are at school, Chris took Little G with him to his retirement ceremony rehearsal, and I'm at the house with the movers.  We thought it would be best for Chris to let Little G rehearse, too.  I'm sure she is going to put on quite a show tomorrow!

But anyway, moving will be complete in a few hours!  We will move into a furnished apartment so that we can still have a "home" and cook if we want.  We will have to use a laundry facility to wash our clothes, which I'm not looking forward to, just to give you some insight.  I'll post pictures.  :-)

Love and Hugs!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just a Quick Check In

Griff and I have a horrible cold.  I'm on fumes from the move... The movers pretty much packed everything and will finish crating everything up on Monday.  We will be moving into lodging on base on Monday, too.  Chris' retirement ceremony is Tuesday.  Praying hard that Little G doesn't get this cold and that Griff and I can recover from it asap.  Prayers appreciated!!

Thank you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WOAH! You Don't Smell Right!

Today, movers came and packed our unaccompanied baggage, all 400 lbs of it, and will ship it to my mom's house for us.  While they were here, I was upstairs getting some other things done.  I came downstairs to catch the tail end of it...the whole process only took about 30 minutes.  After they left, I scooped Griffin up and sat in the recliner with him and the smell of another person hit me like a wall!  It wasn't a bad smell, just a lingering cologne fragrance that was all over my little boy.

"Chris, Griffin smells funny!"

"Oh, yeah... one of the moving guys held him."

"What?  Are you serious?"  The thought of one of these men, even the kind one, taking time to hold one of my kids caught me off guard!

"Yep!  He walked over to the fortress, saw Griffin, said 'Boy, you come here!' in his German accent and Griffin popped right up and went over to him."  He doesn't even listen to us that well!

Chris went on to explain that this man has a son with Down syndrome and they had a nice conversation about how awesome Down syndrome is.

The man said, "I love my boy."

Chris said, "I love mine, too."

And that was that!

Am I really that territorial over my kids that I can smell when someone even brushes up against them?  I have a cold and I can't even breathe through my nose, for goodness sakes.  I shouldn't have been able to smell that!

Mama bear is on the prowl!  haha

But anyway, tomorrow will be our moving day.  A different moving company will pack all day tomorrow and all day Monday.  I'm so ready to get it behind us but I wish I felt better.  Griffin is coming down with a cold, too.  We really need to be over this mess ASAP.

Things are getting even crazier around here!  I'll keep y'all updated as much as possible!

Love and Hugs!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Cry In The Night

Around 5:00 this morning, I heard Griffin cry out for me... just a little cry every now and then.  Once I got myself out of my NyQuil fog, I stumbled out of bed and into his room.  I reached blindly into his crib and felt his little hand grasp mine.  How does he see so well in the dark?!  Instead of covering him back up, I scooped him up and carried him to bed with me.  I figured that he would be awake for the rest of the day but I was wrong.  He snuggled so close to me and fell right back to sleep.  He was so close that I had to lean back every now and then to make sure he was getting enough oxygen.  My thoughts drifted back to this post.  My little Griffin had been out of the orphanage for only 20 days and under our roof for 8 of them.  He snuggled against me back then and I don't understand how he had it in him to do that.  A child who received very little love, very few loving touches and hugs, knew how to snuggle up to his mommy.

God has done all things well.

So blessed.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eye Contact

I loved Griffin's OT session today.  Thorsten purchased a new toy that is a car that you can ride on a slight downhill track.  Griffin LOVED it, just as much as Little G did.  I really think this will be a purchase for us when we get to the states.

As Griffin is doing his therapy, I sit on the far side of the room so that I can observe and encourage him without interfering.  I love watching him from a distance because I enjoy watching how proud he is of himself, not to mention that he's just totally adorable.  Thorsten cautiously put Griffin on the car at the top of the track and eased him down.  Griffin had an instant smile on his face.  Thorsten put him back to the top of the track and Griffin surprised us by boosting himself down the hill.  What surprised me even more is that he made complete eye contact with me, from across the room, with the hugest smile on his face that expressed, "Mommy!  Do you see me?!  This is awesome!"  Melt.My.Heart.  Time after time, he gave me that beaming smile as he rode that little car down the tracks.  Thorsten started insisting that he get off of the car and push it back to the top of the track on his own and he gave it a good try!  He caught on very quickly and did his best to get the car back into position, even though he had to stop and rip a curtain or two down from the window sill.  (Yes, mom, you read that right!  You have been warned!  haha)

At one point in the session, he walked right over to me and gave me a hug.  He took time out of his busy schedule to give his mommy some attention.  He sure knows how to make me feel special. :-)

But anyway, Big G is missing another day of school.  She had fever this morning, along with the same cough she's had for the past week.  She was pretty sad, considering that she had to miss her class president's meeting, but Griffin cheered her up!  This morning, as I was changing his diaper, he started rubbing his legs.  I'm trying to teach him the names of his body parts so I said, "Griffin, that's your leg!"  He signed, "egg".  haha.  She thought it was hilarious.  I guess he was ready for breakfast!

Little G is down for a nap and Griffin is at school, so I'm going to snuggle up with Big G for a bit.

Have a great day!

Love and Hugs!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Behavioral Specialist Appt and A Bit of Independence.

Lately, I have been trying to give Griffin more responsibilities and challenges.  I try not to carry him as much or use the stroller and he's been impressing me a lot!  At school, they are doing their best to help him master the flight of stairs, so I've stepped it up a notch at home, too.  I make him go up by himself and help him walk down by holding his hands.  When he comes home from school, he is so exhausted that I have to end up carrying him, his little legs will give out on him.  He really tries so hard and I'm so proud of him!

Yesterday, since Chris was home and could keep Little G for me, I let Griffin walk all the way to the bus stop to get his big sissy.  I can see all over his face that he is incredibly proud of himself and that he thinks he's just too big for his own britches!  haha.  Of course, along the way, he had to touch everything...the fences, the bricks, the bushes, etc.  It took quite a while but he walked the entire distance.

Today was his behavioral health appointment.  His behavioral specialist is the best doctor in the world to us.  We really hate to leave him behind but he has a plan for Griffin and Little G in MS so we won't have to go without therapies while we are there.

So what did he say about Griffin?  Well, when we got Griffin out of the orphanage, he gave Griffin a cognitive age of 4-7 months in most areas and up to 10 months in others.  (I didn't know he considered Griffin in the 4 month range until today!)  Today, he gave Griffin a cognitive age of 10-17 months.  Griffin is all over the place in the things that he can do.  I think he has a very good understanding of many things, however, he just can't DO them.  He's still trapped inside of his little body.  He's working very hard, though, and I'm so proud of him!  He also warned us to be very careful with labels.  He said that many people will want to label him with autism but that he hasn't been out of the orphanage long enough for that kind of diagnosis.  We need to give him more time before we go there.

What did he say about Little G?  Well, he saw Little G for 1 well baby appt at 2 years old.  I ran a few things by him and he remembered what I had said and asked me how she was doing.  He said that he was concerned about a few things with her.  1.  She doesn't feel pain.  (for example, she fell backwards down the stairs, flipping feet over head about 3 flips, and it didn't phase her.)  2.  She still sits like a "W", which means that her balance may be off.  3.  He thinks she may have early signs of ADD.  She's too young to make this determination so we are going to keep an eye on her.  I have no idea what ADD is all about, honestly... So I will have to do some research.  I do know that she is definitely like a bull in a china cabinet, very reckless, very brave, and very tough.  

So I have a lot to think about right now.  He gave me some insight on Griffin's schooling in the states and for Little G as well.  He feels that Little G needs to be in a school setting one or two times a week for now.  (She's 2 years old, though, so I'm not sure what is available for her.)  Griffin needs to be at school for about 5 hours a day instead of 2.  He is going to learn by example and needs to be exposed more and I totally agree.

Little G is at OT right now and having a blast.  I am sitting here at home, alone, for the 1st time in over 2 years!  It's a very strange feeling and I'm not sure I like it!  haha.  The silence is a little eerie!

But anyway, I should do something important with this alone time that I have... like eat some chips and salsa and watch an episode of Swamp People or something.

Love and Hugs!!!  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pink Eye and A Mess A Mile Wide.

What a crazy week!  My poor Big G developed a cough and missed school on Monday.  Then she woke up with pink eye and has missed Tuesday and Wednesday of school.  She is so disappointed that she is missing so much right before the move.  She wants to spend as much time with her friends as possible.  She also had to miss ballet, the little ones are missing speech this morning, and Griffin's OT had to be rescheduled for later today.  Taxes won't be getting done and the list goes on and on.

Our whole house is a disaster!  We have started concentrating on selling and purging items to lighten our load, so we have let the little things go.  Walking through our home is like walking through a landmine.  You never know what kind of toy you will step or trip over... to navigate our living room in the dark would definitely cause bodily harm.

Little G is feeling the stress of our move, I believe.  She has been biting herself again for the past 3 days.  Her little hands have teeth marks all over them.  I know this is an attention seeking behavior and she wants me to stop her... so I'm torn.  I'm giving her attention in other ways...tea parties, rough housing, tickling, songs, stories, but sometimes it just isn't enough.  The thing is, she only wants attention when it can be her way.  Naturally.

For example, she went into the kitchen and threw all of the magnetic letters off of the fridge.  I told her that she would have to pick every one of them up.  She said, "ok", and picked one letter up.  Done.  (She was enjoying this attention that she was getting from me.)

"You have to pick all of the letters up or you will go to time out."

"Ok", another letter picked up.  Done.

"Nope, time out!"  To the corner, kicking, screaming, carrying on for 2 minutes.

"Are you ready to pick the letters up?"

"Letters up! ok!"  Picks up 2 or 3 more letters and pushes the rest around the side of the fridge so that I can't see them.  haha

"Pick the letters up or you will go to time out again!"


"Ok, to the corner for time out."

Chris comes home and witnesses what is going on.  He tells her once to pick the letters up and she does it.  Nice.  Once she picked them up, she was incredibly proud of herself and got praised like there was no tomorrow.  Such a stinker!

In a few months, we will hopefully be settled into our new normal again.  Just got to get through this move!

Love and Hugs!