May 30, 2016

I flew down to California this past weekend to celebrate my neices.
Lucky me, Kaia turned 15 and Makenna graduated from High School on the same day!

I jumped on a flight late Thursday night, settled in to my seat, and welcomed the voice of the captain announcing that our flight from Seattle to Sacramento was ready for takeoff.
Suddenly it hit me.
A mere 17 years ago I boarded a flight from Seattle to Sacramento, also to celebrate my niece.
That time, I was flying down to help welcome this sweet baby into the world.
I remember vividly that moment that I snuck in to the nursery and snatched her up.
I was so thankful to finally hold MY niece, in my arms.
And then a cloud of fear overwhelmed me.
She is no longer safely tucked away in my sister's womb.
She was now here, in this big, scary, dangerous world!
I held her closer and committed to praying over this little beauty for the rest of my life.

Friday night I was blessed to have the opportunity to sit on the field at her High School and watch her soar across the stage and accept her diploma.
And I was so excited for her to start this amazing college journey that she has ahead of her.
And then, a cloud of fear overwhelmed me.
She's a college student now, and has to make all kinds of big important decisions.
And some may be hard, and some may hurt, and things may not always be fun.
And I grabbed that girl and prayed over her.
And I will pray over her for the rest of my life.

The ceremony was really fabulous.  The speakers where great, the performances were amazing and they rolled through the 500+ graduates pretty quickly!

The following day we continued the celebration at Makenna's grad party.
Really fun day.  
So many friends and family came from all over to cheer her on and give her some love.

Matt and I got her a gift.
This is my wrapping job.
It is creative, just in a different, less labor intensive way.
And she was totally fine with it.
She gets me.

So congratulations to an incredibly talented, super smart, beautiful young woman who has accomplished so much already, and is really just begining.

May 24, 2016

Broken Chuck

I purchased these Chucks in December of 2009.
Chucks are a great traveling shoe.
They are lightweight but have some traction.
They look equally cute with jeans, shorts, skirts, dresses or swimwear.
They are also super easy to get on, shake out, air out, and dry out.
They are perfect.

These ones, not so perfect looking anymore.
They are old and breaking down.
They have travelled to at least 20 countries.
They have raced onto trains in Spain, walked through ruins in Greece, dodged poo in France, went for a jog in Cypress...
They have been to fests, churches, baseball games and concerts.
Oh the tales they could share.

Matt made me buy new Chucks, but I'm having a hard time hanging these smelly, cracked shoes up.  Tonight I reached for my brand new black chucks and quickly pulled my hand away, went down to the garage and snatched these up from the donation pile.
I wore them to Eli's game tonight.
I claimed I didn't want to get the new ones dirty, but I think the real reason is I have an unhealthy relationship with these shoes.

May 23, 2016

Strength in weakness.

A long time ago I read a story about a young girl who had dark hair and dark eyes.
Her sisters all had light hair and blue eyes.
She was jealous.
She wanted to look like her sisters.
Fast forward to the day when she disguised herself as a local and was able to do something awesome.
Which I cannot remember what it was.
Maybe bring Bibles to locals?

I could be making this up.

Anyway, the point of the story was the very thing that she hated about her appearance was the thing that enabled her, and only her, to do great things.

When we talked to a realtor about leasing out our house, she suggested that we wouldn't be able to get the amount we wanted because of the schools that our house is zoned for.
We respectfully ignored the advice, listed the house for the amount we wanted, and kablamo...two different people were battling it out for our house!

We selected what we believe to be the most awesome renters ever, in the history of all time.
Ok, that last part was a stretch but the best renters for what we want right now.
The family has 5 kids, but only one sophomore girl is still at home with them.
They have a significant income, like significant is a bit of an understatement.
They are some of the nicest, most easy going people I have ever met.
And they were looking for a home that they could lease for 12-18 months while they tear down their current beach house and rebuild their dream home.  This is good for us because we are not really sure how long we want to lease the house before we sell and buy a new one.

Why did they fall for my house? (Without looking at it, other than my subpar photos posted online, they paid first month's rent and a deposit.)

The school.

They wanted to keep their daughter in the same school during the home re-build.

So, the school that my realtor thought would make our house less desirable is the very thing that made our house insanely desirable for this family.

Lesson learned?  Brown eyes are better than blue.
Or maybe "weaknesses" are temporary.
One day the things that caused pain, that brought grief, that made you cringe, will be the things that enable you to do great things.

May 20, 2016

It is just a house.

For the first 6 years of our marriage we lived in other people's homes.  We rented apartments or lived on post.  Sure I would do my best to make it "ours", but I didn't care all too much about it since we were just passing through.
As the nomads that we were, it didn't seem possible that I would be anywhere long enough to buy a home.

Then in 2003 we purchased a little house in Clarksville, Tn.
We purchased the house with the plans of selling it in 3 years.  
Never, not for a day, did we imagine ourselves staying in that house for longer or ever returning.

It was a sweet little house where I brought both of my babies home from the hospital, where our best friends became our best friends, and where Matt and I started to really feel like adults!  It is the house where I endured the first deployment, where I wept over the loss of friends and where I killed my first snake, trapped my first mice, and labored over my landscaping.

We sold that house the first hour it was on the market and moved on.

We rented homes and lived on post for another 7 years.
Then we moved to Washington.
After living in every type of home: apartment, townhouse, single family, duplex and in a lot of different places: city, country, golf course, island, and foreign country,  I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to buy when we purchased our next home.

And we found it.  
Well, minus the master shower and the laundry, but no house can actually be perfect right?
Our house is big enough for two entertainment areas, an office, a guest room, a kitchen connected to all the action in the house, a nice neighborhood and all the pretty stuff inside.  You know stainless steel appliances and granite, crown moulding and 4" baseboards.  It has it all.
I knew what I wanted, and I got it.
I also got hundreds of days of laughter, space to house family and friends for celebrating and mourning, a lot of love, a lot of guests and some truly beautiful memories.

And now we are leaving.
It is just house.
But not really.
It felt like this was "it".  This was what I dreamed of, this was the home I could see myself in forever. And I could, and still can.
But it won't be.

The walls are empty, but the memories remain.
The house is still technically ours, so I haven't really lost anything, yet.
This place that represented my worldly living dreams, now is a statue reminding me that dreams can be achieved.
But now, it is time for new dreams.

A few more weeks in this house before we officially move on to our next chapter.

May 18, 2016

I've taken down all of our pictures and other random wall decor.
Things are getting real.

May 16, 2016

We spent the weekend painting the rental.
Yes I know, it should be the responsibility of the landlord to paint a house you are renting, but it was ugly and I'm living there for at least a year so I decided to paint.
It was exhausting.
We primed and then painted the entire first floor of the house. 
Including the ceiling.
It was ambitious, we met our goal, and it looks really good!!

The previous owner was all about cruddy wall repair and bad paint jobs.  I have to admit we could have done a better job if we had sanded down the areas where the previous paint had horribly ugly drips.  But we didn't.
Maybe I'll go back someday and sand down the drips and repaint.

We thought we would paint the upstairs another time.
We still might but our muscles are going to need to forget how painful all that work was before we take on the other 1200 sqft.

We cleaned up our mess and the boys and I headed back to Olympia leaving Matt in Issaquah.

We spend a lot of time away from each other and little times away like this usually don't bother me, but last night I was so sad to leave Matt at the other house.
Today was his first day and the boys and I were not there when he came home to an empty (literally empty) house.

We talked a little about his day but he's not a great phone talker when he isn't in the mood.  He sounds excited about the job and the people he works with.  So excited for him!!

We also secured a renter for our house.  What? 
Yep.  House went on the listing late Thursday night.  These people went off of the pictures only, put in an application this morning, and I approved them all before 11am.  
I meet them tomorrow when they come look at the house.
Super excited about this.
On paper they look perfect.
I'm hopeful that they are going to love our house and treat it nicely.

May 13, 2016

I went to Fort Lewis today to get my new ID Card that indicates I'm the dependent of a RETIREE.
Then I went to the PX.

I rarely ever go to the PX.

As I was walking out I noticed Mt. Rainier in all her majesty rising above the airfield that lay straight ahead.

Suddenly I was back in 1997 when I first walked out of this PX as a newly carded Active Duty Dependent.
Back then there were very few aircraft on that airfield and Matt was more in the business of jumping out of aircraft than he was flying them.
I would have never have guessed that 19 years later I would be tracing the same path, but this time with a retiree ID card and a 13 year old son next to me.

I remembered the newness and slight discomfort as I navigated my way through life as a new Army wife.
And its funny that here I am feeling that same newness and discomfort to what life outside of the Army will be like.

May 11, 2016


Mark your calendars.
Eli will be in the graduating class of 2020.
We just finished looking over the graduation requirements and suggested plans for course completion for Eli to get his High School diploma and satisfy the recommendations for college admissions.
He filled out his course selection list for the next four years, with some contingency plans.

Estoy triste.
I am sad.

The feeling that has overwhelmed me is not sadness that my baby is growing up.
I like watching him grow up and become this fun, crazy, smart, yet equally dingy and annoying kid growing into soon to be man Eli.

The sadness is that he has to make important life decisions.

He has to make huge decisions at a mere13 years old!

Foreign language for example.  How do you really know at age 13 what foreign language will be most beneficial for you in life, like 10 years from now?
I took Spanish.  I never use it.
German would have been handy though.

Computer sciences?  Life sciences?  Sports Medicine?  So many options, so many different career paths.

Success will be great.
Failures will be hard.

I am ok with him growing up.

I am less ok with him facing grown up decisions.

May 9, 2016

Our house will officially be listed "for lease" tomorrow.
Part of me is anxious to get a tenant for this place so I know I won't have to pay for two homes.
The other part of me is completely dreading the process.
Turning over my home to some random stranger doesn't make me very happy at all.

I'm praying that the right tenant will come along at the right time and that our tenant/landlord relationship will go well.

I'd like to think that the love, peace, joy, laughter, and goofiness of our family has permeated the very walls of this home.  I hope the "incense" of our lives and the way in which we live will wear off on the new tenants.  I hope they experience the same joy in living in this home as we have, and I pray they are respectful of this place that has been our sanctuary for the past 3 1/2 years.

May 8, 2016

We finally signed a lease and completed the walk-thru on the new place.
We blazed through the house so quickly the first time that we missed quite a few things about the house.
I'll back up to the single most depressing day of house-hunting ever.
We found the perfect house/lot on Wednesday night and made an appointment to see it last Saturday at 2:30.
Since we were going to be up there, as we saw other places pop up on the MLS we made calls and appointments.  By the time we left the house Saturday morning we had appointments at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and left a few messages to try and see a few others if possible as well.
Traffic is a nightmare through Tacoma on Saturdays, or everyday of the week, year, this lifetime.  So we were running late.
Since the house we really wanted was a 2:30 appointment and we were running 30 minutes late for the first appointment, we agreed that we had 15 minutes - no more - to look at the first house, impress the owner with our cleanliness and all around bubbly personalities and then head out.
We were in, we were out, we chatted for a few minutes and then hit the road.
The housing market in Seattle and surrounds is BRUTAL.  People are paying thousands of dollars above listing price, waiving inspections and appraisals, and battling each other to "win" a home.  Every other time we have ever rented or purchased a home, we walked in, decided what we wanted and simply got it.  This adventure is nothing like the rest.  
Houses get 2-10 applications within HOURS of viewing.  We were turned away from a few houses because the owners already had plenty of applications to choose from and they simply didn't need to show the house to someone else.
We arrived at the house we were confidant we were going to battle for, and we loved it.  It was pretty much the exact same layout of the house we have now, but a bit bigger, in a rock-star school district, and it had the most amazing backyard ever.  We were in love.
Then the owner dropped a bombshell on us that she realized she could get more for the house than she asked and decided to raise the rent.
We set a cap at what we wanted to pay for rent because we are hoping to continue to save money to buy another house in the future and we simply don't want to be stuck staying home all the time because thats where all of our money is going.
We drove away defeated.
I began to wonder if we would be homeless.
I think I told someone I probably had a better chance as an overweight, nearly 40, mother of two to convince some dude to marry me than I did to get a rental property. 
It was a dark day.
We drove by a few other houses and were denied showings due to plenty of applications already submitted, we had lunch, then were heading home when we got a call to look at one last house that day.  
It would work.  It wasn't ideal, but it had some great strengths so we submitted an application and headed home.
We also applied for the 1st house we looked at that day, because our souls were weary and we were starting to think a van down by the river sounded luxurious.

Fast forward to Sunday night.  We were selected to rent the house we blazed through.  We had to e-sign the lease without looking at the house again, because the guy had other people ready to jump on it.  We were feeling a little uneasy but decided to just go for it.

Imagine our surprise when we got to the house this Saturday and realized it was MUCH better than we thought.
ALL of the closets are much larger than we recall.  Yay!
It isn't a townhouse.  I know that seems like something I should have known but it was a crazy day.
The neighborhood is pretty awesome, the schools are great, the location is well...I'm running out of unique adjectives to describe it all.

After finishing up the details with the house and paying the man a million dollars, Matt and I drove down to the little shopping area/town about a mile from the house.  On the way there we passed parks, open fields, running trails, and mountain bike trails.  We sat outside of a little Mexican restaurant and the sun was setting over Lake Sammamish in the distance and the Snoqualmie mountain foothills were looking over us.

We left the restaurant and headed toward Seattle.  With no traffic on a Saturday afternoon it took us 18 minutes to get to Safeco field.

This could just turn out to be a fabulous move!

May 7, 2016

We purchased a ceiling mounted shelf for our garage a few years ago to wrangle all of our empty boxes.
Empty boxes?  You ask.
Empty boxes. There are a handful of items in our home that travels best when encapsulated in its original box.  I have a dozen music boxes that my grandparents bought me, the TV, some helicopters.... things like that.  When you move every three years or so it is handy to keep these original boxes.  The challenge is always where to keep them?  We've kept them in attic storage, basement storage, garage shelves, guest closet, pretty much everywhere.
When we moved back here I noticed a neighbor's ceiling mounted storage shelf and decided this would be a perfect solution to store our boxes.
It worked great.

And fast forward to last night.
We decided that given the limited storage at the new place it would be beneficial to us to bring our ceiling storage shelf with us to the rental.  It makes huge horrible looking holes in the ceiling, but hey its the garage!  Matt and I talked about just bringing it to the new house, using it, and hoping the landlord didn't notice.

So last night the male people in my home went to a movie and I decided I would take that beast down.
It is conveniently mounted 12 feet above the ground and I have a 6 ft ladder.
I pulled out drills but the screws were not coming out.  The heads were stripping and little flakes of metal were flying.
I found some tools and by shear awesomeness I managed to strategically get that thing down.  I was just cleaning everything up and packaging the screws when Matt came home.
I was so proud of myself.
I found tools.
I wore safety glasses.
I moved the ladder 16 times to make sure I wasn't reaching too far and throwing myself off balance.
I unscrewed the bolts 3/4 of the way making my way around the whole thing before coming back around and slowly bringing the shelf down.
I was a rockstar.

Matt's first words when he saw the shelf on the ground was something like "I wish you wouldn't have done that.  What if it doesn't work at the new place?  Now that you took it down it isn't worth anything here or there."

Ballon of pride deflated.
I cleaned up, went in the house and escaped into a book.

Moving is stressful.  I need a 6 month nap.

May 4, 2016

I took geology, geography, and nutrition as my science credits in college in order to avoid the more reputable sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
I recall a few things from these classes: peanut butter and whole wheat bread is the best combination. I can't remember why, but there is some thing about the whole grain and protein.
I also remember that earthquakes are measured on a scale that is exponential.  Now thats a nice big scientific word.  So the difference between a 6.5 and 7.5 earthquake is far greater than the difference between a 2.5 and 3.5.
All that to explain that my level of pure crazy is much light the Richter magnitude scale.
1 pair of shoes in the hall - a deep sigh
2 pairs of shoes in the hall - eye roll, followed by "hey pick up these shoes"
3 pairs of shoes in the hall - steam comes out of my ears.
If any two of the three pairs belong to one single member of the household it is equivalent to a giant earthquake that also sends a tsunami rushing into the poor village a thousand miles away.

Why can't these people I live with put their explicit word shoes away?
I provide and entire 6ft wide closet with nothing in it except hung up coats and the entire closet floor available for shoes to be tossed in, or organized nicely on the tri-level shoe rack also conveniently located in the closet.

But no.
Nearly every. single. day. of. my. life.  I can't actually get to my coat in the coat closet because someone leaves a pair of shoes lodged in the other side of the door, so I can't fully open the closet and retrieve my coat.

And a super fave of mine is when it is blatantly obvious that a person was walking in the house and just flat walked right out of the shoes leaving them in the middle of the walkway in a manner that it would appear the person wearing the shoes was kidnapped by aliens or perhaps the rapture took place and the shoes had to stay.

It is really great to attempt to step out into the garage and slip on a pair of cleats left half on the top step and half off.  The only thing saving me from a broken hip was that when I slip off the step I land on a pile of rubber boots and flip-flops which provide a nice soft rubbery cushion.  

The problem with the shoe drama is that once I get all amped up over the shoe, there are aftershocks that follow due to finding left out dishes, socks tucked between the cushions, candy wrappers in the mini-blinds and batteries strewn about the floor.  Maybe if I hadn't already lost my mind over the shoes, I'd have some grace for the batteries but all rational thinking flew out the window when I attempted to dodge shoe mines all the way down the hall.

I probably have 50 pairs of shoes. Not a single pair are laying in a hall, on a stair, or on the table.  
If I can manage to keep track of all those shoes I seriously don't think it is too much to ask for the dude who owns 2 pairs to PUT THEM IN THE CLOSET!!!!!!!!

May 3, 2016

Hello, its me. I was wondering if after all these days you would like to read...

Matt came by my work last Friday in uniform for the very last time.
He brought me lunch.
I may have shed a tear or two as we munched on our Jimmy Johns.
He signed out on leave for the very last time. 
His last flight was Feb 5, his retirement ceremony was March 24th, and he officially retires on June 30, but Friday, April 29 was the very last time he will ever be required to wear a uniform.

So here he is.... CW4 (Ret) Matthew Hernandez.

He picked up a job somewhere between his last flight and his last day in uniform.
Some little company that starts with AM and ends in ON.
Happens to be one of my favorites.

After waiting what seemed like forever, we finally found out the location of his super secret worksite.  Most of the time he will be working about 60 miles from our current home.
That translates to 1.5-2 hrs of drive time or in more simple terms: an eternity.
We decided that we just love this guy too much to have him spending half of his day in his car along I-5, so we are moving on up to the Eastside.
No kidding.
We are leasing our house to hopefully some amazing family who will treat it with great respect and cleanliness, and then renting our own little shack up in Issaquah.
It was between Issaquah and Renton.  My brother in law decided we needed to live in Issaquah because he likes the way it rolls off his tongue.  Naturally, we took his advice.

So the new house is approximately 19 miles from his primary office and that current drive time is 23 minutes.  It is 10pm so probably not a good gauge of the traffic - commuter hour estimates are 30-45 minutes.  I'm not saying that is great but it is 1-1.5 hours shorter than the commute from here!

The decision to lease, not sell our house, and to rent not buy in Seattle were very difficult ones to come to.  The emotions involved in leaving a home that we absolutely love....I can't even express how I feel.

The process of finding a rental in a very expensive market that is super short on homes, has been draining.  Physically, emotionally, mentally draining.
We truly did not expect it to be such a painful process.

With the house search finally done.  Lease paperwork being signed and move in date set, we can breathe for a minute or two before we begin the move that is short in distance, compared to most of our others, but very much the biggest of our lives.