November 25, 2013

It's a good thing he's cute

This darling, adorable third child of mine has given me a run for my money, or sanity as the case may be. While my other kids are admittedly brilliant, they were pretty laid back and mostly easy as young children. Not this one. High maintenance seems to be the new buzz word around here. Maybe it's because he's the baby or I have a zillion more other things going on now then when I had my first, but I also tend to give in to him a lot more than I should.

 Here are a few of the crazy events of the past week or so with him. In one day he found a nice purple ink pen and drew all over one of the cushions of my brand new beige micro fiber couch. He also finger painted the wall with yogurt and unpacked the one remaining box in the house, which was in his bedroom, all over the floor. (At least it was motivation to finish up in there.) That same day he also decided that diapers were optional and peeing on the carpet was fun. Later in the week he was able to open the fridge on his own and get his own snack, butter and grapes, and emptied Dad's shampoo all over the tub and his freshly changed clothes. Side note: I was standing right there blowing my hair dry for that one. I don't know how I missed it.

  His attitude is a little sassy lately too. He does not like going to Nursery class at church. What's not to like? Snacks, music, toys, coloring, bubbles. I would be thrilled to go to nursery. I try to talk it up to him, especially Sunday morning. Yesterday as we walked passed the nursery room to take Sissy to her class I looked at him and said something like how he was going to have such a fun day in nursery. He grabbed my face so I was looking at him (don't know where he learned that...) and very clearly said "Not Going." His speech is hit and miss, but that was crystal clear.

   He's also learned to climb out of his crib and is now sleeping on a mattress on the floor. He's decided he wants a say in what he wants to wear and that does NOT include hats, even when it's 20 degrees outside. He also wants to only eat raisins now and only watch Gabba Gabba. Normally I would really hate that as a screen time choice, but in reality it gives me almost enough time to take a quick shower on my own without too much worrying. We have renewed the library Yo Gabba Gabba video for 3 weeks now. It has to go back Tuesday. I am more than a little worried. Maybe a video or two will show up for Christmas.
   Walking to the bus stop takes some time. He likes to stop and talk to the chickens in the yard down the road and if the beautiful Irish Setter is out, all bets are off. He will park himself at the fence and not move until I pick him up screaming that he's not done. In typical little boy fashion he loves sticks and rocks and pockets. Walking the 1/4mile usually takes us the better part of half an hour. I usually have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment. I don't plan anything until after 10 so we have time to slow down and play with sticks and leaves and such. 

    He's cute, he's smart and opinionated and more vocal than he needs to be all of the time. He's fascinated by lights and fans and our electric piano. He hates to be in trouble and usually comes to me for kisses within seconds of being reprimanded. He gives great cuddles and is getting to be a better sleeper. As for me, I am tired. Really really tired. But I am always grateful. He's smart and loving and so so joyful. The perfect fit for our family. I just can't wait until kindergarten.


October 31, 2013

Moving Day again

It's moving day again. We've had lots of transition the past few months and hopefully this move will help us be settled for a long time to come. Here are some pictures of our new house. Most are from the sale listing, so consider them the "before" shots. We have already done a lot of work. Like painting all of the trim outside and touching up the other areas that needed it. What a huge difference a coat of white paint makes. Justin's been trimming trees, removing moss from the roof, getting the water heater and heat pump working and installing a house water filter system. There's more to do. This house needs a little love and we can't wait to get started making a forever home.
 The back of the house.
 The amazing shop.

 The trellace is a little overgrown, but has a healthy wisteria plant on one side.
 A fun play structure. It needs a little re-enforcing, but I think it will be fun for the kids.
 Our very own chicken coop. Guess we will be learning about chickens this year.
 The side entrance. The old nasty hot tub is going to go though. Can't wait to figure out something fun to put in it's place.

October 30, 2013

Our backyard visitors

You know how sometimes you just kick yourself for not being as prepared as you want to be? I do that all of the time. The difference this time is that I learned from it and I got prepared for our backyard visitors.

When we first moved into this rental basement apartment my friend upstairs told me about the bear who came to visit her apple tree. She said "You will know when the apples are ready. The bear will come." I thought she was kidding. I had seen deer, racoons, squirrels and possoms. We aren't exactly out in the middle of a great forest or anything. We are a 1/2 mile away from a major freeway. She was right on the money though. The first time the bear came, I got so excited and started to take tons of pictures only to find out I didn't have a memory card in my camera and in the end by the time I got my act together, all I got was this:

So I charged my camera battery, made sure a card was in there and left my camera on the counter at all times and waited. I waited over 3 weeks for the bear to come back. This time it brought cubs. Not a lone male bear looking for a snack, a tired Mama bear trying to feed her crew. That's a whole different thing. I was thrilled Mom and Z were here to see the cubs with us and thoroughly terrified to ever send my kids outside to play again. We had gotten a few apples off of that tree, but decided to leave the rest for Mama Bear and her family. We did get some cool photos though:

Again a couple of weeks passed before Mama brought the cubs back. This time she was standing up shaking the tree to get apples to fall for her cubs. Sometime in the past one of the major branches in that tree had been broken. I am wondering if it was broken by a tad-too-big bear cub.  I was able to get some great pictures this time too, but she's pretty skittish and as soon as she heard me, she called to her cubs and bolted.

I am going to miss my backyard visitor. I had never seen a bear in the wild until we moved here. She's beautiful, but I wouldn't want to meet her on a back trail somewhere. Maybe we can visit her again next fall.


October 25, 2013

House Craziness

We are doing some fun things with our new house. Some are not so fun, but make it liveable for us. I guess that's fun. While Justin works on figuring out why the thermostat and heat pump won't talk to each other,  calks and seals up the outside of the house, and correcting the horrible sulfur smell coming out of our well, I have been working on painting and pressure washing. And doing other things, like appliance shopping. I get to do the fun stuff. While water and heat may seem terribly important, they really are fixable things that shouldn't end up costing too much. I married a great problem solver.

It's kind of fun to go shopping for appliances. I have lived in military housing for a long, long time. I show up, get assigned housing and take what's offered in the way of amenities. Sometimes you get vintage appliances, sometimes you get a yard or carpet made in the past 3 decades. Color is never an option you get to choose for yourself. You get what you get and deal with it. So actually having a choice was kind of fun. After looking around and doing some research I decided on a bottom freezer white refrigerator. Not too many bells and whistles, but big enough to fit our stuff in and take things out without emptying everything to get to the back. I finally found this one and got a good deal on it:

I let the kids have some choices in their color schemes. I thought Meg would go for a pink, but she picked a light aqua. Bug choose gray. I tried to tell him living in the PNW the sky was gray a lot of the time, but he wanted it anyway. Once I got it up on the wall I really liked it. It looks good with his black glossy curtains and black curtain rod. What I really liked about it was that my good friend Mom Bread came and helped me paint and chat the day away. That was the best! I found a 5 gallon mis-tint that was lonely and needed a home for a lot of the rest of the house. It's a kind of beigey, yellowey kind of color. I like it a lot too. And $50 for 5 gallons of primer paint is awesome. I am going with a nautical theme in the baby's room and haven't settled on a color yet.

So here's a funny story. Or at least someday I hope to be able to look back and laugh at it. Today I am still a little peeved. I thought the oven worked because the stove top did. I took the kids down on early release day to do things in the house like paint and clean and such. Justin met us down there after work. I had dinner planned. I had taken the time to make a big casserole to take with us and even packed plates and silverware and napkins to sit on the floor and eat with. (The house is still empty.) When it comes time to put dinner in the oven, all I get are a lot of beeps and no heat.  We unplug it and try again. Still beeping and no heating. Justin messes with it. No dice. So I went for pizza. And today I go shopping for ovens. Yeah for new appliances!

We also got word yesterday that after furloughs and craziness, someone was able to process our paperwork to release our household goods. They will be released Oct 30 and then we have to wait for a truck. Still could be a while. Waiting and waiting. Patience is NOT my strong suit. Wish me luck.

October 14, 2013

New House

It's been a good day. We signed the papers for a very nice house. We can't wait to move in and get settled. If you need an agent in the Kitsap County area, Kathy Olsen is your girl! Moving chaos and pictures to come.


October 7, 2013

Still Here

{Artwork by the talented Suzanne Frie.}

A couple of weeks ago I attended a women's conference and was able to catch up with some long lost friends. It was so good to reconnect with old friends again. My good friend Diana mentioned to me she didn't have a clue what was going on in my life because I hadn't updated my blog in a really long time. While I have jumped on the Facebook bandwagon, not everyone has. That isn't the reason I haven't been blogging though. Really, it's a pretty depressing reason. My life has been overwhelming for the past few months. Crazy busy, crazy unpredictable, crazy frustrating and just plain crazy. I didn't want to make depressing after depressing blog posts.

While I was thinking about all of this I was gently prodded. Joy is not the same as happiness. Just because I am not happy in this second doesn't mean I do not have joy in my life. It just means I have to look for it and remember it. What we have been going through as a family has not been happy, but there has been lots of joy if I will but look for it and remember it. Here's a quick rundown of the past few months...

Justin retired from the Navy after 22 years of stalwart service. It was a bittersweet day, but we look forward to the next adventure. We packed up our stuff in San Diego into long term storage with the Navy and set off to job hunt in the great state of Washington. We packed only what we could carry in a Geo Metro and VW Passat with 3 kids and a cat and headed out. That was scary by itself.

Justin worked over the summer at a family cherry orchard and learned all about forklifts. Megan discovered she had a superpower of making the forklift horn go off just by looking at it. Tricky girl.

We had to leave lots of friends behind and that was really hard. Getting out of the Navy and not having a long term job to walk into was pretty scary too. It made things pretty tense.

We survived another season of Central Washington fires. It was a little exciting for a few days and nights, but we did okay and none of our families property was damaged.

 Joey quit talking. Too much movement and change for him. He just quit using his voice except to scream. He is old enough for nursery now but absolutely will not go without me. And he started biting. He was kicked out of nursery one day for biting the teacher while I had stepped out for 3 minutes. We did get to spend lots of time with Grandma's and family this summer. I did tons of canning. I love canning with my Mom and Grandma.
We even went rafting with my sister and crew, only to be serenaded the ENTIRE 3 hours by my screaming darling baby. Long trip and we weren't invited back. We also had to stop nursing. That was traumatic for both of us. He still isn't over it and it's been a few weeks.

We got to spend some fun time staying with great friends. Mom Bread and I went out shopping one day and saw a totally nude man walking down the road in front of the AM/PM. Welcome back. (No photo of that, ewwww.) She did make my transition back so much better. So grateful for good friends.

Justin finally got a job and we were able, through the grace and power of a loving God, to find housing. It really was nothing short of a miracle. We are in a nice, big furnished apartment and were able to bring our cat. We did have a few bumps, and rats, along the way, but we are settled. Even before he started work we found a lovely house to buy for our family in Manchester.
It's darling and has a HUGE shop, which is the most amazing thing. We got the ball rolling only to have stumbling block after stumbling block thrown at us. I have to keep telling myself to keep my eye on the prize, in 3 or 4 months I will be settled permanently. I hope. After only 1 week on the job, Justin was furloughed with the rest of the shipyard as the Government shut down almost entirely. More craziness there, but there is nothing I can do about that. Our lender decided to put our mortgage application on hold until the government figures everything out. This mess affects people's lives directly and personally. I wish our legislators would understand that on a more personal level.

I had the big 4-0 birthday and as the best present ever, we were able to sign the papers on the accepted offer for our new house. So I got a house for my birthday. Let's hope we can move in by Christmas.

I had to start my kids in school here, not knowing if they would be able to finish out the year here or not. It looks like Not, and they are already struggling with moving and transitioning again. It may be a while though, from the sounds of things.

Also this summer I got a traffic ticket (first one in 17 years) and chipped my front tooth. Both just days before I had to get a new drivers license.
 And there was a bear in our yard. Now I am half afraid of the apple tree. I am, however, stunned, every morning when I get to look at this AMAZING view.
 Joy, right?


July 12, 2013

Cherry Sweet

In our little apartment here in Paradise, down the street from my mom, there is a golden raspberry bush outside the door. Baby has decided that it's his personal snack bar. Every time we go outside he either makes a beeline for the bush or the tractor if it's in sight. Baby paradise.
    Over the past few days we have gotten just about all of the ripe berries off of the raspberry bush that we can. Today he noticed the cherries for the first time. The orchard is wonderful to wander around in and the trees make him happy but today the cherries actually got his attention. He snagged one and gobbled it down before I could reach for it, pit and all. Then he went for another one and laughed as his little face was covered in cherry juice. It made me smile.
     Now I need to keep him away from the trees for a few more days, until the cherries are harvested. Maybe they can bring the tractor back.

July 8, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

Sometimes in life you find yourself in a place you didn't expect. You might be just driving right along, paying attention to your GPS, thinking you programmed it correctly, when WHAMO, you are in the middle of a very rocky road with no way to turn around and no idea how long it will continue. Sometimes life is just like that.

When we saw on the GPS it was sending us to a place we had never been before, we weren't too concerned. We knew the area fairly well and were up for a little adventure. And the miles to home were short, but the time to get there wasn't. Maybe it should have been a clue. Don't we look for the easy way so many times? Thinking shortcuts are good, and we will be able to have a little fun on the way, we take the way we have never been before, with the best of intentions.

When we came to the end of the paved road and saw a sign that said "primitive road ahead", we might have thought twice about it. Instead we were looking forward to seeing something new and different.  I often think that just because someone has gone the path before me and knows the turns in the road, doesn't mean it's the best road for me and a little adventure is good for my soul. I often disregard the path others have followed, only to find myself right back on that very path, after some major detours and heartache that could have been avoided. Following the roadsigns provided us usually sends us in a good direction.

When the Primitive Road turned from gravel to dirt, again we could have turned around. By this time we were a few miles into it and the miles to home counter had ticked down significantly. We thought, "how hard could the road ahead be?". Sometimes with our end goal in mind, we disregard the proven path. We lean to our own understanding.

When we saw deer, elk, wild turkeys and several heard of free ranging cattle, we were grateful and excited. Our road continued to get more and more rocky, but we were seeing some great things, it was a beautiful forest and we were still enjoying ourselves. Our speed was getting slower and slower due to the rocky road ahead. We should have had an idea that the road was not going to get easier. I often get distracted on my path with the amazing things around me. Good friends, busyness of life, kids, cars, errands, callings, and general craziness. Some of these are good things to be distracted with, but sometimes they are still distractions from the Plan for me and my life. They take me away from doing more important things, nourishing myself and my family.

Soon we realized we might have made a mistake by driving so far off the beaten path. We were driving a small car, it was past dinner time, our kids were starting to fuss in earnest and the road was bad. Very bad. The rocks were big and our car clearance was low. We were going very, very slow. We had spotty cell service and I was able to get a text out to my sister telling her where we were and what had happened. I sent her our GPS coordinates, just in case they needed to send a search party out for us. It was too late to turn back. It was getting later and later and going back up hill would be infinitely more difficult in our car in the dark. The turns were not clearly marked and several times we were confused as to what direction we should go. Maybe we should have called for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Everyone needs help and support now and then. It's so easy for us to want to be independent to the point of stupidity. I had sent out my location, but did not ask for help, thinking none would be available to me. Help is always there. In the form of prayer, friends, family and our communities. Sometimes in our narrow view we think we are beyond help, but that is never the case.

A few more turns down the road and we came across another traveler. They were in a van, had been going too fast for road conditions and had gotten a nick in their brake line and were leaking brake fluid. They had none, and while we thought we did, we didn't either. We came up with a plan that would keep us together to help each other and get both vehicles running. We said that we had to go slow, really slow, and the other driver agreed. We left together and stayed together about half a mile, when he decided to not hit his brakes so much and left us behind. When we came to a turn, we knew we had a decision. Go the same direction as the van who had left us behind in case they got into more serious trouble or go the shorter direction we were being sent by our omnecient GPS. How often do we really look after our fellow man, even when we know what they are doing isn't the correct thing? How often do we really love each other, care for one another, even when people aren't being loveable? We went in the direction of the van, even though it would add time on the rocky road to our trip.

We had to stop at the top of the mountain for a while. Our baby needed a break and our daughter was scared and sad. We all got out, got put together, looked at the glorious mountain, reunited as a family and got back in the car. We have to work together in our lives as families and friends. Sometimes things are hard, and even when they are hard of your own making, you stick together. Working through things together is uniting and gratifying.

We kept an eye out for the van, but didn't see him. It took several more long, slow minutes to get off the mountain.We followed the directions of our GPS and eventually, after much recalculating, found our way back to a dirt road. Sometimes when I go off on the wrong path, I disregard further directions I had been given, thinking they were for my previous path, not my current one. That makes my journey all the more difficult. I forget that my directions are also recalculated according to where I am and what direction I am currently heading in. What a tender mercy.

Finally we found our way to pavement. Our 2 hour trip had taken almost 5 hours. Sometimes at speeds of 3 mph or less. We hit some rocks, had to go around obstacles, had to turn around, make difficult decisions, learned we weren't as prepared as we could have been and were extremely grateful for having made it through it all. A few miles down the paved road, we saw the van and a tow truck. He had also made it down safely, but his van was in trouble. We are often not as grateful for the hard experiences as we should be. They teach us, guide us, help us rely on others more and offer insights we would not have otherwise gotten. What blessings they bring.

We got home very late, fed our kids pizza and cookies and sent them to bed happy, sunburned, and safe. Then we decided to be more prepared, ask more questions, follow the path others have traveled safely and be more grateful. And to not take that road again.