I Choose You..

DSC_2479

Sunday, 9:27am

Husband outside, anxious and needs to check something off his list

Breathing in and out, green tea, and the sound of Kung Fu Panda dancing around the room

Lights off, grey light squeezes through the crack of the blinds and windowsill

Cole wrapped in his Seahawks blanket, daddy’s chair reclined, messy hair, lips curled upward at the edges

Austin giggles, lips and nose covered, a red weaved blanket covers him, bare toes peak out from under the blanket

I can hear them breathing, in the same room, and just being near them makes me feels whole

Our world has been shifting lately, where Dad has become the main attraction

Mom is the caretaker, while Dad can offer so much more on this farm, so many toys…who wouldn’t want to run outside before eating breakfast

But this morning, they are near me…in quiet, comfortable, laziness and I can breathe in for a few hours with them close to me

Both of my boys wanted to cuddle this morning. Curled up tight like a large breed dog…on a couch that can’t hold its size or weight

So uncomfortable but the body numbs after a while, anything to have them next to me

Six months from now, they will be 13 and oh’ where does the time go?

Engineering, experimenting, building engines, knowing the engine under every hood of car we pass, driving tractors, cars, stacking totes, welding, building a mini bike from plans, four-wheelers…the list goes on and on

My boys have so much ahead of them…

Today, I am content to be in this room with them, Austin now curled at my side, watching a cartoon…it’s been so long since they wanted to watch a cartoon

They are with me today, next to me, these moments are so simple and seem insignificant

Any moment with my boys I cherish…wrapped in blankets, cartoons, messy hair, and leaning on me

I will always be here.

 

I Choose You by Sara Barilles

 

 

 

 

Perfect Imperfections

Family is Family by Kasey Musgraves (humorous song…does not depict my family. I love humor!!)

I used to think so much about my childhood, (I still do just not as often) I held it to a higher standard than everyone else’s. I thought my family was pretty awesome.  I held my parents on a pedestal for being high school sweetheart’s and still being together and in love, for being just great parents, they loved us all, and supported us, taught us right from wrong and when it was time for us to step out on our own they allowed that with much support.

I think it was the most difficult on me (among my siblings). I came home every weekend from college never wanting to go back but I did. Every weekend my mom would come get me my freshman year, it was the best feeling getting back in her car and feeling safe, I was a part of my family and I was going home.  I made it through the year and eventually ended up back at Oregon State, closer to my family and friends.

I still hold my parents on that same pedestal. I love them both so much…with all my heart, I know I don’t say it enough but I hope they feel it.  I am, who I am partly because of my childhood with them. So many many memories of Happiness-I remember being taught lessons for mistakes that I had made as a child and I know now, why I was punished and the importance of that punishment.  I understand because daily I now face the same situations with my own children.

There was a certain time in my life that I started taking steps without them.  They may not have liked all of them but they did support me. There were disagreements along the way but I kept pushing forward. I needed to find me, who I was without them but still needed so badly to know they were there for me…and I always knew they were.

As I have grown, I know that families come in all forms, it no longer is just a mom and a dad… and I value the diversity that my children now see and are living through.  What once seemed like the only way when I was very very young, is now history.  Letting my children see that there isn’t just one way to make a family, that diversity is good and normal, and that my children respect everyone for who they are. This is something that is so important for me to teach my children.

Many of my friends have parents who live outside the United States, outside the state they live in or don’t speak to them, or just only see them for holidays.  I feel I am lucky because my parents were just that, my parents. There were always there and still are.

I don’t claim life is perfect, I don’t claim my childhood was perfect, and even now family situations happen but I try my best to move on and push past things that have brought me down, caused pain, and sometimes loneliness. Life needs to move forward, keep going, and not looking back helps!

There is this strange thing that happens when you marry and create your own life. We have chosen our paths, all have children who we now are trying to show them our way (our beliefs), we are making our way in adulthood with the foundation our parents built us. We have made our own choices that might not have been what our parents wanted for us but we chose and we were allowed that freedom. At 39, I am just going to throw this out there-I still worry about what my parents think of my choices.?!?! I still seek their approval?!?!

I have been married 13 years and there are ups and downs but I always find my way back to my family.  My parents helped show me that, always go back. My husband and children keep me calm, keep me laughing, challenge me DAILY, keep me level, and give me the world and some days are just rough days for me and those are days, all three of my family show me a million little ways they love me.

I am not perfect; I am perfectly flawed. Thank you, Dad and Mom for always having my back even after 39 years.

Ode to Cushman

Alan Jackson, When God Paints

Many sleeps in the A-frame of our family cabin I dreamt …the comfort of the hustle and bustle below. Hearing Grandpa and Grandpa chatter, Grandpa sitting like a silhouette in front of the wall of windows rocking in a chair, coffee in hand. Every morning I would make my way down that steep ladder like stairs. The wooden beams I counted when I couldn’t sleep. The slamming of the screen door, the totem on the deck, the enveloping smells of comfort food, the view from that wall of windows to the lake, the crackling from the fire place, and Louis L’Amour paperbacks lined a shelf at the end of the room.

This place was like no other, built by hand by the Carroll James Martin family, a labor of love. A piece of heritage that some day would be steadfast long after the love it was built upon….the marriage that made it through the hammering, nails, windows, injury, cement, and wooden beams. The rich family history seeped from the walls when you entered.

Frequent trips to this magical family cabin; love, laughter, tears, joy, and the feeling that we were this tight knit interwoven family that nothing could break us.  This place I always felt love in…felt everyone within those walls loved me and I them.  Yes, I got in trouble within those walls, probably broke a glass or two, the time I spilt milk across the dinner table….despite my youth and at 39 now, the memory of our cabin burns like fire in the corners of my mind.

For me, Grandpa was strong, sometimes short tempered but so kind. He would melt every time he embraced any one of his grandchildren.  “Hey girl, how’d you sleep?” He rubbed his cheek against mine, coffee on his breath and squeezed like he’d never let go.

Grandma in the kitchen buzzing like a bee, her light blue night dress and slippers, I would always go to her next. Hugging her was like being wrapped in a warm soft cloud.  Sunny days were always special lake days.  And oh, that long wooden dock.  I miss the way it felt under my feet, slivers and all. Long days drew large appetites with a table fit for kings, mini bagels, orange juice, toast–there was so much food everywhere…filling our bellies full with tasty treats and a lot of love. Grandma’s smile will always be easy to remember.

Today, nearing publication of my first book. Her letters and encouragement for me to write and never stop writing make the tears flow. She wrote, “Tom had that gift too. You have so much to share with the world. Keep writing,” those words rest on a card in a box with most of the cards she wrote to me, in my night stand. An old grey shoe box that holds grandpa’s letters too…written a long their travels, handwriting hard to read, but stories and stories of different places they visited in their airstream.

This cabin, still feels like our cabin…I have visited too few times as I have gotten older and I can feel myself still there. Laying on the couch sun shining though the windows  carrying me to a warm cat nap. This place is a home because of the people who are in it, I need to go back, let my kids feel what I felt there.  Show my husband it’s beauty and bring them to this magical place filled with family, happiness, and hertiage-aunts, uncles and cousins that have carried on and kept our cabin alive. Rich in love and memories, a tall A-frame steadfast love still bleeding family deep in the wooden beams.

 

 

 

 

What Does Joy Look Like?

Years fly by!  Lucas Graham – 7 Years

IMG_7983

 

Joy is something amazing.  I see it every day, it could be between strangers or siblings or children or even in my spouse, its something that warms my soul– to see.  I can be an outsider looking in and I see it from far away or close up and know…..now, that is JOY!

The definition of Joy: is a feeling of great pleasure and/or happiness.

Synonyms: delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, triumph, glee elation, bliss, rejoicing, etc.

Lately, I have felt very lucky and an extreme amount of joy after going after my dream of getting published and now working on the sequel (where I might say, I have total writer’s block). I need to find some joy and inspiration to get myself going on this sequel. Or it is going to end up in the trash can…..but I have faith it will come to me!

My sister-in-law, Tara took this photo in the last week, I think and I just can’t get enough of it.  This photo is what JOY is to me…..It isn’t more or less joy to my adorable nephew or my brother who has a big tough exterior.  His son has turned him into mush in this photo. They are both full of Joy-so much that I cannot put into words. It is all over their faces!

We all have good days and bad, we all have different days where we struggle to find “our joy” but most of the time– we can.  For people who struggle with finding Joy- reach out and find someone who can help you….let it out and find someone who you can talk too….this is a big step toward finding your joy!

So, this Sunday evening I caught myself looking at this photo for hundredth time and a smile washes across my face and know that this photo is Joy!  Pure, raw, unforced joy! I hope that in my new nephew’s life he sees Joy in this same way.

And Congrats to my brother, Tara, Allie and Max for showing the rest of the world your JOY!

 

 

IMG_7983

A New Day

Great song to get your morning going! Light Years by Pearl Jam

 

I sit here early Saturday morning listening to Halo, our family dog bark outside the window. The sun creeps threw the half opened shades casting a shadow across the dining room table.  The laundry is tumbling in the dryer and the house is quiet.

Grandpa and Grandma have the twins for the weekend and it is so very quiet, so quiet one can hear the dripping from the bathroom sink.

I am paused in this moment and feel so grateful for all of the things in my life.  I am so lucky to have my family and my husband’s family, to have such a wonderful husband and my sister as my best friend.

The smell of fresh cut grass flows in from the cracked window, flowers bloom, and Spring time brings new growth on our farm.

The orchard is beautiful out my window, endless bounty if she is taken care of…fresh new growth, bright green leaves, and this year’s crop on its way.DSC_2620

A Shout out to Teachers!!

I have been thinking a lot lately about teachers. I just signed up and am now enrolled for a week long writing workshop with my high school creative writing teacher…for me learning should never end.  Granted, you have a number of years to  be taught in a school setting.

It’s an empowering feeling that comes when you complete the task at hand, the report, the project, and for me at 39-I will never stop learning-Wether it be how to be a better writer, mom, wife, bookkeeper, photographer, I will never quit learning. I believe learning is important to all people at all ages.

I think about the things that people say about my father as a teacher.  He has been retired for a few years now but I still run into people who ask about him and share with me the wonderful stories of how he impacted their lives.  I actually had my dad as a teacher, years ago and I remember loving watching him (he always looked like he was so happy-elated really, to be a teacher) but I also remember him being very strict with me.  I understand why now because he wouldn’t show any special treatment with his own daughter but I remember thinking he was a great teacher!

Fast forward to today, I have two 12 yr old boys who each struggle in their own subjects and with different social situations. I lean on their teacher’s to tell me what is going on, to help me help them with homework, to let me know when they are having a bad day or a good day.  I expect them to move mountains for my children and they do!

I also believe some teachers see me walk down the hall and want to run like hell to their classrooms and lock the doors.  🙂 I can often become emotional about my children (after all, they are my kids and they deserve the best). Their growth in school is something I feel I need to be actively involved in because I have no control about what it is happening when they are in school.  Again, I rely on the teachers.  So, for any of you who have known me as a parent and you have had my child in your class, I am not crazy however, I am fighter for their education, I am also a fighter for you (teachers), if any teacher came to me about something they needed in their class, I would go out of my way to help them personally get it.  If they needed a voice, I would give mine.

Teachers, I need you to do your best and have the supplies you need to be the best teachers you can be! Down to my core, I believe that the teacher/parent relationship is so important.  So, to some of you, I am sorry if you ever had to pass me the box of Kleenex in your classroom. I am passionate about my children’s education and you deliver that to them!

We have been blessed to have some amazing teachers for our boys.  Teachers that go above and beyond, they embrace their roll as their educators, they do not give them the answers they work to help show them the way, these educators deserve more-every year we pack their classrooms with more and more students, less supplies, and less time for hands-on learning…..there is so much testing and standards that MUST be met.

I wonder, if we gave teachers the standards to meet for a year and didn’t have to worry about specific standardized tests–what would happen in those classrooms.  I believe those teachers would guide their students to fly….if they met the requirements set by the state but they were not limited by how they fulfilled those requirements.  Just think…what that would do for the teachers and most of all, for our students and children!? The entire classroom would light on fire with learning and ideas….minds asking questions and exploring new and different subjects that just don’t fit in to today’s curriculum.

Teachers are an incredible resource, they are a special kind of person. These people are rare! When you find a good one, try to figure out how you can keep them in your child’s life, so they develop a bond and the student will always know they can go there (to that teacher).  They will know and feel that that specific teacher will always have their back. They give and give without expecting anything in return.  We need them, more of the them, and it seems every year the number of actual teachers, we have, drops.

So, if you get the chance and see a teacher-your childhood teacher, or teacher’s you  have now, make sure to thank them and let me know how important they are to you and your world. I know I need to thank the teacher’s that help my boys’ every day. Without teachers, what would our children and future look like?

 

To My Grandfather…

FullSizeRender-3

I hold you in my hand

your silent ashes dust my palm

fist clenched, I couldn’t release you,

colorful petals to guide you

beneath me, Lake Cushman

above me, a cloudless blue shy

around me, an icy wind without you

everyone who loved you…

A memory of your still body

I stared at you for countless hours

but now, your body does not exist

my angry hand loosens around you

I wanted one last goodbye, your whiskers scratching my face

but I missed it…

remembering the last words we shared

Today, I face life outside you

wondering what our words would’ve been in our last moments

making myself promises because of you

striving for goals to prove myself…”write,” you said.

I can’t guarantee mistakes won’t be made

but I will live on with your name honorably

Not ready, I let you fall between my fingers…

I put you to rest surrounded by family

and the wind carries you to the surface of the water

I was finally home.

I came to this place with boxes, clothes in suitcases, shopping bags stuffed full with everything I needed access too on a daily basis.  Everything I had to my name came in Rubbermaid containers…some of which hadn’t been opened since high school.  They had been moved from colleges, attics, dorms, houses, basements, the home our babies first lived in, and then moved again, to the farm.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew I could trust my husband on blind faith that everything would work out.  Don’t hold your breath…everything has worked out so far!! But we have tons of time left to screw it up! HA!

We are so luck and blessed to be a part of this legacy this parents created years ago.  I am not going to lie-it gets lonely for me. I am surrounded by everything beautiful, everything that everyone is so jealous of, but you know women…they never are quite satisfied.  Today, I can say this farm is everything I ever dreamed it could be.

I have two amazing 12 year old boys, who yes, act up at times. They are polite, kind, loving, generous, well behaved, for the most part–not like some other kids we know that after an hour with them we want to drown them!  (Understand, this is a joke!) My boys are helpful-they vacuum, do the dishes, clean their rooms, do the laundry, work in the yard, help out on the hysters, 4-wheelers, and check the traps in the orchard. I could not ask for better children and this is because, of course, they have two wonderful parents (HA!) but also because of our families.  Most families don’t have both sets of parents near, practically fighting over them.  Everyone wants “their” time…..is that a wonderful problem to have or what…a wonderful gift to have, I say!

There is so much to complain about in life but does all that little shit matter….when you have family, food on the table, a home, and more family-a loving husband, my parents, his parents, his brothers (and Jaimy, damn it-marry her, already) and my siblings with their kids.  My brother and sister who have given my kids, cousins!! I always loved my cousins growing up……I still do, but life changes!! Today, I say-just be satisfied in this moment!

Moving to this farm was very hard for me, having my in-laws closer than neighbors, trying to figure out where I fit out here, in this dream land my husband was living in…..fulfilling his dream of work and raising our boys on the farm.

Somehow, in someway, moving here almost 10 years ago I found my voice again.

It was always here hiding inside me….being called out daily. Always, I stuffed it back down deep inside over and over, until it broke free.

A certain someone, Brittney Hall, kicked my ass in gym one day.  I moved slowly for weeks, sore everywhere, places I didn’t know I could be sore, and her positive outlook and driven personality-broke down my wall.  I remember sitting down after one of the classes she tried to kill me in, I was looking out the window, raining falling, so sore…..I leaned back, closed my eyes…..and my left hand found my black roller ink pen and I started to write again. My pen couldn’t keep up with my words, I wrote for six hours straight that day……. listen to this song by Andra Day called, Rise Up! (I would put it here for you to listen to but I don’t know how to do this….damn technology!)  This song, is again in thanks to, Brittney Hall.

Morning, afternoon, and evening I continued my writing, crying, I wrote the ink clean out of two pens!

I knew that day, I was finally home!

USS IOWA

IMG_6920

I walked up the large, steep, steel ramp. I slammed my foot down and it vibrated up my leg.  I was forced to take a silly picture against a  green screen and I was given a map. Yellow arrows were pointed out on the floor to me by a Vet. His jacket covered with patches, three metals, and a cap he wore with honor, tipped down over his left eye.  The wrinkles around his sunken eyes and creases at the corner of his smile pointed me ahead, I wanted to stop and sit, ask him questions, listen to him talk about those years on this ship.  I smiled and said thank you without looking back.

I left my heart sitting with him on that bench….now a retired director on a ship he loved and served his life on-no one would ever understand where he had been. Today, tourists walk by excited and busy without even seeing him.  This man of honor and steel.

I followed the yellow arrows around and under, up stairs and down stairs, in bunk rooms, in senior officers rooms, kitchens, mess halls, the Captain’s quarters. I peered through the same port holes, ran my hand down the rough steel exterior of a gun that I couldn’t possibly image going off. I laid on a bunk….three high and once in the bunk, I could not get out or down.  How could a full grown man fit in that bunk?

The steps, the stairs, the arrows, getting lost even with the arrows and the map, the history that was in front of me and behind me, so much life once happened on this ship….everything around me, underneath me…..I couldn’t breath, couldn’t catch my breath, I was so quiet, I could hear everything. Tears rolled down my face…

I was so moved. I could hear mates shouting , I could feel the exhaustion in me trying to imagine what these men and women sacrificed for us, for our country, the emotional burden of what it might be like without a family, I stood on the port side of the ship, wind on my face and whispered, “thank you.”

As I followed the arrows back to the exit ramped, I shook hands with every officer I passed-making sure to look into their eyes.  Without saying any words. Their eyes told me years of stories. They showed me their wounds, their losses and their wins and how proud they were to be a officer on the USS IOWA.

IMG_6929