Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Marking the Days

We dropped Jeremy off at OU for the spring semester 5 weeks ago. It was a hard weekend for me, as I was reminded that Athens, OH is where I want to be, but not where I am.  While we were there, we went to church at Central Ave.  Paul's message was about learning to "be" in the moment/place that you are rather than focusing on what's ahead.  Very convicting for me as I count the months to move back to Ohio from Alabama.

In the past 3 weeks this concept has become even more difficult for me strive for.  Upon returning to Alabama, I found out that my dad had a reaction to an epidural shot for back pain and was overwhelmed to the point of anxiety attacks with caring for himself.  Ten days later I was on a plane to Seattle for an undetermined amount of time.  My dad had already made the decision that he wanted to move to an independent living retirement home closer to my sister in Olympia by the end of the summer.  My dad, my sister and I made the decision that he should move as quickly as possible. Dad starts renting his new apartment on March 15th. In the meantime, dad is recovering from his allergic reaction, still dealing with back pain, and dealing with moving from the house he has lived in since 1966.

Right now I am 'marking time'.  We are getting things ready for the move, but there is not a lot we can do for another 2-3 weeks.  My dad has no hobbies, few friends and is not open to doing anything new. He doesn't like to read or play any game other than cribbage (and that is too mentally taxing right now) Our time is spent walking when the weather allows, and watching tv which he finds boring, (but he is not open to watching anything different than what he regularly watches). This is a very frustrating situation for me.  I am unable to do the things I would do to keep busy, because they are not things that he wants to do.  I find myself just wishing for the days to quickly pass so I can go home to my own life.  Totally opposite of trying to be content in the place that you are.  The gray of the Seattle winter makes it worse, as it is brutal for my SAD.

So for now, I am not sure how to "be" in place that is not really a mentally healthy place to be.  However, I do know that I have strength to endure because of my faith in Christ.  He will not leave me or forsake me.  He tells me not to be anxious for anything, and He tells me that my love for Him and others will be enough to make it through each day.  I am clinging to these promises.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year, New Realizations

It's 2013. This particular year has been set in my mind because it is the year that our oldest son graduates from college. Four years ago it seemed so far away in the it has arrived.  2013 will also be a year of more changes for me...

Alex has been told he should be deploying in October (I'll believe it when he gets on a plane...her was supposed to be deployed now)  I'm not very thrilled to be stuck in Alabama while he's not here, but I have some ideas for what I want to do while he is gone...IF he goes.

My dad has decided to move from the home he has lived in since November of 1966.  This is the home my sister and I grew up in.  Mom's been gone for 5 years and my dad has admitted that he is lonely and wants to live closer to my sister.  He doesn't like to drive at night anymore and he doesn't want to deal with upkeep on the house anymore. He's moving to an assisted living facility where there will be activities, meals, and housekeeping provided. I am glad he has made this decision, but it will be strange after 47 years to no longer 'go home'.

Instead of New Years resolutions, I've made some 'realizations' for the upcoming year.  I hope that by acknowledging these things,  I will feel more content with where God is leading me in life, experience more daily joy and understand 'the why' of my thoughts and feelings.

1.  I am ready to be 'done' with Air Force life:  This has been apparent to both Alex and I over the last year or so.  This last move gave us more confirmation.  We have found a place we both want to live for more than 3 years.  When we arrived in 2009 we never would have guessed that Athens OH would be that place, but it is.  Another confirmation was attending the New Years open house hosted by the General that Alex serves under.  In the past we have enjoyed the social activities that are 'optionally mandatory'.  This assignment we don't.  Living on the economy in Athens with no military base nearby was nice.  I didn't miss shopping at the commissary, I was able to save just as much shopping at Kroger and Aldi.  Our  medical care was so much better--our civilian doctor treated  nus as people instead of numbers.

2. While goals are great, it's the journey that needs to be enjoyed.  This is especially true for being in graduate school.  While my goal IS to get my masters, I am enjoying the majority of the process.  I've set a realistic timeline for completion, but if I don't make it that's okay.  I also need to apply this concept to our assignment here in Alabama.

3. Sometimes little negatives do matter...even when you want to brush them aside. My annoyances with living in this rental house are a big part of this.  The dishwasher is's loud and does a terrible job cleaning the dishes. Carpeting instead of hardwood floors.  The open floor plan. Not enough storage. Obnoxious barking dogs that live behind us.  Not having 4 seasons.  Sales tax on food.  I could go on, but I won't.

4. I want to have less 'stuff' but it's hard to let it go. I am a saver. I like to keep things. I like to make scrapbooks. Now that my dad is moving, I want 'stuff' that I grew up with.  I need to figure out a balance of some sort.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Adjusting to Alabama...

I've been in Alabama for just over four is interesting what has changed from our last time living here... and what has not.

The south is still the south:
I noticed it when I stopped for lunch is Lexington, KY in August as I was moving to Alabama.  I'm back in the land where outward appearance is important to women.  At the Chick-fil-a every woman I saw had perfectly styled hair, was wearing make-up(which included lipstick--something I only wear on a special occasion) and was dressed fashionably.  Since it was a Saturday, (my make-up free day), and I was dressed for comfort.  It really stood out to me.

People speak politely and are genuinely friendly.  "yes ma'am" and "thank you sir". Cashiers and waitresses who look you in the eye and engage in actual conversations with you. After living in a college town filled with self-absorbed college students who rarely, if ever, say "excuse me" as they shove themselves past you in a crowded store aisle, hold conversations with other employees while checking you out at the grocery store, or are just monosyllabic with their interaction with you, it is a very noticeable difference.

The weather:  Still horribly hot and humid in the summer, torrential downpours with tornado warnings, and using the a/c in December.

We chose to live in Prattville again.  I know my way around.  The drive to the base is familiar as is the base itself. We chose to go back to the church we attended when we were here before.

What 10 years away does change...
There are more of things: more houses, more stores, more traffic, more stuff that we own.

There are less of things: only two people living in our house most of the time; less connections because we don't have the kids to automatically plug us in to activities such as soccer, Awana, home school co-ops, and play dates.  No "optionally mandatory" military social events to attend.

Me:  Thanks to being a follower of Jesus, I keep growing and changing. The passage of time means that my situation is totally different than last time we were here. We are not moving upward in Alex's career, we are planning to retire after this assignment.  It's not our first time in the south, so the initial excitement of moving to a new place is not present....and in the last two years we've found the place we would like to call is not Alabama.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Only 12 months since my last post...

 So instead of 15 months between posts, it's only been a few days over 12 months.  That's a 20% improvement in time between postings..... right?

So what have I been doing this last year?  Well shortly after my last post, I had a relapse with my SAD/depression.  I totally fell apart:  wanting to sleep, be on the computer or watch TV all day, crying a lot, and generally not able to do, or completely wearing myself out in completing, the most basic tasks of life like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping etc.  My doctor put me on different anti-depressants which very quickly started to help.  However, it's been a very long year of recovery.  I am finally starting to feel like myself again, and yet I also am feeling the slow down and sluggishness that happens with my SAD regularly at this time of year.

I still managed to stay in graduate school.  It was important for me to have a reason to get up and get out of the house during the week and I really enjoyed my classes.  I took an incomplete in my winter intersession theory class and finished the class during spring quarter. Winter quarter I did most of the work for my two art history classes  everything required except writing the final paper for each class.  I took PR's in both classes which gave me unlimited time to complete the papers.  I just finished one of those papers this past week.

On March 6th, the last week of winter quarter classes, we received unexpected news from the Air Force.  After 10 months of being told that Alex was at the top of the deployment list and would be deployed overseas immediately after his AFROTC tour finished, his new assignment was posted....NOT a deployment but rather an Air War College distance learning instructor at Maxwell, AFB in Montgomery Alabama for the next 2 to 3 years.  Life was chaotic from that point on, which didn't help with my depression recovery instead it made my depression worse.  Alex seriously thought about not accepting the assignment and immediately retiring.  However, he realized that he would be doing a huge disservice to his cadets and his cadre at the detachment because he would have had to leave the Air Force right as spring quarter was starting.  We also thought we wouldn't be able to stay in Athens so our choice was A) move with an Air Force job in July or B) scramble to find a job somewhere in the United States that Alex could begin after Jeremy graduated from high school in May.  We chose option A.

In the next 2 1/2 weeks we got the house ready to be put on the market.  I was NOT happy that we were having to sell our home a year earlier than we had planned.  We had done NONE of the pre-moving preparation that we normally start during the last year at an assignment.  Over spring break, instead of resting and recharging for spring quarter classes, we frantically cleaned and decluttered the house for showings, and started getting ready to move.

During spring quarter I audited one art history class and completed all the work except for the final paper in the other one taking  a third PR for the year.  Oh, and I did mention that Jeremy was graduating from high school in May.  He was busy with senior activities, auditioning for the OU school of music, and breaking up with his girlfriend just before graduation.  This added more stress to my life as we began a repeat of the spring of 2009 when Nathan graduated from high school and we moved a month later.

We ended up getting one low-bid offer on the house, which we rejected since we would have had to come to closing with right around $10,000. We decided to put the house up for rent instead.  Good thing we did, because the Air Force Transportation Office screwed up our moving dates.  Alex ended up coming to Alabama and 'camping out' at the house we rented at the end of July while I waited another 3 weeks for movers.  While it was an annoying thing, it did make it easier for me to get both boys to their respective colleges.  It was only a 6 hour drive one way instead of an 11 hour drive to take Nathan to Liberty, and a 5 minute drive to take Jeremy to OU instead of an 11 hour drive.  The moving truck loaded our belongings on Friday, August 17th, I took Jeremy to his dorm that night as he was trying out for the Marching 110.  Saturday morning I left Athens and drove half way to Alabama.  Sunday I drove the rest of the way, and Monday the moving truck arrived and we began unpacking...

Maybe it will only be a few days or weeks rather than several months before I begin writing about our adventures in Alabama.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A lot has happened over the past 15 months....

So I'm not the greatest at this blogging's been 15 months since I last posted anything and A LOT has happened. So here's the abbreviated version:

I did go back to school. I took two undergraduate courses fall quarter: an introductory linguistics class and the first survey class in art history. I did well enough that I applied for undergraduate admission for winter quarter. I took three class: two linguistics class that count toward the teaching English as a second language certification and the second survey class in art history. In February I met with advisers in both linguistics and art history for spring quarter classes. In the process I found out since I had a complete bachelor's degree from Central Washington University, none of those credits would transfer. Which meant that I would essentially be starting all over to complete an undergrad degree at OU. My art history adviser looked at me and said "I don't see why you can't complete the graduate course work by spring of 2012 when you are scheduled to move. You can write your thesis wherever you are at and come back and defend it." So in a matter of less than 3 weeks, I applied to graduate school, and applied to study art history in Italy for 3 weeks over the summer. It was truly a God I applied after the official deadline, did not need GRE scores, and our tax return covered the fees to go to Italy.

So now I'm a grad student in Art History. I survived my first full quarter this fall. It was difficult. I enjoyed two of my classes, but not the third one....and it took up 60% of my time. I am continually questioning my sanity for pursuing an art history degree (what sort of job am I going to be able to get with it....I'm 46 years old!) Yet I continue to hear God telling me to keep at it. So, I am being obedient.

Monday I start a class over the winter intersession that I'm really not thrilled to take, but it is the only art theory class being offered before summer, when we may or may not be moving.

More on that later....unless it takes me another 15 months to post to this blog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Summer of My "Discontent"

While technically summer isn't over for another 3 or so weeks, in my life it ended last week. Nathan, who headed back to school August 8th, started his sophomore year at Liberty University on Monday. Jeremy, now a Junior at Athens High School, started his classes on Tuesday. Our new neighbors in the college rentals one both sides of our house are now in residence which is an indication that fall has arrived.

As I look back on this past June-August I realize that while many things were accomplished, it was not the restful and idyllic summer that I felt we should have when we don't spend it moving to a new military assignment.
--Some of this comes from the new dynamic in our family. We have a college student who doesn't feel that this house is his home. I understand why he feels this way, we moved here 6 weeks before he left for college. He has no connections to this town and was not thrilled to be "stuck here" for 10 weeks. (Fortunately, he got a job working at a boy scout summer camp and was only around for about a month--of course this was in May while his brother and father still were in/teaching school)
--There were no family vacations or day trips together. Our time together after school got out was limited to the short time on Saturdays that Nathan was home between camp sessions, and only when everyone was here. In fact this was a summer of separate travel. Jeremy went to three boy scout camps. Two of them were"once in a lifetime" camps: Sea Base in the Bahamas and the National Jamboree at Fort A P Hill in Virginia which was celebrating 100 years of scouting. In total he was gone for a little over 4 weeks. Alex was gone almost 6 weeks (he just returned last night) TDY to Maxwell AFB to work at Air Force ROTC field training camp Max 6.
--Two weeks were spent with painters here at the house to repaint the exterior (so worth paying to have professionals do it, due to the previous owner's neglect with upkeep on the house) but we didn't get the landscaping for the front done as we had hoped.
--I was too busy; or too tired; or too depressed; to work on any special projects and spent way too much time on Facebook as an escape.

One thing that did come out of this "summer of discontent" was a persistent feeling of guilt that I should be doing something more. Specifically, that I shouldn't be wasting the opportunity of the "free tuition"(I still have to pay general fees and books) that is available at Ohio University because of Alex having the status of "visiting professor". So I did a lot of praying....and some contemplating. Alex brought me a contact number for Academic Advising before he left for Alabama, and I made an appointment to just talk about my options. I saw the academic advisor and took some assessment tests for careers and majors this past week. Today I applied for non-degree seeking admission for this fall....and if all goes well I will once again be a university student next Tuesday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Year Off (and On)

One of the nice things about the military moving us every three or so years, is the opportunity to essentially "wipe the slate clean" when it comes to activities and obligations and re-evaluate what we want to invest our time and energy in. One year ago today we arrived in Athens, OH and I have been reflecting on those activities that have fallen by the wayside and those that continue to be a part of our lives.

This move was a big transition in that Nathan left for college shortly after we arrived and Jeremy had made the decision to go to public high school. I had decided to give myself 6 months to listen to God and see what he would have me do. (I could get a part time job, go back to school tuition free, or continue to be a stay at home wife/mom and volunteer) At the 6 month point I still didn't have clear answers only that I still needed to wait--not my favorite thing to do!

Now at the one year point I've gotten some answers, but not a clear picture. I hope that by looking at what activities have fallen by the wayside, and what have continued, will help me hear God's plans for the next two years...

So here's what's gone off the plate:

Scrapbooking and Quilting: I was suprised by this. I have had no motivation to do either. I thought with all the free time I would have after unpacking that it would be the perfect opportunity to catch up on both. I had purchased a few quilt tops to make and have LOTS of scrapbook pages to do. I have done none of it. In November I quit selling Creative Memories after doing so for 11 years. However, after a year off, I have joined a group of women who make quilt blocks every month. We'll see what happens with the scrapbooking...

Travel to visit National Parks and Monuments and to explore the area: A disappointment, but this was forshadowed by out time in MT. The boys aren't as interested as they were when they were younger. Nathan's not here. Alex's job consumes many hours of the week. He's either busy with work or just wants to be at home on the weekends.

Looking for a Part-time Job: The economy here is not good. There are a lot of people who NEED a job. I don't. I feel blessed that Alex can provide for us in such a way that my working is not necessary.

Here's what's stayed:

Church involvement: Always a given in our family. I've been in 2 small groups and help and/or participated in various activities. I also help get Jeremy to and from Youth Group activities.

Volunteering: It's different every place we live. Helping out at the food pantry is the ONLY thing I knew I should be doing at the 6 month point. I'm also shelving books at the library and just finished helping with VBS.

Boy Scouts: I don't do alot with scouts, but the guys' participation does affect me. I've helped with the football stadium clean up, been the back up driver and made a few trips to the scout store in Parkersburg.

And here's something new:

Marching Band: Jeremy decided this spring that he wanted to participate in Band. He's learning to play the tuba and sousaphone. The band has a parent booster club so the next two years will be filled with band events.

Still nagging in the back of my mind: Should I go back to school?