Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Too weird!

If I wasn't sitting here watching this, I would think that it was impossible. Katelynn is sitting here, playing Mancala with HAILEY!!! Hailey is actually following Katelynn's directions. Katelynn will finish her own move, then ask Hailey which cup she wants to play. Then Katelynn will instruct Hailey on how to move her stones. It is quite humorous! These girls never cease to amaze and amuse me.

This week, the Stringer Zoo is trekking to church every morning (way too early) for "Game Day Central", our annual VBS (Vacation Bible School) program. I'm teaching the 4th and 5th graders first thing in the morning, so I've been staying up too late preparing for the next day's lesson. On our first day, I had 27 students, today I had 31. Whew!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll be teaching about the ABC's of salvation, and adults from the church will meet with anyone interested in knowing more about Jesus and his gift of life. I'm excited about tomorrow. Emily is the only person I've lead to Christ. (Scott had the privilege of leading Katelynn to Jesus.)

Your prayers are coveted! May God be glorified today.

The other male in my life.

I sure hope that last night made it real evident how positively IN LOVE with Scott I am. :) However, I have an admission. There is another male in my life, and there has been for the past 11 years.

Today was yet another momentous occasion for the Stringer Zoo. My fabulous, red, golden retriever, Eli, arrived at his eleventh birthday. We celebrated by singing "Happy Birthday" to him and sharing the remainder of our spaghetti with the dogs. I swear they were smiling tonight.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am absolutely smitten with my pups. I truly enjoy sharing my life with these furry companions. They make life so much richer, and I love to observe them and their absolute zeal for life.

Nearly 11 years ago, Scott and I arrived at a trailer in the back woods of Northern Florida to look at a litter of golden retriever puppies. It was raining, so we donned a pair of black ponchos to shield us from the weather. I had my heart set on coming home with a blond female puppy, but as Scott and I tromped through the mud in the yard, this little, damp, dark red male puppy kept following us. I think it is appropriate to say that Eli chose us, we didn't choose him. :)

Eli is one special dog. He loves everyone he sees, and greets our visitors with a true doggie smile. He loves to cuddle with me when Scott is gone, and will often sneak up on the bed in the middle of the night when I am too dead to the world to reprimand him. He loves to play fetch with anything lying on the floor, and wrestles with Abbey like he was still a puppy.

Eli and I share a bond that I doubt I'll experience again in my lifetime. He seems to read my moods, and will change his behavior as he anticipates my reaction in any given situation. Eli and I have worked together over his lifetime on obedience and flyball. He just wants to please me and find the closest tennis ball. He is a joy to work with.

I'm so thankful to have had this amazing dog in my life for the past eleven years. I'm thankful for every day I have with him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

12 years ago

I can remember the excitement as we drove into the church parking lot. I couldn't keep from grinning. My cheeks hurt because my smile was so large! California's "June Gloom" hadn't yet broken, so the sun's light was diffused by a low layer of clouds. Looking back, the day appears to glow in my memory.

Scott and I met in Math class, our junior year in high school. Nearly six years later, we were getting married. Against all odds, the Lord had carried our relationship through the end of high school and four years of separation during college. Here I was, about to gain my heart's desire.

I remember seeing Scott at the end of the aisle, waiting for me. His deep, brown eyes reflecting his love for me. I wanted to run to him, but I bowed to tradition and walked arm in arm with my Daddy. My heart felt as if it would burst out of my chest, how in the world could this day get any better?

Most of the memories from our wedding day are a blur. I look at the pictures and flashes come back to me, but the details remain fuzzy. Yet, what does remain strong in my memory bank are the emotions, the strength of my feelings and the overriding joy.

On that day, twelve years ago, I felt so blessed to be Scott's wife. I was amazed that a man like him would honor me in this way. I was so thankful to the Lord for giving me my hearts desire. Scott and I had been through some tough times during our five years of dating, but I knew that we were well prepared for the challenges that would come our way in marriage.

Now, those feelings of blessing and honor are still with me, they have just grown with the passing of time. Once in a while, I'll just watch Scott from across the room, as he interacts with our daughters, as he puzzles over an Excel spreadsheet, or even as he lays in bed at night. As I gaze at him I feel physically touched by the depth of my love for him. I really don't know how to describe it, my breath is taken away, I can't help but smile, and I'm amazed at how our love has grown and deepened with time.

I'm constantly learning more about him. (Case in point, I never realized he HAD to wear a watch. I just knew he always did. *grin*)

I love to see how Scott's respect for others plays out in a day to day basis. Sometimes it shows up as time spent cuddling with a daughter on the couch, reading a book, or watching "Dora". Often it will be revealed as Scott talks to someone. Or should I say, as he listens to someone. Scott listens, a quality that will be sorely tested as he returns home in a few months. All of his women will have seven months of stored up words to spend!

Scott has a fabulous ability to put up with my odd quirks. He has supported me in my cloth diapering addiction - only once in a while teasing me about the amount of fabric stored in the sewing room. Scott loves to build me up, encouraging me and complimenting me on a job well done. I love to show off my latest diaper creation to him, and he'll "ooh" and "aah" at the workmanship. Never once will he sigh and remind me that they aren't designed to be works of art.

Our marriage is such a team effort. Scott helps me out when I'm feeling weak. He'll take over when I'm needing help. A friend even commented once that Scott seems to anticipate what needs to be done, and steps in without being asked. Here I thought that I was the only one to notice that awesome trait!

I am so thankful to God for giving me this man, who desires to love God and to show our daughters how to love Him too. Scott is such an example to me of wanting to do God's desire. Scott isn't perfect, but his heart is turned toward our Father, eager to learn and grow. That eagerness excites me, and spurs me on to grow and learn as well. I love to watch as the Lord challenges Scott. I know that even through the trials that Scott will deepen his relationship with God.

Lord, you amaze me with your ability to show your love to me through Scott. Thank you for giving me Scott as my husband, and for blessing us with four fabulous daughters. I'm in awe. Thank you for the past twelve years of marriage!!!

Scott, I'm proud to be your wife. I love you!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Once in a while.

Yesterday, Friday, was an extremely tough day. Hailey cried - unless she was asleep. I'm not positive, but I think she is getting molars. However, they are coming in the way far back of her mouth, not right behind her first set of molars. I'm not quite sure what to do with her.

However, today was a FABULOUS day!!! I was cooked a delicious hot breakfast. I didn't have to make my daughters lunch, and I spend 2 1/2 hours at the pool. Wahoo!! Heather, Holly and Hope Beane have joined the Zoo for the weekend, and I was spoiled today. My girls love the Beane girls, and as far as I can tell, the feeling is mutual. :) I'm amazed at the Beane's patience with my family's quirks, and I so enjoy just spending time with the girls.

I'm so amazed at how quickly the weekend is passing. Before I know it, we'll all be heading up to Northern San Diego County for flyball practice, and the weekend will be over. The next two days are momentous ones for the Stringer Zoo. On Monday, Eli turns 11 years old. My distinguished boy is definitely slowing with the years, but his heart still thinks he is a puppy. I think he is currently cuddled with Hope in bed. :)

And tomorrow marks the start of 13 years of marriage for Scott and I. Even though we are currently apart, we will be celebrating our twelfth anniversary. It was fun to look through some pictures of that Saturday morning in 1995 when Scott and I exchanged vows. Boy, did we look a lot younger!!! I really loved looking back at the pure joy on our faces. I can hardly believe that Scott and I have been together as a couple for 17 years, and married for 12. Time sure does move quickly!

I love my husband dearly, and I'm eager to celebrate with him next month in person. For now, I'll enjoy our e-mails and the surprise phone call this morning. It was wonderful to hear his cheerful voice in my ear. :)

My final thought for the night is a "funny" from the humorous mind of Todd Wilson at www.familymanweb.com. (Check him out if you have a moment, he is great!) In case anyone ever wondered how I get any schooling done with the girls, here is a glimpse at my day...

Friday, June 22, 2007


OK, is is plain that I'm excited? I just spent a ton of money over the past 24 hours.

Last night I purchased 6 tickets to a Rascal Flatts concert that will happen in our hometown in September! My sister, Melissa - or Auntie Mo, has slowly converted me into a country music listener. Last summer, she and I, plus all 5 of our girls, trekked north into Jackson Hole, WY for a family reunion. During the 6 days of driving I was introduced to Rascal Flatts, and had to admit that I enjoyed their songs! She just happened to leave the CD "Me and My Gang" in the truck, so I "borrowed" it permanently.

Auntie Mo driving to Wyoming

When I discovered that RF would be playing at the Coors Amphitheater here in Chula Vista, I knew we had to go. So, the 6 tickets purchased are for Mel, her daughter - Hannah, Katelynn, Emily, myself, and Scott. Yup, poor country-music-detestor Scott is going to take 5 women to a country music concert. It truly must be love!!!

The other large purchase I made was for a plane ticket. You guessed it, I'm going traveling again. This time, my trailer will stay in storage, and the girls will stay with Nana. I'm heading West to get to the Far East. (Boy, doesn't that sound weird?) I am blessed to be able to join Scott at his next port visit! We'll have almost 5 full days together exploring a new country. I'm so excited!!!!!

I think I'm done spending money!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Building memories.

I love lavender. I love the plants, I love the scent, I love its effects. So last year, when Scott and I read about a local lavender field, we were off. We packed up lunch, the girls and the dogs into my Mother's Day present - the Suburban, and headed north. We picnicked at Kit Carson Park in Escondido, where Eli and I had learned flyball back in 1999. Then into the back country we headed.

I don't remember how much time we spent at the Lavender Fields, but I do remember the pure enjoyment of the day. Sitting near the fountain at the Serenity Garden while the girls wandered around the lavender labyrinth, hiking up and around rows of fragrant, blooming plants, inspecting the distillery where the essential oil is harvested, and visiting the gift shop. It was a day full of new adventures and memories to build upon.

So this year, as I began to get e-mail newsletters that the Lavender Fields were in bloom and open for business, I was eager to recapture some of the joy from that May weekend in 2006. Katelynn and Emily remembered our visit and were eager to see if the decorated sugar cubes would be available for tasting again. This year, Scott would not be able to join us, for obvious reasons. However, we invited my parents to join us in our excursion and they were game to try the adventure.

It's funny how time dulls my memory! I had forgotten how far off the main road the lavender fields are. Then, my GPS was determined to get me from point A to point B via a road that didn't exist. But, moods were up, and everyone handled the two u-turns without complaining. We enjoyed our picnic lunch in the back of my parents Roadtrek van, with only one small hitch - Hailey fell out of the back of the van. (We had left the rear door hope while we ate.) She tumbled about 4 feet to the ground, but only has one small bruise on her chin as evidence of her stunt. (I think my heart finally started beating again about an hour later - I feel like the world's worst mom!)

With Hailey firmly in my arms and the giggle of girls in tow, Mom, Dad and I headed up the hill to the Lavender Fields. The bright sun quickly heated us up, turning the girls cheeks pink from the effort of climbing uphill. We watched as bees helped to pollinate the various lavender plants - did you know there are loads of different varieties of lavender? The girls enjoyed using the cool water of the serenity garden fountain to cool off.

Hailey is deep into the "Monkey see, Monkey do" mentality that toddlers have, so I was thankful she followed her sister's lead by playing with the water instead of copying the llamas on the other side of the fence. The llamas were rolling in the thick dust in the center of their sunny pen to cool off - nature's first sunscreen I guess.

We made our way around the fields to the distillery, and were lucky enough to catch one of the experts as he began to distill the lavender. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and give a brief overview of how they get the lavender essential oil and hydrosol they use in their organic products.

Next stop was the wool shed, where we tasted some iced serene lavender tea. (A mixture of chamomile, lavender and other herbs.) YUMMY! I had purchased a small tin of this tea last year, and have slowly enjoyed it over the year. Usually I drink it hot, with a touch of lavender infused honey mixed in. This year, I splurged and purchased two tins, so I can enjoy it more often.

Last stop was the gift shop. I so love small, personal businesses. Even though there was a constant flow of people in and out, I was able to get some one-on-one time with a woman who knew her lavender. She showed me several of the products, and was kind enough to give each girl a scented soap to take home. My parents patiently waited and kept the girls entertained while I browsed.

Then, all too soon, the day was over. Mom and Dad were on their way to Grandpa Mack's for dinner, and the girls and I headed south for home. The Stringer Zoo did stop at a Cold Stone Ice Cream in Mira Mesa for a cool treat. It was fun to see Hailey toddle around the courtyard, she really enjoys finally being mobile!

Oh, one "funny" about today... I accidentally left Hailey's diapers sitting on the stairs at home. So I arrived at the Lavender Fields with no diapers. Hmmmm. Fortunately, I had a spare roll of paper towels behind my seat! Little Miss Hailey, who can't stand paper diapers, had her diaper cover stuffed with several layers of VIVA paper towels. Poor girl. How's that for a mother's resourcefulness?

I think I'm going to go brew some serene lavender tea and head to bed. Have a great Father's Day everyone!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Time flies when...

no one is whining at me! :)

It has been a typical third quarter of cruise for the Stringer Zoo. I don't remember much from Scott's first deployment. (Eight years and 3 children ago.) However, I DO remember that the forth month of cruise was the worst part. This deployment has definitely followed along those lines.

My depression and lack of organization (funny how the two go hand-in-hand) really began to take hold toward the end of May, and I feel as if it is only now that I am beginning to come out into the sun again. My house is still a complete disaster - clothes, toys and THINGS are stashed in the oddest of places as we rearrange the entire upstairs. Tomorrow is slated for a full house Crisis Cleaning. Katelynn and Emily are even on board, I think they are tired of not knowing where any of their precious possessions are.

One thing that so far seems to have helped me shake a portion of my foul mood was to finally get away from the house for a little while this evening. I was on orders to go out, without children, and relax. That was extremely hard for me to do. I've tapped out my babysitter list with all the appointments the Stringer Zoo has had lately, and it has been tough to get any new "blood" willing to watch 4 kids for any length of time. Tonight, my regular babysitter was able to come over for four hours! As tempting as it was to use the time to get caught up on housework, I obeyed my command and left the house.

I sat in a darkened theatre for over two hours and watched "Ocean's 13". Not an academy award winner, but entertainment! I splurged on a popcorn and soda, and settled into the third row - the screen seemed as large as an IMAX. After enjoying the movie, I headed out to our new mall and hit the Barnes and Noble. (And of course the Starbucks as well.) My four hours was over way too quickly, but I feel a bit more prepared to be a mom again.

Keep praying for us! I know that the remainder of this month will probably get long for us. We are all looking forward to mid-July and beyond. There is much to look forward to!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I can hardly believe that it has been over a week since I updated the blog. Hhhhurumph is all I have to say about that. Well, OK, I'll say a little more.

I think I can speak for Scott as well as myself when I say that if our blogs are quiet for more than 48 hours, please up your prayer frequency for our family. I'm noticing that the crazier life is, the more fires I have to put out in a day, the more running around I do, then the less likely I am to spend my few minutes alone putting my thoughts onto the web. It is a pretty safe assumption that if I have been pretty quiet, then I'm overwhelmed with life. I'm beginning to think that overwhelmed is now a constant state for me. I feel as if I'm not ever going to get my head above water.

The girls and I have had some fun over the past few weeks of being home. I really do want to share those special moments with you. I will, soon. Right now I think I'll enjoy a bowl of ice cream (diet, what diet?!?) and watch a funny movie. Early service at church is over-rated anyway, right? We can go to late service instead. Chocolate sauce, here I come!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Full Day.

Once again, I'm exhausted, and the house is still trashed. Well, OK, maybe trashed is too strong of an adjective. It definitely looks better than it did when I woke up this morning, but there is still a bunch of work to do to dig out from under the chaos. At least the girls rooms are almost finished. I just have to rearrange closets so the clothes are in the right rooms, and they'll be done. Then on to the playroom!

Normally I would take my time - like over a month - to get something like this done. However, right now all the playroom stuff is stashed in my sewing/guest room, so I can't sew and there is no place for my sister to stay when she comes down tomorrow night. Plus, my room is clobbered with extra clothes the girls grew out of or don't need, plus a large bookshelf and a toddler bed. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon we can get the playroom fairly well put together. As long as I can find a place to sequester the toddler bed and crib for the meantime, I think I can get everything else put away.

As promised, here are a couple of pictures of the girls and their "new" rooms. It is hard to take pictures in a 10'x10' room! I hope they show a little bit of what life is like now.