Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year, fresh starts.

Holy smokes! It's been too long since I've posted. Certainly not because we've had nothing going on, though I can say we really did have a quiet, relaxing Christmas and New Year's Eve is shaping up the same way. Just how I like it.

Steve got home the afternoon of the 23rd and left again yesterday morning. He will be settled back in at his apartment in Colorado tonight. In the week he was home we packed in about as much good stuff as we could: visiting with friends, celebrating Christmas with family, relaxing at home - playing video games, target shooting, wrestling with the dogs, watching movies, cooking - and even attending a cousin's wedding reception.

If there is one thing this crazy life has taught me it is to embrace each day, especially during the times Steve and I and the kids are together as a family. Where once I had to force myself to live in the moment and not dwell on the fact that my sweetheart would be leaving again soon, it's not such a big deal to me anymore. I can enjoy myself for whatever time we have together, and while I might get a little down when he leaves it doesn't take long for me to fall back into the groove of everyday life. As we often say to each other ... it is what it is. This is our life and we live it the best way we know how.

Well, we try to. I guess there is always room for improvement. That's one of the exciting things about the start of a new year - the idea that we can say goodbye to the baggage we're still carrying from 2012 and improve on things that need improving in 2013.

I am not a fan of resolutions, though I do periodically set goals for myself. As I sit here on New Year's Eve, kids next door at Nana's and Papa's house, Steve back to work, and even the dogs doing their own thing, I might reflect a bit on the previous year but mostly I am looking ahead to 2013. I am hopeful. Confident. Happy. Thankful. The Pipe Lifers have been blessed with a good life, and I look forward to spending another year of it with the people I love.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's a hot cocoa and gift wrapping kind of day.

Baby, it's cold outside.

(Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

Worse, it's cold and wet. We have this yucky rain/snow mix going on right now, combined with high winds. So there's heavy, wet snow piling up on everything (like power lines and roads) and making a big, sloppy mess.

I was a little surprised the kids had school today considering the forecast is for this stuff to escalate and continue through the rest of today and tomorrow. Lemme tell ya', it was a harrowing ride to school this morning and I am not looking forward to going back out to get the little rascals this afternoon. But I'm confident we'll be fine, and maybe they will get to start their Christmas break early if school is called off tomorrow.

Good news! Sam's leg healed beautifully and he got his cast taken off Monday. Praise Jesus. There was no dancing a jig or anything like that, though. He's still using one crutch to help him get around because his leg is a bit weak from not being used. The doctor said he needs to be able to walk for 45 minutes without stopping and with no pain before he starts running and jumping (or snowboarding). I'm glad he can work on recovering during Christmas break.

Sucky news! While we were in The Big City for Sam's appointment my truck broke down. Fortunately it was after the appointment, but that just meant we sat in the parking lot at a Steak-N-Shake waiting for a wrecker. Long story short: it was the alternator (which just the day before I had talked to my father-in-law about replacing) and we were able to have it fixed at Pep Boys. We were home by 8:30-ish, so not too bad. Except that I was then a little lighter in the wallet. A week before Christmas. Boo.

But good news! My shopping was almost done anyway. And I finished it yesterday! So I'm doing a little wrapping today. I'm one of those people who actually likes this part.

I'm getting excited. Steve will leave Colorado on Saturday to be home Sunday night. Hopefully the storm calms down by then and he doesn't run into any trouble on his drive. I'm looking forward to having him here and just hanging out as a family. Often Steve is off work this time of year because jobs get shut down for winter. This is the first time I remember him being so far away so close to Christmas, and it'll be four weeks since I've seen him. So yeah, I'll be happy to have him home. We have nothing on our social calendar, and that's fine with me.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Clean Slate Sunday: 12.16.12 broken heart edition

I can hardly believe the weekend is over already. I'm pretty sure that, other than when I was sleeping, I spent more time in my truck or otherwise away from the house than I did at home.

After the news on Friday of so many children being killed at their school in Newtown, CT, I will not grumble about shuffling my kids from one activity to another. My children are alive. They are here. And while we are all brokenhearted and still in a bit of shock, we need to continue to live. We need for things to be as normal as possible.

Make no mistake. I am not downplaying the tragedy at all. While I go about my usual business with my children there is a voice inside my head screaming at me that I should be curled up in the fetal position sobbing for those children lost and their families who now have to learn how to go on without them.

I don't even know any of those families, but just imagining their anguish would suck the life out of me if I let it. It's part of my makeup, this uber-emotionalism, and so I have learned to manage it and to recognize my limits. I spent much of Friday night flipping between news channels, devouring any new information about the shooting. The rest of the weekend I have focused on my own family - Rachel had activities with her Girl Scout troop both Saturday and today, and participated in the church Christmas program with her Sunday School class this morning. Sam spent much of the weekend at home battling bad guys on his PS3. We talked a bit. Hung out on the couch and watched movies. The usual. He's elated to be seeing the doctor tomorrow to (God willing) have the cast taken off his leg.

Normal, everyday stuff.

"I guess the world ain't gonna stop for my broken heart."

Those words from an old Reba McEntire song have been playing over and over in my mind these last few days. And it's true. Even though it feels like the world should stop sometimes, particularly when the loss is so great, so traumatic, and felt by so many ... life goes on.

In one week the love of my life will be home for Christmas. The kids will have their break from school, and we will enjoy some quality time as a family. But between now and then I will be sure to live every day, to continue to tell my children often how much I love them, and to pray for the mamas and daddies who can no longer hold their babies in their arms.

I wish you all a restful night, and a fresh start in the morning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Really feeling it today.

I started to update my Facebook status, but it got too long to really reflect how good I feel today. So I'm putting it here. I'm feeling just ... so blessed.

I have some phone calls to make to rearrange some appointments - the rigamarole I'm going through to have testing done to determine the cause of these breathing issues I've been having. I went to the ENT specialist last week, and had a breathing test (I can't remember what it's called) at the hospital this week. Now we move on to allergy testing. It's kind of a pain, but if I had a Twitter account this is something I would tag as #firstworldproblems. I know I am fortunate to have this opportunity so I will keep my griping to a minimum.

And this morning, after I dropped the kids off at school (three more days until Sammy's cast comes off!), I hit the grocery store and came out with a full cart to be met with gorgeous sunshine. People I came across at each stop I made were cheery and wished me a Merry Christmas.

On the drive home I felt uplifted. Full of joy. Is it the sunshine, maybe? The realization that Christmas - and a week-long visit from my sweetheart - is just over a week away? Is it that I'm looking forward to trying a fancy soup I splurged on for lunch? Or that I'm getting my hair done later today? That it's payday and I feel like I can exhale?

I don't know. And it doesn't matter. I'm just going to enjoy it.

I leave you with a picture. My little Gunnar, who has never really been little at all, is six months old today.

He loves playing in the snow.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I find myself looking at the calendar and checking the clock often lately. I'm counting the days until Steve comes home for Christmas and at the same time I feel like if I am not on my way somewhere for one commitment or another I am surely forgetting something. And sometimes that's true. But not today.

This week I have two empty white squares - today and tomorrow - in the middle of dates filled to the borders and beyond of activities and commitments and time suckers. Some days having so much to keep me busy is exhilarating, and even a welcome distraction. Other days it's exhausting.

This morning we woke up late. This after I went to bed last night with a runny nose and a hint of a sore throat, Ladybug woke me from a deep sleep to go outside at 3 a.m. Nothing like a brisk walk around the yard in the wee hours to get the blood flowing. Having these (very active) dogs is like having toddlers in the house again. They're fun. They bring us so much joy. But they make any task take twelve times longer because we have to make sure the dogs have gone out and are taken care of before we leave, or we're tripping over dogs while trying to clean the house, or it's time to feed the dogs, or whatever. And sometimes I have no clue what they want or need because they can't tell me and it seems like I've done all I can do and the answer ... is usually more attention. When I'm on the phone. Or trying to help a kid with homework. Or SLEEPING. Or (and) feeling like poo. And like toddlers sometimes do, they tear up the house, ruin our nice things, and embarrass me in front of my friends. But none of that matters in those moments when you watch them sleep, or they make you laugh at the sheer pleasure they get from playing with a ball or having a good run. And there's that whole unconditional love thing.

Speaking of unconditional love, I do love my children (the human variety) so very much, but gosh will I be glad when Sam is back on two good legs. I am soooo tired of carrying stuff for him. These last five weeks have been slightly reminiscent of the days when my kids were still tiny and they - and all their gear - had to be carried everywhere. (Is there a pattern here?) I take him to the doctor on Monday to have his cast taken off. And then I'm gonna' party like it's 1999.

Not really. But I might have a glass of wine or two to celebrate.

Oh, the things we take for granted sometimes. Like being able to walk on our own. And being able to sleep through the night.

Early bedtime tonight to try to ward off this cold. Four days until Sam's cast comes off. Ten days until daddy comes home. And I'm counting every one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bring it.

Yesterday it was so warm outside I had windows open in the house.

On December 4. In Michigan.

This morning? Not so much.

We keep getting teased with a little snow here and there, but it melts within a day or two. Up until now I've enjoyed what we got but I was only marginally ready for a big snowfall. Rachel helped me do the last of the tidying-up outside last night though, so now I'm ready for the fluffy white stuff to start piling up and to stick around.

Except I'm not. Because Sam is still on crutches and I worry that he will slip and fall. He has just shy of two weeks before he goes back to the doctor to have his cast taken off. And then I'll be ready. Maybe. Because as soon as the snow starts to pile up and Sam has the OK from the doctor, he's going to start bugging me to hit the slopes. Hhhhh.

Praise God for healthy, active children, right?

I really am ready for some snow. I actually saw some dandelions in the yard yesterday while I was out playing with the dogs. For serious! All this grey and blah out there and then I see these BRIGHT YELLOW flowers poking their heads up. Tough little suckers. I hope they enjoy the snow, too. Ha!

But seriously. Christmas is 20 days away and I would really love a white Christmas. Every day I play my Pandora "White Christmas" station while I putter around the house, and I leave the lights glowing on our teensy little tree.

That tree, by the way, looked like a hot mess this morning. We have had some close calls with the dogs bumping into the table - or the domino effect of chair, then table, and the tree goes a wobblin' - but so far she's still standing. Gunnar can get his nose pretty high, though, so he can slide stuff right off tables, countertops ... basically any surface where you've put something to keep it away from him.

Exhibit A:
 Our makeshift tablecloth-turned-tree-skirt.
Gunnar grabbed one little corner with his mouth, apparently thinking the tree wanted to play a game of tug with him.
I caught it before the whole thing came tumbling down.

Exhibit B:
 Stockings will not be hung until Mr. Gunnar is safely crated in the bedroom on Christmas Eve.

Aww. Despite his daily shenanigans, there is the occasional Christmas card-worthy photo. How could anyone not love this face?

He's ready for snow, too.