Apr 30, 2013

Messy Boys

This is a sight that drives me crazy!
All of the bins that can house our millions of tiny toys are pulled out and spread across the floor, there are Playmobil and Lego pieces all over the place and I swear the Nerf darts are mating and producing baby Nerf darts.  You may also note from the above photo that books have been pulled out of the book case in order to free a cubby for random acts of Lego building, and the game shelves are a disaster.  You really would risk your life to free Monopoly from the pile.
But....I'm so glad I have this mess today.
The boys are getting older and I know one day soon the Lego men will be all dusty and the Nerf darts will eventually decompose in the place where they last lay.
I'm sure it won't be tomorrow or this summer, but one day, the Playmobil guys will be gone and I won't injure my foot when trying to make my way through the Lego mines in Gabe's room.
So today, I'm happy for this mess and I'm sure happy that my boys still play.

I spent about two hours this morning cleaning the boys' rooms.  They are required to clean their rooms once a week but every few months I have to get in there and see what is really going on.
Today I found matchbox cars in Eli's room.  He claims he doesn't need any toys in his room anymore but he sure enjoys playing with them now and then!  Other than that I usually just find piles of socks, stuffed animals and trash in his room.  He just tosses garbage on the ground instead of throwing it away.  Perplexing.
Gabriel's room is a whole different story.  That kid is a little thief and hider.  I found 6 ball point pens in there!  Six.  Meanwhile down stairs I have to scrounge for a crayon to sign my name on permission slips.  I also found wrappers from candy he no doubt sneaked in there, socks in all sorts of bins and corners of the room, boxes, flashlights, and dice .... all over the place dice.  I'm not sure what his issue is with dice but he snatches dice all the time and then apparently throws them to every corner of his room.  Gabe also has a plethora of Lego pieces, Playmobil parts, tires, cars, note pads, costumes and everything else under the sun stashed away in his room.  The child is a complete mess.  
I often do my thorough cleanings to see what I can discard, what toys the kids are no longer playing with.  Based on today's assessment, my guess is the only items in their rooms that they are not using are their trash cans and laundry baskets.

Let them play.  Let them make a mess.  Let them dream and imagine themselves in a different world.  Let them leave the toys out so they can resume their play the next day and the day after.  Let them clean their room for 4 hours, equally getting toys out and putting toys away, while dressed as Batman.  The days are short, so I say, let them play.

Apr 26, 2013

Yesterday Eli was asking me if I thought he knew his friend Connor better or if Connor's new friends knew him better.  I knew what was going on in his little heart.  He doesn't have a best friend here, and he misses his old friends.
I sadly had to tell him the truth.  "I think Connor's new friends know him better now".
He didn't like my answer.
I explained that Eli doesn't know the ins and outs of Connor's days and his buddies that he hangs out with regularly probably do.  Although he didn't like it, Eli agreed with me.

Eli then declared that when he grows up and gets married and has kids he is going to stay in one place for the rest of his life - so he never has to leave his friends.
I know people who have stayed in one place their whole life, they seem so happy to be surrounded by people that they have known forever, and I can see why Eli would desire this for himself and his kids.

So I asked Eli a very important question. "Where would you have liked your one place to be?"
Very quickly he answered "Germany".  While I wanted to jump up and down and say "yah that's my boy!"  I refrained.  Instead, I followed up with one of the truths that I have lived my life by....
So, if you only lived in Germany you would have never met Mary, Adam, Carter, Tyler, Maddie, Loralai, Jonah, Grace, or any of your other friends from Virginia.  Would you be OK with that?
Then suddenly he realized where I was going with this.

I have met at least one awesome friend from each place I have ever lived.  Friends that are not just email or facebook friends but friends that I have travelled across the country or around the world to visit again and again.  Friends who have travelled to see me.  Friends who changed me in one way or another, and therefore will always be in my heart if not in my life.  As much as I love any one of those friends, I would not have wanted to give up all the rest in order to have stayed in that one place.

I met my friend Sara in July 1999 at a barbeque on the North Shore of Hawaii.  I was sitting in her living room when two blackhawks had a mid-air collision at a training area not too far away.  She helped edit my college papers.  She attended my graduation at UHWO and she is the only person that I cried for when I left Hawaii.  Two years later, in Clarksville, TN she was the first person who I left Eli with as a baby.  She was the first person I called when 431 was shot down in Tikrit, she was the person who took me to the emergency room when I got so sick with the flu that I couldn't function.  She was the person that I met with every single Tuesday for breakfast for nearly a year when our husbands were deployed.  The last time I saw Sara was August 2006 when the boys and I drove out from Virginia to Tennessee.  A few thousand days have passed since we saw each other last,  but yesterday we met for breakfast here in town and those thousands of days may as well have only been a few thousand seconds.  She was, is, and will always be a very special person in my life.

I have friends from all different walks of life, different geographic areas of this country, different ages, at different stages in their lives and who influenced me and my life in different ways.  I tried to show Eli that a new friend will come along eventually and that friend will be so special that he will be glad that we moved here to Washington, glad that he had the chance to meet this friend and be horribly sad when and if he has to leave him.

I don't think he is really convinced.  But the whole discussion was a great reminder for myself.

If it were not only 9am, I would raise a glass and say "cheers" to all my friends all over the world who have changed me, loved me, and helped me become a better person!  I love you all and as much as it hurt, I am glad that I had to leave each of you in order to be blessed by meeting the next.

Apr 24, 2013

Jay Oh Bee

Spells job.

I don't think I have rambled here about my quest to find a job.
I'm not sure why I haven't written about this topic. It has really been the one thing that has caused me stress for the past 6 months.  Sure, there have been passing stresses like my kids in the morning, school issues, obviously some paint issues, the fact that my van screams every morning when I start it up, and other little daily things, but this job situation has been a chronic stressor, very frequently on my mind and yet I have written nothing.
I suppose I haven't written about it because most of my stories have a start and finish, and this one really didn't and still doesn't.  Or perhaps it is a pride thing, maybe I didn't want to put out there that I was looking for a job so that nobody would know if I didn't find one.  Maybe it is because writing about job applications and interviews is boring.  I think at least a small part of it is that I'm not sure I want a job so I like to practice avoidance.
Last fall I started to apply for some para-educator positions at a few local elementary schools.  I "started" in the fall but because it was quite a painful process I didn't actually have a completed application until February!  Filling out the application was fine.  The challenge was including three professional references.  I haven't worked in a decade.  I'm unprofessional! I let the three references stress me out for a few weeks and then it finally donned on me that I could use my volunteer references.  I contacted some people that I volunteered with back in Germany and used their names and information for references.  However, before my application can be considered "complete" my reference people have to mail or email a reference form back to the district. I'll spare you details but it took a full MONTH to get this taken care of.
Fast forward to spring, I had three interviews at three different schools for basically the same position.  LAP is a specific type of State funding given to schools for some reason which I honestly have no clue.  Bottom line for me is that this position is an instructional aid who assists kids who are falling behind in math.  I like that this position is instructional.  I don't really want to monitor recess or help kindergarteners go pee.  I also like that this position is only funded through the end of this year.  This means, committing to this job now is not really locking me into anything for the future, although if I am amazing the chances are good that they would hire me if funding becomes available next year.
One interview was unpleasant, for me and the panel of interviewers.  The second interview was great, I really liked these people a lot!  The third interview was not as great as the second but definitely not as disastrous as the first!  I honestly didn't want to go to that last interview and had given up on the job hunt weeks ago.
This week I got a call from the principal of the third school unofficially offering me a job.  She can't officially offer it to me until she checks my references.  Which brings me back to the stumbling block that started this whole process.  Why did my people have to turn in that written assessment of me way back when if they all have to be contacted again?  So confusing.  Anyway, she called me Monday to ask for three local references.  I'm glad she couldn't see my face because it probably would read "really, are you kidding me?"  The delay is actually working in my favor though, I have a date with a friend visiting from Tennessee on Thursday and I really didn't want to cancel!
I've gone through a few different emotions since the interview.  I'll spare you the details but after sitting myself down on the couch and assessing myself using all my psychoanalytical skills, I have decided that this job presents a change that I am not emotionally prepared for.  Sure, there is a lot of change in my life but a few things remain constant: my identity as an Army wife and a stay at home mom.  This job business threatens part of my identity.  And that is what is really freaking me out.
I want to teach these small groups of kids.  I want to do something awesomely productive while my kids are away at school.  I want to become something new. I should be excited!
My fear of letting go of my identity as a stay at home mom is a little pathetic.  Don't get me wrong I love that title and I think giving it up is sad.  The pathetic part is holding on to an identity that is fleeting.
Who am I?  I am a woman running a race in such a manner that I intend to receive the prize.  My identity is not based on what occupation I have or don't have.  My identity is not based on who I am married to, who my children are, where I live or how I like my coffee.  My identity is me, not the temporal situations of this life.  Well, I suppose God can decide to change my name and give me a new mission in life and then I'll have to revise this statement.  But until then, I'm going to be what I really have always tried to be, a foggy reflection of Christ.

Apr 23, 2013

Not Martha AT ALL!!

The sun is shining which means spring might officially have arrived here in the Pacific Northwest!  Yay!
Time for Spring cleaning and some projects that I've been putting off.
I'll spare you the thought process and skip to the very disastrous DIY project.
Shortly after we moved in I painted Gabe's bed a lovely shade of blue.  Both of the boys' beds were oak, which is fine but since the walls are not painted and the beds are old and a bit outdated, I decided to spruce up the room by painting the beds.
I never got to Eli's bed because it got chilly and paint drying seemed to take forever.
Until yesterday when the sun shone.
I did everything out of order and rushed, and of coarse disaster struck.
I opened the primer can in the garage, then brought it, the drop cloth and the brushes upstairs to Eli's room.
Any ideas where this is going?
I didn't want to set the paint can on the ground until I got the drop cloth down, for fear of spilling any paint on the carpet, so I put the paint can on the edge of the bed.
You know what is next right?  Sure you do.  Why didn't I see this coming yesterday?
I put the drop cloth down, bump the bed, the paint can goes FLYING off the bed and onto the floor.
Paint splatters on the curtains, the wall and about a half gallon pours into the carpet.
Panic totally set in.
I scream at the boys for help.
Towels, hurry towels!!!  Big garbage bags!!
I didn't bother with complete sentences, I just shouted out orders left and right.
Then I remembered I have a Green Machine carpet cleaner in the garage that is broken.  I holler at the boys to bring it up.  Within minutes I scooped up massive amounts of paint, took down the curtains and had Gabe scrubbing them in the bathtub and I was sucking up paint with the carpet cleaner.
I sent Eli down to research "help I dumped a gallon of paint on the carpet of my new house" on the internet and he dutifully reported back three ways to accomplish the task.

"Mess" doesn't begin to describe what was going on in that room.
After about an hour, I gave up the cleaning effort, primed the bed, and then set out to clean up the secondary mess.
I'm sad to say that the carpet cleaner didn't survive.  It is filled with paint, clogged up and it started leaking.  Yikes.
I managed to keep the paint spill in a contained area, tossed bags of painted mess, cleaned up from the actual painting and closed the door for the night.
The curtain still needs some attention, the carpet looks amazing, considering what was dumped on it, and after two showers and using every home remedy known to man, I finally got 90% of the paint off of my body.

The bed is primed, poorly, but hopefully it is good enough!
I have no idea when I'll venture to actually paint the bed.  I'm so scared.
And I'm setting out today to do some more carpet cleaning.

Some people say "D-I-Y" like pronounce the letters and make it sound all cool and fancy.  I said DIE.  As in I will likely immediately regret starting the project 3 minutes into it.

Some people are changers.  They scoop up the messy and make things all new and shiny.  I'm more of a hirer.  I need to hire a changer to make my messy things new and shiny.  Otherwise, I'm in the dog-house for making disastrous messes.

Apr 19, 2013

Birthday Weekend

My sister's birthday was this past Wednesday.
She turned 40.
I was trying to explain to the boys why 40 was such a big deal and I may or may not have said something like "40 marks your life being half over".
That sounded super depressing and since people in our family typically live well past 80, I felt compelled to dig my way out of the horrible idea I planted in their head.
I probably failed.

What I was trying to say is that 40 is big and deserves a big celebration.  And that is just what my cousin and I did for my sister.  A super fabulous 40th to remember.  No big party.  In fact, we didn't have cake or any other type of dessert. But I promise it was awesome.

We planned a getaway in which my super-planner and slightly controlling sister didn't get to plan a thing.  Ha!
And we planned a getaway that was beautiful in so many different ways.

We experienced awesome natural beauty as we took a ferry ride across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, hiked to a waterfall, roamed through a city park, went to sleep each night and woke up each morning with a gorgeous view of the water and drove along the peninsula enjoying the beauty for hours.

We experienced the beauty of love and friendship as we talked and laughed the whole weekend away.  The three of us have never been away together, just us, so that in itself was really wonderful.

We ate some super delicious and beautiful food!  Really good food.

And finally, and perhaps most memorably we experienced the beauty of giving.

A few months ago I saw a post on someone's facebook page or link to a blog about a lady who did thirty-some random acts of kindness in honor of her thirty-something birthday.  My cousin and I decided that this is exactly what we needed to do!  We would spend the weekend helping my sister show love to 40 people through acts of kindness.  It really is the perfect endeavor for someone who's life is half over.  I mean for such a monumental birthday.

The kindness started at the airport where we had her give away her flowers, balloons, and luggage cart to strangers in the airport.  Throughout the next few days she gave homeless people food and a gift card, she paid the toll for the car behind her, gave a parking booth guy cookies, gave people money for laundry, paid a parking meter, gave a woman her umbrella in a hail storm, wrote notes of encouragement and left them on cars and in books, took pictures for strangers, spent a lot of time on the ferry helping a lady in and out of the bathroom (twice), and a whole bunch of other things.
When she got home from the trip she had 3 days to finish about a dozen more acts.  She made a cake for her bible study ladies, dropped off potted plants to neighbors, a goody basket for the interns at her church, coloring books and crayons at the hospital, and bought coffee for a stranger and left a huge tip for a barista at Starbucks.

Her list is tattered, rained on, and quite a mess, but with each check mark on the list of things to do, say, write and give, is at least one person touched by her.  I venture to say that none of us will forget any of the faces we saw last weekend as they were blessed by a random act.  The guy that really needed the luggage cart for all his bags at airport, the little girl's eyes when she saw the bouquet of balloons, the lady pushing her son in a wheel chair taking the flowers,  the lady who was astonished by our story of giving in honor of my sister's birthday and couldn't stop saying "God bless you".  The homeless man pushing his cart up the hill, the sleepy parking guy, the people who chased us down after the tollbooth. And it goes on and on.

Out of this project, not only were the three of us blessed by giving and the forty + people blessed by recieving, so many other people who have heard about our little adventure have vowed to do something similar in the future.  The gifts that keep giving.

Now, that is how you kick off 40!

Apr 18, 2013

Run Away!

I live in an incredibly beautiful place.
Sometimes I forget how beautiful it is here in Olympia.
Yes it rains.
A lot.
But it doesn't always rain.
And when it stops and the sun shines...it is truly beautiful!

Last night it stopped raining in time for me to go for a run while the boys were at AWANA.  I dropped them off and then parked the van downtown at the waterfront and took off for a run.

I ran past the marina in East Bay and along the Budd Inlet. 

And past a hundred pretty houses that overlook the Puget Sound.  Lucky ducks.  

After I nearly died while running up a hill for 2.5 miles 
(a long painful hill followed by a quick drop and another quick climb) 
I turned the corner inland and passed farms and cute cows.

And deer roaming through the woods on the side of the road.

Then there were more hills and more woods.

And this fun neighborhood.  Very colorful...and inviting.

Of coarse, what goes up must come down. 
 These was a portion of the steep, like really really steep, road that let me back down to East Bay. One drop of rain and I would have slid down this hill.

I'm really beginning to love this place.
Where else does your kid play baseball with Mount Rainier in the background?

That big white bump behind the building is the mountain.  The shadows on the ground are proof that it is indeed sunny, and nearly cloudless on a Tuesday night in April.

Apr 16, 2013

Apr 11, 2013

When someone kills a pregnant woman, he/she is usually tried on two counts of murder.
When a pregnant mother has an abortion and kills the baby, it is not murder it is a choice.

Apr 10, 2013

Runner Bling.

I started running about 6 years ago because I wanted to be able to exercise no matter where I am with very little equipment.
Back then I ran 3-6 miles a few times a week and my equipment consisted of a pair of $30 running shoes.  I could run anywhere and everywhere with only a pair of shoes.  Perfect.  Mission accomplished.

After a while I realized I needed a pair of shoes that really fit well and were good for my feet, ankles, knees, back, etc. and so I bought a pricey pair of Asics 2150's for around $90.  Those shoes were every bit worth my money and I keep buying the same line year after year.

But what do I listen to while running?  Next came the armband and Ipod nano for Christmas.
My iPod earbuds kept falling out, so I got some sweet Sony sports headphones that never fall out and are oh so comfortable.
New nano feature alert!!!  Nike+ can track my run times. That was a fun little purchase a sensor for my shoe and adapter for the iPod gave me a good idea how far I was running and what my pace was.
I was a happy runner.

But now my hands and ears were getting cold when I ran.   Problem solved, I got Nike running gloves and an ear warmer headband one year for my birthday.
Then I needed a light weight rain jacket.  You can't really run in a big rain coat right?  I found an awesome North Face light weight rain jacket on sale one day.  And as a bonus, I won a North Face base layer running shirt that same day just for buying that jacket.  Score!  The base layer shirt is paper thin and keeps me really really warm.

When we moved to the PacNW I started wearing my raincoat for just about every run.  It was awesome except I was really cold when I started my runs in the morning.  So... I got arm warmers for a birthday.  (LOVE these!)

It is so frustrating to try and keep track of my run distance and times without a proper device.  So, I asked for and received my super cool pink Garmin GPS watch for a Christmas!  I absolutely love this little gem.  Really really love it. The Nike+ is a great idea, but it isn't very accurate and I went through 3 sensors in 3 years because they wouldn't calibrate properly.  The GPS watch is spot on.  It keeps track of my distance, time, will show me current pace and it stores all my runs and tells me when I made a new record.

I have been running in normal yoga type long pants on cold days and they were fine but..... a really sweet pair of Brooks cool weather running tights were on sale the other day and I snatched them up and they are ... awesome!  I didn't think I liked them at first but after a few miles I realized I had been missing out on these threads for far too long!  They are perfectly warm and holy cow when I got completely soaked during a run the other day they dried super fast as soon as it stopped raining.

And my latest purchase these CEP compression socks.  My calf pain issue kept me on the bench for TWO WHOLE weeks.  Thankfully, I had time built into my 1/2 marathon training schedule and the time off shouldn't cause too much of a problem but I read that compression socks can really help with recovery after a run.  I decided to try them out.  I didn't have any expectations of them making me run faster, stronger, or better, I was just hoping that they would help my circulation and recovery after my runs.  I really like them.  They make my legs all tingly and help with cramping after the run.

So much for just me and a pair of shoes.  Ha!

Apr 9, 2013

The Wings

Last week Matt travelled to Fort Rucker, Alabama, home of Army Aviation, to participate in his brother's flight school graduation. Due to the fact that tickets for our family of four would cost a small fortune, the boys and I were not able to go with him.  While I was really disappointed for myself, I was so glad that Matt was able to go.  Army training schedules don't always coordinate with important life events, so the fact that we were in the US, Matt was not in training, and he was able to take leave was a fabulous blessing.

Nearly 11 years ago I pinned silver wings on Matt.  There we were in the Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker.  I was about 6 months pregnant with Eli.  I pinned Matt while his mom, dad, my parents, my cousin, Matt's sister, step-parents, and friends looked on. After a year of training, and a lifetime of dreaming, he was finally, officially a pilot! And off we went to Fort Campbell, KY to begin Matt's career as an Army Aviator.

Last week Matt flew to Alabama with those same wings I pinned on him.  Matt earned his Senior Aviator Wings a few years ago, but held on to his junior wings to one day pass on to someone else.
He hoped a crew chief would cross his path and one day Matt could pass the wings on to a young soldier making the transition to pilot, just as he did.
He could have never guessed that the young soldier who would earn his wings, would be his little brother.  His brother joined the Army to be a pilot, so his route to the wings was a little different but the mentoring still existed.  There were numerous days when Matt would talk to his brother in flight school, advising him on all things Army and flight school related.
Matt had planned to pin the wings on his brother, but after nearly a year to think about it, he decided that the job to pin the wings should actually fall to his brother's wife.  Our sister-in-law thought that Matt was pinning his brother, but the night before the graduation Matt presented her with a box containing the wings.  He explained to her, his brother, and all the family present that these wings had been passed on to him, and now he has the honor to pass them on.  He said that he realized it is his brother's wife's journey too, and that she should pin her husband.
I wasn't there, but apparently there were a whole lot of tears involved.
What happened next is simply beautiful.
Our sister-in-law was moved that Matt offered her the wings but as a true Army wife, she also understood the importance of honor and tradition.  It was decided that Matt would carry his wings to the stage, hand them to his brother's wife and then she would pin her husband.

I just realized if I had started this whole post with actual names instead of familial titles, it would have been a lot easier.

So there they were at the Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Matt handing over the wings, his brother standing at attention, and his brother's wife about 9 months pregnant pinning the wings on his chest.  And within a few days they too were off to Fort Campbell, Ky to begin their lives in Army Aviation.

And they all lived happily ever after... or something like that.

Apr 8, 2013

Hotel Hot Tub

Friday morning in the hotel hot tub things got weird.
Not as weird as things could get in a hotel hot tub.  But for a Friday morning in Vancouver, Wa.  I think it was a little weird.  In a good way.
My back and neck were sore from sharing a pretty uncomfortable hotel bed with Gabe the night before so while the kids were jumping in the hotel pool Friday morning, I decided to hit the hot tub.
I like to keep to myself in the tub.  The whole idea of sitting in a hot bath with strangers is a little creepy.  I like to pretend I'm alone, unless I'm with a friend and then I pretend me and said friend are alone in the tub.  But now that sounds a little weird too.
Anyway back in the tub with three strangers.
Two women started small talk about kids and where they were from.  The one woman, I'll call Arkansas, said she lived in Olympia and was planning to visit Portland for the weekend.  She came to the hotel because they have an indoor pool.
Next thing I know, the guy in the  tub asks Arkansas what part of Olympia she lives in because he too lives in Olympia.  What do ya know? Arkansas and Guy are practically neighbors.  Arkansas's husband works at the bank on the corner by where Guy's daughter works, but really they didn't move from Arkansas to Olympia for him to work at a bank and they obviously didn't come for the weather, they are planting a church on the West Side of Olympia.
Exit neighborhood talk.  Enter church talk.
What church?  Where? Yada yada yada... and next thing you know Guy tells Arkansas that he goes to Evergreen Christian.

What? Suddenly, I'm no longer "alone" in the hot tub.
Hey this is a creepy small world.  I go to Evergreen as well!

And over the coarse of the next 30 minutes or so, we find out Arkansas' story about moving across the country to start a church plant, Guy's story about how his wife was critically injured in an accident 10 years ago and their family struggles that surrounded that and the adoption of four kiddos, and they got to hear how my family ended up in Olympia too.

Meanwhile over at the pool, we introduced my boys to Guy's son and they instantly became good pals.

We all were able to provide each other with some encouragement about something that was shared in that hot tub.  Encouragement through words, promises of prayers, and hope that each of us, though on entirely different roads were indeed moving along the right path.

Then it got really hot in the hot tub and I had to get out before I passed out! Arkansas headed out to explore Portland and Guy and his son were off to visit a sick family member.

You really never know who you are going to meet in the hotel hot tub.  It could just be two other people from your town, that also just happened to be at a hotel 1.5 hours from home, because it had an indoor pool.

*Update.  Gabe and Guy's son ran into each other in church on Sunday and Gabe declared him to be his "friend".

Apr 7, 2013

Staycation Part 2

Thursday morning it was pouring rain. I was so glad I was continuously checking the weather forecast and planned an indoor activity for that day!
We drove 2 hours down to Portland to check out OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  By far, it was our least favorite activity of staycation.  OMSI had a ton of hands on activities for the kids but the information placards and instructions were pretty lame.  I had to really search for the descriptions of what exactly we were looking at and what we were supposed to learn.  There were 4 or 5 hands on science labs which also should have been really fun, but they were either poorly supplied or were lacking in instruction.  The only thing that saved the OMSI from being a total bust was our tour of a retried Navy Submarine.  Now that was fun!
After the museum we headed over to Waffle Window in the Hawthorne district of Portland to taste what they claim to be "Liege Waffles with a Portland twist". They nailed the waffle topping concept.  Mine was so incredibly delicious.  Pineapple panna cotta with mango puree and strawberries. YUM!  Gabe had a nuttella, banana and chocolate thing, and Eli had bananas and caramel.  The waffle itself resembled the Liege pearl sugar waffles but it was more of a resemblance than a match.

I had a feeling that by the time we got out of the house, down to Portland, through the museum and grab a bite to eat, I would be exhausted.  Sure, a cup of coffee could have got me home, but I found a cool "lodge" in Vancouver, WA that happen to have an indoor pool, and decided we needed to stay there. We  checked in, grabbed dinner, played in the pool for hours, went to bed, played in the pool for hours and then headed home Friday afternoon.

After a well deserved nap on Friday evening, I scooped the boys up for our last adventure for staycation.  Dinner and a movie.  I never take the kids to movies.  Matt does every once in a while but generally we are too cheap to do it!
After a mediocre Italian dinner we went to the theatre to watch The Croods, eat popcorn and drink soda.  The movie was really good.  I'm usually not very interested in kids movies but I actually liked this one. It was cute, funny, completely age appropriate and the boys loved it.

After the movie we went to Seattle to pick Matt up from the airport.
Staycation over.
Staycation success!

Apr 3, 2013

Staycation Day 3

Thankfully my kids like to be lazy on staycation mornings, so I get to sleep in!  They get up, watch cartoons and pour themselves some cereal before I ever open my eyes.  It is fabulous.

1.5 hours after leaving our driveway we were buying super cool kites from the kite shop and ready to hit the beach in Westport, WA.

I love the beach.  I love the sound of ocean waves, the feel of warm sand between my toes, and the fact that the kids can go wild there.
We found a million sand-dollars.
The kids buried themselves in the sand.
We had a picnic on the beach.
Gabe slayed imaginary enemies hidden in the sand dunes.
Eli and I flew the kite.  By the way who knew two handled kites were so difficult, and so incredibly fun?

I told the kids I was "whale watching" so they would leave me alone for a few minutes while I just soaked in the sights and sounds of the beach.
And we had a simply fabulous time.

From the highway that takes us from Olympia to Westport I had a glimpse of the Olympic Mountain Range to the North.  As we got a little closer to Olympia I could see Mount Rainier in the distance.  I started to think about how cool this place is.

Beach: 1.5 hours away.
Skiing: 1 hour away
City: 1 hour away.

Then a song came on the radio and made me feel all warm and fuzzy.  I'm sure I heard it before but this is the first time I really listened to it.  It is called Home by Phillip Phillips.

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Seems super appropriate for me and my moves.  And for my kiddos.  This month is the month of the military child - a month to honor the sacrifices our kids make.  The road is always unfamiliar, we are often filled with fear, but I make this place our home!  Wherever it is, sooner or later, it will be home.

*Update* Eli just informed me this song is super popular because the winner of American Idol sang it.  I guess I don't get out much.

Apr 2, 2013

Staycation Part One

Since we cannot travel this Spring Break.  I decided to blow the kids' minds with a little Staycation.
Here is how it works.  I planned everything in advance and keep my little plans a secret.  Each day when we wake up all bright eyed I tell the kids what we need to wear and what items we need to load into the car and we get to it.  Once I get my coffee, we pile in the van and I reveal the magic of the day that awaits us.  The boys like surprises so each day is like a little present.

Day 1:  Point Defiance Park.  The park is located at the very North tip of Tacoma.  It is HUGE and absolutely gorgeous.  Shockingly gorgeous.  There are miles and miles of paths through the trees to walk or run along and it bumps right up to the Puget Sound so it also has beaches.  In the summer there are a whole slew of activities going on at the park.  Although some things were still closed, Fort Nisqually, the Zoo and Aquarium and all the trails were open.
Of coarse, the boys wanted to go to the zoo.  I HATE zoos.  But in the spirit of staycationing, we went.  They had fun, I had fun watching them have fun, and I sandwiched the treacherous zoo event with some chill time at the beach.

Here the boys are attempting to skip rocks.  There really was no skipping going on so they just started chucking rocks into the sound.  Works for me.
From where we were plopped on the beach we could see a few of the islands in the sound in the shadows of a snow capped Mount Rainier.  Every once in a while a ferry would cruise by and seagulls would get all excited about a piece of bread. It was a beautiful day.

Day 2:  Started off way too early. Matt's flight departed from Seattle at 6am.  So we all piled in the car at 3:45 and headed to the airport.  We came back and napped a little and then headed out to breakfast.  Plan A didn't work out.  Thank you Lord...I realized before we left for the day that Snoqualmie Falls trails were closed and the only thing open was the viewing platform.  So viewing platforms might be just fine for pretty girls in fancy dresses and pumps, but my boys want to climb around, get sprayed by the water and hopefully fall in some mud.  I panicked, scratched plan A, and headed to IHOP for breakfast and a planning session.  Long story short, the boys decided they wanted an indoor activity instead of an outdoor activity, and they wanted to stay close because they were tired.  Sweet!  So we headed up to the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle.
I would like to point out that the next activity that I try to avoid after Zoos, is air museums.  We looked at a lot of airplanes, engines and space stuff.  A sweet museum volunteer gave me a 10 minute lecture on the International Space Station.  Though the information was unsolicited and initially unwanted, it turned out to be quite interesting!  The boys had so much fun.  It is funny to watch them in the museum and see what interests them.

The day ended at the gift shop.  Bringing me to the third thing I avoid: souvenir shopping.  I hate pointless souvenirs and I hate wasting time looking for them.    Gabe immediately found a genuine space suit costume for a million dollars and Eli picked up a NASA lego space station for another million.  I was ready to kill the whole souvenir idea when I found a VH-60 Blackhawk model and was convinced we needed it.  (Matt flew the shiny VH in D.C.)  That sent the kids on a shopping mission and our whole day of laughter and happy came to a screeching halt when Gabe finally declared "I'm just having a rough day".  I looked down to see his eyes overflowing with tears and his little heart broken.  Eli tried to put a mood ring on him to see if the ring could determine exactly what emotion the tears were coming from.  Anger?  Sadness?  Frustration?  Gabe wanted a souvenir and the space suit and the real leather pilot's hat and goggles were all too expensive.  The day was saved when the super nice lady in the shop allowed us to remove a sign from the display case that Gabe thought would work for his room.  Whew.  Crisis averted.

My take-away from the day at Boeing was the words of a Medal of Honor recipient.  Salvatore Giunta earned the award in Afghanistan when he fiercely charged toward Taliban insurgents in an attempt to save the life of a comrade.  He succeeded in rescuing a soldier from the grip, literally, of the Taliban fighters but in that 3 minute attack and firefight, two members of his team died.  In a video taped interview he recounted his feelings when President Obama awarded him the medal. "When the light silk of the medal lay around my neck I felt the weight of the two men who died".  Like most heroes he didn't feel like he earned the award, in fact this award weighed heavily on him as he saw the family members of the men who died in that fight.  He said his actions that day were "just a brush stroke in the painting that was the ambush".  He contends that everyone in that fight was a hero and if he deserved the award, they all did.  
The silk of the award carries the weight of the fallen.
I found the words very powerful.

The ride home was filled with laughter as the boys watched an episode of Tom and Jerry and I plugged along in traffic.  So far, we have staycation success.