Monday, September 29, 2008

Alissa is 14!

Alissa, Happy Birthday!

A letter to my teenage daughter on her birthday:

I thought I would take a moment to remember your special day. The day you joined my life seems like yesterday. I was so afraid! And excited! Grandma Sue drove me to the hospital at about 12:30 am on the 29th. (Daddy was away in Army school.) We were excited and nervous and I had no idea how my life was about to change.

After 15 1/2 hours, you finally arrived (while - your favorite part of the story - "Full House" was playing on TV in the background.) You were so much smaller than I expected, 6 pounds 9 ounces. But so, so incredibly beautfiul. I was blessed in that very moment. The moment we met. I had no idea how much one person could love another, until the moment our eyes met. You changed me. You gave my life a whole new purpose.

The Army let Daddy fly home to see us so he could meet you. It was a wonderful day. We were young parents and we were learning as we went along, but I think you survived most of our mistakes! :-)

You and I spent a lot of time together, just the 2 of us, for those first 3 1/2 years. Dad was gone a lot and it was you and me. You were (and are) such a great kid. Every moment was wonderful, even the not-so-easy ones.

Over the years you have grown into such a beautiful, confident, funny, charismatic, compassionate young lady. You have a heart of gold, and a laugh that drives me insane (because I can't avoid laughing along, even when I'm trying to be serious with you.) We have so many wonderful memories from the last 14 years, and I know that there are decades more to come.

I know it's hard being the oldest (been there, done that). I know we expect a lot from you, and every parenting decision we make gets tested on you first. I am sorry for that. And I know being in an Army family, your life is different than the life you may have chosen for yourself - moving all the time, starting over at every turn. But know that this life you have is meant for you. There's a wonderful plan for you and your life, and it includes all of the moments you've already been through, and all of the moments that you haven't yet experienced. When life feels difficult, keep your head up. You are so confident and you never let the bad moments bring you down for too long. (Oh, if only I'd had that mindset as a teenager!) When life is wonderful, drink in every minute and make it yours.

On this day, I wish you the happiest birthday yet! I hope for a day filled with laughter, memories, and much love. (Not to mention dinner tonight and the pretty cake you chose!)

Happy 14 birthday, Alissa. I love you more than anything in this world.

Have an untoppable day!

(Oh, and thanks for sitting on my lap like a little kid last night while we watched "Extreme Makeover Home Edition". What a nice, quiet bonding time we had, until I stupidly tickled you and we spilled soda all over the floor. Guess that will go into the story bank of funny stories we'll share later in life, right?)

Love You! Mom

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Bradlee!

Happy 8th Birthday to Bradlee Michael. I can't believe you're 8 years old!!

Jon, the girls and I wish you the happiest 8th birthday you could possibly have.

We love you and miss you.

Have a WONDERFUL day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September is almost over...

I can't believe it, September 2008 is almost over. What that means for me is, in 6 days my oldest child will turn 14. To some, that may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is HUGE. She is growing faster than I am ready for. She comes home from school, talking about her day and it seems to me that just yesterday I was talking about those same things - which boy I liked, hanging out with my friends at lunchtime. Could it be that 23 years have passed since I was a freshman like her? Could it be that it was so long ago that I was laughing with my friends, thinking like I'm sure she does, that my mom could not possibly know what it was like to be in my shoes, a teenage girl? Most days, even when I'm not having a great day, I still feel like a youngster myself. OK, maybe not a youngster. But definitely a young adult. I still dance and laugh and run and play. To me it is impossible to believe that I am the mother of an almost-14 year old child.

Wait, she isn't really a child. I mean, she can't vote, she can't drive, she can't buy a car. But, she is so grown, so mature, so strong. She is so beautiful, so smiley, even in the midst of her first major breakup. She has a laugh that makes you laugh with her. As hard as you try, you can't avoid it. It's infectious! She is tall and lean and so grown. I can't believe that 14 years ago she wasn't here with me - instead, it is as if she has been with me all my life. Sort of like she's always been in my heart, waiting for the right time to join us in the living world.

They say that when you have a child, it is like having your heart walking around outside your body. I always thought that was a strange statement, until Alissa became a teenager. She does so much more without me these days, and although I am happy for her and I'm glad she has many friends, part of me longs for the days when she would sit on my lap and rest her head on my shoulder. Sometimes I secretly wish she would sit with me and just be there, the two of us, like the old days. (When she does, however, it is very funny. She sits on my lap, this child that is as tall as me, and hugs me tight.) It is funny and sentimental and wonderful, and we laugh for all those reasons. She doesn't realize what those moments give me - a small piece of "what used to be", when she was small - a reminder that no matter how she grows or where she lives, we will always be mother and daughter.

I am scared for the day, not too long from now, when I will watch her pack her things and go out into the world. I worry for the day when I will take her to college, help her unpack, and then have to leave her there. It is so hard for me to imagine that someday soon, she will be on her own and not need me everyday anymore. I know what you're thinking, "She's your child. She will always need you." But it won't be the same.

My beautiful Alissa, I love you so much. I hope that when you are on your own and not under my roof, that you will still need me and want me around. I pray that we will always be close, and always have this special relationship. I know you don't understand it now, how I feel and how scared I am for you to grow. Not because you aren't ready, but because I'm not ready.

Until then, even on the days when we aren't getting along, I will cherish every moment with you. I will remember these days so that we can talk about them later. "Mom, remember when...?" Those are some of my favorite times with my own mom, and I vow to keep our memories safe and secure. You (and your sisters) mean everything to me. I am blessed and proud to be a part of your life. As "our" song says, "these are the sweetest days we'll know."

I love you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

We've moved!! (successfully)

The move is complete. We're in the new house, and all but about 20 boxes of stuff are put away. This has been easily the smoothest move we've ever done. Yes, the house still has some clutter, but it will always be that way. My husband is allergic to cleaning up after himself, and his habit has worn off onto 2 of the kids. And, Alex is a packrat. She keeps EVERYTHING!! Every couple of months I have to do a purge just to get rid of all the excess.

We're free and clear of the old place - we turned in the keys on Monday and got our entire deposit back without any fuss at all. The house will sit empty until at least October 10, when it is set for auction.

Anyway, the move was smooth. About 90% of the house was moved on Saturday (the remainder was moved over Sunday and Monday). We have some awesome friends. They knocked it out of the park for us. My muscles were sore for 3 days! We were running on pure adrenaline only. The whole day is a blur. But, we are moved, thank goodness. The new house looks smaller from the outside, but inside it is laid out very well. And, the layout makes more sense. There's a 5th bedroom, so there is clutter in there right now (and truthfully, there probably will be until the next time we have a visitor). So far the house is mostly put together and we just have to sort through the garage and that 5th bedroom. Jon and I have both said that this house will work better for us. Though there is less storage (i.e. closets), there is also much less "dead" space. I hope to have some pics up next week.

I have to admit, it is a little hard driving by the old house everyday (which is unavoidable). But, it isn't as hard as I imagined. I suppose that when/if the house is sold and new folks move in it will be tough to see someone else coming out the front door. Not necessarily because I was in love with the house, but because of the circumstances that forced us to move so quickly. But, I am truly happy in the new place. As I told my friend just a few minutes ago, it feels like "home". The old house never felt that way to me, in the entire 8 months that we lived there.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. We're doing great now.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Krysti!

On this day, 16 years ago, a wonderful child was born. Christine Marie Dubler. She is a gift from God, a girl who is kind and loving and has an infectious laugh!

She is sweet 16 today. I can't believe how fast you've grown!

The world is your oyster. Embrace your birthday today and make it the best yet!

We love you and miss you, wish we could be there to hug you in person.

Have a wonderful, fantastic day!

Love you!

September 11 Remembered

I know everyone will be blogging and talking about this, so I thought I would also look back to see where I was on that horrible day...

Seven years ago, has it been that long? I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was at work, my second week at a new job. We were in a meeting, using a computer hooked to a projector. One of my team members came in late, and said he'd heard on the car radio that a plane had crashed in New York City and that they were talking about it all over the news.

Our meeting quickly ended, and we turned the projector screen to By then the second plane had hit, and everyone was in disbelief. My husband, a solider in the US Army, was supposed to be travelling that day. (I can't remember where.) He was calling and calling, frantically trying to get a hold of me to let me know he was OK and his travel plans were canceled. Then work released us, to go home and be with families. To try and digest what was happening and why. Why would someone do this? Was it planned?

I remember picking up my kids from school and daycare - many, many people left work as soon as they were allowed, so they could go get their kids and hold them close. Alissa was in the 2nd grade. There was no way to explain to her what was happening, but I knew I had to find something to say to her. Unfortunately, once your child is in school it becomes harder and harder to shelter them from the outside world. I don't remember what I told her, except that something bad had happened - two planes had crashed and people were hurt, and the schools said it was OK for us to come get our kids and be with them early today. (I didn't know about the plane at the Pentagon or in PA at that time.)

We were staying with my parents and my grandma, because we'd just moved back to the US from Europe about 6 weeks before, and hadn't closed on our own house yet. I went home to their house, and my grandma was outside. We turned on the TV to get more information, and the TV stayed on for about 2 weeks. I couldn't stop watching it. I don't know why, to this day, the events of September 11 mesmerize and capture me. I watched every bit of news about that day that I could for the entire month after it happened. I didn't know anyone personally affected by this tragedy, but at the same time we were all personally affected. It changed the US in many ways.

What those evil people behind the tragedy didn't realize was that, just like the tragic events of Pearl Harbor 60 years before, this unspeakable event brought our country together. Even 7 years later, we are still a unified, patriotic nation, rallying behind the troops and showing our love for our country. It changed some of the ways we do things (more airport security, more travel restrictions...), but it also made us all realize what a great country we live in.

One thing I never understood about that fateful day, though - why did the folks who lost their lives at the Pentagon get so much less attention than those who died in New York or PA? The Pentagon quietly buried their dead, and rebuilt their structure, even unveiling a new memorial to those we lost (the memorial is being dedicated today). Why were those heroes given less attention than the civilians in the World Trade Center towers? Why don't we hear about their heroism (unless you live in the military community and read the military newspapers/magazines). Their lives were no less precious, and their sacrifice was no less honorable and no less tragic.

Visit the Pentagon Memorial website at

Today, take a moment to remember those who lost their lives on that terrible day seven years ago. All of them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Maybe some good news, but I am still worried...

Thanks to those of you who have contacted us with words of wisdom, or the promise of a prayer. I know that things could be much worse (after all, I am not personally involved in the foreclosure, and I don't own this house - all I have to do is move, albeit against my will and without much notice.) I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is probably not the end of the world. But, it sucks while we're living it. We weren't planning to move, and we don't necessarily want to move. But, it is what it is. And:

Looks like we can move into the new house on September 13. We signed a new lease last night. I am working to get everything switched over (address changes, cable, phone, etc.), and REMAX has promised me that they will do the walk-through of this house on 9/13 or 14 and bring me my deposit check (so that I can give that deposit to the new landlord.) They are trying to be helpful, I guess. But, I still hate the situation.

My awesome neighbor Jay already has the troops rallied to help us move, and he has a plan in place to get it all done over that weekend. So, maybe the nightmare is almost resolved.

But, as many of you know, I am a constant worrier. I worry about absolutely everything - even things that are not important enough to even justify a worry! Jon is always the voice of calm, the voice of "everything will be fine in the end". He is almost always right. I, however, make up things to worry about. OK, well, most of the things I worry about are legitimate, but not necessarily stuff that everyone else worries about. For example: "Where will we be living in 5 years?", "What kind of house will we move to when we retire and settle down?" Those things are years down the road, yet they are things that I am always thinking about. Jon says that it is too early to worry about those things. But, I have just always been that way. My mind is always racing, thinking about things and trying to process it all. It seems like I can never just relax and go with the flow. I am just always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's like I have let myself believe that this bad stuff is just destined to happen to me, so I might as well prepare for it.

It's not healthy, I know. And, it can make me ill. But, it is the way that God made me. I try to worry less, but I do not believe that it is in my DNA.

So, we're moving next weekend. Everything seems to be falling into place for it. But, your continued prayers are still very much welcomed. Yes, it could be worse. But, until we are settled and out of this house and away from this drama and REMAX has given us everything that is due to us, I will not be able to rest easy.

If you could just continue to ask God to help me get out of this situation and move on with as little pain and red tape and drama as possible, we would really appreciate it.

Thanks everyone!


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Can things get worse?

Say a prayer for me, please. I can't write it all down now, because I have made myself almost sick from it.

Basically, we have to move. We're not leaving Hawaii, in fact we aren't even leaving the street (at least we're trying not to). But, the house we live in now has gone into foreclosure. Apparently the morons who own it have been using the rent money to pay the mortgage on the house that they live in, in order to save their own house. So, this house is being auctioned off. October 10. Yep, that's right. 40 days from now. Luckily for us, I think we've found a place, right down the street, that we can move to before the month is out, and get out of this nightmare that is neither our fault or in our control. However, we've been sucked into it.

The new house is a little smaller, with a smaller yard, but there's a 5th bedroom. We got a chance to see it over the weekend and measure, and all of our stuff will fit fine. I think it will work out OK, but after the crappy time we've had in Hawaii so far, I can use all the good karma that I can get. I wish that we could just move. Leave this stupid island. I hate it here.

Maybe after September, when we're moved and we can forget that this happened, things will get better. But for now, I hate it here. Hawaii is sunny and warm and the ocean is all around, but other than that it has not been nice to us. It's a weird place with weird "rules" and crazy drivers, and no Target, and outrageous house prices. The lien on our home (the foreclosed one) is over $800k. (And the owners have owned it since 2005.) I always feel alone here, because I am white and I work at home so I never see anyone. And, the Army couldn't care less about us. We're just another military family, and since Jon isn't overseas, who cares? They don't. If your soldier is home, then everything must be fine with you. You have a problem? Too bad. You should live on post, in the 75 year old houses, and send your kids to the roughest, crappiest schools on the island. Then the Army will care about you.

If you would please, say a prayer that this current nightmare is over soon. I have always heard that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but right now I feel that I can't take any more. Please just say a prayer that the new house works out, and soon, and that we can escape this house and the drama attached with it, and we can just get back to our life (and out of this ridiculousness.)