Saturday, May 24, 2014

Confessions of a Wanderlust-er

(I have SOOOOO much blogging to catch up on, but I've been thinking about this entry for a while.  Since it's time sensitive, I think it's okay to jump out of order and post this one)



noun a strong desire to travel 

My first move was before I was one.  By the time I graduated from high school, I had moved 7 times and had been in 2 different high schools, had friends all over the north east, and didn't realized how much traveling was a part of me.  In our first 4 years of marriage, we lived in three houses, all in the same town, the third being our house, the one that we built, like we actually pounded in the nails ourselves.  This is where we were going to live forever and forever.  Roots.  One place for our kids to grow up.  Friends that they would have from birth to graduation.  I was excited about the prospect.  I have no friends, besides cousins, I suppose, that I have known my whole life.  I was so excited about this for my kids.  Seeing all their stuff driving down the highway on an 18 wheeler is something my kids would never know, and I was happy about that.  Don't get me wrong, I love to travel, like L.O.V.E. to travel.  I was just glad I wouldn't ever have to pack up all my crap and move it.  I once mentioned to Mark that I thought that Virginia would be a great place to live with seasons but not cold winters, his response was something to the effect of, I'm not sure I could be a Maine Trooper in Virginia.  But one thing about my husband that I'm so thankful for is his love for travel also.  I made a list way back when, about things that I wanted in a husband.  I didn't put "Likes To Travel" on my list, but God knew I needed a hubby who likes to travel, see new places and embrace adventure.  We have seen so many parts of our beautiful country and state of Maine, but I had no idea five years ago that the love to travel, would turn into willingness to move.

Fast forward to today.  In the past three years and eight months, we have had four addresses, soon to add a fifth (and final?) address. 
Island Falls, Maine, October - November 2010

New Limerick, Maine, November 2010 to June 2012

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, June 2012 to June 2013

Alexandria, Virginia, June 2013 - June 2014

 Counting this year we will have had 4 Christmases at 4 different mailing addresses in three states.  And my confession is, I haven't minded it.  I've loved it.  When the four of us are together, no matter where we are, it's home.  Whether it's the very northern end of I 95 or in the capital of the free world, bring it on, we are home.  I asked the kids recently what is the thing that they have enjoyed most about our traveling adventures, Julia replies with: I've learned that it's fun to move to new places and met new friends, and even though I'm very excited to finally be going back to Hartland, I know that if we have to move somewhere else, I won't be scared like I was last time, but I will be excited to see where God takes us.  YES!  I couldn't have articulated it better myself.  

Moving back home is bittersweet.  I'm so excited to move back into our home, to be neighbors with my in-laws (yeah, I'm totally serious about that! If you don't know them, you would meet them and want to be their neighbors too!), to be back to our friends, to know half the people in Walmart, to wave at people on the roads, to ride 4-wheelers and get all muddy and to have impromptu bonfires at the Butlers.  But doing that means that we are leaving friends and communities behind also.  When I get home, I will be happy, but for now, please excuse me when I cry over our loss.  I thought it would be fun to make a list of the things that I won't miss in Virginia to make me not cry so much.  Okay, so some of these things will be totally tongue-in-cheek, but please know that I'm trying to see all the good about not living here anymore, because I totally love living here.  I know it's so not cool to be a military wife and be excited about being stationed in DC, but I couldn't help but not be! goes....

Things I won't miss about Virginia


Its unavoidable.  You get stuck in traffic all the time.  Sometimes the traffic moves, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes you know why you are in traffic, sometimes you have no idea.  I have learned to not get on the beltway anytime after 3pm and not to go near it until closer to 7.  In the morning, don't think about leaving the house much before 9:30.  I have decided that I'm swapping out traffic for black flies. I'm not sure which is worse.  

Having Georgetown Cupcakes Nearby

We were obsessed with watching DC Cupcakes in da County, who knew we would live so close and spend so much money there.  They are ah-maze-ing cupcakes, but they have burned a hole in our wallet.  We have spent our obligatory amount of money's time to move away from it....but maybe just one more trip before we leave...please Hubs!

Being So Close to the Grocery

I'm not a list maker.  This living so close to the grocery has been enabling my non-list making habits.  Enabling is bad.  Having a grocery store with in 2 minutes drive is not helping me with my poor habits.  We need to move to where the grocery is 15 minutes away to help me be organized.  Right?  *cough, cough*  

 Museums, Zoos and Monuments

I have learned that these tourist things suck time out of my schedule.  I mean, homeschooling and having all this stuff, like historical places and museums that relate to what we are studying, so close by really bites into learning.  We have had less time at the school desk this year and more hands-on learning.  Oooo.  This has to be a bad thing.  I mean, Hope was studying about George Washington and we took time out of our schedule to go to Mount Vernon to see some of the things that were in her book.  Shame, shame.  Good thing when we go back we will be so far from DC, it will give more time to study from a book.  (You totally got all the sarcasm, right?)  *I feel that at this point I have to make a disclaimer for any naysayers out there, that we have done all the book school work that was needed to be accomplish in a year of school, plus more, PLUS my kids could open their own DC tour guiding service, so there.

Our Neighborhood Filled With Kids

On weekends and after school, my kids go play with kids their own age right on our street!  Imagine!  They choose time with kids over time with me.  I miss my kids so much when they don't spend all their time with me!  hehe

All the Restaurants that We Have To Choose From

There are so many restaurants around here to choose from it's so hard to choose where to go given the opportunity to eat out, which has been frequent since moving here.  It's awful!  Besides, I'd rather be cooking myself....  Um...yeah, sure...  I mean, Chick-Fil-A calls out to me every time I drive by.  If I don't stop, I'm overcome with guilt of not supporting such a wonderful company or consuming their amazing shakes.  Yeah, totally.  I'm trying to convince myself this is all true....  My ever growing butt will definitely not miss all the restaurants.


Oh, I so won't miss VA winters.  I mean, there's hardly any snow and my nose hairs don't freeze when I walk outside.  Who wouldn't miss frozen nose hairs?  I won't miss everyone complaining that 40 degrees is so cold.  I won't miss seeing the poor kids trying to sled on 1/4" of snow during the school day because school has been cancelled because of the snow.  I won't miss laughing at the huge plow trucks with tiny plows waiting for the slightest flurry to come down so they can plow it up....okay...I'll totally miss that!

Being So Close to Post

Living near post, being a part of the military community, always being on your best behavior, that's just awful.  Having handsome, uniformed, courteous soldiers hold the door open for me, I mean, who likes that? Seeing helicopters over head, using the beautiful playgrounds, having great prices on gas, on groceries, on things at the PX....totally over rated.  lol  Who wants all the things that they need to buy all in once place?  Me, I prefer running all around town gathering things I need.  Ha!

There are so many things I'm missing...I have a feeling that this list will grow.  I hope you laughed with me a bit and cheered me on as I am looking forward to life back in rural Maine!

I guess its all about perspective.  All about moving on to a new phase of life.  All about learning how to do life over again at home.  I'm looking forward to finding all those roots again and making them deeper and stronger.  I'm excited about the kids going back to school with their friends and me just being mom, not mom and teacher.  I will miss having them around all the time, teaching them, seeing the light bulb go off when they get a new concept, but I'm happy for them to go back to "normal".  I've already told Mark that I would like to go with him to Troop C on the first day of school, it's going to be hard, but wonderful all at the same time. Looking toward the future and anticipating the excitement of going home will hopefully over shadow the sadness of leaving.  

Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Here's another verse I'm clinging to, Proverbs 31:25 says, She is clothed with strength and dignity and has no fear of the future.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

How To Turn Twelve

There were two things Julia wanted to do for her birthday.  The first was a sleepover party and the second was to skate in the Sculpture Garden on the National Mall.  The second, we did on her birthday.  It was the perfect night, not cold, not warm, just perfect to skate.  The girls skated for a couple hours and Mark got us coffee and we sipped and snuggled and giggled watching our kiddos, thinking that time with them is flying!

It was the perfect skating night.  They had trouble getting the lights working at first, but when they came on, it was magical.

So, now for her other desire...the party.

Like all good parties these days, the start of this particular party was Pinterest.  I'm not sure how we planned anything without Pinterest before.  Seriously.  There are times that it makes me feel like a failure in so many ways.  My house isn't perfectly organized, my kids don't do cool projects, my recipes can be hum-drum, but I gotta tell ya, if I need an idea, that's where I go.

And that's where my total fashionista goes too, Julia, because when you turn 12, it has to be perfect.

After wrestling over the invitees (great thought when into who to invite due to her many different circles of her friends never intersecting with each other) she decided to invite the neighborhood girls.  And the colors had to be perfect, not too kid-like, but it had to be pink.  She settled on a sophisticated palate of pinks and white.  Everything else fell into place: pink punch and make your own soda in raspberry and strawberry flavors, pink paper straws were a must and to find the perfect shaped glasses (at a reasonable price) put Julia on a mission.  She decided instead of having a cake, we would make cupcakes and let the girls decorate them themselves.  The frosting would have to be varying shades of pink with pink sprinkles to go on top.  The decorations had to be perfect too.  Yup, you guessed it, pink and white.  Shall I just insert pictures here instead of going on and on?

(Please notice Joshua Chamberlain joining the party!)

This photo booth thing is all the rage, so Julia thought it would be so fun to do it for her birthday party.  Here are the results:

Are they waaaayy cute, or what?!?

Katie, Julia, Sophie and Sasha

This is Hope and Madeline, Sophie's sister...these two little ones had a blast in the shadow of the older kiddos. 
Here's one more party pic....the cupcake decorating!

Then we had a second party!  Julia's bestie, Kimberlee, has a birthday 2 days after Julia's.  We had a party with her too!!  Here's a pic of the cake I made for that party, and I'll post more when I find where I put them...

This is an Oreo cake and it was good.  Recipe found on Pinterest, where else?

Happy birthday, sweet girl.  We are blessed to have you in our lives.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bao Bao

I admit it.

I have an obsession.

You would too if you saw all that I've seen.

My kids are addicted too.  Yup, I even encourage it.

We have been addicted for almost 7 months now.

Meet Bao Bao, meaning priceless treasure, pronounced like bow, as in what you do when you see royalty, not what you tie.

You get it now, right?  Have you seen anything cuter than a baby panda?  I didn't think so.  Okay, maybe my own kids were cuter...they definitely were/are...but this baby ranks right up there.  She was born in August and we have kinda, sorta been addicted to the Panda Cam at the National Zoo ever since.  The day we downloaded the app, school was derailed.  She was so tiny.  She slept a LOT.  But when she was awake, we could hear her cry and talk to her momma.  Momma would pick her up and cradle her, human style, and feed her and clean her.  Ohmysweetness!!  It was hard to get enough.  As she grew, she became mobile, Great Pandas don't walk until they are 3 months old, it was so fun to watch her.  As we counted down the days until we could see her in person, we endured hubby making fun of us!  I mean, from our perspective we were learning about pandas, homeschooling at it's finest (except the day that the panda cam totally disrupted academics!), but I can see where he is coming from, from his perspective.  The chorus of ooooos and ahhhhhs from three girls who can't take their eyes off a sleeping baby panda, I get it.  We deserve a, "You guys are totally addicted" eye roll every once in a while.  But he thinks she's cute too.  He'll say, "Let me see" when we are watching.  I think he's a secret Bao Bao addict.  I even think that down in the JLOC he's got the Panda Cam up on the big screen.  You think?  Maybe.  It's possible. 

The day comes.  We can finally go see her.  We are FONZ members, Friends of the National Zoo (the Army isn't the only one who rocks acronyms!), therefore we get a sneak peek, members only, time to see the object of our obsession.  We took school work with us because she sleeps a lot.  Like a LOT.  I was prepping for lots of waiting because we weren't going to leave without seeing her.  We were not disappointed!!  Let me tell ya, as soon as we walked into the Panda Exhibit we could hear the crowd.  We were so excited!!!  As we got closer, there were many people there, but not as bad as it could have been.  We got to see her, I had to lift Hope up so she could see over the crowd, and Julia maneuvered so she could see, grabbed the camera and set it on rapid fire.  And there she was!

If you are not oohing and ahhing, it's official, you have no heart.

She played out where we could see her about 10 minutes and then went back into her den.  On the Panda Cam, you can see her in her den, but when you are in the Panda Exhibit, you can't.  After a couple minutes of her being in her den, I'd say about half the crowd cleared out.  The girls scooted right up to the railing.  We were prepared to stay hours...we weren't going to watch for 10 minutes then give up!!  And then all the people around me started talking.  I realized that we were in good company with our obsession.  In fact, I realized that we were only minimally obsessed compared to the crowd we were in.  Yay!  One lady said she had waited FIVE hours the previous day and didn't see her!  Lucky us, we walked right in a saw her!  And then, after being in her den less than 5 minutes, this happened:

I know these are a bit blurry, but can you tell what happened?  Here's my version.  Mei Xiang, aka Momma, says, "Little one, your fans are here!  You can't sleep now!  Come back out and be cute!" and proceeds to drag Bao Bao out by her back foot!!!  So as the crowd gasps at this, the pandas seem to not be phased and have fun, and all our new friends start to giggle.  (I'm glad my momma never drug me out by my hind leg, BTW)  It was so fun.  She is adorable.  Totes adorbes, as my kids would say.

Like I said before, have you seen anything cuter?!?  Oh, so sweet!!!  We watched her for quite a while and then decided to see the rest of the zoo and come check in with Bao Bao before we left.  As always, it was a wonderful day at the zoo and this is what we found when we returned:

a sweet, sleeping baby girl...and two very happy big girls with panda daddy, Tian Tian, in the background.