Love, Marriage

Goin’ Courtin’

Well, today is the eve of my Valentine anniversary.  It’s been 17 whole years.  There have been days that have flown by and days when I felt every second of those years and then some.  In honor of marriage and all things love I wanted to share my little love story with you all.   Hearing about others courtin’ days brings me back a bit of my own and I hope you find yourself with a little love light burning. (I’m sappy and I make no apologies)

Well, to be fair it was the modern age that brought us together.  We met online.  I know, I know, if I was my kid I would have smacked the tar out of me too. But I was a college student at the time and somewhat out of the parental jurisdiction. So here I was dating an older man and a terrible commitment-phobe too.  Well, he persisted in his pursuit of me and I think he eventually wore me down.  Romantic, right?

Through our dating years months I was forever wavering between living the single life and being free or actually letting someone have my heart.  Both were equally scary to me.  Both had risks and chances to take. But then there was this man.  A man who let me decide when I was ready.  A man that was gracious to me and never pressured me.  I felt safe and cared for when he was around. I am happy to say that I took a chance on him.  I tried to tell him what he was getting upfront with me but he just wouldn’t listen.  I warned him.

Our first meeting was a couple of days after our first conversation.  He drove 2 hours to meet me IN HIS OWN CAR.  Very important detail for college students.  Anyhow, I thought he was nice but a major hick.  He was and still is and I love him so much for always being exactly himself.  At this time in my life I was looking to the bigger brighter things that the world held and I did not like anything that reminded me of the small country town that I called home.  I was going to reach those stars by golly!

So off we went on our first date.  Here’s a little tip.  Don’t go watch the saddest prison drama ever written that is a FULL 3 HOURS LONG on your first date.  It’s pretty awkward. But we made it through.  Thank goodness theaters are dark and I can sniffle pretty quietly.  You try invisible crying in front of a stranger for 3 FULL HOURS!  As you can see, blogging isn’t my only skill set 😉

So then we were off muddling though dating one awkward moment after another.  In the midst of that he taught me how to drive on the freeway and I taught him that girls are a lot of upkeep.  Basically.

After about 6 months of this nonsense we got engaged and then only 1 year and 2 weeks from the day we met we said I do.  It was awesome! And I ended up in the ER.  Loss of fluids.  Don’t ask. But when I came to I saw my new groom had never left my side.  He hauled his barfing bride in and slept by her with the possessive nature of a new groom.

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Us in our natural habitat

We ended up moving out of Tacoma and back to my hometown to attend Community College.  So much for city lights!  I lasted less than 1 year as a city slicker.  I just didn’t have it in me.  After our first 8 months as husband and wife we had a new joy to look forward to.  Our son was born the following year.

As the years rolled on and the jobs and houses changed we added two daughters to our family.  Now we have  a farm and animals that extend our fur baby tribe even further. As I look back through the years I can honestly say there were times I didn’t know how we would make it.  Physically, financially and even as a married couple.  Things just get tough sometimes.  But through it all God has been good to us.  Mistakes have been made and heartaches have happened and still God makes room for so much joy and blessing.  Matthew, you are one of the greatest blessings that God has ever given this world.  I love you.

Life, Love

Here’s the hubs working away…(what he does best). My father in law had a memorial with military honors and my husband put together a shadow box with the flag presented to my mother in law and all of his dad’s service medals. I’m so glad we had time to be here and do things like this. After all the legal and financial dust settles there are these projects to tend to.

I found the box at Michaels and it was on sale (60% off ) so I had to get it. We headed down to the PX to furnish the medals and my mother in law found the perfect picture for the frame. Team work!

By the way…I kinda really love being on base sometimes. I also really would love to have a PX close by but that is not going to happen anytime soon. Where else can you buy designer pursues and starburst candy in one purchase? No where. *sigh* I bought neither of those things but daughter #1 and I had fun critiquing all the fancy brands in the perfume aisle. We giggled and snorted and gagged like the refined and cultured individuals that we are and came to the conclusion that just because it has a high price doesn’t mean it smells pretty! My husband made me change clothes after our spritz fest….The boy also perfume bombed my backside when I wasn’t paying attention… keep an eye on your teenagers folks!

Anyhow, I’m glad we were able to be here for this time. Even if I did repulse a few individuals with my unique blend of scent.

Family, Life, Love

Us

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…to borrow a few words from the man who knew how to use them. Things have been difficult lately with dad’s swift decline but some beautiful moments have happened and that is what I am so thankful for. Every day that we live is a gift. Every.single.moment. Live fully and love with everything you’ve got. It’s so worth it. You cannot put a price tag on the most precious moments of life. They are irreplaceable. Treat them according.  When in doubt, love.

Love, Marriage, Random, Things I find funny

True Love Wears Granny Socks

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This photo was taken at the airport.  My hubby had just finished his 2 weeks of R&R and was headed back to Iraq.  My husband and I were saying good-bye for another loooong six months.

Let’s be honest here.  Marriage is hard.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  We believe these happily ever after fairly tales and that is such a huge set up.  After that honeymoon phase it gets real.  Welcome to reality.

My husband and I are polar opposites.  He is more of a math/tech guy I am a craft/artsy gal. I love simple things but I want pretty things too.  He could care less what anything looked like- he is color blind so that kinda makes lots of things look the same.  I love to read and write and decorate and craft and take classes and learn new things and call people on the phone and meet old friends…and…the list goes on…  He likes to go to work and help people and occasionally sight see. True, those three things actually take up more time than all my ANDS put together but we couldn’t be more different.

I realized as we sat there waiting for the plane that both of us had socks and sandals on. How dorky! I also realized that neither one of us cared.  Like, not at all. We barely noticed that there were other passengers waiting to board.  Nothing else really mattered.  We had complete disregard for anything else.  We were focused on the one thing we both were dreading. Saying Goodbye.

As I stared at our sandaled and socked feet I realized that I had come to a point where my love for my husband had completely leaped over and above anything else.  I cared not for any stares pointed in our direction.  I wore this skirt because my husband bought it for me.  (I actually didn’t even really like it and it was always too big on me and it garnered way too much attention from TSA)  All that mattered was spending those last few moments with the man I loved.

I had to laugh!  Ordinarily I would have chosen a much cuter outfit to say good bye in and planned the hair accordingly.  The problem was, none of that mattered enough that day.  What mattered was that we simply wanted to hold onto each other a bit longer. So what if we looked a bit geriatric in the wardrobe department.

I snapped this picture to remind myself that love truly is blind. I can wear granny socks with sandals (and my hubby too) without even noticing. I’ve got bigger things on my mind! True love is forgetting how things appear and allowing yourself to be consumed with another person’s need.  I love this man, granny socks and all!

I can’t say we have had any “perfect” days in our marriage.  Since the granny sock episode we have had many trials.  We endured not only the deployment but years of manic work hours after the homecoming. Oddly enough, the hardest part about deployments isn’t the separation. (although that is excruciatingly tough at times)  The hardest part is learning to live together again when you both have become completely different people.  It’s like  you marry a new person but you already have this huge history with them.  Weird, I know.

Sometimes I get angry at Iraq for what it stole from us.  We were at the top of our marriage game right before the official announcement came.  Then we were tossed into the whirlwind of it all and bought a new house to boot.  I had to choke down the panic every day.  Push down the nausea like riding a wave until I could safely smile into the three little faces looking up at me.  They needed me – and I needed them. We were bound together in this strange little boat that we had to sail.  People could watch us float along and wave but nobody really understood the journey because they weren’t in the boat.

I get angry at how much that year stole from us.  But I am truly learning to see the good.  Like how much stronger we are now because of that year.  My kids are incredible. They are so much more stable than I was at their ages.  If my husband had to go again they wouldn’t waste a moment whining.  I remember the first training my husband had to go to after deployment.  The kids were going crazy running around the house and gathering items.  They insisted that we had to go to the store and pick up snacks and mail a care package to daddy.  It was a 2 week training and I had to explain that 2 weeks is MUCH shorter than a year! They didn’t hesitate, they were ready for action!

I have found that I can endure.  I can fight. I can hope for a better tomorrow.  I can love this new man beside me and I can make peace with the person I have become.  I wish I could say that I walked away from the experience a perfect woman but sadly that did not happen.  Instead I gained life skills and I discovered people who were very supportive to our service members.  I also found out that many could not understand my position so they were not comfortable talking about it.  I had to be OK with that and know that they just weren’t going to be on my support list.  I found that there was an “anti-support group” as well and I learned to avoid anyone who had a negative influence. I found that I could help others even in the midst of my trial because I had a story to share and I had time to lend an ear.  I found that my God is faithful.  When I woke up, each day I would put my husband’s safety in His hands.  It was like the panic and anxiety that rolled through my chest evaporated as I spoke these simple words “Today, I’m going to trust you God”.

 

Life, Love

Life Goals

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School days – blurred to protect the innocent

I remember in grade school we had an assignment to write down what it is we wanted to do when we grew up.  (Anybody form NHS class of ’99 remember?) Pretty typical assignment. I usually ask my students the same thing every year.  We had a little fun reading our replies at a class reunion a while back.

Anyhow,  I remember that day.  As little me wrote down my life dreams and listened to my classmates hopes and goals I began to worry.  ( I was a worrying child)  I sat and listened as the teacher read each one aloud.  Doctors, sports stars, families, cars, houses, college; all these things worked their way into my classmates’ goals.

I thought about mine: To help people get the things they need and to run an orphanage.  I think this was third grade. I didn’t have a clue how I would actually achieve these goals.  I had never heard of social workers or foster parents.  I began to panic a little and to think that maybe I was a bit “off” and nobody had the heart to tell me yet.

I remember going up to my teacher in quiet anxiety.  I told her my fears.  What if my goals aren’t grand enough?  Did I do something wrong?  Will I fail somehow because I didn’t even consider going to college an important thing for my future? (I told you I was a worrying child)

I can’t remember her exact words but I do remember the effect.  She said so solemnly and clearly that my goals were great indeed.  So, here I am many years later and I can honestly say my goals haven’t changed much.  I still want to save the world.  I want to take all the unwanted babies into my arms.  I want to help and to give and to love.

I know I miss that goal often.  Truthfully, I run out of strength and simply cannot physically do much at the end of my work day. I just wanted to let you know, if you need me I am here.

Being Mama, Life, Love

The Mama Tribe

Photo on 2013-10-03 at 16.32 #2
Me and the crazies

One of the writing prompts was ‘parenting’.  Loaded topic if you ask me. No expert advice here but all my kids can cook and they have all appendages still attached.  I think that deserves a little bonus point right there.

If there is one thing I have learned it is that no kid is exactly like another.  Parenting needs to reflect that.  Of course standard safety rules apply.  Don’t run with knives, don’t talk to strangers, etc.  All safety aside, what I do with my kids may be polar opposite to your parenting style and vice versa.  You have to figure that parenting is much like a toddler’s appetite.  As long as you get the 5 major food groups into that kid over the course of a week it is not so imperative that they ingest them all in one meal. Same thing with parenting. When you are doing your best to raise a happy, healthy functioning adult that contributes to society you will have days when you do all the good things. You will have days when you mess up royally.  Over the course of a week’s time if  you get more good than not- you’re probably going in the right direction.

My kids do chores.  I love chores.  I really do.  I love working together and getting stuff done! My kids, not so much.  They will thank me later.  If you don’t have chores at your house you might have a cleaner house than mine because you have someone who is more detail oriented doing the cleaning.  My house is cleaned by kids.  You are welcome to visit anytime but please keep that thought in mind if you do.

We have animals and the kids feed them.  I feed the kids.  That’s the current system.  Once in a while they feed me.  It’s a pretty sweet deal. See, if you teach them to cook your house may be a disaster but they will want to practice and then you get a meal and they get life skills.  Then they can clean up during chore time.  It’s great. We are all winners!

Anyway, each to his own on this parenting gig.  I have seen kids who stay up with mom and dad until 12 every night.  They stagger into school and try to stay awake. I think “What is wrong with these parents!”… BUT, the kid is fed, well dressed and most importantly, LOVED.  I don’t dictate their bedtime. (although I wish I could on test day)

One of the things that kind of hurts my hear is to see kids that miss their parents.  Not because they are away but because they never see them.  When both mom and dad are working it’s tough to squeeze in time for those kids.  If I could I would change that too.

I am not perfect and neither are you.  Let’s just move forward from there. What works for one will not work for all so let’s  accept our differences. Being a mom is tough work.  It’s messy and thankless.  It has no glory or trophy.  Why do we have to make it harder on one another?  I vow to help a mom in need and to love my fellow mama.  We cannot walk in one another’s shoes but we can be more understanding.

Keep up the good work!

 

Life, Love, Marriage, Things I find funny

The hubs

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The man who stole my heart and who now brings me chocolate

I thought was only fair that I include a post on the man of my dreams after talking about my kiddos. Ok, so this guy was really-kinda NOT going to be the man I married.  I was pretty intent on that. Yup, I was positive.  No small town boy for me!  I was going to find the cultured and well read man that would tell witty jokes and take me to the opera and art galleries.

And then the internet happened.  We ended up chatting online and the next thing I knew we had a face to face.  Mind you, this was when instant messaging was BRAND NEW.  I actually didn’t know how to use it and my friend was giving me my first tutorial when I met the man pictured above.  Ironic, isn’t it? I’ll just agree with myself right here and say yes, it surely is.

So, one date lead to another and soon I was sporting a diamond on my left hand.  I remember my college ceramics class discussing the horrors of online dating.  I innocently went about my work. Then I very quietly chimed in…”That’s actually how I met my boyfriend”.  They all stared at me with terrified/repulsed/indignant/ I don’t know what all stares.  Awkward.  Finally one asked, “So… how’s that going for you?” I held up my 1/3 carat round cut diamond for them to see.  “Um, pretty good actually!” *crickets*

That was our humble beginning and just a year and two weeks later we were married. It has been a ride people.  We have stuck it out for sixteen years now and I think I can safely  say we are gonna make it!

Anyway, back to the man at hand.  I think it is so funny that the idea of  perfection I had in my mind was the complete opposite of the man I married. What I got instead was way better.  Kind, humble, generous, gentle, long suffering, patient, hard working, loving… I could toss around adjectives all day and never cover them all.

What I thought I wanted was really just who I thought I should be attracted to.  Who I really am is a simple country girl.  God knew the man for me would match those things and that I would complement him.  I am proud to be a working man’s wife.  I am thankful for the food and shelter that he provides for us.

At the end of the day I may not have much in the bank account but I can call myself rich.  I may never get a dozen long stemmed roses delivered to my door but I can count on a chocolate bar finding it’s way onto my bedside table every now and then.

Being Mama, Coffee, Get Happy!, Love, Random

Things that make me happy

In an effort to be more mindfully thankful I have put together a short list of happy things.  Life isn’t always peachy but I have lots of sweet spots! Here are a few:

My fire place! OOOH the comfort of wood heat cannot be over estimated.  I always hated having wood heat as a kid because it meant more work for us.  Now, I have a strapping young son of my own and the tables have turned- MWAHAHAH!  Seriously, come over here and sit by my fire.  You won’t want to get up.

Kids who like baking are also a win.  Who wouldn’t love sitting by said fire and having on of your very own kiddo serve up a couple of cookies or cinnamon roll to “see if it turned out right”. Yup, I am the official tester.  It’s a tough job 😉

Coffee- dear, sweet, magnificent coffee…

My hubs.  Yes, he is crazy.  Yes, he totally makes me want to smash something on occasion.  He is also one of the most giving and kindest people on the planet.  I’m not even joking.  The man would do anything for anyone- no, you can’t have his number and he will not be available to look at your ceiling fan.  ( I get protective)

The kids- a.k.a. the crazies 🙂 They make my home a wild, hairy mess and I love them.

 

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What makes you happy?  You don’t have to have it all to have a pretty awesome life!

 

Life, Love, Marriage

I’m going with NO today

Home sick today… not sure what’s up. Sore tummy, dizzy, yuck! Anyway, got the hubs to take kids to school so I could get dressed and sit in quiet for a minute to decide if I really had enough oomph for school today.  Um, no.  That didn’t happen.

I get a call from hubs about an hour after he drops kids off. Do I want to watch a 2 year old for a few hours? For his co-worker?

Um, let me think about it….. at home feeling crummy, pawned my own kids off so I could reserve a bit of sanity, skipped work so I could recoup….that’s gonna be a no!

I love my husband…

I love my husband…

I love my husband???

Oh, yes, I love my husband…

UGH!

Kids, Life, Love

Campfire contemplation

We recently took a family camping trip.  I’m not sure if it was the beauty of the night sky or simply insomnia but I was up in the wee hours to kindle the fire and muse.

Here it is:

Sitting here by the fire in my hoodie, I contemplate life as I sip my coffee. Instant Taster’s Choice…. It is anything but- the coffee, I mean.

Anyhow, I am so thankful for my family peacefully snoozing in the “8 person tent” (always subtract at least 2 when buying a new tent) behind me. I wonder a moment at my love for them.  How have these persons shaped me? Created a better being simply by entering the world.

I wonder if I have helped them enough.  Have I made them resilient and strong enough? Have I prayed for them as much as I could have? I find myself coming up short in so many ways.

I cannot undo what is done or return to moments past. We all get one shot.  I have loved my children fiercely- manically at times. Holding onto them as if I would break.  Maybe I would have.

My grasp on their world loosens as they grow.  I see beauty in the people they are becoming. I am so thankful for the positive influences and people around them that helped shape their lives. And yet, I miss the little days.  The hold my hand days- read me a story days.

I want to erase every angry word, every frustrated outburst – but I cannot.This is the irony and yet perfection of God’s plan.  If we could redo it would we be even more careless knowing we could always go back and fix it? It keeps me humble and looking forward to a better tomorrow.

I’m sure most mothers can relate,  How many times has our crown slipped? How many times did our rule as Queen Mama become a tyranny? You are not alone.  We have a God who believes in grace.  So much, in fact that He showered us with it.  I am learning (I’m a slow learner sometimes) to apply that to myself.  I’m not perfect- no one expects me to be. Except maybe me……

Today, Veronica, I give you grace.  I officially have permission to be human.  It is a gift I am giving to myself.

I look into the small fire before me. I watch the pieces of wood smoke then catch. Then it suddenly blossoms into flames.  I think of the scripture about the smoking flax.

…A bruised reed he will not break and smoking flax shall he not quench… Matthew 12:20

That’s me.  Smoking flax. I’ve been worn and I have failed at times but I am not finished.  I’m going to polish off my crown.  God is in charge of this fire.