Thursday, October 13th, 2016

24 Sept Sat
School today was tough. Jack was tough. I’m about at my breaking point. And then I went to Walmart without Max for some groceries and a break. Tj just set up a txt program so Max could let me know if he needed anything. As I was tooling around WM I figured I’d check in on him. He didn’t respond. I continued to text…we tried it out before Tj left so I knew the program worked. I finally texted that I was checking out and would be coming home…but I could tell I would be waiting another 10 minutes to check out, and it’d already been 20 minutes and he hadn’t responded. I finally just pushed my cart to the front, apologized and left. Halfway home he texted me. He’d left his headphones plugged in but off his head so didn’t hear the alert!!! Ugh! We packed up and went to the beach. I told Max I was bringing a book and he’d have to watch Jack.

The rest of the day was good πŸ™‚ We got there around 3:30. I read and picked seashells for crafts later. We saw more weddings, and realized that the protected part of the beach was a turtle nest. A little boy, Taylor, played with Max, and asked if Jack was his special brother. His grandparents said he has a little brother with special needs. Heh.

25 Sept Sun
We picked up Tj from the airport and saw a big bird’s nest on the top of an electrical pole. I smelled some great BBQ on the way there and on the way back we stopped and ate…I had really great brisket and ribs. After we got home we went to Walmart and this time actually bought groceries! We went for a walk later, and then watched Fargo till about 3am!

26 Sept Mon
We got up late and worked on our future trip a little. We ate lunch at home. We wanted to go to the beach and packed for it, but the drizzle didn’t let up so we went shopping instead. I bought a mobile, Max got a flashlight, and we bought a noisy pig for Jack because he was completely enamored of it while we were in the store. By the time he got back to the truck he hated it! I think he just wanted a flashlight! He should learn to talk!!

We went and got some more of that wonderful ice cream, then went home and took a nap. Tj made supper (pasta with spinach and bacon in the instant pot) while I went to WM for a few things we couldn’t find the day before.

27 Sept Tue
There’s not much to say about today. We did school and then Tj, Jack and I went to play tennis. But while there we saw a waterspout! It lasted so long…at least 5-10 minutes.

28 Sept Wed
I did laundry all by myself, it was wonderful! I started reading “The Fault in our Stars” Tj did school with Jack and Max. Then we played tennis a bit. Afterwards we went to have fried shrimp. Tj got the po-boy and now I want a po-boy!

Afterwards we headed to a go-cart place, but saw another spot where all 3 boys went in a hurricane wind machine. At our next stop I rode a go-cart with Jack, then we did bumper boats (where Max completely soaked me!! Mine was the only boat with a long-range sprayer…theirs both had short-range sprayers so I was at a disadvantage), then we rode go-carts again and Jack wanted to ride with Tj. Afterwards we played in the arcade a bit.

We went to Walmart for a bit, then Tj, Jack and I played tennis while Max finished up his school. Then we made popcorn and had a movie night. We watched Bridge to Terebithia. It was good, and not too many chocolate chips (from the indulgent trail mix) ended up in our bed πŸ™‚

29 Sept Thur
Jack has learned to raise his eyebrows lately, and we have laughed a good bit about that. He’s so impressed with himself when he does it! But sadly it seems like bird-eyes are almost gone. I remind him once in a while just to keep it around a little longer.

It was a pretty typical day. We did some school, then had breakfast, the boys went out for a bike ride, Tj did some work, the boys came in and did some school, I made lunch (pasta salad with doritos on top). We had a nap and then went to the beach. We saw a ray, Tj saw a jellyfish in the water and pointed it out to me…fortunatley none of us was stung. As we were leaving a guy told us they were seeing dolphins so we stopped and watched them for a bit.

We went home and showered while Tj looked for a Marcos to deliver. When we found that they wouldn’t we decided to follow Ranger Dave’s advice and we went to Crico’s for pizza. It was excellent!! I’m sorry we went there the last day!

30 Sept Fri
After some school we had pizza toast and salad for lunch. Then we went on a 2.5 hr bike ride where we saw lots of butterflies and a baby alligator. I had meatballs in the crockpot and they were great with mashed potatoes.

1 Oct Sat
It’s 11:15am and we’re buckled down and pulling away from the campground. We got out of bed around 9, and TJ flushed the tanks, the back one twice. We definitely didn’t rush, I fed the kids, washed the dishes and put them up and then we packed up to go. As always there was the usual somebody lost something, this time it was me losing my keys, but it only took a little while to find them. Before I got out of bed I made an appointment to get my haircut! it will have been 11 and a half weeks between cuts. I normally schedule my cuts for every five to six weeks, so I’m looking pretty shaggy now.

2 Oct Sun
We looked last night for a church and found one in Start, Louisiana that we thought would be good. I wanted to take a selfie in front of it but we forgot. We took one inside instead. At some point in the song service all the kids went to the front and Max went down to go to Sunday School with them. Jack sat with us. The sermon was good, about the four important parts of the first church, and how churches today aren’t churches if they don’t incorporate those four points: devoted to the scriptures, to fellowship/sharing, to prayer, and to one other thing.

After church TJ asked if I wanted to go to the po-boy place we’d scouted out. All the reviews made it looks so awesome, they all talked about the gravy and how wonderful it was everyone says to eat it on the fries. The church was half an hour away from our bus and the po-boy place was another 15 minutes. We double-checked to make sure they were open on Sunday, but when we drove up to the joint they were obviously closed. TJ had seen a Mongolian BBQ place on the way and we haven’t eaten at one of those in a long time so that’s where we went. I wondered if my concoction would taste any good, and it was awesome!

We got our leftovers to go and then went to Walmart to buy some bed suspenders: every morning when we get up Tj’s mattress cover is pulled off. Let’s see if this helps. We went straight to the bus after that and made a mad dash to change our clothes as quickly as possible, the drive-thru Safari closes 2 hours after we left the bus so we wanted to be sure and have as much time as we could in there. TJ found the Simpsons clip about discount lion safari and we played that a hundred times. I laughed about it on the 10-minute drive to the safari. I had never been to one of these before and wasn’t sure what all it entails. I pushed for us to go to this but could tell TJ was not enthusiastic about it at all. I prefer my animals on the TV where I don’t have to smell them and I can sit in the air conditioning, but I really thought the boys would enjoy it and thought it would be a good memory. I’m so glad we went!

Tj said he would drive and I was glad for that so that I could spend my time looking at the animals. He was an awesome driver, he went really slow and we had a good time. The first thing we saw was bison and they came right up to our truck! Tj rolled our windows down and the locked them! You should’ve heard the yelling in the truck when we realized that! The bison were so huge I was really worried they would push against our truck with their horns, but they were for the most part pretty gentle. The lady at the desk said if you just drive out there they’ll come to you, they know that you’re going to feed them and that was the case for the most point. There were a couple of scuffles, I forget what animal the bison was pushing away, or maybe two of them got in just a little bit of a fight right there. We moved on and found zebras and donkeys and a couple of them fought each other and one of them kicked the other right at the truck! Before any of that happened Max was all the way in the way back and was really terrified!! I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be to try to feed the animals, but I was glad that by this point TJ would just roll up the window when he wanted them to back off and they would just walk away. They certainly had the strength to break the window or to the car but they didn’t.

Jack was calm as anything just sitting there with his cup of food; he wasn’t very good at feeding them but he wasn’t scared at all. At one point a big old bison had his huge head all the way on Jack’s lap and Jack kept saying thank you, thank you. Tj started rolling up the window and he just pulled his head out! Tj and Jack fed the most animals, but I’m the only one who got licked by two bison! They’re slobber was all over the windows! Max fed a few as well, mostly leaning over Jack to feed them because he was so worried about Jack getting bitten or something. It was kind of funny and sweet. We saw a giraffe and some turtles too, but I forgot to go take better pictures of those after we were finished. We got back with a little bit of time left to go feed the penned animals. Out there they had deer and kangaroos and ostriches. I got to watch a kangaroo dig a hole; I don’t know what he was looking for but he he sure could dig. Jack kept asking to go play on the playground so in the last 10 minutes or so I walked him over there and right next to the playground was a big pen with small cows, goats and big fat pigs.

It was a really cool place to visit, but they could make a killing if they put a car wash nearby. We drove a few miles down the road and got the truck washed. I could only scrape up four quarters because I brought most of my coins in to do school with Jack so we only got a short time on the vacuum, but it’ll do for now. After that we came home and TJ sent the boys to the playground while he started the fire. We had some leftover bacon so he made 50/50 bacon beef burgers. They were awesome! The bugs were so horrible, but the spray I got worked great for me, I think I only have one mosquito bite on my chin because I didn’t want to spray it around my face. TJ said he got eaten up even spraying himself twice. I did some research and we’ve ordered another kind of bug spray. They were just ridiculous, I could feel them bumping around and see them flying all around in the firelight. We sent the boys in to shower and Tj and I stayed out to admire the stars. Even with the fire right there we could see so many more stars than we’ve seen from our backyard. We even saw the Milky Way! One of my big to-dos for this bus trip is to see the Milky Way even more clearly than we saw it tonight. This was a wonderful day.

3 Oct Mon
We packed up and left the park at 11:15am. We got a call as we were leaving for Jellystone but we cancelled that place. We set up the bus and then I left the base at 6pm for girls’ night!!!! Woot! I went to Jen’s, and after about 15 mins we went to get Amy. It was sooooooo good to see my best friends! We ate at Mimi’s, and sadly the boeuf bourguignon wasn’t as good as last time. The madeleines were, though. After eating there we went to Jen’s house and talked, and the watched The Good Place for a while…I enjoyed it…but mostly I enjoyed hanging out with my girls again

4 Oct Tue
Reveille is at 7am, The National Anthem is 4pm and Taps is 8pm. Heh.

Today we worked more on the leak in the gray water tank. I did school with the boys. Normal life.

It’s 9:15pm, my wash is folded and put up, the boys are in bed (reading and playing) and I’m watching Call the Midwife and coloring. Well, now I’m blogging πŸ™‚ Tj’s out with his friends, I hope he’s having a good time!

5 Oct Wed
8:15am I went to get my haircut. It was so good to see Kassie! Then I went shopping at Goodwill and found a bag for M’s stuff. On the way home I picked up sushi at the commissary for me and the boys.

At 4pm we left to drop Max off at Aidan’s to play. We went to church to sign him up and pay for camp. While there we saw Jenn, Hooper and Sara Lu.
We went to Wal-Mart for some returns, and while there Max called to see if he could eat at Aidan’s. We went to David’s for burgers, then to Kroger. We stopped in at Freda’s and had a little visit before visiting with Liz and picking up Max.

6 Oct Thur
We did school and worked more on the leak. Tj had lunch with a friend and then we went to Lowe’s for the stuff to finally fix the leak, and we bought Jack a yard stick which has really come in handy! We went to Walmart and it wasn’t on the list but we bought a little green table which has been so nice for Jack’s school.

At 5:30 we went to check out a Splendide washer/dryer, and then bought it! I can’t wait till it’s installed! We went right from there to Jenn’s at 6:30 for dinner with them and the Huffs. We got home and put the washer in its place at 10:15pm.

7 Oct Friday
Tj had a dentist appointment, then he went to Home Depot for washer stuff. We did school and I cleaned up the disaster of the washer placement. Jack slept till 10am, and I made Max read Jen’s book instead of school. We packed for camp and switched Max’s clothes and the games for more accessibility.

When Tj got home went out for BBQ; those were the best ribs since TJ Ribs!!! We went home, TJ napped and the boys and I shopped around: Dirt cheap (lost Jack for a good minute), Goodwill, Dollar Tree, BX for bamboo πŸ™

While we were driving from store to store, from the backseat directly behind me Max asked, “Mom, do you think if someone gets saved but never does anything good that they’re really saved?” I told him that yes, they were. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be relying on Jesus to save them, but their own actions. I said it was kinda like the thief on the cross…he’d lived a ‘bad’ life, but the last thing he did was ask God to save him, and God said he did. God is the one who saves, not us. I said if we were sincere when we prayed for salvation that God would save us once and for all. Then I didn’t want him to think that he had to ask ‘perfectly’, so I said it’s also like Jack…we could feed him the words to say but that’s not what will save Jack, it’s not a prescribed set of words, but God working in us that saves. I could hear tears in his voice now and he told me he was relieved, because although he said when he got baptized that he wanted to start thinking about what God wants him to do instead of what he wants to do he hadn’t done that at all since then. I told him that as old as I was I still hadn’t figured out how to always think about what God wants. That God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, just for us to strive to be like Him. I asked him what I could do to help him remember to think more often about God’s will and he said to just remind him. I’ve been trying to not shove his own words down his throat so as not to make him regret saying them, but now I have the go-ahead to remind him sometimes. Sweet times with my boy!

We went back to the bus, got Tj and Max’s luggage and brought Max to church to catch the bus for camp. Tj, Jack and I went to Buffalo Wild wings and had their fried cheese curds: amazing! We went home and set up the washer: nothing!! While Tj agonized over that I put together the shoe storage we bought at Home Depot. We watched Parks and Rec and ate half a pack of Oreos.

8 Oct Sat
The washer makes me sad. We worked on it for a bit but can’t get anything but blinking lights. Tj sent an email to the manufacturer.

We took Jack to the park nearby while my pizza dough rose. We sat outside at the picnic table and had pizza, lemon cupcakes and lemon curd. Yum! Then we took a nap and I read Jen’s book, The Giver. I have to give it back to her before we leave, and can keep the other 3 in that series till we come back to AR.

9 Oct Sun
We were out of bed at 7 and got the bus ready to go. We left the base at 8:15am and made it to church at 8:45. It was so fun to see so many friends!! There was a military ministry luncheon that we went to. It was good to really have time to talk to Sara Lu there. Afterwards we just hung out on bus till the campers got back. We said another goodbye to our friends and headed for Memphis at 3pm.

I just remembered a funny story. One of my last days at G-lab A. Noe came up to me out of the blue and asked what my favorite soup was. I said broccoli cheese. She said, oh, well, I’m making Italian Wedding Soup for your going away party. Huh. Thanks?

10 Oct Mon
I started to do a day-in-the-life, but this ended up being a gripe fest!
Tj got up early and got ready for his first day of work. He put Jack in the bed before he left, but Jack never went back to sleep. I read my phone for a little bit at 7:20, and then read a book until the alarm rang at 8.
The washer is still playing its tricks on us, so while I’m working with it I told Max to get down and make Jack a fried egg sandwich. I go to help him a little bit with that and realize the bread crumbs are open and it spilled all over the shelf.
After their breakfast is ready I go to the back to change clothes. During that time I hear Jack spitting up his egg sandwich and Max yelling at him for it.
I go to set up Monarch for Max and realize that the jetpack isn’t on. That takes a few minutes to fix and by that time the boys are getting ready to go on their bike ride. Max realizes the handle to the faucet is broken, and Jack’s toothbrush has fuzz in it which makes him spit and sputter. On me.
9:30 Jack just fought with the soap. Max just fought with his socks.
9:35 I just realized TJ has the bikes in the back of the truck. Max is even more angry about this, so I just sent him to run. I started Jack with gemiinipad again.
9:40 Max starts Spanish so that I can change his Monarch. I start cleaning up the bread spell again.
10 We need some Bible verses on good attitude. So we look them up and we prayed. I felt like praying for others might help our attitudes get better so we prayed for Papa too. About two minutes later Mama texted that he was going to get a CT scan today and that it was a miracle and she was crying like a crybaby so she couldn’t talk to us now!
10:10 I saw that the washer wasn’t blinking anymore and decided to give it a try but it’s a no-go. I’ll unplug it now for a while. I’m going to try it again, and then I’m going to call the manufacturer.
10:34 I send J to the bathroom, and ask Max to be quiet while I make a phone call. I hear Jack fussing in the bathroom so I open the door to check on him before I start the phone call and he’s peed on an empty toilet paper roll. I think we might be taking a nap today.
10:50 I call the manufacturer. Power problem?
11:15 We went for a walk, checked out the laundry area at the campground. Came back, made lunch, Max is still angry. He didn’t eat all his lunch so I put it up for a snack for later.
12:34 I put the boys in bed and I’m gonna read. I ended up snoozing a bit.
2pm I sent Max to do school.
3:20 I turn the generator on and the washer still didn’t work. I plugged the washer into the bottom plug and it worked! I unplug the bus while the generator was on and the washer worked! I couldn’t get it to drain until I put a bucket on the floor and ran the drain line to it. While it was working a cycle I went and plugged the bus back in, and then after a little while I turned the generator off, and it still worked! I haven’t tried starting a brand new cycle with it plugged into the bottom plug yet, I’ll wait till TJ gets home. Jack and I will do school until then.
3:55 This day is not going any better. I told Jack where to write his name on the ‘My Name All Year’ paper and he wrote it right over last month’s name, then angled it down to cover next months name as well.
5:30 Tj home. We talked and then he started on his homework and I made supper: meatloaf, potato salad and corn on the cob.
9pm Boys in bed. We went to bed shortly thereafter. I’m glad Tj loves his new job, but I’m glad this day is over!

11 Oct Tue
Today was a much better day, despite its start. I took Tj to work and J and I went grocery shopping after. After Kroger and Walmart we came back to the bus. M had just had his break (at 10:15), so when he finished his next subject we went to the farmer’s market. If I’d known it was open every day I’d have bought my produce there! We came back and worked on school some, and then I made nachos for lunch.
I hadn’t even made my salad yet when Tj called and said he needed me to pick him up from work in 15-20 mins…they were let out early and were meeting for supper. I was watching a load of wash to note that it only filled the drum when the pipe was held up, and only drained when the pipe was down.
I called the manufacturer later and he thinks the pump has come unplugged. I’m praying that’s the problem and that Tj can help me fix it soon!

12 Oct Wed
I told Jack to get the skillet out so we could make his fried egg sandwich like we do every morning. He started fussing and looking around, heading to the bedroom. I realized he didn’t know what a skillet was, so I said get the pan out and he did it happily. He just doesn’t know to say I don’t know. It never ceases to amaze me the obvious things he still doesn’t know. He’s growing and learning…in the last few weeks he’s almost memorized the months of the year, all of our birth months, the days of the week, etc, but I forgot to point out that we could call that thing a skillet, cast iron skillet, pan, pot and who knows what else!

Mom fail: Yesterday Max asked me for a quiet time and I said no because he hadn’t finished his schoolwork. Today I find out he meant his quiet time with God. Huh. I told him I’ll always allow those πŸ™‚

In the category of words I never thought I’d hear from my son: Max said Jack just almost got run over by a student driver!

When Tj came home we went to the corn maze here. We went on a hayride, too. I know Tj’s tired…but he’s a sweet dad to spend this time with his boys.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

20 Sept We lazed around this morning, and then I made boiled shrimp with corn and potatoes in the instant pot. Tj ate so much breakfast so late he wasn’t hungry for any. We played tangrams for a bit until it was time to take Tj to the airport. On the way home we stopped at goodwill and dirt cheap, and Max found a game for his 3DS for $6; he was thrilled. We went to Walmart to grab a few things and then went to the beach for a bit.

21 Sept We got up at 8 a.m….we really need to break this habit of staying in bed so late! Max did half an hour of school work while Jack did Gemini for 20 minutes, then we made breakfast and ate it. After that little break we did more school and on our next break Max and I decorated thank you notes. I made shrimp salad sandwiches for lunch and they were a hit again. We finished school around 4 o’clock and got to the beach around 5. I originally thought we would go to the beach everyday but now that plan does not excite me. I meant to bring a book today but forgot it so I read something off of my phone. I finally finished Rainbow Six and I’m eager to start one of the eight books! that Kelly gave me. I saw a couple who had an easel set up and wanted to go talk to the artist, but then I saw another couple of beachgoers approach them and talk about it and I didn’t want to bug them so I just left it. The three of us started swimming and just chatting for a bit and then Max asked me what I would do if he got stung by jellyfish. We were talking about that and believe it or not a jellyfish stung me! It got me on the left thigh above my knee, behind both of my knees and on the back of both of my hands. As soon as I realized what it was I tore out of the water telling Max to hurry up and get out because it was a jellyfish. Jack was floating in a shark inner tube so I grabbed one of the fins and just drug him up to the shore. There was a little girl playing there so I yelled up to her parents that I just got stung by a jellyfish. They just looked at me and then a little girl jumped in the water! I couldn’t believe it! When I finally got closer to the parents the Dad calmly said she’d gotten stung by jellyfish earlier today. Once I got things sorted out I laughed and told them I was going to cry like a little girl about getting stung by a jellyfish but that’s kind of hard to do after they told me their little girl got stung and she’s back to playing in the water. They laughed and I laughed and then we started talking about this and that. Come to find out he is a chef and she is an artist they homeschool their girl and they’re here on vacation. It was fun to chat with them for a little while. I did end up going back in the water when the jellyfish sting stop hurting.

22 Sept Today we decided to ride our bikes a little in the morning. The bad thing is since we get up so late it was late morning and it was already pretty hot. We left the house about 10:15, I guess we need to leave closer to 8 if we want to beat the heat! We rode to the mailbox to drop off our thank yous to Miss Amy and then just rode around a bit more. I wanted to ride my bike for exercise, but I just don’t think that’s possible with Jack. It was hard for him to get up the boardwalk, especially when he didn’t really want to. We came back to the bus close to noon and had leftover shrimp salad sandwiches after we all took showers and cooled down. Jack and I took a nap and Max started school. Now Max is finishing up his school and Jack is too. I’m about to go start making pizza for our supper.

23 Sept Jack often wakes up talking. This morning he said basketball…basketball…yes magnet…magnet.

Tonight he asked to go to sleep around 9 p.m.! This boy is worn out.

This is how life is with this nine year old boy with Down Syndrome. I know he’s smart, I know there’s a lot in there, he just hasn’t figured how to get it out yet. One day he will. This morning I came out of the bathroom to find that he’s knocked over a bottle of water because he threw his pj’s up in the air. I’m fussing at him; I thought he knocked over my diffuser for the second time and I’m worried about it breaking. I fuss a little bit and then he starts fussing with grunts and groans. I calm him down and say talk to me, tell me what you want to say. What do you want to say? I say very slowly. He says I want K-LOVE on please. We’re right in the middle of this discipline and he says he wants something completely unrelated. I know it’s funny, but it’s very frustrating that we still deal with things like this several times a day.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

17 Sept Forgot to mention, during the first hour of our trip to Gulf Port TJ chipped his tooth!

18 Sept We went to the church our friends suggested this morning. The preacher asked our boys to help with the offering. He said they would call for us when it was time, and we could see where it was listed on the bulletin. But the song leader was actually the youth pastor, and he introduced the song and said something about the offering and we were unsure if that was the time for the boys go up! We sent Max upfront during the song to ask him if he wanted to take up the offering and and he said yes. Then at the end of this song/offering the pastor said, “Well, I guess that’s the first time we’ve ever taken up an offer without paying for it first!” So apparently the fill-in song leader should have told Max no. After church we went back to the bus and had lunch and then got to the beach around 2. We were there about an hour when it started raining and we came back to the bus.

I worked on the grocery list for a little bit and then went to Walmart by myself. TJ was feeling like burgers so I make sure to get some meat for that. He made some awesome burgers that we all enjoyed.

19 Sept Tj called first thing, about 9 a.m. to see if he could make an appointment for his tooth. The lady said she had an opening at 10 a.m. so we got moving really quickly. I packed some granola bars for the boys and TJ hopped in the shower. I made sure to bring the mattress pad we bought for Max last night because I needed to exchange it for a thinner one. The bed motor wouldn’t compress the 3-inch one enough, so now we have a 2 inch mattress pad.

TJ ended up being about 5 minutes late for his appointment, and it was so far away from the bus that the boys and I needed to find something to do. Just driving around I found a thrift store that we went in, but found nothing we had to have. On the way to Walmart to exchange the mattress we saw a McDonald’s with a playground so we stopped in there for a little bit. I bought the boys some pancakes and each of us a drink. As soon as I paid for it TJ texted me and said they could only file the tooth down a little bit, and that I needed to go right back and get him. So I let the boys play on the playground for about 5 more minutes and then we went to get TJ.

On the way back to the original Walmart we stopped at a putt putt golf to see if it was open and it was so we played 18 holes. After that we went to Tin Top restaurant recommended by John for lunch. We had tuna steak, fried fish, and the Reds. All was great. During the golf game TJ’s phone kept going off with other guys getting notified about their class day. Of course he was pretty antsy to get his email. On the way back to the truck from the restaurant he got his email; indoc starts October 10th. We still don’t know exactly what that means for us since his class date might not start immediately after indoc.

We went to Matt’s Homemade Ice Cream Parlor and I got german chocolate ice cream in a sundae, heavenly! Then we finally went to Walmart to exchange that mattress. We went home and threw all our swimsuits on and headed right to the beach for a few hours. Saw 3 jellyfish, a turtle and some kind of ray in the water!

As soon as we got home from swimming I cut all 3 boys hair, then Max, Jack and I showered in the park’s showers to get all that hair and sand off. We had leftovers for supper and TJ was going to take the trash down to the dumpster afterwards but it started pouring right before we sat down to eat. It’s a good thing he waited! The boys are in bed now and we’re about to watch a show and hit the hay. Tj leaves for work tomorrow, it may be the last time he works for Atlas. He’ll probably give notice in a couple of days! In other news Papa has finally seen a doctor who says he’s seen the kind of pain he’s been experiencing for the last several months and he feels fairly confident that he can help Papa out.

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

8 Sept While watching TV the TV and back A/C went out! Tj was away, but I called him and he was available. He had me check the breakers under the bed. None of them looked flipped but I turned the correct one off and on again and everything worked! He’s my hero!

9 Sept The boys and I packed up school and laundry and went to Kelly’s to do wash. I brought tuna for lunch. I did school with Jack in her living room, and Max set up on the kitchen table where Kelly was also working. We took a break for lunch and watched TV. When school was over Kelly and Max went to get Avery and they played for a little while.

10 Sept (Saturday) We did school today. Wednesday we didn’t have any school so today was a catch-up day. I sat with Max while he wrote a couple of reports, and at the end of the day we went to a park for the boys to play in the water again.

11 Sept Since TJ was still away I found us a church to go to. One of the things that was advertised on the website about the church was a terrific organ and choir, and they didn’t lie. It was a beautiful church and it was awesome to sit there and listen to the wonderful music. One thing I didn’t notice till I was going to sleep Saturday night was that this church said that they have women ministers. I was too tired to find a different church so I made sure that the head pastor was male…I was fairly certain a guy would be preaching Sunday morning. Since we were only going to be going there for one service I let that slide. I’ll be more careful next time.

I found out I had to park in the parking garage and we got there just fine. I saw a man get out of his car and put his blazer on so I felt sure he was going to church, so I asked him if we could follow him in. Finding the church entrance connected to the parking garage wasn’t that hard, I just didn’t feel like walking around and looking for it. That turned out to be a mistake; he would not let us go! I know he was just being nice, he wanted to make sure that we found our seats and everything was okay, but when the service ended he pounced on us again and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I knew we could find our way back to the car no problem, and I had to tell him so at least six times!

We went to Walmart on the way home to pick up a few groceries, and on the way out I saw Heidi (from the campground)! I told her we’d be leaving on Tuesday, and it was a little bit sad that we didn’t get to know them better. Oh well, that’s the way living in the bus is going to go I guess.

12 Sept I left Max in the bus while Jack and I went to get Tj. In general I don’t plan to ever leave him alone, but we had been at the park for 2 weeks, and I was only going to be gone for about 40 minutes, and I wanted him to be able to finish his school work on time today.

I made chicken and potatoes in the instant pot; good but bland. TJ was pretty wiped out so he took a nap right after lunch while the boys and I did school. I think Max might need to be at the desk for school, so Jack and I set up the little white table in the living room with his blanket on the floor as a cushion. It worked pretty well. Max did a pretty good job with his school, he finished all but his report on Mexico, so TJ and I decided to go play some tennis.

This second lesson was much better than the first. I don’t know if I was just tired that day or I was hungry or what, but today we did a little bit better. I set the timer for 30 minutes and the time flew by! Afterwards we went to Cookout for a last hamburger here and it didn’t disappoint. We went back to the bus and worked around a little bit and then went to bed.

13 Sept We left the park around 12:30 p.m. It should take 4 hours or so to get to Mom’s, and another hour to get set up. We’re interested to see if the truck’s battery will be dead or charged when we get there. Max finished his school work around 1:30 today! We are completely caught up with all that he has to do, including all book reports, vocabulary words written and all objectives/goals written. The only thing I haven’t checked, and will try to start checking on Fridays, is that he’s written down every wrong answer correctly in his notebook. We’re a hundred percent caught up on all school work. Yippee kai yay! I’ve let it slide here and there so he could go to parks and play with friends, mostly just the handwriting and the projects, but as of today it’s all done. Whopee! I feel like such a grown up!

Sept 14 Alarm 7:30, went to Mom’s 9ish, waited for they guy to call saying the trailer was on it’s way to the storage unit. Tj called around 11 and again around 3. We went to Jo’s and put the gun safe together and plugged it in. We went to get a few groceries at Walmart, and to look at a foam mattress for Max’s bed. The boys have been roughhousing so much on his Coleman blow-up mattress that now the parts that tie the top and bottom together are coming undone, so he has a big bubble on one side of his mattress and the rest of it is flat. We’re hoping a 3-inch foam mattress will be comfortable enough and will compress enough to fit in the one and a half inch space allotted. If not I guess we get an extra mattress for our bed! Tj got a call at 4:40 saying the truck was an hour out. We dropped Jack off at Mom’s…she bathed both boys and took them to church. We waited in the storage facility for half an hour before the truck showed up around 6:10. Of course by then my BIL couldn’t help us anymore.

The truck with our household goods was packed to 25′, and by the time we left around 9pm we’d cleared 6′. Hopefully we’ll clear all the rest tomorrow! We drove to WM for milk and bread and then back to the bus. About 25 minutes from our site Tj remembered that the gate closed at 10 or 10:30!!! The GPS said we’d get to the bus at 9:58 so he felt we would have plenty of time. And we did.

15 Sept Started unpacking at 10:10, and finished at 8:20pm. It’s my mom’s birthday today and she came and helped us! She’s such an awesome mom!

Of course it was really hard work, and we both worked all day long. We probably stopped three or four times for 10 minutes or so each time to swig Gatorade, and once I folded up a couple of pieces of salami with a piece of cheese and that’s all we had for lunch. I had a handful of almonds 3 or 4 times, but we just wanted to get it all done, and we did. Thank God! My mom didn’t eat anything the whole time she was there! I can’t believe the three of us we’re able to move everything, but we did. Tj pulled more than his share of the load, obviously. I’m so thankful for such a wonderful husband who takes care of me. My dad watched the kids all day which was completely awesome as well. My parents have been such a great help to us this whole time. I’m so thankful to have them.

My mom left around 7 or 7:30. By this point everything was off of the truck, all of the heavy stuff was in the storage unit, and we just had to move all the boxes that we piled up outside of the truck into the storage units. She went through the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home and when she got home Papa told her to go straight into the shower; she told him she couldn’t even do that, she had to sit down first. She worked her tail off with us today. When we finished up we went to Walmart to buy Max’s mattress but they were all out. Tj had ripped his jeans right at the crotch during the move so he stayed in the truck while I went inside.

When we got to Mom’s both the boys have been bathed and fed and Papa said we should just leave them there for the night, so we did. Mama had already offered that while we were working so I took them up on their offer. I bought mom a little lemon pound cake for her birthday, I wish I had thought to buy her some lemon curd instead, I’m sure that would have been a better gift. On our way home we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru and Tj got a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese for his meal. I was driving and decided to wait for bean dip and ruffles for my supper when we got back to the bus. We threw our stuff down and gathered stuff for a shower right away. I told TJ I wasn’t going to hurry the shower, I just wanted to let lots of water wash lots of dirt away. It felt so good! We slept pretty soundly tonight.

16 Sept Today’s our anniversary! We were pretty lazy and slept in and read our phones a good bit before getting up. Mama texted me at 8 a.m.! saying she had breakfast ready whenever we wanted to get there. I gathered all the laundry and we got there around 11am. Papa had put Max’s new tires on his bike, and in doing so he punctured one of the inner tubes. When TJ got back from buying a new inner tube we all sat down and had brunch. You just can’t beat Mama’s biscuits, bacon, sausage and of course the eggs fried in all the bacon grease! After that I started laundry and Max continued his school work. We hung around there all day. Mama enforced nap time and nobody was complaining, except Jack.

We watched the boys ride their bikes lots and lots on Mom’s driveway. And we met her new neighbors today too. They’re homeschoolers and their dad’s a swim coach. She was a special ed teacher; I may have to pick her brains for help about Jack. πŸ™‚ Around 5 or so TJ started asking what we were eating for supper. We packed all our stuff up and said our goodbyes and thank-yous and headed off to a Mexican restaurant where I had the most amazing cheese and chorizo concoction.

We headed out to get ice cream after that and I got pulled over! I wondered if it was because I got into a right hand turn lane by crossing a solid line, but really the opportunity to drive on the dashed line was so tiny I felt insulted! When the cop came to my door he said it was because our tag light was out. Of course it seemed like he took forever to check my driver’s license, and I couldn’t remember which address of the 40,000 we have now I was supposed to say was our permanent address, but I must have checked out okay, he let me go with just a warning. After he left we went on to the ice cream shop. TJ opened the trunk and the light came on! Figures. We had our ice cream and then saw AutoZone across the street. I got out to open the trunk to make sure the light was on and this time it wouldn’t turn on. Figures. AutoZone closed right as we got there. So now we’re at O’Reilly which closes in an hour. What an adventure! TJ changed out our lights just a minute ago and we are good to go. We would have been pushing it to go to Walmart to get Max’s mattress and get back before curfew so Max slept on the couch tonight.

17 Sept We got on the road about 10:30am. Our planned fuel stop was too close to empty to be comfortable so I searched and found one that’s a little bit closer in LaGrange, Georgia. Hopefully we’ll be at the beach in about 6 hours.

Now that we’ve been driving a few hours we’re getting better gas mileage than the bus estimated, so we’ll go on to our previously scheduled fuel stop in Montgomery. It’ll be just under half way to the beach! Jack keeps asking for “vacation” and “swim all night long” and “swim byself” which makes us laugh.

4:45pm and we just pulled up to the campground to check in. Things got a little hairy there for a minute; right at the last 5 miles their signage was confusing and I was writing what Jack was saying and TJ missed his turn. But it’s all good now.

We set up probably the quickest we ever had and threw on our swimsuits and headed to the beach! We got some good family selfies and Jack got knocked down by giant waves a couple of times. We also saw but didn’t disrupt 2 weddings on the beach, so all was good. We came back to leftover spaghetti and Pioneer Woman’s butter bread. Yum! Now we’re all clean, the boys are in bed, and I’m about to go there myself.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Our mileage is 4710.

Tj didn’t think to check on the status of the house until after business hours. Ugh, now we have to wait all weekend to see if our paperwork was all in order!

I texted Kelly last night to see if we could go to church with her. She didn’t respond until this morning, and said she mostly watches church online, but would come with us if we wanted to go. We decided to just watch our own church online. Later she said she had a book with a list of free parks for us to go to if we wanted, so we stopped by her house for a chat and to pick that up after lunch.

We brought TJ to the airport this morning, and then we headed on down to Mom’s with all of our dirty laundry. I was so surprised that we had accumulated 6 loads of laundry in just a week! I went ahead and washed the sheets off of our bed because Tj got bitten all over his feet by something. We’ve never figured out what it was and it never spread, but I didn’t want to take any chances at that point.

Mom, Jack and I got up early this morning to go help Jo’s boys get ready for the bus. After that we dropped Jack off at the house with Pawpaw and went on to check on the storage unit. Then we Goodwilled all morning…I made a good haul at Goodwill: wooden balance toy for the boys, the bucket I was looking for for TJ, Nordic Ware bunt muffin tin that I had seen that another Goodwill but finally bought, a couple of books for Max, and a wooden motorcycle for Max. We ate lunch at Captain D’s. When we got back to Mom’s I immediately packed everything up and headed back to the bus. When we were about 20 minutes away I saw a Goodwill so we stopped. I was so excited to find two Hooked on Phonics sets for Jack. They were not complete so I scoured the racks and found one more book to add to it, and 4 Bob books that were a little more advanced than I thought. All told it cost me $2!

That night after Max’s shower he smelled so good! He said there was so much extra deodorant pushed up that he just put it all over his chest. Heh. Jack later said, “That’s a ball.”

Friday was a nice normal day at home. We all did school and then Kelly invited us over for grilling out. I asked what I could bring and stopped at Walmart to pick it up and also bought us a venus fly trap!

We got up late, as we have been doing this whole time, and while the boys made breakfast I packed up to go to Ijam’s park. We finally left the house at 11 and had a really good time there. We went to a little play area that was great for Jack, then we walked a mile around the whole place, then we found a park bench under a huge tree to eat our lunch. It was perfect. The boys played again for a little while, then we headed to Aldi for a few groceries and back to the bus. Max was excited to get home and to play Minecraft, and I was excited to get home and update my blog finally after so long!

I was looking over my notes and we had the house on the market for 6 weeks when we signed the contract, and it was 6 weeks that we argued and fought tooth-and-nail over the contract before we closed, and a total of three weeks from the start of Tj hearing about the FedEx interview to him actually getting the job. It just all seems so crazy!

4 Sept We picked TJ up at the airport this morning and have been enjoying just regular everyday life. Max went to Kelly’s for a sleepover tonight since tomorrow is Labor Day.

5 Sept We picked Max up around 1 and went to Marco’s for some pizza. I was so excited to see Marco’s here! We brought the boys swimsuits so after that we went to McFee Park that had a big splash pad. The boys roll down the hill several times, and even TJ did it once.

6 Sept At the park Tj makes Jack carry his bike, Jack says, “It’s too hurt!!!” He says several things like that, and they all make me laugh.

7 Sept The plan: brunch at Pete’s in downtown Knoxville, then to Sharp’s Ridge Memorial Park. Brunch was awesome: TJ and I got breakfast bowls with scrambled eggs, ham, sausage and home fries smothered in cheese and sausage gravy, with a biscuit on the side. Sharp’s Ridge turned out not to be what we were hoping for. We thought it would have several nice Knoxville over-looks; instead it had several signs saying not to cruise the place, and we saw a police car sitting and waiting.

Since that park was a bust we decided to try Fort Kid Park. This was an awesome place for the boys (TJ included) to get some exercise. We’ll go home in a little bit and start school in the air conditioning. The weather is not too bad right now, 88 degrees. Of course I’m sitting down blogging this, not running around.

This turned out to be our Saturday. I had some Kroger gift cards to use up so we headed there and then I had a grocery list so we all went to Walmart and picked up my prescription and groceries. We also bought a couple of tennis rackets and a set of balls. We got home and unloaded our groceries and TJ found us a tennis court with a playground nearby. TJ and I played for half an hour, and he and Max played for about 40 minutes. We were going to watch a movie tonight, but it might be time just to go home, eat supper, shower and get in the bed.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Monday August 22
We left the base around 8:15 and when we got to our house Gran and Papa already had the trailer hooked up and were just about to leave, so we got to say goodbye to them again. Damon came by this morning and brought chocolate milk, orange juice, cold frappaccinos, donuts and a jalapeΓ±o bacon croissant for us. He and Tj sat and talked for a bit while I crammed everything into our fridge and freezer.

It’s 10:17 a.m. and we just passed First Baptist Church right on the corner. We’ve had a good eight and a half years here, I hope wherever the Lord leads us treats us just as good. We’re on our way to the scales to see how much this bad boy ways. Mileage on the bus is 4161. We’ll get gas at the weigh station as well.

Well, we’re finally on the road to Memphis; I just got off the phone with my mom telling her the story at 12:12 p.m. What craziness we just went through! We just went to weigh with no problem. We had to loop around the whole gas station to find non diesel gas pumps. The pumps were situated so we had to make a 90-degree left turn to get to them. More than halfway through the turn Tj was worried about the bus hitting a bollard on his backside. He asked me to get out and check and he was a quarter of an inch away from hitting it! I tried to help him pull it around but we just ended up hitting it. We decided the best course of action would be to unhook the truck and drive it separately, and that proved to be a real obstacle. I offered to start the truck up and move it about an inch so that we could unhitch it from the bus, and that’s when we found out the truck was dead! This weigh station was only half an hour drive from our house in Cabot, and we didn’t think there was any way we could have drained the battery in that short a trip. Also, this is not our first time towing the truck and we didn’t see why the battery would have drained in the first place.

After 5 or 10 minutes of struggling to unhook the truck without being able to move it I walked to the bus door and told Max to put his electronics down and just say a prayer, that we really needed some help. About a minute later a man walked up and asked if we needed help! Tj was making some headway with the pin but it was super slow, so he told the guy we needed a hammer. As he turned to go get some tools he looked at me and asked if we were all prayed up! I laughed and said yes, you must be an angel, I just asked our boys to pray for some help. By the time he came back with some tools Tj had the pin out. The guy and I pushed the truck back and then Tj drove the bus around to jump my truck off. Another guy came up and told me he had some screws to screw the bumper of the bus back on. I thanked him profusely and was headed back to Tj when he gave me a sob story about how he had a eight-month-old and a 2 year old and his water pump just broke and his wife left their debit card on top of the gas pump at the last gas station and he couldn’t get money transfer for another forty-eight hours and he just didn’t have $48 blah blah blah. He started working on the bumper while Tj was jumping off my truck. It took several tries, my truck was dead! I realized then that I had left the headlights on and that’s what drained the battery (but in that short a ride??).

Another dude came up to talk about that time, he had a foreign accent and said several times God was watching over us and also that he really liked our bus πŸ™‚ Tj finally got the truck started so I moved it to a parking space and told Max to go sit in it and to leave it running all the time. I took Jack inside to pay for the weigh and go to the bathroom. Tj drove the bus across the street to an easier to access gas pump. As he got ready to pull into the first spot a small car whipped around and took it from him. He drove the bus around and ended up getting a pump that faced the street. I gave the guy that fixed our bumper $50 and then he told me he was an ordained minister. He kept talking about how he was doing this for good karma; I finally told him do it for God not for karma.

We got to our spot in Memphis and Tj got us all set up and we headed out to his hotel. Halfway there we realized we forgot his interview suit, so back over the Mississippi River we went. That night I tried to settle in as much as possible, I straightened up all the food as best I could.

I straightened up most of the clothes and cleaned the toilets. We had lunch outside and then went to Dirt Cheap to see if we could find some games for M’s 3DS. While pulling into the parking space Nicole texted us to give her a call…we had house problems. Ugh. They had the final walk-through that day and there was obvious water damage that hadn’t been fixed with Tj’s toilet fix. The inspector said it would take another $2,000 to fix that damage for good. The buyers were also angry that we left the house a mess, they were upset about the swollen windowsill in our bedroom, and the wallpaper was torn where the armoire had stuck to it. I told her a house cleaning wasn’t in the contract, I didn’t vacuum after the move nor clean the bathrooms. It wasn’t a pigsty, but it wasn’t freshly cleaned either. I said that the windowsill hadn’t been hidden and the time to discuss that was over, and I was sorry about the wall paper but I didn’t know what to do. I told her we were responsible for the bathroom and would pay to fix it, but we wouldn’t do anything about the other stuff. She said she and the other realtor would cover the cost of the little stuff if we took care of the bathroom. Man! I can’t wait till this is over!

That took all the fun out of my shopping at DC and Goodwill (which was next door). We ran to WM to get groceries and then got gas and went home. The next morning I saw that I hadn’t screwed the gas cap on the truck! I can’t wait till life settles down and I get my head screwed on right again! I’m trying to use up all the self-rising flour I have so I made pizza dough out of it. Tonight I learned that the stove has a broiler and the right way to use it…without setting anything on fire I didn’t mean to! Yea me!

Jack fell out of the bed last night! Guess he won’t be sleeping with Max any time soon. He sleeps with me when Tj isn’t here cause it’s just easier. We slept till 8am! We’ll get back into a schedule some time.

Max started school at 11 a.m. and finished his five main subjects by 3 p.m. Amy asked if he could play Minecraft then and he got to play with his friends for a while. Jack and I were doing school and not long after that Tj texted me and asked me to start driving to pick him up. I rushed around to lock up the bikes and lock up the bus and pick him up. At this point he didn’t know if he got the job or not and was still in interview mode so he was talking very calmly and coolly. It was strange; I wanted him to show some emotion but he was still on FedEx property. I picked him up and we headed right to the FedEx place where we were planning to print and notarize the closing documents. He texted Nicole back and forth about the whole deal and after we had been sitting in the parking lot for a few minutes we heard that we wouldn’t get the closing documents tonight. The notary wasn’t going to be there until 10:30 the next morning so we got ready to head home. Right in the middle of all that mess Tj got the phone call that he got the FedEx job!! After all our work that we could do right then was settled we headed back to the bus so Tj could change out of his suit; then we went to Colton’s to have a steak. I got the filet mignon again, but it wasn’t quite as good as the one I’d had the week before. On our way home Tj decided we should go ahead and print out the closing documents so we can read them and sign what we could sign on our own in the bus tonight.

We set the alarm for 7:30 and Jack got up in our bed at 7:15 a.m. We got up and cleaned up a little bit and went to the UPS office…Tj made an appointment last night to meet with a notary. Not long after we got there Jack said he had to go to bathroom and he really seemed like he had to, so I asked the UPS lady where the bathroom was and she said they didn’t have one. I walked left out of the building past a closed store or two to the Baskin Robbins and even though it wasn’t open I asked if I could use theirs; they said they were having plumbing problems. I walked right all the way around the building and past several more closed stores. The pet store wasn’t open yet, Party City said they were having plumbing troubles and that they use Pet City! By this time I was pretty fed up (it was a large building and the sun was shining down right on us) and I really wished Jack had just peed on the UPS floor.

We finished getting the closing documents signed and had them shipped off. We all got in the truck and drove right behind the building to the Kroger where Jack and I went inside to go to the bathroom. We went to the bus after that and got it ready to head out. After we were on the road about 2 minutes Tj asked where the jetpack was, our little Wi-Fi hotspot. I knew the last place I put it but many hours have passed and I still haven’t been able to find it. We have about 2 hours left to drive to get to Knoxville. It’s rained off and on a little bit but for the most part it hasn’t been too bad. Max’s lucky, since I can’t find that hotspot he’s not doing school today.

1pm Nicole says the buyers signed!!! Woot!

I made lunch while Tj drove…sandwiches and chips. I put the cream rubber rug cushion on the table and none of the plates slipped at all. Fancy! I’m really looking forward to life slowing down. When we stopped to get gas (at a place we looked up online to make sure we could maneuver in easily) Tj and I tore as much of the place apart to find the jetpack…no dice. But I did get a Cinnabon here πŸ™‚

The park in Memphis was really nice…every spot had a tree, and we faced the water. This place is just a trailer park! I was pretty disappointed. But this was all Tj could find at short notice especially considering Labor Day weekend will happen while he’s at work. He got us all set up outside and started on the electronics inside. He took the kitchen seating apart and found the jetpack!!! We’ll have to get some velcro to attach it in place while we travel.

The Big Move

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Tuesday August 16
The packing guys showed up at 9am and left at 3:15. I went and got them Candice wraps for lunch. The 3 of them asked for chips so I stopped by Kroger to get the kind of chips they wanted. They worked hard all day and packed just about the whole house in one day. At the beginning of the day I went to Walmart and got a bunch of Gatorade and then to Shipley’s and bought them donuts. After they left Tj and I picked up the bus and then went back to the house and started checking every drawer and closet to find what the packers “missed”. I packed one more box of stuff and then I went to get the boys.

I had a 2 inch crack in my windshield this morning, and when I went to pick up the boys this afternoon I watched it spread to about a foot.

We slept at the base since our beds are all packed now.

Going to bed tonight was wonderful! The big trailer is completely packed and padlocked. We’re totally finished with that! Finally! What a nightmare!! The bus is half packed, so we need to finish loading and then sort: the remaining house contents need to be divided into trash/donate/Mom’s trailer/etc. This was the hardest day.

I’m so grateful to finally be done with that part. When all is said and done I’m fairly pleased. We had to leave the armoire (my favorite one, of course), the desk and chair from mom (we had it in the entry), the sweater chest, the ikea bookshelves, the plastic storage unit that was in the Morgan bldg, the dorm fridge and other odds and ends, but mostly shelving. Ah well.

During this whole time people in LA were losing their whole houses! The flooding down there has been horrendous! Pretty much everyone I know has had flood damage, if not lost their whole house and contents. It really puts things in perspective. We are so blessed.

Tj said we couldn’t get on base with a big crack in my windshield so we called USAA to see about getting it replaced. They needed a dry garage to work in since it was raining. Tue/Wed/Thur we had the 28′ trailer in the driveway so they couldn’t use ours. We called Jennifer and she said we could use hers. Thank God for great friends!

Tj found out today that the buyers’ paperwork might not be completed in time, so they might not be able to close on time.

Max and Jack have gone to Amy’s yesterday and today. Max has done school and I don’t know what Jack has done. Monarch has been a godsend…so far Max has been finishing his school every day in about 4 hours!!!!

As we headed to the hotel we stopped for supper at Arby’s. I just about died…the brisket sandwich was out of this world, and the loaded curly fries were just as good! I’m not losing any weight during this move that’s for sure!!

We left the hotel around 7:30 or 8 and went home to work for a short time. Snell had Jack’s insoles in so at 10 o’clock the boys and I left to go pick those up, and to see if Jack’s new shoes fit. I got to Snell and Royce was super nice and helped me learn how to fit shoes and insoles on Jack. He said the toe of the shoe isn’t as important as where the shoe fits around Jack’s ankle. I should always leave a thumb’s width of length past Jack’s big toe when buying new shoes, and when Jack puts the shoes on I tug on the heel of the shoe a couple of times to make sure that it is snug. He also had Jack stand on his tiptoes with the shoes and the insoles on, and says if he’s able to do that the shoes are fitting well and the insoles are stabilizing his feet. He told me to ask Jack to stand on his tiptoes without any shoes and see what difference that made. I asked him if people with Down Syndrome wear insoles all their lives and he said they usually do. He told me to pay attention to Jack’s ankles during puberty, and said his heels might begin to turn out more around that time.

After we finished up there we went to the base to see if we could take care of the boys’ shots. I worked with Jack last night to help him not be so scared of getting a shot. The trouble with him is he wants to jump around when he’s scared but also hates having anybody hold him down. So we tried a new tactic; I told him if he got his shot with no fussing we would have ice cream for lunch. I use the same tactic on him that I had used on Max to get him used to getting a shot. Since I knew they were actually drawing blood I pinched the inside of his elbow and told him “There, you got a shot”. I was worried that the lab would be closed but that wasn’t the case, fortunately. I told the people there that every time Jack had had blood drawn they would wrap him up in a sheet and he would scream and cry and it was really torturous. He gets his blood drawn once a year at Arkansas Children’s Genetics Clinic to check his thyroid levels. The man at the desk said that he would get someone to help him. I was looking for Jack’s song on my phone and couldn’t find it so the lady behind the desk asked me what song; I told her it was Will Farrell’s ” Happy” and she said she would pull it up for me, but that it might take a while because they were next to lead lined walls. So the man and another woman came back and he asked me to have Jack sit on my lap and told me to wrap my left arm around his chest and my right arm should hold Jack’s left hand. I could tell Jack was scared but I just calmly talked to him and told him that he was going to get a shot and that he would get ice cream after. The guy told me to hold tight to Jack which I knew would make him fuss, but I did for the initial stick because I also know that if he jumped he could break the needle. The girl finally got the music on right before they needle went in, and Jack screamed and went completely stiff but I said again you just got a shot in a very upbeat voice and he calmed down right away. I was so excited and so proud of how good a job he did! I thanked the nurses there profusely and we left to go get Max his 11 year old shots. He got those no problem and they said that he wouldn’t need anymore until he was 16.

We went straight home after that and picked Tj up and went to Johnson’s Tasty Freeze to have ice cream for lunch. It was wonderful! We went back to the house to work a little and Tj left soon after for his flight physical. Max and I busted our tails sorting out the garage, and we cleared the entire top floor of the house. Tj came back home and took apart the storage shelves and emptied the Morgan building. We carried over one storage shelf to Freda. We also sorted all the medicines we’ve been hoarding all these years.

Around 6pm we wrapped it up and went to Colton’s for supper and I had the best filet mignon since that awesome one at Disney!

Well I thought Friday was going to be as calm as Thursday had been but that was not the case. Tj’s been so stressed about the garbage and also the motorcycle. I didn’t realize what a big job that garbage was going to be! We tried to find a dump but if we had found one we would still have had to rent or borrow a truck and make several trips, and on top of that Tj needed to get back to the base by 12:45 to do his interview prep webinar. He also had been trying to get in touch with the Honda guy to see if Honda would buy his motorcycle, but the guy was not returning his calls so it was left until today. We could have left it here and taken care of it at a later time, but Tj had his motorcycle jacket packed up so that would have been another thing to work out later.

Finally after making lots of calls we both realized at the same time we just need to call college hunks again to bring out their truck. They were supposed to bring a trash truck when they came to pack us up but didn’t either day. Tj called them at 10 o’clock and they had an appointment window for 10:30 to 12!!!! We obviously took that right away. They came about 11 o’clock and did an awesome job and took practically everything that we had. What we had leftover fit in our garbage can and is at the end of the driveway now.

The Honda people bought the motorcycle and JJ went to pick Tj up from there while I was taking care of the trash. Then we had just enough time to get to the base before the webinar started. Tj asked me to meet him at David’s so I hustled and got all of the returns I needed to take care of into the back of the truck. Max helped quite a bit loading it up and we were at David’s about a minute before they got there.

We drove straight to the base and Tj got settled in his room; the boys and I went to the boys’ room. The base hotel was really nice: there’s a master bedroom with a huge closet, a TV, a dresser and a queen size bed. Then there’s a living room with a TV and a full size stocked kitchen (with cooking utensils, not food), a stackable washer and dryer, and a bathroom for everybody to share. Beyond that was the boys’ bedroom with two twin beds, a humongous closet and a TV. I fixed lunch for everyone and after we ate Jack and I napped for a little bit. Then he and I took our returns back while Max did school and Tj continued his webinar.

I got back to the base just in time to drive Tj to the base gate. The guys picked him up and they went out for their last meal together. I drove the boys to David’s to have my last meal with the girls and kids. Not that we already hadn’t had a last Friday Funday and girls’ night, but whatever πŸ™‚ While eating Tj, Nicole (our realtor) and I were texting about closing times and locations. It was beginning to be clear that even that was gonna be a hassle! We would be in Memphis for Tj’s interview, and the buyer’s paperwork wouldn’t be ready on time so we struggled to find a way to make all this happen.

After our meal I drove over to the hotel to see Mom and Papa…they drove in with the trailer for us to pack up. Mom offered to drive Tj’s car to GA so we wouldn’t have to come back at a later date to get it. The guys dropped Tj off at the hotel and we went back to the base.

It poured as we packed! JJ brought Elliot and JP showed up to help. John had to go to the store and then came to help too. Papa sat in the living room and arranged all the computer boxes in the position they would fit in his car with our big TV on top. Jennifer told me last night that she wasn’t gonna be able to take my favorite armoire so I texted Matt to see if he wanted it…he did. Jennifer did take my red chair, though. Matt told me Terry was his muscle man and they were running to NLR and then would be back to get everything. Amy and John got all the Ikea bookshelves into their van despite the rain.

The guys helped Tj get all the heavy stuff out into the garage, and the gun safe into the trailer and then they left. There just wasn’t enough room for everyone to move around in the garage and Papa’s little trailer. It finally slowed raining a little bit. Tj and I finished loading the trailer, and we fit a lot more in there than we thought. Papa said he could’ve gotten the armoire in there but it was too late by then…I’d already given it to Matt. Oh well. Who knows if we’ll need that armoire, and we’ve had it for 12 years already. If he gets this job with FedEx I’ll get a new one.

Mom and I worked on loading the bus with everything that could stand the heat. I didn’t want to put the medicines or delicate food in there until we started cooling it. Mom and Papa went back to their hotel around 1pm and we went to McDonald’s for lunch so the boys could play on the playground a bit. When we got back I loaded the bus and Tj loaded the trailer. At one point I caught Jack with his pants down and the toilet seat up in the bus! That was close!

We bought tickets for the Family night at the Travs but it rained so much we were sure they were gonna cancel the game. Tj decided sometime 3ish I guess that we wouldn’t go either way…he needed to study and/or rest anyway. Of course a couple of hours before the game it stopped raining. I bet they played but I was glad we didn’t go. I’m bummed that we wasted the money, though.

Max is getting baptized this morning so I made sure to bring him extra clothes to church. Jack is in first hour G-lab now so I went there with him while TJ went to broadcast and Max went to his Sunday school class. On the way to our classes I kept seeing people and hugging them; it’s the last time I’ll see many of these people. After that Jack and I headed to church and saw Papa in the lobby. Papa wanted to see Max right when he got out of the baptistery so I left Gran and Jack in the pew and took Papa there.

It’s kind of amazing to hear what Max had to say. That he realized he needs to stop focusing on what he wants so much, and how he realizes that God wants to have a relationship with him. I hope he remembers for the rest of his life how important this was to him at this time. I’m trying to guide him on this path without forcing him one direction or another.

Papa wasn’t feeling well after working so hard loading the truck yesterday so he and Gran left right after the baptism. The sermon was very good as all of the preacher’s sermons have been lately, about how we worship the way God wants to be worshipped not the way we want to worship God.

After church G-lab had a lunch for us. The McDonoughs were there and lots of other friends, it was so good to see them all again. I can’t believe we’re actually leaving! After we cleaned up and everybody else left the girls and I took pictures and I told them and their husbands how thankful I was for such godly examples they were for my boys, and for such awesome friendship all these years! We tried to figure out how many years we have been together and when we got to know each other. I think we haven’t known each other all that long but the closeness makes it feel like it’s been all our lives.

We went back to the base and got a short nap then then I took the boys to the playground with Gran. Tj studied and Papa rested for the drive back tomorrow. About 8 p.m. I went back to the base. I made supper for all of us and then got the boys ready for bed. I cut Tj’a hair and as I was finishing up he decided his business casual clothes weren’t dressy enough, so I ran to Walmart to buy him a long sleeve button up. I got back around midnight and then we went to bed.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

I haven’t written a lot here for privacy reasons, but I’ve been keeping track of the updates. We decided last year that since Tj’s job lets him fly out of anywhere we would move to Atlanta to live near my parents. But since we have a camper (called ‘The Bus’) we’d tour the US first before buying a house. We prayed tons about it, and I came up with this magnificent timeline that would have us putting the house on the market about March. Apparently the Lord said ‘no’ to my prayers! So we prayed even more that we’d want what the Lord wants.

The big hold up was the painter. He was on his own timeline. As soon as he finished:

2 May Carpet cleaner/stretcher came.

3 May House cleaner for detail cleaning came.

21 May Buddy Talk Picnic

28 March – 23 May Jack has weekly swim class. He was already looking ready to swim! This could be the year!

23 May I meet with hand surgeon (for the scissors incident of 2013!!). She said wear brace 4 weeks and come back.

25 May Max meets with Greg Hooper to talk about getting baptized.

31 May Photographer came to take pictures of the house. The key in the lockbox was the back door, oops! He put the key in the bag, not under the bag. It took a few txts to figure that one out.

2 June – 8 June We went to St. Louis/Hot Springs. The house went on the market right at the beginning and we had a showing while we were gone!

We ended up having about 3 showings a week, mostly on the weekends. One of them right before we left town for a week left all the doors unlocked, the next guy locked every door including the one to the garage so I had to use my key to get into the front door. Better that than the other!

13-17 June Jack at sports camp. Me at VBS. Max taking the placement test for Monarch math.

20 June I have hand surgeon follow-up. Either surgery (not really recommended) or leave it alone till it really bothers me. They were supposed to call me 6 weeks later to make sure it wasn’t any worse than it had been. They didn’t, it isn’t.

22 June Jack at one day sports camp.

24-27 June Max at summer camp.

12 July Realtor says potential buyers are ‘concerned about the square footage’. Thus begins our nightmare.

13 July We got an offer on our house! Tj’s in Germany πŸ™‚
I told Jack that Sports Camp was in Jacksonville, and he told me it was in Momsonville.

Now that Jack has started using the word ‘the’ in front of things he’ll say stuff like “I want to eat the Windy’s please Mom” and the other day he said something about “I want to see the Daddy please Mom.” Cute.

15 July Buyers say this is their “firm and final offer”. Whatever. We signed the contract! Not because they threatened us.

18-23 July We went to Mom’s. Goodwilled with Mom. I drove to Huntsville to pick up Tj and got to tour his 747!! It was holding a stunt plane! I squeezed through the crates of other stuff to see that. Saw Star Trek with Tj at the theater while Mom and Papa kept the boys. Had house stuff hanging over our heads the whole time. On the way home stopped at Unclaimed Baggage and got Max his 3DS!!! It was his best day ever. He saved and saved for that!

26 July We got the inspection list, it’s not too bad. They want the refrigerator! Heh. And $400 from Home Depot (for various repairs), 2 windows fixed, and for us to repair tiles in the master bath.

27 July Foundation inspection. The guy laughed…our house is a rock!

28 July Tj sees we have a toilet leak!!! He repairs it. Termite guy comes.

2 Aug Max noticed Jack has fine hair on his back, so we were talking about how everyone has hair everywhere and I was looking at his face. He said, “I can almost feel a mustache. I don’t want a mustache.” I asked why not and he said he’d put on one of those fake ones and he didn’t look good with it, “…and they’re pretty realistic, too.” Oh, how I laughed.

Jack was sound asleep in the bed at 11 o’clock when I went upstairs to check on the boys. Max decided to go to bed then and got in beside Jack. He griped about how hot Jack was and how he didn’t want to snuggle with him but then he snuggled with him, and then he put his hands on Jack’s lips and moved them up and down like he was making Jack talk! What a punk!

3 Aug Appraisal!!!! Ugh! We probably won’t know till next week! I had planned not to pack until we knew (relatively) for sure that the house would sell. I can’t wait for that! There’s only a week and a half until the movers get here!
Jack said “I want call Dad, please Mom”

4 Aug Tj got asked to interview at FedEX! As I was trying clothes on the boys to take on our round-the-States bus tour!!! Wow. We decided he couldn’t fit the interview in…the only days they offered we’re moving, closing, or he’s scheduled to work. He called me this morning at 1am to say he’s gonna get a power of attorney so I can sign the paperwork and he can go to the interview!!

5 Aug I just caught Jack drinking milk out of the jug!!!!!!!!!!!

6 Aug The book said “arrived”, and Jack read “served”. I told him to put his finger over part of the word and then read it, so he put his finger over the second part and said “ser” and then put his finger over the first part and said “ved.” See how easy this is?
Last night Jack threw Legos all over his bedroom floor. This morning I told him to go in there and clean it up, he walked across all the Legos to get to the bed saying “Ow ow ow” with every step in a very bored tone of voice
Jack just said “Shut up, Max”!!
Aidan came back after 6 weeks of vacation, and he told Max a secret.

9 Aug Jack said, ” January, February, Mark, Luke”

10 Aug Jack didn’t like that I wouldn’t let him take his toys into church Wednesday night; that rule has been in place for years. So he got out of the truck and slammed the door and in case I hadn’t noticed it he said, “Jack slam door!”

11 Aug 9:30pm our realtor texted me and said the appraisal is low and asked if Tj was here. I texted her back right away and asked her what do we do now, and she never got back to me! So an hour later I finally called her and she said she couldn’t find her phone she was so glad I called and help her find it, her mama had been on vacation and had called her and they’d been talking! Whatever. When we finally got around to talking about the house the appraisal came in $3,000 lower then our contract. Tj was already asleep in Germany, so we had to wait for him to talk about it and decide. Ugh!!! The movers are coming in 5 days.

12 Aug Tj and I talked about it and we signed the paperwork accepting the appraisal price. Two hours later we realized she had dated the paperwork 10 days in the future. I called her and asked her to trash that copy send us a new Amendment saying the buyers had to sign by the end of business today. We feel in a rush because we need to be able to cancel the movers in a timely manner if this whole thing is going down the toilet. She assured me that they would have it signed in no time and it wasn’t an issue. I told her 3 times point-blank to trash that copy and give us a new copy and she never agreed to do that. She said she would call and get the buyers to sign it right away. I set an alarm to call her in 2 hours to ask about the paperwork. When I called her she said she didn’t have it but that the buyers were trying to get all their paperwork to their bank. I told her I’d call her back at 4:30 if I still hadn’t seen the paperwork. At 4:25 she sent a text saying the paperwork was all signed. I texted her back right away asking for a copy of the paperwork, and she never responded. I called her a little while later and said you must not have gotten my text asking for the paperwork and what’s the news on the close date. 5 minutes later she called me back and said she was on her way home and would send the paperwork as soon as she got home. 30 minutes later she got home and sent it. I still don’t feel the relief I should feel, I guess that has to wait until we actually close.

Freda brought me Freda brought me German chocolate cake and a $40 gift card to Kroger! I made 2 meals for her family last week…she was super sick with gallbladder trouble. I’m so thankful she’s well again.
Max asked me again to talk to Liz. I went to her house and chatted with her for a little while, and she said she’d talk to A right away. Then she walked back with me…A was waiting outside our house to play with Max. I sure didn’t stick around to hear what she had to say to him!

13 Aug Jack said “I don’t know” without prompting for the first time!!


Monday, July 11th, 2016

At the end of April Gmom came for a visit. During that time we had our first brush with poison/kids!!! We’d been having problems with ants in the Morgan Bldg (after having no pests in there for 7 years!!). We tried a few things, and I’d gotten some poison from Home Depot. After using it one time I left the jug on the back porch. A day or two later Tj sent Jack out to play for a bit. Later Tj looked out and saw ant poison all over the back porch! He called Jack in and J had 2 or 3 grains of poison right next to his mouth!! We looked in his open mouth and it was pristine, nothing was in there. Ugh. We hemmed and hawed for half a minute about who to call, and then I got the number off the box. After I’d said I had a 9yo with poison on his mouth but before I could say he had DS the guy asked me why I didn’t just ask him if he’d eaten any. Heh. Of course I’d asked and Jack said yes he had, but that doesn’t really mean that he ate any. The guy said J would’ve had to have eaten a large amount (2T, Ha!! that’s not large for J!) and it tasted really bad so he likely hadn’t eaten much. He doesn’t know Jack. That boy eats everything! The guy said if he’d eaten a substantial amount he would be vomiting, and that we’d only need to treat the symptoms. I was so glad to hear that! He never vomited, and we’ll never know if he actually ate any.

21 June After Jack asked to pump the blue ball several times we told him not to talk about the blue ball again or there’d be consequences. He didn’t mention it again for several days! That boy understands more than he’s able to communicate.

23 June Jack always makes up his own songs. Today we were listening to “Even So, Come” and Jack sang, “Even So, Basketball”
Max has really made a turn-around with his money. Yesterday he knew he had about $70 and heard the ice cream truck. He asked me if they could have ice cream and I said, “Do you have enough money?” and he said no! Last year he would’ve had it spent so fast! It’s like a switch has been flipped and he’s ready to save money now. He has bought a few things with his money, and I tell him that’s why we earn money, to buy us the things that make us happy (after tithe and savings, of course), but he’s not burning all his money the instant it hits his hands anymore.

4 July Jack helped me get breakfast ready (while I was reading in the bedroom) by taking out 2 cast iron skillets, climbing up on the cabinets to get 2 plates, got the mayo and a cheese stick out, and got out the tortillas (?). He also got the milk, a cup and a straw out.
Yesterday at lunch I taught him how to open an oatmeal cream pie, and then at supper he was able to open one all by himself with no other instruction! Those fat little fingers still don’t do what he wants them to do always, but they did a good job then.

4 July Jack knocked the mirror down in the bathroom. The full length mirror. That crazy kid! I was so thankful that the prongs that were holding it to the wall at the top were on the sides…so it just slid down the wall and landed on the baseboard, not the tile in our bathroom!

6 July Jack’s reading. The whole page was: Israel’s First King 1 Samuel 8-10 When Samuel was an old man, God’s people said, “We want a king to rule over us.” Samuel asked God for help. God told Samuel to warn the people about all the trouble a king could bring. Jack only had trouble pronouncing: rule, warn, trouble and could. Could he pronounced ‘would’ and then guessed ‘cloud’. He’s doing such a great job reading! He’s been reading stuff around him when not in ‘school’ for a good while…like barbecue sauce bottles on the table when we eat, signs on the side of the road, etc.

7 July Jack was reading and it said, “…would have to give the best things…” After he read that he patted me on the shoulder and said, “My best mom”!!!

9 July Jack climbed up onto the counter to get the bowls for breakfast and couldn’t get down. He sat there for at least 10 minutes and never thought to call for help. I called him a few times and and he answered. I figured he was stuck, so I waited to see how long it would take for him to figure out to call me. He never did.

11 July Today’s the first day (of probably his last week) of sports camp. He made himself throw up in the pool because he didn’t want to swim…he wanted to play basketball!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Here’s a quick run-down of our vacation we took this month:

Thu 2nd
Drive to st Louis, @5 hours
Couldn’t get either DVD player to work
Max forgot kindle
Ate burgers on the way at Hayden’s
Walked a block and back to the restaurant while Tj payed
J threw up inside!
Fudge at the flea market
Hotel and swim
Pizza next door for supper

Fri 3rd
Early breakfast at hotel fulfilling J’s desire to “eat breakfast otel!”
Jack threw up his boiled egg
St. Louis Arch 10:10
J freaked out going down the stairs to get back on the train, I think because of steep steps and dark tunnel feel
Walked around St. Louis
Monty’s Sandwich Co for lunch
Federal reserve bank tour
Bags of shredded money
Butterfly house and playground, dippin dots for the boys
Max totally lost it in the butterfly house!!!
Salt and smoke for supper, they brought me the wrong meal, so I got two! Awesome brisket.
Hotel and swim
J asleep 9:30, awoke 7:30

Sat 4th
City Museum: closed toed shoes and pants
J freaked out walking over grills, and got lost twice
Wrote my number on his arm
Lunch there
Ice cream after, mine was only ok
Chinese for supper
Jack said, “Thanks, babe” to the waiter. Classy.
Bed around 9pm

Sun 5th
Drive to bentonville, @5 hours
We were singing Happy Day and Jack sang Jack birthday, and thanks for saving me!!
Listened to church on the drive
Gave Jack his first piece of gum. Swallowed in under 30 seconds.
The Red Barn Cafe and Hen House Bakery
Potatoes and white gravy were the best!!! I had that for dessert. We bought a giant cinnamon roll to go and ate it the next day…but it was undercooked in the middle.
Swim/hot tub 1.5 hrs
Supper at Taqueria Guanajuato

Mon 6th
Crystal Bridges 11-6pm
Amazeum 10-5
Jack said “Oh wow, a gutter” in the most bored voice ever
Saw a Frank Lloyd Wrigt house from the outside
Bought sketchbooks for Max and me, he promised to draw a human figure every day
Hotel and watched some of the Maltese Falcon while Tj napped
Swim/hot tub
Greek place in the mall with the best fries ever! Put Cavenders on fries from now on
Max new tennies like Dr. Who
Ice cream at Braum’s
Lights out at 10pm
First showing of our house tomorrow!!!!

Tue 7th
Breakfast and Swim/hot tub
Terra studios (should’ve planned more time there)
CJs Big Boy burgers
Drove to Hot Springs
Scoops ice cream for supper
Wed 8th
Zipline 9:00am with Max
Drove home
Ate lunch at Brown’s Country Store and Restaurant…tried fried green tomatoes for the first time…they were great!