Jan 31, 2015

Tech-tarded

I know it is a politically incorrect term, but since I'm talking about myself I think I can be politically incorrect.
I am technologically retarded = tech-tarded.

My computer isn't cooperating with me and so I called upon my house technology geek and guru to fix my problems.
He informs me that my problems cannot be solved in the manner in which I desire them to be solved.
This makes me angry.

My computer is slow.
When the toilet is flushing slowly I: get a plunger, get a plumbing snake, get drano.  Problem solved.  Drain is unclogged and toiled flushes normally.
How in 2015 is there not a comparable "fix" method for my computer?
I just need to get rid of the extra gunk in the pipe, and free the flow of information.
Why is it so difficult?

iphoto.
I hate you and love you.
I hate that you are so slow and annoyingly simple.
I love that you have all my photos organized and in one little swoop of the mouse I can super rapidly scan through all the pictures in that folder whilst searching for some gem I just know is in one of two or three folders.
But I have the same problem.  It runs so slow and I get the spinny color wheel of doom every time I open the application.
So I ask my technological advisor to clean it up, put old pictures on a different external memory thingy and then free up some thinking time for the spinny wheel.
He says "it doesn't work that way".
I say "why not?"
He walks out of the room.

Parental controls are my nemisis.
I am trying so hard to protect my children from accidentally happening upon inappropriate websites and/or voluntarily seeking out websites that I find inappropriate.
So I set up the most restrictive parental controls known to man.  I have to approve every single website that the kids want to go to.  This shouldn't be time consuming because when a new website is visited a little window pops up and said "ask you mommy to let to you visit my website" to which I enter in an 54,000 digit secret code, and the vault of that website is now permanently available for the kids to visit so I don't have to approve that site again.
BUT that doesn't always happen.  Sometimes I type in the secret decoder password a thousand times and still the website won't be approved.
I ask the tech guy and he says "hmm it should work".
Not helpful.
So then I have to log off the kinder user name and log on to the parental site and allow the kid full access to the computer in order for him to watch a National Geographic video on the dangers of plastic in the ocean.
So frustrating.

So, I have TWO computers that let me down daily and I have no understanding of why they are failing me.
Do they work?  Absolutely.
Do they work to their greatest potential?  No
Steve Jobs would be so disappointed.

I'm left with a few options: solve my own problems, coerce Matt to solve my problems in a manner that I find acceptable, or deal with it.

I'm feeling like going the IT route would have been much more beneficial than my Social Sciences degree.  At this point my education can only help me understand how I feel about such frustrating aspects of modern technology, not help me solve the problems.

It is these moments of technological crisis that I do what I do very best....go online and shop for boots.

Jan 25, 2015

Love them or hate them, those Seahawks had an amazing comeback against the Packers last weekend during the NFC Conference Championship game.  At the end of the game reporters flocked to the star quarterback and waited for their chance to interview him.  He was very emotional and took a few moments of his air time to thank God for the win.I grimaced when I heard his interview.  Sure, I'm glad he gave thanks to God for the victory, but that is the easy "thank you".  
What if they lost?  Would he stand before all those reporters and thank God for the chance to play even though they lost?  Would he still say it was God's plan for the team if it meant losing?  
Hmm?I don't hate the Seahawks as a team, I just have a huge disdain for the massive amount of "fans" that I'm surrounded by.  People who don't know a thing about the team (I get this from conversations that I've had) but have voluntarily traded in their entire wardrobe for all things Seahawk.  They are riding the wave of a winning team that they know very little about.

The following is a quote from a recent story posted on King 5 News on January 14th.

"What we're talking about is Birging, or Basking in Reflective Glory," said Dr. Galen Trail, Sports Administration and Leadership professor at Seattle University. "This is a term academics came up with to explain why people jump on the bandwagon really. "He says people buy Seahawks gear and consume all Seahawks information, because they want to be associated with winners. "People want to be associated with successful others. They want to promote that successful other," he said. "It (becomes) a self esteem thing, especially for band wagoners."

So what is the problem?
Well nobody or no team wins all the time.
What happens when the team loses?
Are you still a fan?
Do you trade in your gear for regular clothing or perhaps even another team's jersey?
What happens when God doesn't give you what you want?
Are you still a fan?
Do you trade in your jersey for something else?
When our marriage gets rough?  When the kids are trying your patience?  When the job isn't going well?  
Do you find something new to follow?  Something that feels good because it is going well?

I'm a follower of Christ even when I don't like where I'm going, I'm sticking with my husband forever, I'm loving these kids (even when they put crap on the stairs that cause me to trip and fall down the stairs giving myself a giant bruise on my hip) and I'm 49er Faithful.

So, I hope the Seahawks lose next week so Russell has a chance to do the right thing in front of the reporters and because I don't like the 12th Man.

Jan 24, 2015

A few weeks ago Gabe read an article about Michael Oher for school.  We talked about the article and then I decided to show the boys the movie Blind Side.
Eli was so mad at me for showing him such a sad movie.  In fact, he is now questioning all of my movie recommendations because of it.  Today I was talking to the boys about another movie based on a true story and Eli said he wasn't watching it if it is anything like Blindside.

Me: "Why don't you like Blindside?"
G: "Eli thinks it is a sad story"
E: "I don't think it is a sad story...it IS a sad story"
Me: "Only at the beginning, but the middle and the end are awesome"
E: "It doesn't matter.  There are sad parts so the whole thing is sad"

I then tried to explain to Eli that just because the beginning was sad doesn't make the whole thing sad.  There are so many times in our lives that somewhere along a journey something sad or bad happens, but that doesn't make the entire journey bad.
I searched for an example of this,
for him, 
to prove to him this point,
and a few words in to my story I realized my story for him, was really going to be a message for myself.

My friend Terri died Friday morning.
And I'm sad.
I find myself, eyes welled up with tears thinking about how sad her situation was.
But in my words to Eli, I reminded myself not to dwell on the sadness of her long, painful fight against cancer because that is merely a small part of her story, I need to celebrate her whole story.
Along her journey she touched so many lives, it truly amazes me as I read story after story, and recall many of my own of the way Terri impacted the lives of others.  Even in her death, in her husband's announcement of her death, her mission to share Jesus with everyone she met was carried on in his beautiful summary of the Gospel.  "Terri believes that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and she was baptized in His name (I know, because – thanks to Terri – I was there, and got baptized on the same day) for the forgiveness of sins and the receipt of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, she has been bought with a price by our Redeemer – Jesus, the Superhero who conquered death - and she is doing a Snoopy happy dance in paradise right now."  Her husband made sure that at the end of a letter addressing her death, he pointed all who read it to the one who gives us life.

A few months ago Terri posted a video of herself dancing and praising God.  She had been home just a few days after having a brain surgery to remove a tumor, and she was up dancing simply because she could!  She was so joyful and wanted to let her followers know she was Ok.  In her typed comments on the video she said "Jesus is so gracious and amazing.  Remember that folks, it will save your life."
This makes me smile when I think of her.





Jan 15, 2015

Matt is Awesome!


No this blog has not been hacked by some guy named Matt.

I'm taking the time tonight to brag about how awesome my husband is.

I'm not talking about that fact that he regularly makes dinner, cleans the house, brings me coffee at work, and encourages me to have "nights out" away from the house and all the responsibilities that come with it.
 
I'm not talking about how he is thoughtful and kind, loving, supportive and handsome.

I'm not talking about how he is a great dad because he takes time to snuggle with the boys, play games and sports with them and watch a painful amount of boy movies with them.

I'm not even talking about the fact that he is incredibly fun to be with, funny, easy going and he manages to balance me out.

Tonight I'm talking about how awesome Matt is in his professional realm. 

It isn't often I really know how Matt is doing at work.
I know he has flown a ton of hours in four different versions of the Blackhawk without incident, made Pilot in Command at each duty station within a short amount of time, and has been designated a "mission briefer" and planner during his time at both of his recent units.  I also know that he has maintained a 99-100% rating when evaluated for the safety business side of his job and has received great evaluations from his commanders.  And I know that he seems generally well liked by most people I meet from his unit. 
But what do I really know? Is he a great pilot?  Is he a stand-out safety officer?
Without conducting an interview of people he flies with and works with I really have no idea what goes on in that world. 
But this last weekend I had the opportunity to see him shine. He was the mc at our Battalion ball.  This is the second time in two years that he has been asked to take on this task.  I should mention that when I say mc, what I really mean is event planner, coordinator, and mood setter in addition to being the voice of the night.  Matt nailed it.  Anyone who really knows Matt probably knows that this is totally right up his alley.  Maybe not the planning part, that even surprised me, but the whole loud, get the crowd pumped up, make jokes and make people happy gig is so him.  
He truly made the 46th Battalion Ball nights to remember for the past two years.  
The event is the Battalion Commander's but it is a team of 2-3 that do all of the planning.  Both last year and this year, the appreciation of his commander was obvious by the huge smile on his face and repeated comments expressing gratitude and satisfaction.  Matt even received a text the morning after the event from his commander "I wanted to take the time to thank you for the most amazing, fun, professional and bad ass ball I have ever seen.  What you and all your teams did was phenomenal ".  

Today he got a call from the Brigade Ball planners requesting Matt's services at their upcoming ball.  He respectfully declined.  He said he couldn't do it for two reasons: first he is going to be out of town during the final planning stages and second his wife is tired of sitting through these events alone.

Even with all the praise he was getting for the event, that doesn't necessarily speak to his professionalism during his day job, the one where he flies helicopters and does safety stuff, not just entertain a crowd.

But as many people were coming up to Matt and thanking him for a great night one man came up to me to shed some light on my husband, the Soldier.  He told me he didn't know if I knew how much of an asset Matt was to the brigade.  He spoke of Matt's many talents as a safety officer and Soldier and praised what Matt has done for the 46th Battalion.  He also talked about how he was looking forward to Matt's upcoming move to a new battalion where Matt will build a safety program there and make extraordinary things happen.  It was truly rewarding to hear him speak so highly of Matt.  I was and am so proud.
 
After the man and I parted ways, Matt told me the guy I was talking to is the highest ranking Warrant Officer in the Brigade (like the head chief of Warrant Officers) and Matt chuckled a little when he said "he's trying to get me to stay in the Army".  You don't try to keep just anyone in the Army in these days of cutbacks.

So I guess things are going pretty well at work?

I do believe the units he has served with have been better for his presence and I hope that the words of those who serve with him will translate well when he is looking for references for his post-military career.

There are definitely more talented pilots out there, there are guys to put in more hours and work harder, but Matt brings something else to the table that many of those guys don't, dynamics.  A commander once told Matt if he wanted to sell the unit on an idea he had to first convince Matt, and Matt would get everyone else to jump on board.  Matt has a role in a unit that doesn't have an official title, he brings the spirit of camaraderie, joy in the bad times, and perhaps a little bit of court jester.

As Matt was unloading his stuff from his backpack and duffle bags when he came home a few months ago he said "oh and I got this" and laid down an award certificate on the table.  He laid it down like it wasn't any big deal.... like a receipt for me to file away or a coupon. It was a Bronze Star.
"The Bronze Star is an individual military award of the United States Armed Forces. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest individual military award."
I was a little speechless, well you know I'm never actually speechless, and I said "a bronze star?  Isn't that kind of a big deal?"  He said "not really".  
I must be confusing it with some other award so I said "did everyone get them?"  He replied "no just a few of us".
"So just a little bit of a big deal?"

I suppose ... 


So there he is.  A humble man who serves with the talents God gave him, not for glory but for duty, not for praise but for personal satisfaction that at the end of the day he did his job well.  A man who changes the air when he enters a room and leaves a mark on those he served with.  He brings a message of living fully, flying safely and making the best of circumstances.


I already had a glass of wine before I wrote this but if I had some left I would raise my glass in honor of this guy I'm so lucky to be married to.



Jan 14, 2015

Confessions of a Wayward Blogger

It is January 14th.....well in to the New Year and I have a Christmas tree still standing in my living room.  The lights are pulled off and there are no longer decorations to make the tree a thing a beauty but it is still standing there.
Another tree is not quite fitting in the original box upstairs and the third tree is on the back porch.
Also fitting this list quite nicely: the chalk markings above my door are still reflecting last year's blessing on Epiphany....apparently the Three Kings haven't quite made it to our house this year.

I have two (TWO) air mattresses with leaks in the garage awaiting a trip to the dump, and there is at least one full box worth of Christmas or New Year's decorations throughout the house that somehow missed that room's pack-up.

At 9pm I haven't made lunches for tomorrow yet, I have a load of laundry that needs to run through the washer and dryer before I go to bed and I have to get the house up early tomorrow to take Gabe to school instead of him riding the bus because he has a tri-fold display board that needs to make it to school intact for a presentation.

And I am not stressed.  At. All.

So the house is in a weird place right now, and my days have absolutely not gone the way I hoped with respect to accomplishing a list too long, but I'm actually ok with this.  I should be worried about why I am ok with this, but I'm not.

Instead tonight my thoughts are actually filled with one very bizarre thing:  what if passing gas smelled like the food we ate that caused the gas?  I mean really?  Sometimes I have a really bad stomach ache and I am asking myself "why?  what did I eat?"  If our inward consumption matched the outward production then I wouldn't have to ask myself this question and I could make better decisions on what I do and do not want to eat in the future.
A food diary would also work but where's the originality in that?

Tonight Eli said I was acting like a brat.  I said "Eli we don't call names.  Do I call you names?"
To which he replied "yes".
Oh ya.  I do.  I mean not like horrible names like "cotton headed ninny muggins" but I have told him he was acting like a jerk or a brat.   So that conversation took a turn....
"Let's both stop calling names, deal?"
"Sure mom"

Last weekend Matt hung out with friends at his work Ball and then danced until they turned the lights on at a local country bar.  I felt so proud of myself: first for staying awake long enough to be at a bar when they turn the lights back on and second for attempting to dance to country music in some manner that makes sense.  I think it is called the two-step, not sure why still, which would explain why I wasn't so great, but I danced and had a blast!  I laughed a lot and treasured the fact that as a military spouse I get to go to "grown-up prom" as my sister-in-law and I call it.

Gabe asked me if he could have my phone number when I die.
I really don't have much to add to that.  It was weird.  I sense that as he gets older and starts appreciating more of my stuff, he will ask for more of it when I die.  I'm bracing myself for this now.

Today one of my students that I usually only see at recess came in to my classroom and loudly exclaimed "hey you are my outside teacher".  It was extremely rewarding to engage this youngster in a conversation that covered the wildly amazing fact that I am at different moments of the day both outside....and inside.  Crazy.

With that I shall summarize:  house is a mess and I'm ok with it, passing gas doesn't smell as good coming out as the food that came in, I call my children names, this old lady can still dance the night away, Gabe is awaiting my death so he can have an easy to remember phone number and I am so amazing that I can transport myself both inside and outside.

Happy New Year!









Jan 5, 2015

11:45pm December 31st...just moments before the clock would strike midnight and the New Year began, the boy announced he had something he wanted to do.
He cleared his throat, hopped up onto a stool and addressed his audience of 15.
What came next was shocking.

When Gabe first told me he had something he wanted to do after our game was finished I brushed him off.  We were quickly approaching midnight and had bottles of champagne to open and glasses to fill, did we really have time for this?  I hinted that now wasn't a good time, but something in his eyes told me to let it ride.  He looked so disappointed when I began my "no, because...." speech, so I simply said "ok, but we don't have much time".

Turns out he didn't need much time.  
From up high on the stool he looked around the room, down into every person's eyes and apologized.
He said he was sorry for being grumpy earlier that night and asked for forgiveness.  Tears rolled town his cheeks and he began to wipe them away with the back of his hand as only he does.  He said he loved us and he was sorry,  honestly I can't remember what all he said, but I know that he was so brave to stand in front of everyone and apologize.

He had been so grumpy that night.  It didn't really affect too many people in the room, Matt and I got the brunt of it.  I'm not sure why he was struggling, and I even find it hard to remember all the little things that kept setting him off.  What I do remember and will remember forever is that this was the night that Gabe stood up, took responsibility for his actions, and publicly apologized without any suggestions or coercion from Matt and I.

Gabe struggles a great deal with owning his mistakes, not so much because he doesn't want to face consequences but because he so very ashamed.  It is often hard to get him to apologize coherently because he simply can't bring himself to face the one he hurt.  

This night he overcame a lot to stand up and apologize.  Matt and I praised him for his bravery to stand up there and the rest of the group comforted him with comments of how much they love him.

He ended 2014 off better than I could have ever imagined for someone.  He lay his burdens down, asked for forgiveness and felt free by the time the clock struck midnight.

I can learn a thing or two from this kid.