Monday, December 2, 2013

Let's talk Turkey and Deer

I love Thanksgiving!!  I love all things about Thanksgiving.  The leaves.  The concentration on thankfulness.  Pumpkin.  Stuffing.  Gravy.  Family.  Yup, I love it all!!  We found out that Mark is working the day shift on Thanksgiving day.  Bummer.  So we do what the Brooks fam does best, Plan B, eat really late and stay up late.  Only, thankfully, one of the guys who isn't married and doesn't have family near by, offered to work half of Mark's day shift, meaning that he could come home at noon.  YAY!!  We have wonderful friends who live in Baltimore, which is a bit under an hour from our house, and they were not going home to Maine for Thanksgiving either, so Thanksgiving Day together is what we all decided would be perfection!  Mike and Pam came not too soon before Mark got home for the afternoon and we were soon in full laughter mode with Mike and Mark recounting days from working together as detectives in the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, formerly known as CID.  I always know that times that we spend with these two will be filled with fun and laughter and stories that I have never heard before.  This gather did not disappoint.  Mike told a story about using his smoking-with-a-scum-bag-tactic which turned into Mike chasing scum bag through the streets of Skowhegan.  All's well that ends well, but ohmyword, my sides hurt so bad from laughing.  The turkey was delish, as were all the sides, though I guess I added too much water to the stuffing which ended up just being very soggy bread even when it was in the oven three times the allotted amount and I forgot to put the cranberry sauce on the table!!  Who forgets the cranberry?!?!  But gravy is my fav part of the meal, I didn't forget that.  We had cookies, pies and cherry cheesecake (made by Julia) for dessert.  Okay...maybe chocolate cream pie is my favorite part of the meal....

Mike and Pam

Mmm!  Turkey!

Now, that's a couple of crazy girls!!

I'm thankful for this guy. 

OOooo!  The dessert!

 This is our Thankfulness Tree.  If you visited our house anytime during November, you saw this and even put a leaf on the tree.  Before you start thinking that I'm amazingly creative, please know that I stole this idea (and many more of my "ideas") from Pinterest.  Each leaf has something the author was thankful for.  They ranged from our house and church to chocolate and coffee.  Yeah, I wrote the coffee one.  And maybe even the chocolate one.  I love this tree.  In the daily grind the little things get lost.  And there are a lot of little things to be thankful for. 

Right before Thanksgiving we made a last minute decision to go to Maine the day after Thanksgiving.  Last minute meaning 72 hours prior.  A whole lot of ready-or-not-here-we-come!!!  It's how we roll.  The main reason we headed to Maine is for Julia to hunt.  You see, in the whole big Brooks family hunting is as important as Thanksgiving itself.  Maybe even more so.  I'm a hunting widow for the entire month of November.  I'm not alone.  All my friends are too.  Instead of whining and complaining that when our hubbies are not at work they are in the woods, we take full advantage of catching up with each other with out expectations of dinners at home.  In full disclosure, I do a bit of both.  Anyway...when a kid is 10 they can hunt with an adult with a loaded weapon and shoot a deer.  Yup.  Shoot.  Dead.  Eat.  Yuck.  Let me tell ya a story about my Julia.  She loves, and has loved ever since she could, pink and sequins.  The sparkly-er the better.  One day she was all dressed in her dress up Cinderella wedding dress.  I'm talking shoes, gloves and veil.  Mark and his brother come into the house talking about giving the youngest nephew his gun.  That's the Brooks boy rite of passage.  They turn 10, they get a gun from their uncles and grandfather.  So, Cinderella Julia says, "Daddy, when I'm 10, you're gonna get me a gun and I'm gonna shoot a dee-ah (cuz that's how you say deer in Maine) with those boys!!!"  She has never waivered from either of those ideas...the sparkly or the hunting.  She turned 10 and here she is with the Brooks Boys and her gun.  This is at the lake in St. Albans right before we moved to Carlisle in July 2012.

Look at that smile!!

Proud daddy

Kevin, Mark, Richard, Foster & Randy with the 10 year old!! forward about a year and a half, we couldn't sneak back to Maine the fall of 2012 due to school, and my girl is headed out in the woods with that gun.

What a crew!!!
Though she didn't see anything, she had a blast.  Spending the night at camp was probably her highlight but I know she loves being outside.  She always has loved trekking through the woods with Mark during hunting season.  The first time she went with him, she was so little, I'm thinking she was 6 probably.  Mark has his doubts that she would last long, but she kept up with him, was silent, and Mark said that every time he turned around, she had a huge grin on her face.  So while I prefer a warm fire, I'm glad that the rest of my fam loves hunting.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What it looks like to turn 9!

In a way 9 years seems like an eternity ago, but when I look at that sweet girl's face, it could be yesterday that I brought her home.  I'm sure you have heard the story.  Daddy in Iraq.  Mommy in Maine.  Baby born via c-section.  Daddy meets baby, when he goes on leave, when she is almost 8 months old. Home for good when she is 10 1/2 months old.  God is good.  All the time.  Even times like this.  I still get so emotional when I think how gracious He was bringing our little family back together.  That first year of her life was the hardest year I have ever had.  I honestly don't think I would have survived with out my amazing sister-in-law, Dawn, and her family.  Okay, now that tears are rolling down my face, I TOLD you I still get emotional about this, let me tell you how this year's birthday celebration went, because it was FUN!  But first, here's that sweet face when she was just a few hours old...

And here's another, one of my very favorites, when she is just a couple days old.  Check out that adorable red head who was so excited to be a big sister!
The girls with their besties

So when it's birthday day here at our house, the birthday girl is queen of the day.  They plan the day's activities and dinner and anything else their little heart desires.  So far request have not been outlandish.  This year's request was to go to the American Girl Bistro and a trip to the Lego Store in the same mall.  Easy peasy!!  Mark had to work that day but we made reservations late enough so he could join us.  Us girls got all dolled up...haha, pun Emmalee and Katheryn (Hope's American Girl dolls) and Katy and Grace (Julia's American Girl dolls) ready and headed out.  After we browsed the Lego Store, Disney Store and Justice, we headed up to the Bistro to meet our handsome date...Daddy!!  What lucky girls we are do be able to dine with a real super hero!  (I've told you before I'm a bit biased on what he does for with it!)  He did awesome surrounded by dolls and pink, it doesn't phase him a bit.  **Insert contented sigh here**  Dinner was great!  The food was tasty.  The company even better.  I love the American Girl company.  They are awesome at empowering girls without any pressure of growing up too quickly.

Birthday breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and a candle, of course!

At the American Girl Bistro with Emmalee and Katheryn

These chairs are so cute!!!  The waiter brought these mugs over so the "girls" wouldn't get too hungry while they waited for their food!

Julia is taking a cake decorating class and asked Hope if she could make her cake.  You should have seen and heard them planning the cake.  The only thing I did was make the actual cake.  They did everything else and it was so so so cute!!!

Crushing Oreos for the dirt

See the grass, flowers, river with fish and the dirt with worms?  How cute is that?!?!


Awesome birthday celebration.  My baby is 9!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

More Visitors

I enjoy having people in our home.  I guess I'm glad they want to come.  When we went to buy a bed at Mardens for a guest room when we were in Houlton, we told the salesman that we wanted it for a guest room and asked for suggestions.  He asked, "Well, how long do you want them to stay?"  Funny stuff.  FYI, I think the bed is pretty comfy, even if the box spring did fly off the back of the truck on the way home with it.  The loaders should have done what Mark asked and put the box spring UNDER the mattress.  hehe  Anyway, company seems to be feast or famine.  We won't have anyone for a long time then, BAM, three sets of company in as many weeks.  I enjoy the laughter company brings.  It gets us out of the mundane.

After Don and Michele left, my parents followed not too many nights later.  We had a wonderful time with them.  Took them into the big city to see a few museums.

Hey Dumb, Dumb!  We give you gum, gum!!

We saw an IMAX movie at the Natural History museum about monarch butterflies.  Amazing!

Dad and Mom even ventured in a day by themselves while the girls and I slaved away at school.  And before you say...Awww! You made the kids work while their grandparents were here?!  YES, I did!! In fact those kids did 2 days worth of work in a day to have a day off the next day!  Oh, and Mark and I were able to sneak away over night and do some Christmas shopping.  We saw Captain Phillips.  What a great movie!  Our Navy Seals, studs.

Out to lunch with hubs...deviled eggs and sugared bacon?!!  YES PLEASE!

A stop at Bass Pro Shop for ammo for Julia's gun!

Oh and I even snuck out of the house for a much needed hair cut!!!  Thanks Su at the PX!

No sooner had we put Dad and Mom back on the train and finished school and cleaned up that the Osterhouts arrived!!!  This is a visit that I have been looking forward to since we moved to Carlisle!  Joy and I are friends from when we lived in CT and we got married and had babies just about all at the same time which makes getting together fun...a buddy for everyone!  We hit the Zoo and Manassas Battlefield with them.  It was a perfect combination of chillin' and tourin'.

Panda girls eating bamboo...or I think that's what they are doing!

The next 9 photos are an obnoxiously large number of photos of the same thing, but it gives you an idea of the trouble we went through to get a pic of all four kiddos on the Sloth Bear statue.  Ohmyword!  I wish you could have been there.  It was the perfect combination of laughter and head-banging.  

Where are the monkeys anyway?  Oh, yeah...they are hanging off the railings....

Or on a monkey...or gorilla, I should say...

Oh, the laughter from these 4, followed by many giggles of the parents sitting behind them.  What a fun, crazy bunch we were!  I'm glad we were the only ones here...we just might have gotten a couple evil eyes.  And it would all be because they were jealous that they were not having as much fun as we were!!!

Later on that night, we had to see Mr. Lincoln.  This sight never gets old.  

This little people are so much fun to hang out with!!!
 Here's some pics at the Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas as they call it here in Virginia.

And so ends our company streak.  Back to the quiet life.  Sigh.