31 October 2007

a few more random thoughts...

to mull over this Halloween...

1. Is it rude to ask someone to impersonate a dead person? See, I am having a dilemma. Robert Goulet died. And Bryan (my brother-in-law, for those of you that don't know) does an excellent, Will Farrell as Robert Goulet. So excellent in fact, that I have told Brad about it a good number of times. Alas, Brad has never seen Bryan as Will Farrell as Robert Goulet and now the man has died. Can I still make Bryan do his impersonation for Brad the next time we see him???

2. I have a bag of "Amish Friendship Bread" dough fermenting on my counter . I am supposed to bake it on the 10th day. The recipe on the 10th day includes a box of instant vanilla pudding. Do the Amish use INSTANT vanilla pudding?

3. Whenever I watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," I am always left with a lingering question. What is with Snoopy the Flying Ace? I mean, the shooting of enemies and what-not, what does that have to do with Halloween? How did that part end up in that movie?

4. What do you think of my new trick skill?

Ok, all for now. Enjoy your Halloween, however you see fit. Unless it includes some sort of Satanic ritual, I really discourage that type of behavior...

30 October 2007

halloween "crafts"


Wilson and Alivia showing off their Halloween Balloon Heads. Wilson kept calling his Franklin instead of Frankenstein! This morning he said "is mine called Franklinstein"? Thanks to Aunt Rene & Uncle Bob for sending them...I would have totally passed them by, but they loved them. Walker and Muskoka wanted to POP them. You can see the Jack-O-Lanterns that Great Aunt Lori and Great Uncle Joe sent for the boys. Aren't they cool? They made one for Chance and I thought it was the cutest ever...what a great keepsake for each of them. And now if we get lazy in the future, we'll already have Jack-O-Lanterns ready.
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29 October 2007

pumpkin carving...

We carved our pumpkins at the Clements house again this year. They invite some friends over and we all bring our kids and our pumpkins. It was a lot of fun...you can see Brad did most of the work. Wilson didn't care to touch the pumpkin and Walker was too busy looking for food and playing with his brother's helmet. Wilson is a race car driver and Walker is a puppy. I'll take better pics on Wed.

Curry broke out the power tools to get into the pumpkins. Wilson was pretty impressed with this...I didn't grab the camara fast enough!

Walker with brother's helmet. For some reason this was very intriguing to him for quite some time. He carried it around awhile, too.
We had a wonderful weekend (well except for the part when Brad's day-off Friday was ruined by having to wait to be interviewed regarding a murder...he'll have to fill you in on that one, though). Good weather, good friends, good times...
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saturday night movie...

Brad bought Wilson a special treat to go with his movie on Sat. night...IBC Root Beer. As it was starting Wilson said, "I gotta get my beer!"
Walker was hanging out with Muskoka throughout the movie. You can't see it that well in the picture, but he has pink marker all over his face. So much for it staying on the paper...
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26 October 2007

finally feeling like fall...

My friend, Barbie, was clearing out some "clutter" and we received a blessing. A little fall "village." Wilson is thrilled, and I have to admit I am too. Wilson has loved these little villages for as long as I can remember. When we were at Mrytle Beach two years ago we stumbled upon the Christmas store and I didn't think we'd ever get out of there. Wilson had to check out each detail of each scene. He was mesmerized. So, he's pretty happy to have his own little village. He is very careful to make sure the lights get turned on in the morning and in the evening. By the way, did you notice I captured the Jeff Daniels, MI ad in the picture? Trying to convince businesses to move there, hmmm... Not sure how that's working out, but what a great use of taxpayers money! Right...

We met Kim, Caden and Kelsey at the park this week. The kids had to wear sweatshirts to play outside! Wow! You can see all the fall color in the background. Oh wait, there is no fall color... At least it feels like fall. Wilson is back on his firefighter kick. He loves this fire truck at the park. We are so thankful for our friendships here. And looking forward to a fun weekend, enjoying fall...

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of all the places to go and die...

SERIOUSLY, you have to pick my baby's toy???? I must say, these kind of spiders are not the scariest that we've got. I think this is a wolf spider and they can't hurt you too badly. There are so many spiders around right now, I really can only worry about the "scary ones."

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24 October 2007

a random assortment...

...of thoughts and photos. I am cutting back on my computer time for the next 40 days, so I feel as though I should get all the mileage from each post...however, I'll try to keep it brief. Why 40 days? Our church is in the process of reducing debt (it's catching on, we aren't the only crazy ones in the world!), and kicking off a campaign called "A Work of Heart - Freedom." So, instead of checking up on things a number of times a day, I'll only do it once and the rest of the time (when I would normally get online) I will spend some time in prayer. Mostly about our role at Cameron Baptist but, of course, about other things as well. So far so good...

The other night, my Bible Study group got together and we shared our stories. It was such an encouraging time. Each lady shared her journey and it was amazing to hear what a blessing each wife considered their husband. It was also encouraging because two of the ladies are in the midst of deployments and they both spoke about how they have drawn closer to one another as well as to God during the separation. So even as Brad begins the gear-up-phase, I am beginning to pray about all the details that go along with it... Knowing fully that any day we could receive word that the mission is cancelled...he still works for the Army, you know...but living and planning as if he will be gone for 15 months. Needless to say, we are cherishing the moments, dinner time, bed time, breakfast, playing catch with Muskoka, you name it. Soon, I'll even savor folding each article of Brad's clothing as I wash and fold it...knowing I won't be able to for awhile. (On a rabbit trail, one lady said-- if you hate doing laundry for your family, imagine if you didn't have to because they were no longer around. Wow, that'll change your perspective!) Ok, enough rambling. I'll try not to do this too often, I am just a bit reflective today...or something...


Here is a picture of Wilson setting up Radiator Springs for Alivia to play with on Monday.

Walker's new favorite hang-out. It doesn't matter if you push all the chairs in, he just pulls 'em out and climbs on up. You can tell he thinks he's hot stuff. Although, I do think he looks a bit thoughtful in the bottom pic. Contemplating life and all of its complexities, wouldn't you say?
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22 October 2007

Afrika Update

I am not sure, but I've always like the German spelling of Afrika with a k instead of the english version with a c. I guess maybe it's my German heritage, or love of WWII history. My batalion finally got around into re-organizing into new batteries for this mission. Typically we are Multiple Launch Rocket System Unit, and we average around 80-90 people per battery; however, this mission requires us to preform more of an infantry style configuration which requires around 180 people per battery. So we have completely lost one battery, our Headquarters element has been changed to everyone who will be ending their service soon, and the two remaining line batteries has been bolstered. My battery will be leaving first, good and bad right. Good because we'll be done quicker, bad because we leave quicker (no offical date, just next spring).

Amanda and I have talked and prayed about this day again, and how we would handle it this time. We have no regrets on how we handled the last deployment, but we have realized that we need to tweak some things to make it work better since this will be the full 15 months. The first is that I cannot afford to take leave (vacation for all you civilians) at Christmas time (Plus I will be at Ft Sam from 9 - 21 Dec). I just don't have enough days in the bank to take it then, block leave prior to deployment, mid-tour leave during deployment, and the 30 days I'll be allowed to take after the deployment.

The second, is that we will not be traveling back to Michigan prior to my deployment. We realized that it was just too much last time. When we got back, and I had only one day to square away things at home, spend time with them, and tie up loose ends work always seems to come up with (we ended up getting new weapons, and we had to qualify with them the day after Thanksgiving). Plus the 16 hours each way just takes its toll on all of us.

We want you all to know that you're always welcome for the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years).

With Love,
Brad

20 October 2007

Happy 50TH Birthday Dad!

we made this video of the boys because we couldn't go to Dad's surprise party. It turned out well enough that we thought we should share it with all of you, enjoy!

18 October 2007

the colorful world of Walker

Walker has discovered coloring...and he likes it! He and I spent a couple minutes (as many as 7 even) coloring yesterday. Just him and I. He was quite impressed, I tried to capture every angle...





He has been "finding" ink pens and sharpies in the last week or so, and can open them. He tries to write with them and has done a good job "finding" paper to write on as well, but a few of his clothing items along with his face and hands have been marked. I figured it was time to introduce the crayons and coloring books. Maybe, he'll stick to coloring there, MAYBE....

hmmmm...

last night at dinner, across the table, my sweet boy looks up to me and says,
"I love you Momma, even when you cook."

thanks Wilson!

also, I must say I am so happy to have more family members joining the blogging world, way to go Rene and Dan. now keep posting!

show me those pearly whites...

Yesterday was Wilson's very first dentist appointment, (I know maybe he should've gone sooner, whatever). He was a bit nervous at first...

But warmed up pretty quickly when he got to hold the "power tools."
Here is Dr. Lutz (I picked him because of the name, he swears his family must be related to ours because of the way the name is pronounced. He always asks me so many details about family history, but alas I only know as far back as the U.P. Dad Lutz, anything you want me to pass on to him?) The treasure box was his favorite part. He made out pretty well, no problems.

It would be hard to spend the $$$ on this appointment if we didn't have insurance, because they didn't do a whole lot... They basically introduced him to the idea of the going to the dentist and polished his teeth...it would've been $66. WOW! But, I still break out into a sweat when I go to the dentist. Last time my legs were even shaking. And by break-out-into-a-sweat, I mean, its like I am laying in a tanning bed rather than a dentist's chair. Its bad folks. So, I think these practice appointments will be worth it if my kids don't sweat getting their teeth cleaned in the future!

17 October 2007

Financial Warfare

Often it seems like we’ve handled our finances poorly, and felt the impact in a blitzkrieg manner. We’ve spent and lived and didn’t worry about tomorrow, and BOOM! We felt like the French in WWII blindsided and dumb. Maybe we prayed for the atomic bomb to fall and wipe the enemy out, dreamed of a dead rich cousin we never met and left us everything, or maybe what it would be like to win the lotto; however, it’s all just a false hope and pipe dream.

Sometimes our battle becomes like the trench warfare of WWI. It seems like we are at a stalemate, and locked head-to-head with the enemy on the other side. The debt or burden is not growing bigger, but we are not reducing it either. We pop our heads up just long enough to see the monster and be overwhelmed that we’ll never win. So we settle for an armistice that says we will always have debt, and we begin to grow a monster that will strike with a greater viciousness at a later date and time.

Other times we’ve begun to make headway. Not advancing as fast as we want and being slowed by the hedgerows in Normandy or the IED’s of Iraq and Afghanistan. We wonder if those around us are right when they say “You can’t win. Just give up and go home.”

As I look at these scenarios I realize some things. When we choose the wrong avenue of approach or listen to the wrong people there are going to be mass casualties along the way, and when we correct our mistakes it’s going to be harder to do it right.

Amanda and I have lived all these approaches to finances as you know. We’ve adjusted fire and made big strides, but we are still in it hip deep. The tide has turned in our favor; however, one simple selfish choice or “innocent mistake” will easily reverse the progress we’ve made. We’ve had are little skirmishes with our small debts, but now we are in the final battle, the battle that will decide where we place our faith and hope. On one side stands the Kingdom, and all that it entails. On the other side stands self and instant gratification.

Where we go from here will not just affect us, but it will impact our children and the blessing God has waiting for us and them.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:8

This isn’t about what Brad and Amanda’s wishes and wants are, but what God desires for Brad and Amanda. We both believe that debt is the epic struggle for our generation. It is an area in our lives that we can use to show how God’s plan works, and how man’s plans are folly.

Please keep us in your prayers,

Brad & Amanda

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." Deut 31:6

Here is an update on where we stand:
October 2005 Snap Shot
Student Loans Balance
Amanda – $14,236.46
Brad – $22,000
Credit Cards
Citi Card - $7300
Discover Card $3100
Old Navy - $300
Car Loan - $6,386.70
Personal Loans - $2300
Total - $55623.16
October 2007 Snapshot
Student Loans Balance
Amanda - $11, 923
Brad - $15, 896
Credit Cards
CitiCard - $0.00
Discover Card - $0.00
Old Navy - $0.00
Car Loan - $0.00
Personal Loans - $0.00
Total - $27,819

11 October 2007

got tubes?

A few "pre-op" pictures of Walker and Daddy. Love the yellow slipper-socks! 6:30 am and ready to roll...

Home again by 9:15 and on the go... Muskoka keeping a close eye as always!
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10 October 2007

Victory

check this article out! it is great!

http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/10/the_problems_of_victory.html

Halloween BOO!

Yes, its the same lady that was hem-hawwing about the whole thing a week ago. We discussed back and forth the pros and cons of ditching the whole holiday, etc, etc, yada yada. We came up with a conclusion regarding the benefit of teaching discernment by participating in the "good" and avoiding and/or discussing the "bad/creepy/freaky." (The jury is still out on trick-or-treating, simply because our church has a fun alternative and I don't think Dad is a big fan of carrying one or both kids door to door.)


Anyway, one "good" thing is the BOO! bags for the neighbors. Wilson and Alivia (I've been spelling her name wrong) packed some treat bags and got ready to sneak around the neighborhood yesterday afternoon. It was a lot of fun!




I must say that Wilson's sneaky skills have improved 100% over last year. It probably helped having a friend run up to the doors with him. They were so cute...

If you want to do it in your neighborhood, you can google Halloween Boo, or they sell "kits" at Wal-Mart now too. Such a fun thing!

new beds!

we used the majority of our garage sale profits to purchase the boys some bunk beds. we wanted to get them BEFORE Walker started crawling out of his crib. Once he adjusts to the twin bed, then we will "bunk" them. Wilson can hardly wait...

Walker is not quite as excited about the new beds as Wilson! He has slept in his bed all night the last three nights though! Naps, not so much...
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09 October 2007

32 in a 20

Yeah, that's right, I was going 32 in a 20 mph SCHOOL zone! Talk about a thought-provoking experience. I haven't been pulled over since I was 16 (don't ask me how, because I am a habitual speeder).

Of course, the kids were with me, and Wilson was quite concerned as I hung my head in my hands. I explained to him that I did something wrong. I was getting a ticket and I deserved it. I told him it wasn't his fault or the police officer's fault, it was Mommy's fault. I also began to pray, "Please, Lord..." then midsentence said, "I know, you're right, I totally deserve this."

But, for some reason, I didn't get a ticket. Just a written warning. And the cop said, "We usually pull everyone over 2 or 3 times." I told him, "not me!"

And it got me thinking. Here I am weighing the pros and cons of Halloween (I'd say its a gray area), and yet breaking the law in a completely black and white area. What would be a bigger stumbling block to people that are unbelievers or that have a baby faith? Breaking the law or trick-or-treating? That is a no brainer, isn't it?

Furthermore, I started thinking about how I could say, "I pray I don't get pulled over again." But if I don't take responsibility and drive correctly, why would God honor that? I told Brad it was pretty similar with our finances. We could take some money and travel to Michigan (it seems like its been a REALLY long time; babies, weddings, graduations, hospitalizations, not to mention birthdays and holidays), and then pray that nothing else comes up. But why would God honor that, if we don't take responsibility? Granted, it should be easy to slow down behind the wheel, but its a daily choice, and for me-- minute by minute as I am driving.

So, the red lights and the motorcycle got me thinking. I don't need to get all tangled up in the tricky stuff, I need to live right in the easy things. Following traffic laws, sticking with our budget, its not big gestures, its the little things that matter. Its those things that catch the unbelieveing world's eye, isn't it?

07 October 2007

thankful...

Ok, I know, you want to see pics of the kids. I've been delinquent with the camera lately... Brad has Monday and Tuesday off, so maybe we can remedy that problem this week.

As for this past week...WOW! Lots of good stuff...let me break it down by the numbers for you

12 - the number of things we found out Wilson is allergic to (mostly grasses and molds)

5 - number of days until Walker gets tubes (this Thursday am)

1 - number of buttons found in Walker's diaper this week

53 - number of pieces of uncooked penne pasta found in Walker's mouth

260 - number of dollars saved because I did NOT get what I deserved from the LPD for speeding

462 - number of dollars made at our garage sale (WOO HOO)

2 - number of Halloween costumes purchased at Just Between Friends consignment sale

7,653 - number of dead crickets Brad swept out of the garage

1,098,246 - the minimum number of blessings this week (big & small)

3 - number of times I had to walk away from the computer during this post to get something from Walker

will describe some numbers in more detail later...that last one is about to go up if I don't finish up! Amanda

05 October 2007

Victory



Just a reminder that we want to win, and not just come home.

Brad