Friday, March 24, 2017

Right Now

My kids are growing. It seems like the older that they get the faster they grow. All I want to do is press pause on the ever marching forward concept we call time. Then I remember that this is the whole point of being a mother; I am gifted my children for a short time in order to teach them all that I know and to raise them to be kind, compassionate, honest, hardworking people. (Or in some cases bluff on some of the things that I have no idea about, but am trying like hell to learn real fast.) They are supposed to leave the nest. They are supposed to separate from me and want their own lives apart from me. They are only on loan to me until they can spread their wings and make their own way into this world. I've known this from the get go, but once again it seems like an abstract concept is so much easier to deal with than the reality of that concept as it comes to fruition.

I would venture to say that the hardest of parenting isn't the sleepless nights. Nor is it the tantrums or sibling fights. Nor is it talks about sex, drugs, and the like. The hardest part about parenting hands down is learning to let your children go and grow into their own people apart from you while all the while giving them the support that they need to spread their wings. I know many of you aren't at this point yet in your parenting lives. Letting your kids grow into their own people is one of the most awe inspiring and equally heart breaking parts of being a mama. And that is where I am at right now. Learning to slowly let my oldest go, followed by his brother, and then his sisters.

Andy is going to be 17 years old in a couple of months. 17. I am the mother of an almost 17 year old. Because Bob and I chose to hold him back a grade when he was in public school I am fortunate enough to have him in my household for 2 more years before he spreads his wings. That's it. Two years. Do you know how fast those two years are going to go? In all honesty, Andy has always been a late bloomer. He was 11 days past his due date when he was born, showed no signs of coming out even at that late date, and had to be pulled out of me via c-section. He has lived his life in that same way. He does things in his time when he is ready. I am so thankful for that. His needs to hatch a little longer  than most before he moves on to each of life's stages  which has allowed me just a little bit longer with him. I will be forever thankful for that. He has applied to a couple of jobs this winter, but has not seen anything come of those applications. A job will come about for him when he is ready for a job. He has begun driving with Bob in empty parking lots in order to get comfortable with driving before he attempts to get his driving permit. It is crazy to think of him driving in a car by himself. It is crazier for me to imagine him driving in a car with himself, his brother, and their buddies. It makes me excited for them both. I can only imagine the experiences they will share together. Other than that he is getting through his school work and playing soccer on occasion with Josh as he gets himself ready to try out for the high school team this upcoming fall. He is also teaching himself how to program and code like the Dickens. I am amazed at what he has taught himself. Just amazed.

Joshua just finished up playing winter soccer with a team he was asked to join after the high school season. It wasn't a club team, but it ended up being such a positive experience for him that I am thankful that he played with the team he did instead of trying out for a club team. Their team ended up finishing in second place with a 7-1-2 record. Josh was the leading scorer on the team with 12 goals for the season. He had some amazing shots. This is the most goals he has scored in a season by a long shot, so it was exciting to watch him nail one goal after another each game. He caught the eye of a club team while playing for his non-club team this past winter and has been asked to be a guest player for a President's Cup tournament taking place in April. He has begun practicing with this new team as well. Although this is not the club team he is going to try out for in May he is still happy to have the opportunity to play soccer without too much of a break between the winter and spring seasons. Other than soccer the only other thing Josh has going on is school work and chores. As long as he is playing soccer though that is all that matters to that kid. It doesn't take much to make him happy as long as soccer is involved.

Sarah is doing amazing. She is knitting up a storm. She is making her own Barbie doll clothes now, and I am always impressed with her new designs. She is also playing the violin. She began her lessons about 6 weeks ago and can play two simple songs and is learning a third. Her teacher is impressed with her skill and her ability to adapt without vision. Sarah is making her way through contracted braille and is reading beginner books like Amelia Bedelia and Curious George in all contracted braille. She gets frustrated sometimes because she wishes she was further along in contracted braille, but I just remind her that this is the second new language she has had to master after having learned uncontracted braille. She is also teaching the kids uncontracted braille. It is nice to see her being the teacher and the other three kids being the student and learning from her. So often it seems like it is the other way around. I think that teaching them uncontracted braille helps her self confidence. Other than the above mentioned hobbies she is also moving right along in her school books.

Elizabeth is still a firecracker. That girl will always keep me on my toes. There is just no other way around it. She is gearing up for soccer to start as well. She did not play fall soccer, so this will be her first go at soccer in Oregon. I am curious to see how she does. Other than soccer and playing with a friend she has made in the neighborhood  she is just hanging out at home with the other kids and getting her school work done. She is very bright in math and her ability to comprehend math concepts and make them into her own astounds me. (I think this is because I am so terrible at the subject.) Although she fights me on doing her math homework just about everyday I actually enjoy doing that subject with her because she grasps the concepts in such a unique way that I am always amazed when she comes out with a correct answer by doing the problem in her head somehow.

I think as a collective whole the kids are ready to settle down somewhere, and are not willing to put down roots here because they know that this is not a long term location. While moving around has certainly had its perks there have been some down sides as well.  All of the kids miss their Ohio and New Mexico friends deeply. I think that the thought of moving away from friends they could potentially make here is just too much for them. Overall, they do not like living here at all, but all we can do until we get the next call to move again is make the most of the life we have been given/chosen. And that's just what we are trying to do.

As for me, I am trying to make the most of this time here (even though it is sometimes excruciatingly hard) because very soon, in the blink of an eye to be exact, my two year window of having everyone under my roof will be gone. Forever. Andy will be off to college and then Josh and then Sarah and then Elizabeth. Having kids so close in age was such a blessing when they were little because Bob and I were able to move through each stage: sleeping through the night, potty training, going to school (when they did that), etc...one after the other. I never put too much thought in the downside to that which is that they will leave the nest one after the other as well.

I am blessed. I truly am. I will never know what I did to deserve not one, not two, not three, but four amazing gifts. My children are the best things that have ever happened to me. They are my greatest treasure. They are where my heart is.




Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Funny That Way

I think that this is the longest I have been away from this space since I began writing 4 or 5 years ago. It feels both refreshing and oddly foreign to be typing away at my keyboard again filling in this blank electronic document with the words that will bestow upon the reader the things we have been up to lately. Being away has been good. Writing here now is good too.

I have always felt this weird small sense of loss when a blogger that I regularly follow stops blogging with any regularity and then oftentimes stops blogging altogether. Sometimes these bloggers will make their pages private; their words now privy to only those that they have selected to read about their lives. I enjoy reading about the lives of the bloggers that I follow. I like being able to peek into their lives and glimpsing the pieces that they allow me to. I suppose that this space is the same way for some of you.

I am still trying to figure out how much of my life I want to share in this space. Actually, I think what I am really trying to do is to find out how much of my family's life I am able to share without one day having them look back on these posts in horror at what I have chosen to share. My children are growing now, as most children are wont to do, and they are more than ever showing me that they are their own people with their own thoughts and ideas apart from me. I have known this all along, but knowing something and actually seeing it evolve into something beyond an abstract thought has been a bit of an adjustment for me.

Electronics are a funny. There was a point when I was writing in this space just to write something. It was addicting. Just like Facebook. Or my phone. I made a conscious decision to step away from Facebook at the end of December. I have logged into the website 3 times since then. I don't miss it at all now. I found that once I stopped logging into Facebook logging into my phone became less important. And then I realized that I needed to pull away from this space as well too.  It was hard at first to not check my account several times a day. Crazy hard. But slowly, the pull of Facebook (and then my phone and then this space) just lost its hold on me. I felt free. Electronics are funny that way. They have such a magnetic pull for me. To finally feel like I have broken free of that pull has been a powerful experience, but I know first hand just how easily that pull comes back.  I don't want to feel enslaved to this space, Facebook, or my phone. For me, all three are intertwined. Finding a healthy balance will be most challenging for me. I am going to pay attention to the pull and if things get to a point where I don't feel comfortable with then I will unplug again. And I will do that again and again for as long as I need to in order to maintain a healthy relationship (If there even is one?) with electronics.

 In the next few days/week I will let you know how everyone is doing and what they have been up to this second half of winter.  I just wanted to stretch my fingers for this post and get rid of any kinks in my knuckles that come from typing. : )

I guess what I am really trying to say is that I am back (for now).



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Pacific Northwest Bucket List

One of the good things about living a semi-nomadic life through Bob's employer is that we never really know when the call is going to come that will send our family on its way to our next location. This is a good thing because the thought is always in the back of our mind that this could be our last spring, summer, winter, etc...It helps to keep us focused on the things that we would like to do here before we leave. In that light, here are the trips that we have planned/booked through the rest of the summer:

April:

Seattle (The Needle; Pike's Place Market)


May:

Bend, OR (Camping)

June:

Olympia National Park (Camping)
Ruby Beach
Mt. Rainier (Camping)

July:

Redwood National Forest (Camping)

August:

Mt. St Helen's (Camping)

September:

Mt Hood (Camping)

We will be taking various day trips to the coast and we plan on camping in a couple of other places as well, but we haven't gotten those trips locked in yet. Plus, we will be taking a trip back east in August to visit with family and friends.  We are going to have a very busy, but unforgettable spring/summer/fall. I am very much looking forward to it. 








Monday, February 13, 2017

The 50,000 Feet View

I had someone comment on my last blog that perhaps life wasn't as gloomy as I made it out to be. That perhaps I have a bit more to be grateful for than I was seeing. I took those comments to heart because I know that they come from a person who challenges me and encourages me and I value what she has to say even if at first her comments didn't sit well in my belly.

I thought about her words over and over again because I knew that deep down she was right. I even asked Bob what his thoughts were because I was beginning to feel that maybe I don't portray the gratitude that I feel that I do for things in my life. Maybe my perspective on how grateful of a person I appear to be is skewed. Maybe I sound like a whiny privileged white chick who has nothing to be kvetching about in real life. I despise those kinds of people, but yet when I took a look at the words I have been writing on this space I feel that maybe that is the part of me I have been portraying. I believe 100% that we don't like in others what we see in ourselves. And I know that privileged white people can sometimes bother me when they talk about their "problems" and this is only because I despise when I, a privileged white person, try to pass off my issues as being real as compared to seriously real issues like poverty and discrimination.

In different words I asked Bob if I was becoming this type of person. And he was honest with me, and told me that lately I have been coming off as ungrateful. And although those words stung and shocked me a little bit there is a truth in them I cannot deny.

Bob gave a great analogy (maybe this is not the right word, but its all I have for now) that I will carry with me for a really long time and will come back to time and again when I get off course with my petty grievances. He told me to look at my life as though I was 50,000 feet above it. Imagine the scope and big picture I would be able to see from that height. All of the things that I am making a big deal of right now - wouldn't be a big deal if I took a wider lens with which to look at my life through. All of the stuff that seems so big and hard right now would seem like nothing in the long run, so why I am making things harder and more difficult than they need to be?

I thought this was great advice. I am thankful that 'A' posted her comment because it got me thinking and I am thankful for my husband's wisdom because it got me thinking even more.

So, I owe you all an apology for whining and bitching about the stuff I have been "struggling" with because if I had taken the 50,000 ft view this stuff wouldn't have ever made its way to this space. Which leads me to some changes that I am going to make in this space. For years I have treated this blog like a partial journal. I have shared with you all of my thoughts and feelings on so many of my issues. And for the most part, this has been okay. In all of this time I have also kept a legitimate journal as well, but I wrote the bulk of what I am thinking and feeling here. I am no longer going to treat this space like a journal. It isn't really necessary for me to share so much of my private life with the whole world; nor as my children get older, is it something that they would care for me to do either. Truth be told, Bob has never been a fan of my oversharing, but has allowed me (mostly) free reign because he knows how much I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you. I know that he would much rather allow me to spend the money on the extra journals I will need as I fill them up with the words that would normally be written here than to have me expose so much of myself to both those I know and do not know who read these words.

That being said - I am not going to stop blogging. I have too many loved ones in too many different parts of the country that use this space to catch up with what we are doing and where we are at. I have decided to use this space to share our adventures and to update you on the kiddos, Bob, and myself in a non-invasive way. I think that this will be a good use of this blog and I think it will satisfy the needs to those who read these posts along with my family's need for privacy and my need to not overshare my thoughts. I have never been good at filtering myself. Nor have I ever been good at not sharing with you all exactly what I am feeling at any given moment. This has not always served me well.

I have known for some time that I wanted to change the way I used this space. I just didn't know how I wanted to do so. Now I know. And I am grateful for that.

Thank you for reading these words even when I sounded pompous and ridiculous. Thank you for knowing when to reign me in. Onward and upwards!






Friday, February 10, 2017

Hard Times

Times are hard right now for us all and I struggle with posting anything in this space because I just don't know what to say or what to share anymore.

I can say that I cannot wait to move away from here, but I am also petrified to move again because I don't want to ever experience another move that is as hard for our family as this one has been.

I am so thankful for Las Cruces because it was the best gift I have ever been given, but it also set the bar pretty high and I am afraid everything else will always fall short and this scares me to death.

Everything seems murky right now. We are all doing the best that we can to try and make the most of this experience. I  know there are lessons to learn and gifts to be received here, but I just cannot find them and I don't feel like I have the energy to expend in looking for them anymore. I feel like I have spent the last 7 months constantly searching for things to love about this place. The effort this is taking is exhausting.  Please don't worry about us as it is through the darkest of times that the most growth is had. I know for a fact that we will all be okay, and in the end this whole experience will be seen as a blessing, but for right now it only feels like a curse.

I am heading to the east coast in a few days to visit with my extended family. I am so excited that I feel like a child at Christmas time. I will be traveling alone and I am desperately hoping that this visit will allow me to clear my head and get some clarity and a sharpened focus on getting my family through what I pray to God is the last few months of living in the Pacific Northwest.

These dogs are not supposed to be on the couch. See how well they listen? It's a good thing they are loved so much - it allows them to get out of trouble rather easily. 

Part of our Valentine's Day decorations. 

A decoration Sarah made. 

Superbowl snacks!

Thank you pinterest! Homemade Superbowl brownies and peanut butter bars.

And another pinterest creation. 


Our  snack "stadium".


Sunset last night. 

I love how puffy these clouds were. It's funny because I feel like I post a lot of pictures that gives the illusion that it is sunny here more than it actually is. Just about every single day is cloudy, but some days (I would day 2-3 days a week) the clouds will give way to blue sky for about 30-45 minutes. I am always so excited by this that I grab my camera and snap away. And then just as soon as the sky opens up for a minute it closes right back up. It is a crazy experience and unlike anything I have ever been through in my whole life. 



This blue sky is what I cling to when it appears. It really give me hope. This sliver of blue sky is most likely all we will have today. The rest of the sky looks gray like in the picture below.  

I have learned here that there are different shades of gray clouds. I have found that I can handle light gray clouds, but medium (like the ones in this picture) or dark gray clouds are very hard to mentally get my brain around day in and day out. Summer here is absolutely beautiful, but I have to get to May before the gray skies clear up. If I can make it through this winter I swear I will consider myself a superhero. 



Friday, February 3, 2017

What We Did This Past Week - In Pictures

Another beautiful sunset. Even if I only get to see a portion of them because of where our unit is located I am still thankful I get to see them at all. Some units don't have any views of the sunrise or the sunset. I couldn't imagine that. 

The last of the sun hitting the clouds.

Just about time for dinner....


Andy and Bob started hiking together in New Mexico and have kept it up here. They will pick a trail that they both want to see that no one else really wants to do because it is so hard, plan out a day, and then spend it hiking.  Look how big that fallen tree trunk is. That is amazing. Those trees that you see in the background are the size of normal trees that you would see in most other parts of the country. The old growth trees here are unimaginably huge. They are amazing and breathtaking to see in person. 




A blanket of clouds rolling in in the distance. 



Andy left his initials in the wood of this sign at the summit. 




This mountain is pretty steep and so what started out on dry land ended up in the snow. Some previous hikers built this snow man on top of the mountain. 

As you can see below...no snow...

Those brown bald patches are mostly logged land. It is so ugly, but when I think about the alternative being plastic products in most cases I can put up with the ugly I suppose. It is helpful that in Oregon for every tree logged a new one has to be planted in its place. 


One of my favorite things about this winter here is that even though the sky is gray just about all.the.time. the moss is growing in abundance which gives the forest a sort of light that is not found in the summer. The moss brightens up the darkness of the forest and gives the illusion of not being so gray and overcast. This is a blessing. 

Taking a break on the way down...


Sarah taking pictures in the van while we were traveling to the beach for a day of fun last week. 



My sacred place...

I love when the light filters through the trees. A rare partially sunny day was all that I needed to see in the forecast to know that I needed to head to the ocean while I still can. 




Amazing. 


Breathtaking.



Stunning.

Josh was mesmerized by this tree root that was creating a small pool of water. It was pretty cool.

Doesn't this look like a hand? The tree roots here are awesome. 

Trying to scare Andy and Sarah who are coming up the trail behind him. 














Waiting for the waves to recede so she can race out to the waters edge before the next wave can catch her. I love this picture for some reason. 

Oh, my wild woman. Climbing rocks and making waves. Always. 

That pool of water from above makes its way down to the shore and then empties into the Pacific Ocean. 

As the tide recedes it becomes possible to walk around this rock where a whole variety of surprises await. There are small caves and rocks to explore. Low tide at this beach is the absolute best. 

Waiting for the right opportunity to sneak around the side of this rock.


Chasing the waves...

Clouds are rolling in...

Racing each other to see who can get to the water first.



When I get stressed out because of how damn expensive it is to live here and I wonder why on earth we said 'yes' to this lateral opportunity on a single family income with four children I think of places like this. And I remember that we won't be here forever. And money will not be tight forever. I try to think about the things I will miss when we are gone and I try to make sure that I am making the most of my opportunity here to explore all of the natural surroundings that I can. I truly feel in my gut that I will never live this close to the Pacific Ocean again and so I want to make sure that I am taking the opportunity to be here as much as life will allow me to so that I know that I made the most of this opportunity that I could. 

It is true that the Oregon Coast is not really swimmable. The water is way too cold and the air temperature never really feels overly hot to cause one to put up with the freezing temperatures of the water - not even in the peak of summer time, BUT is is breathtaking and captivating none-the-less.  

A sunrise...








That kid in the blue cleats, black pants, and white jersey on? That's my Josh. This is his opening game of the season with his new team. They won 5-2 with Josh scoring 3 of those goals. He looked amazing on the field. Soccer season is back. Life is good.