Deep Images….with Jack Handy

You know that SNL sketch where the verbiage of a “deep thought” with the Jack Handy voice over lays out a bunch of nonsense? That plays out in my brain in real life whenever I am on a solo bike ride or run or walk with the dogs. I think my best deep thoughts while in my head doing physical activity – a sort of moving mediation. More often than not much of it is gibberish and/or forgotten once off the trail.

In an effort to recapture some of the thoughts, I brought my phone along and captured some images. I took about a bazillion photos and since this isn’t an amateur photography blog nor a living room where people are subjected to torturous hours of viewing Aunt Linda’s vacation slides, I will spare you all of them. Still, there are a lot of photos, so you are forewarned. Just know that I did make an effort to not include them all to bore you endlessly. **(Although, if you are reading this within a week or two of it being published, you have nothing better to do because you are quarantined with your family and need an escape. You. are. welcome.)

To change up our routine, I walked with Hippo solo today while the hubby took care of the littles. If you are new the blog – we have three dogs. (Correction: we have two dogs and a Hippo (the middle photo) and if you knew him you’d understand.)

The Hippo is a giant goober. I love him to pieces. Today was the first time he’d walked a long walk with me since his 2 knee replacement surgeries over a year ago. (He’s now Titanium Hippo!) We took it nice and slow and sniffed all the things and ate lots of clumps of freshly mown grass despite the fact that I told him not to. He pretended not to hear me.

“What? Did you say something? I was busy sniffing.” Uh. huh.

Walking or running around this area one must always be on the lookout for deer (there are tons!) or eagles (they fly all around and low!) and even whales have been spotted in our little inlet (haven’t seen them myself but I keep trying)! We didn’t see any eagles, but did see tons of seagulls and this guy:

He flew right over our heads and it was AMAZING. After looking it up (because president of the Audubon society I am not) I learned that he is a Great Blue Heron. Super common apparently. What is not common is to be ready with the camera at the same time as the launch of a flyover. Nature and wild life are amazing and I always come away grateful for the universe winks.

We saw (and smelled) loads of evidence of spring. The colors were vibrant and gorgeous and the cloudy day made for nice photography. I love seeing little flowers and daffodils and the Indian paintbrush native to this area bloom. Spring is always the season of hope, and this year the need for it is amplified.

Maylor Point trail is stunning and a quick escape from my house while ensuring social distancing. From my doorstep, down the trail and back was 4.5 miles of nature and solitude for which my heart and head were in desperate need.

Dog photography is not for the faint of heart. I don’t carry treats much (mostly because I forget) so I have to be quick when the shot presents itself! Luckily today Hippo was (mostly) cooperative. Except for that one selfie, which made me giggle because SQUIRREL.

I love playing with filters, color, and black and white photography. Partly because of the COVID19 quarantine, and due to the weather, it is eerily quiet. The old buildings, rundown tennis court, and not-oft used recreation areas on the military base make for great apocolyptic-esque subjects.

What an accurate photo for our current slower pace of life. We actually have SO. MUCH. TIME. Quarantine or not, it’s the same 24 hours each day. What we do with those hours makes all the difference.

There is a large number of deer that roam this little peninsula. The come out like clockwork and while not tame, are very used to people. They nibble and watch us take photos of them, probably wondering why we are so odd. Hippo still thinks they smell weird and would love to investigate further, but they are bigger than him so he is secretly glad I make him stay on leash.

For the folks who have never been to the Puget Sound, this would constitute a “beach”, albeit somewhat loosely defined. The white things stuck all over the rock on the left are barnacles. Barnacles are little arthropods (related to crustaceans) and they are abundant here! They also hurt bare feet so no kicking off the flip flops. (Not that you’d want to wear flips because brrr cold.) The thing you won’t see in abundance here is sand. Rocks are however everywhere and really, aren’t they just larger grains of sand? Technically I guess we can let it be called a beach even though you won’t find many people in bathing suits rushing to take a dip.

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Author disputed, but credited to Mary Stevenson 1939

There is no question that a dog can carry us through hard times. It is often said that it’s no coincidence that dog is God spelled backward. While I don’t worship my dogs, they are exquisite examples of unconditional love and acceptance, patience, and understanding. This is my visual take on the poem, Footprints in the Sand. (You can read it in its entirely here: https://wallpapersafari.com/footprints-poem-wallpaper/).

This concludes the tour of random deep (and not so) thoughts. Thank you for coming. Please gather your belongings and watch your step as you exit.

And don’t forget to wash your hands. ❤️

What COVID19 is Revealing

On the phone while walking the dogs, my mom and I chatted about, what else? The virus. We were remarking on things we’d been seeing, hearing on the news, and from friends. Between poop pickups and her calling her dog, we had one of many of our “solving the world’s problems” chats.

“I wish more people would take this seriously and stay home,” she said. We both lamented the spring breakers in Florida (not to mention Miami’s local authorities) and community members still acting as though life is just normal, continuing on with routines and activities. We considered the words of local government officials. We recounted the measures we are both taking. Those with compromised immune systems as well as people over 60 are most at risk. Both of my parents fall into this category, as well as some other complicating factors for my father.

After we said our goodbyes, I kept thinking about some of the things we’d discussed. Our respective counties have the highest number of cases in Washington outside of Seattle. It’s not as if this is some far away issue that “others” are having to deal with. It’s local. A friend of my husband just passed. No one thinks it can happen to them, until it does. But it got me to thinking about what this quarantine has brought out in us. 

All of us.

For one, greed with a capital G. One look at grocery store shelves show just how much people are hoarding. Toilet paper is not going to prevent the spread of a virus, people! There is also not a food shortage. Leave some for the next guy. 

I’ve heard it said that “people are 1 missed paycheck away from being homeless.” (Yes, people live paycheck to paycheck. Yes there are financial issues and health care costs, and childcare costs, mental health issues, job losses or other reasons that contribute to a dire situation. Those very real scenarios are not what I’m discussing here. ) What I’m talking about is the continual mindset of living for the now. This is more than just finances. Yes, people should be saving for that rainy day. That’s life – the rain is going to come. Put a little away. But it also goes for basics, like eating. There are so many people that simply do not know how to cook, it’s frightening. I have heard people complain that they are petrified about how to feed their family if the restaurants do not offer take out. WHAT?! No, I’m not saying everyone should be a chef and love cooking, but knowing how shop for, plan and prepare a meal is a literal survival skill. We have to eat.

Our current culture chases and worships busy. It’s a badge of honor to just not have any time because our calendars are filled with busy. Appointments, celebrations, work, extra curricular activities, playdates, get togethers, holidays, school functions, church,  Go, go, go until we fall into bed staring into our phones stuck to our palms, distracting us into unconsciousness. This time of social distancing and isolation is bringing up stuff that we’ve spent time and money avoiding: being with ourselves. We either busy it out or numb it up. Drinking, smoking, shopping, gambling, working to excess, spending too much time on social media or in front of screens. Busy and numb to avoid the quiet; to avoid the whatever it is that we cannot stand to sit with. 

Try it. Seriously. Try just sitting and praying, meditating or simply being quiet for 5 minutes. It’s harder than it sounds. Thoughts will distract you and you’ll have urge after urge to get up and go do something. Check the phone. Wonder what’s streaming. Look at social media. Wonder what the kids are doing. Hear a noise. Make a list. Anything. Even laundry. Something to avoid just being. We have the hardest time sitting in the uncomfortable and staying there. Taking away the obligation of busy is revealing our inability to just be.

For sure the anxiety is at a high. You can feel it in the tight lipped smiles of others as you walk by, respecting the 6 foot social distance. Our kids are picking up on our tightness. They are cooped up and anxious, as they overhear news reports. (My daughter is currently a stage 5 cling on, barely letting me leave the room. I get it.) Every time you turn the corner in the grocery and see yet another bare shelf it ratchets up the anxiety and anger another notch. Anger is being lashed out on retail employees and others who have zero control of supply. Fear and anxiety are as contagious as the virus itself (if not more so). People are still downplaying the situation citing that “it’s only the flu” or “it’ll pass, the media is making a bigger deal out of this than it should”. Downplaying escalating cases and deaths world wide scream fear. Fear seeks to minimize and downplay any danger because it is a situation over which we have very little control. Fear and anxiety are certainly real. 

Yet….through all of this, it’s revealing other things, too. 

We are being shown that sometimes less is more. I have seen more people out in their backyards playing with their kids, walking their dogs, going for runs and walks, riding bikes and just being together.

Covid19 is giving us a gift of community. Yes, at a social distance, but community nonetheless. I smiled as I walked the dogs, looking for shamrocks hung in windows of our neighbors’ homes for St. Patrick’s Day. The latest effort has been to “Chalk the Walk” and spread a little joy for others to find as families (separately) take a stroll around the neighborhood.fullsizeoutput_195e

We are wired for connection and this separation is hard for all of us. If anything, this experience is teaching us that we need one another. Perhaps more than we thought. People are offering to grab things for others at the store and leaving it on their doorstep to avoid contact. People are asking for the proverbial cup of sugar and others are delivering. We need each other, and we are showing up.

A friend of mine posted a request for songs that fit current events. Suggestions in every genre came in. I was inspired to create my own playlist as a “music as therapy” session. I laughed with friends’ suggestions (and my own, honestly) that were dark and inappropriate, but still hilarious. Humor in dark times. We need that. Like Dolly Parton says in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

We are given this precious gift of time. The days feel long. “I need a snack” and “I’m bored” are being heard in equal measure. My kids are sleeping hard because they are getting more activity. We are making a conscious effort to ensure it. We make time for what we prioritize. Take away all the excess busy, and we have a whole bunch of time to do the things we say we’ll do “someday”.

Someday has arrived.

February Ho-hum into March Mania

Saved in drafts on February 29, 2020:

I read on a blog somewhere that February is the month that all homeschoolers want to throw in the towel. I get that big time. I still love it, speaking globally, but man the day to day is rough lately.

My students are trying to get over a cold, the news is spouting fear about Coronavirus, and crazy shoppers are lined up around the commissary to stock up on Lysol, toilet paper and antibacterial soap in the event we should have a quarantine. Not quite sure why people aren’t washing their hands like they should already be washing their hands, but well, I digress. One guy even had 5 gallons of Clorox in his cart for good measure. (Insert face-palm emoji here.)

Cut to March 19, 2020

Wow. Now they are only letting 50 people in the store at one time, and they are rationing essentials to prevent ongoing hoarding. The virus is still spreading. We’ve been told to shelter in place, stay home and late night television hosts have all done vids from their couches.

My kids are homeschooled so not much has changed for us, except our extra curricular activities. We’ve done a bit more reading and a bit more hanging out in the yard with the dogs. Thankfully, the weather has been chilly, but sunny. In the PNW, we take the sun whenever it decides to show!

Part of me feels that we can do this. We can come together for the greater good. As a society, we’ve been called to be our better selves in the past and risen to the challenges we faced. The more cynical side sees this and wonders what is wrong with people:

As a friend of mine put it, these were probably Tide pod eaters at one point.

Outside of spring break Florida (aka: the real world) it’s as though downplaying the seriousness of this virus is an attempt to mask fear. “Eh, it’s just the flu.” Or “It’s fine. When the weather warms up it will blow over.” Saying things like this help ease the fear of an uncertain/unknown.

For us, we are washing hands diligently, following recommendations to only go out for essential items like food and sheltering in place. I try not to be fearful. I can’t have the news on nonstop. I took a luxurious shower. The kids rode bikes and played together (without fighting! WIN!)

Virus aside, I feel like quarantined peeps set themselves up to start feeling like this sooner rather than later:

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully we are doing enough to flatten the curve so our healthcare systems do not get overloaded. It is scary to think about worse case scenarios, such as those being faced in Italy.

For now, we hunker down. We do what we can, where we can for those that are immune compromised. We wash our hands. We pray. We prepare meals, do some lessons with the kids, and play with the dogs. And then we wash our hands.

Seriously, go wash your hands.

That Escalated Quickly

Just a few short weeks and the world is slowly coming to a halt. It is serious and we must all do our part for the greater good. I love this post at Reluctant Xtian and what he recommends about thinking of others and not just ourselves.

While I agree and will implement those suggestions, I’m also looking forward to the break. The break from the “have to’s”. Deep spring cleaning, long dog walks, and tackling the ever growing pile of must read books on my nightstand are calling me.

Less running around, less hurrying, and less expectations. More boardgames, more snuggles, more breathing and more savoring of the time with my crazies.

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We will continue on with our homeschool curriculum. Books will be read. We will have lots of breaks to sit in the backyard and play fetch and feel the grass under our bare feet. Sweet daughter has been mowing lawns and poop scooping for neighbors. Cookies will be baked, hands will be washed, popcorn popped, movies watched and new recipes tried.

As an introvert, I relish this time. No, I’m not glad we have a rampant virus. Businesses large and small will be affected. People are sick and dying. It’s. awful.

Yet…

Since we are quarantined, schools cancelled for the time being, and precautions are being taken – I won’t be sad for the gifts that this process is giving us. 

The gift of time.

The gift of family.

The gift of remembering our neighbors and our own humanity.

The gift of knowing that we are in this together, and that we can do hard things. 

 

Unexpected

Post-PCS move, all the boxes are unpacked. The paper (oh so much paper) has been meticulously straightened and folded and packed into one giant box by my equally meticulous husband. (I’m more of a shove it in a box and pack it down type, but whatever.) We have offered it all to others in the neighborhood who are getting ready for their next move.

This is my favorite space. The just after we are settled and unpacked space. Where everything has a place, things no longer needed have been donated, and it’s another 2.5 years before we have to even think about moving again. We have all the hooks in the hallway, shoe racks placed, kids’ rooms decorated and it feels like home.

I sip my steaming hot freshly poured hot cup of coffee and gaze contentedly out the windows that offer a peekaboo view of the San Juan islands and the Puget Sound. It’s still foggy, gray and rainy as the Pacific Northwest usually is in February. My dad asked me recently, “I thought you hated the rain?” Honestly, I thought I did, too.

I am in such a different space than I was the last time we lived here. The kids no longer require my assistance in such things as getting dressed. They are far more independent. We are not in the midst of deployments. We live in a relatively quiet military town – a far cry from the busy-ness (and sunshine) of Southern California. I try to cherish each phase as we move through them, but I’m completely immersing myself in this one. My not-so-tiny-anymore humans are hilarious people and I find myself marveling at their quick wits and quirky senses of humor. Savoring their curiosity and cultivating their love of learning is a calling I never envisioned. I never thought in a million years life would take the turns it has. If you would have told me I would be a vegetarian, homeschooling, 3-dog lover, nature-craving, letting-my-hair-go-grey-naturally, insatiable consumer of books, teetotaler I would have laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of that image.

But here I am in the midst of the unexpectedness of it all and I am loving every dang bit of it. Okay, maybe that’s the coffee talking because let’s face it, not every day is bliss. A week ago I dragged the minions to a hike at one of my favorite trails by the water and they complained THE ENTIRE TIME. “It’s tooooo coooooollllldddddd….” (complete with whining voice) and “Are we done with this yet? I’m bored,” they complained long and loudly. Granted I was a smidge unprepared. We should have dressed a little more warmly, and maybe ventured out during a little later (and warmer) part of the day. Between my pushing of mandatory-family-fun and their reluctance and complaining it was a shit-show less than stellar outing.

Contrasted with this week’s adventure, it was night and day. We played giant chess in the sprinkles that wouldn’t quite become rain. I found joy in the usual spots. The kids drank from a camping spout.

 

Interspersed with the unexpected-joy-nugget types of family fun, I have no doubts they will be sprinkled with “less than stellar outings” from time to time. But that’s the point isn’t it, to expect the unexpected?

trying new things

consuming viewpoint-altering books

the beauty of rain

sobriety

raising kind (most of the time) and compassionate humans

 

And perhaps embrace it all.

 

 

Is there a “wrong” way to do it?

There’s always been something off for me about the label of alcoholic that I’ve never really known how to articulate. Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t think AA is wrong, bad or whatever, but maybe there are more paths to recovery and the way we currently approach addiction and alcohol is not a route that works for everyone. If the main objective is to abstain, however someone goes about it, is it really wrong?

I usually don’t review a book before I’ve actually read the entire thing, but I’m making an exception. I am about half way through Holly Whitaker’s “How To Quit Like a Woman” and I’m completely blown away by her ability to put to words what I felt in my gut but was unable to express in a cohesive way. There are a couple of points Whitaker makes that deeply resonated with me (among about a thousand others so far):

“Alcohol is the only drug in the world where, when you stop taking it, you are seen as having a disease. Because alcohol is the only socially accepted drug, because most of us consume it, because we have come to believe that there are “normal” drinkers and there are “alcoholics,” and because alcoholism is self-diagnosed, it is literally the only drug in the world where you get a label and a lifetime disease once you admit you need to, want to, or do stop….When I drank (and clearly abused), I did not have alcoholism. When I said, ‘I can’t drink,’ I became an alcoholic. Because we believe everyone ‘should’ be able to drink ethanol, and those who can’t are somehow defective, we assign them a label and a lifetime disease.”

She continues on to assert that alcohol is not only addictive to a person labeled as an alcoholic, but to everyone. 

“Alcohol addiction is progressive, that some people are wired a bit differently and are more vulnerable to alcohol addiction…science tells (us) these things…alcohol is addictive to everyone. Yet we’ve created a separate disease called alcoholism and forced it upon the minority of the population who are willing to admit they can’t control their drinking, and because of that, we’ve focused on what’s wrong with those few humans rather than on what’s wrong with our alcohol-centric culture or the substance itself.””What made sobriety so full of wonder is the fact that I didn’t have to negotiate a word that implies a life sentence or a chronic, relapsing disease… what made the label nondrinker downright magical was that it wasn’t synonymous with drunk, inebriate, junkie, addict, lush, wino, liar, or cheat.”

Nondrinker.

It’s sounds weird to my ear because I’m so used to the word alcoholic. Whitaker comments about the fact that we don’t call nonsmokers cigarette-aholics. They are non-smokers. The onus is on the substance, not the person – that’s the simple and huge difference. While it may seem like simple semantics, I am a firm believer in the power of words. Words carry weight, imply, infer and conjure images in our minds. It’s just the way language and culture works. The term non-drinker is empowering. It gives the user the choice, while alcoholic takes all choice away. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter in the long run. If sober, I don’t drink – regardless of a label. Working a program is valuable. Self reflection and conscious examination of one’s self and behaviors is crucial to growth. Maybe if there was less of a stigma associated with sobriety, less normalizing of imbibing ethanol, perhaps more would choose to embrace it?

Sauerkraut…and a Bar

I did some new things this week. For one, I made sauerkraut. (Yep, totally had to look up how to spell it correctly.) I’ve had it before as a kid and detested it, but like other foods, I’ve developed a taste for items previously not preferred.

So pretty and purple!

The recipes online all say “Oooh it’s so simple! Just add salt and voila! Sauerkraut perfection!” While the ingredients are simple, there are a few steps that require some muscle and patience. For example, the splooging of purple cabbage juice all over the counter or the having to dump it out of the sanitized mason jar back into the mixing bowl to keep working it for more brine (salt and cabbage water) to be released to cover the cabbage shreds. (If there isn’t enough brine to cover, you haven’t worked it enough and it can cause mold to grow which is not tasty.)

Just add salt! Righhhhht.
I do not own a food funnel for canning so spooning it in was a *little* messy. I may or may not have purple splotches on more than one counter.
Now to wait. Waiting…..waiting…….

In about 3 days I will be testing my ‘kraut and seeing whether it’s gross or if I’ve developed a taste for fermented fun!

Secondly, I went to a bar for a mom’s night out a few days ago. It was the first time I’ve been in an actual bar in a verrrry long time. It was also the second time in 2 weeks being around alcohol in close proximity outside of the grocery store. (The first being the hubby’s work holiday party.) I’m happy to have had both expericences under my belt. I don’t feel like I was tempted to drink at either event, but I am wary of being overly cocky. Arrogance will likely land me in a place I do not want to go ever again.

Leading up to the work party, I felt very antsy and anxious. I typically feel that way before social events like that as I play out conversations and making small talk (which I suck at) and all the other social crap that goes with pretending to adult. The dinner was a buffet so I was able to eat all of the veggie goodness, while the hubby happily chose beef. Conversation was lovely, with great people he works with and their spouses. As dinner was finished and the music started, it soon became evident who had had a bit too much to drink. There were stumbles and falling off of chairs as well as a wardrobe malfunction or two. We went home shortly after prizes were raffled off. While we didn’t go home with a package wrapped in a bow, I feel like I won. My prize was no hangover, no guilt, and no shame. WIN.

The mom’s night out was with an old friend who I was able to reconnect with after living on opposite sides of the country for over a decade. We went to a local bar and I set myself up for success, as my mother aptly put it. I knew going in there was no way I was going to drink, but I didn’t want to be a social debbie downer so I planned what I would consume – soda water and lime. Honestly, no one really knew any different. If they did – no one said anything. It just wasn’t that big of a deal. As we arrived I let my friend know that I was happy to be the DD for the night if she did want to partake. It was decided – done and done. We watched the amazing drag show, danced, hooted and hollered and had a blast. We closed down the joint and blew off steam. It was (like always) so much more fun than I had anticipated.

Another little thing I did was jot down a little private reminder:

Two years, 7 months, and 7 days

Just a little message to myself of how far I’ve come. As the bar was nearing closing time, it was clear a few other patrons were definitely intoxicated. I saw myself in many of them. It was a great moment to witness the road not taken. If there was ever a desire to detour, seeing drunk people cured it in a heartbeat.

Pickling foods and avoiding being pickled.

I’ll take that any day!

New Year, New Me! (and all the other things we tell ourselves)

Christmas got put away today, all the boxes loaded up and back to their spot in the garage for another year. It’s feeling fresh and clean in our space. The house is 99% uncpacked and is now home. The kids will be back to school and we’ll be in our full swing regular routine again. I love this refreshed feeling. Celebrations celebrated, visiting with family, meals prepared and savored….and now it’s quiet.

I admit it. I do love a new year. There is something about a fresh page turned in a journal, a new month, Monday, or another trip around the sun. I haven’t set resolutions for many years, but usually do a goal or two, and break it down into bite sized chunks so I don’t quit by January 5th.

I had two goals for 2019; read 30 books and walk/run 350 miles.

Hard to fathom 1000 miles on legs! Apparently I was on fire in 2016

I did not hit the goal I set for mileage on legs (walking or running) mostly because I would remember to wear my Garmin about 10 minutes after I left the house without it. (Insert eye roll here). I’m not disappointed though. I know I hit at least 300 and with all the walking with dogs we did over the last year – I’m happy with that. Not the ninja mode of years past, but did get in some biking and running in there while enjoying the California sunshine.

The reading goal I set was for 30 books. I have set reading goals in the past and barely got through half of what I’d set out to read or flat out didn’t record what I did read. I have an e-reader, love physical books and even Audible is fun once in a while.

This quote has stuck with me for a while and helps keep me motivated to read and continue to learn!

Other goals I’ve set in the past include not drinking, (but that’s more of an every day thing), weightloss goals, and arbitrary crap like “be a better person” with no plan of concretely putting it into action. I need concrete! Flippant wishes never get done. (The only area this doesn’t apply is cooking – I love not following recipes and flying by the seat of my pants in the kitchen!)

For this year, the mileage is set at 350, because it seems like a good do-able number, but enough to keep me foucused and off the couch. 40 books is the goal for reading. One more than I read last year – again, do-able but a challenge if I don’t stay on it. I’m also attending an online 12-step Recovery course. That’s sure to be scary and fun and all the other uncomfortable stuff. Lastly, I have a weightloss goal. Do-able, challenging, and necessary. The last 2 years were focused on health from the inside out; gettting a handle on depression/anxiety and getting my A1C numbers down out of the pre/diabetic ranges and lowering cholesterol. (Not to mention recuperating a dog post knee surgery.) Now it’s time to get back to a healthy weight again.

Here’s to 2020’s goals!

What are your plans and goals for the upcoming year? Any new things on the horizon?

The Magic of Home

Eric and I scanned the last of our earthly belongings comparing it with the quickly deteriorating space in the truck and had to make some fast decisions.

“The chairs are going, aren’t they?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“‘Fraid so,” he said.

All of our belongings in a 26′ truck

I turned away when I saw him briskly carry the happy blue pair to the spontaneous free yard sale accumulating at the edge of the curb. They’ll be happier here in the warm San Diego sun, I thought. Good thing we are doing this before school lets out, as there will be lots foot traffic to carry away the things we cannot take with us. The little boy that yelled exuberantly about his new-to-him bike as he rode it away made me grin. Jake had been eating his knees on that bike for a few months now and it was time to let it go anyway. That’s what the song says, right? Let it go, let it go…..

It’s just stuff.

I stopped short when I saw our aqua Adirondack chairs nestled happily in their new yard. It was bittersweet giving them away. It was bittersweet walking the dogs this very last time in our San Diego neighborhood. I breathed it in. I noticed all the palm trees, took in the view down toward Mission Bay, and closed my eyes and sighed as the sun warmed my skin.

We started on our adventure a half day behind as we had some finishing up at the old house to complete. One last check of the mail box, roll up the garbage and recycling cans, and turn over the keys.

We had big plans to make it up to Washington in three days. With 3 dogs, 2 kids and me who gets what I call “car-koleptic” (extremely tired when driving in the rain) we knew our plans were way too aggressive. Once again I was reminded that I could never be a long haul trucker.

As California’s terrain changed from desert, vineyards and then finally to forested mountains, I found myself awed by the beauty of it all. I pointed out things to the kids. Miraculously the sights were stunning enough to tear their eyes from their iPods. “Ohhhh, wowww….” could be heard from both of them. I forgot just how little they were when we left this part of the country. “They don’t remember,” I thought sadly. Climbing higher into the mountains, and into Oregon, I chuckled when the car sounded an alert as the temperature was now below 40 degrees. This alarm came complete with a cute flashing snowflake on my dashboard. Poor car has never seen anything below 60 degrees! I tapped the dash and murmured, ‘Good little car, you’re doing fine!’

I grew up in the Puget Sound, but after moving out of state the first time, I was shocked by the heat and the humidity of Florida. “So that’s what that ball of fire in the sky is!” I joked when regaling people of the transition to the Sunshine state from the renowned rainy Seattle area. I have loved living all over the country, and yes, Hawaii has ruined us for all states. There is just something about the Pacific Northwest. It pulls me back in ways I can scarcely describe.

I tend to agree with Bon Jovi. Who says you can’t go home? Maybe not the way it was, but a place makes you who you are in ways that are non-tangible. Living away has given me a perspective that would not exist if I’d never left. There is breathtaking beauty here. The allure of the forests, the captivating mists – it’s magic pure and simple.

Hannah’s camera was clicking fast and furious as we traveled. I was curious what gems may be hidden on her device when she was reluctant to let me see. She had been working furiously on something, but promised she would share it with me when she was done.

Hannah’s project

Make no mistake, there is a kind of magic here – and I believe it has enchanted my daughter.

Gratitude, Always

There is tired, and then there’s tired. The kind of tired you feel when you have done way more than there is time for, more than you’d planned, and are sleep deprived on top of it all. It’s the kind of tired you feel when you have to tuck your chin down, keep your feet moving and focus only on the task in front of you.

“Just one more thing. Just get through this,” I told myself as I daydreamed of sleep, looking forward to when this was all over. The truck was getting packed, little by little. The ultimate adult Tetris game being playing by my master-packer husband as oddly shaped belongings filled tiny niches here and there. I wondered as we do every move about the necessity of so much stuff.

For a person who really doesn’t like moving (and the associated stress), it’s ironic that we are a military family. There are aspects about it that I do enjoy; the setting up of a new house, arranging things, and the adventure of it . The part I detest? The packing and the cleaning of the old house. All the nitty gritty cleaning – baseboards, windows, blinds, and ovens. Not my favorite at all.

This move is hitting our little deep-feeler daughter hard. She is very melancholy, expressing her desire to go back to Texas as that is the only home she really remembers. I comfort her the best I can and remind her that it’s okay to feel yucky and whatever which way she feels about all of this. That feelings are what they are and the best way to get through these patches is to just wade right into them and feel them. You can’t avoid the bitter-sweetness, the frustration, and the sadness. The only way is to go through.

Our last night in the mostly-empty house, we did what we usually do. We read a bit of our book, currently book 3 of The Chronicles of Narnia. As I finished, nestled between 2 kids and 3 dogs in our king bed, both kiddos wanted to chat instead of the usual pleading of ‘just one more chapter!’

“What do you want to talk about?” I asked.

“The move,” my daughter quietly replied. The volume of her voice inversely proportionate to the weight of what’s on her heart and mind.

Ever putting the positive spin on hard things, I reminded myself of what I’d explained to her earlier, that the only way through hard things, is to go through them.

“Okay, how about this,” I prompted, “What if we start by each saying 3 things that really suck about moving?”

“YES!!!” they both giggled and begged to be the first to rattle off their yuck list. Hannah asked to swear out loud once. Why not? If that’s how you feel, get it out!

Their frustrations and heartaches vented, as well as mine, we moved on to our gratitude list, things we are thankful for or that give us comfort. All of us agreed the dogs are at the top of that list. Jacob was thankful for his computer and Minecraft, as always. Hannah snuggled in close and ticked off her list.

Exhausting their lists, it was my turn. My over-tired mind contemplated the things I was grateful for. There were so many things. “I’m thankful for the way homeschooling has opened up our schedule to more flexibility,” I began. “I love that no matter what four walls surround us, be it a hotel room, a new house in a different state, home is where the 7 of us are.” They nodded their agreement.

As they drifted off to the last sleep in our house, I was thinking of the tiny little rambler that fit us so well. The morning sun I’d marveled at as it streamed in across the floor each morning, the proximity to the beach, walking paths lined with jacaranda trees and birds of paradise, and a large back yard for the dogs flooded my sleepy brain. A hardworking husband that continued packing well into the wee hours of the night, the ability to see that we were making progress, and the knowledge that this phase doesn’t last forever all came to mind.

“Thank you,” I whispered to the quiet house. “Thank you.”