Sunday, February 28, 2010

Riding in on his white horse

On our way home from the mountains today L and I started planning out our Spring Break trip. He runs an organization that works with high school and college students, and I work in the school district so we now get the perks of living on the school schedule and get to enjoy Spring Break 5 years out of college. 3 cheers for never having to grow up! Hip Hip Hooray!

So, over Spring Break (in 2 weeks), we are going on a backpacking trip in Utah. He has done 3 backpacking trips through Utah but I have yet to do one in that beautiful state, and I am super excited for this trip. Well, mostly excited, partly terrified.

Maybe 80% terrified, 20% excited.

We are discussing things that could go wrong and he is trying to talk some sense into me. I was telling him my fears of drowning in a flash flood in the canyons... being eaten by wild mountain lions... boulders falling on one of us and having to saw off our arms to escape... being overtaken by robbers in the middle of the night...

In the middle of my Freak Out Session, with his uncanny sense of perfect timing L says "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that quicksand is actually a pretty common problem where we're going."

My mind works in Worst Case Scenario Speed at all moments in time, so I immediately flash forward and envision myself as Princess Buttercup being sucked up by quicksand in the Fire Swamp and fighting off Rodents of Unusual Size.

It is at this moment that I am now sure that my demise won't come from a falling boulder on this backpacking trip. No, it will come from quicksand.

L took this opportunity to reassure me in his sweet way: "You wouldn't sink more than waist deep so before I rescue you, I would have to take some pictures and maybe laugh at you."

Awesome. My knight in shining armor.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Friday!

I am about to eat my words. Remember my longings of warm weather and spring? Remember my loathing of snow, freezing temperatures, and all things cold?

Well. This morning L and I are packing clothes, boots, food, hats, gloves, the kitchen sink, and our dog to go up to the mountains for the weekend. They have gotten snow this week. It will be beautiful.

I will love it.

I will let L and friends go to the ski resort and do their extreme sports thing in the cold. I will drink coffee, do me some yoga, write, read, nap, go on walks.... yes, it will be a great weekend.

For now though, I just discovered something fun. It's called the Friday Follow. Check it out! Yay for new friends!

Friday Follow

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My magic trick

I love cooking. I think it's just the coolest thing to take all of these separate ingredients and make something beautiful and delicious out of them. It's a life-giving thing for me.

I do always think it's funny though, around 5:30 or 6 each night I'll call L into the kitchen and he'll sit down at the table without asking any questions. The food just magically appears!

Take for instance the yummy meal I made last night. I tried my hand at making spaghetti squash for the first time and it was a smashing success, if I do say so myself.

You first have to roast the thing for 45 minutes in order to cut it in half:

I do have to say, this is one of the weirdest foods I have ever cooked. It literally looks like spaghetti. But it's squash.

People are so creative when naming their vegetables.

So you scoop the squash out after roasting it, and can eat it like that. But I got this brilliant idea from The Tasty Kitchen: Saute some onions in butter, add the squash, some parsley and parmesan cheese and voila! Delicousness is served.

This was the meal that resulted: My yummy spaghetti squash creation; roasted potatoes/peppers/onions tossed with EVOO, garlic, S&P, and parsley; then throw on some fresh greens on the plate and... Dinner!

I was bracing for cries of "Seriously... where's the meat! No, but really, did you forget it on the grill?" when L walked in but he didn't even miss it. My bacon-cheesburger loving, steak consuming, never-can-have-enough-cow carnivore of a husband ate a totally vegetarian meal, got seconds, and told me to put this at the top of our "Meals to absolutely cook again" list.

And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, if I hadn't already wowed you enough with my magical Make Food Appear On The Table trick stay tuned for my final act:

Make My Millions of Dirty Dishes Clean Again trick!

He doesn't even ask how it happens. I guess magicians really never do reveal their secrets!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Come back, I miss you!

I LOVE Colorado and will forever think that it will win the #1 Greatest State Ever Contest. And the Gold Medal goes to..... COLORADO!

However. Living in Georgia for 4 years basically made me a wuss. I can't handle the cold like I used to and I am BEYOND ready for it to warm up.

I have been waking up to scenes like this:

Let's play the Find Sophie Game. It's fun!

Can you find her? Hint: She's behind the fence to the right of the satellite dish.

Well, that wasn't so much the hint as it was the answer, but
I've always loved shortcuts anyway.

And this:

The Find Sophie Game is a bit easier in this one.

When all I have really wanted to do is wake up to this:

This is my backyard pre-Freezingness That Lasts Forever. Seriously; the view from my back porch. Be jealous.

(And, if you're on your toes and a smarty-pants and are thinking that the mountains in Colorado are to the west, thus making this the sunset and not the sunrise and I wouldn't technically be waking up to this, you would be correct. It's still purty though, huh?)

Come back to me Springtime! Bring with you your perfect-above-70-but-less-than-80-temperatures! Bring sundresses and sunblock. A jetski or two to play on the water would be a nice gift as well.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Backstory

This past fall, L was still Active Duty in the Army serving with an incredible unit and was finishing up his final deployment in Afghanistan. We had already done two other deployments to Iraq along with a doozy of a 3-month training school, and too many other training trips I couldn’t even count. All of that to say, we have said a lot of goodbyes. The deployment goodbyes were the most gut-wrenching moments I have ever had to experience in my entire life. They’re awful. Absolutely heartbreakingly awful.

So, last August I knew that L would be coming home soon, thus beginning our transition out of Active Duty and into the National Guard. Out of Super Crazy Army Life into Minimally Crazy Army Life.

And I started thinking. And wrestling. And processing what happens to a marriage when the first four years of that beautiful relationship coincide with four years of military and war. Figuring out how my faith had been transformed because of the battles I fought with God when my husband had to leave to go fight physical battles of his own.

So I wrote. And kept writing, using those words and my laptop as my own personal counselor as I debriefed the previous four years of my life. Initially, it was simply a really long journal.

Our marriage had been rocked because of the burdens we were having to bear. It is a difficult, difficult life to sustain and we absolutely learned the meaning of having to fight for your marriage. My faith was rocked as I had to learn the true meaning of trust. I had to come to terms with the fact that there are some things in this world that just simply don’t make sense and learned that having hope despite suffering is the definition of faith. Believing that there is more to this world than meets the eye.

Our relationship developed an unshakable strength despite the struggles and as I wrote down our story, I had the feeling that this story is much greater than us. It is the story of a marriage that went through hard times and emerged stronger. It’s the story of today’s military and what deployments are like through the eyes of a soldier’s wife.

So now I have this document on my computer that I’m hoping will eventually leave this laptop and make it onto the shelves of your local bookstore. I’m hoping that our story will resonate with other couples, military or not. I’m hoping that it will give people hope despite the heartache.

It was because of this book that I got my contract to write for CincHouse so if my opportunities end there, I am forever happy. However, I would love for it to go further and am going to do everything in my power to make that happen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You elude me, perfection

I have been telling myself for months that mid-February is going to be my personal deadline to send out queries to agents about my manuscript. Well, it’s looking to be on the later side of mid-February to me and have I sent out a single query?


Not one. Why? In my head I blame it on perfection. The wording not being just right, L hasn’t been able to set aside the time to proof-read them for me this week, I want to make sure that I don’t contact them at a time when the rest of the world is, and the length of time it takes to octuple-check the submission guidelines to make sure I’m doing this thing correctly is just ridiculous.

But in reality I think it’s fear. Because once I hit the ‘send’ button it’s out of my hands and out of my control. And into somebody’s hands that just might say ‘You know, this just isn’t right for us.’ Ugh. I’m going to get rejected. Hopefully (!) not by all of them, but rejections will come because that’s just the nature of the beast, and that just doesn’t sound like fun to me. So I procrastinate. And now I’m telling myself that I’ll get them sent out by next Tuesday. Surely that will give me enough time to ensure 100% perfection.

Why do I hold myself to such ridiculous standards? I know that I have missed out on so many things in my life because if I know I can’t do it up to the standard I hold myself to, I don’t even attempt it. I guess I want to make sure I feel success with it. I’m a bit ridiculous like that.

I know I’ve done some talking about my book, about my writing and all that jazz, but I haven’t yet fully explained my whole journey with it. How this crazy idea came into my head, why I followed through with it, or what the result was. It might take me a little bit to gather my thoughts on that, but I’ll do some soul-searchin’ tonight and let you know tomorrow.

For now, L and I are off to see Brian Regan. He’s just about the most HILAROUS comedian. Ever. It’ll be a good night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I say tomato, you say Roger That

I was talking a little earlier with L about a project that needed to get done around the house. He told me that he has a pretty crazy week & probably won’t be able to get to it so if I want it done I will just have to do it ‘Sua Sponte.’ Literally. Those were the words he used. For those non-military speakers out there, Sua Sponte means of one’s own accord. That you can do something without another’s prompting or help.

The military is weird. It changes how you speak and L just can’t shake it so I still continually have to ask him to translate 5 years in.

Last week I got lost while driving in our new town (forgot our Garmin at home, thus defeating the whole purpose of buying the thing!) so I had to call L to look up directions on the internet.

He told me he found it, so be prepared because he’s going to ‘talk me on to our target.’

Oh, Army.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Longer Newleyweds

I love love. I love all things cheesy, high school romances, movies about high school romances, seeing couples that have been married for 50 years still getting giddy at the thought of their spouse, and cheering at the end of a story where the guy gets the girl even though you know he’s going to end up getting her the whole time. I love love.

I have been with Lane for 8 years now and married for 5, and although that’s just a drop in the bucket of how many years some marriages have logged, I still feel like it’s a significant amount of time- you know, we’re past the ‘newlywed’ stage. We have a legitimate, long marriage. It makes me feel old. Not really. But sort of.

Lane and I just got to celebrate what became a weekend-long Valentine’s Day. It was three days full of festivities. And by festivities, I mean eating lots of Mexican food. And listening to jazz music while sipping wine. And watching the Olympics. And eating lots of Mexican food. Plus margaritas.

Anyway, through the weekend we were talking about how we feel like our love and marriage is stronger than it was when we first were married. How does that happen? You get married and think that is the pinnacle, but nope. It gets better. And we were trying to figure out exactly how that happened, and this is what we came up with:

  • We know that love is a choice. You don’t just fall ‘in’ and ‘out’ of love with a person and then decide to get divorced. We know that daily we choose to love the other and will for the rest of our lives. It’s an intentional awareness and an intentional effort.
  • We laugh together. A lot. Over things significant and over things stupid, but we laugh.
  • We constantly evaluate the state of our relationship. Not in a legalistic kind of way, but in a way that wants to take the temperature to make sure that it is always functioning at its maximum potential. If something/someone is ‘off’ we discuss why and figure out ways to fix whatever hurt/miscommunication/funkiness that might cause that off-ness.
  • We remember our journey. We spent a good 45 minutes yesterday remembering the past 9 Valentine’s Days that we’ve spent together and what we did for each one. We’re constantly retelling stories and laughing about experiences/trips/memories that we’ve had together. We remember, and we talk about it.
  • We have common ground. We love many of the same activities, and those loves that we don’t share we indulge the other (most of the time)
  • Most importantly, our faith is what has sealed us together. We would not have made it up to this point if there wasn’t something greater than ourselves that was giving us a model of love, a purpose, and a joy within it.

Those can be enough sappy thoughts on love for now. But, it’s already the day after Valentine’s Day, so I’m losing my window on when it’s allowed!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

Raise your hand if you love Journey! My hand would definitely be raised if my arms weren't so sore from my latest P90x workout. Thanks a lot, Tony Horton.

I have four jobs. Four. Ish.

I sub in the local school district. I sub in a whole other separate school district. I write articles for a website. I am pursuing a book deal. Also, I design necklaces and am going to start selling them.

Is that weird? It's weird to me. On one hand, the lack of a full-time job makes me go insane and I miss it deeply. On the other hand, it has truly been a gift to have a schedule that I can determine. Most days. It has at least given me the freedom to be able to pursue this book dream thing of mine.

It has led me to be able to write, trash, and re-write articles for CincHouse before I send them off without worrying about a deadline for my 'real job' in the midst of it all. There is the flexibility to dream, to create, and to invest myself in this process.

However, as Lane and I were chatting before bed the other night he said "You don't really have a real job right now, do you?" He meant it as just a thought and nothing hurtful; just innocent Lane sticking his foot in his mouth once again. I was not happy.

I have a real job! Right? I at least get paid by the school district. And I'm paid for my CincHouse articles which makes me feel much more justified in spending hours at a coffee shop just writing. I know it's not a regular, 9-5, stressful, every day brick-and-mortar job which is what Lane meant. But I love it. And so continues my affair with my beloved laptop.

I should name him. Or her. What sex would a laptop be?

But right now being published feels like this far-off, unseen enemy. There are so many pit-stops on the journey for my manuscript to be denied and turned down that it can get intimidating and make me not even want to try. First you have to get an agent to like it. Then the agent tries to sell it to an editor. Then the editor pitches it to the publishing firm who has to be convinced that they'll actually make money on it. Then, let's say it does get published; the ultimate test comes when the public decides if they love it or not, whether they'll buy it or not. It makes me want to say: "Okay, I'm satisfied with just writing articles. I'll stop there." That way, I never have to experience rejection. That's comfortable.

True, it's a risk. But maybe, just maybe, this will all pay off and one day I'll be able to hand you a signed copy of my latest release. Maybe not. But maybe.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Power of Half

Whew. So this has been quite the week. One that I have absolutely adored, but exhausting nonetheless. I've been spending it teaching high schoolers and they are just so much fun. Do you think I'm crazy for saying that I have the best job in the world for teaching high school? Quite possibly, yes. But they're great; they're witty, they're thoughtful, and though it takes some time to win respect in their eyes, once you do it's a neat relationship. And most importantly, they are in desperate need of caring adults in their life who can love on them and provide them with a good example. It's the power of presence.

That in no way relates to my post today.

Here's where I'm going today: I love Sunday mornings. I let myself sleep in just a little bit; long enough to feel rested, but not so late that I don't feel like there's time to be productive in the morning hours. So I wake up, sip some delicious coffee, and put on the CBS Sunday Morning news show. You should check it out; it's good stuff.

Anyway, this last week they did a piece on a family who wrote a book called 'The Power of Half'. Basically, they were a super wealthy family who recognized the poverty of people in their city and the world and how their finances were much better off than the vast majority of people. So they did something about it. They saw a need and they changed their lives. They aligned their actions with their passions. They sold their house, giving the profit away to a charity and downsized to a much smaller house.

I wanted to actually post the video piece onto my blog, but me in my bloggy newness couldn't figure out how that happened. So this is a link to their own website which has that video on it with a bunch of other great stuff.

There are some people who criticized the Salwen family because they let the money be used in Africa rather than in poverty-stricken cities in the U.S. First of all, they are completed devoted to work in their own city too, with the whole family being involved in giving to the community in some way. Second of all, I don't think it matters! We are all humans, we are all united and need to take care of those who can't take care of themselves no matter where they live. Complaining about their wealth, or how they tried to help is missing the heart of the message. It's about being aware of injustice in the world, both near and far. If you can't give financially, then volunteer at a food back. Or keep a pair of socks and a granola bar in your car to give out to a homeless man when you pass him on the street. Or sell your house and give away the profits. Whatever your form of awareness and giving can look like, do it. That's the message of The Power of Half, and that's what inspires me.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If I was ever goin' somewhere, I was RUNNIN'

The boy is off playing Army this weekend. It's starting to feel like most weekends have become 'go play Army' weekends. Life just goes so quickly that they're always coming around again. We're having to re-adjust to this life again which has been interesting... and by 'this life' I mean seeing the husband in uniforms and saying goodbyes because of training. It comes nowhere near close to what the Army life used to be for us and what it still is to so many of our dear friends. We were just spoiled though by some time having a simple, non-military life in our in-between time of Active Duty and National Guard Duty and it's back. I'm just really not a big fan of goodbyes; we've done them too many times. So what if it's only for a weekend! I know I get to see him soon, but I'm still allowed to miss him, right?

What keeps me laughing while keeping the house occupied by myself though is one of my final images of him right before he left. Oh, how I DEEPLY wish I had an actual picture of it to put up here and not just one in my mind. You would love it! Our trash gets picked up on Friday mornings and we have developed an irritating knack of forgetting to take out the trash. And it comes early compared to our last trash pick up time and we're just never ready for it. So, it's about 7:30 a.m. yesterday, and we were eating breakfast before Lane had to get ready and take off for his weekend away. We hear the familiar sounds of the garbage truck and Lane looks at me and says "Oh, CRAP!" and without one more word takes off outside. He grabs our giant green garbage can mid-stride and races down our driveway and out to the cul-de-sac pushing it, hoping to get the garbage man's attention. They had already passed our house and were on their way out of the street, but Lane is apparently not one to give up so easily.

I'll paint a mental picture for ya: One man in sweat pants, a sweat shirt with the hoodie up over his head because it was cold, and slippers SPRINTING down a street pushing a green garbage can which isn't staying on it's wheels as it hits the bumps in the road so he's half pushing, half dragging, yelling at the man driving the truck to stop for our trash. He eventually gets in their line of sight and, in between panting breaths asks them to get our trash. They really were not happy at all about this crazy guy running by their truck, but they must live by 'The Customer is Always Right' philosophy.

You would think we had a dead body stored in there or something with the passion he had to getting our trash OUTTA THERE! He is a man dedicated to the cause, I can say that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Like sands through an hourglass...

These are the days of our lives. Soap Opera TV, anyone? I grew up on that show, cheering for Hope and Beau to get together, hating Sammie...

Without any earth-shattering revelations of the week, I am posting some of the days of our lives here. One thing that struck me this week is that I should be banned from Crock-pot cooking FOREVER... you will understand soon.

Without any kiddos yet, our Golden has filled that role gloriously. We got her three years ago as we were preparing for Lane to head overseas for the first time. He wasn't too excited about owning a dog because he didn't want to be tied down to anything in case we ever wanted to go on a spontaneous weekend vacation (which has happened once in our 5 year marriage, so I don't quite know what he was thinking... just longing for freedom I suppose). I knew though, that I would not love living in an empty house all alone so we got Sophie to keep me company through the many months of separation that we knew would be headed our way. Soph and I have been through a lot together to say the least. She was allowed to sleep on my bed when it was only occupied on one side for a very sad reason and nuzzled up to me when she could sense I was sad... went on runs together... got hooked on American Idol and Biggest Loser together... and yes, she chewed through her share of couches and walls in our first house. Quite the girl.

Oh, sweet Sophie. How beautiful is she?!? She can be the most obnoxious, feisty, naughty dog, but I just simply adore her. She is waiting expectantly for me to play her favorite game that Lane and her play together all the time- lacrosse. She's actually pretty good.

My attempts at crafting included making this wreath. Not making as much as stuffing things together. I can claim originality on the bow though.

This is probably my husbands #1 biggest pet peeve for me... anyone else do this? I reuse plastic baggies over, and over, and over. This constant scene in our kitchen drives him CRAZY, but I refuse to submit to his demands and just throw them away. What is he thinking?

Okay, so here was the Crock-pot disaster. Originally meant to be Teriyaki Pork. I walked back inside the house with it smelling AMAZING and was so excited to lay eyes on the feast only to find this...

I created tar.

The funniest (saddest?) part of the whole fiasco was that Lane actually ate it. He put it on his plate, ate it, and said it was delicious. I threw up a little in my mouth.

Not a recent picture, but she's just too stinkin cute to not do two pics of her in one post. Oh geez, I'm turning into one of THOSE people aren't I. Who talk about their dogs like they're people... I refuse to dress her. Stop me before it gets to that point.

My afternoon will now be spent on some much-needed editing; here I go.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First is the best, second is the worst, third is the....

Is that how that rhyme goes?

I just submitted my second article to CincHouse. Is it weird that I am more nervous about that one than the first? With the first, it felt like I had nothing to lose. I wrote up an 800 word piece summarizing our deployment experiences in about 20 minutes, sent it off to my boss (editor? I'm still learning lingo), learned she loved it, and a few days later had the surreal, out-of-body experience of going to the website and reading my VERY OWN WORDS on a page. (Here it is if you want to read it) She loved it so much that I was offered a Deal to write articles several times a month for them. Initially (after possibly screaming up and down with joy- someone likes MY writing!) I was honored, humbled, and excited.

But then my brain actually registered what that entails. That's a LOT of pressure to consistently, thoughtfully, and intelligently turn out good work. Anyone can be good at something one time. It could just be a fluke but no one would know. But to repeat the jaw-dropping performance that makes someone react saying 'I just MUST have them work for me' is a bit daunting.

So compare my first article experience: It just kind of came to me and felt a bit easy honestly
With the second article: The better part of a week was spent sitting on the couches of my favorite coffee shop (yay Zoe's!) writing, revising, scrapping and starting over until I felt like it was worthwhile to be submitted to the Higher Authorities of Cinchouse article critiquing.

I have been learning/learned/need to learn how to just let go. As long as you do what's right and do the very best you possibly can, that's about all you have to offer and I need to be okay with that. I wrote from my heart and feel like it represented myself and my marriage well, so I just need to let go and trust that things will happen the way they're supposed to happen.

Now, on to more important (used loosely) things: THE BACHELOR. Tragically, I was unable to watch the episode last night but got caught up on some clips from the website including the fact that Jake kicked off Corrie rather than VIENNA! Oh Jake, what are you doing? And then there were four. I think that I'm Team Tenley. Or maybe Team Ally. To Be Determined.

Hope you all are doing well and enjoying this beautiful Tuesday!