Aug 28, 2014

154 Days

That is how long it has been since we said our goodbyes.
We miss him so much.

E sent an email to Matt (as his mom I have permission to read everything he writes and obviously share it with anyone I deem appropriate) that said this "you know how it feels when you leave the house and feel like you forgot something?  That's how it feels when you are gone".
For a tween boy, he did a pretty good job of summing up how we feel.  Unsettled, slightly off, missing something...someone.

Tomorrow marks 5 months of being gone and 19 years of active duty service in the United States Army.

So proud of his strength and courage during this deployment and his career.  He does his job well, he is a fabulous leader, and an incredible asset to his unit, the Army, and the USA.

Thanks Matt for being part of the .5% willing to serve your country!!

Aug 27, 2014

One Foot in Front of the Other

It is a simple act that I typically take for granted.
For some reason over the past few weeks I have noticed people for whom walking is no easy task.
There was a guy in the airport who had some form of disability that kept his knees bent.  He was walking from the security screening area toward his gate.  While most others were fluidly moving through the halls of the airport this man was bouncing up and down, the power that was required to move his feet, one in front of the other was far greater than that required for me to move my own.  I paused and thought about how much more difficult his life must be, at least with regards to getting from point a to b, that it is for me or most of the people I know.
Then there was an older woman in the parking lot, moving slowly to her car.  She shuffled along with the help of a walker.  At some point I am sure she could walk briskly or even run, but time or injury left its mark and now moving was slow and steady.
There was the really large lady who seriously was weightlifting 100 pounds each time she lifted a leg, the person with the turned in foot, the window clerk at the post office...
It is the people who are walking with difficulty, rather than using a wheel chair or hover-round, are the ones that have struck me.  Every time I go out I notice someone who is moving with great effort.
I don't know.  What is the message?  Why am I suddenly heart broken for people who can't walk with ease?
I have no idea.
This post would be awesome if I had some great conclusion, but I don't.
I prayed for each one as I saw them, maybe that is the point.
I vowed to walk as much, as far, and as strong as I can as long as I can.
I thank the Lord that walking is one of my easier tasks that I accomplish each day.  Maybe I can't paint the fence (ahem) or stuff a duvet into the duvet cover but I can walk and that is one less thing I have to even think about.

Aug 26, 2014


This is quite possibly my favorite photo of all my vacation photos.

These ladies and I decided to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding for the first time during our getaway in Florida.
Monday morning, 9am three of us set out on our maiden voyage.  The winds were calm, tide was going nowhere, and there were dozens of dolphins swimming throughout the backwaters where we were paddling.  There were sweet mamas with her little babies, whole pods, solo swimmers fishing and frolicking about.  It was one of the most magical two hours of my life!  It was so quiet out the only sounds we heard were dolphins breaking the surface of the water and our own squeals as they were getting really close to our boards.  Such an amazing experience.

So amazing that we convinced the other two ladies who stayed on shore that day that they needed to join us the following day.

We headed out at 10am on Tuesday, the water was choppy, the winds were gusting, and the tide was pushing us eastward the entire time.  It was a challenge to keep our boards where we wanted them and not crashing against the shoreline.  

After about an hour of making our way through the inter coastal waterway we still had not seen a single dolphin.  Not one!  The day before you couldn't look anywhere around you without seeing them and this day not a single fish, dolphin, jelly fish, or bird in sight!

Things started to go bad on our way back to our dock, the wind was strong and pushed A dangerously close to the shore.  The problem with the shore is that it is loaded with oyster beds.  Razor sharp colonies of oysters.  As A is working her way out of the death zone, I am watching her, start to panic and lose my balance.  I fly off my board, my board heads toward her in the death zone and I start kicking for my life in the opposite direction.  Unfortunately, the board doesn't have a leash so now I am boardless.  Thankfully A is a rockstar and she is working to get herself AND my board out of the rough.  Meanwhile D is over there too, not really sure what was happening with her but she ended up in the water too.  She stayed with her board, hopped back on and we all made our way to the center of the waterway clear of the oyster beds.

I'm kicking my way to the center when I realize my fingers are bleeding.  I have no idea what they were cut on but I had two tiny little cuts on two fingers.  I think this is funny because a few of our ladies are deathly afraid of sharks being in the water so I look to A and say "hahaha I'm bleeding, don't tell the others.  A shark can smell a drop of blood a mile away".  We laugh.

Moments later I look back at D and ask how she is doing after her fall.  She said "ok but I cut up my feet on the oyster beds".  I look and OH MY GOODNESS there is an actual blood trail following her.  I scream "D you are Shark Bait!"  Maybe not the most sensitive comment at the moment.  Once again A saves the day (seriously what is with this girl saving everyone's life? ) and paddles to a closer dock with D and the rest of us head back to our dock with plans to pick them up when we get in.

Wouldn't you know we saw a whole bunch of dolphin families on our way back.  

We made it back safely, pull in our boards, and get instruction on how to get the others' boards back to the rental place and directions to the hospital.  Oyster beds have high amounts of nasty bacteria and it can kill you if you don't get cuts cleaned out and get some antibiotics asap.

Which brings me to the above photo.  We got to the clinic and were greeted by a sweet nurse who loaded D up and willingly took a photo for us.  We were dying laughing, as you can see in the photo.  D was a good sport, and the next 2 hours spent in the clinic were somehow entertaining.  Well, we were entertained in the waiting room while D got a few dozen stitches in her feet.  

Why I love this photo?  I am reminded of so many things when I see it.  Those smiles... we made the best of a potentially horrible, trip ruining situation.  We worked together to accomplish some difficult tasks.  We laughed...and I can't keep from smiling or laughing when I look at this picture.  Love, we love each other enough to make this trip happen.  This trip was filled with long chats, walks on the beach, cooking together, laughing, coffee drinking, sun soaking, book  Such a huge blessing! And holy cow I'm so tan!!

Aug 25, 2014

Missing Episode

Yesterday I was tackling one of my most hated tasks around the house.  Not toilet or bathroom cleaning, mowing the lawn or even laundry.  The task I loath is stuffing the duvet into the duvet cover.

As I was wrestling, literally wrestling, with the duvet cover yesterday a thought popped in to my head.  This is a missing I Love Lucy episode.

I can absolutely picture Lucy trying to get her duvet inside the cover and getting all twisted up, perhaps mummified.  Of course Ethel walks in, is scared to death as a mummy version of Lucy is walking toward her screaming "help".  It is all sorted out after Lucy trips over the ottoman and Ethel realizes it isn't a mummy, just her BFF trapped in her duvet.  She pulls Lucy out and the bed gets made just before Desi comes in the front door.

I don't know why I have such a difficult time with this task.  For this reason alone, being a maid in Europe is not an option.

Yesterday's adventure was made even more challenging since I just bought a king size duvet and cover.  Now I have even more fabric to get twisted and tangled into the duvet cover.

This task is usually Matt's.  He can do it one handed, while texting.

I have watched him and considered following his example of "how to stuff a duvet into the cover...the right way", however he uses a method I simply cannot imagine copying.  He holds the corners of the duvet and plunges head-first into the cover.  Here is the problem....I have a serious fear of going head-first into a sleeping bag or duvet cover or anything that resembles something that I could end up getting trapped in.  So, I try and try to stuff that darn duvet in that cover and eventually after breaking out into a full sweat and slightly panicking as I peer into the cover to see what is going wrong, I complete the task.  I'm determined not to have to do it again before Matt gets home.  I'll bribe the kids, or go without a duvet, I cannot submit myself to this torture again....ever.

Aug 22, 2014

Paint the Fence

A few weeks from now marks our second anniversary of living in our home.  We haven't made any improvements.  It was a new house, so there really wasn't anything that needed to be done.  We simply moved in and started to make it our home.
Aside from a few dings in the walls and finger prints along the banister, the house hasn't changed much.  
However, the yard is a totally different story.  Our front yard has been maintained well, the shrubs and flowers are growing, the grass is mostly green and weed free, the side patch struggles a little more but is presentable, and the back yard is a complete disaster.  Think repo yard.  That's what we have going on here.
Not only is the grass, if there is any left there, completely brown,  and the weeds overgrown and deadly to a bare foot, but there is not a single flower, plant or tree back there to break up the boxy ugliness. And the fence....oh dear the fence was not painted, sealed, or stained and has turned a fabulous shade of ugly grey.
I decided that the backyard overhaul was not something I wanted to embrace this summer but the fence does desperately need attention to prevent it from being the ugly thing that it was and from rotting to death, falling over, and revealing to all of creation our ugly back yard.
So paint the fence.
Easy right?
No.  Not easy.  At least for this paintarded person, it was not an easy task.  
I bought the stain and sealer, some magical applicator wands that the Lowes lady said would make the task so easy, and I headed home to tackle the beast.
2 minutes in to the project the first magical wand broke, the second magical wand didn't fit properly in the bucket of stain which caused some momentary chaos until I could problem solve, and then to polish off my handyman moment the existing magical wand was dumping so much stain/sealer on the ground that I actually sealed my decorative rock for all eternity.  The rocks are now shiny with a golden honey hue.
I race back to Lowes.  Livid.  This was supposed to be a 1 trip job.  And here I am back at the store in the first 10 minutes.  I consult my parental units to talk me down off the painter's ledge and I get back home with a roller, a tray, and a tiny element of calm.
I paint.
I paint the fence, a little rock, a lot of my hands and arms, a little of my legs and seriously...who paints their face?  Me.
As I finished the first side of my fence line I realize.  I don't have enough paint for this.  I should have enough paint.  A 5 gallon bucket should cover 1200 - 1400 sqft.  HA!  Not with me at the other end of the roller.
I press on, determined to get as far as possible to avoid cleaning up the supplies more than once.  As I roll, and splash this sticky gunk all over me, I think my cousin Mike would have a heart attack if he saw this disaster taking place, and my mom would have snatched that roller out of my hands 5 minutes in, then finished the job with the existing paint while I was still cleaning the crap off my feet.
I ran out of paint with 360 sqft left undone. 
I laugh.  That should be just one more gallon, if I were operating at the semi-professional scale obviously required to get that kind of coverage, but to be safe I get two more gallons turning this in to a 3 trip job.
I leave one gallon in the van, so I can easily return it when I don't need it.  (Chuckle chuckle)
I return to the job, paint away, and hey what do you know I have 6ft of fence that shall forever and ever until that hunk a fence falls over be left unstained. Short of stain to finish 6ft of fence. 
That's how I roll.
Literally, I roll so bad that I used 7 gallons of paint and still didn't finish the job.  
I then spent about 2 hours scrubbing my skin and nails attempting to get the stain off.  I give up, paint my nails pink, and decide the honey gold stain just makes me look tan in some a very splattered way.

Aug 21, 2014

Have you considered putting him on medication?

That was the question E's math teacher posed to me at conferences at the end of the year last year.  He talks a lot in class and she felt that he was likely ADD or ADHD and may need some medication to help him.  She felt he was impulsive and couldn't control his talking.
I refrained from engaging in a debate over his cause of his behavior and moved on.

"he says he is bored in your class, and would like a more challenging math next year, will you be placing him in advanced math?"
"no" she said "he is getting a 96% but he isn't getting EVERY question correct".

So this kid talks all the time in class and still pulls off a 96%? Hmmmmmm

I bite my lip and decide to take this up with someone else, at a later date.

I called the counselor yesterday to discuss E's math placement for this coming year.  After about 10 seconds of reviewing his academic records from last year and his state standardized test results she said "oh yes, we definitely need to put him in the advanced class".

Boredom = E trying to entertain himself in class.

Psychology degree = adequate education allowing you to assess my child's possible ADD, ADHD

On two or three occasions I have made this statement to E's teachers:

God created this kid the way he is.  One day all of these characteristics that drive his teachers crazy will be used in a positive way.  One day he will mature and start to fill up those leadership shoes, he will know when to speak and when to listen, he will learn that you don't always have to describe every last detail to make your point.  One day his "weaknesses" will be strengths.  He is exactly who God created him to be, and until he reaches that point of maturity, we will work with him, and continue to stress the importance of appropriate classroom behavior.

Teachers don't usually know what to say after that.  What can they say?

Aug 20, 2014

So We Went on Vacation

Follow closely, this is about to get interesting.
Some people I visited this summer.

Visited Mika in Colorado Springs, originally met at a company hail and farewell in Clarksville, Tn 12 years ago.
Angela also in Colorado Springs, originally met in the laundry room of our stairwell in Germany, 5 years ago.
Matti in Wyoming, they live in Virginia, originally met in Virginia 8 years ago at a church softball game.
Swanies in Wyoming, they live in New Mexico, originally met in Virginia 9 years ago at MOPS.
Parents and sister, in Citrus heights, originally met at the hospital 37+ years ago.
Darlene, in Florida, lives in Georgia, originally met walking our boys to school in Germany 5 years ago.
Allison, in Florida, lives in South Carolina, originally met at PWOC in Germany 5 years ago, walked home to discover we were neighbors.
Kim, in Florida, lives in Tennessee, originally met in Germany when she passed by my door on her way down from Angela's house (see above) and realized our husbands worked together.
Angela, bonus visit in Florida, see above.

When Matt and I were married and living off on our own in Hawaii, I told him I doubted we would ever go to a wedding or share in the births of our friend's kids.  I just couldn't imagine meeting someone and becoming close enough to share special life events with them.
Was I ever wrong.

I was at Mika's wedding and kissed her daughter's forehead on the day she was born, I celebrated birthdays with the Matti and sat with them through Sam's mom's funeral, I helped the Swanies move 600 times, visited babies at the hospital and travelled a few thousand miles to visit them and the Matti in Virginia while we lived in Germany.  My family vacationed with Angela's a few times in Europe.
I've met these people's parents and siblings, I've been there to celebrate and cry, I've shared my greatest joys and my darkest hours with these people.

How foolish was I to believe that leaving "home" meant saying farewell to close ties?
I'm overwhelmingly blessed by each person I have met as Matt's job moved us all over the world, and so thankful for the opportunity to travel to meet up with all of these people this summer.