Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can't Quite Catch Up

Maybe I just forgot how long it takes to unpack a house and family? I believed I would be closer to truly "settled" by now. But, not so much.

It's Tuesday, and I'm just getting around to posting the poem Sue wrote for The Captain. It's Tuesday, and I haven't checked in with any of you...or left comments, which is one of my favorite things to do. It's Tuesday, and the kids and I are headed to Mississippi (hard to believe I haven't been there in two years) tomorrow morning...early...I need to go to bed. It's Tuesday, and that means in just a few days, I'll be 5th row, in Memphis, at the AMERICAN IDOL CONCERT!!! WOO HOO! Snarky Mama is performing the ultimate sacrifice and giving me her ticket. I can't believe it. This means it's true...she loves her daughter more than she loves her some Adam Lambert! UNfreakinBELIEVABLE! I will most definitely share some pictures from this blessed event!

Now for the poem.You may not "get it" because Sue was A-MAZ-ING with how she added personal touches and incorporated the "inside" family jokes. But, this made us laugh, and cry, and laugh some more. Happy 40th Captain, and Happy 16th Anniversary! I love you "most and best"!

A Birthday Tribute to Jared on the occasion of his 40th birthday

There couldn’t be a better day
to celebrate the birth
of Jared, the most perfect and
good-looking man on earth.

This view includes no bias, for
as all can plainly see,
J-Rad makes Pitt look like the pits
and shames McConaughey.

And yet he’s modest to a fault,
despite his many skills.
This guy does more than look good,
he dispenses shots and pills!

You got it; he’s a bona fide
D.O., a woman’s dream.
Okay, he has one weakness…
He’s a sucker for ice cream.

And chocolate chippers dipped in milk…
with crushed red pepper, please!
(Some oddities are not offset
by medical degrees.)

Some oddities are not offset
at all…Take the remote.
JJ has two speeds only: warp
and slow as an old goat.

But no one wants to get his goat
on this, his birthing day.
And strange or not, his family seems
to love him anyway!

They love his crazy dancing, and
his cardigan so blue.
They even love it when he says,
“Let’s make a plan.” It’s true!

They like it very much. They do!
“Are we a team, or not?”
They even like his “Popeye legs,”
“steamroller,” and what-not.

His stubbornness? Okay, it’s cool.
His watch obsession? Sure.
The Andersons are loving folk,
who patiently endure.

More than endure…They’re proud of him.
Of course they are! Just think.
If he inhaled a case of Mountain Dew,
they wouldn’t blink...

Because they know if it were bad
for them, he wouldn’t try it.
Besides, he’d never drink the regular…
only the diet!...

The same is true with Cinnabon,
a problem in the past.
These days, he says “Can’t eat that!”
Which means, “Go and buy one, fast!”

Oh yeah, you bet. They know the code.
His family “hears him” well.
That’s why they are “survivors”, who
turn basement lights off well.

They always pay attention to
this man they idolize.
They give him gifts so they can see
crazed glee in his blue eyes.

(Well, not just for that reason, for
they’re givers…to a fault.)
There’s nothing they won’t do for him.
Of their earth, he’s the salt.

A stubborn and sarcastic guy,
who’ll tease you to a fit,
old Jarrell’s still the best around…
and that includes his wit.

It’s dry as dry can be, and honey,
that’s the way we love it!
Sure, he’s a Kansas City fan,
but he can rise above it.

Or not. In Jared, those poor Chiefs
have found a faithful man.
Their losing’s taught him what it means
to be a loyal fan.

And he is ever grateful!
Well, okay then, maybe not.
(At least he’s learned good coping skills,
and those are worth a lot.)

When Natta Splatta’s mad at him,
he handles it with grace.
He whistles loud as loud can be
to find his “happy place.”

He also seeks his happy place
in movies, golf, and running.
He finds Braveheart, The Patriot,
and Gladiator stunning.

On TV, he likes basketball…
(That’s college ball, not pro.)
Chris Farley or The Office seems
to be his favorite show.

He checks out Bernie Mac re-runs
as well…These make him laugh.
His loftier self likes sculpting
to indulge his artsy half.

Oh by the way, this artsy self
IN NO WAY is involved
with “wrestlemania,” an issue
yet to be resolved.

But let’s stick to the pleasant things
like Chloe’s “true love’s kiss”
and Cole’s painful encounter with
the pitch that couldn’t miss!

Hey, ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.
Cole and his dad are a’ight.
(And so are Cade and Dad, who love
to banter day and night.)

Speaking of banter, have you heard
how J-Rad wooed his bride?
Apparently, he made quite sure
that she’d be by his side.

She’d only been in Provo for
a day or two, at most,
when she encountered Jared, in
his role as flirty host.

Church had been canceled due to snow,
so Natalie’s good bud
led her to an apartment filled
with cute guys, not one dud!

The place was packed, but J-Rad said,
“Sit by me; I don’t bite.”
She took it as a challenge and
did not put up a fight.

In fact, she didn’t fight at all…
Four weeks, and she was dust!
In love…engaged…embarrassed, too…
she broke her homegirls’ trust.

She’d promised them she wouldn’t wed,
but Jared had his ways.
It wasn’t love at first sight, though…
just love at fourteen days.

He lied to her right off the bat.
(This truth is sad to say.)
He fed her Olive Garden food,
a fact he’d not convey.

Instead he said he’d done it all…
cooked every single thing.
Did he ‘fess up? Of course! Once she
said yes and wore his ring.

But all was quite forgiven when
he made sure to agree
that, like Natalie’s folks, they’d wed
in Washington D.C.

He wanted his wife happy, and
he gladly paid the price
in cost and inconvenience. Sigh.
J-Rad is really nice.

He is. Why not admit it, with
all kidding said and done?
At church, home, work, or anywhere…
his rep is number one.

He knows that love, not money, is
the gift that makes hearts sing…
and yet to meet his family’s needs,
he’d give up everything.

He’s cradled babies in his arms,
rocked them to sleep, and fed them.
He dearly loves his children and
has kindly, gently led them.

He’s been an anchor for his wife,
a loving friend and teacher.
He’s always by her side and goes
where others cannot reach her.

This poem is getting personal,
so let’s change points of view,
exchanging “he,” “she,” “they” and “them”
for “I,” “me,” “us” and “you.”

Henceforth, the poet hands this poem
into Natalie’s care.
Her voice is needed to explain
the things she wants to share.

Thanks, bard. Okay, I’m taking over.
This should not surprise.
I’ve never been a shrinking violet,
and that still applies!

It’s all about us, Jared.
Start to finish, you and me.
In those first days at BYU,
we sealed our destiny.

A chiropractor you were first,
but finances were tough.
You feared that, as our family grew,
we might not have enough.

And so you took a leap for us
by entering med school.
You took on stress beyond belief
and never blew your cool.

What’s more, you never blew us off
as husband or as dad.
However sleep deprived, you never
yelled or made us sad.

In fact, you made us happy!
Family first has been your creed.
Bedtime stories, hugs, and board games…
You met every need.

You always have; you always will,
in good times or in sorrow.
No matter what goes wrong, your hope
is for a bright tomorrow.

We’ve felt the soaring joy in life.
We’ve borne the sinking pain.
We’ve walked through days so dark it seemed
we’d never smile again.

When we lost our Victoria,
your heart was broken, too.
How did your know the words to say?
The loving things to do?

That day I knew she’d leave us,
just before she left my womb,
you came and knelt beside me, in
the shelter of our room.

You took my hand and held it tightly.
Safety filled my soul.
You helped me tell our little girl
that one day, she’d be whole.

We told her she had changed our lives.
We told her of our love…
We promised her eternity,
united up above.

And then, we sat in silence, but
my heart could not be still.
I wanted, just once more, to feel
her move, to know the thrill…

of her sweet life inside me, ebbing
now. You bowed your head,
and placed it on my stomach as,
together, prayers were said.

We fervently poured out our hearts,
pleading for one last sign
of all she was and is to us,
and of God’s hand divine.

We prayed and then we waited, but
we didn’t wait for long.
Our little daughter said farewell
with one last kick, so strong…

that your head bounced. A miracle!
Pure light engulfed your face.
We’ll not forget the blessing of
that sacred time and place.

Our joy is in the journey now;
we take nothing for granted.
Your life and mine grew richer with
each seed of sorrow planted.

Today our lives are rich indeed.
In you, my soul finds peace…
and warmth and hope and laughter,
wrapped in love that will not cease.

Sometimes I think of half a dollar bill
in one, small casket.
I wait to hear a question and
the dear voice that will ask it.

“Do you still have your half a dollar,
Daddy?” she will say.
I know you’ll answer, “Yes,” because
you carry it each day.

And you will share that ice cream that
you promised her, together,
as all of us look on. One family,
sealed in love forever.

You are my very dearest friend.
I trust you with my heart.
You’re with me when I’m in your arms
or when we’re far apart.

I love you when you’re tough and strong
and when you’re soft and sweet.
I love it when you cook for me.
(Best food I’ll ever eat!)

I love you when I’m Snarky, and
I love you when I’m Belle.
I even love your singing in the shower.
Can’t you tell?

I love you when it’s easy, and
I love you when it’s hard.
(But if you ball my covers up,
you’d better be on guard!)

You are the Captain of our ship.
That’s why we’ve made a fuss.
We hope this poem has let you know
how much you mean to us.

So Happy Birthday, soldier…
40 years, and going great.
It’s time to get your party on.
Hey y’all, let’s celebrate!

This poem presented to Captain J-Rad
on the occasion of his 40th birthday

With love from Chloe, Cole, Cade, Victoria
and Natalie…Your crew.

May every dream you dream be yours
And every wish come true!

Thank you Sue, for your role in giving Jared this priceless gift!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Post is Entirely Too Long

Hmmmm, I don't quite know where to begin.
I guess I'll just start with this:

I can't wait to read your blogs and get all caught up!

So much has happened, and I'm pretty sure that this post will be full of scattered ramblings. I hope you can forgive me. I had this grand plan of journaling the move in chronological order, but that may not be the way it happens. When something pops into my mind, I'm just going to type it asap so as not to forget things.

Only one of us had a meltdown during the entire move. You may be thinking: "Sweet little Princie, bless her heart." Nope, not her.....ME! On the day the packers showed up at our house, I thought things were going well. We had no idea
there was some tension between the workers, the supervisor stopped by, and long story short....two of the three packers ended up walking out in the middle of the job. Oh well, no big deal, two others showed up, things got packed, and we were ready for the movers to come and load the truck the next morning.

Next morning at 8:30ish, my cell phone rang. The guy driving the moving van couldn't find us. He and his coworkers were about 20 minutes away at a truck stop, wanting to know if we could drive to where they were, so they could follow us to our house! I suggested just telling them how to get to us from the truck stop, but the guy said no because he wasn't sure exactly where he was. What the @*#*?? Right now, it makes me laugh. But at the time, going on practically no sleep, and knowing that after everything was loaded on the van, we still had to clean the house immaculately, load our cars, and drive for hours...well, it sent me over the edge! If these guys couldn't find my house when they were 20 minutes away, how in the world were they going to find their way to Georgia?!? Ever the calm and collected type, the Captain set out to track down the movers and lead them to our home. He felt certain none of this was cause for concern.

Turns out, he was right. No matter that they couldn't find our house. No matter that the driver, Mr. Samuel, was somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 years old. One of Mr. Samuel's associates, Mr. Charles, was close to 70 and the others were (compared to Samuel and Charles) whippersnappers. No matter that every 45-60 minutes each one of them stopped to take a smoke break. They got the job done, and even though we left Maryland several hours later than we had hoped, it was all ok. (Just a small sidenote...I don't have much advice for moving, even though I feel like based on the number of times we've done this, we've reached expert status. The only piece of advice I have is this: keep your movers happy. We always make sure they have a cooler full of Gatorade and water. And, we feed them lunch. They like it. It makes them feel appreciated. I was shocked as they shared stories of how horribly some people treat them. Probably people like me who have no calm, collected Captain to talk them down when movers can't find their house!)

So, we made it to Georgia to close on our house with exactly 12 minutes to spare. We rolled into that closing looking like a bunch of hobos. Nobody cared....seriously, they just wanted our cash.

Now, to the house. I can't even express how much all five of us love this home. I feel like Goldilocks when she finds the porridge, chair, bed, etc. that is "just right". We are finally home, that's the only way I can describe this! We have spent so many years crammed into places that weren't a good fit for us. But this home? It fits. It's not too big or too small...it's just right. The first night, I was up at two in the morning, just roaming around and taking it all in.

The first week, we all slept on the floor in the master bedroom. Our food came from the coolers because we hadn't purchased a fridge. We ate picnic style since we sold our dining set before we left Maryland. We had no t.v., no computers. It made for fun memories. Good times. After a week, we got the call from Mr. Samuel and Mr. Charles...yep, they had made it and were in the WalMart parking lot. Could I please drive there, and lead the way to our house? Of course I could...and this time, no meltdown.

We are still getting settled. That always takes longer than expected. It took me three days just to organize the kitchen. I've never had so much cabinet space, so much drawer space. For the first time in sixteen years, I was able to unpack all of my dishes, etc. The kids have had a great time unpacking their rooms and organizing their things, along with spending time at the neighborhood pool. So much fun! They seem to be adjusting well, and enjoying this move. They say it's "awesome" here.

We'll see how things go when school starts, but so far we absolutely love it. In fact, there has been talk of staying here after our Army commitment is fulfilled. This town has the feel of the South that I love and have missed dearly, without the racial tension I've felt in other Southern places. That brings peace to my soul.
I'd pick this part of Georgia over Mississippi any day. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and she mentioned that in Mississippi she actually feels anxious when she orders white American cheese at the deli. I laughed at first, but she wasn't joking. It's sad. She really gets nervous, and feels a little guilty! Over cheese people! Why? Because in Mississippi, most things associated with being white are (not always, but quite often) viewed negatively and with great disdain by others. So, it's been wonderful to be in a place where we don't feel any of that. Wonderful! I can order any kind of cheese and not feel bad about it.

Also, the weather in Georgia suits me well....hotter and definitely more humid than Maryland, but less hot and humid than Mississippi (which leaves you feeling as though you are actually suffocating, the air is so thick and stifling).

Best of all, the people here are so friendly! The first week, it took us by surprise more often than not. Cashiers in stores? Smiling and happy to help. No crappy attitudes. No treating you like it's a pain in their behind that you had the nerve to shop during their shift. Waiters and waitresses? Actually earning their tips, and hoping your dining experience is enjoyable. (We've been here for two weeks, and only one time have we encountered an unpleasant attitude.) Sometimes it's just baffling. A few days ago, I was in the WalMart parking lot loading bags into my car. It was raining. A man walked up, and just started taking bags out of the cart, and putting them into my car. I looked at him like he was crazy, and stepped back. He said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I just thought you could use some help, especially since it's raining." It was clear he felt badly for startling me. I explained, "Look, I just moved here from a town close to Baltimore. Dude, you almost got yourself a kick in the groin." I am working on letting my guard down, not too much, but just enough that I don't attack innocent strangers. Luckily, the guy that runs the convenience store down the street from our neighborhood told me the next time I come in, he'll flip me off and cuss me out so I feel more at ease.

Thank you all for your prayers and good vibes. We have felt them. It has not escaped us, the fact that we haven't felt completely exhausted and overwhelmed. I know your thoughts and prayers have strengthened us. Thank you. I can say this has been the least stressful move I've experienced. I count myself and my family blessed beyond measure. It's almost unbelievable when so many years of hard work finally come to fruition. My heart is full of gratitude for my Father in Heaven, my husband, my children, and all those who've supported us throughout our journey...family, old friends, and new friends as well.

I guess that sums up the move. We are happy and enjoying getting settled. Again, we'll see how things go when school starts. But, for now, it looks like this could be home for a very long time.

During my blog absence, the Captain had his 40th birthday! And yesterday, we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary! On Friday (hopefully Friday, but if not then over the weekend) I'll be sharing a poem that was written just for him. A while back, I won a giveaway from my dear blogging friend Sue. Check out her blog here, and her poetry site here. She's a gifted lady and I'm so excited to share the special poem she wrote for my man with all of you!

Now, to wrap up this rambling post, I have a few miscellaneous thoughts that have been on my mind during the move. The last few are, of course, political. So, if that's not what you care to read, stop after #1. What? Surely you didn't think I'd miraculously turn non-political on you?

1.) I had a lot of great "thinking" time while driving from Maryland to Georgia. I thought a lot about why I'm consumed with my weight and flabbiness. Would you believe it's been two years since I put on a swimsuit? Two years! My kids and the Captain swim a lot. I just sit by the pool and read. I came to a very strange conclusion! This is going to sound so ridiculous, but here goes anyway: I obsess about it because I think I should. Because surely a person with this much flab can't feel good about herself, right? I'm carrying an extra 15 pounds, and every ounce of those pounds is flabby and gushy. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to gain 15 pounds every two years. I want to be healthy and live a long life. But, the weirdest thing has happened...I've decided I'm fine with who I am. I'm fine with the flab and gushiness. I don't love it, and I know I need some work, but no more obsessing about it. No more negative, consuming thoughts about myself. Thoughts that have come to me because I made the poor choice to listen and believe when "society" (a society that I readily admit is flawed in most of its thinking) bombarded me with messages and images hinting that my flabby 15 make me "less than" someone who has a perfect body. Why do we listen? I'm beyond tired of worrying about everything I put in my mouth. Also, I realized I've been avoiding working out because I don't want to commit to one more thing that I HAVE to do for the rest of my life. I just don't, the thought overwhelms me. So my perspective has changed. I'm going to shoot for exercising three times a week for 40 minutes. If I eventually get hooked, fine. If not, fine. I'll just put in my three times a week so that my health improves and is maintained...and to keep from gaining more weight each year. But, not so I can look like the jacked up image in my head or to look like some celebrity who gets paid to work out. I'll do it so I can feel good and be healthy. I've actually been dreading going to Mississippi for a visit because I've gained 15 pounds since I was last there. But again, a switch was flipped over the course of my driving/thinking time. I'm not going to worry about it anymore. If people want to gossip about how I've gained weight, or that I'm beginning to show my 36 years and 7 months...well, I should just feel sorry for them, given that's the most interesting thing they have to discuss. I'm going to take my kids swimming and enjoy it! I'm going to put on that swimsuit, flabby arms, belly and all. I've come to understand that my perception was seriously warped. I'm healthy. It's very true... I don't look like the girl from years ago. I don't look like her on the outside and certainly not on the inside. I couldn't be happier about that.

2.) I was sad to hear the news about Michael Jackson. Because we were without tv and computers, I read a blurb about it on my Blackberry. We missed the memorial service and the nonstop news coverage, which didn't make me sad. Although he began to creep me out in recent years, I will always regard Michael Jackson as one of the world's greatest entertainers. I believe he was a musical genius. I also think he was a tortured soul. More often than not, I felt sorry for him. That said, I was more than a little disturbed to hear that Congress actually held a moment of silence in his honor. Do our "leaders" do the same for each and every soldier killed in wars they have approved and funded? If they do, I've never heard about it. Please let me know if I am mistaken. If they do not hold moments of silence for every single soldier whose life is taken on a battlefield or due to the traumatic effects of war, then shame on them. And it sickens me to think they would do so for a celebrity.

3.) I don't care that Sarah Palin resigned, but of course I have some thoughts on it. I think it confirms what many of us already knew. She was nowhere close to being ready for the office of President. I guess she would've been ok working in McCain's shadow as VP, but President material...NO way! I'm sure some will accuse me of judging her and her decisions. That isn't my intent. I have the right to judge no one. I'm simply noting that if she couldn't stand the pressure, it's a darn good thing she wasn't elected. And, I can promise you this...she'll never get my vote for anything. She has shown me she really isn't a "Maverick". Mavericks don't quit when thousands of people have elected them to do a job. Mavericks don't quit when they commit to fulfill certain responsibilities. Honestly, I can't say that I blame her. I can't imagine the stress and strain her family has endured. But then, I've also not made the commitments she made. I guess I'm just skeptical of the reasons she gives for throwing in the towel. No one will ever convince me she's doing it strictly for the good of Alaska. And, if it's really about family, I'm just wondering how an intelligent woman and mother could have ever made such career choices and not anticipated the stress and attacks from media, etc. Surely, at some point she weighed the chances and the risks. Apparently, she and her husband decided the chances for political success were worth the risk. She took the chances, and she can't blame that on harsh critics and media. Also, if it's all about stepping away in an effort to protect Alaska and her family, then why is she still running her mouth about any and everything?

4.) During more of my driving/thinking time I came to a better understanding of liberal thought. Now, this is just my take on it, and I'm sure my liberal leaning friends will be more than happy to correct me. It seems that some liberals believe they are the only ones who care about helping those who are in need and/or are suffering. My thought was confirmed this morning as I listened to Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing. She was asked if she feels she has "generally liberal instincts". Now, before I go any further, I have to say I believe that was a stupid question. It's pretty evident she has liberal instincts. I say fine. I've never taken issue with liberal vs. conservative instincts, as long as neither is extreme. In fact, I've often expressed that my instincts lean toward a kind of liberal conservatism, as opposed to strict conservatism. Today, Sotomayor summed up my gut level issue with strict liberal thinking when she answered the question about "generally liberal instincts" with this statement: "you could talk about that (referring to her work with the Puerto Rico Legal Defense and Education Fund) being a liberal instinct in the sense that I promote equal opportunity in America and the attempts to assure that." That reply did not sit well with me at all. I whole-heartedly reject the notion that promoting equal opportunity in America is strictly a liberal instinct. Frankly, it disgusts me that she would even insinuate such nonsense. And that, my friends, is the issue I have with people who think like Sotomayor. In my opinion (and no one will change this opinion so don't even bother trying), thoughts and statements such as hers only add to the problems we face. To insinuate that conservative instincts would not allow for promotion of equal opportunity in this country is appalling. My instincts could possibly be considered more conservative by some people, and I want equal opportunities for people in this country just as much as anyone else. I have big plans and ideas for beginning organizations and foundations strictly for that purpose. I just need the money to do it...that's one reason we work around here. And I certainly do not appreciate Sotomayor insinuating that because I am conservative, I don't care as much as she does. That because she is a Latina and overcame obstacles she is somehow more compassionate and caring than I am...because I couldn't possibly understand the struggles of others, could I? That thinking makes me ill. People who think as Sotomayor does are judgemental. They look at people like me and because I am currently happy, healthy, live in a comfortable home with a loving husband who has a good job, and have three healthy children in my home, they make judgements that our life has been a walk in the park.
I would enjoy the opportunity to tell Sotomayor, and others who unfairly judge as she does, that she doesn't know me. She has no idea what I have overcome, and I don't just mean with the loss of my child. She can't possibly know what others have faced. Does she think she's the only person who had a tough childhood? That only minorities have obstacles in their way? That only minorities suffer injustices and sorrow? That's absurd. There are too many children in this country with challenges, too many children suffering and they aren't minorities. Does that make them any less important? I believe to people like Sotomayor, it does.

And while I'm on this topic, let me just state that I know many white males who have overcome great odds and have worked hard to reach their goals, with NO help from anyone! Men who were just as poor as Sotomayor, whose mothers were widows, who were abused, ignored, hungry, cold. I reject the notion that they count less because they are white males. It would be nice if this country could stop blaming conservative white males for all the world's ailing and failings. The extreme liberal thinking that conservative white males are the root of all evil and that they don't care about minorities, that they don't care about those in need...such misguided thinking serves no one. Most of the conservative white males I know give readily of their time and money. They choose to do it outside of the limelight, without heralding and praise from others. They quietly go about life taking care of their families and communities. I don't know one white male who has a group advocating for them. You say they don't need one, because they always get what they want. False. I know white males who have lost opportunities strictly because of their skin color. I know them personally. I honestly thought, after our most recent Presidential election, this nation was moving toward healing and being color blind. This nation will never be color blind. Not with people thinking as Sotomayor does. Not with the persistent demonizing of conservatives and whites by powerful leaders.

Ahhhh, it feels good to be back. Sorry if you disagree. ;)