Blogging My Heart

1.  Right now I’m restless, troubled, uneasy and sad.  It’s been 232 days since I’ve seen my hubby.  It’s the longest we’ve ever been apart, due to the way we set up R&R for this deployment.  Why does it feel so long?  Um, because it is!  And I still have six weeks to go before he comes home.  My love tank is empty.  Bone dry.  And then I think about my friend Danielle who hasn’t seen her husband in 29 months … and won’t ever see him again …. because he was killed in action in 2010.  And I am humbled.  But I still miss my husband.  I really miss him.  Our communication hasn’t been the best this week and that’s adding to my stress and overall feeling of sadness. I’m lonely, I’m tired and I am SO done.

2.  I’m pretty excited for Michael right now.  After Christmas he joined the jazz band and he started piano lessons.  I bought him a keyboard for Christmas since the piano is still in storage.  He’s really embracing the piano lessons.  After only four lessons he was able to perform (without music) for his grandparents.  I was impressed!  I’m grateful that he has an after school activity at least two days a week, especially since he’s not participating in any sports right now.  I honestly never expected, in my wildest dreams, that he would take such an interest in music.  I still don’t think he will go on to be a professional musician, but at least he’s found something that he enjoys doing right now.

3.  While I’m not being 100% consistent, I am pleased that I am still making progress with my weight loss.  It’s not going nearly as fast as I had hoped it would (thanks to the flu in January …. and then there’s that whole “I don’t want to go to the gym today” that rears its ugly head once in a while …. and sometimes I forget to log my food into MyFitnessPal …), and despite my efforts to actually make myself believe that this is a lengthy process and not something that will happen quickly, I am still moving forward.  I really did think I’d be further along at this point, but the good thing (that several people continue to point out) is that I’m still moving forward.  I finally read one of those inspirational quotes that really made an impact on me:  “The only bad workout is the one you don’t do.”  It was an Ah-Ha moment for sure.  I’ve also reached a point where I’m sort of “guilting” myself into going to the gym everyday.  Finally, the kind of guilt that’s actually working to my advantage.  Nine pounds down, five more until I reach my first goal.  (Seven more pounds until the second goal).  Of course it also helps when people notice.  No one locally has noticed yet, but last weekend both my SIL and my friend told me that I was looking trim and my face looked thinner.  It was all the motivation I needed to make it to the gym five (out of seven) days this week!

4.  Feeling particularly overwhelmed with the house right now.  There is just too. much. stuff.  I need to clean out the entire house, room by room.  But I’m so overwhelmed at just the thought of starting, I’m feeling crippled.  Every room, every closet needs to be cleaned out.  I did take the first step … I bought a bunch of boxes (that still need to be assembled) so I can set them up in the garage, label them by room and as I start cleaning out, I can transfer the stuff to the right box in preparation for the yard sale.  Except I don’t know when the spring hard sale is yet.  And I’m hoping it’s not the same day in April that I have ballet tickets at The Kennedy Center.  I would really love to make some money at the yard sale, but if it’s the wrong weekend then I’ll just donate everything to the thrift shop.   If I could just get started on this project!  But I keep finding other stuff to fill up my days and I’m convinced I need a big chunk of time to get started.

5.  I was diagnosed with Adhesive Capsulitis (frozen shoulder) last week and I start regular physical therapy next week.  Somehow I also scheduled my first physical therapy appointment on the same day as my eye doctor appointment.  And of course I can’t remember what time the second appointment is scheduled.  I’m not sure what I should do.  I really need to get my eyes checked.  I can’t see to get a splinter out of my finger and my eyes are taking longer to focus after I look away from something up close.  It’s definitely time for bi-focals.  CRAP.  But I also really need to get started on physical therapy.  For the most part, the pain doesn’t bother me unless I move the shoulder outside my range of motion.  Sometimes there will be a sharp, lingering pain if I reach for something.  I can’t believe the massive loss of my range of motion.  I can’t hook my bra properly.  I’m having trouble tucking in my shirt, washing my hair in the shower and sometimes drying my hair becomes difficult as well.  Worst of all, I can no longer sleep on my left side.  This is going to be very bad if I’m still in pain when Chris comes home for R&R.  I always sleep on my left side when we are in bed together.  But I can’t right now.  It really hurts.  And I have all kinds of trouble sleeping on my right side if we are in bed together.  I need this fixed in six weeks!  AAAAHHH!

6.  I’m trying to get excited about going to Hawaii for R&R.  But I’m still not there yet.  I’m worried about how I’ll look in a bathing suit.  For inspiration (to continue working out) I’ve learned how to insert the word “Hawaii” into the song lyrics on my iPod while I’m on the treadmill.  I don’t want to get a sunburn.  I’m not looking forward to an 9-10 hour plane ride.  I probably should be excited, but I’m just not yet.  Sigh.

7.  I desperately want to start scrapbooking agin.  Desperately.  But again, I seem to be able to come up with all kinds of ways to fill up my days and all kinds of excuses to not start.  I’m completely overwhelmed with not only the numbers of supplies I own, but also the volume of photos.  We are talking 10 years’ worth now.  Ugh.  I even have a small project in mind that I can start with, but that would still involve going upstairs, cleaning up my office, organizing my desk, etc.  Why does everything seem to feel like a chore. Even the fun stuff?  I even have all the stuff for Project Life … I could do 2010, 2011 or 2012 because all the stuff for each of those years is in one place (except for printing all the photos).  AND I don’t even have to do it week by week.  I could just do a whole year at once.  Sigh.

Yup.  I pretty much need this deployment to be over.  Or at the very least, I need a really big break. And some sunshine. And to weigh less. And to look great in a bathing suit.  And for the house to not be so cluttered. And for my shoulder not to hurt. And a better pair of glasses.  And to be motivated to scrapbook.  Yeah. I don’t need much.  Ha.

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Right now …

Right now …

I am loving the fall weather.  I’m trying to get outside and walk every day, but not succeeding yet.  But when I am out walking, I try hard to really look around, take deep breaths and take in this beautiful weather.  The sky has been so blue.  I can’t wait until the leaves really start to change.

I am really loving how great my front porch & front yard looks. Seriously, I feel like I knocked it out of the park this year.  There are 11 pumpkins in my tiny front yard, plus the basket of mini pumpkins on the porch, but it does not seem like too much.  There are five pots of mums, plus all the mums I planted in the yard last fall, and two pots of purple pansies.  It’s all about placement!  When we came home from DC on Monday morning, my neighbor had put out all her pumpkins and mums and all I could think was, “Oh no you didn’t!”  HA!  Now, please note that I absolutely love my neighbor and we are super lucky to have the Mitchell family next door this year, especially while Chris is gone.  But I wasn’t about to let Catherine outdo me in the pumpkin/mum department because I am AWESOME when it comes to this!  I even built a pumpkin topiary based on an idea I saw in Southern Living magazine.  Only an hour after I had finished my yard, I ran into Laura at the commissary who told me that she thought my yard looked great and was inspiring! What a great compliment!  I like knowing my work is inspiring!

I am really missing Chris, but the last few days have been really good days for me.  He’s been gone for three months now.  We won’t see him for R&R for another six months.  We are planning a HUGE trip for R&R this year … we are going to Hawaii!  And yes, we are taking Michael with us.  We haven’t told Michael yet; we wanted to keep it a surprise.  We’ve teased Michael for many years, telling him he’s already been to Hawaii (because I was pregnant with him the last time we were in Hawaii).  It’s going to be a pretty fast trip and I can already feel how exhausted I’m going to be because of jet lag, but I’m hopeful I can overcome all of that.

I’m having a much better week, after two absolutely horrid weeks this month.  It really helped to get away for the weekend and be surrounded by people who really love me and care for me and who are completely welcoming and including.  I absolutely hate being excluded from things, especially while Chris is gone.  The key really IS staying as busy as possible.  I don’t worry as much.  I don’t have time to think about not being included in so many things.  An object in motion stays in motion.  I’ve said it one hundred times.  I just need to keep moving.

I’m putting out feelers for a part-time job.  So far the MFP coordinator has only been able to find me volunteer positions.  I am absolutely not willing to do any more volunteering.  Between the spouse club board and Seminar 21, I do not wish to volunteer for anything else.  In my dream world, I would work three days a week from 8:30 to 3:00.  I don’t want to work on Wednesdays or Fridays.  Of course, I doubt I will find anything this specific … especially a job that actually pays.  But I will keep looking.

Michael has completed his first full month of high school.  I continue to be immensely proud of him.  He impresses me every day with his intelligence and his sense of humor.  Sometimes after dinner we watch Jeopardy together and I’m always so proud when he answers a question that I have no clue about. He seems to be doing well in school and he seems to enjoy it.  He really likes his science teacher because he is “young and full of energy.”  He says there are no teachers he dislikes this year, which is a huge relief.  He reports that he has the highest average in his Algebra class (114!) and says he’s doing well in his other classes.  I’ve helped him study for only a few tests in the past month (Spanish, history and science) and just last night he asked me to help him with a vocabulary test tonight.  I’m always happy when he asks for help, especially knowing that he needs me less and less.   He is getting all of his homework done, despite some hair pulling on my part.  He still gets very distracted by the computer.  His history homework took an hour on the computer last night, and I know that if I had been in the room with him the entire time, it wouldn’t have taken so long.  He continues to enjoy cross-country, although his run time seems to have already peaked for the season.  I don’t mind going to the away meets (especially so I can take pictures) and Michael always seems very pleased that I’m there.

I actually WON at Basket Bunco on Tuesday night.  Of course, there were only four girls playing, but still … it was the very first time every that I had the most wins and won the first choice of all the products offered.  I’m not sure how I will use my new basket yet, but I love that I won!  I’ve been invited to join another Bunco group as a substitute tonight.  I worried about leaving Michael for another night, but it doesn’t start until 7pm and it’s right across the street at the field house.  I will still be able to fix dinner and help him study for his test before I leave at 7:00.

As usual, I’m still struggling with procrastination, but I will continue to write out my “to do” lists every day and hope for the best.  Case in point: shopped for and ordered a bunch of new clothes from Talbots, but haven’t tried anything on yet beyond a sweater, a necklace and a pair of shoes.  Need to try everything on and decide if I’m keeping anything.

I need to quit messing around and get back into my scrap room.  I can feel my favorite hobby calling to me again and that’s a good thing. My goal is to get back in there the second week of October, after my MIL has departed from her week long visit.  (Of course, looking at my schedule, there’s already an event scheduled every single day that week.  Sigh.  The following week looks much better, so fingers are crossed that I’ll be scrapbooking by October 15)!  In the meantime, I need to clean up the room and get it ready for company beginning Saturday.  The shelf in the closet collapsed in the middle of the night about a week ago (that stuff never happens during the day when Chris is gone) and sent boxes and boxes of photos tumbling down.  Michael got up and helped me and we managed to rescue all but one box of photos.  For the time being, I think I can store all the photo boxes under my bed, but I need to find a place to put all those clothes.

Struggling with my weight, as always.  I managed to lose about seven pounds after Chris left, but can’t seem to get down any further.  Mostly because I’m not really trying.  I have six months until our trip to Hawaii and I really want to lose 30 pounds.  It’s totally doable — just five pounds a month — but I have to actually DO it.   I’ve bought the yoga mat, but haven’t used it yet.  I continue to find every excuse in the book to not exercise.  But I know in my heart that I don’t want to be this heavy when we go to Hawaii.

Just trying to stay happy and find things to do that make me feel fulfilled.

Counting the days until Chris returns …

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Fourteen

Fourteen.  Seriously?  Yes, seriously.  Today Michael is 14.  I’m finding it difficult to even come up with words to describe how I feel.  It’s just so hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it’s been 14 years since my water broke at 2:55 a.m. on May 28.   I suspect this post will be all over the place!

Michael Stanfield Reed greeted the world on Thursday, May 28, 1998 at 3:26 p.m.  He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 21-1/2 inches long.  (Interestingly, 8 was always my favorite number).  Typing his “stats” reminded me that we never got an official baby cup from the Army.  Eventually, I will have to remedy that myself.  Anyway, Michael was in no hurry to join us, so he had to be “helped” along with pitocin.  That wasn’t fun (I’m just saying).  He was named for the patron saint of paratroopers, St. Michael.  His middle name is his paternal grandmother’s maiden name. At age 14, he’s now 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds.  He’s a tall, skinny thing … built exactly like my brother Pete was when he was 14 … way back in 1988.  I suspect he will keep growing … I predict he’ll reach 6′ 2″ without sneezing, and maybe he’ll even make it to 6′ 4″.  I suspect he’ll pass his dad while Chris is away in Afghanistan this coming year.  I think it’s funny that at my age I’ve suddenly starting purchasing very high heels.  I like to call them my “denial shoes” because I’m in serious denial that he’s taller than I am now.

A true Army Brat, Michael has lived in 8 houses and has attended 7 schools since birth (including pre-schools).  His shortest time in one house was Fort Polk — seven weeks.  His longest time in one house would be at Fort Benning — 3-1/2 years.  He currently counts Colby G., Lucy M., Sam H., Alex and Mark as his friends, three of whom live in a different state than Michael does right now.   He has attended St. George’s Camp at Shrinemont (an Episcopal church camp) since 2006.  He plays the trumpet in the middle school band and this past fall he ran cross-country for the middle school team and loved it!  He hopes to continue running on the high school team this fall. This spring he asked for tennis lessons, so we signed him up for 8 weeks of lessons.

Michael loves computers.  For Christmas last year we game him money to build his own computer, which is exactly what he did.  It took about four months, but he finally got it up and running.  I love the way he researched everything so thoroughly.  He read books, magazines and websites.  He figured out the whole thing himself, and ordered all the parts on-line. He was so serious about it too … wearing a protective mask and gloves while he put it together (wish I had a picture of that!).  Michael still loves to play his Nintendo DS.  He also loves his iPod and just recently reached the memory limit on his iPod.  I suspect an iPod with more memory space will be on his Christmas list.  When I think about it, I guess I love that he likes music so much, but he’s currently all about the group “They Might Be Giants” and he also likes a group called “Dead Mouse”.  (I would have to agree … all mice should be dead).  He loves to play computer games.  He’s particularly fond of games on Steam and is always looking for ways to add money to his Steam Wallet. (Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 40 million accounts).  He also loves a game called Minecraft and another game called Halo. His room is usually quite messy, especially his desk.  I remember when my brother Pete was at camp during the summer … my mom and I would go in and clean out his room, cleaning out from under his bed, in his closet and all the bookshelves.  I remember throwing lots of stuff out too.  I haven’t cleaned out his room since the summer of 2009, so I suspect his room will get cleaned out this summer while he’s at camp or in England with the J2A (Journey to Adulthood) from Grace Church.  He likes TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Crank Yankers” (although I won’t let him watch it) and “Futurama” and “Family Guy”.  I still roll my eyes when I think about the fact that we actually let him watch Family Guy.  It doesn’t exactly set a good example for a 14-year old boy.  Yeah, we’re bad parents and we’re going to hell.  He has expressed an interest in the Coast Guard, but at 14 I’m still not sure how serious he is about it yet.  He does understand that the Reed family has a very long tradition of service and he knows that he’s expected to serve his country in some capacity when he grows up, even if it’s just for a three year enlistment.   We will not push him into service, to enlist or to attend one of the service academies.  I think Michael understands that at some point he’s expected to serve, and we’ll let him decide how.  (But I won’t lie … I would love it if he went to West Point, but honestly, he just doesn’t seem the West Point type, and that’s okay.  He’s got too much of his mama in him anyway).

It’s getting harder and harder for me to remember what he was like as a little boy.  Thank heavens for the thousands upon thousands of photos I’ve taken in the last 14 years.  I deeply regret that we have no photos whatsoever of his birth.  Chris had the camera, but wasn’t really thinking about taking pictures.  We barely have any photos in the delivery room for that matter, and even fewer of him in the hospital.  When he was little (from about age 3 to about age 8), I remember that he was almost always happy, he was very energetic, always curious, very kind, so very sweet and had a pure heart.  I really hate the fact that “real life” eventually intervened and he learned that not everyone was his friend. Can third grade really be that long ago?  He is still very kind.  His manners are impeccable.  People tell me all the time how polite he is.   I find myself taking photos of him now with an eye toward his senior year in high school.  I can already see the photo montage that we’ll show at his graduation party.  And how I’ll cry all the way through it.  Good grief, I can’t even think about it now without getting teary-eyed.  I even know what music I’d like for the video.  How’s that for planning ahead?

Michael has brought me immeasurable joy these past 14 years.  He makes me laugh (OH how can he make me laugh!), he makes me smile, he lifts my spirits and makes them soar, and he likes to take care of me.  Even now, when I am not feeling well or if I’m sleeping late, Michael will tiptoe into the bedroom and gently lay his blankie next to my face.  I remember the first time he did that — shared his precious blankie.  He melted my heart when he did it the first time … and my heart continues to melt every time he’s done it since.  Even at 14, I love that he still has his blankie.  (Of course, it’s his third blankie, made by my dear friend Genie Stepanek, because his first two blankies — that actually belonged to me as a child — were loved to shreds).  Michael got me through Chris’ year in Korea.  He still says, “I love you”.  He still gives hugs.  Although the days of “free spanks” and “naked baby” are over, sometimes he still needs his mom and I love that.  I love it.  Sometimes he’ll still try and snuggle with me on the couch.  I remember so well when he used to fit into my arms.  And I miss those days tremendously.   Oh God, how I miss them.

It’s going so, SO fast.  I would give anything to slow down time.  I wasn’t prepared for how fast it was going to go.  Michael starts high school this fall.  I absolutely cannot believe I just typed that last sentence.  High School.  HIGH SCHOOL!!!!  How can my son be old enough for high school?  I remember starting high school.  Vividly.  I remember so much from my high school days that it’s difficult to fathom that I now have a child old enough for high school.  Oh my goodness.  I’m out of words.

I love him so much.  My breath catches in my throat when I think about it.  Never in a million years did I think I could love someone as much as I love Michael.  My love for this beautiful child is completely consuming.  He is nothing short of amazing.

Happy Birthday Michael!  Love you more!

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I AM

I recently began following a blog called “Learn With Jenny”.  I found it by following a link on Becky Higgins’ blog (the famous scrapbook lady, not my friend Rebecca from Ft. Polk) that took me to a “Dancing Video”.  The link to the post that inspired my post today can be found here:  http://www.jennymeyerson.com/gratitude/perspective-i-am/

The link to Jenny’s Dancing Video can be found here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz0Z_QpMf-I

It’s an awesome video!  I highly encourage you to watch it.  It came about because Jenny made a list of 39 things she wanted to do before her 39th birthday, to include going to Washington DC and dancing in front of the monuments.  Not only did I love her idea, I LOVE her video.

Anyway, her post today talked about being positive.  So today, Friday, May 23, I present ten things that “I am”.

1.  I am a very happy mother.  Michael is doing very well in school.  He’s about to finish the 8th grade and start high school (Oh. My. God).  He’s marching in his second parade on Monday.  I panicked last night, at his final middle school band concert, and realized that I don’t have very many photos of Michael in 8th grade this year.  I have 10 days to fix that.  No pressure.  🙂

2.  I am SO happy to be finished with all of my projects for the year.  I worked hard and now everything is done!  I am actually quite proud of myself!  I really stretched this year and did something I never thought I could do (publish a cookbook). No more typing, no more proofing, no more reading, no more meetings!  I’m free … for two weeks, and then I start again with an executive board meeting as the new First Vice President of the spouse club.  I intend to relish these next few weeks of freedom from deadlines!

3. I am a good cook.

4. I am much better at smiling at everyone I meet than I used to be.  (I’d like to think that I am also much better at thinking before I speak, but I’m not sure that’s really true).

5. I am a generous person.

6. I am a huge fan of pedicures.

7. I am an even bigger fan of cupcakes.

8. I am an Army Wife.  Our family is about to go through it’s fourth deployment in 10 years.

9. I am a procrastinator.

10. I am a person who loves to laugh, who loves my friends, who loves to play racquetball (with no rules) and who loves to play Scrabble (and win)!

 

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2012 – To Resolve or Not to Resolve

Well, here we are again.  A new year.  Good grief, I just realized that this time last year I was celebrating the new year in Virginia (and I have absolutely no clue what I did that day).  This year we are in Pennsylvania.  And this time next year, assuming all goes as planned, I’ll be celebrating the new year in Virginia again.  Unless of course, C gets picked up for Brigade Command and decides to pre-position the family at that post.  Lord help me if that actually happens.  Don’t get me wrong … I WANT C to be happy.  I want him to have what he wants and I know that what he really wants is Brigade Command.  But I honestly don’t think there’s a chance in hell it will happen, and I’m okay with that.  In my head, of course, I’m already getting ready to PCS the last week of May back to a rental (that I hope to find) somewhere in Arlington.  We’ll spend at least a year there and then who knows what will happen.  I don’t think C wants to stay in the DC area post-deployment, but I truly have no idea what’s coming after Summer 2013.

Anyway, new years are never really that exciting for me.  Honestly.  I spent the first day of 2012 driving from Florida to Pennsylvania.  17 hours.  1,050 miles.  And I had horrible cramps on top of that.  Not exactly the best way to spend a New Year’s Day.   But we are home, we are safe and we are happy to have a full day to rest (and do laundry and put away presents and shop for food) before school starts again.   So really, for me it’s just another day off.

I quit making new year’s resolutions years ago.  I can’t keep them, so why bother.  I think the last truly successful resolution I made was in 1990 when I was working for Tom Raffa’s CPA firm.  I resolved to be a better employee.  No more being late to work.  No more sick days unless I was truly sick.  Positive attitude.  It worked.  It actually worked … I was a much better employee for about five months, and the boss even said so, but he couldn’t offer me more money or even a promotion (and honestly, there was really no where for me to go in that firm), so I left that job.  Oh well.  But at least I was a great employee for five months.  And Tom Raffa remains on my Christmas card list.  Hard to believe it’s been 22 years.

Even before the new year hit, I had started losing weight.  I was down 8 pounds as of the last time on the scale before Christmas.  I know I’m up higher now.  But I’ve decided not to get back on the scale until this “week of bloat” is over.   I decided last night that the ultimate goal would be to weigh 158 pounds.  This was my weight before I got pregnant with Michael.  Basically, I have 40 pounds to lose.  I have five months to lose it.  That averages out to 8 pounds a month and two pounds a week.  I want to lose the weight and be much skinnier at the military ball in May (in Hershey, PA).  I want to lose the weight so when I return to Arlington and visit Kelly and Company, I’ll be much, much thinner.  I want to lose the weight because I’m tired of looking in the mirror and not seeing what I want to see.  I’m not going to do anything truly specific.  I will do a modified South Beach diet (stay away from the carbs) and go to the gym and do SOMETHING every day.   I will also start Jillian Michaels, as soon as Michael teaches me how to use the XBox as the DVD player again.  Would I be happy to get down to 175?  You bet!  But why can’t I have 158?  That’s what I want, so why not strive for that?  Two pounds a week.  In the gym every single day.  Five months.  I can do this.  I CAN DO THIS.

Although I’m not actually taking Ali Edwards’ “One Little Word” class, I did decide to choose two words for 2012.  I will write both on sticky notes and post them around in the house, in places only I will (usually) see.  My first word is RELEASE.  Release the anger, release the hate.  Let go of grudges.  Let go of the pain.  This one is really, really hard for me.  In fact, I probably need to go see a therapist and have her help me with this one.  I’m angry at so many people for things in the past and I just can’t seem to let it go.  I desperately want to let go of all that anger.  I suspect that I don’t even know how.  There’s a bold statement of truth.  Again, I might need some help with this one.  The second word if EMBRACE.  2012 is going to be full of changes for our family:  We’ll move in May/June (meaning I’ll need to find a new house); C will deploy; M will travel to England AND start high school this year, and I will probably go back to work (which means I’ll actually have to find a job).  THAT is a lot of change.  It WILL be stressful.  So I will practice embracing all the change as best I can.  Must remember to write my words down on the sticky notes.

Ahead of me now (after a crap-load of laundry, putting away all our stuff/presents, putting away Christmas decorations, etc.) is the CBSC Cookbook.  I have procrastinated for the past SIX weeks.  No more.  I MUST get this thing finished.  My goal is to submit it to the publisher by January 13.  BEFORE my 44th birthday.  I want to enjoy my birthday without the cookbook hanging over my head.  This means several things.  1.  Very little (or no) Facebook in the next two weeks.  Seriously.  I need to stay-the-hell off Facebook  2.  Stay off the computer EXCEPT when editing recipes.  3.  As much as I would love to tackle the Christmas cards, I need to wait until after the cookbook is done before I can start that project.  The family letter is written.  The cards are purchased.  The stamps are purchased.  The address list has been scrubbed.  All that’s left is to type all the labels into a new document.  I actually enjoy sending out Christmas cards.  And I would much rather tackle that project than the cookbook.  4.  No cleaning, no extensive re-organization projects, no shopping, no straightening up, and even (GASP) no thank-you note writing until that cookbook is done!  I honestly don’t know what I’m so scared of, but clearly I am scared, because I keep putting it off.   I just keep thinking how great I’ll feel if I can put it behind me.  But I have yet to put it behind me.

I am also dying to “get my craft on” this year.  Of course, the sooner the cookbook is done, the sooner I can.  I want to get back to scrapbooking.  Maybe not whole albums yet, but at the very least, single pages.  Seriously.  It’s an itch that really needs to be scratched.  I’m tired of looking at all of Stephanie Howell’s and Laura Kurz’s gorgeous layouts and not making any of my own.  I’m tired of buying tons of stuff from Studio Calico and Crafty Steals and then never using anything.  I have finally solved the problem of printing photos.  Snapfish seems to be the way I’m going now, although I really miss going to Ritz Camera, sitting at the print bar, looking at every photo and then coming back the next day to pick up my photos.  I suspect I’ll actually save money with Snapfish, so that’s a good thing.  I’m two years behind printing out photos.  Two freakin’ years.  I will work hard this year to try and catch up.  Of course, it goes without saying that there are hundreds upon hundreds of already printed photos in this house from the last 19 years.  I really should start with some of those and at the very least, try and get rid of some of the dozens and dozens of plastic bins full of photos.   I could finish C’s West Point album.  I could finish my own baby album.  I could finish my mother’s album and leave lots of space for journaling so we could work on it together.  I could put together the Pittsburgh album from our first visit to Pittsburgh.  That would be a faster album — not very many pictures.  So many album projects, it’s scary.  And HORRIBLY overwhelming.  I don’t want the overwhelming feeling to prevent me from scrapbooking all together.   So I won’t let it.  One page at a time.

At the very least, I will resolve, once the cookbook is finally finished, to sit down one day a week, lock myself in the scrapbook room, and work.  No computer.  No phone.  Just one day each week to work on my scrapbook pages.  I can do it.  I LOVE this idea — sending C and M off to school, closing the door and just working until 3pm.  Just gotta get that cookbook done first.   I can’t WAIT to have a weekly scrapbook day to myself!

Don’t even get me started on cross-stitch projects.  I STILL haven’t finished C’s battalion command crest.  It’s about half way done.  He finished command in 2008.  Almost four years ago.  ugh. I still haven’t finished my mother’s UVA crest.  Or my MIL’s Blue Willow plate.  And I very much want to stitch the War College crest.  I would absolutely LOVE to get to the end of 2012 and have all four of those projects completely finished.  How awesome would that be?  I suppose I could “not” resolve to work on those projects this year as well.  I could even block out one day each week (while still at War College) for “Stitch Day”.  I could invite Rebecca over and we could spend one day a week stitching.  I would really love that.  I think I will text her and ask her about it.  I’m not going to this month’s spouse club luncheon (working on cookbook instead) so maybe January 18 would be a good day to start a weekly “stitch day” with Rebecca.  I would truly love that.  And I would truly love having those four specific projects done by the end of this year.

I want to take more photos.  I want to take photos every single day.  I’ve got the new camera now (finally gave up on the Canon 50D and purchased the Canon 7D as a present to myself right before Christmas).   Now I need to learn how to use it.  I absolutely need to take a class for this new camera.  I’m thinking of paying for the private tutoring with the Washington Photo Safari guy in DC.  Perhaps the first Sunday in February.  Yes, I do believe I will do that.  Two hours, $200, and one-on-one attention from a professional photographer to teach me how to use my camera better.  Once the cookbook is done (I see a theme here), I will get out the manual for the 7D and at least read that for a few days.  Here I said I wasn’t going to make any resolutions and my list is getting longer.  Ugh.

I don’t edit my photos.  I know people think that’s strange, but I don’t.  Someday I’d like to take a Photoshop class and learn how to use it.  Perhaps after we move back to Virginia I can take that class.  That would be awesome.  But for now, all of my photos continue to be unedited.  Sure, I crop them.  But I don’t mess with the colors or the shading or the tints or all that other stuff I really don’t understand.

I’m having trouble remembering.  Not just the little things, but the big things too.  I can’t remember what M was like when he was four or five.  Or seven or eight.  Sure, I have THOUSANDS of photographs of him, but I can’t remember what he was REALLY LIKE at all those younger ages.  (I also just realized that I don’t have any movies of M.  Not that I enjoy taking home movies.  I supposed I could easily buy a Flip Camera and start filming M.  But where would I store all these movies?  You Tube?  No thank you.  The movies would be for me.  Not for the whole world.  I’m not sure that having those movies would help, but I suspect that it might.  This makes me sad.)  But anyway,  I don’t remember what he was like.  I don’t remember the day-to-day stuff with M.  What I do remember is the good stuff — how awesome M has been at every single age.  Well, maybe except 12.  I did not enjoy 12.  But honestly, he’s such a good kid and he’s so much fun and I adore his company.  I still LOVE it when he walks into a room.  He lights me up inside.  He’s still my favorite person in the world.  He really has been marvelous at every age (that wasn’t 12).  But not only can I not remember the little day-to-day stuff with M over the years, I can barely remember the big stuff either.  This scares the crap out of me.  Is this what getting older feels like?  Seriously?  I mean, I know we took a trip to Disney the year M was five and C returned home from Korea.  That would have been 2003.  I don’t remember anything about that trip OTHER than having the camera glued to my face the entire time we were there.  I can’t believe I haven’t scrapbooked that trip.  I even bought an album specifically for that trip.  I think I still have it (???) somewhere.  I know I still have all the crap I saved from the trip (brochures, room keys, trinkets, etc.).  I must have taken hundreds of photos.  Clearly, I need to drag out the Disney photos from 2003 and scrapbook them.  Perhaps that will be my first scrapbook project.  After the cookbook is finished, of course.  I really would like to see those photos again.  Of course, I’d also like to scrapbook W and D’s wedding pretty soon as well.  I finally printed those photos and I even had a custom album made for them.  I’d like to finish that album by October 2012 — their third wedding anniversary.  Of course, I never truly finished P & J’s wedding album, but that album was for me and not necessarily for them.  I will actually give the album I put together for W & D to them.   So much for not making any albums!  Ha!

Anyway, this trouble I’m having remembering is scaring the crap out of me.   The next (non) resolution, mentioned previously, will be to take at least one photo every single day.  I need to break down and purchase a photo printer for home, so I can at least print one or two photos here and there.  There’s one on my Amazon.com wish list.  Maybe I’ll just break down and purchase it. I’ve purchased Becky Higgins’ “Project Life” but haven’t even taken it out of the box.  I think I would have fun with it, so THIS is the year I’m going to open that box!!  I’m not even going to wait on the cookbook for that one.  I’m going to set it up in my scrapbook room, perhaps on top of the black bookshelf, so that I can see it every single day.  Hopefully having it out and visible will encourage me to (1) take a photo every single day and (2) work on the album every week.  Ali Edwards had the album set up in her kitchen (correction, her HUGE kitchen) in a corner with the book open, page protectors already installed, journaling cards in a box nearby, and a cup full of pens.  I want to try this.  I’ve already gotten the “saving” part down.  I save everything … programs, receipts, clothing tags, tickets, brochures, maps, booklets, you name it, I save it.  Of course, what I’d REALLY like to do is put together Project Life for 2011 (since I already have all the stuff saved up — would just need to actually print the photos) and then order a second Project Life and start 2012.  I could do that.  Work on 2011 between the weeks that I’m working on 2012.  There’s nothing stopping me from this project … except my own fear … and the cookbook.

Fifth load of laundry about to go in the washer now.  Need to get busy and fold laundry and take a shower.  And grab the camera.  Plenty of non-resolutions made!  Lots to do this year!

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The Heart Remembers

In September 2010, I suffered a devastating loss.  My best friend of 17 years informed me, via telephone, that we could not longer be best friends and then proceeded to bring up things from the past 17 years that I had done or said that upset or angered her.  She spent the evening (a four hour phone call) calling out all my faults, telling me that her husband absolutely could not stand me, accusing me of being fake and wearing rank, of always needing to “show her off” and “present her” as my best friend when we were around others and on and on.  The worst part was the fact that she brought up things I had said or done YEARS ago and proceeded to tell me how much those things had upset her or angered her.  She had kept all this inside for 17 years.  And never told me.  Until that day.  In my mind, she’d spent the last 17 years lying to me.  Or at least not being truthful.  That phone call effectively ended a 17-year friendship.  It was crushing.  Chris tried to be supportive, but I don’t think he understood what had happened.  Dear friends Carrie, Lori and Jen immediately came to my rescue.  I told only the three of them (and Chris) for months.  I eventually told both my parents.  My mother, whom I told by e-mail, was incredibly supportive.  My dad thinks she just went nuts.  I didn’t even tell my sister-in-law until five months later, and even then I couldn’t tell her without crying.  I have never written about what happened that day until now.  Lori, who was living in Chesapeake at the time, sent flowers.  Carrie spent hours talking to me on the phone and via instant message.  Jen just listened.  It was a horrible loss, one that I still mourn.  A fellow Army wife, Abigail, sent mini-cupcakes.  Not even knowing what had occurred, they couldn’t have arrived at a better time.  I thanked her profusely.  It’s been 14 months since that phone call.  I haven’t seen or spoken to her since.   I’ve seen photos of her.  I’ve kept tabs on her through my friend Danielle, who lives in the same neighborhood.  The director of the AFP here has a daughter that rows crew with Stacy’s daughter, who informed me that Whitney was spending a semester abroad in Russia.  I still think about her often, but not every day.  This morning I came across some photos of the two of us, one from 2002 and one from another year.  I want to throw them away, but the historian in me won’t let me do it.   The Army is a very, very small place.  I am certain that our paths will eventually cross again.  In fact, next summer her husband will attend the same school my husband is attending now.  I am not looking forward to the day we meet again.

Only two weeks after that phone call, Stacy called again and Chris answered the phone.  She was calling to tell me that my dear friend Danielle had lost her husband in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.  I refused to speak to Stacy during that phone call, but Chris quickly took the message and I raced to Facebook to see what had happened.  I called our friend Lori and broke the news.  I spent the next month doing everything I could to help Danielle, from setting up a videographer for the funeral service at Arlington, to finding professional photographers to shoot the service, to sending flowers, to personally requesting the soldier who would play taps at her husband’s funeral.  She asked me, along with three other photographers (two professional and a friend of Eleanor’s) to photograph the funeral.  It was an honor that I will never forget.  I was, that day, more proud of my work than any other photos I had ever taken.  In the following months, I continued to correspond with Danielle via Facebook, e-mail and regular mail, expressing my condolences over and over again. I sent cupcakes as often as a I could.  I laid a wreath at her husband’s grave during “Wreaths Across America“.  I set up a “Valentine Campaign” and asked friends to fill Danielle’s mailbox with Valentines and individual greetings for all four of her beautiful children.  Each month I sent her a different $50 restaurant gift card and told her simply that “dinner was on me”.  For Christmas I sent monogramed book bags and Toys R Us gift certificates for the kids and a Spa gift certificate for Danielle.  I sent birthday gifts to all four kids.  I honestly did not know what else to do, so I did what my heart told me to do.  I felt so helpless and knew there was nothing I could do to make her feel better or ease her pain.  But I just kept “doing” for her, because I so desperately wanted to do something.  Anything.

Most importantly, I wanted Danielle to know that she would NOT be forgotten.

September 2010 was to be an unforgiving month.  In a way, as tragic as it sounds, having Danielle to concentrate on in September 2010 and in the months since has saved me.  It has given me a “mission” or a “purpose” or simply something to focus my energies on and keep me distracted from losing Stacy.

But in the end, it was Carrie who got me through the awful months that followed that phone call.   She listened for hours and hours.  She read endless amounts of Facebook messages.  She let me be angry.  She let me be sad.  ALL this time, she was going through her very first year-long deployment as an Army wife, and being mom and dad to three children.  She had never done this before and she needed my support.  So we held each other up.  I sent her monthly “Army Wife Deployment Care Packages”.  She let me talk about Stacy.  I talked her “down from the ledge” when a crisis would occur.  She made me laugh.  We helped each other get through that year.

And then in September 2011 a box appeared in my mailbox.  It was a gift from Carrie.  She absolutely didn’t have to send me anything at all.  And her thanks were completely unnecessary.  I was just doing what Army wives do.  Supporting one another during deployment.  But she wanted to show her gratitude.  Inside the small box was a beautiful silver necklace with a pendant in the shape of a heart.  Engraved on the heart are three simple words.  The Heart Remembers.

Yes it does.

Today, I am thankful for Carrie.  She listened.  She held me up.  She got me through.  This December, Carrie and her family are moving to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  I can’t wait to fly out in the Spring and visit her — so I can finally thank her in person for getting me through that awful year.

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But I Want Four Seasons!

This morning I’m sitting upstairs in my office/crop room/guest room and looking out the window as I type.  There is a GORGEOUS bright red/orange tree outside my window.  It is stunning and still has most of its leaves.  It is not very tall — only slightly taller than the house actually, but it is beautiful.  Years ago, when I married Chris, we moved to the south and somehow the Army decided to keep us in the south for the next 9 years.  We eventually made it out to the midwest, only to return to the south again!   Upon leaving the south again in 2009, I was anxious to return to a place where I could experience four distinct seasons. Three months after we moved back to the mid-atlantic, we experienced more snow than I’ve ever seen in my life.  Call it “Snowmageddon” or “Snowpocalypse” or both, but 75 inches of snow fell in Virginia in February 2010 and I got to experience it all. I LOVE snow.  And honestly, I even loved all of that snow.  It became a joke in my family that the snow was actually all my fault, because the entire time we had lived in the south (for the previous three years), I continually complained that I wanted “four seasons”, so apparently I had “wished” for that much snow.  For Christmas in 2010, Chris gave me an absolutely beautiful print of the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin, shown in all four seasons.  I love the winter and the snow.  I love the fall and the beautiful colors.  I love the spring and the beautiful flowers and the blooming trees.  I love the summer and all the green.  I think spring is my favorite, but most of all, I love having four distinct seasons.  We are currently living in a place that will afford me all four seasons for a year and I’m trying hard to enjoy the seasons this year.  I think I’ll even try to photograph the tree from my window because I’d like to have the picture from my current perspective.

Today I am thankful for four seasons.  They are each beautiful in their own way and when I am able to live in a place that has four distinct seasons, I am happy.

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