Sunday, July 31

Prayer Works

I know I don't come around and post very often. But this warranted documenting. I wrote this in a time of great fear and doubt, and I wrote it not very long ago, just a few days. It seemed like everything was unraveling, and being stubborn I thought I should just go ahead and handle it on my own. God has enough problems. I think it is never too late to ask for help, and I can say that the heaviest portions of this plea where taken care of in a matter of days. I posted it on facebook, but I feel filled with awe at this, and I wanted to share it here as well.

This worked for Elizabeth Gilbert, so in this time of trial, I am giving it a try. I am reaching a point where I am losing my grip on calm and I need help. In Eat Pray Love, Liz imagines people signing her petition. So you can do the same, like this for me to help petition God for my family, so we can get through everything we are faced with right now.

I need my dad's hand to regain feeling so that he can play the guitar as beautifully as he did, and without pain.

I need my dad to be safe with us, and for our trials to resolve in our favor.

I need my car to be fixed very soon, and I need it to cost less than $500.

I need nothing to come of Nathan's bump in the parking lot, and I need it to not cost more than we can handle.

I need health insurance for my family.

I need Nathan to get this job that he is perfect for at the police department as an Accounting Technician that pays exactly what we need as a family.

I need my financial aid to work out.

I need Nathan's financial aid to work out.

I need the loan on my Subaru to go off without a hitch.

I need my Subaru here in Colorado in less than two weeks.

I need to get good grades this semester so that I can get into nursing school.

I need the debt that we have acquired in our transition to civilian life to not overwhelm us, and to find a way to pay it off so that we do not drown in it.

I need Nathan to get good grades so he will continue to receive his GI Bill and his financial aid.

I need Clara to get into school with no problems. And I need her to be as happy being there as she is about getting to go.

I need James to always have good care from someone in my family while I leave him and Claralynne for this first time in their lives and go to school on campus, and to work.

I need to see our family in Utah more.

I need to feel the love of my family at all times, and for them to feel my love for them at all times.

I need peace when I sleep. I need to release my fears about all that we are dealing with now.

I need to not fight with my mother when life leaves us in unrest, and seems like too much to handle, because she is my best friend.

I need to feel gratitude for all that I have, for the love I feel, the home I live in, the food I eat, and the comforts I enjoy, the company of a family that I missed so much, and the beautiful children I am so blessed to have that are healthy, and happy and so smart, and a husband that is the best man I know, and fulfills me in a way I never knew could be in a marriage. I need to feel gratitude for these wonderful things, in place of the fear I feel for all the rest. I need to feel you with me God, as I face a time in my life unlike any other.


Less than a week later:

My father's hand is doing well. Our tuition is fixed, grades are coming along, car is bought, and the other car is fixed (though it was more than $500 it was because we asked that the extra work be done) There are still some things we need, but the hardest of what I was dealing with at the time has been taken care of. This is the part where I give thanks. And I am truly thankful.

Sunday, January 9

The Tree of Day and Night

I shouldn't have waited to write this down, and written it when the magic and emotion of it all was still overwhelming. I am saying my goodbyes; to my house, my friends, my military life. I spaced my Friday evening of Bunco. I have never done that in the 4 months I have been involved in the Coastie wife get together. Chatting with my dad and being able to look him in the face is something I haven't been able to do in over a year, and the thrill of it made, what has been in the past, the highlight of my month, seem like a silly little dice game. I kept fighting with the urge to just can going to it all together. But I had committed, was expected, and would have been able to give no better reason for my absence than "I would really just rather hang out with my dad." So I went. It was fun, we ate some good food, did some good girl chatting, and all the sudden for some reason I get to where I knew I would, upset, mourning, and emotional. As we finally prepared to play the game I was walking down the hall with Amanda.

Amanda is a station wife. When I met her she had moved in just a few weeks earlier. We had all noticed the stickers on their cars, and each car had a tribute to someone named Brooklynn. Silly me thought it must be a grandmother, or perhaps a sister, who had passed sometime ago. When I met this family one of the first questions (oh how very ridiculous I can be) I asked was "who is Brooklynn?" Amanda's husband paused and a look of repressed sick, and pain at having to explain this to a complete and nosy stranger, peaked out his eyes ever so slightly. "She was our daughter." Well a lot of "oh my Gods later" I found out she had passed when she was 6 weeks old of SIDS about 8 months before they moved to Saint Ignace in order to be near their families. I met Amanda and Steve Stock in a wave of horrific emotion, apologies, snot, tears, and hugs, what a great first impression. Then I came home and cried until 2 in the morning. I became good friends with Amanda and we spent a lot of time together in the beginning, but she was going through a lot, and eventually began to question the trustworthiness of many wives, at which point she decided to break from the wively social networking, and I gracefully accepted her needed space. We rekindled a few months ago, when her and Steve were feeling a bit of winter induced cabin fever and needed a sitter for their son Branden. I was happy to accept, and we would have nice talks when they returned home, and I was glad to have my friend back. A little while later she began to come to the Bunco games. I have spent a lot of time thinking of Brooklynn, and have become very . . . moved, seems like an alright word, but perhaps changed is better, though neither fits perfectly, how I have felt since I met the Stocks. I have wanted to help, I have wished I could comfort, or at the very least, understand.

Amanda is a very talented painter and has several of her pieces hanging in her home, and painted directly onto the walls. I commissioned her to come paint a simple mural of wine glasses and a bottle on my wall about a year ago, and she spent a few days in my house getting it done. I loved it. There has been a particular painting in her own home that I have always thought was her best work, and have told her many times how good I think it is, and how talented I think she is.

At Bunco, as I am feeling emotional at having to say goodbye to my Katrina, and changed forever by Amanda, her family, and their story of loss, getting down the hall to sit at the Bunco tables suddenly becomes a very long walk next to Amanda and I grab her, hug her and cry telling her that when I am in her house alone I cry for her, and her family. I hug her tightly and try to express in a gesture what a profound impact she has had on my life. Then I make eye contact with Katrina, the best friend I have had since I graduated high school, and need to go and cry on the stairs for a bit. When I come around Amanda tells me she has a present for me waiting at her house. I am excited and can't think what it could be, but everyone is waiting for me to pull it together because tonight is supposed to be about dice and Jell-O shots, not mourning and tears.

At half time people who smoke go smoke, and people who like pregnancy and birth follow the newly pregnant Coastie wife around like a dog waiting for scraps. When the smokers return, so does Amanda, with a Christmas box that is obviously for me. I am stumped at what it could be; probably something small and silly for watching her pug (that I absolutely fell in love with). The tape holding the box together is smarter than I am, and it takes a long time to get open, which is more time I can laugh at how I genuinely have no clue what is inside. As I pry it open I hear Amanda say "you know what it is!" just as I see a stack of three blue canvases, my quickly patched levy of tears is easily breached as I realize she has given me her painting, the one I like so well. I cried and cried and hugged her, and thanked thanked thanked her. It hung in her home. She painted it just after her perfect little baby flew away. I can't imagine what the tree in it means, what inside her sang it onto canvas, but I do know what Amanda is always saying "a mother's heart is always with her children" and memories of her little girl where undoubtedly painted into a picture that I have loved since I saw it, and she gave it to me.

I told my mother, I don't know what to do with myself. I came home and laid it out for Nathan and my dad, cried, and felt that overwhelming sense of wonder and loss for the right words. "What do I do with myself?" How do you thank someone for something like that? Amanda told me, that since I couldn't take the mural she painted in my kitchen home with me, she wanted me to be able to take something home. So I will hang it in my home in Colorado. I will hang it in every home I ever live in for that matter, and treasure it for the rest of my life, always remembering Branden, Amanda, Steve, and of course, Brooklynn.

Hanging in Amanda's home.



Friday, December 31

What I will Miss

As we round out the year's end, in my home, we are also rounding out a four year tour in Saint Ignace, Michigan and a six year life in the United States Coast Guard. We have exactly 2 weeks left in this town, and in this life. I have often found myself complaining about the places I have lived more than enjoying and embracing them. I thought it fitting then, instead of reiterating all that I do not love about this place, instead writing about all that I do love, and will miss.

In the fall the trees are world class. There has never been a more beautiful fall anywhere I have ever been. The forest is too thick to see more than five feet into, and the trees are so many different species, the forest becomes a rainbow of fall colors. Some trees look like they are on fire with the color of red/orange/pink they turn. I will miss those fire trees. When you drive into Traverse City all the apple and orchard trees pass and pass and pass and all are ripe for the picking; the smell of cherries is everywhere, and the hills roll with abandon and seem to go on forever, just like the forests. Fall has been lovely here.

This summer, was a summer to never forget. It was the first year when our children were old enough to truly enjoy the beach. As we knew this was going to be our last summer here, we never passed an opportunity to go. The water was cold at first, and towards the end of July warmed so that even the children waded out to their necks (with supervision), and we would all take floaties into the water and ride the gentle waves. We never feared sharks or jellies, or anything at all. The water was so clear the lake bottom glistened with sunlight, and danced with the little fish that came close to the shore. We went so often to the beach our car was filled with sand all summer. It found its way into the car door compartments and into the under part of each car seat so that even after two rinses sand still clung. I am sure some remains. We never took our beach gear from the car, and we all smelled of sunscreen for a full two months. We visited the beach in Traverse, and I spent hours scouting the clear waters for the state stone at Charlevoix. I came home with three.

We have loved many. People have come and gone, but how it has been our great honor to watch families grow. We have witnessed babies learn to sit up, and crawl, walk and talk back. Babies have grown into toddlers, into what cannot be denied as children, children into the first signs of adulthood. We have learned the value of friendship, an experience we often overlooked in the shadow of family. We have lived tightly wound within each other’s lives, clinging to the family we made, when we were without the family we were given. I learned family can be anyone you choose, and it is love that makes them, with enough love you will make a family out of anyone, and that is just what we have done. But now I am talking of the military in general, and perhaps I also need to speak in a positive way for that experience, for it too, often receives more negative than positive. But I digress.

Speaking of family, there is one individual I must mention. Perhaps she will stumble onto this blog when she mozies on over to her neglected Gmail account, and read about how much she meant to me, which of course she already knows. I met Katrina Elder in June of 2008. Her children were about 7, 10, and 4 months. I remember the very moment I met her. For some reason I was in her house, with another friend, while she was not there, I imagine the other friend was watching Katrina's children and had invited me over to meet the new boat wife and her family. Little did I know these people would become part of the glue that held my life together; each and every one of them. Katrina returned from where ever it was she had been and went into her kitchen. I followed her, anxious to make a new friend. She was reserved, and polite with a hint of a southern accent. She didn't say much, but I won her over as I enthusiastically helped her to unpack her newly delivered household goods. We unpacked all day, and began a friendship. She has been comfort, understanding, woman time, and woman power. She became very not soft spoken, but one of the most outspoken, and genuine people I have ever known. I cry in my car thinking about reading books together, rushing to be first in line at Twilight premieres, drawing single lines and guessing straight away the Cranium answer, that she knows when I ask for a beer I have absolutely no intention of drinking it, but will cook with it, that my son cries for "tina" when he is in trouble at home, that she calls him boyfriend, and likes my children when she rarely likes anyone's children, stumbling home after karaokeing for hours, and cooking cooking cooking. She has been the best friend I have had in all the years since I graduated high school. She was my first grown-up woman friend. Of everything, I will miss my Trina.

I am sure I can name numerous things I loved about his place, and this life, but I will end with that which has been the dearest to me.

Friday, December 24

No Christmas This Year

There will be no Christmas this year. I will not be waiting until the little people who live in my house, gently slumber off to sleep so that I can lay out their gifts. In the morning we will not open presents under the tree. There is no tree. No, tomorrow we will probably eat cereal; my children do not know it is the "official" holiday in the morning. This has nothing to do with my religion or whether I like Christmas or not, because I do. I remember the last time I shared a Christmas with my family. We stayed the night in my old room, we were childless, not yet in the Coast Guard, we had never been anywhere together, much less Texas, or Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, the Mississippi, or Michigan. We had been married a mere 7 weeks. That's right. The last time I spent the holidays with my family was six years ago. With our move coming up in 1,788,933 . . . 1,788,929 . . . 1,788,923 seconds (that's 20 days for people out there that don't count down by the second) we decided to phone Santa and plead that he postpone our Christmas so that the biggest gift each of us receive this year is the gift of being together at Christmas for the first time in a very long time. So tomorrow while you are celebrating I won’t be sad we won’t be joining in the merriment, I won’t wish we had gotten to join in on the unwrapping, and the feasting, or that we had just set up the tree for fun, because this year for my Christmas, I will be getting the best gift in the world: my entire family. And since we celebrate in the coming year, we will get two Christmases!

Friday, December 17

Figuring out the Feminine

I’m not sure if it is hard to be around me when I am talking/intruding on a conversation in order to coax women I don’t know into coming to my Bunco party, or if I just don’t like myself/read into people’s faces something that looks like irritation and isn’t…or is. I am perfectly aware I am loud/obnoxiously loud. I know I am abrasive/self centered (not a great combo). But I am pretty sure I am nice. I am mostly sure I smile a lot, and I am not disingenuous. I can’t figure why I think I make people feel uncomfortable/make them think I am fake. I can’t put my finger on why I am very concerned people know I really am interested in them/would like to be friendly to them for no reason than that it is nice to be nice, to feel included, and to feel thought of.

How do you convey you have no agenda? I think, for the most part, I have a difficult time with females. Men are much simpler/friendlier. There is no sense of them being threatened by you. I am still struggling with how to put my finger on what this is I have with the fairer sex, the sex that is mine, what it is that I have so much trouble with. I worry I am being inconsiderate by coming and, without introducing myself, speaking directly and abruptly but in a friendly and happy way, with completely unsuspecting women who do not have a clue who I am. Maybe the strange emotion I read on people’s faces is just utter shock. I don’t think most people are perfectly fine squeezing into an unknown group and making nice very loudly and cheerfully; even at a Christmas party that is for the group your husband works with and their families. I just don’t have a problem talking to people. I really don’t have a problem being myself. I think most people are taken back by that. And that I talk so damn fast. They are probably shocked by the initial conversation invasion, then after they have recovered from the invasion  they spend the rest of it trying to catch up to a monologue that is going 200 miles an hour that they were perfectly unprepared for and are just trying to take it all in. Probably something like you are now. Good thing I can't see your face, or I might be self conscious. I think that must be it. I should remember to speak slower, and maybe introduce myself, then pause, ask for names, and make a seriously conscious effort to stay calm and speak slowly. Don’t chew on my words; don’t try to get everything in in 7.6 seconds. It isn’t a race; adults do have a longer attention span than a three year old. I imagine this might be insulting on some level. I am just going to have to slow down, otherwise people are going to get whiplash from trying to keep up with me and my scrambled/frank/hyped up brain.

Thursday, December 16

Early Preparation

When my dad started building my children's bunk beds, in preparation for our move there, he thought he had started way too early. After all it would be three months before we would be there, but he was just so excited! He figured he was going to get all finished then have nothing to do, and have to sit and be bored while waiting in agonizing anticipation. Then life happened, deaths, more life silliness, driving back and forth to Utah, injury, bad back, on and on, now we are down to the wire, and boy is he glad the beds were finished when they were because of all he has to do!

I have had a similar thought. I am seriously excited to move home, to Costco, malls, my sister, restaurants, the land, my mother, nice movie theaters, swimming pools, my brother, more than a single park, really nice parks, my dad, my dad playing guitar, singing with my dad while he plays guitar, could I go on and on thinking of all the things I have missed over the last six years? I could indeed. I thought for all the reasons I have to be very, agonizingly, impatient, that gathering boxes and beginning my packing now would have me facing similar issues my dad feared, in getting to the end and have nothing to do. Today these are the tasks I did: took down my photos, gathered my living room knickknacks, wrapped both things in newspaper, boxed them, sorted through my movies and chose which ones we want access too for the next month and our trip, then packed the empty cases, packed the rest of the movies, my books, then moved all 5 boxes into the garage. I realized some things when I fell into the rocking chair after I was done: firstly, packing boxes and preparing entails a lot more than just the gathering and boxing of the things I listed; there were several other things that needed to be done in order to get the packing done. Secondly, there is no too early. Judging from my current state of exhaustion, having a leg up will save me from the endless work we have to do at the end tail of this move, which will be a condensed week of packing, packing a truck, scouring every inch of this house for inspection and check-out, driving, driving, driving more, then unpacking and then starting school again a week later. Life is bound to happen in between our moving tasks. Maybe I don’t have an early start on it. Maybe I am right on time.

I am tired just thinking about all we have to do. Did I mention I have two toddlers and a huge dog, or that we are moving from a steady income with 100% insurance and free housing, to no insurance and no job into a house with my entire family? Can you picture it? I so can.

All to be a midwife. But not really. My family will make it all worth it. At least…I pray to God they will.

Did anyone tell you how much fun being a grownup is?                         n't

Tuesday, December 14

That's a Wrap

Well now that I am down one more semester I have some time to get on here and scribble something. This was a challenging semester. There were many stresses that I never would have anticipated for my life. The prospect of moving across the country, leaving our military life behind, and moving on to a life that doesn't have a job in it (right now), a life of school, and living with my family (which will be undoubtedly trying at times), all these events have created a very unusual experience. It truly has been a hell of a year. For that matter, I have officially finished my first year of school, only 7...or 8.....or maybe 12 more to go....depending on whether I decide to go to medical school or not, though it is looking like a "not" right now. I don't have...well...anyone's support.

I did well again this semester, and I suppose now I can accept it is not a fluke; I am not dumb, and I am capable of getting good grades. What a concept! I am gearing up for my first (of several) science classes. I am taking a first semester biology course with a lab, and I am taking it online. I am pretty excited about it, as I have to buy a lab kit, a microscope and all sorts of sciencey stuff that I will use in....the garage or something (the words “e coli in the fridge” have been tossed around in regards to this course). So that should be fun. Also on the agenda is Anthropology, and I am continuing my math courses. I am on to new mathematical territories, as I have never been beyond pre-algebra....sad as that seems. I ditched math in school for choir, drama, dance, and.....well, boys. That was s-m-r-t. We are moving in T-minus 1 month. My dad arrives in three weeks to help lift (with his bad back...what was I thinking!), spackle, and drive. I can seriously hardly wait to see him.
So here we go! Wooo