Jan 29, 2016

Sometimes you just got to soak up the rain.

I was looking through our digital photo library tonight for a few specific photos...and got lost there for about 3 hours.
I came across these gems and of all the thousands of photos I flipped through these pulled at my heart strings.
Oh the freedom of dancing in the rain.
I love it.
Oh how I miss this little boys.
Those sweet innocent little smiles, chubby cheeks and carefree hearts.
What would I give to go back in time for just 5 minutes, to dance in the courtyard with them?



And then I starting asking myself the deeper, harder, questions:
When was the last time I danced in the rain?  Am I encouraging the boys to live to the fullest?
Have the boys lost that sparkle that embraces the moment even if it means getting soaked, freezing, and stepping on a worm with your barefoot?
How can I balance being the mom who plays video games, belts out song lyrics in the car, plays board games and watches an entire episode of favorite tv shows with the mom who makes sure dinner is made, homework is done, laundry is cleaned and everyone gets to every practice that they need to be at on time?
I want to be the mom they can come to, to talk about anything, the mom they want to be the chaperone for school field trips or the house they want to stay at.  But I also have to make hard choices for the kids, give them consequences, teach them to be responsible.
I know those days of them being little was hard, but my heart so desires a few more minutes to just dance in the rain.

Jan 26, 2016

Call it "bringing the outside in" or embracing the "evergreen state" or perhaps its just "too lazy to put the trees away".
This is my living room.
So proud.

Jan 25, 2016

Day 1.
Matt is one week into his fellowship with my favorite on-line shopping company, but today was his first day at the actual facility where he will be working for the next few months.
It was very exciting to hear him talk about his day, the facility, and what is going on there.
While the fellowship is providing him with coursework for a PMP (project management something), connections within the company, increased chances of a job offer, and something great for his resume, the greatest benefit is the opportunity to ease his way in to the civilian workplace and to get a good idea if this particular company is one that he wants to work for.
He's been working for the Army for 20 years.  Things are quite different in the civilian world.  This time gives him the opportunity to wade into the big giant ocean of the free market, instead of diving head first into the dark unknown.
And working with this company in particular is a lot like samples at costco.  If they taste gross you walk away and toss the remainder in the next closest trash receptacle.  No harm done.  Nothing invested.  No 3/4 full box of 3000 servings to try to work your way through over the next 3 years simply because you paid $39.99 for it.
But if you love it, you buy it and you already know you love it so there's no risk.
Its a win win.  Matt gets to decide if he likes this place.  The company gets to see if he has what they are looking for.

We celebrated his first day by consuming a generous portion of chocolate fondue!
Since he walked all over the place and was super busy for 10 hours he could totally afford the calories.

Jan 24, 2016

So another weekend in Seattle.
Yesterday was rainy and cold, perfect for a quick drive from the University where Eli has baseball camp to the shopper's mecca at Westlake.  Dress success!
Today was quite opposite.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Sunny and, though a little chilly, it was in the 50's which is pretty warm for January.
I drove up to Seattle with my new running shoes on with plans to hit the pavement.
I wasn't so ambitious to plan an actual run, but I was fully prepared for a nice walk.
And I was totally rewarded with possibly my favorite walk ever.
I logged a few miles, including some serious hills, and enjoyed exploring a part of the city that I don't usually find myself in.
As I wound around through the different areas of downtown Seattle I decided I could totally be a city exerciser.  Running would have been quite a bit more challenging on the streets I chose, but a brisk walk was so fun.  I was worried about the time, not because I was tired of walking but because I was afraid I would be gone so long I'd be late to pick up Eli.
I know my way around the city west of I-5 but rarely venture to the east side of the freeway.  Turns out, its pretty happenin'.
So here's a shot of my "gym" today.

Jan 22, 2016

I was chatting with a few coworkers today about weekend plans.
I explained that since I was Eli to Seattle for baseball camp, I was going to take advantage of being up there and go shopping for a dress.
That spurred the questions of what I needed a dress for (Matt's retirement shindig), how long he served (will be 20 years, 10 months and some days) and when the event was taking place (end of March).

I handled all of that very well.

Then one of the ladies asked me if we would stay in this area when Matt retires.
To which I replied "well that all depends on where Matt gets a job".

Then came a question I don't think anyone has ever asked me before....

"So what feels like home?

I've had people ask where we wanted to live, where our favorite place was that we lived, and if we would go back to California, but nobody has ever phrased this question with the same emotion-packed word choice as my coworker did today.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I felt that ugly cry face coming on, and I barely squeaked out the words:

here

It wasn't until that moment that I fully realized how much this place is home to me.  And suddenly the rush of all the things I love about Washington overwhelmed me and the thought of leaving broke me.

And I realized that this must be my home.

This is what it feels like when people who have lived in one place for a long time think about leaving their "home".

I get it now.

Jan 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like the radio station you regularly listen to only plays one song?
Every once in a while a new song will come out, and it catches my attention to such a degree that it becomes the only song I ever actually listen to when the radio is on.
I'm sure there are a few hundred other songs playing in between the times they play the new song, but I only hear the new one.
This is happening to me right now.
I hear Lauren Daigle "Trust in You" for the first time last week.
The chorus lyrics grabbed my attention:

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

It is easy to sing about how great God is during the times of answered prayers, but much more challenging to do so during a trial.

I don't really feel like I"m in that place right now, but the frequency in which I'm hearing this song is freaking me out a little.  
I'm wondering "are things going to go all wonky soon and I'm being prepped for it through this song?

Or maybe it is just a new song with a good message that I need to be reminded of.

Jan 11, 2016

I couldn't even guess how many times our living room floor has been covered with military gear and a checklist.
Every single time Matt signs in to an installation he heads down to the local issuing facility and collects a trunk full of gear.  He brings it home piles it somewhere until it drives me crazy and then finds a place for it in the garage or storage room until he actually needs it.
Then every time he signs out of an installation all that stuff gets dragged out, placed on the floor and sorted through for turn in.
For every field problem, school, tdy adventure, and deployment there has been a duffle bag, tuff box or suitcase to fill, piles of stuff in the living room and a list to keep track of what needs to go.

Tonight I came home from work to find the living room covered with gear ready to be packed up and turned in for the last time.

Retirement is creeping up faster than I'm emotionally ready for.


Jan 9, 2016

Today the family hopped in our 12 year old van with 178,000 miles on it and headed up to Seattle.
The details of the van's age and mileage is irrelevant, other than to establish that it is old and wore out and I want an upgrade.
Matt was supposed to take Eli up for baseball training camp but when we found out that our cousins from the North were going to be in Seattle too, Gabe and I decided to join in for a meet-up.

Mike, Matt and Eli were at the baseball camp while Rhonda, Gabe and I walked around downtown Seattle.
We strolled through the streets, got coffee, went shopping, stopped to watch the ferries cross the sound, admired the snowcapped Olympics in the distance, and took a moment to bask in the brightness of the winter sun.
There is something about the hustle of a city that I love.
And something about THIS city that draws me in and makes me want to stay.
We truly have started to feel like this is our town.

I'll take the streets of downtown Seattle over a suburban mall any day.
I love the feel of my boots hitting the cobblestones on Pike and the sounds of street performers mixed in with seagulls and a few honking horns.
I love the tall buildings, boutique shops, smorgasbord of restaurant options and walking all over.

We all met up for dinner after Eli was done with baseball and then the Northerners headed back home and we did the same.
Just a simple Saturday.

I felt a little smile across my face as I pulled into my garage.
I am so blessed.
I love going into the city, so I enjoyed that part of the day.
But what I really treasure is the opportunity we have had to do life with my Cousins from the North these past three years.
I don't know where the future will take us, or how long we will be able to stay here in Washington, but I can confidently say that we took advantage of every opportunity we could.
Whether it be holidays and birthdays, taking in sporting events, hanging out at each other's houses or just a simple Saturday meet-up in Seattle, we have not let that 3 hour (or 5 hour on a holiday) drive to deter us from hanging out.



Jan 8, 2016

Some overdue updates.

We had the dogs back for the Christmas holiday.
I know....shocking.
The owners were horrified at the poodle-doo and poodle-pee incidents and offered to professionally clean our carpets, buy new bed linens, and give us every last ounce of their blood.
They absolutely understood if we decided not to keep the dogs over Christmas BUT we really felt obligated to watch them since we had already committed and the owners made plans accordingly.
I decided to not freak out about the pee and Matt promised to clean it all up TO MY STANDARDS.
We had them for 10 days and they were perfect little poodle angels.  One of them peed once and Matt accepted full responsibility (because he is a horrible dog borrower and rarely remembers to feed and walk the dogs).  A little part of me actually misses snuggling with those little fuzz balls.

That blacklight never worked properly.  I shined the light on a spot where I just witnessed the dog pee and nothing showed up.
I'm guessing that the light the CSI people use is not one that is found at walmart on a late night run to analyze foreign substances on carpet.
The flashlight was pretty effective at locating lost legos and such under the couch, until it rolled off the counter, fell on the floor and broke.
The flashlight lasted 2 weeks.

The boys got their toilet seat back, but are dangerously close to losing it again.
I'm not exactly sure what Eli did to take care of the pooty duty for 2 weeks.  He said he planned to "hover".
He may have actually done that because today when I was buying him jeans we had a horrible time finding jeans small enough for his waist, long enough for his legs, and wide enough for his disproportionately monsterous thighs.

I was back at the Walmarts the other night.  I didn't get robbed, didn't witness anymore thievery, and nobody was skimping on their baby formula to buy liquor.  It was a nice visit.
However, one week after the great Walmarts heist I witnessed another heist type activity at Walmarts step-sister Kohls.
No kidding.
I'm in my van out in front of Kohls and I'm totally irritated that this white hatchback is just lingering in front of the doors.  Not unloading or loading, not moving, and not waiting on traffic.  It was just blocking the road sitting there.  And then KABLAMO!!  A guy comes blasting out of the doors of Kohls with a cart full of stuff, crams it into the car, and then the car peels out.
I must live in the ghetto.




Jan 6, 2016

Ashamed.

Every once in a while I am ashamed to call myself a Christian.  Not because I am ashamed to be a follower of Christ, but because I do not want to be associated with the actions of other Christians.

I seem to be having these feelings more and more frequently these days.
I'm disappointed in the Christians who are apparently working hard to make Christians out to be something contrary to the very simple definition given to us in the Bible.
And I'm disappointed in myself for allowing myself to be frustrated by these people.

A Christian is a Christ follower.
A Christ follower will try his/her imperfect best to learn and follow the commandments and teachings of the Bible.
While that seems simple enough on paper it is not that easily packaged in real life.

How many people are turned off by the petty bickering among Christians regarding nonessential, unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things, details of religion?  How many fights break out over differing opinions on "what the Bible really says about....?" or how many hours of life is spent trying to make an declarative claim about how God feels about this or that?

I was raised in church, spent my entire adult life as a believer in Christ, and yet I sit here tonight questioning if I really want to associate myself with this label.

I want a new label.
I want a label that says "I know that God sent his son Jesus to bear the sins of the world and pay the penalty for sin in my place so that I may have a personal relationship with the trinity of God." 
I want a label that says "I know God has me in his hands.  My highs and lows, the good and bad are allowed by God and I'm never far from his reach, his forgiveness, or his love."
I want a label that says "I don't understand God and I don't really know how everything here on earth is supposed to work, but I know that he has given me grace and peace to help me make my way through this life, and my life here on earth and in the ever after is better because of it."

I would rather someone say of me "I want what she has" than "she must be a Christian" because these days the impression I am getting of Christians as a general group is that these people are judgmental, hateful, and unforgiving, and focused on the most petty issues ever.

So my prayer as I enter into 2016 is simple.

Dear God,
Help me not to be those things that drive me crazy.
Let me offer the same amount of Grace that is given to me.
Let me be love to those around me.
Let me close my eyes to the issues that are really meaningless.
Let my words be wise.
Help me be a messy reflection of who you are and who you desire me to be.









Jan 5, 2016

Spring 2003.
Mid-morning.
I got a phone call from a friend.
(This was back when I had a landline and friends actually called each other to chat instead of texting.)
At first it seemed she just wanted to chat about normal day to day stuff then she dropped the big news on me: A mutual friend of ours was talking crap about me to another mutual friend of ours and somehow it all got back around to this friend I was talking to.
Gasp.
On the phone I blew it off.
I may have said something like this "I'm 26 years old, the mother of a busy infant and the wife of a soldier who is in a war zone.  I do not have the time nor do I want to waste the time I have to bother with this chic talking bad about me.  Good riddance."

I hung up, feeling all tough, but I couldn't shake it off.
I wasn't really that close to either of these not-using-their-nice-words people, but I was really bothered by the fact that one of these two would resort to this kind of gossip.  The other one, I never really liked in the first place so I truly didn't care.  But the one, I thought there was something there, I could really see us being better friends, and this new revelation bothered me.

I did something that was hard at the time, I called her.
I called and told her what the mutual friend had said about her talking about me and I told her I was a little upset about it.
She did something that shocked me.  
She admitted it.
A quick conversation resolved a petty issue.
I said "hey you aren't being nice"
and she said "I know, I shouldn't have engaged in that behavior".
And I said "ok don't do it again".

Simple honesty.
Simple forgiveness.

That conversation was nearly 13 years ago.
That not so nice friend?  My dearest Mika.

Every once in a while I think about that conversation.  I think about how I could have blown this thing up, held a grudge, hated her.
I think about how different that conversation would have gone if she had, out of pride, denied any wrongdoing.
How very very very (overkill I know but its so true) different my life would have been.
Because that person who could have become an enemy, is one of the greatest blessings bestowed on me.  And the relationship that Matt has with her husband is another one of the greatest blessings bestowed on me, and the relationship that our families have is beyond words amazing.

You see pride gets in the way of the simple things like honesty and forgiveness.
How different is your life?  How different is your relationships? What are you missing?  Or what might you miss out on because you cannot simply come with an open honest heart to the table and say "hey you took my cookie and it made me sad?"  And give that person the opportunity to say "I'm sorry, let me buy you a dozen to make up for it, and from now on, lets share our cookies".