Sunday, July 25, 2010

Has anyone else noticed a renewed appreciation for our world as you age? I can't seem to get enough of the clouds, the moon, the sunrise and the colors of the world around us. Tonight there is a beautiful full moon in the sky. I was outside for a while this evening, and I couldn't stop staring at it. Somehow the enormity and beauty of the moon stopped me cold. It helps to put all things in perspective. How many famous events have taken place under that same old moon? How many people have risen to fame, overcome obstacles and risen from hopelessness under this planet?
I believe that this renewed appreciation for the world began last year with a trip to Divide, Colorado. The skies and the colors of the skies were so awe-inspiring, I could have spent the entire week just looking. The week we were there, there were daily storms that blew in over the mountains. Once back in Missouri, I began to notice our environment more. We have gorgeous skies with all the colors of the rainbow, too. I must have never noticed how billowy and beautiful our cloudy skies were before.
Most likely, the other reason I am more tuned into the surroundings is to help the grands appreciate our world. Children see the world so differently than we do. If I don't do anything else for Maddie and Mason, I want them to be aware of and enjoy the world in which we live. Every weekend when they are visiting, I make it a point to be with them outdoors. We cloud watch, look for bugs and talk about the weather. When Maddie spends the night, she likes to get up early with me and sit in the recliner and watch the sunrise through our front window. What a special time that is for both of us. I hope someday she remembers those special times I spent with her. I read today that children that spend more time outdoors, on average, have a higher IQ, than children who have very limited exposure. I am not sure what the connection is, but I am willing to bet my time to providing all the intelligence stimulation I can through outdoor activity. I know, anyone who knows me well will certainly scratch their head and try to figure out when I became an outdoor enthusiast. I certainly don't consider myself a rugged camper, hiker or tree hugger. But I love being outdoors, and I love sharing what little I know about our world with two special preschoolers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What a week this has been. I am not sure why, but nothing has seemed quite normal this week. Amanda started school and seems to be doing very well. Jessica and Scott are getting settled back into their house and have experienced some unfortunate obstacles (computer hard drive went out, lawn mower being difficult, dryer not working well). I think Josh being gone has upset the balance and routine that we have been in. We picked the grands up from the keeper today and took them to Columbia with us. We had a little shopping to do. We had a wonderful time and spent a lot of it laughing with them (and a little at them, too). Maddison has decided to be Aunt Bea's little Speech Therapist apprentice. She has been working with Mason to get him to pronounce his words better. It is so funny to hear her "teach" him how to say words. She actually had a great deal of success today (according to Amanda) getting him to say "boy". She was very proud that he could say it correctly and so was he. Here is what she was doing:
"Mason, say boy. . . Ba -ouy-yee. And sure enough he did. I am not sure how he said it before. . . but no one (except Maddie) knew what he meant. She is the one I always call on when I can't understand what he is saying. The other night we were snuggling in bed with a movie and a bowl of popcorn. Mason kept flouncing around. I finally said, "What is the matter, Mason?" He said, "I no bumbled". Hmmmm. . . . I was clueless. So, I started playing 20 questions; You need a pillow?, You need covers? Are you thirsty. . . and on and on. Finally, tiring of this game, Maddison looked over at me (like I was a completely incompetent MiMI) and said, HE CAN'T GET COMFORTABLE". Oh, well, okay, then! So we rearranged and he was fine. Mason just turned 3 and really has an outstanding vocabulary, but he has a difficult time with pronunciation (it seems like the beginning letters are the worse). I know this is wrong, but it is so cute how he talks, I almost hate to see him leave his little "Masonisms" behind. Just another part of growing up I guess.
Tomorrow the grands will be coming to see us early. This will be Amanda's first Saturday at the "shop". I am sure we will be in for some more adventures and laughs. Never a dull moment when you have a 3 and a 5 year old spend the day with you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today was interesting indeed. We had a department wide staff meeting which included a great lunch. I completed some projects at work, and started some others. Jessica called about 4 and asked if I could leave early and help her do some shopping for household items. It is amazing that when you move, some things just don't fit the new house. I was anxious to get away form work for awhile, so I said yes. She bought two lamps, and then shehelped me select two for my fairly new computer desk. I tend to be very indecisive about selecting anything for my house, so it was nice to have her fearless shopping skills to help me. When I got them home and placed them, I found that I really like them. They were a style I would never have selected on my own, but they look great.
Amanda completed her first day of cosmotology school. She thinks that she will like it. She was less excited about the prospect of several hours of homework and a test on Friday. She will do fine, I am sure. During supper, Josh called and talked for a long time. He seems to be doing well in Alabama. He sounded homesick, but coping with it well. He suggested that we consider meeting him in Tunica or Nashville this fall for a long weekend. We had planned on going to Birmingham, but if he comes West and North, it will make the trip shorter for us, and he mentioned that he would like to get away from Birmingham for a while. It is definitely something to look forward to! It will be great to see him. I am really missing him. There is a small ache in my heart that won't seem to go away. I hate to even talk to anyone about it because 1) if they are close to me, talking about missing Josh may make them feel bad too and 2) with the country involved in war and young men and women leaving their homes to defend our county, I need to buck up and stop being a baby about this. I know this. I know that there are thousands of military families who are in a much sadder situation than I am. But my heart still aches for him to be back home with us. Enough about all of that!
I love Facebook, but all these pictures of everyones' vacations is making me jealous. We took our vacation so early I am ready for another one. I used to be content to stay close to home. Lately, I have had a strong urge to travel and see the country. Maybe it is because there is so much to see, and I realize that I don't have as much time to put this off as I used to. My father, stepmom, and siblings are planning a cruise up the East Coast this fall. Sadly, I can't go because Randy doesn't have enough vacation left. We are saving a few days to see Josh. I will miss being with them, and making those wonderful memories. Even though we have visited the East Coast, we have not been as far North as they are going. It would have been fun. . . but maybe next time!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Well, we had our first family event tonight without Josh. It was happy and sad all at once. Today is Jessica's 30th birthday, tomorrow is Mason's 3rd. We had a bbq tonight, complete with ice cream cake to celebrate. I kept getting out 8 plates, bowls, etc. when I should have just been getting out 7. It just seems weird without Josh here. Amanda seems sad, but is being very strong. Josh sounds good when we have talked to him, but is not crazy about being away from home.
He is working in parts of Mississippi, and has been surprised by the widespread poverty that he has seen.
I truely cannot believe that 30 years ago I had Jessica. I have been reminiscing all day. At supper, Jessica spent some time talking to Amanda and I about her and Josh's relationship growing up. They had some rough patches, like all siblings do, but it was obvious that the good memories outweigh the bad. I really enjoyed listening to her memories.
It has been such a strange day today. Maybe tomorrow will feel more normal. Here is hoping that we can make it through the abnormal, until the normal returns.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day two of Josh in Alabama. We heard from Josh last night, and he sounded good. The trip went without a hitch and he was settled into his hotel room. He said that some of his fellow travelers were not too happy with the accomodations. It will be a long 6 months if the conditions aren't good. Several of them were going out to eat together, and then had to report to work at 9 a.m. today. He told me that work was about a mile away from his hotel.
Amanda decided to stay home with the kids last night instead of coming to supper. I totally understand why she decided to do this. She was tired, and emotionally drained. The kids had a blast in their new sandbox, and didn't want to even come inside. I am so glad that Josh and Amanda got that finished before he left. Mason and Maddie will get a lot of good out of that sand.
Only a few tears shed today. I woke up thinking about Josh, and then teared up when I was telling some friends about the weekend. I know that my sorrow will get easier, but I think Amanda's will get worse. She is shouldering all the responsibility for the kids, the house, and working. She hopes to begin cosmetology school in July or August, so that will be a good challenge to keep her mind off Josh's absence.
Even though I told myself that I wouldn't listen to any more sad songs, I heard "Keep It Between the Lines" this morning on the way to work. Boy is that song a tear jerker. I think I will have to find a good rap station. At least I can't understand the words!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I am writing this on my lunch hour. I can't get Josh off my mind. I stopped by this house this morning, after I knew he had left. I didn't want to interrupt his goodbyes to Amanda and the kids. We had said our goodbyes the night before. I did want to make sure Amanda and the kids were doing okay. The kids were very happy to see me. Mason showed me the new sandbox, his new John Deere room decorations, and asked me to take him to Melissa's house (the childcare provider). Maddie was quiet and looked like she had been crying. Amanda (how I respect her), was teary eyed, but strong. She was determined to carry on with her routine, and keep going. I invited them to supper tonight, hoping that the first evening alone would be easier with company.
I cried some at work today, when a coworker asked me about Josh leaving. I hate to cry! But after the initial tears I settled down to work. We are short handed today, so it has been easy to stay busy.
A coworker will soon be sending her son back over seas with the military. I also met a family today with a newborn, and two toddlers whose Dad is getting ready to go overseas. It humbled me to think of their worries and sorrow, and I realized that at least Josh would be within a days driving distance, and fairly safe.
Even though Josh and I didn't see each other every day, just knowing that he was in town, and that I could call him, or he could call me for a lunch date or favor was reassuring. I will especially miss seeing him with his children. He is such a good father to them. He has lots of patience and is not afraid to play, play, play with them. It will be our personal mission to keep him informed of their progress, development and day to day victories.
I have had lots of times in my life when my children moved away. Jessica spent 6 years away from home (always in Missouri) during college, and then moved to Springfield. It was always, always hard to see her leave. And Josh also spent about 18 months away in college. But somehow this feels different. I think it is because Josh is so torn about going. It is not really an adventure that he is going on. And of course there is the saddness of leaving the children and Amanda behind.
We will make it through this. We will be stronger because of it. We will look back on this someday and say. . . remember when. . . But today it hurts. I imagine it will hurt again tomorrow and the next day. I am counting on this blogging to be great therapy for me. Check back. . . I am sure I will be posting often for awhile.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5, 20101
There is a change a coming. . . . I have been wanting to write about this change for quite some time, but I had to mentally process it first. I think the older I get, the less I like change. The older I get the more I realize that change is inevitable. But that still doesn't mean that I like it!
Tomorrow Josh leaves for a 6 month job transfer to Birmingham, Alabama. He made the decision to take this transfer for job security and supplemental income to help his family move forward in life. When he decided to apply for the transfer, it seemed like a remote possibility, and a long way off. But this week reality has hit all of us. Tonight will be his last night here for quite awhile. Amanda and Mason and Maddison will sorely miss him. He is an active and involved husband and father. His Dad and I will miss him. He is a loving son, but also a good friend to us. We spend quite a bit of time with him every weekend, and sometimes through the week. His absence will be like a throbbing thumb to us. A constant reminder that our family is not whole.
I know this sounds like I am whinning, and I guess I am. For the first time in my life I have just a tiny sense of what military families endure. Of course, God willing, Josh will not be in any danger like military people are. But he will be gone, and we will miss him.
Having said this, I must add that I am so very, very proud of him for making this decision for the benefit of his family. He does not see this as a big adventure, or a chance to escape from the routine. He will be working 7 days a week in an unfamiliar city. He will be living in a hotel without the comforts of being in your own home. He will be worried constantly about how his wife and children are doing, about their general welfare. There is no way to ease this worry for him. He will miss his daughter's first day of kindergarten, and her 6th birthday. He will miss Thanksgiving, a planned camping trip, Halloween and deer season with his dad and extended family. No, this is not a decision that he made lightly.
I have no doubt that this will make him and his family stronger. It will give them a life time of appreciation for having the luxury of being together.
It will be a long 6 months. We will do what we all can to help each other get through this. It will be a learning experience and an opportunity. But right now, it hurts to think about it. It hurts to try to imagine it.
I have had some chance to reflect on this, and this is what I know: Josh is doing this out of love and responsibility, Amanda is a strong, capable partner, or he wouldn't be able to do this, Jessica and Scott will help up all by being here and doing what they do best (pitch in when needed, and just being here), Maddison and Mason will not really understand why their Dad is gone, and I think this will be the hardest part for all of us.
On the bright side, I am looking forward to my first trip to Birmingham. I don't know when or how, but I plan on making the trip at least once in the next 6 months. And I will take oatmeal raisin cookies, and maybe an apple pie. Two things Josh will miss out on this fall.
Yes, there is a change coming. Do we like it? NO. Do we understand it? Yes. Will we get through it? Of course. Change. . . .