Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our Story, Part XVI: Reader, I Married Him

**Bonus points to whoever can name what book the title is taken from!**

This is one part of a much longer story, which you can catch up on here.  I've had this post on my to-blog list for over two years now, can you believe it!?  Since today is our 8th anniversary, I told myself  there will be no rest until it's done.  Without further ado ...

March 25, 2006 dawned bright and beautiful.  And perhaps a bit chilly too.  I think it *may* have hit 50 degrees at some point, but certainly not during our evening wedding.  But at least it was sunny.  People always seem to equate March anniversaries with spring weddings, but not in Central Pennsylvania.  One of the biggest blizzards of my lifetime took place in March.  So while there wasn't any rain or snow that day, there wasn't any flowers or green grass either.  And yet, it was still the most beautiful day of my life!

Photo Credit: Erin Cole

Photo Credit: Erin Cole

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
The ceremony wasn't until that night, and thanks to my super-organized wedding planner, there wasn't much to do that day.  So it was surprisingly slow and relaxing.


Photo Credit: Erin Cole
And since I had so much free time my friend/bridesmaid/hairdresser/back-up photographer got some of my favorite pictures of the day.

Photo Credit: Erin Cole

Photo Credit: Erin Cole
Seriously, everyone needs a friend/bridesmaid/hairdresser/back-up photographer in their life!

Photo Credit: Erin Cole
My memories of our wedding day are so hazy. I remember my bridesmaids and I arranging pearls on wire to put into our bouquets ... while we were in our dresses.  I remember the seamstress sewing a hem on a bridesmaid moments before walking down the aisle.  I remember forcing myself to use the restroom before the ceremony started ... and then never going to the bathroom again the rest of the day!


Photo Credit: David Miller Photography

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
I remember feeling so absolutely giddy in the final countdown.  For real, March 25, 2006 was the happiest day of my life!

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
The ceremony started with our worship leader singing "You Raise Me Up" and the mother's lit the candles.

I'm surprised they didn't just high-five each other here.
Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
Then, some little girls from our church did an opening dance with streamers to Michael W. Smith's "Agnus Dei."  The bridesmaids started walking down the aisle and I stayed hidden behind the stairs.

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
And then the cue.  This was it!

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
Our church has some seriously long aisles.  It's a good thing my dad was keeping pace beside me because, judging from the video of that day, I was attempting to run down the aisle.  I just remember my face started to hurt from smiling, and we were only a few minutes in.

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
And the rest ... well, the rest is history.  C'mon, like I could remember anything the pastor said when the love of my life is standing across from me, gazing into my eyes.  The ring bearers and flower girl were having a party behind us, but in that moment, we were the only two people in the world.

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
And then the ceremony was over.  We pranced back down the aisle.  Nabbed a quick husband and wife smooch in the back lobby, and then ran out into the parking lot to sneak into the back door for more pictures.

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
Afterwards, it was off to the reception, where we celebrated our new start as a couple.  And where I was promptly ushered into the Coast Guard family with a sword-smack to the butt.  (An apropos beginning if I do say so myself!)

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
I don't remember eating at the reception.  I do remember rushing around trying to catch up with friends and family we hadn't seen in so very long.  And then, because time was running out, we unwittingly ended up with the divide-and-conquer-approach.  Because I remember thinking, this isn't right.  We should not be more than an arm's length apart at our reception!

Photo Credit: David Miller Photography 
Photo Credit: David Miller Photography
Eventually, the guest numbers started dwindling.  So we staged our escape and dashed through a corridor of sparklers, cheers, and smiles.


Then Jon stuffed me into the car, we drove around to the back of the building, and snuck in the back door to finish saying goodbye to people.  (Please don't think all this sneaking-in-back-doors is a reflection of our relationship.  I think it's much more a testimony of our efficiency and regimented ability to "stick to the schedule.")

And there you have it, eight years ago today.  The day I pledged my life and my love to the boy from Sunday School.  The day I made a covenant with the kid I thought would make a good husband.  The day I stepped away from everything I had ever known and set off on an adventure with my Handsome Coastie.

Had I known where it all would lead, would I have still pranced into matrimony?  Ehhh, maybe not.  But that's the beauty of a covenantal love.  On March 25, 2006 I made a promise for forever, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, (and no matter how many babies in how many years!) I had no idea what was to come, no clue what married life looked like just around the bend, and not a thought for how quickly that bend would come (with many more to follow.)  At the close of that day, I was the happiest girl alive and nothing could take that away from me.  Well, at least not for the next five weeks...


**If you guessed (or Googled) Jane Eyre, then you're correct!  And if you said this was the first line of the last chapter of the book, you're amazing!  And if you also mentioned that this line is most famous because it illustrates Jane taking on a much more active posture than we've seen throughout the whole book ... well, then you probably read the same commentary I did.  Give yourself a pat on the back!**

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Let It Go

Reading: Maisie Dobbs Book 1.  1920's English detective novel, need I say more?  I'll just add that my Oxford friend, Sally, sent us a fun package last week with treats for the kids and this treasure that I've been partaking of on a nightly basis!
Watching: Most of my free evenings have been spent at the Apple Store Genius Bar (more on that later).  I did get to transcribe a video lecture on Fast Fourier and Discrete Fourier transforms and other convolution mumbo jumbo.  I was hoping it would be like a free education, but when it comes to Math (or any subject these days), I think I'm too far gone.
Listening to: Let It Go, come on, what were you expecting?  This song has been stuck in my head all week thanks to the kids love for the YouTube video where the guy sings in all the different Disney character voices.  Alas, I haven't even seen the movie yet.  I started to watch it last night but Joci had other plans...
Can't get off my mind: Computer backups.
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I'm just going to go ahead and call it, this has NOT been a Top 10 week.  Probably not even a Top 1000 week.  (Yup, I just pulled up the calculator to figure out just how many weeks I've been alive.)  But these kind of days, or runs of days, are to be expected sometimes.

The tongue--her signature pose.
I want to blame the weather.  And the time change.  While we're at it let's throw responsibility at the moon as well.  Because these children are bonkers.  We did have that snowstorm on Monday.  And it ended up being a larger event than our trusty weatherman predicted.  It was beautiful and we appreciated the day off of work (and by "work" I mean Jon's work, because having him off of work also means less of a "work" day for me.)  But I didn't get any pictures because, well, I feel like I've taken a lot of pictures of snow this season.  And apparently there's going to be another opportunity to do so next week.  Old Man Winter has put up quite a fight this year!

"Mom, want to see what my school friends call the creepy face?"

All I can say is, I'm glad I don't have kids in school yet.  Because as of right now, school make-up days are running well into our family's summer vacation.  Yikes!

Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the flowers ...

... and so does your little sister who copies everything you do.
So I started off the week by walking away from my computer in the middle of a work project.  Four hours later I came back and was welcomed by a blank screen.  Long story short, according to the helpful Apple people, something went amiss in my software and the only way to fix it was to reinstall the operating system.  Not a big deal ... except that none of my files were backed up.  Long-time readers are well aware, this is the story of my life.  You'd think I'd catch on at some point.  I did once.  We have an external hard drive.  And we were using it.  But it got maxed out years ago.  And although figuring out a system for backing up our data has been on my to-do list ever since, it just wasn't a priority since getting a brand spankin' new Mac.

In other words, I was just asking for it.  I left the Genius Bar in search of a way to save my data before doing the reinstall.  It didn't take long to realize such action comes with a hefty price tag.  The Apple-recommended place charged a flat $399 fee.  Which is probably a good deal if you, like, ran over your computer and hadn't backed it up in 10 years.  But with my hard drive still intact and only 9 months of stuff to lose, $400 just seemed a bit steep.  Best Buy's Geeks start out at $249.  I found a local place that quoted me a bit lower and had awesome customer service.  So I took it to them.

The next day they called, while I was in MOPS, to let me know that, uh, sorry, your hard drive really is messed up and there's no way we can back this baby up in our little shop.  But we'd be happy to send it to another company ($39 shipping fee) and they can do it for somewhere around $1000 to $1500.  Ummmm, lemme think about that ... NO.  I mean, when you think about it, it all poses an interesting question.  Just how much IS your data worth?

By data I mean 9 months worth of photos.  Translated: my youngest daughter's entire lifetime.  My shopping/menu-planning/price list spreadsheets.  A few blog graphics.  All my MOPS newsletters and other publicity projects.  A pretty collection of fonts.  And a load of applications/software I've downloaded over the past year.  Soooo, what kind of price would YOU put on that?

By this point I was in tears.  I couldn't even finish my MOPS brunch (which NEVER happens, you guys).  Not only did they say that the hard drive "looked" damaged, but that I wouldn't be able to reinstall the operating system because of that.  Since the computer was still under the initial one-year warranty I decided to take it back to Apple and check out the hard drive once more.  The data suddenly became less of a priority when we're talking the entire computer could be broken.

I suppose I could have tried harder.  I know there are ways out there of retrieving data that I know nothing about.  But the more I thought about it, even $249 is a stretch.  Yes, it's a lot of photos, but at least I still have all my favorite pictures posted on my blog (and hosted by Google).  And the MOPS stuff can be done-over. The fonts can be reinstalled.  The grocery stuff isn't necessary.  At the end of the day, we're just talking about man-hours.

And honestly, I was tired of being sad and stressed.  I wasn't sleeping well at night worrying over my computer.  And my kids were forced to live with a mopey, distracted mother.  It was time to move on.  Time to let it go. *cue the song*

So made another trip to Apple after the kids went to bed and gave the Genius permission to do whatever needed to be done.  (Have I mentioned how nice those Apple people are?  I mean, it's a bit intimidating to sit down across from someone with the word "genius" on their name tag, but they never make me feel dumb.)  As it turns out, my hard drive is fine.  (I have half a mind to call up the other people--the "geeks" as they deem themselves--and let them know they were WRONG!)  So my Mac is back up and running ... minus all my stuff.

Her sympathetic listening face.
And I'm totally okay with it.  Which, believe me, is a relief in itself.  I spent the morning reinstalling some stuff and on the phone with Microsoft trying to retrieve my Office Suite product key (still working on that, by the way).  And then Julia asked for a tea party and it seemed like the perfect break.



I'm bummed about the lost stuff.  And more than anything I'm ticked off at myself for letting it happen.  As "keeper of the home" and I'm also "keeper of the family history."  And I hate that I let a good chunk slip.  But you know what's better than thousands of pictures?  The real deal.  Just one tea party with this girl is better than a million pictures of the same (especially when the majority of those are outtakes.)


I may have lost the birth announcement I designed for my omega baby, but I get to kiss her cheeks every day--multiple times a day.  And not to sound morbid or anything, but I'm not guaranteed that chance tomorrow.

Oh, did I mention she's sitting up on her own now?  I, unfortunately, have no idea when that first happened.  Sometime this month I suppose!
We live and learn.  And right now, I'm learning to clean out the clutter.  Those sweet baby boy clothes that I'll never have the chance to use again.  That maternity shirt that I adore, but that is beyond "repurposing" for my non-pregnant body.  Jack's favorite brown pants that have rips from the thigh all the way down to the ankle (that both Jon and I have tried to throw away a few times!)  The sewing project that I started before Joci was born and haven't picked up since.  The jogging stroller, so full of memories (and rust) from numerous walks along the ocean.  The thousands of mp3's from college days that I'm not even gone to bother to re-load on the computer.  And all the stress over a baby girl that just.won't.take.a.nap.

She has the best "let it go" face ... and accompanying giggle.

He's a little more serious about "letting it go."  Not happy about finding his ripped pants or his "tera-dock-alus (mispronounced dinosaur name) in the trash.

Crazy kid.  Makes everything a game.
Let it go.

Sounds like a good day to start spring cleaning.  But first, time to set up the new backup system.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Snowing and Growing

Reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog - My friend, Jill, gave this to me for my birthday.  I started it over the summer and, like a good many other things, promptly forgot about it after July 21.  It has since been rediscovered!
Watching: Training videos for my new job.  Imagine that, an editing/transcription job that actually trains you! I'm floored.
Listening to: John Mark McMillan Future / Past. Mmmm, I just love this song.  Don't ask me about the rest of the album though, I haven't got past this one song yet.
Can't get off my mind: CSA shares. Should I do it this year?  Is it worth it?  Will I be able to fit the random foods into my weekly meal plan?  Will it end up saving me any money?  If you have experience, do share!
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I started this post in my head last week, when our town was shutdown for snow ... again. And then things warmed right up and the kids and I pounced on sunny skies and fresh air. And then yesterday we wake up to below-freezing temperatures and wind so fierce there are branches down all over the yard. Today it promises to be beautiful again. And of course, Monday we're expecting a snowstorm. Such is March.

Starting our seedlings.  It's a test in survival.


Let's talk about my people. First, my big guy Jack, who has just grown up so much this past year. Most of my fears from the last 4 years or so have dissipated. He's still ├╝ber-social and a bit too physical, but I no longer cringe every time we go to the park or Sunday school. He's got friends.  He likes them and they like him, and for some reason I find that exciting and relieving at the same time.

We're ready for your visit, Poppa!


And like every mom when it comes to her kids, I think he's super-smart. He's sounding out letters and reading short sentences, and I'm getting giddy just thinking about the hours he'll spend on a blanket reading Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick in a few months. Because that's what 5 year old boys do, right? Sit quietly and read books?

I can't wait to tell him when he's older that the first phrase he could read and recognize was "Dog waste bags."



Speaking of quiet, I decided to give the boys their own special place as far from the house as possible. We built a stick fort this week and they've already stocked it with weapons and treasures found on our walks. After yesterday's wind storm, we should have enough materials to expand!


Thanks to Jack, I can put another notch on the mommy-belt.  We dealt with our first ear infection last week.  First Jude had a fever for two days, and then got better.  Then Jack had a fever, and did not get better.  He kept complaining about his ears and (silly me), I kept writing if off as a sinus infection.  Well, when he woke up screaming in the middle of the night, with blood and fluid all over his pillow, I realized it may be a bit more serious than I thought.  He's on the mend now, but can't really hear too well at this point.  A convenient condition for a 5 year old who has selective hearing to begin with.  So there's been lots of yelling in our house this week.  Jack - because he can't hear how loud he is and me, just trying to get him to hear what I'm saying.

The kids have asked for a tea party every day lately.

It's all about the "sugar lumps."

Don't let his [lack of] enthusiasm fool you, this was all his idea.


Moving on to #2.  Where Jack concerns me with his "physicalness," Jude worries me with his mouth. He's loud and sassy and repetitive.  So repetitive.  When he's upset, he copes by repeating his argument over and over and over again.  Usually at his loudest volume, most twangy voice, and while laying on the floor kicking his feet.

Jude wanted a picnic for he and Julia.
He's best known for saying "Mom, I 'chold' you I didn't want ____."  Except he "chold" me no such thing.  Apparently, he has his mother's gift for rehearsing conversations in her head and forgetting that they never took place out loud.

He did not want to ride his bike on the road because a car might come and "squish him flat as a pancake." He said he needed more practice on his bike and that he plans to "practice for a few hours after MOPS."
Although he didn't have an ear infection, Jude was sick with a fever for a few days.  He's completely recovered but likes to play the "sick" card whenever he feels it's convenient.  Like when I serve something he doesn't like for dinner.  "I sick, my mouth is telling me I can't eat chicken."  Or he'll say, "I cold.  I shiiiiiv-ering.  My legs are telling me I can't clean-up."  Clever Jude, very clever.

Top-notch day at the "Farm Park."

Perfect day to visit the playground. They were mesmerized by the backhoe and dump truck.

And then there's Miss Julia.  Thanks to this girl, I sleep well at night.  It doesn't matter how few hours I get or how many times the baby is up.  As long as I know Lia is down for the night, I can finally relax.


First, there's my stuff.  She loves my purse, my wallet, my jewelry (I'm about to offer my boys a reward for whoever can find a missing favorite earring that she pilfered.)  She likes to spray my perfume.  She's practically emptied my blush all over her lips.  She puts her fingernails in my lipstick.  And then there's the mascara.  I was nursing the baby last night and Jon heard her saying, "Ouch, ouch" over and over again.  He looked at her standing by the mirror and there she was with my mascara wand, drawings whisps of black on her eye lids and hair.


Oh wait, let's not forget her hair.  Nonnie and Poppie were here for a short visit on their way to Florida last week and Nonnie offered to braid Julia's hair.  She loved it.  And fully-expected me to do the same the next day.  I suppose I should mention here I have never french-braided in my life.  But I did on Sunday.  It looked horrible, but my sweet girl thought she was the most beautiful little lady in church.


 I admit, I'm surprised at how girly she is.  I wear make-up maybe 4-6 times month - for church and MOPS.  And I rarely remember to wear jewelry.  And yet my 2 year old doesn't want to leave the house without her purse, Dora bracelets, a hat, and fresh coat of chapstick.

Not a happy moment. But this is one of her "princess" shirts.
Which brings me to another point.  When we first found out Julia was a girl I told Jon we were not going to do the whole princess thing.  This is not medieval times.  You are not exempt from every day responsibilities.  I am not here to wait on you.  I love dress-up and imaginative play.  And I picture my girls' pretending to be Jo March, Anne Shirley, or Laura Ingalls.  But right now, I feel like I'm losing the battle.  Julia is "princess" everything.  She'll refuse to wear a shirt if it's not a "princess shirt" (I haven't been able to figure out just what makes one shirt a "princess" one and another not).  Her tulle skirts are "princess skirts."  Her biggest headbands are "princess headbands."  And her beaded jewelry is for "princesses" too.  Oh, and french braids are also "princess."



In the meantime, I'm utterly lost as to how to raise a young lady is who both inwardly beautiful and outwardly confident, while still being true to her own little spirit.  Her innocent, high-pitched little voice reminds me this is only the beginning.


And as for my last little lady, good heavens we're having difficult time.  I think I've said this with every kid, but for real this time, Joci is my WORST napper.  I mean, I thought Jude and Julia were tough because they would only sleep 45 minutes at a time.  Oh no, I'm lucky if Jocelyn takes two to three 20 minute naps a day.  That's it.  Sometimes, if she falls asleep in the car seat or the Ergo, she'll go a bit longer.  There was that one day a few weeks ago where she slept for 3 hours after our walk.  But on a typical day, Mama doesn't get much free time.  And that's just naps.


Currently, she's up three times in the night.  Usually around 11, or whatever is approximately 15 minutes after I've fallen asleep.  Then 1:30.  Then sometime around 5:00.  I got serious last week about keeping her out of our bed.  It took a little time, and one night of me listening to her from the floor for a little while, and then army crawling out the door when she finally fell asleep.  But since then, I'm usually getting her back to sleep in her own bed.  It's just the initial waking up and stumbling to her room every few hours.  I thought it was a cold, then maybe teething.  Now, I don't even know.  She's probably just hungry.  At nearly 8 months, I haven't been able to get her to eat anything but mommy's milk (or the occasional cracker to gnaw on.)  I'm working on trying to up my supply, but at the end of the day, I'm sure nighttime feedings are just a part of our realty for these next few months.


Really though, getting up at night doesn't bother me nearly as much as a baby that doesn't nap.  I'm torn between "my baby isn't getting adequate rest for her development" and "there's only so much you can do as a mother of four."  I read somewhere that approximately 13% of babies just don't nap well.  I suppose I have good chances of having one of my four fall in that category.  So perhaps I'll just take it and pray for God's grace over her little brain and body.  The good news is, despite her lack of sleep, she is still a very happy baby.  That little two-tooth smile just slays me.


The teeth.  Oh, the teeth.  On one particular rough night I vaguely remember her gnawing on my shoulder sometime around 3:00 in the morning.  The next day I go to take a shower and discover two huge, purple hickies on my neck.  This is in addition to the long lashes across my chest, the fingernail marks that grace my collarbone, and the scratches across my waist that she attacks with her free hand while nursing.  Good thing it is not tank top weather.  Oh yes, she also gave me a bloody lip when she unexpectedly swung her large head around to catch a glimpse of who knows what.

Because we're in to that easily-distracted age.  Which could be another cause of bad naps.  You try nursing/shushing/putting-to-sleep a baby with four other kids in the house.  Every time I sit down to put her to sleep, someone inevitably comes crashing in asking for a snack, complaining that someone else is hitting them, trying to feed me pretend soup.  And every time they do, the Little Miss is wiggly and scooting to get a view.  It's those days when I'm totally on board with being done with babies.


And then I drop off another load of my favorite baby clothes, or attempt to look through a pregnancy magazine in the clinic waiting room, or pack up a box of maternity clothes ... and it hits me all over again.  Perhaps all my whining about not being ready to say goodbye to babies has brought on this 7-month-old acting like a newborn stage.  I suppose I asked for it!


I'm trying to move on.  I got this idea about going back to school for something, but that will have to wait a few years.  In the meantime, I've started working for a new company this week and they are pretty stinkin' awesome.  It's nice to work for someone that is at the top of their field.  Come over for tea and non-napping babies sometime and I'll tell you all about it.  For now, it keeps me busy when Jon is working late or at the gym, and those few hours when all four of my little people are fast asleep.  Because, despite the all the above, despite these winter storms and "growing pains," there are still patches of sunlight and a occasional hours of quiet.
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