Monday, August 20, 2012

I've poured out my bucket list this summer

I had to either pour out my bucket list or simply allow it to run over.
The things that I have checked off this summer are somewhat humbling and somewhat ridiculous.

- remodeled a kitchen (with the help of wes and louie
- vacationed without kids (perfect sandy beaches with just the hubs)
- ate musssels in white wine sause (just because julie from california did)
- started running (working toward my first 5K soon)
- completed chapter 2, twice (only to be back to revising it)
- danced the salsa with elizabeth (everyday)
- brought a dog into our family (named ripley and already has my heart)
- wrote letters to afganistan on a daily (actually not daily, maybe weekly) basis
- fell in love with an espresso martini
- listened to jake emerge as a reader (that simply makes me smile)
- fix a wing on a lego airplane (chance said that I did it completely wrong, but the wing lasted)
- danced with rod stewart (actually with missy, carol and chaela, but we were in the same field)
- watched elizabeth put together a front porch swing (I thank her each time I hear it squeak)
- started playing tennis again (with the wall at St. Albans high school)
- grew enough tomato plants to be able to pick at least one tomato each day
- did not teach a summer class which was high on the bucket list
- broke an iphone (front and back)
- welcomed home my best friend from a deployment

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

the many faces of E

Elizabeth is fourteen going on twenty one -
 she watches mature thememed television shows such as Dexter and House Wives of OC

Elizabeth is fourteen going on sixteen -
she loves to drive the car around the block at every opportunity

Elizabeth is fourteen going on eight -
she loves being silly with the boys to make them laugh

Elizabeth is fourteen going on thirty three -
she made twenty two patrictic pens to give out when Nate came home

Elizabeth is fourteen going on seventeen -
she helps out with the sunday school children

Elizabeth is fourteen and going on twenty two -
she can put makeup on and look like a Kardashian

Elizabeth is fourteen and going on fifteen -
she will try any sport with enthusiasm

Elizabeth is fourteen and going on sixty-three -
she can relax and enjoy the moment

She is fourteen and absolutely amazing!
I could not be more proud of the wonderful person that she is at every age.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

134 days later

My world suddenly came back into focus. 
From a blur that my new daily dose of zoloft couldn't combat.
From a blur that an extra glass of wine in the evening couldn't push away.
From a blur that my kids sweetness couldnt warm up.
From a blur that time with friends couldn't laugh away.

I needed Nate.
Out of the haze of sadness, walked Nate back into our lives.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

what was I thinking?

All of my life I have felt quite capable.  I knew that with some preparation and hard work, I could accomplish most things that I set sights upon.  I don't know how that 'can do' attitude was curated and refined, yet I have rarely been at a loss of how to get something done. 

Until this dissertation... the greatest challenge of my life lays before me in a stack of 57 pages that is littered with revisions, notes, suggestions, demands, and "I would never write that again if I were you" comments.  I submitted chapter 1.  chapter 2.   chapter 3. to my chair last week.  Today I got back a new stack of revisions, notes, suggestions, demands, and "I would never write that again if I were you" comments.  

But I will finish this.   Even if I die trying - dramatic I know - but the feeling is genuine.  
A quote that I love from Eleanor Roosevelt expresses it best when she says that we must do the one thing that we think we are not capable of.  Or something like that.   It is also the new motto for Weight Watchers, so either I can lose some weight or write this paper.

Oh, I will finish and publish this paper if only to be called Dr. for a day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This week E and I have been talking about our summer plans.
We want to enjoy the summer and continue moving ahead on some projects that we have started.
So, we (I) decided that we needed a word for the summer.
Like our own mantra or word to symbolize our ideal.
I called lots of 'mom' words that she quickly vetoed. 
Until I said 'joy' and she said 'too christmasy' and proceeded to look up synonyms on her iphone for the word joy.
The word 'bliss' popped up and we know right away -
We now have a summer word. 
Feels good - blissful.

Monday, May 21, 2012

rainbows and roses

The love that continues to grow each day between step-dad and step-daughter is a source of constant fascination and celebration.  There is something so inherently deep between them that I cannot help to thank God every day for bringing Nate into her life.  
He shows that he loves her by simply choosing to be a friend and parent day in and day out.   The good days and the bad, he is there - dependable as a rock. 

It is not always rainbows and roses at our house.  Instead there is a lot of real life that consist of:
"Who left their shoes in front of the door again?"
"It's someone's job to empty this dishwasher."
"Jake is only 5, give him a break."
"You can't bring down two weeks of dirty clothes then expect it all clean in an hour."
"Stop aggravating the cats!"
"Are your chores (homework, catbox, dishes, etc) done?"

But many days it is all rainbows and roses.  Our real life often does consist of:
dancing in the kitchen
making jokes just to make one another laugh
working together to get a hard job done
drawing together at the kitchen table
after school pick ups and drop offs
patience in explaining difficult topics
saying positive things to each other with a genuine heart

I am quite lucky to have it all - the fussing and the fun!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

now its mother's day

I had a wonderful Mother's Day.

On Saturday, Mom, Carol, Elizabeth and I went to a nice lunch and shopped at antique stores. The conversation and shopping was so relaxed and familiar. Perfect.

The following day I spent with the other mom's in my life, Debbie and Nancy. The afternoon lunch was kind and very nice to spend the day with Nate's family. Perfect.

But what made it a true Mother's Day was stepping over tools in the kitchen and cleaning up cupcake ingredients from Elizabeth. Being a mom to E and to the boys could not feel more right.

my first argument with someone in Kuwait

Well, it had to happen sooner or later.
Nate and I had our first long distance argument.  Some people may think that it should all be about him since he is away and in a dangerous country.   But, no - it's still all about me!   smiles
We argued about him not texting me in the morning.  Very serious stuff I know. 
I want to wake up EVERY morning with a sweet text on my phone, just waiting to make my day. 
I realize that he is so busy with working 12 hours then a few more for meetings each day.  He is working out every day - squeezed around a few meals and a few hours to sleep.   
But I still want a morning text. every. single. morning.   

So, he quickly apologized and here was my morning text today..
" Good Morning Beautiful!!  I just woke up.  You're still the first thought on my mind.  
 ILOVEYOU like crazy, with no spaces."

Nice - I love when he sees that keeping me happy is really just  keeping him happy. 

mary goes white

Mom bought me this beautiful mary with child years ago.

I loved it instantly. something about her seemed so peaceful -

Now she is perfect.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

things to do while bored at work

Dear Nate,
I have to be honest with you here on this public venue.
You are bored at work - therefore you must continue to read this blog, even if its painful.
We all know that you must keep busy. Its just you, you must have a busy gene.
I was walking with our neighbor Kathi while expressing my sentiment that it seemed like you and I were always busy and on a 'mission' at our last house, so we wanted to spend more quality time relaxing. She kindly replied, that she thought we were simply 'missionaries' and wanted to just stay too busy.
But now I fully understand - that being busy and productive Nate is your method of operation.
So now that your time in Afganistan is winding up - it is imperative that you continue to be productive.

Being the good wife that I am, I will tell you what to do as you fill your final few days in paradise.
- master all levels of Angry Birds with at least 2 stars
- describe to Harry the time you saw the new Bachelorette at a bar in Logan
- text your mom good morning
- write a thank you note to Ace Hardware for loading up your repaired lawnmower for your wimpy wife
- text paul, his feelings are hurt that the letter he sent to you was returned to sender
- sign up for a few days in August & September to teach Sunday School
- Facetime the boys later today and sing.... 'shake my sillies out'
- say a prayer for elizabeth's high fever
- drink a glass of water every hour
- go back to this blog and reread your favorite blog, when you asked me to marry you
- look at Ft Lauderdale water sports
- do lots of situps, even at work, tone those abs
- repeat the prayer of protection with heart felt emotion, even when you doubt
- send a little drawing to the boys, as a surprise for them to get in a few weeks
- get your fill of the landscape there , as it will be your last time you ever, ever, ever see it

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Big Day

Nate will be seeing this from half way around the world....

While E and I will be seeing this....

Friday, April 27, 2012

view from my desk

Instead of working right now - I can't help but gaze at the pictures of Elizabeth as a younger child.   The picture on the left is from when she was about 1 1/2 years old.  She would eat in her high chair, finish but then want to just sit and relax there.  Her head full of hair would rest on the back of the chair while her eyes followed us around the house or relaxed to the images on the television. 
The sketch on the right is from when she was about 3 years old.   The local elementary school had a great playground and we would walk over at least once a day.  But Elizabeth didn't call it the playground or the school - she called it 'The Mall.'   I never knew where she gathered that term from, but we all began to refer to this particular playground as The Mall. 
The middle picture of her hand is from when she was in 2nd grade and was at work with me for the day.   Mr. Craffey told her to put her hand in the copier, and this is the result.   From a simple black copier - I have a beautiful rememberance of her little hand.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

thanksgiving at your best friend's house

Know that this WHOLE conversation started because of what I heard on NPR, public radio about a catholic church that had closed and all of the parishners had to attend other churches. Terry Gross (that I LOVE) said, "Going to another church and not your own....was it like having thanksgiving at your best friend's house?"

It was almost like Terry said that to me directly. Get out, I didn't know that she had read my journal.

I grew up having every holiday event and dinner at our home,

573 Campbells Creek Drive Charleston, WV

with just the 5 of us.

Mom, Dad, Carol, Larry and I would eat around a small round table being overly thankful and blessed to have a great meal. This great meal was welcomed for several reasons:

1. We often got to share a bottle of pop. All three of us kids would split one RC cola. That was a HUGE treat.

2. Mom would always take a picture with Dad in the picture. Did anyone think to take it of her?

No, we weren't very thoughtful.

3. By fixing dinner at our house each holiday, we would then have yummy leftovers for days.

4. I learned that we are to nurture within first, then would have the abiltity to nurture others.

After this small family dinner (or lunch) we would go to an extended family member's house, usually our Mama Carte's house. There everyone in the family would gather and eat. The women all worked hard to fix the dinner - and guess who got to eat first???

Yes, that's right, the MEN. ALWAYS. ATE. FIRST.

Then the women and children would sit around the table for hours talking while the children snacked then played, then snacked and played, all the while the women continued to chat.

Then we would all go home tired and full.

We were full of physical sustance, but mostly we were full of family love and time together.

As a grown up, things have changed. How did this happen?

Many things have contributed to this change for the holidays. I moved away as an 18 year old - to not return until I had my own family and was 30 years old. But returning home, I got the idea right away that I did not know how to cook, so I was discouraged from ever bringing anything to the family table.

So, for about 8 years, I went to Mom's house and never contributed to the family meal.

Instead, we brought fun and Elizabeth!

Fast forward to 4 years ago - it was just Elizabeth and I. Mom and Carol had moved on to their own new families, so no more family dinners. It felt that my whole life I only wanted to have a warm family for the holiday. So, by meeting Nate - I quickly realized that he was my ticket to a big family holiday dinner.

I could not ask for a more welcoming family to bring us into the fold. In addition to this family - Missy's family also took in the two homeless family members. We still frequent her family for the feeling that fun, family feel while working around Nate's family of food and love.

Some of my favorite times with the family is when we clean up in the kitchen with just the women present.

Yet... it still feels like we are having dinner at our best friend's house.

I have recently made the executive decision to ALWAYS cook first before going anywhere.

My daughter will get the treat of having just us first, then our best friends dinner. There is not one part of Nate or Missy's families that make us feel any less than family - yet, yet, yet - I think E needs to have the security and small family feeling of just having me or us. Before breaking bread with anyone else.

We first share the holiday together.

Then we are better people to share the holiday with.

We will be even more grounded - because we nurture within so that we have more to share.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear Diet Pepsi...

I hate to be the one to say this - but I fear we have grown apart.

Where we were once so close and enjoyed one another numerous times each day, the frequency has continued to diminish and is now finally so sparse.

No, no.... you mustn't blame Lent on our break up.

Well, yes... I have been concerned about the chemicals.

I have to say I am concerned about the money that I was spending on the sheer volume of what I once consumed.

Yes... I do still fantasize about your fizz and refreshing attitude.

but Monogamy is important to me - so I must say goodbye....

at least until the next afternoon that I need a fix.

I miss...

From this picture I miss...  jake being 2 years old, my blackberry laying on the counter, eating funions with the kids, nate making crazy animal shapes from balloons, eating icing until my mouth turns blue, sprinkles that last till the last cookie is eaten.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

of the 'JACKPOT' variety

Anyone that knows me well, hears me say, "Jackpot' frequently. It can be something of little importance (ie, "Jackpot, I got a close parking spot" or "Jackpot, I have an extra soda in the little fridge at work." ) to the more important topics, (ie, "Jackpot, Nate is moving to another base in 17 days!" or "Jackpot, Missy is coming to St. Smellbans for a quick visit.")

So... here's my list of recent "Jackpot!"

- Jackpot, I think I have hit the morning newspaper jackpot. Our new St. Albans paper carrier actually comes onto the front porch and places it right in front of my door. That is amazing and deserves a Jackpot with a capital J. I actually have a difficult time opening the front door sometimes because the newspaper is so close to my door. Yeah, I know - its a jackpot with complications.

-Jackpot, My neighbor, Rebecca is a fun and sweet. She aint no Kathi Reed, but still an amazing jackpot that makes me like St. Smellbans much more than before.

- Jackpot, I am raisin' an amazin' daughter. Just earlier in the day, I bought some spray tanner for my white, white legs. Later that evening while playing badaminton - I asked E if she wanted me to spray her legs. She said yes, "With OFF bug spray right?" I said "No the self tanner," and she was appalled that I would even think she would want that. Jackpot, she is so grounded (unlike her mother).

-Jackpot, Nate has this eyebrow thing that makes him move his eyebrows with each thought for emphasis or question. It is adorable and hilarious. Its a jackpot and it makes him more adorable!

- Jackpot, I painted the porch AND deck before it started to rain.

-Jackpot, that the boys still had some White Wheat break left, and it would surely go bad before they are back to eat it... so I have to eat it! Carb Jackpot!

- Jackpot in a BIG way, E and I are going to CHICAGO in ONE week. But to make the jackpot even sweeter, CATS, the touring BROADWAY show will be there The. Week. We. Are. There. Get out- Jackpot is bursting.

-Jackpot, my friend Karen H in North Carolina emailed me about a week ago and said that she occasionally would drop in to this blog to see what was going on with our fam. Oops , I hadn't written anything in months, so that little email from a good friend got me back on the Bloggin Wagon! Jackpot for good friends that care!

- An unspoken jackpot has come into my life, will post in an entire blog post itself, but trying to gather a few good picts before I share, its that big. Jackpots can be whispered under your breath so that no one even has to know how your heart is bursting from a secret jackpot.

- Jackpot for summer time. I have one particular spot that I write from, and through the winter I could see a Go Mart station in the distance.... Now instead, I look through the beautiful blooms of a lilac bush to a mightly oak tree that is full of healthy life. Ahhh, that is a Jackpot.

- Jackpot that E and I both like bean burgers and corn on the cob for dinner. I fixed her dinner on Saturday evening and she fixed me Cindy's recipe of stirfry mushrooms and zucchini on Friday evening! Yum for two gals that like to still eat dinner together over from beans and veggies.

- Jackpot, Nate got to FACETIME with me while I had Jake home sick from school. So Jake comes up and snuggles on my lap and reads the whole time I am talking to Nate. Couldn't have been a sweeter and happier Jackpot for Dad and Son right then.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

sweet scent of sleepy kids

Sleepy children have a different smell.
The sleepy smell can be found in the slight bend of the neck.  

From this vantage point right below their ear, I can tell they played on the swing set while the sun reddened their faces and the wind cooled them unaware.
The smell tells me they slept in the campground after playing in the nearby lake until the darkness set in and welcomed them to warm by the fire.
The sleeping bags, a bit musty from storage welcomes them in while the crickets clicked their final serenade.  The moon calls for the children's dreams to be gentle and kind. 

So, the sight of these sleepy kids remind me of that memory of camping in Virginia....
simply by the sleepy smell.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Define blended:
(verb) Mix different types of the same substance together so as to make a product of the desired quality.

I am constantly seeking to understand the term "blended family" as it relates to us.
By definition, we are each different but of the same substance, I get that all too clearly as we bend and mold because of how different we are at times. All five of us have our own history, our own thoughts, feelings, and ways of communicating with the world around us.
Yet, we all seek to make a product of desired quality. We are aiming to create that family for love and kindness that will forever nurture us through the good times and rough patches. Our desired product isn't to just make it through the day, instead we are aiming for a desired quality.
What are our family goals that are a quality to sustain us?
kindness to one another, sharing all that we have, laughter and giggles, overlooking annoyances, time together, and the deep secure feeling that we are in this for the long haul.
Blended is allowing us each to remain as an individiual body and spirit - yet to create something even more beautiful together.
The whole is greater than the parts.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

this is why I love our new kitchen

There are so many reasons why I love my new kitchen.

One reason is that it holds flowers that remind me that I have been married ONE YEAR!

I love the counter tops, they are almost high enough for a tall gal like me.

The new stainless steel appliances show just enough finger prints to remind me that I have the love of some little ones running around the house.... (or that I should clean the steel occasionally)

I also love cooking in a sp0t that is close to the living room.

and coloring easter eggs right in the middle of the kitchen!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

a day of FIRSTS

First cut board with my new miter saw
First day since Nate left - that Ihaven't heard from him
First time parking at the last parking space in the lot and walking to the store
First time buying a size zero jeans... for elizabeth
First time I asked for a 2nd serving of soup at Olive Garden
First time I cried being in Krogers healthy market without Nate, doesn't seem right
First time painting in jeans and not getting paint everywhere
First sunny day to walk with two good friends

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A sneek peek

I am in the middle of a total kitchen remodel.

Yep, as crazy and messy as that is - that would be me.

Nate and I were doing most of the work ourselves, but since that duo has become a solo, I am getting some help and still doing some on my own.

Upcoming - Tuesday electrician updating outlets and install new switches

Thursday counter top and sink coming (two weeks without a sink, gross)

Friday handy man friend to help me with the bedboard and cabinet trim

Next week sand cabinets and paint primer and paint and sand and paint

But... I have one little bright spot in kitchen

All of the beautiful whole foods will have to be taken down before Monday, but this weekend I am really enjoying this one finished spot of the kitchen. ahhhhhh.

Friday, March 9, 2012

ahhhh.... a sunny Friday

It's been a long week. Work for a couple of days has been crazy busy as I try to fit everything into a few days in the office. Elizabeth's schedule of school, homework, dance and projects seem never ending. Several busy evenings with the boys to do homework, to read books and to play outside. Nate spending several days packing and trying to finish up all loose ends has been full of stress and sadness.

Yet, it's now Friday and the sun has come out again.

The four of us came home, Chance immediately grabbed my phone to play a game, Elizabeth went upstairs to put away her school things and Jake grabbed a book and began to read it on the couch. And I sat down just to take it all in.... in the sunshine.

Things that I am not looking at...

the construction mess in the kitchen

the pile of shoes by the door

the jackets all left on the couch

last night's popcorn bowl still out

or the two days of newspapers unopened

Instead I choose to relax in the Friday sunshine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

while. we. were. waiting.

Deployment is within 48 hours.

So while we were waiting for this....

nate was packing and looking hot doing this....

I was doing this...

and this....

two rooms almost done - only 6 more to go

Nate is heading to that purple country in the map above - only 5 more months to go

Sunday, March 4, 2012

August 12, 2012

Things to Do Checklist

_____ Get Elizabeth high school backpack or whatever a high schooler carries
_____ Help Nate unpack his deployment bag - put the camo away with a smile
_____ Water tomato plants the kids planted
_____ Crazy celebrate my doctorate with friends and family
_____ Look for new house with the hubs
_____ find Chance a WV map, since 4th grade is WV studies
_____ pick up E fromSt Francis where she is volunteering
_____ Get Jake new school jeans because he has grown so much over the summer
_____ pack up the rental we are in since we sold our house so fast in April
_____ remind the kids to wear sun screen
_____ iron the Elevator shirts because Nate is back on the job
_____ finish my syllabi for the fall semester
_____ camp gear ready for our first summer camp out
_____ love first, ask questions later

Friday, March 2, 2012

action at the hood

Coffee and a California Sunset magaine - both delivered right to my bed!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just as described

Nate and I meet... wait for it.... ONLINE in October of 2008.

I used to be embarrassed that I had to 'resort' to online dating - but now, both Nate and I are comfortable with the fact that our busy careers, kids, life in general made meeting new people difficult.

So online dating it became.

After rereading our early correspondences recently, I see that Nate described himself exactly as he was and the man that he knew he was becoming.

Nathan from St. Albans described himself as a person that loved his job, his kids and his family. He even mentioned in an early email that he was never late for work and never late to pick up his boys. That may have sealed the deal. Who knew that Nathan from St. Albans would also grow to love Elizabeth as his own and to teach me more about kindness and committment than I have ever known.

He is also quite the handy man. Bonus Points.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

week of 'last time' for a while #3

We are on a countdown now of not months or weeks - but days.

Jake and Chance came home with us last night and it was so fun because it being so unexpected.

Monopoly. Jumping in Leaves. Chalkwriting. Cat chasing.

Then as an even bigger surprise, the boys got to spend the night.

Books with flashlights. Pajamas that hug their cute little bods. Hugs with us all.

Nate's recent Food Revolution has brought about changes with the boy's food too.

He is focusing on life long food choices that will begin to expose them to new foods, healthier whole foods, and as many plant based decisions that can be squeezed onto one plate.

Nate and the boys actually ate breakfast at home, a wholesome balance of yummy and nutrious, instead of them going to school and eating simple sugars with extra carbohydrates on the side, to become a sugar. I am very proud of the choices that our family are making - as a family.

So, in the remaining days full of XOXOXOX - always in private,

I look forward, always forward to August.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

week of 'last time' for a while #2

Another last today for awhile - church as a family.

We attended Unity today with all of Nate's family and my mom. The church wanted to offer Nate and the family a blessing of love and safety - it was beautiful. Of course I got a bit emotional (nothing new about that) and took in every word of the blessing. The song was, "I behold the Christ in you" and that song is always so reassuring about a perfect love that is in us and is reflected to the world.

After the church service, we were honored with a vegetarian Potluck! Go figure, what church goes to such lengths to ensure that everyone is satisfied in a healthy way. I felt particularly special thanks to our church family.

Of course we taught Sunday School today and made Tibetian prayer flags, that with each movement of the wispy layers, a prayer is sent out. Jakes prayer included: the biggest burrito in the world, a scorpian ... I prompted him to offer a prayer for his Dad while he was away... so he included a picture of himself, Nate and Chance. Elizabeth and Rachel stayed with the little ones in the Nursery. The whole morning was wonderful - a wonderful way to send Nate off with a prayer for protection and a hug of kindness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

week of 'last time' for a while

Well, we are down to a week plus a few days.

Nate will be leaving for Afganistan in 10 days -and- I didn't even know how to spell Afganistan until today.

As time goes by faster than I can keep up, I feel the need to document a few 'last time' for a while.

This morning, all is quiet, no one has pattered down the 96 year old wooden steps to find a couch, warm blanket and a TV full of cartoons and still no one has asked, "What are we doing today?" and not tried to negotiate for better plan.

Instead we will do what we do on other weekends. Life still as normal.

We are taking the boys to the capital for an indoor picnic.

Elizabeth is finishing up a poster project for her literature class.

All of us are going ice skating, though Jake will be done with it all in 10 minutes, so I will take him to Target.

Nate will probably do some handy manning around the house and I will continue on with organizing the new house and laundry, always laundry.

So, the week of 'last time' feels like a 'normal time' and thats a good feeling.