Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Memories

I love Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas, from the decorations, to the music, to the spirit itself.  Everything seems better at Christmas.  We all have our favorite Christmas memories, so here are a few of mine.

My first church Christmas pageant.  I'm not sure how old I was,  and I don't remember much about that day.  I was chosen to be Mary, and my cousin, Kevin, was Joseph.  For most of the program, he and I got to sit in a homemade stable, complete with doll-baby Jesus in a homemade manger, and lots and lots of REAL hay.  It was awesome.  Nobody suspected anything.  Until our duet.  Kevin and I sang "Away in a Manger."  I'd been kind of itchy for most of the program and didn't think anything of it.  But the look on my aunt's face told me something wasn't right.  I'd apparently broken out in hives.  We found out that day that I'm allergic to hay.

I still believe in the spirit of Santa Claus.  The spirit of giving to others.  But I'll never forget the night I figured out Santa himself wasn't real.  My bedroom that I shared with my sister was right off the living room.  I heard noises late that night, and quietly got out of bed, hoping that I'd catch a glimpse of Santa himself.  Instead, I saw my aunt and uncle putting presents under the tree.  I just figured they were putting some more out before the next morning, and got back in bed.  The next day, however, I put 2 and 2 together.  The presents they had laid out after we went to bed said "From Santa" on them.  I don't remember a conversation about this revelation, but I don't remember being terribly disappointed either.  It's like, I knew something the other kids didn't.  I figured out the mystery!

My fondest memory of Christmas is family.  I come from a huge family.  My grandmother was one of 6 children, and she had 7 children with my grandfather.  Most of her family lived nearby, and most of her kids did as well.  We'd all gather at great-aunt's and uncle's houses, and at my grandmother's house as well.  Now my uncle's family also had gatherings as well, so we were always at somebody's house.  There was lots of food and laughter, presents and LOVE.  The coolest thing ever was the bag my uncle's mother made for all the grandkids.  She got everyone a huge red santa bag, and decorated them with our names on them.  When we went to open presents at their house, we just put all of our presents in our santa bag.  It was so cool.  One of my other favorite memories was going to my great-aunt Kathleen's house.  I remember the food was in the kitchen, the men were in the den watching a game of some sort, and the women were in the dining room chatting.  There were so many kids, we just ran around and I remember torturing my cousin Jeff in his room.  It was always so much fun.

The Christmas I moved to South Carolina.  It was crazy.  Right before I moved, my church had a Christmas party where we went caroling around the neighborhood.  It was so much fun, but it was sooooo cold!  It was the last night I got to spend with the entire youth group before I moved.  I'm so glad I still keep in touch with most of them.  Those are lifetime friendships that I cherish.

The Christmas that my aunt and uncle got my grandmother's ring fixed.  My grandmother had given me a beautiful pearl and diamond ring right before she died in August of 1998.  I only wore it on special occasions.  Usually that meant to a choir performance, or to a speech meet.  I was a member of the speech and debate team in high school.  At one speech meet, I noticed the pearl was gone.  I was heartbroken.  I had no idea how to go about getting a new pearl, or how much one would cost.  I took it home, and my aunt offered to keep it in her jewelry box for me.  I handed it over, and didn't think about it again until it got closer to Christmas.  My grandfather had called and asked about the ring. I guess he didn't realize grandma had given it to me.  And I started to panic, because the pearl was missing.  How would I ever explain that to him.  My aunt told me not to worry about it, that it would be fine.  But I wasn't convinced.  I remember my anxiety because he was coming for Christmas.  When he got there, he asked to see the ring, and when we went to get it out of my aunt's jewelry box, it was missing!  I about had a heart attack.  The pearl missing was one thing, but now the whole thing was gone!!  At that moment, I just wanted to cry.  On Christmas morning, we all gathered around the tree.  No present really mattered to me.  I would have given an arm and a leg to have my ring back.  My uncle called my name and handed me a little present and I took it and sat down.  I started opening it, and it was a ring box.  My heart skipped a beat.  NO. WAY.  Sure enough, the ring was inside - pearl and all.

Our first Christmas together.  It does not even feel like the first Christmas we spent together was 10 years ago!  We had very little money.  And the one thing I wanted the most that Christmas was a toaster.  I begged for a toaster.  We got each other a few things, wrapped them, and then put them under the tree.  Now, if you know me, you know I am not a patient person, and I hate surprises.  HATE them.  So while Chip was at work, I peeked at my wrapped gifts. One of them was, of course, a toaster.  So a few days later, we were watching tv, and a husband gave his wife an appliance for a birthday present.  And I started a tirade.  "Well that's just dumb.  You should never, ever, EVER give your wife an appliance as a gift, even if she asks for it.  It's just RUDE."  (insert evil grin)  I've never seen him squirm so much!  It wasn't until after Christmas that I told him I knew about the gift, hahaha!  Don't worry - he got me back.  A few years later, he got me a Dooney & Bourke purse for Christmas.  And knowing how I like to peek, he hid it at my friends house.  And I begged, and begged and BEGGED for my present.  So he said one day that he'd go get it, if for no other reason than to shut me up.  He left and came back with a big box.  I was SO excited.  I tore the paper off, and opened the box was clothes.  Not just any clothes, but my kids clothes that I'd left at my friends house.  That were still dirty.  Yeah, you probably think that's funny.  It's been a few years, and I'm not there yet.  It's still a painful memory.  Laugh it up.

Oh this list could go on and on.  I love that I am making new memories with my kids.  I can't wait to hear their stories one day!  What's your favorite Christmas memory?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ghost Stories

I knew this was going to happen.  I don't know if it's writer's block, but I have started two blogs this week and haven't been able to finish.  Some days there are so many thoughts swirling around my head that I don't know where to begin.  It's a smogasbord  of random thoughts.  I really need a friend, someone to vent to or just tell all these random thoughts.  But alas, I guess starting and not finishing blogs will have to do for now.  

So this blog is going to be a little on the heavy side.  I find it easier to open up when I'm writing.  It's a good thing I type fast because I have a lot of thoughts for this blog.  Lately I have really been missing some people in my life.  

First is my grandmother.  I swear, I never believed in ghosts until after she died.  I know with all of my being that she is near me.  I have had two experiences that confirm that for me.  The first happened right after Brenna was born.  She had only been gone a few years then, and I missed everyone in my family, since I was up in Alaska by myself with Chip.  It was a rough first month, and I can remember truly missing my grandmother.  I had hoped she'd get to see my children, play with them as she had with me, and teach them all the silly songs she'd taught us as kids.  I missed her so much the first few months after I had Brenna, and I guess I can't really explain why.  One night, I awoke to something.  I'm not sure if it was a sound, or a feeling, but I awoke, startled.  Chip was asleep, Brenna was (finally) asleep, but I had woken up for some reason.  Not finding anything out of the ordinary, I laid back down.  And then it hit me - the scent of my grandmother's perfume.  I hadn't smelled it in years, but it was so distinctive.  It was so strong, that I got up to try and find the source.  No luck.  I didn't have anything of hers that had a scent on it, just a picture or two.  I remember thinking, "Do you see her, grandma?  Isn't she beautiful?"  And then I passed right out, and slept soundly.  

The second incident happened here.  When we first got all of our stuff, I took out a framed picture I have of my grandmother and I in her clown makeup.  She used to work with the kids at the Catholic school, and one of the things she liked to do with them is dress up like a clown.  She had a wig, and all the makeup.  When I was home for Christmas in 2004 when Chip was deployed, my aunt had two pictures framed in one frame; one of my grandmother in full clown getup and one with me in the same thing.  When I unwrapped the frame when we got here, the glass was cracked down the middle.  It was not going to be an easy fix, since the frame was specially made; it was going to have to go to a frame shop and thus was going to have to wait.  I put it up in our closet, waiting for some extra money to fix it.  That was over a year ago.  Last month, I was cleaning out my closet for no particular reason other than it was driving me nuts having so much junk in there.  I picked up the frame, a little heartbroken that it still wasn't fixed.  But when I picked it up and looked at it, the glass was fine!  I asked my husband about it and he swears he didn't have it fixed (and with the amount of dust on it, I believe him."  It's now hanging in my living room.  

My grandmother was more than just a grandmother to me.  I lived with her and my grandfather for several years before she started getting sick.  I always wish I'd been there to say goodbye, but I know that she was gone before her body finally died.  I don't know if this is real or not, but I believe that when someone dies, their spirit looks down on you and knows the things you do and the things you say, if that makes any sense.  So even though I didn't get to say it to her, I know she knows I love her and I know she can see me now and all of my kids.  I just wish they'd gotten to know her.  To sit at her feet and hear her play the piano and sing.  Or to sit and hear her play the church organ.  I wish she could read them Cinderella like she did with me.  I look at all of my cousins and the 20+ great-grandchildren she would have so enjoyed doting on and playing with.  I know she can see us all, but it's not the same.  I just miss her.  Some days more than others. But I love seeing her smiling in her clown makeup every day!

The other person I really miss is my good friend Archie.  Most of you know, in high school I was a peer counselor, and worked closely with Archie for the whole 4 years of high school.  He became a surrogate grandfather to me, and I know I was special to him as well.  When he died last year, it was the first time I'd lost someone that close to me since my grandmother died.  I was heartbroken.  He could have met my kids, but we just never made it home.  I was lucky that I was able to visit with him a few months before he died.  And about a month before he got sick, I kept thinking, "I need to call him."  And I never got around to it.  I can't tell you how many times I've kicked myself for that.  I guess the thing with Archie is, he believed in me.  Not because he had to, but because he could see the me that I always wanted to be and encouraged me to find that person in me.  He always told me how proud he was of me.  I miss hearing that.  I really hope that everyone has at least one person in their life that tells them they're proud of them.  It's important to hear that.  I didn't really realize that until he was gone.  No matter what I did - and I made some pretty bad decisions that affected him and one of his ministries - he still would tell me that he was proud of me and he loved me.  When I didn't think I could face the world after some big mistakes, he stood by me, and didn't judge me, he just loved me.  Archie was an incredible man.  Even now, when I have a decision to make, I think, what would Archie say about this?  Sort of like, WWJD....but on a less official scale.  The first anniversary of his death came and went, but I honestly think about him daily.  

Another ghost story for you, before I sign off.  When I was working with Archie in high school, my aunt and uncle that I lived with had an old VW Rabbit convertible, like an '80 or '81.  When we had it, it was white.  When they decided to sell it, Archie was chomping at the bit to buy it from my aunt.  After he bought it, he painted it candy apple red and it look amazing.  (It always made me wonder why WE never painted it.)  A few weeks ago, I was coming home from somewhere, and it's winter in Washington, so it's been raining for what seems like forever.  But on this day, on the way home, I saw a patch of blue sky.  I turned to look into the sun (Hello, vitamin D!) and as I did, a little read VW Rabbit - Candy apple RED! - zoomed past me.  I smiled.   Hi, Archie.  

Monday, November 15, 2010



I'm going to start this post with some events that happened a few years ago.  For close friends and family, you know this story already, but to the new guys, I had to back up to get to the heart of the post.  So bear with me if you've heard this before.

When Emma was almost 4, I took her to our primary care physician because I thought she may have had a speech delay.  I was having better conversations with Aubrie, who was almost 2 at the time, than I was with Emma.  Some of her words were very hard to understand, plus she had a small lisp with her S's, and sometimes she just spoke in gibberish.  Our PCM gave us a referral to a speech pathologist.  We went in for some testing with the speech pathologist, who asked me if I'd ever had Emma tested for autism.  I knew very little about autism at the time, so I told her no.  She told me she suspected that Emma may be what they call a high functioning autistic child.  If you don't know about autism, I'll try to explain it to the best of my knowledge.  It is a social disorder, that has some symptoms that are neurological.  It is a spectrum disorder, meaning it can range from incredibly severe to very mild.  The kids who are very mild are referred to as high functioning.  They may be socially awkward, and can have some learning disabilities, but they can be taught to live a normal, happy life on their own.  The more severe cases require round the clock care and supervision.  The speech pathologist referred us to a child psychiatrist. 

The first visit we had with him, which was just over an hour long, he definitively diagnosed her as autistic, but high functioning.  He immediately put in for her to be tested by the DOE in Hawaii, so that she could be in the special education preschool.  He also set up appointments with us to do a child study program.  In the child study program, they get together a group of children that are to be observed by a team of doctors.  They bring in a child psychiatrist, and a child psychologist, a speech pathologist, a pediatrician and a few others that I can't remember off the top of my head.  They basically see how the kids interact with each other, and how they respond to various taskings and interactions with the doctors.  It's a series of 3, one hour long sessions.  We made it to 2, but missed the 3rd one because Emma was sick.  In between the first session, we had our second appointment with the psychiatrist, I had mentioned to him some aggressive behavior I'd noticed in Emma.  I wasn't sure if the behavior was autism related, or just her being a normal 4 year old, who was truly the middle child, just expressing her frustration.  He told me that it was definitely the autism, and he wanted to medicate her.  I sort of freaked out when he took her to have an EEG done, so that he could prescribe the medication.  I went home and did some research on the medication.  It is used in the treatment of the manic phases of bipolar disorder, the treatment of schizophrenia, and to treat severe behavior problems in autistic children.  I went back to him and told him I was NOT giving her this medication.  He insisted, and I told him that I wasn't convinced she was even autistic, but even if she was, I was not putting my almost 4 year old on a drug like that unless absolutely necessary and we were NOT at that point yet.  He agreed to reviewing the matter later.  

The first round of school testing began, and they did several things.  I can't remember everything they did, but the speech pathologist from the school district pulled me aside after her testing and asked me what exactly we were testing Emma for.  I told her she'd been diagnosed autistic, and the doctor wanted her in preschool.  The speech pathologist looked at me like I had 4 heads!  She told me that she was very surprised that they were testing Emma for autism, because she showed no signs of it in her session.  In my gut, I knew this diagnosis was a quick one.  Autism is a spectrum in the WORLD do you come to that conclusion after ONE visit?  After all the testing in the school district was finished, the testers sat down with me and gave me their decision - they were not recommending Emma for special ed preschool.  And I was advised (off the record) to get a second opinion on her autism diagnosis.  

The second doctor we saw was another primary care physician.  He assured me that just from what he saw in his office that he wouldn't even recommend her for another consult.  From the way she was behaving and interacting with him in his office, he would say he was reasonably sure that she was not autistic, but that she did have some learning delays.  At this point we were getting ready to PCS to Washington, so I put everything on hold until we moved here.

Since we live off post here, we were allowed to be seen off post.  I made an appointment at our pediatric clinic, and met with an RN whose specialty is child behavior.  I brought Emma in, and again, she could see no neurological or other reason why Emma would be considered autistic.  She said she would put in a recommendation to a child psychiatrist if I wished, but she felt that just from that one visit that she was too far along in so many areas (socially, neurologically, behaviorally) to be considered autistic.  When I came home that day, I sat down with Chip and we agreed that we would just wait until Emma started school.  If there really was an issue, that's the place it would rear it's head.

When she started kindergarten back in September, I waited.  I was waiting for a call from the teacher, SOMETHING to indicate we might have issues.  But no call came.  On Wednesday, we had our first parent/teacher conference.  She showed me all of Emma's work, showed me her progress, and asked if I had any questions.  So I asked, "Do you see anything that makes you think Emma could be autistic?"  Her response?  Well after she stopped laughing, she asked if I was serious, and I said yes.  I briefly explained what we had been told and she shook her head.  No way.  In her 23 years of teaching kindergarten, she had some experience in this area, and she was just shocked that Emma was ever considered autistic.  She told me she would call in the counselor during class one day, and ask her to observe Emma, but she would only do that if I really wanted it because she saw no indications at all that Emma was autistic.  

So then, what was it?  I think I can pinpoint a few things that brought everything on.  First, Chip deployed that year.  I did NOT handle that deployment well.  Which I'm sure my kids picked up on.  Second, I was pregnant with another baby.  When Camden was born, Emma became THE middle child.  She has two older siblings and two younger siblings.  Third, she was almost 4.  Not quite a big kid, but not a toddler anymore either.  I think just this combination is hard enough for an adult to deal with, so imagine having to do it as a child.  She DID have some learning delays.  Which is probably what caused a lot of her frustration.  Imagine being the middle child and not being able to communicate effectively.  Emma does have some quirks, she can be a little odd and very in your face.  But that is more personality than autism.  

I think back on when the first doctor wanted to medicate her.  I am so glad that I stuck to my guns and refused.  I'm not against medicating my children IF they need it.  But I just felt that she didn't need it.  More than that, I felt like the doctor was treating her based on what he'd done with every other child he'd worked with, and NOT treating her based on what was best for HER.  

So for now, I'm fairly confident that she is not autistic.  Her teacher is aware of this concern, so if anything comes up, she will inform me and I guess we'll go from there.  This has been such a long an frustrating journey.  Autism is hard to diagnose, but to be wrongly diagnosed I think is even worse.  I want what is best for her, and I guess as a parent you just always want clear answers and treatment, and that is not always the case.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rambling Fool

Since I haven't blogged in a week or so (more maybe?) this blog is likely to just be a jumble of babbling.  Sorry about that.  I have many, many thoughts swirling around my head, and I'm extremely tired.  Fair warning.

So let's talk about me being tired.  I can't sleep.  I just lay in bed with a million thoughts going around and around.  Plus I have this fantastic head cold.  Which leads to that little tickle you get in the middle of your throat, and then the coughing.  Oh the coughing!  It's not actually doing anything except perhaps scratching your throat because you don't have anything to cough up.  I toss and turn, thinking and coughing.  It's a vicious cycle.  And it keeps me up all night long.  I usually fall asleep right as my kids decided it's time to wake up.  That usually happens around 5ish.  I'm pretty sure my kids hate me.

We went to church last Sunday, and as we were about to head out the door to go home, one of the guys from our Sunday school class flagged me down and invited me to lunch with his family and two other families.  For those of you who are not Nazarene, you won't understand how we can't go a single Sunday without worship, food, and a good ol' Nazarene nap.  We had a great time getting to know a few of the families. One of the couples is from Ohio, and I sense a kinship with Jodi, that only midwest girls can share.  Hopefully she felt it, too.  Wow that sounded stalkerish.  I'm just so excited about this church.  Yesterday we had a potluck at church (see - FOOD) and again got to meet and chat with some other families.  I just feel like this is where we need to be.  

Last night I went to choir practice, and I'm pretty sure that this is one of the things I've been missing big time in my life.  There are probably a good many of you who do not know that I love to sing.  L-O-V-E to sing.  When I was in high school, I was in two performing choirs and I loved every minute of it.  I don't think I have the voice to be a soloist, but I can sing in a group with the best of them.  I haven't sang regularly for a purpose in a really, really long time.  I miss it.  When I was in Hawaii, I even looked for like a community adult choir, but never really found anything that looked appealing.  Sure, I sing in the shower, in the car, while I'm cleaning, or anywhere else I feel I can get away with it without looking like a fool.  But now I can do it with a purpose.  It amazed me how much I retained from high school choir.  We used to practice, sitting up straight, both feet on the floor.  I wasn't familiar with all of the music, but I was still able to catch on, and rather quickly.  This is totally my niche in life.  And the choir opened me with open arms.  Which is huge.  Most church choirs, this late into the year, are preparing for the Christmas program.  There's only a few short weeks until their program is supposed to go on, so it would probably be frowned upon to have new members start this early.  But these guys just said, the more the merrier!  Here's a book, here's the CD to learn it, Welcome!  It makes me feel even more like we were led here for a reason.  We were just going to visit!  I had no intentions of finding a church home.  I didn't even think we were looking for a church home.  But we found one.  

As exciting as that is, I have to admit that I'm a little apprehensive.  I haven't been a member of a church in a really long time.  Last time I was, I was a kid.  It feels different as an adult.  I can't explain why, it just does.  Maybe because, as a kid, we were pretty much told what to believe.  Now as an adult, after life and experiences, I have my own set of beliefs.  I was talking to a friend of mine about how I was afraid to go back because a lot of what I believe doesn't necessarily match up with the church's beliefs.  I mean, can you go to church and still be pro-choice?  Can you go if you believe in same-sex marriage?  It occurs to me I'm afraid of judgement.  I have seen the judgmental christians, and they are vicious and harsh.  I can't stand that.  (Is THAT a judgment?)  But I decided that I would go.  If I am judged, that's not on me.  I am not there to please other people, I'm there for the kind of relationship I want with God, and if I go with an open heart and mind, then I will learn whatever it is I need to learn.  

More random thoughts include......

Chip is leaving for Virginia in January.  It's only for 2 months.  And it's NOT a deployment.  But I'm still dreading it.  My kids lately have been driving me crazy.  There are days when I count down the hours until he gets home so I can have 5 minutes of peace.  I know I'll be fine, and the kids will be fine.  I just don't like it.  I know he has to do it, and when he does, it means so much for his career.  His first look for E7 is next March (2012).  But what he really wants to do, is go warrant.  For my non-military friends, he wants to be a warrant officer.  Warrant officers are the ranks between enlisted and officers.  E1-E9 are enlisted ranks, so he'd be above that, but since he doesn't have a degree, he'd be under the rank of officers.  It's a little more pay, a LOT more respect, and it will be great for us when he retires.  

Do you guys know that he retires from the army in just 7 years?  That seems crazy to me!  We're already trying to plan it!  We're looking at probably going to the Columbia, SC area.  Most of Chip's family is in the Carolinas, not to mention some of mine, and then it's only about a day's drive to Indiana, where most of my family is.  We also have close friends in NC, so it will be perfect.  We figured we'd try to get near Columbia, since all of the kids will still be in the house.  We'd still be able to go to the commissary and PX.  Plus it's about smack in the middle between his family in Charleston, and our families in Anderson/Fletcher.  We've been looking at houses, and are so happy that in what we think would be our price range that we have a lot of options.  I think I want an older house that's been mostly updated, with a large yard and lots of trees.  They have a lot of newer houses but the lots are smaller and the developments have few trees that look like they were planted when they built the houses.  I love big old trees, and the shade they provide.  Plus I love the look of the old brick houses.  I wouldn't mind doing a little work (painting and such) but I don't want anything that we'll have to completely overhaul.  Kitchens will be a deal breaker.  We've had some pretty crappy army housing kitchens, and while I know you can sometimes change the floor plan, it's just not something I think we'll want to undertake when we first get out.  Painting the kitchen, maybe even replacing cabinets or counter tops, or appliances, those might be doable.  But to completely gut any part of the house is not going to do it for me.  I guess that's one of the advantages of being in so many houses - we pretty much know what we want and what we don't.  

I guess that's enough for today.  If you've made it this far, give yourself a cookie.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Would You Look At That

After just 24 hours, I have followers!  That's very exciting.  And at the same time, I feel a little pressured.  Like I have to keep my followers happy.  Yes, I'm neurotic.  You knew this, or you wouldn't be here.  It's part of why you love me, and you and I both know it.  So let's see.....the topic for today shall be........

Going to church.  (Looks around the room for low flying shoes.)  Yes, I picked a topic that may or may not be controversial to some.  My blog, my topics.  Ha!

Many of you know that I did not live with my parents growing up.  From age 7- 14 I lived with my dad's sister.  She had a big family of her own, and I looked forward to siblings and a place to call home.  My aunt, who was raised catholic, was now a member of a Nazarene church.  We went twice on Sunday and then on Wednesday nights as well.  I'll be honest, I wasn't interested so much in God or being "saved."  Church was where my friends were.  The friends I had didn't go to school with me, didn't really live near me, so I only got to see them on Sundays.  THIS is why I went to church.  Well, what I looked forward to anyway.  Oh, I gave my soul to God, tried to read the bible and tried to act like a Christian should.  But my main focus was my friends.

When I was 14, I went to live with my dad's other sister.  They went to a Catholic church, but not regularly, and it was not a requirement for me to go.  So, being the teenager I was, I didn't.  It was like a complete 180 for me.  I never really gave going to church much thought.  I was involved in 2 choirs, volunteering at a crisis center, and somehow that meant to me that I didn't really need to go to church, since I was helping other people and living right.  I knew what I believed, I knew the lines I wouldn't cross (or shouldn't) and tried my best to stay within those boundaries.  We all make mistakes.  I'm not going to say I didn't make any because Lord knows I did.  But going to church was not a priority.

When Chip and I got married, I was vaguely aware of the fact that he was Mormon.  He was not a practicing Mormon, so this really didn't mean so much when we got married.  It was only after I found out I was pregnant with Brenna that we started talking about going to church when we had discussions about how to raise our child.  I knew nothing about the Mormon religion.  I'd been told several things by well-meaning people, but in their efforts to "warn" me, it became clear that they also knew nothing about the Mormon religion as well.  I did my own research.  I contacted the church, and we were visited regularly by the missionaries.  Long story short (and believe me, I could probably write a book about this topic), I decided the Mormon church was not for me.  I had some issues with some of the core beliefs and there are things you have to do to be a member of this church that I just wasn't willing to do.  After the first deployment, Chip wasn't really that enthusiastic about going to church - ANY church - so we instead just settled on not going.  We hadn't gone to any church for a very long time.

Moving to Washington state afforded us the opportunity to live off post.  And we jumped at the chance!  We have lived on post both in Alaska and Hawaii, and now that we could afford to live off post, and in a nice neighborhood, in a nice HOUSE, we jumped at the chance.  Making friends was a little more difficult, as you don't have the army community surrounding you.  We slowly met our neighbors, and luckily, they are all very friendly.  It makes me sad that we just can't stay here.  One of the things you learn very quickly on an army base is that good neighbors are worth their weight in gold.  While it may have taken us a little while to really get to know everyone (and that is our doing because there are so many crazy military families, lol), we are fortunate that we get to live in such a friendly cul-de-sac.  Anyway, one of the ways we thought about making new friends was by going to church.  We weren't really interested in another Mormon church, so I looked online and found the local Nazarene church.  What really got Chip hooked was their motorcycle ministry.  The pastor of the church has a harley, and so do several members, so in the summer they organized rides.  They would ride to a designated spot, usually within an hour or two of here, and then have a devotional.  Chip went on two rides, before he wrecked his bike on one ride, and it was too late in the season to ride once it was fixed.  We went for about 2 1/2 months, but eventually stopped going.  The church we were going to was very large.  We felt a little out of place.  Mostly no one talked to us, and no one really seemed to notice when we didn't come back.

Last Sunday, the pastor from the church I attended when I was a kid was preaching at a Nazarene church about 20 minutes from our house.  I haven't seen Pastor Bullock in probably 9 years.  His daughter and I have been friends since they came to our church when I was 12.  She and I have been best friends ever since.  (We joke about it now, because when we were kids, we fought all the time.  It wasn't until we became adults that we really became close.)  I jumped at the opportunity to hear him preach.  Even though I didn't always pay attention to his sermons when I was younger, I remember vividly his enthusiasm and his passion.  I couldn't pass up this chance to catch a glimpse of that again.  We packed up the family and went to this church.  We were instantly greeted by 4 or 5 people.  They gave us name tags, had us sign the guestbook, and showed us the way to the kids' classes.  Pastor Bullock knew I was coming, and apparently shared with one of the members of the praise team that I used to sing.  So I was approached to possibly sing with them.  If ever we needed a sign to point us to where we needed to be, walking into that church was definitely it.  We were welcomed by many open arms.  I can't tell you how many people came up to us to greet us, introduce themselves, and invite us back.  It isn't the largest church, but big enough.  The sermon was fantastic.  Chip said he felt like we should come back.  The kids enjoyed their classes.  So tomorrow, we're going to go back.  I really hope it goes well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blogger Bandwagon

I have been blogging for a long time now.  I discovered this awesome site called xanga about 5 or 6 years ago.  Most of you who know me well know that I am an opinionated person.  What blogging has allowed me to do is put thoughts, feelings, sarcasm, and wit in writing.  I love to write.  I love to draw in an audience.  Part of my problem with blogging, however, is that I get bored.  Or I think my writers get bored.  Who wants to follow the aimless babbling of a stay at home mom of five?  Who cares what my kids did, how my husband is driving me nuts, or how most days I feel like the world hates me?  But alas, I find it time to tap into the depths of my inner being and put it all out there for you to read.  Or be bored by.  I am officially a blogger again and I'm jumping on this blogger bandwagon.  Several people I've been following on here for a while.  A few new ones have popped up, so I figured what the heck.  Here goes nothing.  I make no promises.  I may be as bored tomorrow with it as I have been for the last, oh, 2 years.  I pop in on xanga every once in a while, when I just can't take it anymore.  But I think I'll try to stay here.  Maybe being in one spot will help.

If you haven't noticed, I tend to jump around in thought.  I make no apologies for this, as I have five kids, and random thoughts and interruptions happen regularly.  I will try to keep to one topic as much as I can, but I can't guarantee anything.  One of the reasons I'm blogging again is lack of adult conversation.  So, there's a lot of thoughts to muddle through.  It will probably take me days to finish a single blog until I get into the swing of it again.  So bear with me.  I'm usually very entertaining once I get going.

Lack of adult conversation.  *sigh*  I've discovered over the last 2 years that adult conversation is highly underrated.  I've never lacked for conversation before.  I have a big family, and lots of friends.  Being in the army life, you learn to make friends quickly, and most of the ones I've made have become lifelong friends.  I have friends all over the country, and in this age of technology, keeping in touch isn't as hard as it used to be. No longer do I have to sit down and hand write a letter, I can just shoot out a text or a "hey you" on facebook.  I do, however, try to write letters still.  The written word is becoming almost obsolete and that bothers me.  But that's another topic for another day.  Moving to Washington, we decided to live off post.  I don't know very many people here.  The friend I talked to every single day now has a full time job.  And now, since I don't get to talk to her, I usually go all day without talking to another adult.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my kids, and I love hearing about their day at school or playing with the little ones while the older three are at school.  But sometimes, I like to use adult words.  About adult topics.  WITH ANOTHER ADULT.  I have neighbors that I could probably bug.  When (and if) they're home.  But I feel like I'm bothering them.  My poor husband walks through the door at night and hardly gets a word in edgewise.  I ask how his day is like it's the most fascinating thing EVER, so I am impatient and can't keep my mouth shut.  Plus, if you know me, you KNOW I love to talk.  A. LOT.  I feel bad for him.  Poor guy hardly knows what hits him.

So, now you get to hear the randomness that are my thoughts.  Hopefully you'll leave comments!