Friday, January 30, 2009

It Nevers Rains in Southern California...

...and other weather-related myths.

Before we moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, everyone told us how mild the weather is supposed to be. Plenty of rain they said, but everything would be lush. The winters weren't harsh and no A/C needed in the summer. "It will be a lot like living in Germany", they said.

In the 12 months that we have lived here in Washington state, I have been nothing less than baffled by the weather. I should have known something was up when summer arrived with forest fires, a total of 8 days in the upper 90's, and the rest of the days in the 60's. Fall came waaaaay too early--I didn't even have time to unpack my capris. Winter blew in with a Canadian blast. Ice storms, snow storms, wind storms. Then came the flooding.

So I guess it's only logical that my wake up call this morning be James alerting me of an "EARTHQUAKE!" Nothing like a small earthquake to start off your weekend. Maybe that's what they meant by mild.

I guess the next thing I should expect is a "mild" eruption of Mt. Rainier.

If you need me, I'll be in the fetal position.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Circled Wagons

Have you ever met someone you felt could look into your eyes and see your soul? Someone who seemed to see you in all of your vulnerability and pain? Someone who made you feel almost transparent?

Beth is like that. Our sons have physical therapy at the same place. She came up to me and introduced herself at the "End of Summer" party the practice held last year. I knew no one there besides the hosts and she took it upon herself to approach me. From the moment I met her, I knew she was something different about her.

Our boys' sessions started overlapping. And after months of exchanging pleasantries, yesterday we took an opportunity to really talk. To connect. It literally brought me to tears (OK, that could have been hormones...) But it was like I could tell her anything. And that she would care. She is a soft-spoken woman with an unshakable faith.

I don't usually let my guard down. I keep my wagons circled tightly. Being a military spouse, I've adapted ways to keep my distance from people to spare myself the pain of our inevitable separation. But I know no matter what, I need friends.

And I think I want Beth to be one of mine.

Scary stuff.

Matters of the Heart

Yesterday I went for my 3-month check-up on the Atenolol. In October 2008, I went to the doctor with a resting heart rate of 117 bpm. She started me on the medicine that same day.

They clocked me in the 70's yesterday. That makes me feel better, literally. She is still concerned about my stress level. Unless she hires an au pair for me or can spare the time herself, we're all just going to have to deal.

She prescribed me a year's worth of refills instead.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Lost Tape

While rooting around on the external hard drive last night, I came across this never before seen video of newborn Isaiah. It was filmed in the Parent/Baby Room of the NICU in Oklahoma City the day before we finally took him home. James and I had to spend the night with him there to make sure we knew how to check his heart rate, administer his meds., etc...

This was our pre-Canon days, so the clip has no sound. I just love it anyway.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dancing Savannah Brobee!

Yo Gabba Gabba fans: BEHOLD.

I love how casually James walks by like we do this everyday.

Savannah is going to flip when she sees this on The Blog. I'll be showing it again at her Wedding Rehearsal dinner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

21... the number of times Savannah, Mariah, and I have crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

This week marks the 1st anniversary of our latest flight home. On January 21, 2008 as our plane descended onto the runway at Dulles International Airport, I was amazed at the rush bittersweet feelings washing over me. So relieved to be safely home again, but already missing much of what made our total of 6.5 years in Germany not just tolerable, but incredibly enjoyable.

And not just the Autobahn and the wiener schnitzel. The people of Germany aren't typically known for their warmth or tact, but their curiosity about us seemed to morph into genuine fondness. And it was totally reciprocated. I became fascinated with their culture. I took every opportunity to speak their language and even though my German was far from perfect, it was obvious that they appreciated the effort.

Funny Story:

Soon after we arrived in Germany, we decided to drive-thru a McDonald's for the very first time. James gets to the speaker box and instead of asking, "Sprechen Sie English?", he bellows, "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?": mistakenly asking the German cashier if he spoke German.

Cashier: "Uh...ja."

Told you ~ I love those people.

The beauty of the country itself is simply breathtaking. We've witnessed everything from the contemporary skylines of Hessen to the majestic Alps in Bavaria to the amazing wine country in Rhineland. Everywhere we looked was something else incredible to see or do.

What an awesome opportunity to live abroad. It has changed our perspective--given us a new view of the world and our place in it. We'll never forget it.

As I look back on our first year back here in the States, I am also struck by how good it is to be home. Not to say we don't have moments of pure nostalgia and longings for things of The Old Country , but there is truly no place like home.

Target, and Wal-Mart, and Sears! Oh my! Target, and Wal-Mart, and Sears! Oh my!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Musings of a Special Needs Mom

When I was a little girl playing with my doll babies, I never imagined I'd become a mother to special needs kids. It never even occurred to me. But here I am ~ Sharon B., reporting for duty. And although Savannah's learning disability is far more subtle than Isaiah's cerebral palsy and developmental delays, they both require modifications to their worlds. Our whole family has had to adapt. Our life is a constant adaptation.

But that doesn't make me a hero. I'm not a superwoman. Don't ask me how I "do it all". Although I am flattered, I actually don't. I'm human. I get frustrated. I get angry. I get sad. I get burnt out. I have bad days. I have bad thoughts. I have sleepless nights worrying about their future. Who will care for Isaiah once James, the girls, and I are deceased?

Mostly I try to live in the moment. Enjoy our life. Love the kids. Encourage Isaiah. Rejoice in his every inchstone ~that's what we special needs moms call our children's milestones. They are usually tiny compared to how typical kids develop, but to us they are monumental, cause to throw a parade-types of occurrences. Having Isaiah last has shown me how much I took for granted with Savannah and Mariah. All of the insignificant fretting and obsessing. It doesn't take having a special needs child to realize what's important in life. It just tends to get you there quicker.

A surefire way to to ruffle a special needs mom's feathers is to use the word retarded--in any shape, form, or context. It might be a technically or medically accurate term to describe mental or physical delays in abilities, but it is considered a rude, crude, and insensitive term to many of us--reaching far beyond the obvious politically incorrectness. It's an insult. It's demeaning. It's heartbreaking.

Isaiah is a lot of things: inquisitive, affectionate, naughty, sweet, happy, lovable, determined... "retarded" doesn't even crack the Top 1,000,000.

Do I feel blessed that God has "chosen me for this special journey" like some people suggest? I feel blessed to have the privilege of being the mother to 3 beautiful children. I feel blessed that God has shown me the love, wisdom, and patience that was inside of me all along. I feel blessed to have a husband who is wholeheartedly my partner in this journey.

I'm not perfect, but I am their mother. I am going to do my best to play the cards that life has dealt us. Isn't that what any mother would do?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Married DAY-ting

I am not one of those people who can leave her kids with just anybody. But my mom, my sister, and my brother's wife (3 of the select few we trust with our brood) live so far away. As a result, James and I don't get out much. The last time we went out on a nighttime date, "date" was to the Military Ball. Last Fall. 2008.

We have learned to take advantage of times the kids would otherwise be occupied--like when they are all in school. We do a lot of lunch dates. (One of our favorite places is Ruby Tuesday). James is off this Friday, but the kids aren't. The plan is to head to the movies the moment Isaiah's bus pulls off. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" starts Friday and we want to be among the first to see it. A noon showing would be perfect timing.

It's not exactly the carefree "dinner and a movie" of our dating and childless married years, but we'll take what we can get.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Separation. Anxiety.

"The funny thing about being assigned to a 'non-deployable' Army unit is that, technically one is still deployable. A soldier can be re-assigned to a detachment of said unit and sent downrange anyway."

~Three Chocolate Brownies
November 23, 2008

Yesterday James was briefed on his tentative deployment date. It's a little sooner than we had anticipated. I know deployments are par for the course. There are military families everywhere facing this same scenario. But I still wish James didn't have to go. I'm selfish in that way; I want my husband and children's father safely home with us. Sometimes I wish he were already assigned to the White House position and I could right now be helping Michelle design her Inaugural Ball gown.

We know what it means to be a military family. We have compromise down pat and sacrifice down to a science. But it doesn't make separation any easier.

He'll be gone for a year and if we play it just right, his R&R will coincide with the holidays. What I don't want to face alone is the upcoming school year. Isaiah will be starting real-deal school: Kindergarten. And Savannah will be bused to middle school for the first time...a school with *gulp* 8th graders. Nasty boys and mean girls. Oh my gosh. Look at me hyperventilating just thinking about it.

We'll get through this. With God's help, we always do. And hopefully I won't start to lose hair or get down to 94 pounds like I did during his last deployment. Effective weight-loss plan? Yes. Do I recommend it? No way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Uniform

This is my favorite shirt. Probably ever. I bought it at Old Navy last year for like, $5. Whenever I want to feel safe and comfortable, I wear it. So I wear it a lot. I've been attempting to buy more sophisticated tops since I am clearly "35 and older", but this is the jewel I always fall back on. It fits so well. It feels so good. It's just the right length. The stripes aren't "thinning", but who cares. I would have a closetful of these if I could find more.

But if Savannah asks me one more time (with a twinkle in her eye) if I have "figured out Blue's Clues", I just might have to rethink my wardrobe.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

*paging Noah, Brother Noah...*

We don't live on a bank of a river. But this is what has become of the area behind our backyard. It has been raining non-stop for 2 days now. Not an on again/off again shower or occasional sprinkle. We are talking relentless, constant downpours. The drops are huge--you cannot NOT get wet. It's been raining sideways. Sometimes it even feels like it's raining up from the ground. There has been massive flooding here, but so far we are OK--despite the view from my kitchen window. Despite the fact that Mariah suggests we move to higher ground.

We skipped our trip to Gig Harbor for Isaiah's physical therapy today. They issued a wind gust warning for the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge. If you aren't familiar with "Galloping Gertie", here ya go:

Soooo, we stayed put.

Wake me when the sun comes back out...or at least when the Ark is completed.

Mr. Brownie

With just a few days to go before the Girls Scouts start taking preorders for cookies, Mariah is finally settled into her new Brownie troop. The co-leaders are so sweet and the other girls are friendly. It's been so good for Mariah. On Christmas Eve we joined with the other troops to assemble and distribute cookie trays (each family was asked to bake or buy 2 dozen cookies to be delivered by the girls to the hospital, fire stations, gate guards, on post). Mariah earned her first patch for that activity.

In preparation for the big cookie-selling season that kicks off this Friday, we went and got Mariah's uniform all it's bells and whistles. The girls aren't required to wear anything special for meetings, but they have to wear their vest or sash for official Girl Scout "scouting". James asked me to print out a chart from the Internet to show where all the patches, insignias, Try-Its, and numbers are supposed to go on the vest. Then he proceeded to break out the ironing board, the iron, and a ruler. He had that thing looking dress right dress in no time! While the rest of us were eating dinner and getting ready for bed, James was busy putting the finishing touches on a Brownie vest. By the time he was ready for Mariah to try it on, she could have been reviewed by Queen Elizabeth herself.

James seemed a little disappointed that the Brownies can't earn Combat Patches. I'm sure he'd find the perfect spot on the vest to put it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Like I needed another reason to be on the Internet... *sigh*

I'll admit I fought it for longest. I thought I was in touch with all the people I wanted to be in touch with. But there are a few that have crossed my mind with a "I wonder how ____ is doing...?"

And now I can find out.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My great date with Mr. James Cash Penney

After weeks of being courted by J.C. Penney via e-mail, I finally caved. Armed with my printed coupon, I headed out to the mall last night. I had a set amount in mind to spend, but was willing to bend a bit since the girls really needed new tops. I'm OK with the "Bobby Jack" shirts (which I amusingly refer to as "those crazy monkey shirts", much to the girls' dismay), but I just can't bring myself to buy into all of that Hannah Montana attire. Yes, I prefer my daughters wear wiseguy monkeys.

Fortunately the selection was pretty decent and I was able to pick up quite a few different styles and colors for the girls. The best part came at the checkout. The clearance prices were reduced even more AND I had a coupon. I saved close to $200 with deals like this:

Mariah's Bobby Jack zip-up hoodie
Retail = $36.99
Clearance Markdown = -27.00
Extra % off = -4.00
My Coupon = -1.06
Total Discounts = -32.06
Amount I paid = $4.93

With deals like that, there is a strong possibility of a second date.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


God continued to show our family His grace, mercy, and favor during 2008. We were again granted safe travel from our old home in Germany to our new home in Washington state. We were given comfort when my father passed away just 9 days later. We were supported by friends and family who love us. The same family and friends who had seen us though a difficult pregnancy 5 years ago were the ones who sent their encouragement when we finally received Isaiah's cerebral palsy diagnosis in 2008. As the financial world seemed to be crumbling and we watched gas prices go from the ridiculous to the sublime, God blessed us with more fuel efficient vehicles and shorter commutes. As unemployment reached an all-time high, James' job was not only secure, but he was able to find additional seasonal work to help out with the holidays. He was home in 2008, not in Iraq or Afghanistan, when he witnessed his son take his first steps.

Plenty of people will try to make you believe 2008 was by all accounts a dud. But to me, it's all about perspective. And from here, all I can say is "Thank you, God, for seeing us through."

May God continue to bless you and yours in the new year.