Like me, my husband has always felt he has something to say.  Unlike me, he has been pursuing that passion since the day we met. While I longed to write, I disliked being told what to write and how to do so, and became a math major so I could write as little as possible.  Plus, I really like math.  My husband on the other hand was a communications major, learning from the start how to present and get his point across.  Since then he has pursued a career in Army public affairs and continued his education further honing his craft.  The only problem with his current  job is that he is telling the Army’s story and not his own.  He does it well, and I brag on him often.  However, his voice was yet to be heard by the general public.

I got my time in the sun and a chance to tell my story.  That opportunity was due to my husband believing in me and helping me to see my dreams come true.  The irony that the opportunity fell into my lap, I who did nothing to prepare myself for the chance, and not his was never lost on me.

In his recent pursuit of further communication education, my husband has been in the presence of instructors who are pushing him to succeed in new levels.  How he can brand himself, and how he can get his own voice out into the world.  This led him to a personal pursuit of publishing op-eds.

So now I have two sides at war: the side that wants to be supportive of my husband, and the side that relates to the character of Jo Schirra from Astronaut Wives Club.  The Jo side says don’t do anything to rock the boat, do nothing that could remotely disgrace the Navy, or Army in my case.  Not that Chase would do anything to disgrace the Army, but perceptions can be tricky. This risk-adverse side would rather not discover where a general’s line might be the hard way.  Both sides know that my husband is very talented and would do well at this new endeavor.  It didn’t take long for me to decide which side I would plant my flag on.  I really do want my husband to pursue his passions.  If this was his way to be heard and make a name for himself, I was behind him one hundred percent.  I decided to let him be him and God be God.  I didn’t need to control possible outcomes; that is God’s job.  If my husband was going down a road he felt God was leading him on, I would trust both of them.

That was before his op-ed got picked up by the Baltimore Sun and within 24-hours of being published online was linked to the Drudge Report.  It hadn’t even hit the newsstands yet.  This would be seen. Suddenly there was very little chance that those above him would remain oblivious to his name being out in the world attached to his thoughts.

But nothing has changed, not really.  The op-ed was well-written and thoughtful, probably why it was published in the first place.  Nothing he said was controversial, though there are those who will pull controversy out of it because it is in their nature.  There is not a single thing that someone could fault him for.  Plus, God is still in control; it is all still in His hands, and He knows what He is doing.

I am proud of my husband and am excited that the world it getting to read what he has to say.  I eagerly anticipate what is yet to come.

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Before we moved to Alaska my boys loved to watch American Ninja Warrior.  It may not have been their favorite, but they made sure they didn’t miss an episode.

When we finally moved into our new Alaskan home, that got taken away.  For an abundance of reasons we broke ties with Direct TV. (For those of you wondering, it was not that their service was unavailable where we lived, we simply felt that we no longer wanted the service.)

It just so happened, that while Chase was deployed, NBC picked up the show.  (We did pick up some bunny ears to watch TV by.)  The kids and I needed bonding time.  Plus, being able to watch this much enjoyed show added some normal back into their lives.  We had a standing date to watch ANW every Monday night during the summer of 2012.

Being ninjas became the dream of all three children.  The house and yard became ninja warrior courses.  My kids were literally climbing the walls, and I embraced the enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure that my parents would not have allowed footprints on the door frames and finger prints on the ceiling, but I decided I wasn’t my parents.  Frankly, the kids were so cute and happy doing things that impressed my socks off that I didn’t even want to stop them.

American Ninja Warrior was now fully ingrained in my family culture.

In 2014, I finally decided it was long past time to get my kids involved in some sort of sport.  Knowing the popularity of ANW, I was hoping to find a parkour gym or ninja gym.  Unfortunately, I could not find one at that time, so I enrolled the boys in the next best thing-karate.  In the summer of 2015 I heard rumors of a ninja gym opening in Eagle River.  However, I did not hear these rumors until I had signed a second 12-month contract with the boys’ dojo.

I had forgotten about those rumors when in 2016 my husband and I went to a hear a pro-life speaker in Anchorage.  At the event I could not miss the tall, muscular, bald guy in the audience with us.  This tall man recognized my husband and approached him.  Lee informed us that he was the owner of a parkour gym in Eagle River.  He encouraged the whole family to come by.

When our contract with the dojo ran out we took the family to Pacific Rim Athletics.  The kids were enthralled-bars everywhere, a large tumbling floor, climbing walls, a trampoline, a foam pit, ninja obstacles, and finally a warped wall.  It was what my ninjas had dreamed of and more.  The weird thing was that Lee kept saying the whole family should sign up and take classes.  Not just the kids, not even Chase and the kids, but me too.

Let’s take a second to talk about me at this time.  I had a waist that made people ask the question “When are you due?”  I had not exercised for real in months due to injury.  I felt like the last person someone would want hanging out in their gym.  But as much as I tried to let Lee know it was okay if he didn’t mean me, if he didn’t feel as if I should work out there too, he kept insisting that I would benefit from the gym and that it would be fun.

I decided to put this crazy guy to the test.  I signed up five out of the six of us.  Rory was left out, being too young to listen well in a potentially dangerous environment.  I completely understand their policy of not enrolling children under the age of six.

My first class was tumbling parkour.  I had done gymnastics in the past, so I was familiar with most of the tumbling moves, but with twenty or so years between classes I wasn’t so sure that my body would be up to it.  But I tried.  I did a forward roll.  It was more of a forward flop, and I think I began doing lunges after my first flop.  However, all the moves reminded me of what I used to do, and the fun I used to have.  I kept showing up,  I kept trying, and at some point I could begin to do these crazy things. I could cartwheel and hang from a bar.  I was hooked and determined to get better.  I developed goals for myself.  By January, I would be strong enough to hold a backbend and do a skin-the-cat on the rings.

Suddenly, the Army decided what it wanted to do with my husband and we would be in a new state by January.  I would have to say good-bye to this gym and all the classes I had begun to take.  When we left I was taking Parkour/tumbling, ninja strength, aerial/circus arts, and the Saturday morning conditioning class.  I was stronger than ever and having the time of my life.

Not only was I getting a lot from this gym, most of the family were involved; we were doing this together.  Chase tried all the adult classes his schedule would let him attend.   Xavier excelled at tumbling, ninja strength, and breakdancing/power moves.   Austin went to tumbling and ninja strength classes with other kids his age.  Both boys were able to move up to level two in all of their disciplines.  Clara was amazing at circus art; she was growing in strength, flexibility, and confidence.

Suddenly, all of that was gone for all of us.  We had to leave Alaska, and there was no gym to replace what we had, at least not within a reasonable driving distance and/or with a reasonable schedule for me to shuttle myself and the kids to.

But I now had dreams.  Dreams of what all six of us could do with the chance.  And I did not want to let those dreams go.

 

Living in the 907 was a catalyst for much change in my life. Most of the changes have been good; some were great. However, there is one thing I picked up that I would rather drop: extra pounds.

I wasn’t skinny before I made the journey north.  My struggle with weight pre-dated my time in Alaska.  Six years of cold, dark winters, a deployment, and one more pregnancy compounded the matter.  Long ago, I had picked a number that as long as I had not reached  I was still okay. While in the Lower 48, I was still some distance from that number.

I cannot be sure just when I went over. While Chase was deployed,  I had stopped weighing myself in fear that I had finally reached my limit.  I decided I was not responsible for what I wasn’t aware of.  In recovery we call that denial.  Before recovery I was Cleopatra, queen of denial. (Sorry, I can never resist the chance to use that joke.)  I was already exercising by the time I had begun to see the error of my ways, so when I finally hit the scales I was back under that number.  The first time I saw that number on a scale, I was 30 weeks pregnant; therefore, I gave myself a pass.  I found myself slowly gaining pounds after Rory’s birth, and was trying to be proactive about not reaching it.  Unfortunately, some old injuries resurrected themselves in my zeal to exercise the weight off.  Last summer the scales tipped beyond that number again.

Ages ago, when I created the threshold, I also had a plan-a trip to GNC to buy whatever weight loss remedy was hot.  I knew this wasn’t the most healthful plan, but I figured the extra weight was also not healthful.  It just so happened though that at that same time Alaska gave me an excellent solution for my weight issue.

PS 907 is the Alaska area code, not my current weight 😉

Yesterday, we heard about this awesome event on the radio. At the cemetery downtown people would be dressing up as some of the people buried there and telling people about their significance and the history of Alaska. We were so excited. We got the kids in the truck and drove into Anchorage. The cemetery was deserted. Turns out the event is actually tonight. But since we were there we thought we would look around anyway. We knew Sidney Laurence was buried there and as we love his work, thought we might check out his gravesite.

Before yesterday the only cemeteries I’ve spent any time in have been military: Arlington and Gettysburg. In those graveyards the tombstones don’t tell a lot about the person. Name, rank, religion, and dates of birth and death. Some are buried with their wife so you know that they were married. But you don’t tend to see the “Here lies a great man,” or “She was loved by all,” that I had heard about being on tombstones.

At the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery you really can learn about the person buried there. We walked around the Pioneers section. At Sidney Laurence’s grave was a tombstone and the top of the stone looked like Denali. One of the interred must have loved planes because a model plane flew over his resting place. We saw former governors and statesmen, founding families, and military heroes. The ones that touched me the most were the ones which I simply felt like this person impacted many lives and was well missed. I don’t remember the exact words that made me see those people as special, but something about their tombstones showed that those people made a special sort of impact.

It made me think of Nicole Nordman’s song Legacy. Nicole sings about how she wants to be remembered, not by her accolades but by her legacy. Not by what she did, but who she was.

To me a big part of the difference is the effect of a life on others. What you do makes others appreciative for what you have done. But who you are is what makes others change who they are. It causes a ripple effect that lasts forever. And that is a true legacy.

I like the idea of leaving a legacy behind. But I know that type of thing is only done by those with great character. And I know how character is formed…through trial and the development of patience. That is not fun stuff. However, the idea that the work that begins as I develop patience can affect others generations from now is kind of cool. It may help me to bear through the next time I am afflicted with trials.

So just over two years ago, I decided that I would start an online journal and share it with close friends and family, you know all my Facebook “friends.”  Honestly, I thought I’d post a time or two, get busy with life and that would be the end of it.  I mean I know me, I start projects that I never finish.  The big basket of cross-stitch projects attest to that fact.  And writing, that’s not my thing.  I joke that I majored in math so that I never had to write again.  Okay, I’ve been know to start writing a story now and again, but I quit well before I finish as they suck.  Real writing, for prolonged periods of time, that just doesn’t sound like me.  Somehow, I kept writing.  People were interested.  And writing about me, well that’s easy as I know I’m highly self-centered. 

Then I decided that harassing my friends and family to read about me and my life wasn’t enough, I should subject myself to the general public.  I opened a WordPress account and began a public blog.  I was astonished when people who don’t know me were liking my blogs.  I still don’t know what possessed them to choose my blog out of the many, but I am so glad they found enjoyment out of it.  Then, people started following me.  Asking to receive notice when I wrote.  That still boggles my mind.  It makes me happy to think people enjoy what I have to say that much, but it still astounds me. 

Today, I’ve taken writing a step further.  I will have a bi-weekly column in the Chugiak-Eagle River Star (www.alaskastar.com) beginning the last edition of January.  I guess this math major turned stay-at-home mom is now turning into a writer. 

I love the holidays, but I am so glad they are over. I don’t want Chase to go back to work, but I am ready to get into a routine.  I have been so busy, I haven’t even had time to make New Year’s resolutions.  While I don’t have resolutions, I do have some serious plans for the next year.  My husband is home, we don’t expect to move for about another year, this is as normal as life gets.  It’s time to get down to business.  My general plan is to really live my life. Teach like it’s my job, cause even though there isn’t a pay check it is my job.  Really get involved in church and Celebrate Recovery.  Blog on a more regular schedule.  Exercise, any at all will do; I want to be ready to do it all this summer, it may be my last here.  Really, just continue the work that I started last year when I began to attend CR.  Nothing new, just really working hard to become the person God made me to be.

I have come to the conclusion today that I stink.  I am inherently lazy, bad at setting priorities, and generally stink.  My to-do list is ever growing, kind of like the pile of clean laundry at the bottom of my closet right now.  I feel overwhelmed by the little mundane things of the day.  While, life at the moment may not be all the way in the unmanageable category, it certainly fits the unmanaged category.  And I realize what slips through the cracks.  While I’m trying to balance homeschooling, housekeeping, laundry (which really does deserve its own category), exercising, and all the other cares of this world, God slips through the cracks.  So I’m praying all day long.  Talking to God constantly, but not listening.  Not reading His word.  To take a moment to just be in His presence, without doing, never.  Everything else comes with a deadline.  Dinner must be cooked before dinner time, or else we can’t eat.  Laundry must be washed before I run out of clean underwear.  Kids must be taught before they are old enough to go off to college, it may not be an immediate deadline, but as they grow so fast and there is so much for them to learn, that deadline looms like an impending storm.  But God, He waits.  He will not leave me if I ignore Him.  I won’t have hungry, therefore whiny children if I ignore Him.  My clothes won’t stink if I ignore Him.  And I forget that there are serious consequences of ignoring Him.  I slide farther away from Him as I ignore Him.  Hungry for Him, I become cranky and whiny.  I stink at life when I begin to ignore Him.

In the past when I’d notice this, I’d have a plan.  I would do X, Y, and Z, and get myself back on the right track with God.  It was all about me, and what I needed to do.  Well, at Celebrate Recovery, I have learned this is insanity.  Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  The truth is, as hard as I try to make myself better, I end up here every single time.  Knowing how much I need God, yet pushing Him to the side.  The truth is that by myself I cannot clean up the mess I have made.  By myself, I cannot bring myself closer to God.  All the plans to read my Bible and pray don’t matter if I’m doing it for me.  So this time, I’m going to do my best and focus on God, not me.

I still have a plan.  But I know it’s not about my plan.  It’s about my God.  And I will read my Bible, not because I’m supposed to, but because it’s about HIm, and I need more of Him.  And I will pray, not to talk and try to figure it all out, but to just be with the One who can sustain me through everything.  And I will take a moment to remind myself, I am His, and that is all that matters.  It’s not about what I’ve done, or not done.  It’s about a God who loves me.

Wow, today has been the most normal weekday I’ve had since Chase has been home.  I’m looking forward to January when life should be full of them.  Okay, I’m more looking forward to December when Chase has block leave, so I get to spend tons of time with him.  But the prospect of normal life in January is nice too.  It’s not so much that Chase is home that has had me rushing about on week days.  Things just happened that way.  My back decided to have issues right before he came home, giving way to weeks of physical therapy that started the first full week he was home.  Then the kid’s dentist appointments were scheduled right after he got home, and the initial appointments lead to a bunch of other appointments.  Then everyone got sick.  Today was the first day I didn’t have to leave the house, either for groceries, physical therapy, dentist, orthodontist, or anything AND no one was sick.  I got to just do my life.  And I love my life.  It was a great day.

I got up, and didn’t have to rush off anywhere.  When I wasn’t quite ready to leave my bed, I pulled out my computer and blogged.  Yes, the secret is out, I blog in the morning for the day before.  While I want to blog, it isn’t important enough to take time away from precious evening time with Chase.  I put laundry in the washing machine.  And not because I was on my last pair of clean socks either, this was pre-emptive laundry, not necessary laundry.  The kids and I ate lunch, and I didn’t have to hurry them through it.  They could take their time if they wanted to.  We got school work done.  And I got Xavier caught up on History.  We are still behind on Science, but we are caught up on History.  On a busy day, those two subjects get cut so that we can all remain sane.  I exercised, before Chase got home.  That meant more time for Chase in the evening.  At the end of the day, I could tell that life hasn’t been normal.  As I folded laundry washed today, the huge mountain of laundry that has been done out of necessity and then not folded mocked me.  I still couldn’t get everything done by 5, it’s a good thing Chase came home a bit late or dinner would not have been ready for him.  But give me a few more days like today, and everything should be running smoothly.

Now where to find those days.  Wednesday will not be one of those days.  Thanksgiving wasn’t planned until tonight, so I have to go brave the grocery store.  Next week won’t be with more appointments lined up.  December will be blissfully not normal with block leave allowing lots of time with my wonderful husband.  January, January should be normal.  That’ll be nice.

So yesterday was the debut of Married to the Army:Alaska.  Today the second episode aired.  I saw the first episode, but as I don’t have cable and therefore don’t have OWN, I haven’t yet watched the second episode.  I will try to catch up as I have time.

I will start of saying I’ve had mixed feelings about this show for a long time.  When I first heard of the show, I thought this is a terrible idea.  Depending on the wives chosen the show could give Army wives a horrible reputation.  Pick the right people and the world will see us as slutty, sleeping around when the husband’s gone, stuck up snobs and social climbers who think we get the perks of our husband’s job and rank, and the possibilities are endless.  Then I thought, maybe if I was on the show I could give light to the average military wife whose life is full of diapers, laundry, and here in Alaska, snow.  So I put in an application.  Then it became apparent that I was not chosen, but an acquaintance was chosen.  Ohh, the jealousy I experienced.  I went from this is a horrible idea, to why wouldn’t they choose me.  Then the taping began.  I saw and heard of events that were happening, that normally wouldn’t happen, or normally don’t happen during deployment.  And I learned that while the wives may be real, this tv show is almost as scripted as Army Wives.  So, as my bs meter doesn’t tolerate as much as it used to, I thought it might be good that I’m not a part of that.  Plus the fact that while I learned to deal with all my issues of this deployment I didn’t have a camera catching all my awful moments, or someone asking me to explain what I was going through and asking if I could elaborate on my feelings and emotions.  Add to all that, I hate camera and microphones, and can write my feelings much better than I can speak them, the show and I would have been a disaster.  As the show approached, I still had mixed feelings.  There is some stuff that has happened during this deployment that I would really like to come to light, that probably never will.  Yet, I also want this show to go well, because let’s face it, it is me being portrayed even though you won’t see me on it.  Those are my peers, and they represent me.  Then there is the personal issue, this show makes me want to gossip.  I want to talk about the back stories that I know.  I want to talk about what I’ll be seeing.  I looked forward to the show airing and planned on using this blog to review the show.  At some point in there, I remembered that gossip isn’t good for anyone.  Not the gossiper, and not the listener.  (And when the gossiper is doing her gossip in a public forum, and her husband happens to work at the same base as the show being gossiped about, it’s probably not good for the husband either.)

So the show aired, and I was able to watch the first episode.  And then it seemed as if everyone I know watched the show, my Facebook page was full of people talking about the show.  As I know a lot of 425 and former 425 ladies, this should come as no surprise.  Again I was hit by something.  While the show might have been staged and scripted, the women are still real, and they still have real lives and feelings.  One woman became the person everyone loves to hate.  And again I was thankful to not be one the show.  I know that I have moments that I put my foot in my mouth and do something that eventually makes me want to crawl under the nearest rock.  Boy am I glad that the viewing public has never seen those moments and will never get to comment on those moments.  To see those moments on tv, and then to see what everyone is saying about them, wow.  People seem to have forgotten that we are only seeing the side of her that the producers choose to air, there might be more to her.  And she’s a real person with real feelings.

Knowing that these are real ladies with real feelings, I have decided that I won’t pass judgement on the show.  I won’t add my background info.  I’ll be happy to discuss the wives on Army Wives as they are characters.  I won’t be adding fuel to the fire if I comment on how Denise should have listened to me and kept a huge barrier between her and the doctor.  That it’s okay to seem old-fashioned and unfriendly to ensure that you aren’t lonely and looking for make companionship when your husband is deployed and acting like a bit of a jerk.  As they are fictional, no feeling will be hurt if I tell you why each character needs to go to Celebrate Recovery.  (That’s a running joke between my husband and I, when any character acts the fool we look at each other and say “You know what he needs?”  “CR”)

Today ends the Xavier birthday saga.  Poor kid, on his birthday everyone was sick and I was too busy taking care of the sick to really hang with him.  Then on the proposed day of his party, I was sick and we had to postpone the party.  Chase was the best dad and hung with Xavier, played games with him, and generally made him feel better.  So today we finally had his birthday party.

Let me start by saying, I very much limit the number of children who attend a party to the number of children I can handle.  We had one birthday with tons of kids, but it also included parents and outdoor activities.  Xavier wanted a game birthday party, and he’s now old enough that parents feel comfortable dropping off their children and leaving me with a household of rambunctious, school-age children.  Therefore for only a small number could be handled, both for everyone to be able to play the games and for my personal sanity.  So I only invited two families worth of boys.  Unfortunately, one family could not attend the postponed party.  So we only had one family worth of kids coming.  I was down with that idea.  I decided the kids could play and celebrate a birthday and the adults could have their own game night.  I invited the whole family.

Xavier didn’t mind the short guest list.  All the kids had great fun.  I honestly can’t tell you what they did.  I think video games were played.  The little girls for whatever reason brought the contents of Clara’s kitchen downstairs with nearly every blanket in her room.  At one point the entire entry was covered in pink blankets.  But everyone played well together, and they all picked up when the party was over.

Why did I not know exactly what the kids were doing?  Well, I could hear that nothing bad was happening, the kids were all happy, and I was having way too much fun.  I love game night.

To start the evening our guests brought over some of their favorite games.  I picked Munchkin after hearing the description: Kill the monster.  Steal the treasure.  Stab your buddy.  Yep, “stab your buddy” I was intrigued.  I couldn’t wait.  It was fun.  I lost, big time.  However, I think that next time I’ll be more competitive as it took a minute to get the hang of the game.  I can’t wait to play again.  Then we pulled out the top rated game of this house.  Phase 10.  The laughing was endless.  At least on the wife side of the table, but the husband’s seemed to enjoy themselves as well.  The guests won that game as well.  They wondered if they’d ever be invited back to play games again.  They don’t understand how my competitive streak works, they will be invited back until I win, I must have victory.