Aug 28, 2013

Sweet Words...


I found an old anniversary card from my dear husband today.  The first few lines of his hand written note read:

"I have had the best journey with my best friend!  Sometimes I want to push you down the stairs, but then I know I would just pick you up."

Wow.

One day when my boys come to me and ask "mom what is the secret to your long and happy marriage to dad?"  I'll respond "well son, your dad didn't push me down the stairs".

We love and respect each other, we are really good communicators, we typically agree on issues regarding finances, raising the kids and how to spend our weekends and vacations.  We have similar goals for our life together and we support the other when it comes to chasing after dreams and achieving personal goals.  We allow each other "me time" and we truly enjoy being together.  However, despite all of that, sometimes it just comes down to choosing not to push the other down the stairs.  

More generally speaking, for those who don't have stairs or violent tendencies, I'm talking about restraint.  Choosing not to do something that you may really want to do, for the sake of your marriage.  Giving up a fight, conceding, dealing with irritating habits, having grace for mistakes, forgiving without holding a grudge.

When it all comes down to it, sometimes it is the things you choose NOT to do that allow your marriage to endure.  Not giving up when it gets tough, not checking out when it would be so easy, not letting the pressures and lures of life distract you from the promise you made to love until the end of time.


Aug 27, 2013

The Latest News

  • Last Thursday the boys and I were out front when I noticed a kid riding a ripstick out in front of our house.  I didn't recognize him, so I asked Eli if he knew him.  He didn't.  So he walked over, introduced himself and started chatting.  Turns out he just moved in around the corner, arrived here from Germany, he is going into the 6th grade, at the same middle school as Eli.  Eli asked how he was going to school, the friend said "walking", they decided to walk together.
  • Today I had a meeting with the principal of my school.  I needed to ask her to adjust my schedule a little to allow for me to drop G off in the morning.  I was nervous because I really didn't know what I would do if she said "no".  I went in to her office, chatted a bit about summer and then dropped the bomb shell on her.  I need to work from 8:10-3:10 in order to drop my son off at school.  As I spoke I was trying to read her reaction.  What happened was so unexpected, my mind was blown.  She said "thank you!" quite loudly.  Then she hollered to her secretary who sits outside her office and said "good news, she isn't quitting".  They were all so ecstatic that I wasn't quitting, I think I could have asked for a raise and been granted one.  After the excitement died down she said "what did you work last year?"  We had a conversation about what my schedule was last year and what would need to be different this year.  In the end she was not only glad I wasn't quitting, but she was happy to adjust my schedule to 8:15-3:15 so that I could help monitor student release.  I guess a few employees notified her at the last minute that they were not returning for this school year.  This sent her into a panic to start interviewing and hire before next week!  She told me that she had been stressing over this meeting today since the day before when she heard I was coming in to see her.  She said she was hoping that I was pregnant, not quitting.  I made a deal with her: she won't hope I am pregnant ever again and I promise I will never quit a week before school starts.
  • While I was in the office with the principal who was giddy that I am still going to work there, I decided it was a perfect time to tell her that G would be taking the TAG shuttle to the school and would be waiting there for me to bring him home.  She shrugged it off, commented how he will be sitting there with the other shuttle kids and said he would be supervised with everyone else.
  • Eli needs to see an orthodontist for some preventative/phase 1 corrective work.  I love my dentist and really trust his opinion.  Shocking for me.  I usually hate and largely distrust dentists.  So I was super happy when my dentist recommended an orthodontist who accepts Matt's insurance.  I was doubly happy when I found out today that I have my own dental/orthodontist insurance and therefore will likely be able to dramatically decrease out of pocket fees for his teeth issues.
Loose ends, minor concerns, little pieces to the puzzle all have come together quite nicely in the last few days.  There have been a few moments this summer that I questioned whether I should be working.  I hate that I can't be at every school event, field trip, or just pop in for lunch with the kids.  I hate that Eli is not going to be dropped off at school by Matt or I.  I dislike that my responsibility has shifted from only the home and all that comes with that, to home and work.  On the other hand, before I started working I was feeling like I was a wee bit useless.  All day while the kids were at school I sat at home feeling like I lost my purpose.
As the little pieces have come together I feel more and more confident that I am where I should be, where God has carved out a little place for me.  The benefits from working are far greater than pay and dental insurance.  I feel challenged.  It is a challenge for me to do my job at work and then come home, cook dinner and make time to hang out with my boys.  I am challenged to make better use of my time, because there is less of it.  I am challenged to be the teacheresque person who shows these little rascals love and understanding and encourages them to press on when it gets tough.  I am challenged to show my boys that we are a team, we are all working together for the good of our family.  With my job comes some sacrifice and teamwork, but there will also be rewards - like we may actually, some day, decide it is worth the money to go to Great Wolf Lodge.  Probably not anytime soon, but some day.

Aug 25, 2013

Clean Sweep

Our clean sweep was quite successful today.
We cleaned out the closet and dresser in our room and went through all of Matt's Army gear and junk boxes.
We got rid of about 3 bins of old stuff we don't use, have 2 1/2 bins ready for Matt to turn in, a few items to try and sell, and only two piles of junk left in the middle of the garage waiting for attention.
We still have one shelf that we need to go through in the garage.  By we, I mean mostly Matt.  But it was clear he reached his limit and it was best not to attempt the shelves.

I thought this day would be hard on Matt because he hates doing this kind of thing, as it turns out, it was harder on me.

With each bin that he opened and each set of uniforms he pulled out came floods of memories and unexpected emotions.  His uniform has changed about 7 times in his Army career - maybe more - so it is easy to match where we were in our lives with the uniform he is holding in his hands.
Infantry gear, his first flight suit, his desert uniforms, his uniforms from Korea... all represented different monumental events in our lives.
Each set of uniforms bore a different rank and unit insignia.
Most displayed his combat patch from service in Iraq.

Then there were the boots.
Matt has also worn a few different styles of boots in his time in the Army.  Now they wear ugly brown ones but when he first joined he wore black ones called "jump boots".  They were dull black except for the toes which are shiny.  He pulled out the boots and I felt my throat seize up and tears build up in my eyes.  Something about those boots.

Sifting through all these uniforms was like watching 18 years fly by in front of your face.
18 years of an excellent career.

Then came the letters.

Matt saves every single letter ever mailed to him.
Today we went through every letter sent to him while he was in Iraq.  (We didn't even attempt to tackle the ones from Basic, AIT, Ranger School, WOC school, or Korea.)  I'm not gonna lie, there were many, many letters that brought me to tears.

I forgot how many people were faithfully supporting him while he was deployed.  We read dozens of letters from strangers.  We read letters that referred to care packages that were sent and hundreds filled with words of encouragement, support, and prayers.

Matt has over 30 letters written on American flag notecards, the envelopes all bedazzled with American flags, from my Grandma P.  She wrote every letter on Sunday, started with a brief run down of the day, updated him on the family and the weather, and then prayed over him.  Then there was a series of letters from my cousin Rhonda referring to a very elusive Gameboy game they were trying to hunt down for Matt.  I was cracking up as I read about a dozen letters each referring to that game that apparently never came out.  There were sweet letters thanking Matt for his service, a lot of updates on family, a fun little note my my niece that said something about the world being a big place and you can do all sorts of things in it.  She told Matt that she likes to read and hoped one day to read to him.  A few items were particularly hard to look over: the last letters Matt received from his grandfathers before they died, photos of friends who died, and letters from people who rarely sent anything but shared their heart when they did.
It was hard to watch Matt look at the pictures of Eli, knowing that those pictures were the only thing he had at the time to watch his little guy grow up.

At the end of the day, my hands were dirty, my head was sneezy, and my heart was so full.  Full of pride for Matt's career, full of gratitude for those who supported him and love us, and just thankful that we got through all those tough times and have a great story to share.

Aug 23, 2013

The Most Exciting Piece of Paper....Ever!

Matt came home with a very important sheet of paper.  Actually it is a few pages long.  It has me all giddy and excited.
New PCS orders?  No way.  We've only been here a year and are planning to be here for three more.
Pay stub?  Nope.  Nothing new happening there yet.
Deed to the house?  Heck no.  We still have 29 years to go on that one.

It was none other than.....Matt's list of his AIC. (Army Issued Crap).
That's right.  There are three pages of items listed there.  Three pages of stuff that is currently hanging out in our garage.  Some items on the list are highlighted which means he can turn them in now - out of my garage.  Other items are not highlighted and those are the items he still needs and can turn in when he leaves Fort Lewis - still in the garage but actually going to be used.  And finally there are items not listed on these papers.  Those items are the things that we do not need to keep or turn in therefore we can toss (more realistically donate to a thrift shop)!

Our garage is a sty and I've been working on getting rid of stuff that we don't need.  Old beds, tables, desks, random pieces of wood for projects that failed, old computers and a whole bunch of random stuff that has no place in our lives anymore. There are about 6 large bins of Matt's military stuff and some other bins labeled "Matt's Crap".  I can't sort through these without his input and he has been waiting this list in order to start the sorting process.

I should note that this list is readily available at any time and he chose to wait to get it and start the garage sort until it felt right.  Please see my previous post.

So tomorrow is the big day!  We have the list, we have a vehicle to load crap into, we have a garbage can that is 75% empty with trash day on Monday....we are ready!

I can't believe this day is finally here.  Literally, half of the storage bins have been just waiting for me to get my purging hands on them, and I get to do it Saturday!

Matt is a hoarder which makes it fun to go through stuff that he thought he needed to keep for ages.  Last time I got him to sort out boxes it was 2012 and we found a Fantasy Football draft guide for 2006. I think the player on the cover had retired by then and I'm pretty sure all the stats were way off.  What in the world would inspire a person to keep a magazine that was only relevant for a season?

The downside of Matt being a hoarder is that I often have to fight him on getting rid of stuff.  I'll hold up a cord and say "keep or toss"?  He looks at it, doesn't know what it is for and decides to keep it.  Then comes the inquisition.  Why do we keep a cord that we have no idea what appliance, computer component or device it should go with?  We currently have an entire set of international plugs for a Blackberry.  We don't own a Blackberry.  See the problem?

Hopefully, my visions of a useful and semi-organized garage come to fruition tomorrow!


Aug 21, 2013

"You're doing that now?"

My family hates the smell of vinegar, so they are particularly irritated that I have switched to pure vinegar to clean the bathrooms, windows, mirrors and sinks in the house.
They always complain.  When they do, I think to myself "like clorox bleach smells any better?"

Last night around 9pm I was cleaning the downstairs powder room toilet with the vinegar that they all hate so much.
Matt walked by and said "you're doing that now??"

Hmm.  Is there a better time?  When is it a fun time to clean the toilet?  Perhaps that has been my problem all these years, I have been mistakingly cleaning at the un-fun time.

I walked in to the bathroom, noticed urine on the seat and cleaned the bathroom.  It seems like a very appropriate time to me.

This my friends is the underlying issue of about 75% of the arguments Matt and I have.  I see no better time than the present, Matt thinks putting it off until tomorrow makes more sense.  So I do it now, or want it done now, and Matt doesn't want to do it until it feels right.  The problem is most things never feel right and then he forgets what he is waiting to do when it does feel right.

Newsflash bucko: cleaning the toilet never really feels right.
Changing diapers? Never a good time.
Making dreaded phone calls?  Never
Cleaning out the garage?  Mowing the lawn?  Unloading the dishwasher?

There are just some tasks that are never fun, so I figure I may as well do it when a) I notice it needs done b) when I have time or c) when guests are scheduled to come over.  C is used sparingly for cases such as dusting, making the guest bed, and hanging pictures that have been sitting in the hall for 6 months...or a year.

So yes, yes honey, I am cleaning the urine spackled toilet at 9pm so that I don't forget to do it, and so I don't accidentally sit on urine spackled toilet before cleaning it and end up with urine spackled butt.





Aug 20, 2013

Tuesberry

About 6 years ago Matt and I were on a Mexican Riviera cruise with our best friends.  It was a good time.  One morning our friend called our room and we started to talk about what our plans were for the day.  I picked up the daily patter and said "let's see....Tuesberry..."
For some unknown reason I exchanged the word "Tuesday" for my own version "Tuesberry".
I giggle to this day when I think about Tuesberry.
So, it is a good thing today is Tuesday and I can giggle about something as simple and silly as a mispronunciation of the day, because quite frankly I am grumpy and I need a little Tuesberry giggle to cheer me up.

Why am I grumpy?

My cat got out last night and got his paws all muddy, which I didn't know about until this morning when I got up and saw his muddy paw prints all over.  Because he got out, he ate grass which is what my cat does when he escapes, and when my cat eats grass, he pukes grass.  Muddy paw prints and grass puke.  Good morning.

I'm also still grumpy over Matt getting a ticket the other day.  Not because of the fine, it is about $200 which stinks, but because we truly feel like he shouldn't have been ticketed.  Since we are fighting the ticket in court the situation is unfinished business.  I absolutely hate unfinished business.  Honestly, I think I would feel better if we just paid the ticket, because it would be solved and over!  (But maybe not because I still don't think he deserved a ticket.)  My brain doesn't stop when there is unfinished business!  It just keeps pulling out details and and replaying events.  It really is quite ridiculous to allow a silly ticket to occupy so much of my brain time.  I have a hard time letting go of things that haven't been wrapped up all neat and tidy.  Perhaps I'm more grumpy at myself for still thinking about the ticket than I am about the ticket?

While I'm at it...here's a tip. When you live in the same town as someone and you miss them, you can invite them over for dinner, that's nice.  When you live more than a few hours away, you shouldn't assume that because you miss someone they should be the ones to travel to see you.  My time and dollars are just as important to me as yours are to you, so if you don't have the time or money to come see me, please don't assume I have the time or money to see you. I love it when people ask if I can come visit, it makes me feel special and loved.  I do not like it when people get mad if I don't, it makes me really grumpy.

And finally, there is a moment in a long distance relationship when you realize that perhaps that distance is too great.  It happens.  Often it is no fault of either party, but just because life is busy and full and long distance relationships get pushed to the back burner.  It is not necessarily a bad thing, living in the present is far better than clinging to the past, but it is still a little sad when I find that months or half a year has passed since I last had a meaningful conversation with someone I love.  As a person who has moved 7 times in about 16 years, I've left a lot of friends, I've held on to a lot of them, and many have slipped away.  Each time I feel one get just a bit too far to reach, it is a little loss.

Tuesberry.  Such a funny, funny word.

So the moral of the story is don't get a cat or a ticket, don't expect others to always come to you, and love your friends deeply even if they slip away.


Aug 16, 2013

ONE Mile

As we prepare for school to start I am checking off boxes on my mental list.
I've done a little inventory of clothes, shoes, school supplies, lunch boxes, umbrellas and rain boots.  I have my list of things I need and things I keep buying and absolutely do not need any more of.  I have played out the way our mornings will go, things to account for now with our different schedules and I am feeling pretty good about how it is all going to shake out.
Until five minutes ago.
I just found out that our neighborhood is now listed as a "safe walking route" for Eli to school.  In some ways, I suppose walking may be safer than riding on a bus with a bus of crazy middle school kids, but I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around my little E walking a whole mile to school.  It will be great exercise but it rains here, a lot.  Poor kid.  He's going to be a little rain soaked puppy walking to school.
Since there is no way I can stomach him going at it alone, it is time to roam through the neighborhood in search of a middle school kid that I can either carpool with (I can bring the kids home) or that Eli can at least walk to school with.
There is a boy in our neighborhood that took the bus to school last year, so I intend to seek his mother out ASAP and see if we can strike a deal.  I asked Eli where the kid lives and he said he didn't know.  I guess I'm door knocking for middle schoolers?
And of coarse praying for divine intervention.

Aug 14, 2013

Wind Blown

Yesterday I took the ferry to Victoria BC from Port Angeles and returned.  Thankfully, the waters were calm and I was able to enjoy the ride from the deck of the vessel instead of from the stalls of the latrine. On our way over to the island the sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky, and I laid down on the upper deck and took a snooze.  The ride would have been perfect if only there were sun beds out there.  Instead of chilling on a lounger I had to contort my body across three seats using Matt's lap as my pillow.
The sun was setting on our return trip and it was too cold to just sit out on the deck, but it made for great walking weather.  I roamed around the decks taking in the sights of the Olympics ahead and the little island behind.  It wasn't cold, but the wind was blowing as the ship sailed across the Strait.  As I made my way around the deck the wind would catch hold of my hair and toss it around.  Initially, I tried to fight the wind by holding my hair, swooping it back behind my ears and tucking it in my coat.  After a round one of the match, I gave in.  I just let the wind tackle my hair.  It blew across my face, straight up in the air, around my neck.  It was a mess.
It was freeing.
Once I stopped fighting it, I enjoyed the feeling of just being blown around.
I felt a little rebellious.
Most everyone else was inside the ship, protected against the wind and cold, but me and a few others were roaming around outside getting blown away.
It smelled fresh and felt free.
I need to walk in the wind more, let my hair get all messy, and embrace the gusts of fresh air.

Aug 9, 2013

FAN-tastic

It has been quite warm here in the Pacific Northwest this summer.  Pretty much since school got out it has been at least 80 degrees every day.  This is nothing to those who endure temperatures over 100 in places like Texas, Arizona, and parts of California.
The really awesome thing about our warm days, is that it cools down dramatically at night.  Every night.  You can be sweating your face off during the day but I guarantee it will be cool by 7 or 8pm and perhaps chilly by 9 or 10.
UNLESS you are in my bedroom, in which case it is tolerable until 4pm and then becomes stifling hot by 6pm and sweat your butt off by 10pm.
No kidding the house is warm, but bearable until you walk down the hall and cross the threshold of our bedroom, then a brick wall of cookie baking heat slams you in the face.
It is like an oven.
Outside the oven, not bad, inside the oven, death.

We have a ceiling fan which is awesome and the only thing that has kept us in the room this summer.  If we didn't have the fan pressing cool air down on us we would have evacuated the master bedroom and opted for the guest room.

We also have a box fan.  Nothing fancy.  Just a box blowing cool-er air on us.  It cost $20 at the PX.  It sounds like a small jet is taking off and when it gets knocked over by the cat in the middle of the night it makes a noise that is so scary it will wake the dead.

When Matt brought the fan home I noted two important things.  First it was pretty skinny and second our window sills are pretty fat.  Skinny fan + Fat window sill = window fan.  Right?

Nope.  You might assume that is a good idea, I sure did, but you would be wrong.
My darling husband didn't want the fan in the window because it would be blowing pollen and other outside dirtiness into our faces.

So, we have put that fan in 10 different places in the room.  We have tried opening the garage a few inches at night (which is right below our room) to let the hot air escape, we have opened windows in the day, closed them in the day, closed our double think curtains to block the sun, opened the bathroom window, closed the bathroom windows and all sorts of other combinations.  We have also tried turning the box fan around so that it will suck the hot air from our room into the hall, relieving our room of the horrid stuffy hotness.

Nothing worked.

Until yesterday.  I turned that fan into something amazing.

I threw caution to the wind and, against my husband's desire, put that darn fan in the window when the sun when down and turned it on full blast.

I can only say this....life changing.

Yep.  That is right.  Because the only logical place to put a fan is where it can pull COOLER air into a place that needs it.

And I feel like a fool for sweating in my bed for the past month because the fan was on the floor instead of in the window.

Aug 8, 2013

Where you Dwell

I've caught myself complaining about a certain situation to three different people in the past two weeks.  With each conversation I found myself getting more and more upset about the situation.  What started off as something that merely bothered me turned in to something that I'm really quite upset about or more appropriately, disappointed about.
Finally, as I moved through my day today, my thoughts rested on the idea of where I am dwelling.
Dwell is defined as "to keep the attention directed on" or "to live as a resident".  These two different definitions end up tying together in my case.
I have been dwelling (keeping my attention directed) on a my expectations not quite being met and as a result I have been dwelling (taking up residence) in this attitude of discontent.  It is one thing to be bothered by something, to be sad when hopes are dashed, to allow your attention to focus on something for a bit, but it really becomes something altogether different when you hang out there long enough that dust bunnies start to gather and you order artwork to hang on your walls of whining.
What do you do when you find yourself living in a place you don't want to be?  I see two options.  Move on or move the furniture.
Now, just to be clear this is a figurative discussion and I like my house, my neighborhood, the great State of Washington and I'm satisfied with the current placement of my furniture.   However, there have been homes that I lived in that I didn't like so much.  Perfect example is the ity bity, one bathroom apartment in Germany.  It was small, it was ugly and we had one toilet.  We couldn't move on, so we moved the furniture around until it made the most sense, we painted the walls, bought organizational stuff to make life easier and eventually we highjacked the basement toilet and shower to give us options for emergent situations.
In life, sometimes you are simply tied to a situation that doesn't afford you the opportunity to get out.  That means it is time to paint the walls, move the furniture...make the best of it, turn things around.
After some literal house-cleaning, which gave me a lot of time to think, I was able to brain storm some ideas to get to my end goal through other avenues that don't require the cooperation of uninterested parties, and in the end turn the situation around and make the best of things not working out the way I wanted them to.
Rather than taking up residence in a dark place that only brings on the dreary, we can choose to dwell somewhere else, where there is light and hope.

Aug 4, 2013

Long Summer!

As of today we have exactly one more month of summer!
We've been pretty busy this summer.
Last summer was all about travel. 
This summer, although we have stayed close to home,  we have managed to keep just about as busy.  This summer has been a lot about family.
Following the great road trip to Disney and back, we had the privilege of hosting my sister and her family, my parents and grandma, and on and off visits from our friends in town from Colorado.  In between people joining us here, we spent a few days up at my cousin's house, Eli spent a week with my parents in California and then both of the boys just returned from kids camp.  We've gone to the beach, to the mountain, and spent time in the city.  We've relished the days where we can hang out all day in our jammies and we've enjoyed taking in some local hikes, playgrounds, and dinners with friends.
There have been very few days available for the summer doldrums to hit but not so busy that we don't feel like its summer vacation.

With one month left, we have one more visitor coming and a few more short trips planned to explore and enjoy our local sites.

It has been a good summer.
Different from the last few summers, but to my surprise...quite enjoyable.