Friday, December 30, 2011

the year of the shrug.

We're one day away from one of my favorite holidays, New Year's! I am a total sucker for the promise of a new year, a blank canvas just waiting for all my resolutions and goals. And a time where I can look back and reflect on the last year. And my, what a year it's been...

2011 was the Year of the Shrug. We started out January already shrugging at the unknown; R out of flight school, but not reassigned to a new job. In fact, we didn't even know if he would stay in the Navy. We would get asked what he was doing next and we could only answer with a shrug. We spent lots of nights laying in bed quietly discussing the what-ifs. It was a season of very little answers and a lot of looking up to God and shrugging, knowing He had a plan and asking only that he continue to provide for us. 

Then in February, R found out he would be re-designated. We found out our new home would be in Virginia Beach and set off in May to our next chapter. 

I shrugged when I was asked what kind of work I'd be looking for in Va Beach. 2010 was the year of being still and unemployed in Pensacola, so I was dreading the process of applications, interviews, and rejections I imagined ahead. With a shrug and a why not, I sent my resume to a Navy spouse I'd met years ago at Purdue who worked in non-profit, just to see if she had any contacts or advice. One lunch date later, I landed a job at her friend's organization as the executive assistant. Now I was shrugging in disbelief at how good God was to provide me with a perfectly suited job so quickly.

For a while we shrugged when we were asked where we we go after R's school, but thankfully they assigned jobs halfway through the course and we found out we'd be staying right here. That meant that for the first time since we've been married, we will get to live in a place longer than one year. So we celebrated our semi-permanent status with a dog named Beau! And then we spent a lot of time shrugging and trying to figure out why he was chewing everything in our house, including the house itself. (As a side note, he is doing much better these days. We figured out that the trick is tons of exercise before we leave the house.) 

Now we're heading into 2012, a year of deployments and being separated, and there is still a lot of unknown ahead of us. But 2011 taught us that not knowing what's ahead showed us in no small way how great God's plans are for both of our lives. It was an awesome year of new places, new jobs, new friends, and especially a renewed trust in our Father who loves us.

I hope your New Year's is wonderful and I'll see you next year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

deck the halls.

Happy December!  Christmas decorating is like one of those milestone season changers that I just love, like the first day in spring when you open up the windows, or that first fall evening when you need an extra blanket. The other day, we put on some Vince Guaraldi holiday music, made some adult hot cider and put up our little tree. I thought I would share with you our favorite ornaments to get the blog in the holiday spirit! 

We had a little family craft night and Beau made his own ornament! I'm not sure if we could be any more ridiculous as dog parents, but I'm sure we'll keep trying. 

 Every year, my parents get an ornament with our whole family on it. Then we started getting married, and now they give us an ornament with our little families on them. 

I got this one as a gift because of my love of baking. And eating....

Purdue Pete brings a little Boiler Maker pride to our Christmas tree.

One of our first ornaments the year we got married. 

 Of course, what would our Christmas tree be without a little Packer love? I usually find these on sale in Milwaukee the day after Christmas, so I'm hoping to add more for next year's tree. 

Another gift when we first go married. What a personal tree! 

 And a picture of the stockings, hung by the fireplace with care! I've never had a fireplace, so I was pretty excited to hang the stockings. And yes, there is one for the dog... 

We're so looking forward to driving home for Christmas this year. Everyone will get to meet our little Beau and hopefully we'll get to  enjoy a white Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

sister act.

We have had a wonderful past two weeks.

First there was Halloween. 

R was the wonderful, long haired Mr. Matthews and I was a spy. We probably could have done a better job coordinating our costumes, but we only had about 2 hours notice to throw them together. Turns out we have all that stuff just laying around... We went out that night with quite the cast of characters. We met up with Audrey Hepburn, Che Guevara, Rosie the Riveter and Waldo to name a few. R even ran into his arch-nemesis Troy Polamalu!

Then that weekend, R graduated his school! Now he's official and I pretty much can't tell you anything about what he does. I probably shouldn't have even told you about his Halloween costume. He took a little time off and tomorrow is his first day at his new squadron. And no, he does not want to bring cupcakes for everyone. I already asked... The good news is he will probably get off some time for the holidays. The bad news is, despite my efforts,  they are still sending him on deployment. (I swear, if he would just let me bake them some cupcakes, I could convince them!)

Last week my sister Melissa and her hubs, Jason flew out to visit us. Which was a blast. You see, when Melissa and I get together, we get a little crazy. And we embarrass our husbands. And that just makes us laugh. And it eggs us on. It's a vicious cycle.

We went to the USS Wisconsin, an old battleship that is on display in Norfolk. Needless to say, The Sisters got bored quick and had to make their own fun. 

We walked ahead of the boys, who were going so slow since they were actually reading stuff! We found some costumes laying around and we put them on, then stood there acting like mannequins, waiting for the guys to see us. Well, they were going really slow, because we got a lot of strange/disapproving looks from other museum patrons before our boys finally turned the corner and saw us. And yes, they gave us a disapproving look, too. 

We behaved ourselves at the Williamsburg Winery tasting though. We did not however at the Williamsburg Ale Werks tour. The Sisters got bored with the tour and told the boys we were going to sit in the car until the tasting part. Instead we snuck right into the tasting room and got a private tasting from the nice brewery girl! Imagine the boys faces when they walked in with the rest of the group and we were already there! (More disapproving looks...) 

We had a great visit with them, even despite all the disapproving looks. Those boys know their lives would be so boring without these Sisters to spice it up!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

things i do when my husband is gone.

R is gone this week on a field trip. Apparently, this is not a 'take your pillow case to the pumpkin patch' kid of trip. I actually have no idea what he's doing. You all think I'm just being coy when I say I don't know what it is he does , but hen I asked him what he could tell me about this trip all he said was, "I'll be back by Friday."

Anyway, I thought I'd be all sad and mopey and lonely while he was gone. Granted, I have been talking to the dog a little bit much, but otherwise it's been kind of nice to have the house to myself. Some of the things I get to indulge in include, but are not limited to:

  • Catching up on "my stories." We don't have a TV and my computer is super slow. So when R's not around, I get all comfy in his office and plop down in front of his computer to Hulu my night away. I'm also able to watch Grey's Anatomy free of any judgment and comments like, "Oh my gosh, that is so unrealistic! They would never do that in a real hospital!"
  • Eating. Whatever. I. Want. It's not like R is some kind of health nut, it's just that I prefer to enjoy my dinner of Girl Scout cookies and wine without a side of patronization. I have made it no mystery that I eat like a 15 year old boy, and my sweet husband knew this going in, yet I still find myself defending the fact that, yes, I ate the whole box of Bagel Bites. When I'm alone, all I hear is the sound of my own conscience assuring me that, ooh!, Nutella would make these cookies better!
  • Hogging the bed. I sleep like a starfish when R's gone just because I can. And if I get the sudden urge to kick off all the covers and toss and turn just to get comfy, there is no one to disturb.
  • I get to listen to my jams. Every wife makes her concessions. Some wives let their husbands go hunt, others put up with cigar smoking. I let mine dominate the car and the house speakers with his music. When he leaves, Beyonce and Adele go on repeat and they don't come off til I say so.
But it's not all fun and games. I get a little wigged out in the house alone at night. And it would be nice if someone else could let Beau out when he has to go to the bathroom at 4am.

And don't tell him this, but I'm actually getting really hungry for some real food...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

world's best dog.

I'm Beau. And I am the World's Best Dog. You might have a dog, so you might be thinking, "He's cute, but he's not the World's Best Dog. My dog is the World's Best Dog." But let me ask you this... Can your dog write blog posts? Didn't think so. And if you have a cat, well, I mean, do we really even have to talk about that?

But really, I am the World's Best Dog! My Mom and Dad love me so much. And I love them. I love them so much, that sometimes I can't wait until the sun comes up to kiss Mom on the face. And I know that Dad has to get up early for work, so I try and do him a favor every day and get him up before his alarm goes off. They love it!

And since I wanted to make a good impression when they first took me home, I showed them what a helpful little gardener I can be. Now they can plant flowers all over the back yard instead of just in a flower bed in the front!

Ooh, and check this out. I know my Mom and Dad don't want to spend a bunch of money on dog toys, so I just try and be thrifty and chew on stuff that's just laying around the house anyway.

Like this couch. Silly Mom and Dad, look at that old bone they bought for me. I'm glad I showed them how much money they could save by just letting me chew on the couch. Look at all those mini-toys I made! I even chewed on the coffee table to, to show them there was tons of stuff around the house I could chew. They'll never have to buy me another toy again! (They don't seem to be getting the message. They keep getting more toys...)

But I'm not just a good budgeting dog, I'm also a good listener. They're always talking about their "Dream House". I hear them say stuff like, "When we build our dream house, we're building a wrap around porch and a pool table that turns into a hot tub..." and stuff like that. Well, when they kept putting me in that boring old laundry room with no furniture to chew, I had a lot of time to think. I got to thinking, if my Mom and Dad want to remodel, I'm gonna help them!

So I did! I started by digging and chewing on that old linoleum. Then I got down to the concrete and started on the molding and the door frame. See what I'm saying about me being helpful? Well, when Dad got home he yelled, "Oh thanks, Beau! I can't wait to remodel our rented house!" I couldn't believe how excited he was! Mom seemed more sad. Maybe I should've gone for the porch right away.

Aren't you wishing you had a good dog like me?

Well, my Mom and Dad sure are glad they have me. They know how much I love playing catch so they take me out to the beach and play catch with me for so long that I can barely run! I heard Dad say he's running me ragged. I'm so tired I can't even stay awake on the ride back home, much less chew on my Couch Toy.

But I won't be so sleepy tomorrow morning when it's time for Mom's morning kisses!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

a dog, a sailor, and a video star.

I pinky swear I haven't forgotten about blogging. It's just that I have been one busy little bee lately. Let's see, here's what's been exciting in our lives these days, (in no particular order):

Beau, the Packer loving Chocolate Lab, has two personalities. One is cuddly and sweet and all, "Let's play catch and let me curl up next to your feet!" and the other is naughty and likes to chew on everything the minute we leave the house. This is getting slightly better day by day (knock on chewed up wood), but I will save the details (and photographic evidence) for a later post when it isn't such a sore subject.

R only has one more month of school and then he's done! It's a good thing too, cause he has been studying like crazy. Hooray for only one more month! Then he's off to his squadron where he'll be learning the ropes from the Officer he's replacing. While I'm excited for this month to be over, it just means we're another month closer to his deployment next year. Again, more on that later when I can discuss that without losing it. Last weekend, we did get the chance to tour the aircraft carrier that R will be on. That big 'ol boat is where he will be spending 6 wonderful months, so it was cool to see it up close. Even if it does make me want to cry a little.

As for me, I had an exciting week of opportunities that have come knocking on my door. Through Randi, a Navy wife who has become a wonderful friend and mentor, I was introduced to Circle of Friends, a women's ministry located in Ohio. I was originally asked by Randi to help lead a planning workshop for some of the COF women to give them a little guidance about development, board structure, all the fun little details that make a non-profit tick. Naturally, being only 25 and practically a baby in the non-profit world, I wanted to tell Randi she should probably go find someone else more qualified, but instead I just shouted, "Of course!" I am glad I did. Randi got her team assembled and the COF ladies flew in from Ohio and what happened next is difficult to describe using any other words besides whirlwind. What began as a planning workshop quickly turned into a brainstorming session about some exciting opportunities for the ministry and for the planning team here in Virginia. What came out of those discussions was the invitation for me to contribute as a weekly blogger on COF's website, I became a future staff member of a management consulting start up company, and I was asked to be a store manager for a future coffee shop that would act as a business model for a potential franchise! And if all that wasn't exciting enough, on Wednesday, I was asked by Lisa, who is not only the president of Circle of Friends but also a recording artist, to be in a music video set on the Chesapeake Bay. A film crew flew up from Nashville and on Thursday morning, I found myself in front of a camera in my video debut! Obviously, when the finished product is ready, I will tell all six of you who follow this blog where you can check it out.

So between a budding video star career, a husband who has wacky working hours, and a dog that insists on chewing walls, you can see why a few blog updates just slip through the cracks. Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

our new puppy.

Today we adopted a dog!

It's something we've been thinking about a lot and now that R is scheduled for a deployment next year, we thought it was time. So we went to an adoption event on Saturday and met some cute puppies. They told us there were more at the shelter in Chesapeake. More puppies? Needless to say, R only had to see the look on my face once before he caved.

We got to the shelter and sure enough, there was a litter of lab puppies. Cute, wrinkly puppy skinned, cuddled all on top of each other, adorable babies. There were a bunch of yellows, a black, and even a foxy brown. As I broke the shelter rules and stuck my finger in the cages so their teensy puppy teeth could nibble me, R and I wondered if one of these could be our dog. We stood up to go look at some of the other dogs, and there he was.

A 2 year old, chocolate lab mix. He was a stray that no one claimed and he'd been there 2 weeks. When we walked up to his crate, he just stood up and looked at us, like, "Hey guys. Can we go home now?" We asked to play with him, and he was all puppy energy, running and fetching a toy...until it was time to pet him. Then he leaned into us, hungry for a good scratch behind the ears, calm and sweet.

We just knew.

So we got the paperwork and set off to get our realtor approval and told him we'd be back for him on Monday. Then for the rest of the weekend, we talked and talked and talked. About dog food and training, socializing him and how we would discipline him. We talked about house training and whether or not we would let him jump on the furniture... We were parents.

We picked him up today. And all afternoon we've been enjoying being "new parents". We shopped for a few of his things, "What about this dog food? No, this bed is too hard. Let get him a bone from the butcher instead." (R's words, not mine. I bet I know who his favorite is going to be...) We worry about every little thing, "Is he eating enough? Do you think he's limping? What is this scrape?" We comment on his every behavior, "Oh look, he sat so nice! You didn't pee inside! You are such a good boy!"

And, in the true test of new parenthood, we debated long and hard over his name. Many options were chosen. He had about three names when we got him home. And then one just stuck; it just seemed like him. It pays homage to Wisconsin (as in Lambeau Field), something we wanted. It's short and easy to yell at a dog park. It's unique. And the more we said it, the more we knew.

His name is Beau.

We are so excited to add a new member to our family and as we learn more about him and his personality, I'm sure you'll be hearing all about him.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

the tale of mr. mousey.

We had a visitor a few days ago. Since I was not able to capture the evening's events on camera, I took the liberty of illustrating what occurred. Here is the story.

Once upon a time, on a quiet evening in August, we were sitting down to dinner. Well, we were standing up because chairs and sitting are hard to draw. And we were eating turkey because that's easy to draw. And I mean, just look at R, he needs all the protein he can get. But anyway, we were just minding our own business when suddenly...

...a little mouse went running by! I screamed and jumped and almost lost my mind.
"Was that a mouse?!" I yelled, hoping R would tell me that it was just my imagination or that it was a fuzzball that flew past. But the look on his face told me that it was not a fuzzball.

At this point in the story, R would like you to know that we are not dirty people, but that we live in a very wooded area. Please do not judge us on account of our little friend, who I named Mr. Mousey.

All my screaming and yelling probably scared Mr. Mousey pretty bad. He stayed hidden for a little while, but then he scurried out of hiding and booked it to a little hole near the fireplace. That's right, he ran right across the room. Mr. Mousey had a lot of gumption.

When I was little, one of my favorite books was 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice' by Beatrix Potter, where two little mice, Tomb Thumb and his wife Hunca Munca sneak into a doll hose and break things and steal the dolly's feather bed. But then they feel really bad about it so Tom Thumb pays for the damage and Hunca Munca comes in and sweeps the dolls house up every morning before anyone wakes up.

R assured me that Mr. Mousey was probably not going to pay us for any damages (we think he chewed up a wooden spoon a while back) and he was definitely not going to help me with the cleaning, so we'd better get some mouse traps.

So we did. And I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending, that I caught Mr. Mousey sweeping one morning and he squeaked his apologies for scaring me and assured me that he did not have a wife and kids, and promised me he'd stay out of our way and even help with the rent as long as we agreed to let him live.

But that is not how this ends. It actually ends a little like a who-dunnit. You see, we set several traps in his hangout spots. But I went out to the garage the other day only to find his little lifeless body in the middle of the floor. No trap, nothing. R and I just stood there for a minute wondering how he died. Maybe just knowing there was a price on his head and that his days were numbered caused his tiny little heart too much stress. Maybe he nibbled on something with chemicals in it.

R would like you to know that it is definitely not because there might be more than one mouse. Because we're not dirty.

Either way, it was a sad day for Mr. Mousey and now I can stop being so jumpy, thinking every thing I hear is a mouse. Goodbye Mr. Mousey.

The End.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well, we survived Irene.

We evacuated on Friday morning because, well, when you grow up next to a lake, just the idea of a hurricane is pretty scary. A girl from R's class grew up in Northern VA and she invited anyone to come up and take refuge there, so we did. Her parents cooked for us, we watched movies, and slept in, and we even went shopping at Ikea. Saturday night, the night that it was supposed to be the worst, we slept right through what sounded like a windy rainstorm. It set the bar pretty high for any future evacuations.

We were a little nervous to come back home, not knowing what we would find when we got here. We hurricane proofed the house as best as two Midwest kids could, but somehow taking all my jewelry but leaving all the windows un-boarded didn't seem like a fool proof plan. I kept wondering what we would do if a tree had fallen on it or if it was flooded two feet. But luckily, I didn't have to worry, because we got back to our house with no damage, no flooding, no power out. We even forgot to turn the air conditioner off, so it was nice and cool.

I'd say between Ikea and a house in perfect condition, we did alright for our first hurricane. R even said today, "I wish we could go back on vacation for a few more days." I had to remind him that we were not, in fact, on a vacation. We are very thankful that it happened the way it did!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

q and a.

I will now attempt to answer all the questions that I know you have been dying to get answers to.

Yes, we had an earthquake here today.

Yes, it was my first earthquake! No, it was not R's. Apparently the earth did that once in Indiana.

Yes, we are fine. It was teeny. Actually I didn't even know it was earthquake, I thought it was an F-18.

Yes, F-18's are so loud and rumbly you can mistake them for a teeny earthquake.

Why yes, they are flying right now at 10:30 at night.

No, I don't think they sound like freedom. I think they sound like baby earthquakes flying over my roof. At 10:30 at night.

Yes, there are also hurricane warnings for our area.

No, it's not the apocalypse... I don't think.

Yes, we may have to evacuate. And yes, we will let you know about that adventure if it comes.

Yes, I sort of hope the hurricane takes my car away so we can collect insurance on it and get a new one.

Yes, I know hurricanes don't quite work like that.

No, I don't know why some songs like 'Raspberry Beret' just get stuck in your head and you can't get them out.

Yes, I feel a little bad for mentioning 'Raspberry Beret', because now you have it stuck in your head, don't you?

No, you've never heard of that song? You know... "She wore a raaaaspberry beret! The kind that you find at a second hand store." Oh, now you remember?

Okay, I think I've answered all your questions!

And yes, I will let you know of any other natural disasters that occur.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

can't get rid of us that easy.

We have some exciting news!

No, I'm not pregnant. Ever since we got married, I can't tell anyone I have exciting news without them going, "You're pregnant?" Sorry, Mom, not this time. Sheesh...

Our exciting news is that last week, R found out what job he'll be doing. Drumroll please... R will be the newest member of a strike fighter squadron stationed at NAS Oceana! If you're not quite sure where Oceana is, it's about 2 miles from our house. That's right, we're not going anywhere!

If you know R at all, you know why this is great news for him. Being in a strike fighter squadron was his very first choice because he'll be working with jets. After everything he's been through in the last year concerning his career, it's awesome for him to still be a vital part of the aviation community and spend his days around F-18's. Also, he gets to wear a flight suit to work, which is pretty much like wearing pajamas. And if you've talked to me about my job search at any point in the last year, you know why this is great news for me. I am finally doing work that I love, with a staff that I love, in a career field that I love. I've also been making friends here in VA, so I'm starting to feel like I'm home for the first time since I left home.

I will have to continue to be careful about what I say on the blog about R's work, but as always I will keep you all updated about how school is going (he just passed the halfway mark!), his new squadron, and eventually, deployment (next year... boo).

And I know I've said this before, but thank you to all our family and friends for wishing R well and keeping him in your thoughts and prayers and supporting me as I support him. After a long year, we finally feel like both of us are doing what we love and we know that we are right in the center of God's plan for our lives.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

taking the leap.

Last weekend, I jumped out of a plane. I strapped myself to a 200 pound man, flew up to 14,500 feet above southeastern Wisconsin, and flung myself out of an airplane.

And it was pretty much the coolest thing I've ever done.

My sister Melissa decided she wanted to start crossing things off her bucket list, and she wanted me to help, so she went ahead and booked us two skydive spots at a place just south of Milwaukee. She called me (after she bought them) to tell me I had until October to get myself to Milwaukee so we could be adventurous together. After some hemming and hawing, I decided it was now or never and I bought a ticket to Wisconsin. Also it was the first weekend of the Wisconsin State Fair and you know how I feel about the Fair. R couldn't come because he has a real job that he can't just bail on at the first sign of adventure and cheese curds. Score one for non-profit!

So, I hopped on a plane (I didn't jump out of that one) and surprised my parents, who didn't know I was coming and we headed straight for the Fair. Then we told them we were going skydiving the next day and my mom nearly choked on her cream puff. Dad just wondered why we didn't get him a ticket.

The next day, bright and early, we were on our way to take the leap. It didn't quite hit us until we were suiting up what were about to do. We met our instructors, geared up, and all of a sudden, we were getting ready to get on the plane. No time to be nervous.

Thee coolest thing is that you had the option to have a photographer go up with you and jump with you. Both Melissa and I took that option and we have great photos and video of the whole experience. Of course, Dad stayed on the ground and took pictures from that vantage point as well.

This was around 7,000 feet and we were really nervous now. My instructor kept teasing me and pretending to be scared of high how we were. Not so funny when my whole body was shaking and the only way out of that plane was strapped to him. Everything goes really quick once you get up there. They pop open the door, tell you to put your goggles on, and pretty much shove you out.

What you can't see in this picture is the door wide open, two jumpers already out, and he is scooting me (fast!) towards the door.

Melissa jumped out right before me, so my photographer got a cool shot of her right after she was out. Look how high we are! That's I-94 right under us. Then my photographer crawled outside the plane, we scooted up to the door, and I had about 2.5 seconds to decide if I really wanted to do this or not.

Here I am thinking long and hard about whether or not I want to hurl myself at the ground going 120 mph.

I decided to go for it.

I'm pretty glad I did, because there is no feeling quite like free falling. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. My brain needed a few seconds to catch up with my body, but once it did, I couldn't stop smiling and screaming a the top of my lungs. The free fall only lasted 40 way too short seconds, but it was unbelievable. Then the instructor opened the parachute, I had a minute to catch my breath and take in the view, and before I knew it we were landing.

We couldn't stop talking about how much fun we had all weekend. As soon as I got back to Virginia, I told R he better get ready because I'm definitely going again and he is coming with me. If you have ever toyed with the idea of skydiving, I highly recommend you do it immediately.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

welcome cain.

There's so many things I want to blog about.

Like how my little brother Jonathon has been here all week and we've been amusement parking, beaching, sleeping in, and just generally acting immature.

Or how right after Jonathon leaves, Mom and Dad B., and R's brothers, Mike and Jon are going to be in town for the weekend and we can't wait to show them around.

But as exciting as all those things are, they will just have to wait. The only thing I want to blog about today is my sweet new nephew.

Cain Valkyrie, was born yesterday at 7lbs, 8oz and as handsome as ever. He had a little trouble breathing at first, so he spent the night on oxygen in the NICU, but the report as of this morning is that he's off the oxygen, he had his first feeding, and he should be ready to go home on Saturday. Valerie is doing well and they are all just eager to be able to hold him and play with him.

How beautiful is he? I think our nephews are the best ever.

Monday, July 11, 2011

come fly with me.

Yesterday, R and I drove down to Kitty Hawk, NC to see something he has been wanting to see for a very long time.

The site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first flight.

On December 17th, 1903, on a windy day in the sandy beach hills of North Carolina, those brothers made history when, for 12 seconds, their flying machine made the first free, controlled, and sustained air flight in the history of humankind. Needless to say, we got caught up in the drama of it all.

The big boulder is where their airplane first left the ground, and the the first little boulder in the distance is where it came back down. The other little boulders past it are flights 2, 3, and waaay in the distance, flight 4, (they really got the hang of it that time). It was cool to sort of pay homage to the humble beginnings of aviation. Without those short flights, how would our loved ones come visit us in as short as a few hours? Without that hop, skip, and jump of a flight that day, we would have no Blue Angels and football game fly-by's, no first class or in-flight movies. And tell me this, if Wilbur and Orville had never left the ground in their flying machine, what would a six year old R have decided his deep passion in life would be?

Even Wilbur got it.

It really was cool to see it in person. Especially after seeing so many replicas in flight museums across the country. (It's become a joke that every museum we go to has a Wright flyer replica. I can think of four right off the top of my head, five including the real one in at the Smithsonian. And yes, we go to enough airplane museums to have jokes about them. Such is my life.)

This was pretty cool, too. This is a plaque with a little piece of wood and fabric from a wing of the 1903 flyer that Orville gave to the family of his older brother, Lorin. Years later, they gave it to Neil Armstrong to take with him to the moon. Then on December 16th, 2003, Neil brought it back to Kitty Hawk to the Memorial. So it went from the first flight ever, to the moon, and back in exactly 100 years.

But it wasn't all awestruck aviation moments. We also learned about this 'lil lady.

That's right, Betty Skelton, first woman aerobatics champion and aviation sweetheart. And also the Paris Hilton of her day, toting her little dog around. When I laughed out loud at the idea of her little pooch doing aerobatics with her in her plane, the park ranger gave me a dirty look. He was pretty old, so there's a good chance he knew Flyin' Betty personally. But I mean, really, doesn't everything about that portrait say, 'Too fabulous for her own good?'

I suppose we have Wilbur and Orville to thank for that as well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

a cable fable.

Once upon a time, there was a girl that grew up with no cable TV. She begged and begged her parents to get cable so she could watch Nickelodeon like all the other kids, but they were cheap and they believed in the power of public television. (They had a lot to learn about life.)

Then the girl met a boy who grew up with cable and he told her about all the amazing things you could watch besides Nickelodeon, like the the Travel Channel and The Food Network and even E!. And he even opened her eyes to the magic of DVR! The girl had no idea the world of cable could be so amazing. So she married the boy right then and there.

And the girl had cable. And she was happy.

Then they moved to Florida and the girl was unemployed, and she filled her time with cable. She had over 200 channels and nothing but time, which meant Paula Deen marathons, Greys Anatomy reruns, and more Kardashians than she could keep up with. She thought she was as happy as a clam, curled up on her couch, remote in hand, nothing but her and her stories. Then one day, the laundry piled high and the dishes beginning to grow fur, the girl sat flipping between Jersey Shore and an America's Next Top Model from like 5 years ago, and it suddenly occurred to her. 'I might have a TV problem', she thought to herself. But then JWoww and Snooki were back and she forgot about what she was thinking.

Then one day, the boy and the girl packed up and moved to Virginia. And once they were in their new house, a discussion happened. It went a little like this:

Boy: I looked at the cable prices and they're really expensive. And we would have to pay even more for DVR. What would you think about not getting cable?

Girl, sweating a little: Uh, I guess that would be okay. I mean, there's still good stuff on network television, right?

Boy: Well, actually, network is still kind of pricey and really all you get is PBS. Maybe we could just watch TV on the Internet and not have a real TV at all?

Girl, heard the words PBS, made a frowny face, and somehow jumped on board for this crazy plan: Okay...

Then the girl had no cable. Or network, even. And she was a little sad. Okay... A lot sad. And a lot bored.

But the moral of this story is this; the girl and the boy are slowly and surely finding other things to do with their time besides watching TV. They are eating meals at the table instead of on the couch. They are reading more. They are talking more. They're even listening to NPR! (No, the irony of not wanting to watch public television but wanting to listen to public radio has not been lost on the boy and the girl.) They are quite happy.

And upon proofreading this post, the boy informed the girl that the money they are saving by not having cable is going to buy them a flat screen in a few months.

And the girl was a little bit happy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

being a grown up again.

What a bad little blogger I've been. I really don't mean to let this much time pass between my posts, but you see, up until pretty much 12 hours ago, my office was a room full of boxes and I just couldn't seem to get myself motivated enough to unpack them. Then I drank a whole bunch of espresso and voila! I have an office and I'm blogging (and my laundry is done and the toilets are clean, in case you were wondering. God bless that espresso).

And guess what else? Did you know having a job makes you really tired by the end of the day? No, I'm not kidding! When you work, you get up at like 7:30 and then you stay awake all day doing stuff. Then you keep doing stuff til 5pm and by the time you get home, you're ready for bed. Apparently R's school is the same way. We spent so long in Pensacola not working and not being in school that I think we forgot that this is what real people do everyday. So it's taken us a while to get into a groove and start acting like grown ups. I think this three day weekend helped.

So, finally, I'm being a grown up and unpacking my house and blogging. Hello again!

We have been getting settled in nicely though. We are so lucky to have friends here, Brad and Kristen, who we met when they were stationed in Pensacola. We are really starting to feel at home in VA Beach, which is nice because I think it took a lot longer when we were in Florida. I am loving my job, which is not only challenging, but incredibly rewarding as everyone I work with is so encouraging and they tell me all the time what a valuable asset I am. I couldn't ask for a better boss or co-workers (it's a small operation, less than 10 people). My schedule is pretty great too, considering I get to make my own hours and come and go as I please.

As far as R's school, well I really wouldn't know. He's learning a lot of secret-y stuff, so he can't exactly come home and discuss it at dinnertime. Seeing as R is the strong silent type himself, I think it's a pretty good fit for him so far. What I can tell you is that he's finding it to be really interesting and he is enjoying it.

I'm working on a few finishing touches on the house, but then it should be ready for a blog debut. I promise I'll be a grown up and actually post again soon.

Until then, I hope wherever you are, you're having a very happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

with love from panera.

We're here! After a long week of air mattresses, driving, and eating a whole lot of fast food, we are finally here in Virginia safe and sound. But now we're drowning in boxes and packing paper, trying to decide if the couch should go here or no,! Wait, let me see it the first way again... And also feeling quite disconnected from the world while we wait for our internet to get set up. We have lots of pictures and tales from our big moving adventure that I'm just dying to show y'all, but you'll just have to wait because Panera's free wi-fi is just not going to cut it.

Until then, if you can access the blog from your phone or iPad, (if you're one of those super cool hipsters that has an iPad and doesn't have to sit at Panera and pretend you're doing something important and professional on your laptop when really you're just checking Facebook and talking about Panera on your blog), check out the nifty little mobile viewing feature I set up. Cool, huh? And speaking of things, don't be scared to follow the blog, you guys. I added a feature where you'll get an email when I update, down on the right hand column. It makes me feel really important to have followers. Go ahead and give my ego a boost.

Oh guess what? While I've been creep stalking people's profile pics and panhandling for blog followers, R's been figuring out the internet situation. Shouldn't be long before I'm blogging from home again. See you then!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

goodbye pensacola.

I'm sitting on the floor of our bedroom in our empty house writing my last post from Pensacola. It seems like it was not so long ago that I wrote my first post in this house. We had so many expectations about what our time in Pensacola was going to be like. R thought he'd be headed to advanced training around now, finding out the kind of aircraft he'd be flying. I thought I'd be one year into a good job, ready to keep moving up the ladder. And then most of our plans fell through.

And what's funny is that this year, as we look back at our plans that didn't work out, we can't help but think about the things that did. Like watching our marriage grow as we supported each other through hardship. Or finding a church that blessed us and helped us draw closer to God. And being close to Purdue friends and even a certain nephew, helping us to feel not so far from home. It was a year of watching our plans fall through so that we could see God's plans come to life. And now, as we say good bye to Pensacola, we are eagerly looking forward to the next chapter of our lives in Virgina.

But for today, my only plan is cleaning the small army of dust critters from all the cracks and corners they've been hiding in all year and getting the house ready for our final inspection. Then Thursday morning, bright and early, we're hitting the road.

See you on the East coast!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

punctuation peeve!!!

I take punctuation pretty seriously. I always have. Maybe it's because I'm a wannabe writer, maybe it's because I don't have anything better to do. I loved knowing that a parenthesis could be like saying something under your breath, (not always, just sometimes). You can imagine my excitement when I was introduced to the exclamation point! And when I found out you could pair exclamation point with his cousin question mark for a much more dramatic question, what could be better!?

But alas, the older I got and the more reports I got back that were littered with red marks, I had to learn to use my punctuation excitement sparingly. And now I'm quite aware of when people get a little too punctuation happy. See Exhibit A below.

The back story is that R and I found a couch and love seat on Craig's List and went to go check it out. The girl selling it, and her husband Ryan, also had some side tables they wanted to get rid of. After looking at the couch, I texted her later to find out if she was still willing to throw in the side tables. What I received back was this enthusiastic text.

WHOA!!! Who knew she was so excited about getting rid of those side tables?!?! And I'm thrilled to bits that she liked meeting me so much!!!! Oh and she did let us know the next day!! They wanted $50 for each table!!!!! Psh, yea right!!!

Guess what?!?! We sent several texts back and forth, including one this morning telling us that her husband is going to come drop the couches off, and you know what?!?! SHE HASN'T USED ONE PERIOD YET!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

fourth time's the charm.

When my parents were here for Easter, I requested that my mom bring down as many old pictures of me as she could get a hold of so I could scan them and share them with my kids one day. I was surprised when she brought down a bunch of old scrapbooks and told me to knock myself out. So today I decided to start scanning. And what I found may just have to become a several part series on this blog. The albums were just that rich. But before I post "Horrible Haircuts of My Youth" and "Weird Things My Parents Let Us Do and Wear In Public, Volumes 1 and 2", I thought I would tackle an important issue first. It's called "Photographic Evidence That My Youngest Brother Was Raised by Careless Parents"

That's right, forget the middle kids. While I'm sure we got swept under the rug plenty, it was my little brother Jonathon who, according to what I found today, got the shaft. In my parents defense, the three of us older kids are much closer in age and Jonathon is 8 years younger than me. So by the time he showed up, my parents were probably awfully tired of raising kids with the kind of enthusiasm they once had. So the mantra became that if he wasn't bleeding from the eyes, he was probably okay. And so for your viewing pleasure and, I'm sure, much to the dismay of my parents, here's a little evidence to prove my point.

He was headed for disaster before he was even born. The happy couple took this picture of the crib area before their little miracle arrived. Homemade blankets, a baby monitor, diapers stocked up, and oh what's that little baby? The radiator is a little warm? Oh, you'll be fine. Seriously, who puts a crib next to a radiator? My mom insists that this radiator did not work. This coming from the woman who this year wished me a happy 26th birthday. (I'm 25.) Yea, I trust her judgement. It's a wonder they didn't cook him like a little Cornish hen. Moving on.

This is Jonathon and our dog at the time, a pit bull named Monique. In a picture taken just before this one, it's apparent that Jonathon had been given some crackers, which Monique promptly ate off his tray. Then she proceeded to check his mouth to see if there was anything else she could munch on. That's right folks, the dog is eating from the baby's mouth. Probably licking his little gums clean. I don't need to go into detail about why that's just plain gross. But what I will touch on is the fact that one of my parents is obviously so unconcerned with the dog and baby feeding session, they whipped out the camera and snapped a few pictures. I noticed a trend with this.

I left this one in it's scrapbook layout so you could see for yourselves just how little my parents cared about the well being of their youngest offspring. Yum Tasty? My poor brother probably hasn't been fed properly in weeks, while Monique the dog is sitting fat and happy, full of crackers somewhere in the background. Here he is, desperately trying to nourish himself with something, anything, and what do they do? Let him stuff himself and then take pictures of him like a circus bear. Oh, just wait for the next one.

Need something to wash down that sand? How about some dirty puddle water, Jonathon? Oh we know there are coolers nearby full of purified water, but it's such a long walk. Just slurp some of this up. And do you see that man just looking at him, just standing there carelessly as this little baby drinks himself into a nasty case of dysentery? Yea, meet my dad.

There were more pictures of course; one of him eating out of an onion bag, one of him eating dirt, and one of my sister feeding him sherbert from the gallon while he's crying. Not sure what that was about. The point is, my parents didn't care and they were taking pictures!

Somehow, despite my parents complete lack of regard for my brother's safety and sanitation, they managed to keep him out of harms way and he is a pretty well rounded kid. This is him with his friends at prom last Saturday.

And, in case you think my parents are just the worst, know that things have changed significantly. After the three of us older kids moved out and started families of our own, Jonathon has turned into an only child. Now they pay more attention to his schooling, his social life, and his health care more than they ever did for the rest of us.

No word on weather or not they still make him seep next to a radiator, though.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

virginia is for lovers.

Well, well, well. I do apologize for such a long break from blogging, but once you know what we've been up to in the last week, you'll forgive me. It's been a busy one...

We were in Virginia Beach all week looking for a place to live. And guess what? We found one!

It's a cute little three bedroom townhouse with a fenced-in back yard. And it only shares the garage wall with the neighbors, so hopefully, no more posts like my last one. It's in a cute little neighborhood that probably would be really quiet, except right next to NAS Oceana, which is the master jest base for the East Coast. We hope the constant sound of F-18's buzzing around won't be too much of a distraction. I don't think R could get sick of jet noise if he tried. Which brings me to my next item.

This was taken at a spot at the end of one of the runways, (not at our house, thank goodness). I have a feeling this is going to be R's new favorite place to take me for dates.

So we checked 'find a house' off our list of things to do while in Virginia. The next item on the agenda was to try and look for some job openings for me. And guess what? After a wonderful sequence of events that involved contacting a kind Admiral's wife who I met at a Purdue function years ago and telling her about my unsuccessful year of job hunting and my deep heart to serve people, I found myself with an amazing job!

It turns out she has a friend who runs a faith based non-profit, and is in need of an executive assistant to be her right hand man. And somehow, through God's planning, this awesome opportunity was handed to me!

So, our week was an absolute success. We even had time to hook up with some Navy friends we met while they were in Pensacola. Nothing feels better than having friends in a big city where you don't know anyone.

House? Check. Amazing job? Check. Good friends? Check. Now all we have to do is move!

I think I love Virginia already.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

losing my marbles.

Folks, because you love me, you are going to let me vent for just one minute.

If you live in an apartment that shares a wall or a ceiling with a neighbor, feel free to commiserate. If you live in a house and never hear your neighbors, stick around and read about the kind of fun you're missing out on.

We have new neighbors! We've lived here for exactly one year and for the first month we had neighbors that were never home. They were awesome. Then, they moved away and there was nothing but silence next door. Now, not so much.

Two girls who appear to be college age, but never appear to go to class, have moved in to the house that shares a wall with us. And what fun loving girls they are! They stay mostly quiet all day, then right around 1:30 or 2am, they invite friends over, head outside to the backyard (which is about 10 feet from our bedroom window and the window is about 9 inches from our heads), and start pounding down a case of Natty Ice and swearing as loud as they can.

But last night they decided that, after a case of beer and a rousing game of How Many Times Can You Use The F-Bomb When Telling A Story, they would take the party inside. That's where, as I lay awake staring at the clock which read 3:27am, I tried to decide what they were doing that was causing an apparent banging noise, lots of yelling, then what sounded like marbles dropping on the floor. Maybe they were playing marbles, I thought, as my eyes twitched from exhaustion. Someone must have won all the marbles, because the game quieted down and I drifted into a restless sleep while trying to decide if it would be better to blast the soundtrack from Hello, Dolly! tomorrow morning at 6am or wait til 3pm, when their inevitable hangovers were wearing off and the real headache was setting in.

And then today, as I enjoyed the silence coming from the other side of the wall, I realized two things. One; I am getting old. It's sad and it's true. First I'm complaining about the noisy kids next door and the next thing you know I'll be peering out of the blinds with my yappy little Shih Tzu, waiting to catch those hooligans who keep running on my front lawn and disturbing my perennials. And two; It's karma. My freshman year of college, I spent every weekend, and most weeknights, partying loud and late at my friend Megan's first apartment. She lived in a duplex above a grad student named Ping and we were doing a whole more than playing marbles. Ping, where ever you are, I'm so sorry.

So, I can only be so mad at our little party girls next door. I know they're young and thoughtless and so was I once upon a time, and they'll learn.

Until then, you'll have to yell cause I can't hear you over Barbara Streisand.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

happy mother's day.

R and I have been blessed to have fantastic mothers. They are both wonderful women who taught us some important lessons about working hard, loving deeply, and being unapologetically thrifty. We have our moms to thank for a lot of what is good about us.

We love you Mom B and Mom J! We hope your day is relaxing and you know how much you are loved.