Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review

Mr. Amazing Man
The Job: We both feel very blessed to have had the chance to live together under the same roof as a family for the entire year and fortunately for both of us, we haven't tired of it yet!  I love his new job because he comes home for lunch and dinner every day and doesn't have to wear body armor to work. I think he tolerates the job for the same reason. Plus, I don't think he really minds the five minute walking commute through the woods either. (Seriously, it takes longer to get in the car, buckle up, back out the driveway, and drive there than it does to walk).

The Family: As expected, Mr. Amazing Man continues to be an equally amazing husband and father. He has really stepped up over the past four months while I have been so wretchedly sick (not that he was ever a slacker before but he has really outdone himself this time!).  He took care of all the household responsibilities while making sure I was as comfortable as possible.

School: It started off well but got derailed in the fall by my unforeseen "health issues."  Fortunately, I have been gifted with wonderful friends who keep reminding me that I have come too far to quit now and with an equally wonderful adviser who reminds me of the same thing.  Plans to graduate in May 2010 have been bumped back to May 2011, but that is alright, all things considered.  I feel pretty good about tackling comps this spring and moving forward with things.

The Family: Our little souvenir from our long-awaited and well deserved family vacation to the Outer Banks, NC last September is due to join our family in May 2010 (the primary reason for not making graduation deadlines this year).  Discovering that we were expecting was a wee bit of a surprise.  OK, you can stop laughing now. Yes, we do know what causes this and yes, at 37 (me) and 49 (Mr. Amazing Man) years of age, we are old enough to know better too.

Honestly, I was certain we were done having children – I have two beautiful, amazing, and wonderful boys that keep me busy. Captain Knuckle is nearly as tall as me and the Professor just started all-day kindergarten one week before I found out. I was supposed to graduate with my PhD on nearly the same day this baby is going to be joining our family via a planned c-section. I had given away anything and everything baby/toddler related not more than two months before. I was at peace with my life as it was and actually getting a bit excited to welcome in the next phase of my life.  I mean, I had a plan and it was a really good plan. I thought.

I planned. God laughed. At least it is a good joke though.

We were all delighted to discover last month that we are having a girl & made the easy decision to name her after both of her grandmothers.  So far, the pregnancy has been totally different than my others. I was sick pretty much from the get go and everything had me driving the proverbial "white bus." I seem to have turned a corner now with that & only have random bouts of illness (usually precipitated by riding in the car with Mr. Amazing Man - he tends to forget sometimes that he isn't in Kosovo any more, Toto). 

Captain Knuckle
School: Turned 13, is in 7th grade. Just earned the rank of Star in BSA and has all his merit badges to qualify for Life, just has to wait for the time requirement to pass.  Is still his charming, affable self. Seems to be navigating the horrors of junior high with his self-worth and integrity intact. Is getting braces on Monday so that might change.

Got his first love note. Questioned me about dating - I told him he couldn't date until he had served a mission, graduated from college, earned his SF tab, HALO jump wings and SCUBA dive bubble and then I might let him go out on a date. Just teasing. Sort of. Honestly, he was pretty relieved when I told him to tell the girl  he couldn't date until he was at least 16 and even then it was only group dates. Got in his first fight. Got his first bad grade ever but continues to do well in his core academic studies. Continues to be the most phenomenal big brother. Won't stop growing - he left for the summer wearing a size 12 and is now in a size 18/men's medium. Is starting to get past the all knees and elbows phase he was in last year as his muscles begin to fill out (something he is very proud of).  He is also exceptionally proud of the mustache and chin hairs he is starting to sprout.

The Professor
Has a vocabulary and conversational skills that are astounding for a five year old, if you can get him to talk to you.  He not only uses $5 words, but uses them correctly in context. Drove his pre-school teachers crazy because he wasn't cooperative with them. Thinks that all-day school is too long and has decided that he should stay at home with me so I am not lonely all day. Has finally warmed up to me and will snuggle with me!!!

No family update is complete without a line or two about our fantastic family cat, Hobbes. He truly is the most companionable of pets I have ever encountered.  I swear, he thinks he is a dog though - right down to the tail-wagging, fetching of toys, and running to the front door to check out who is knocking on it.  If he could figure out how to bark, he would.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Two, Boys

Finally! After waiting all month long, the Professor gets to demolish the annual gingerbread house. And eat it for breakfast. Aren't I a good mother?

Me, in gingerbread. At least me right now in my life. Googly eyed and perched on the edge.

What goodwill towards men looks like when you are 13 and it is too early in the morning for anyone but an overly excited 5-year old to be awake.

Ah, there's the boy I love and adore!

And my one attempt at doing something festive with the boys this year. Let's just say it was a bust in the house-decorating division of my life, due in large part to my inability to do more than lay around and be horrendously sick.

Much love,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The brave men of the Green Beret

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me.  
Isaiah 6:8

This scripture is read at each one of their funerals. I hope to never hear it until I am old, stooped, gray-haired and surrounded by great-grandchildren.  Watching the memorial services for those killed at Ft. Hood reminded me of this. None of the fallen were Special Forces soldiers, but each of the answered when our country called, "Here am I; send me."

I love this kid. I really do.

The Professor is insisting that wearing one red shoe and one blue shoe to school is "hilarious" and will make everyone laugh. Lacking the energy to argue with a 5-year old, guess what he is wearing to school today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The other day, I got distracted and left the butter on the counter. This is what I found when I came back.

I honestly wish I could have frozen that butter in time - the little finger swipe out of it was so perfect and told such a story. When I asked who did it (knowing full well that it was the Professor as he is the only one in the house with fingers that size), he immediately piped up and said, "It was me Mom. I just couldn't help myself and my just slipped. It was sooooooooo good."

I just love that little guy. I really do. He makes me smile every day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Back in the early spring, when the ground was first waking up around here, my friend Sam gave me this Rose of Sharon tree. I found it one afternoon on my front porch along with a Japanese Maple and instantly knew it was from him. ( A quick phone call to my neighbor Marie confirmed this as she was good friends with him too and had received the same thing). It was small - like 6 inches and literally just a stick in the mud, a cutting with maybe 4 or 5 leaves. It has lived on my back deck for the summer, sheltered, pampered, and well loved because Sam gave it to me.

Sam is a 67-year old man who lived around the bend from us and is five-year brain cancer. I took an instant liking to him because he reminds me a great deal of my New and Improved Dad (Can I still call him that? It's been nearly 10 years since he has taken on that role in my life...) Back to the matter at hand: I first met Sam in the frosty early mornings of last November as we collected pecans from the abundant and prolific pecan trees near our home here on base. At about 6:30 a.m. on my way home from my daily walk, I would stop by the ones on the corner of Magruder and the main gate road to collect them and invariably, he was there every morning too. The friendship was cemented when we discovered we both had an interest in green growing things. He has taught me a great deal about living in the moment, letting go of old grievances, and just being. When his cancer was first discovered, they told him he had 2-3 months to live but here he is, laughing and living as if each day was the most perfect day in the world because to him, it is.

I was sad when his wife of 40+ years retired and they moved off base this summer. I will miss him this fall. When he gave me this Rose of Sharon cutting, I had no idea what it would look like, what it would turn into and was delighted when it started blooming this week. I mean, look at that flower! Look at the big fat pink bud, those glossy green leaves. Just lovely.

I don't want to just give it away when we move - it's too valuable to me. I know I still have two more years before we have our next assignment, but I am already trying to figure out what to do with it.

Hmmm...I wonder, do Rose of Sharons grow in UT? Maybe my New and Improved Dad will like it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Photographic Evidence

Remember the note sent home from pre-school back in June? Remember how I mentioned I had scores of pictures of the Professor that embodied the "does not play well with others" attitude of the note?

Well, here is the latest to add to my collection, taken on our recent vacation to the Outer Banks, NC.

I don't think I need to say one more word.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

"It is for us the living, rather
that we here highly resolve
the these dead
shall not have died in vain--
that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom--
and that government of the people,
by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth."
Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, Gettysburg

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Lifelong Learning

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency: “We will have to make some hard choices of how we use our time. … But remember, you are interested in education, not just for mortal life but for eternal life. When you see that reality clearly with spiritual sight, you will put spiritual learning first and yet not slight the secular learning. …

“… And since what we will need to know is hard to discern, we need the help of heaven to know which of the myriad things we could study we would most wisely learn. It also means that we cannot waste time entertaining ourselves when we have the chance to read or to listen to whatever will help us learn what is true and useful. Insatiable curiosity will be our hallmark” (“Education for Real Life,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 18, 19).

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “A few of the basic attributes needed to become a lifelong learner are courage, faithful desire, humility, patience, curiosity, and a willingness to communicate and share the knowledge that we gain. …

“My dear sisters, don’t ever sell yourself short as a woman or as a mother. … Do not let the world define, denigrate, or limit your feelings of lifelong learning and the values of motherhood in the home—both here mortally and in the eternal learning and benefits you give to your children and to your companion.

“Lifelong learning is essential to the vitality of the human mind, body, and soul. It enhances self-worth and self-actuation. Lifelong learning is invigorating mentally and is a great defense against aging, depression, and self-doubt” (“The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” in Brigham Young University 2008–2009 Speeches [2009], 2, 8–9).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Quittin' Time

My Visiting Teachers are going to be here in 45 minutes and so I did a quick "pick-me-up" of the house and pulled out the trusty Hoover. I made it through the living room, the we-aren't-sure-what-to-call-it-but-technically-it-is-a-formal-dining-room-but-it-currently-houses-Mr. Amazing Man's-computer-and-book-collection room, the entry & the hallway before this happened.

This particular Hoover has been across the country and back several times, seen me through a child and graduate school and only recently has developed the nasty habit of not turning on. So in a fit of ingenuity that only a Special Ops. soldier can muster up, Mr. Amazing Man rigged it so that it will turn on and off...but only when I plug it into the wall or unplug it from the wall. It hasn't been a problem until I sucked up my shoe lace this afternoon.

Aside from the mad dash down the hallway to unplug the Hoover and the acrid smoke hanging about my office, it isn't really a problem now either. It is more funny than anything. And as my dear sister-in-law always says, funny goes a long, long way.

I took the event to signal that I am done for the day. Even the laundry is going to have to wait because I am going to go play Lego Star Wars with the Good Professor. That beats vacuuming any day of the week.

Add Image

Monday, August 24, 2009

In the Eye of the Beholder

Remember that shell-of-a-bug from that other post that set me to dreaming about Hawaii? On the other side of the tree, this is what I found staring back at me.

A wee bit spooky at first, but lovely nonetheless, wouldn't you agree?

As I worked my way around the tree, I encountered a mass of...I don't know, some green growing thing that grows on trees. Moss? Lichen? Perhaps I need to call my New & Improved Dad and find out if he knows. He knows everything there is to know about green growing things seeing as he is a plant doctor.

At any rate, this yet unidentified green thing (UGT) was mesmerizing.

And what!? Tiny mushrooms growing on the side of the tree??? As a daughter of the high desert, I am still startled and delighted by the abundance of green life here on the east coast. I mean, come on. How cool is it that my tree is growing miniature mushrooms?

Travel Plans

This morning as I was watering my plants, I noticed this guy. Errr...what is left of him anyhow.

And I thought to myself, "I know that feeling."

And then I thought, "How did he do that? How did he get out of his shell and leave it behind, perfectly intact and just disappear? Where did he go?"

I know exactly where I would have headed. Hawaii.

How about you? If you could shed your skin with the apparent ease of this critter and escape for a while, where would you go?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Working Mom

I noticed this little feller sitting there by the bird feeder looking a bit disheveled. The pin feathers sticking up on his head, the wing feathers all skewampy. Something told me he was a fledgling. Then over hopped mama.

At first, he just danced around, turning this way and that. I could almost hear her sighing and saying, "Son, open up you mouth! It's lunch time." It was like watching the avian version of "airplane" or "choo-choo train" at feeding time.

"Come on son, just open your mouth and eat already. Do I need to set the timer?"

"If you don't open up right now, I am going to put the wii away for the rest of the day."

Finally, he listened to his mother and had his lunch.

Let me tell you, that was one hard working mother.

A Love Letter of Sorts

Dear Mr. Amazing Man -

I knew it would be difficult to sort through those boxes of papers. I just wasn't prepared for the searing, crushing, and soul shredding process it turned into.

I am not sure what was worse: the letters from my mother over the course of about three years in the early '90s, stunning in their terseness and acerbic lack of any mercy or tenderness for her oldest living daughter. Or the letters from my bio-dad while he was in prison for child molestation, not signed "Dad" but with "Prisoner #" with the return address of "The Cell of....". Or the pictures of my precious Boo Bear tucked in among the other things. Or the faded letter from the Bishop requesting my presence  before a disciplinary court for possible excommunication. Or my first marriage license and pictures from the day I married M.

I think it was the letters from my mom. After reading about 15 of them, I finally stopped opening them to pour over the pages of her hastily scrawled words. I kept hoping that one of them would simply say, "I love you. That is all. Love, Mom" without any theological grandstanding or belittling or moral lecturing but...

I finally gave up. 

Blessedly, throughout the process,  I would find card after card from you tucked among the deleterious content in those boxes. Thank God for you. Like a bas relief, you became very apparent. Over the past 16 years, you have been the golden, shining thread that weaves through my life. Your love for me is my rock and my refuge. As I sorted through the other items, my soul became hungry to find that next card, that next letter, that next note from you.  I knew when I slipped it from the envelope and opened it up, I would be greeted by nothing but love for me and belief in my abilities to overcome the struggles in my life. Your letters and cards were the Balm of Gilead to my wounded heart yesterday afternoon.

You have never flinched as I have slowly unwound the knotted life I have lived. You have always believed that the wounds and scars I bear make me more beautiful, more human, more humane. You have never doubted my ability to overcome all of this. You see in me what even my own mother cannot or did not see.

I can see my reflection in the computer monitor... my forehead drawn together, my lips pulled tight, tears brimming over already puffy eyes. And the headache - the headache that only comes from crying oneself to sleep and waking to tears again in the morning.

This morning, I threw out the letters from my mom, mainly because neither of us need to be reminded of how awful that time period was between us. I think she would find it embarrassing to read how hurtful she was in those letters because she is not that same woman. And for me...well, it still hurts nearly 20 years later to re-read them.

I threw out the letters from my bio-dad.

I threw out the letter from the Bishop.

I threw out the license and pictures from my first marriage. I used to think that Captain Knuckle would want them but he has enough of his father, me, and him together that he doesn't need to see the ones from that overcast day in April 1995.

The pictures, letters, license, and summons now sit on the curb, waiting for the garbage man to pick them up in a half of an hour. 

But I kept the pictures of Boo. And needless to say, I kept the cards from you.

I love you. Thank you for loving me all of these years. 

Much love -

Your adoring wife, M.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Resolution: Lose 1000 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. I decided today that I am going to lose 1000 lbs. The plan hatched as I cleaned out a closet in preparation for The Amazing Ms. A. to come live with us in October. I realized I had a lot of stuff that I really didn't need, just tucked away in places that are far to convenient and out-of-sight. Staring at the mound of stuff in the middle of the room, I realized I really needed to let some things go so they can bless someone else.

Hopefully some of the 1000 pounds will be stuff currently attached to my hips and thighs, but the vast majority of it will come from all unused, unneeded, unwanted stuff stashed around my house. Every thing is fair game - books, clothes, household goods, plants, new stuff, old stuff - everything but the kids, the husband, and the cat. Unfortunately, I don't live in a place where I can even remotely consider holding a yard sale, so most of this stuff is going to be donated to my favorite local thrift store. Maybe I will sell some of the stuff on eBay, maybe do some consignment shop stuff with the boys clothes they have outgrown, or maybe I will give some to the neighbors. All I know is 1000 lbs. has got to go.

I will keep a running total on here just for kicks and try to get pictures of the piles of stuff before I haul them away. I have no idea how long it will take for me to reach this goal. Should I even set a date or just keep working until I do it? The perpetual student in me wants a deadline but I am not sure. I will have to think about that for a couple of days.

Wish me luck friends, neighbors, and countryman. I am about to embark on a serious dejunking of the family homestead.

The Good Professor Knows How to Work It

Look at those yummy chocolate brown eyes, those lips, the cheeks! How does a parent say no to that face?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Susan" fully extended

"Susan" fully extended 2, originally uploaded by sostinkinhappy.

My first ever Faroese shawl. It was a lot of work but I learned so much! I can't wait to try another one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Note from The Preschool Teachers

Yeah...tell me something I don't already know. I have piles of pictures kicking around where he looks 2 parts ticked off and 3 parts fed up with the rest of us humans in his life. He has been like this since the day he was born. Please, don't take it personally.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Overheard today

The Good Professor: I really don't like to be nice to B. He always wants to build tracks that don't connect.

Mr. Amazing Man: This is why you don't have any friends.

The Good Professor: Yeah! I'm so happy!!!

Me thinks I need to work on the social skills with him, don't you?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Good Professor: Mom, I love you so much.
Me: I love you too son. You are my favorite 4-year old on the whole planet!
The Good Professor: You feel just like dough.
Me: Dough?
The Good Professor: Yeah, all squishy and soft.

I think it is time to step up the weight loss efforts. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Proverbial Family Tree

Many moons ago, before Mr. Amazing Man and I were married, I was at his mom's house playing "Star Wars Monopoly" with his family. I was still smarting from the residual effects of the dissolution of my first marriage and frankly, was a wee bit of an emotional wreck. Fortunately, my eventual in-laws are a kind, forgiving, and most importantly, funny group of folks and can find humor in just about any situation.

So there we were, playing a friendly game of Monopoly, me losing terribly like I always do at that game. At one point, I picked up a card from the community chest that said, "Obi Wan leaves you $100." My newly divorced brain interpreted that to mean that Obi Wan had left me -- as in divorced me -- and I had to pay $100 for the divorce.

I read the card out loud as "Obi Wan leaves you" and then tossed my $100 into the community chest with a resigned sigh. It wasn't until a turn or two later that MaryAnn turned to me and said, "Wait a minute - what did that card say???" and went rummaging through the stack for it. I was soon to learn that Obi Wan died and left me $100, like left me an inheritance of $100. He didn't divorce me, he died. I didn't have to pay $100, I got $100. One can only imagine the loud laughter and teasing that has ensued to this day.

Before all of you fall of your chairs laughing at me, I have to defend myself in saying that I had a very deprived childhood in that my mind was not stuffed to the hilt with Star Wars minutia. Also, I had not yet joined with the clan-who-spent-hundreds-of-hours-recreating-Star Wars-movie-scenes-with-small-models-and-their-dad's-hand held-8mm-movie-camera-while-nearly-setting-their-sister's-hair-on-fire. How was I supposed to know that Obi Wan was that old guy who dies in one of the movies? There were a lot of people who died in those movies.

So this whole story is to illuminate the fact that the family I married into are a bunch of bona fide Star Wars geeks. Like wait in line at premiers in costumes kind of geeks. (It's really quite charming actually). I also tell that story to give context to the incident that occurred this morning as I was folding laundry. From the living room, I hear The Good Professor singing his ABC's to the tune of the "Imperial March" from Star Wars. It only makes sense that he has taken a liking to all things Star Wars since he is Mr. Amazing Man's son. And has the same first name as one of the main character of the movies. And his middle name is the first name of one the actors in the films.

All I can say is my little apple didn't fall far from the family tree. Not far at all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

For all my women friends on this Mother's Day

I don't know about any of you, but Mother's Day has always been difficult for me because I have been each of you. I have been single and childless, longing for a child. I have lost a child. I have children now. I want more children but have been denied that opportunity by life. Needless to say, Mother's Day is always a mixed bag of emotions for me.

As I thought of each of you this morning, I was gently reminded of sacred truths regarding Eve's rightful role in the eternities, primarily that Eve was called "the mother of all living" before she had any children. When Adam declared her name before God, he was not only foretelling future events in her life, but was also stating fact, summing up reality. Eve was a mother because of who she was, not what she had done.

As daughters of Eve, we are the rightful heirs to all of the blessings promised our first mother. By the very fact that you are a woman, you are entitled to be called Mother, just as she was. The mitochondrial DNA you inherited from our first mother which is embedded deep within your cells declares it so and your faith ensures this promise will be fulfilled.

This unique role of mothering is one that only you can fill. It is a sacred kinship that we share with each of our sisters on this earth. When we begin to understand and honor the inherited title Mother in each of us regardless of our child-bearing status, we will become an unstoppable force as we range about our world doing good – nurturing, uplifting, healing, loving – mothering.

So with that, I declare a Happy Mother’s Day to all of us.

Much love and many hugs –


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"My mom would never do that."

It turns out The Good Professor is more like you than I ever imagined. I have the feeling that when he gets older, he is going to be the type to stack his pocket change up on his dresser. By denomination. And all facing up. Just like you. The Professor is already showing signs of this with his cars, his crayons, his socks, his stuffed animals, his books --any thing that can be lined up, straightened, or systematically sorted. If there is one thing this child loves in life, it is order, regimentation, rules.

And he is only four.

He came this way, folks. Seriously, he did.

The other day, a friend was taking him to preschool for me & they came to a corner where she made a right turn. The light was red so she stopped & then made the right turn. At that point, he muttered under his breath (but loud enough for her to hear), "That light was red. My mom would never do that. She always stops when it is red." That reminds me when the prayers are going too long for his taste at church and he starts muttering under his breath, just loud enough for us to hear, "Say amen. Say amen NOW!"

He just makes me giggle with his antics because I can just imagine you being the exact same way as a child. He even looks like a little carbon copy of you, except for the eyes. Those he got from me. Now I understand why I can get you to do just about anything. All The Good Professor has to do is look up at me with his huge brown eyes, with their long, lovely lashes and I am a goner. Every time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A new member in the family

My iMac arrived today, all 24" and 1 terabytes worth of her. She is a beauty and wonder to behold. I can actually see what I am typing on the screen - I don't have to hunch over and scrunch my eyes up and lean in real close.

All I can say is nice, very nice. I have a feeling I will be spending more time posting here since she makes this so enjoyable.

Hopefully Slim, my well-used MacBook won't be too jealous. I will still use and abuse him as I have for the past 2 1/2 years of graduate school, just not as often.