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.

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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.

Today, my baby turns 10. So he’s my oldest baby, but my baby nonetheless. In theory, it should have been a day full of fun and celebrating my child. Watching his favorite movies, playing video games, presents, a special dinner, and a birthday dessert. I started out knowing it wouldn’t be quite that. With a physical therapy appointment in the morning and a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, the poor child was going to spend the day keeping his brother and sister occupied in various offices. Plus, I had received a note from Amazon saying that our shipment would be delayed a week, so no presents from Mom and Dad.
Turns out his birthday wasn’t even that nice. Yesterday night, Clara showed symptoms of Xavier’s virus from earlier in the week. Instead of getting it over and done with quickly like Xavier, my youngest child was up all night long. My faithful washing machine ran all night, and I am so thankful for the sanitize cycle. I didn’t get much sleep by the time Chase was leaving for work, but since I was up I called and canceled/rescheduled my appointments. I couldn’t risk exposing Clara’s germs to others. Finally, around 8, instead of pouring out love on my child, I went to bed. At noon, I got a text “Coming home, please unlock the door from me.” The virus struck down another member of my family. When I went down to let my husband in, Austin informed me that he was ill as well. So Xavier spent his 10th birthday as the only member of the family not sick or exhausted (while I didn’t get sick, taking care of everyone and cleaning up after everyone did take it’s toll on me.)
Now I get to brag on my kid. He was a total trooper. He was bummed for a bit, but when Chase had woken up from a nap I let him open his present from Grandma and Grandpa. Armed with a new Lego set he went off to play with a huge smile on his face. He still got his dinner and dessert, and at the end of the day he said it was “the best birthday ever.” It doesn’t take much to please kids.

Another post from the Facebook vault.

 

Thanks to Kim I can write this morning what I planned on writing last night. Gotta love helpful friends who give advice on how to properly use Facebook mobile when I whined about not being able to do what I wanted to.

Let’s see, for those of you wondering about the car top carrier, the problem was the factory cross straps. Went to the store and bought new hoss cross straps which cost out the ying yang, but as we can drive the speed limit on the interstate they are worth every penny. However,while we can go faster, yesterday, I was that slow poke on the highway. That carrier really changes your center of gravity and yesterday while I was driving it was über windy. I guess that was just more of that adventure I’ve been looking for.

The car made it to the shipping company on time, Chase left me with the address plugged into the GPS and sped off. Good idea, I would have been extremely stressed driving in the wind and trying to keep up with him. Plus, it’s not like he was just waiting there on me, he had some serious paperwork to fill out. The company was pretty cool there. For Chase they were nice and helpful, and the atmosphere was happy and family like. Smiles and laughing abounded. It’s always nice to see a place like that.

Made it to Dianna’s  apartment, and then the bum arrived with April and Adam. Adam was the coolest kid ever playing with my boys all night long. They had a blast. I have to say, I haven’t laughed that hard since Dianna came to visit us in GA. She’s good for me. We need to stay friends forever so I can continue to get regular Dianna time. The bum and Chase actually didn’t get into any “conversations” about politics, social issues, whatever. But there’s always today.

Learned a lesson last night, not all Marriott’s accept dogs. Glad we learned that here, Dianna took Ella for the night and know we know to ask no matter what chain we’re headed for.

Gots to go get today started so I can have more to write about.

I am exhausted, and it’s still early.

Last night started off with me going to bed anxious and not able to sleep.  Then came the knock on the door.  “Mom, I threw up in the bathroom.”  Hey, in the bathroom, no big deal right?  Well, the toilet lid was in the down position and my poor child either did not notice or didn’t have enough time to open it.  I will spare you further details of my middle of the night fun.

This morning I awoke full of anxiety.  Somehow my brain got stuck in worst case scenario mode.  Every time I gave a situation to God, telling Him that I have no control over any of the issues, and I want Him to take care of it, I was imagining another series of trauma filled events.  I seem to have a creative brain that can spin a soap opera-worthy drama out of even the smallest things.  And all seem plausible to me.  The rest of the world may view them as crazy, but once I start to thing up these things they seem more likely than any normal positive outcome.

This was the state of mind I was in as I entered the dentist office.  However, from the receptionist, to the dental hygienist, to the dentist, everyone seemed pre-disposed to put my mind at ease.  Nope, my kids do not all have perfect sparkling teeth.  But there was no condemnation.  Advice and suggestions, yes.  Follow up appointments for two of my children, yes.  But everything was made easy and fully explained.  The boys both had good experiences and left the office happy.  And then there was Clara. You take your child in to their first dentist appointment, and well, you expect crying, some stubbornness.  I was surprised that Clara was excited about going to the dentist, but she is my child who says “yes, I want to go to the ER” when I use the threat “Do you want to go to the emergency room?”  to try to stop dramatics over small hurts.  She seems to block out memories of shots with doctors and only remember that they are people who pay a lot of attention to her and want to know all that she has to say.  A dentist is just another kind of doctor.  So I got it, but how would she really feel about someone poking around in her mouth.  This dentist was prepared for a little diva.  Flower sunglasses to protect little eyes from the bright light.  A stuffed duck to hold onto.  She was right at home.  While I was off looking at x-rays of the boys mouths, she was in her chair having the time of her life apparently.  Charming the hygienist.  No fear and total compliance.  And she has those perfect sparkling teeth.  Not only clean, but apparently perfectly spaced.  She didn’t just manage no problems, the dentist and hygienist were marveling over her little teeth and attitude.  I can’t say that I’m surprised that she’s the one with the healthiest teeth, and I can’t take credit for it.  While the boys whine about brushing, Clara fusses and insists that her teeth get brushed regularly.  All in all there was nothing to fear.

After the dentist we got home, and promptly went back out.  After my middle of the night joys, I didn’t want to see what we had for dinner again.  Just sayin’.  I took the kids out to lunch.  On the way home I drove by my polling place.  It looked quiet.  So we went in and voted.  I brought in my cheat sheet and was copying my answers onto the ballot, all while trying to wrangle my children.  And suddenly I noticed that I mis-marked my ballot.  The shame, the horror.  I meekly backed out of the booth, offending ballot in hand and had to admit that I had messed up my vote.  No shame, no condemnation.  Just friendly smiles and a fresh new ballot in return for my ripped up, messed up one.  I filled out my new ballot, double and triple checking before marking a circle, and then checking once more before putting my ballot in the machine.

We got home and Xavier asked to be allowed to shovel the driveway.  Yep, I’ll let you take care of that child.

So my day is nearly over, and nothing terrible has happened.  All my worry from the morning was for naught.  Could someone please send the memo to my brain that all that worry and worst-case scenario projecting only raised my blood pressure in unhealthy ways. I try reminding it, but it doesn’t listen to me.

Aahhh.  Sitting by the fire and relaxing.  It’s another day when I feel as if I really haven’t accomplished much today.

I guess that’s another thing I should look at while doing Celebrate Recovery.  Why it’s so important to “accomplish” stuff every day, and why only certain activities fall in the list of accomplishments.  I really haven’t been lazy today.

The day started off at physical therapy.  I actually really like going.  I still dread doctors, but my physical therapist isn’t someone to be dreaded.  First, they play worship music in the office.  The music with the prints from Shane Lamb studios leads to a relaxing atmosphere.  (Shane Lamb is a painter who paints Alaskan landscapes, and I adore his work, by the way.)  Then my therapist is helping me to work toward getting me into shape with no condemnation.  Like, I know my posture is out of wack, but honestly, I’ve never know what to do about it.  While all my life people have told me “shoulders back,” no one has pointed out what muscles to use and how to properly make them stronger so that putting my “shoulders back” didn’t hurt and wear me out.  My therapist never said a word about poor posture, she just looked me over and said, “Now let’s do this exercise,” and then, “Use this muscle instead of that one.”  I get it now.  And my back adores her.  She’s teaching me a lot.  Since starting therapy a couple of weeks ago, I’ve managed to hurt my back a few more times, but it has never lasted overnight.  Plus, I’m feeling stronger.  I felt a bit indulgent going to physical therapy for back pain I could deal with, but I’m so thankful I’ve been going.

While I was gone, Chase had the day off work.  However, being Chase, he was working hard.  My garage is being turned into a home gym.  He’s been re-organizing our boxes out there and getting rid of stuff to make room for our gym.  He’s cleared space for a treadmill to go with my elliptical, and we bought mats today for the floor to make space for workout videos, yoga, and free weight training.  He even brought our extra tv out so that I can play videos to workout to or play DVD’s while I’m on the elliptical.  We just need another DVD player (actually a 3D BluRay player is on the list of stuff to buy, and the old DVD player will go out to the garage.  The kids are all excited about having a space to work out, and Xavier even put in 60 minutes on the elliptical today.

Well, I couldn’t be out done by Xavier, I decided that while in workout clothes from physical therapy I should do my daily workout as well.  I should really consider that an accomplishment.  Taking care of myself is important.  The energy and mood benefits from working out make it something I should do often.

After lunch, I recalled that tomorrow is November 6th.  A day that requires some preparation.  So I decided to prepare.

November 6th is a day I have been dreading.  I’m taking all three kids to the dentist.  I hate taking my kids to the dentist and the doctor.  It comes from my need to be perfect.  Because I’m not.  I feel as if I should be able to make sure my kids have perfectly sparkling teeth, and if they don’t have perfectly sparkling teeth I have failed as a mother.  Instead of seeing the dentist as someone who will help me in the goal to have children with perfect sparkling teeth by teaching me tools and tricks, I see the dentist as someone judging me as lacking and deficient as a parent because my kids do not have perfect sparkling teeth.  I’m working on changing how I perceive things, but it’s easier to be in denial than to deal, so I put the appointments out of my mind.  However, today, I had to remember.  With all three kids going in at once, the receptionist recommended that I print the forms and have them filled out ahead of time.  So I needed to get that done.  And I needed to find the insurance cards.  I got that done in record time, but I’ll admit that the doing of it added stress to my day.  Mostly because I still just honestly dread the dentist.

November 6th, also happens to be Tuesday, November 6th.  And if anyone out there doesn’t know, that means it’s election day.  In elections past, I’ve been registered in areas I’m just passing through, so I’ve voted for President, Senate, and House, but left most of my ballot blank.  What did proposition 12 (a hypothetical issue, I don’t even know what else was on the ballots elsewhere) have to do with me when I knew I was moving before it would take affect?  I didn’t feel as if I had much right deciding issues when I had no horse in the race.  However, I’ve been determined to be an Alaskan since before I moved here.  And have loved it here since I arrived.  We may leave, but this time knowing I’ll be back.  I care now.  Being that this is my town, my state, I want my say in all the issues.  But I knew nothing about the issues.  Tomorrow I get to vote on the fate of 19 Alaska judges, 18 of whom I’d never heard of before today.  I needed to study up on the issues.  That took hours.  I feel as if I’ve been cramming for a test.  But I am prepared to go out and vote.  I’m kind of excited, even if this is the fourth time I’ve exercised my right to vote this year.

So I did all that, but my laundry still isn’t folded.  My sheets are over-due for a washing.  The list of stuff I need to “accomplish” seems unending.  I need to learn to be okay with that.  I did what needed to be done today, and laundry can always be done tomorrow.

It’s time for another “old” post.

 

Almost done in this state, this time tomorrow we will be in another state hanging with friends. Or if all of us show our age, we will be in bed after having had a great time with old friends.  We just have to get through tomorrow morning first.

I really feel for Chase today.  Moving is tough business and he’s bearing the brunt of it.  My day was easy.  I slept in. Don’t know if you’d call it sleeping in or a mid-morning nap after the early morning I had.  Clara woke up at 3:30 and didn’t fall back asleep until 6.  As we aren’t home and Clara doesn’t have a section of the house all to herself I stayed with her to keep her quiet so that 2 people didn’t get any sleep as opposed to 5.  Then at 8:30 the dog was desperate to go out, and I woke Clara up trying to find the room key.  I crawled back into bed at 9:10 and did the best I could to get some sleep as my vision was blurry from sleepiness. It was a tough job as Clara has learned to open doors in the past 2 weeks and kept running into my room and crawling into bed with me.  At 10, I was finally awake enough to function so I gave up on the idea of real rest.  Hopefully, I can find some tonight.  I got to play in the pool and take a walk on the river walk with my kidos.  It really was an easy day.  Chase had to finish clearing and cleaning the house.  I felt really bad when he called around 4 letting me know that he was still hitting it.  We got so much work done yesterday, but as Chase told me the more square feet you have to clean the longer it takes.  And we wanted to do a super good job.  Our landlords have been good to us, and they are in Anchorage.  To me that’s a big one, I’d like them to be friends, so we’re trying to treat them as such before we get there.  Inspection is tomorrow. The inspector is a good guy and I wouldn’t expect a hassle from him unless we damaged something, and with the cleaning Chase did I can’t imagine it going any way but well.  At 6 I called him, just to check up.  At that point I was feeling so bad, I wanted to be there helping. Although, I remind myself with my kids, keeping them from making the job more difficult is helping.  But I also knew I got to rest and relax today and Chase spend the day working his behind off.  Fortunately, at 6 he and Amber had finished and she had even prayed with him before heading home to be with her family.  Got to love friends who take the time to have a last moment of prayer.  Now he’s totally exhausted from the day he has and there is still stress about tomorrow.  We have to pick up the car. It had work that we wanted to get done before we left, and it was ready days ago when we had time to pick it up, but the guy who did the work didn’t call and let us know that.  So now, when we don’t have time we have to make time.  Plus, we have our house inspection, not a big deal, but there’s always that feeling inside that something could go wrong, can’t imagine what, but it’s still there.  Then there’s the carrier.  Don’t think the issue is installation error, but instead the bars on the van are too flexible and are bouncing with the carrier as air flows underneath.  I’m having Bernoulli flashbacks when I think about that one.  We really need to fix the issue though because the  carrier trying to keep our speed down will only cause tensions to rise and stress to escalate.  He’s researching that now.  Plus, there’s the huge issue of making it to Atlanta on time.  We need to get the car to the shipping place in time or wait until Monday.  Chase had been saying if we couldn’t leave here by noon, we might as well not leave till Monday, but we have plans with friends tomorrow night.  And we can’t cancel, the bum will be coming on over to see us.  As this is a rare occurrence can’t miss it.  And of course, I want to get on the road.  I am so excited.  I don’t think I am as good as helping Chase relax as he is for me though.  He just says the word and my blood pressure starts coming down.  I’ve been trying and his is only seeming to rise.  I wish I could do more, but all I can do is love him and keep the kids in check.

Well, I’m off to watch Sarah Palin’s Alaska reruns and do my best to show love to Chase.

I’m sitting in my living room, enjoying the sun coming in the window.  I know it won’t be long before the sun won’t come up higher than the mountain, and that at this time of day we may have technical daylight, but I still won’t be seeing the sun.  For now, I’m enjoying it while I’ve got it.  I look around my sunlit room and see many things that weren’t here a year ago. The walls of this room were somewhat bare for a while.  Not completely bare, Starry Night, a picture called Shipwrecked, and a painting of the Arc de Triomphe adorned our walls. But that still left a lot of blank space.  We had stuff we could have put there, but we decided not to.

When we were first married we lucked out.  We hit the jack-pot for poor, still in college newlyweds.  My dad had recently remarried and moved into Sally’s house.  So we had a houseful of furniture at our disposal.  My grandparents had recently downsized so we got decorations.  Chase’s sister and brother-in-law also happened to live in the same town we did and were happy to unload stuff from their newlywed years.  We had a fully furnished, stocked,and decorated house.  It didn’t matter that all the posters were of places we’d never been, or that other than the Coke collection the decorations reflected other people more than us.  It was better than cardboard boxes and bare walls.  To this day, I am super thankful for the generosity of all those around us.  We had it good.

At some point though, it started getting to me.  I’d see things I’d like, and reflected Chase and I a little bit more, but our walls were full.  We’d walk into other’s homes and see their personalities in each room of the house.  People would walk into our house and ask when we were in Austria.  Never, we inherited the picture, isn’t it pretty?  I felt we couldn’t take the pictures down, it all had to go up.  We were so blessed to be given these things, I couldn’t turn my back on the wonderful stuff we’d acquired.  Then it hit me, these things were not priceless heirlooms being passed down.  We would hurt no one’s feeling if we thinned things out a bit.  When we moved into our house here, I decided that I would be more selective about what I put up and where I put it.  I love my grandmother’s egg collection, particularly the glass ones (they are pretty and sparkly), but the stone and marble ones did nothing for me.  So the stone and marble ones are no longer part of the collection.  Chase and I love American history, so we devoted one room to all the things we have inherited that depict that theme.  Other family heirlooms were relegated to the guest room.  I still love seeing them and having them, but as they don’t reflect who Chase and I are, they aren’t front and center any longer.  And the posters of places we’ve never been, only one ever graced my walls. That one was only up because it was easier to put up a picture than to pull the big nail out of the wall.

A big house with lots of wall space, and a determination not to put up what didn’t reflect us left us with a lot of empty walls.  It was refreshing.  The blank spaces were possibilities waiting to be filled.  And I could tell the story behind everything that was up.

It didn’t take long before we found stuff to fill some of the spaces.  Finding was the easy part.  Narrowing down to what would fit and what we could afford, that was the hard part.  With hopes of extending, we devised a six-year plan to get all the Alaskan art we desired.  First, came a downtown panorama of Anchorage.  Next, a poster of Denali.  We were given a couple of posters that we loved and just needed to be framed.  However, these posters, I have determined, were made to be the most awkward size for framing, so for the longest time they were left, rolled up in a closet.  That was before Chase deployed.  Suddenly, it was R&R and I still hadn’t made any progress in the framing department.  After Chase left again, I lit a fire under myself and took those posters down to Hobby Lobby.  One poster I cut to fit a pre-made frame, and for the other, I sucked it up and paid for the custom frame.  While Chase was home on R&R, we found our next big art purchase.  Still on the six-year plan, we decided that The Cave would be this years major purchase.  The week after Chase left, I did the budget, found the money for the picture, and soon another wall was no longer bare.  Then, the day before I went to the state fair, our six-year plan bit the dust, branch said “don’t know where you are going, but you can’t stay here.”  I made a large withdraw from the ATM the next morning with the determination to find something on our list and get it at the fair.  The Shane Lamb booth provided the perfect opportunity to relive my wallet of that money, and two painting came home with me.  Since then, I have regained some perspective, we do have over a year left here, not everything has to be bought immediately.  However, as the temperatures fall, outdoor activities are ceasing, and Christmas is approaching, the art fair season has begun in Anchorage.  Last weekend we went to the Deninia Center.  There we did some research on the moose antler on my list, and during that time I fell in love with the carved whales the B Merry studio makes as well.  While we didn’t buy from that booth, yet, I did convince Chase we needed to purchase a photograph of Mt. Redoubt.  I was astounded to see a picture of my favorite spot (so far) in Alaska, and decided we “needed” it.  Well, the photographer was having a deal if we bought three, so a photo of the Northern Lights and one of the Matanuska at night also are awaiting frames before adorning my walls.  This weekend I wanted to visit the B Merry studio at the Made In Alaska festival.  I do so love their work.  I just have to decide exactly what it is that I want because I can’t buy it all.  At the festival, I found myself wanting something I had never even considered before.  Carved baleen.  The baleen of one vendor were spectacular. (Possibly because of their large size, I honestly thought it was about four feet long until we were putting it on our wall, it’s more like six feel long.)  It wasn’t on my list of what I wanted until I saw them.  Thnen one came home with me.  So now my walls aren’t quite so bare.  But it’s still refreshing as I love everything I have on them.

Yesterday, I wrote all about going to see Shrek before I even began to get ready to go.  I had no idea what drama would ensue.

I had hours at home with just me and my kids as Chase had to be at work.  The original plan had been to be at church and then the church picnic and then clean house.  However, I wasn’t quite sure I was up for all that activity.  I was feeling better after a bout with sickness the night before, but I wanted to make sure I was feeling my best for the show.  So what to do with my time?  I decided to get ready and look good, this was a big date night with my husband, I’d treat it like that.  So I showered, shaved, washed, exfoliated, plucked, lotioned, conditioned, polished, and curled.  I was even going to go all out and wear a skirt, until I realized that I own no panty hose. So instead I went for Alaska formal wear, jeans.  I even prepped the kids.  Clara’s hair was curled, a dress was put on, and I put some make-up on her.  I made sure the boys had combed hair.  Didn’t mess too much with their clothing choices, we do live in Alaska.  I will say that everyone at the show dressed their best, but this is Alaska best.  The formal wear I saw ran from what looked like prom dresses to clean jeans and t-shirts.  Everyone looked nice, so it works.  My boys were wearing clean clothes, so I just asked that Austin put on long sleeves under his Shrek t-shirt (he gets cold so easily, I just wanted him to be comfortable all night long).  My plan was to have all of us ready by four.  At four, I was putting my stuff into a different purse, hey, I wanted the whole look to be perfect and the brown bag went with my brown boots, brown sweater, brown wrap, etc.  Before I had everything in, Chase called. He was done with what he had to do, did I want to come down for dinner?

I had been hoping for dinner out with Chase all day.  That’s why I wanted to have make-up on and hair curled by four, just in case.  Then he asks did I want to meet him at Qdoba, or did we want to try Olive Garden.  So, I’ve been craving Olive Garden all week, since clipping a coupon in last Sunday’s paper for Olive Garden.  But it was just a bit after four, and we had a show at 7:30, could we make it?  Here’s the thing.  Anchorage just got Alaska’s first Olive Garden earlier this year.  People drove down from Fairbanks and up from Homer when it opened.  The day they opened, before they opened their doors there was already a two hour wait to be seated.  Things have calmed down a bit since then, but trying to eat there, especially for dinner, can be crazy.  It’s still a novelty.  It’s still the only one, another one will be opening soon, but it’s not open yet.  Even though we all probably know local restaurants that can give Olive Garden’s entrées a run for their money, Piccolino’s lasagna can’t be topped, the novelty of it being something that people in the Lower 48 can get, and we haven’t been able to, gives the new chain restaurant much appeal.  When watching tv, especially in the winter when we are hiding in our houses from the cold, dark world outside, we see the same commercials as everyone else.  The national ad for Olive Garden, or for Red Lobster, airs here as it does everywhere else.  It doesn’t matter that the nearest location is 2,000 miles away, it’s a national ad, so it airs.  And we drool and get jealous.  Then Olive Garden comes, and we come in droves as if led by the Pied Piper.  All that to say, I wanted to go to Olive Garden, and I knew we needed to get there fast if we were going to wait the wait to be seated, eat and still make it to Shrek in time.  I hastily assembled my purse and loaded the kids in the van.

We made it to Olive Garden before 5, and had a 35-40 minute wait.  Here they usually overestimate the amount of time needed to seat you, so we were good.  Chase arrived with a friend from college who had also joined the Army and is stationed at Wainwright, but was down here for a bit.  As we were talking and waiting, I started thinking about going to the show.  I knew Chase had his ticket, so if time got to be an issue, he could drop us off by the door, and the kids and I could go in with our tickets, which were still sitting on the table from when I got Chase’s ticket out to give him that morning.  In my haste to get to dinner on time, I forgot to grab the tickets.  I looked at Chase and told him “Your wife may have forgot the tickets.”  I said good-bye and ran to the van.  With no kids in the car, and a husband that I really wanted to have dinner with, I drove like an Alaskan on the highway on the drive home to retrieve the tickets.  I was at the table before the appetizer.  Here, I must, with joy, point out that the evening was not ruined.  In the past, I would have beat myself up over my mistake, and turned it into a big deal.  Last night, instead of stressing, I did what needed to be done.  In the past, I would have been worked up, I would have needed someone else to take charge and at the least tell me what to do.  And then I would have resented that they needed to take charge and been irritable.  I’m so thankful that God is helping me to not be that woman any longer.

Dinner was great.  We had fun.  The waiter had been made aware that we were in a hurry, so he kept things coming.  I relaxed and stopped looking at the time.  I wasn’t the only one who was having so much fun and enjoying the moment that time went out the window.  We left the restaurant at five till seven.  We had thirty-five minutes to drop our friend back at the barracks, drive downtown, park and get seated before the show started.  I’m still amazed that waves of stress didn’t begin to roll over me, change my attitude and bring strife to the night.  It’s so not like me to remain calm.  But things were going so well.  The night was so good, and still had such good potential.  I didn’t want to ruin it by starting arguments.  I didn’t want to ruin it by driving my husband crazy with questions like “Do you think we will make it?”, “What are we gonna do if we are late?”  I decided we should just do what we had to do.  Drop by the barracks, drive downtown, and go to the show.  If there on time, great.  If not, so we miss a couple of minutes of the show, we’d still get to see most of it.  Chase dropped off the kids and me by the theater.  We made it in just as the announcement that five minutes till the start of the show came over the loudspeaker.  I decided to take the kids and sit down.  They take a while to get settled and I knew Chase could find us.

As the lights dimmed, the seat next to me was empty.  When Shrek appeared on stage, the seat next to me was empty.  But before Shrek even met Donkey, the seat was filled.  I relaxed completely and enjoyed the show.  It was a good show, and we had killer seats.  During intermission I even ran into the wife of the owner of Chepos.  It’s horrible I don’t know her name, but we see her weekly at the restaurant and she spoils my kids rotten.  We chatted in line waiting for the facilities.  When I sat down I began to read the program, and laughed as I read the director’s note saying he wanted this play to bring the community together.  To be something to talk with your neighbors about during the week after seeing each other at the show.  I thought how this lady and I have another link in a chain toward a relationship after seeing each other at the show.

So we laughed, at one point so hard I nearly cried, we cheered and we watched Shrek marry Fiona.  Then it was very late, and time to head home.  As I got Clara ready to leave, I noticed that she was missing earmuffs and gloves.  Again, this would have been cause for high levels of stress for old Lori, but this Lori knows something.  It’s not a big deal.  I knew where they had to be, Olive Garden. And I knew, even if not there, it was just earmuffs and gloves.  My daughter is not short on cold weather gear.  As Chase’s car was still at Olive Garden, he suggested we not delay and just retrieve them while we dropped him at the car.  A sign on the door said, no re-entry after 10, but I knew they wouldn’t be yet really closing, people were still eating there after all, so I snuck in.  They hostesses were so nice and had Clara’s stuff waiting for her.

Going to bed at the end of the night, I was amazed at how well the whole night went.  There were so many triggers for stress.  But everyone involved chose to remain relaxed, everyone chose to have a good time no matter what.  And it was a magical night.  A night full of only good memories.  A night that brought us closer as a family.