Monday, December 28, 2009


It arrived today! I had a feeling it wasn't going to make it by Christmas Day, but this was as close as you can get! I told Thomas & Abby that it was a package that Daddy had sent for Christmas but Santa just couldn't get it here on time. So...

... opening the box
... and finding 2 Daddy Dolls - one for Thomas & Abby. It is actually made by a company called Hug-A-Hero, but the dolls have been infamously named "Daddy Dolls" for all the Daddies (and of course, Mommies) that are gone due to military service.

I promise you this is not staged. Thomas toted his Daddy everywhere with him tonight - even the dinner table. He couldn't wait to put him in bed and have him go "Night-Night". He carried him around and even showed him some of his new Christmas toys that he got. I'll have to admit, I fought back a few tears just watching him with his Daddy. It is what I hoped for... Thomas seeing Brian on a daily basis and sharing as much as he can with him. I know it isn't the real thing... but having Thomas (and of course Abby) be able to "talk and play with him" is the next best thing until Brian returns.
Yeah... Brian does probably think it is a little wierd to see himself like this... but to us (and especially Thomas), he is our hero.
Abby and her Daddy Doll
Video Clip - Here is Thomas as he is opening the package and really looking at his Daddy Doll for the first time. He was so observant when he studied Brian's uniform, boots, red hat and his eyes...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas was certainly different this year - both exciting and disappointing at the same time. The exciting parts were all about Thomas and Abby. He was totally into Christmas this year - Santa, reindeer, snowman, tree, lights, decorations, presents - ALL of it! What a difference a year makes. He sang songs (especially "Jingle Bells"), drank hot chocolate almost everyday and fell in love with the movie "Polar Express". Abby just watched everything that was going on, laughing and cooing the entire time!

On Christmas Eve, we set out a plate of cookies and milk for Santa and a small bowl of carrots for the reindeers - Thomas was very excited that we would be giving them all a snack when they delivered presents that night. It really was so precious! Christmas morning began at 6am and just seemed to last all day. That was a good thing - we opened presents, we played with them, Abby napped, we opened more presents and prepared a wonderful Christmas dinner that was enjoyed by us and my in-laws.

Like I said, Christmas was so exciting with the kids. The disappointing part was not having Brian home. It was hard emotionally. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to be away, even as we talked on Skype Christmas morning and he watched Thomas enjoy the moments with presents and family. Enjoying some of the quiet moments with Thomas made me miss Brian even more - knowing that he missed out on those times. Rocking Abby to sleep as we listened to Christmas music by the tree - knowing that he missed out on that as well. I know there will be next year... and God knows that Thomas and Abby will be just as excited about the Christmas spirit then ... it was just hard not having him with us during a time that you should absolutely be with your loved ones.

Christmas lights (and Santa) at the park

Loved the lite up reindeers... might have to get some for next year!

All dressed in our Christmas best!
Christmas Eve

Christmas morning - eating the left over cookie bites that Santa left behind. Notice Abbigail watching his every move.
Those beautiful eyes and smile
Mommy & Abby

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Update from the "Sandbox"

Here it is in all of its glory... the chapel that Brian has been the project manager on & they have been building since last month. Pretty amazing, huh?

I think the bell tower is a very beautiful touch
At night with lights...
AC units to keep folks cool. Notice how they have them up on ledges... that is quite common down here along the Gulf Coast with water front homes. Just in case there is a hurricane, tropical storm or flooding - it offers extra protection to the units. Now... given that this in the desert, I'm not sure the purpose there. Maybe so the sand doesn't blow into them??? :) Brian is probably hate me for saying that comment.
Dan R. building the bell tower

Interior entrance
The front of the chapel
The alter
Guess what this is? No, it is not a coffin (although I have to admit, it does resemble a short one).
It is a baptism bath. It just happens to have the cover on it (hence the cross). Wow... I was kinda blown away that they would add that kinda extra little touch. Way to go guys!
So Brian's team is packing up now. In the coming weeks they will leave Basra and spread out around the AOR (basically, Iraq & Afghanistan). More projects to build while they finish up the 2nd half of this deployment. We are down to double digit days (can I get an AMEN to that sista) so we are one milestone closer to being done. Keep everyone away from their families this holiday season in your prayers.

Jumping Bean

The kids and I headed into town today to the mall to try and pick up some last minute things for Christmas. We brought the double stroller (which was again... amazing) and enjoyed a fairly empty mall (very surprising considering Christmas is less than 72 hours away). Anyway...

As we were walking along, we came across this acrobatic/trampoleen... Thomas' eyes were wide open as he just stopped and stared at the two young children who were already on it. There was a little girl who I am guessing was about 3 or 4 and a young boy about 6 who were jumping and enjoying it tremendously. Again, Thomas was in awe. After about a minute, I turned to him and asked, "Would you like to go on it?" Before I even heard an answer, Thomas was already taking off his jacket and walking around to the entrace. "OH MY GOSH! He really wants to do this? I don't know if he is even big enough or how much this thing costs??"

We get to the entrace and I read the sign: Minimum is 20lbs - $6 for 3 minutes. OMG again, who on earth would put a 20lb child up on this thing? And am I crazy for paying $6 for just 3 minutes of "I'm not sure if Thomas is really gonna like this?"

I think you can tell all too well that he LOVED it and it was worth every penny that I spent!

This is just the 1st or 2nd bounce... he went much higher once he got the hang of it.
Are there enough straps and harnesses?
Being lowered down after all the bouncing... I think he is bummed here he has to get off.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tummy Time

Video Clip - OK, so I didn't get it on video but Abby hit a milestone today. She rolled over. Yeap... she was doing some tummy time and then just flipped. I'm not sure she knew what happened but started cooing and smiling right afterwards. What a hoot it was to see. Anyway, this is the best I can do for you right now. This clip is after about 10 min on her tummy so she is getting a tad tired and frustrated. But watch what happens when I call her name...

Recovery time & outside time

Since Wednesday, the Heck clan has been dealing with some crazy virus floating around and we are just starting to recovery. It was bad. Wed night involved lots of puking (sorry... I know that is gross) from Thomas as well as Abby. I believe we went through a lot of PJs, towels, blankets and sheets that night. The next night I was down for the count and I was just as bad except I was hugging the toilet (I know... also gross). Anyway, with the exception of some coughing and some runny noses - we are on the way to full recovery. Thank goodness because Christmas break started on Friday and who wants to spend their vacation sick?

Those of you who were with us on the last deployment might remember one of my "tricks" to always keeping Thomas' eyes on Daddy (at least pictures of Daddy)... LOTS of pictures of the two of them together hung up at eye level all over his room. I felt like it really helped us always to be talking about Daddy while he was gone; for Thomas to remember all the things that him and Daddy do together; and so that when Daddy returns, the transition just might be easier because Daddy has always "been around". That is the idea anyway and it seemed to work out pretty well last time so I thought I would make sure we do it again for round #2 with Thomas & now Abby. I use scrapebooking paper and after attaching the pictures, I have them laminated for durability reasons :) Thomas LOVES his pictures of him & his Daddy.

And although there is only a few pictures (because he left when she was only 3 weeks old), I hung up 2 of Abby and her Daddy. I figured by the rocker where I feed her most of the time is fitting because she can see one side when she is eating and the other side when I'm burping her :)
Driving home from school yesterday... ready to snooze!
On Thursday afternoon, my in-laws took the kids because I was so sick I wasn't sure if I could care for myself let alone the two of them. Anyway, after playing, dinner, and baths - they brought the kids home to put them to bed. Mary & Tom mentioned that they watched "The Polar Express" with Thomas and he really liked it. So... this morning it was still pretty cold out and we couldn't head out for a morning walk just yet - I offered the movie up to him and he was so EXCITED. He watched the movie with the same anticipation and giddiness as he has done with all of his favorite movies... this is a sign that we have a keeper.
Today is the first day that I have truely exercised since giving birth to Abby. I'm embarrassed to say that but it is true. Regardless of the reasons, although I'm sure you can put together the "whys" with only one set of hands, two kids, a dog, a full time job, a commute and not to mention -NO running stroller up until NOW! Yeap... we put it to use this morning & this afternoon and it was FABULOUS! I'm talking about the 35 minute power walk (because I'm not quite ready for running) AND the jogging stroller! The kids even loved it and Thomas is a hard sell with many things! I know this sounds so cliche, but it was so invigorating to excerise and also to be with my kids (and Ziggy too). Can't wait to do this on a daily basis from now on. Check out my passengers all bundled up:
About 1/3 of the way, someone was already in dream land...

Sleeping Angel

Video Clip - My guard dog and my littliest angel today. Zig was on the hunt for squirrels and Abby was so restless that the only thing that seemed to work to put her to sleep at nap time was swinging in front of the open door with a little breeze and sunshine on her face. Aaahhhh... the sound of quiet in the Heck household (Thomas was already snoozing away)!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let the Games begin!!!

It is finally here!!! My One-Step-Ahead double jogging stroller arrived the other day and I'm so excited to try it out. It has so many better features than my single running stroller I had with just Thomas. To name a few: parent tray w/cup holders, full flip down sun canopy (covers the sun from any angle), folds flat with a pull of 2 knobs (instead of having to remove the wheels), and comes with both a rain sheild and a pump for the tires. SWEET! Now I can start getting some much needed exercise and work off some of this stress. If it would only stop raining, I could put my new "gem" to use.

My only concern is convincing Thomas that he will want to ride in the stroller - it has been a LONG time since he rode in a stroller. Yesterday, as we were leaving the house, he noticed the stroller in the garage. He asked what it was (because I'm sure he has never seen a double one) - my response was quick and filled with enthusiasm (so I could win him over). "Thomas that is Mommy's brand new 'SUPER-FAST' stroller for both you and Abby. Look, do you see that there are 2 seats? Now both of you can go with me and we will go very fast. What do you think?" His response was simple..."yeah, Mommy goes fast!!" And Brian didn't think I could convince a 2 year old to ride in a stroller. Ha...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the downslide...

... finally! We are at the 1/2 way point of the deployment. I'm not sure if it has creeped by or is flying by but all I know is 1/2 way is a good thing!!! 2010 is almost here and that means just a few short months into the year my hubby will be home! Amen!

Evening with my girls & weekend stuff

When the guys are away, there is nothing more relaxing during the stressful months alone than a night with my girls! We try and get together once a month and just kick back. Mind you, when I say "kickback", I mean we show up in sweats and comfy clothes, let the kids play with all the toys in the house while having a great time and we just catch up on each others' lives. It is wonderful and I very much look forward to it every month. Marsha & Kim are amazing and surviving another deployment with them makes it so much easier to do (along with my family here).

Marsha & me enjoying our blueberry pomagrant martinis!
Chris (6) helping Thomas (2.5) with his new Christmas present - a Vtech learning system.
Mommy's little Elf
Abby hanging out in Mommy's room while I get ready one morning
Baby-blue-eyed little girl