Fun in the Gorge

This past weekend, our little family had the opportunity for a free weekend in the Columbia River Gorge!! The Army has an amazing program called “Strong Bonds” that exists to encourage and equip military families as they seek to build strong and lasting bonds with one another. The program is through the Chaplaincy (is that a word?) and it is so great!

At the top of Multnomah Falls!

The theme this weekend was “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” by Mark Gungor. Childcare was provided as were all our meals and accommodations; we just had to get there! We had such an amazing time.  We were surrounded by beauty and we were laughing hysterically about how God created men and women so differently.

On Friday, we got there early, played on the playground and explored the grounds. How smart for a resort to have a playground on the premises? Ding! Points with the wife.

We explored a bit more and then started the weekend with dinner (alone!) and a seminar. The first night was a bit rough once we got back to the room and I was worried Saturday morning. Chase seemed to be getting sick, he didn’t sleep very much that night, and I knew if he got worse we’d have to go home. BLAH!  So I prayed. We played the day by ear and he seemed like he was ok. The day turned out to be priceless!

The seminar that morning was encouraging and helpful and when we went to pick the kiddos up, they didn’t even want to come with us! We left Cooper to have some fun but took Chase up to the room for a nap. Then, when everyone was refreshed and ready to go, we went out to explore the Gorge. What fun!

We really wanted to hike up to the top of this big water fall along the Columbia River called Multnomah Falls. It is the 2nd highest waterfall in the U.S. We put Chase in the back pack and off we went. It wasn’t a hard hike but we certainly worked for it. We hiked 1.5 miles up and then back down. There were plenty of switchbacks and it was STEEP! But when we got up to the top it was all worth it. What a great time!

This was a huge tree and there were many more all around!
Coop and I up at the top of the falls

We barely made it back to the hotel in time for dinner, but we made it! The evening ended with swimming with the kids in the pool and chatting with friends in the hot tub. Ahhhhhh…..

Sunday morning was refreshing as we worshiped and enjoyed a message from our Chaplain, Cpt. Lewis and then we got to enjoy one last meal together without the kids before we left.

Coming home was a bit less fun because Chase (the screaming banshee) was not happy and wanted to be sure we really understood the depths of his unhappiness. But, it was well worth the time away. We gleaned some encouraging truths from the seminar, had an opportunity to laugh at each other and created some new inside jokes. We also realized how important it is for both of us to have a break from our littles to talk about our relationship. We have had a bad habit of not going on dates and we have committed to fixing that problem.  Deployment has taught us both the value of refreshment!

If you’d like to see more pics of our fun trip, here’s the link!

First School Tales of 2010

“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks!”  Oh, wait a second…what? Isn’t school supposed to be starting? Not apparently on Ft. Lewis…well not for the pre-K program anyway.

This past school year, I put Cooper in an amazing preschool, (PSCS) as a special “deployment” treat. It was a fairly expensive school (expensive for our income at least!) but with the extra deployment money we could afford it. We had a wonderful experience there and I really loved it. Cooper really loved it too. It was the perfect place for that season of our lives and I am so grateful for the experience.

silly with his best friend in school last year

This year I didn’t feel called to continue Cooper at the school for various reasons. But two of the biggest were that the price went WAY up for pre-K (and deployment money is gone now!) and the other because we are most likely moving mid-year. We could have enrolled Cooper into Kindergarten in the local school district, but even that didn’t seem quite right yet. We don’t want Cooper to be the youngest kid in his class when he gets to highschool.

Jeremy and I talked and prayed it over and felt that the best place for Cooper this year would be the Strong Beginnings program that the Army offers on post. The program has received rave reviews and all my fellow Army wives have praised the program saying that they thought it was wonderful for their littles. The program does cost, but it is based upon your Army pay scale, which is much more reasonable for us.

I meant to get Cooper enrolled before we left for Hawaii, but boy, July was quiet the whirlwind of a month.  Jeremy was so busy when he got home from deployment. Throw in Cooper’s birthday and our 8-year anniversary and whew! It went quick! Before I knew it we were in Hawaii. As soon as we got back in town, I high-tailed it into the CYSS (Child Youth & School Services) building to figure stuff out.

I left more confused then when I went in there.

All I did was say I wanted to enroll him and bam…he was on a waiting list. UGH!

That didn’t seem right to me and it certainly didn’t satisfy my need to know every single tiny detail about everything. I talked to my friend Steph and she gave me the “insiders” scoop….I had to go to the “Outback”.

Sounds like I’m on Safari right? So I went to the illustrious Outback and the lady at the front desk did a much better job satisfying me with additional details.

First of all, I am on the waiting list and I must wait to be contacted by phone about whether we have received a “slot”. Once I get said phone call I have to go back to the “Outback” and personally accept the slot and pay a deposit. I’ll know nothing until then….fabulous.

Additionally, I found out that school does not start until September 20th! There is an open house on September 15, so I hope I can get even more information there and then. Oh and I did find out it is 5 days a week and I can choose the morning or afternoon class once I get my phone call.

So Cooper is going to have the longest summer break ever….

In the mean time, Jeremy and I have also had a long chat about the school attitude of our eldest. He needs some help in the motivation department. We’ve been having such a fun summer that it seems like a lot of the skills he acquired over the school year have severely waned. We decided to implement a little incentive program for Cooper that, so far, is working out wonderfully. We bought a special alphabet practice notebook and we have him write the alphabet BEFORE he can watch cartoons in the morning.

So far this has worked out great and has even improved his attitude towards school work. However, Jeremy is the one with the teaching gift in our family. He has been working with Cooper each morning since we made this decision. He returns to work on Monday morning, so I am hoping that Daddy’s paved way helps me when it is my turn to step in on this issue.

I’ll need to get my act together to make it through the next couple of weeks with him I think. School starts on post for the regular elementary on September 8 and Coop will be missing his neighborhood pals and wondering why we aren’t playing with his other buddies too. He’ll be bored out of his mind and a bored 5-year old is always bad news. I’m thinking I’ll need to pull together some educational field trips and we’ll probably start doing “school time” in the mornings to get him used to the idea of getting up and going again.

It seems like September 20 is a long way away, but you know how time flies when you are having fun. And having Daddy home is so much fun!

Me and my big boy!