Feb 24, 2016

I have 14 pairs of boots in my closet.
Some say it is an addiction.
Others say it is a lovely, practical collection of sensible shoes.

Given that it is "boot weather" in Washington 6 months out of the year, with other optional boot days scattered throughout the rest of the year, I say its a matter of function and totally acceptable use of closet space, not an actual addiction.

The other part of this boot story is that I buy expensive, good quality, real leather boots.... at extremely discounted rates.
So yes, my fabulous Frye harness moto boots were originally $380 but I got them for 70% off.    I know. Amazing deal right?
There is really something about a quality shoe.  I have quite a few pairs of boots in my closet that I purchased back in 2009, that are still in really great condition, that I wear regularly, and I love just as much today as when I first purchased them.  Can glued together plastic hold up like that?  I think not.

So the bottom line is I have a lot of nice boots.  And I clearly have an irrational relationship with them.

Today a young co-worker of mine came over to show me her new boots.  They were over the knee, black plastic, side-zip boots with a low heel.
She proudly exclaimed to me "So I was in Payless yesterday and thought of you when I bought these boots.  I told my mom 'these boots are in honor of Clarissa'."
To which another co-worker said "she's chanelling you".
And I passed out.

Ok, not really.
I gasped.

I have beautiful, durable, yummy smelling boots not plastic go-go boot disasters that could only be sold at Payless!!!  How could she compare her boots to mine?  (I was kind of yelling that, in case you couldn't imagine that on your own.)

I told Matt this story and he laughed out loud.  A lot.  He said something like "talk about a gut punch" And kept muttering "Payless...channeling you" followed by more laughter.

I buy the nice boots because:

  • I love the challenge of getting really nice things I cannot typically afford for a ridiculously scamming deal.  
  • I'd rather spend money on a quality product.  Buy faux leather boots for $60 or wait out my dreamy Born leather lace up riding boots for a year for $100?  I choose the latter.
  • I love nice looking boots that don't squeak when you walk.

So my lesson for today....
Well I don't know for sure but I think it might be to make sure you are buying things because you want them, not to impress anyone else.  Because you never know, your $380 boots may just look to someone else like $24.99 BOGO from Payless.


Feb 23, 2016

I recently had a casual conversation with a few friends who are nonbelievers.
Not just not believing the same thing as I do, but not believing in something greater than themselves at all and definitely vehemently opposed to religion.
The conversation was peaceful, thankfully our respect for each other allowed for a discussion that was open, without judgement or contempt.
The conversation was difficult for a number of reasons: knowing that you diverge dramatically from someone else is a little sad.  Like when I find out a friend doesn't like coffee.  It stings a little.  How are we to ever enjoy coffee together if you don't like coffee?  It is perplexing. So there's that.
And then there is difficultly in trying to explain what I believe, clearly and concisely without passing judgement on them and without altering my true beliefs in an attempt to make the conversation less divisive.
And lastly, wondering where do they find peace?  How do they power through this world and where do they put their hope if not in God?

In the week following this conversation I found myself bothered.  I tried desperately to put a finger on what exactly was unsettling.

The complaints that they had against religion, were very much against religion not God, but they don't see religion and God as two separate things.  Their view of God is clouded by the rules, interpretations and media representation of Christianity.  And the truth is, I agreed with many of them.

The good thing that came from the conversation is that they know I'm approachable, and I had the very important opportunity to do some soul searching and really answer the question "what do I believe?"

I'll be quite transparent and admit that I am really in a time that I'm questioning many things that I've been taught.  Not because I think they are wrong, but because my kids are reaching an age that I need to start answering the hard questions, and I need to be firm in my understanding of why I believe what I do.  I don't want to throw out a rule and the reason simply be "that's what I was told at church when I was your age".  My reason needs to be biblically grounded and of personal conviction.

So as I have pondered that great question and struggled to put into words what I believe, the same words kept popping into my head.  Stripping down all the little details that are of no eternal significance it comes down to the apostles creed.

Ever experience something so freakishly coincidental that you cannot possibly call it that?  As I sat down to write today I pulled up the Apostles' Creed online so I could simply cut and paste it on the blog rather than type it all out.  I'm lazy that way.
I just finished typing the words above  "Stripping down all the little details that are of no eternal significance it comes down to this" and clicked over to the website to cut and paste the creed when the song on my iPod began "This I Believe",  also known as The Creed.  It gave me the chills and maybe a tear rolled down my cheek.

It doesn't matter to me if you baptize or not, consume caffeine, beer, smoke a little pot, had an abortion, have communion every Sunday or only on Easter, go to church three days a week or never, in the end this is what matters:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
      he descended to hell.
      The third day he rose again from the dead.
      He ascended to heaven
      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,

      and the life everlasting.

Feb 20, 2016

Costume parties are ridiculously fun.
There should be more costume parties in my life.

This past weekend Matt and I hopped on down to San Fransisco, met up with his brother and sister-in-law, and went to a friend's concert.  Lucky us, the friend's band is an 80's cover band.
Totally radical.

Matt decided he was going at Steven Tyler.
This annoyed me a little because Steven Tyler is a super weird dresser, but not necessarily iconic 80's, and he doesn't have a sidekick.
I'm a big fan of coordinating costumes.
Like the time we went dressed up as Popeye and Olive Oil

or K-Fed and Brittany Spears

Those were fun costumes.
But there is no "Steven Tyler and...." and he's totally an odd duck that nothing really goes with.
So I found some of the most unbelievable items from my local thrift stores and even some new threads at Target and pulled together a legit Steven Tyler costume. My sister helped us finish off the costume by adding some blonde locks to a rocker wig.

I dubbed my costume "Nearly 40 year old mom chaperones 80's prom".
It was spot on.  My hair was so teased, I honestly wasn't sure it would ever recover.

The siblings landed awesome costumes too.  Best of the night was that G kept splitting his jeans because they were too tight.  When they finally spit to the point of indecency a friend offered up her cheetah print yoga pants.  A tiny friend - like size small, a foot shorter and about 100 pounds lighter than G. So by the time the concert started Matt's brother was wearing a rocker mullet wig, rocker tee with cut off sleeves, and very tight women's yoga pants.  He was hit on ALL night.  By men.  That was pretty awesome, for us bystanders, no so comfortable for him!

Somehow I don't have any photos of G in his leggings.  Maybe that's for the best.

Sparkle Party1 was just a warm-up.  Sparkle Party 2 (New Year's 2016) is stepping up a notch.  Be ready fellow sparklers.

Feb 9, 2016

Some people are all up in arms about this idea that women should be required to register for selective service when they turn 18, just as boys currently are.
When I first started reading articles about this idea and the opposition to it, an emotion stirred in me that I couldn't quite pinpoint.  I spent more time than I should have reading article after article and looking up answers to my questions on the topic.

I won't sugar coat it: I don't think women registering for the selective service is really such a big deal.

A friend of mine said "the suggestion that my girls could be conscripted by the government and placed in harm's way angers me".
To which I can only respond with a raised voice and blood pressure "but it is okay for my boys"?

I don't want my boys to be drafted just as much as I don't want my nieces to be drafted.

The issue to me is not who should register for the selective service, it is that we should never be in a position to require a draft.  We as a nation need to be prepared with a powerful, well-trained, well-equipped, volunteer military force.  And to do that, service in the military needs to be highly regarded  and adequately funded.  We can not expect our military to meet the needs of the security and defense of this nation when the government is currently cutting current training budgets, services and retirement benefits.  Not only are active units not funded properly to meet their mission, but the benefits that active duty soldiers receive for being willing to put their lives in danger for the rest of the nation are being drastically cut.

I know a little about the cost of war.
No, I haven't seen it with my own eyes, but I've seen in through Matt's.  And I feel I can speak with a little bit of authority on the subject that sending any unwilling man or woman into battle is simply inhumane.
You have to have the mental fortitude and passion in your heart and mind in order to endure war.  If you were not willing to sign up, then you will not survive.

Why are we bickering about whether or not a woman should be required to sign up, no mention of what jobs she may be required to do, when there are currently bills in the House that are attempting to dramatically cut benefits that were promised to soldiers?  When we are sending soldiers to war without adequate equipment or training?

The only reasons why we would ever need to reinstate the draft is if we, as a nation, decide not attract and retain soldiers or if our Commander in Chief decides to engage us in a war we are unprepared to fight.  I fear we might be on the road to both of those scenarios.

Throughout history when men were called on, voluntarily or not, to serve this country during a time of war, women raised up and assumed the jobs the men once held, and tried to fill the gap during their absence. I see no reason why all people, men or women, should not step up to the plate in some manner if the situation arises where we need to rally.
I see no scenario where either men or women should be called to take up arms on the front line unless they have the courage, desire, and duty to do so.

Feb 8, 2016

Friday, February 5. 2016 at 12:00 Matt took off from Gray Army Airfield as the Pilot in Command of his UH-60M helicopter.  He was accompanied by three other crew members in the aircraft and family and friends cheered him on from the flight line.
His flight plan took him along the foothills of Mount Rainer, up to Seattle, back down through Tacoma, and finally back to Gray.  He flew over Gray, circled back around and made his final landing at 13:15.  He taxied over to the C. Company hanger where he was greeted by an arc of water from the Airfield firetruck cannons and a crowd of well-wishers.

Well, that would be a lovely capton for the photo of his final landing in a serious newspaper.
This isn't a serious newspaper.

I can't find the right words to describe the emotions that were building over the course of the week leading up to his flight.
We were excited, sad, and just ready for the day to finally get here.  For months I have been thinking about what this day would look like.  I had been trying to prepare myself for this moment that is somehow both a celebration of an accomplishment and a memorial to the end of a journey.

My team of supporters arrived at the airfield around 10:30.  We stood outside as Matt did his pre-flight inspections and prepared for take-off.  We got a few photos, he got a FaceTime call from a good friend in Germany, and then it was time for him to go.
We stood by, soaking in this moment as he took off for the last time.
And I was doing pretty well.
It was tough, but it was also so darn cold outside I just wanted him to take off so we could go warm up!

At 13:00 we were back at the airfield, ready for him to return.
By this time the two firetrucks had arrived and positioned themselves to welcome the aircraft, and our small crowd of 7 grew exponentinally as other pilots, crew chiefs, friends and members of the Command team arrived to watch the landing.

His wheels hit the ground, he began to taxi over to his parking area, the water in the cannons started to flow and suddenly 14 years of flying seemed like a mere moment and it was all over.

I'm not sure what the plan was supposed to be, but I wasn't interested in waiting to find out.  I looked over at a friend of Matt's and asked if I could go out to the aircraft.  He gave me a green flag and off I went.

The rotors were coming to a stop and I wanted to be there when Matt's boots hit the ground.
For some reason nobody followed me.
With each step I took toward him my ability to control the tears diminished.
And there I was, in his arms, tears falling, 

It was a sweet moment I will always treasure.
Later Matt told me he looked up and saw me, alone, coming to greet him while all the other family, friends, and soldiers held back on the line, and something about it all was special and just fitting.

I barely escaped the freezing cold greeting brought by Gabe and a water hydrant.  He sufficianntly soaked Matt, much to the pleasure of everyone looking on.

Matt was cheered on by the crowd, given a lot of hugs and warm wishes, he took a moment to thank the soldiers he worked with and then it was over.

An official retirment ceremony will come next month, and his last official day in the Army even later, but for me that moment on the airfield was the moment that this chapter ended.  
The rest is just the prologue. 

I thank God for an amazing 20+ year Army carreer, for keeping Matt safe on every flight both while training and deployed, for taking us places we never dreamed we would go, for putting people in our lives that we will treasure forever, and for giving me the opportunity to learn how to differentiate what aircraft is flying overhead based solely on the sound it is making.