Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Friend...

Our dog, Nugget, died this weekend at the age of nearly 13...

We got Nugget from a pet store in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in 1996. (Back then, the pet stores in KY sold pets that weren't full-breeds. He was from a litter from a local family dog.) He was supposed to be Alissa's dog - a gift for her 2nd birthday. That day in the pet store, she chose him, and he also chose her.

But, he was everyone's dog. Not just mine, Jon's, Alissa's (and later her sisters') - everyone's.

Though he's lived with Grandma and Grandpa for the last few years, we still always considered him our dog, too. The Army makes us move so frequently, and we never know if the place we live (Army housing, rentals, etc) will let us have a pet(s), so Nugget spent probably half his life at my mom and dad's house.

We were lucky. My parents are the epitome of "animal lovers". They treated him like he deserved to be treated - like a member of their family. My dad faithfully walked him everyday, and they gave him table food and let him lick their dinner plates clean (even though that's probably not recommended by their veterinarian.) He slept in bed with my mom every night and, when he couldn't get up onto the bed, she was always there to lift him up.

Nugget always remembered us when we were visiting. He wagged his tail and laid near Jon or me. He let us love him like no time had passed since we'd last seen him. I choose to believe that he always loved us and somehow understood that we didn't abandon him. Instead, we gave him a second family to love and care for him when we couldn't.

When my mom told me on Saturday that he'd lost his long battle with illness, I'd already known it would be coming soon. But, it still hurt like hell. I cried and cried.

He was loved by so many. Somewhere in doggie heaven I hope he knows that, no matter where he was (with us or with Grandma), we loved him and were so proud to have such a great dog in our family.

He was a special dog and he will be dearly missed. We love you, Nugget!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I had no idea what "running" meant until yesterday....

Guess I've been fooling myself that the walk-jog thing I was doing was really great exercise. Ok, it's exercise. It really is. But, I've seen the other side...

Wait for it...

Jon's been on leave this week. He has leave (that's what the Army calls vacation days) that he has to use or he'll lose it, so he decided to take this week. The guy deserves it - the Army works him to death, he's gone long hours or travelling a LOT, and let's face it, life in the Army can be stressful.

Since we live on a small island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, he can't really "vacation" or take a roadtrip anywhere. But, that doesn't matter. The boy is SCUBA-certified, so he's taken some dives this week. And.........we've been bonding.

(Get your minds out of the gutters...this is a G-rated blog). By bonding, I mean hanging out together. Laughing. Picking up the kids from school together. Making trips to the store while the kids are in school.

Just spending time together. With 2 full-time jobs and 3 full-time kids, and no Grandmas or Aunties here to watch them so we can get away for a night or 2 alone, "spending time together" is a very precious commodity.

One of our bonding activities was jogging. Yesterday we decided to run together. I should have known this would be more difficult than I expected. After all, Jon has been a runner for 25 years. I've been a runner (and I use that term loosely) for about 25 minutes.

We started out strong. I was running a 14-minute mile. (That's lightning fast for me - I average closer to 16 or 17-minute miles.) I maintained that for the first 2 miles.

Then I thought I might die. It was HARD! I managed another 1.5 miles, with a couple of 100-ft walks hidden in when I really felt like I couldn't do it anymore.

To Jon's amazing credit, he did not get frustrated when I complained, slowed down, or stopped talking to him (because I needed to zone-out in order to make it home in one piece.) Instead, he gently nudged me - "Come On! You can do it! You're doing great! Really great!"

My husband is an amazing rock star. I felt the pride he had for me yesterday, and it brought me to tears. We are closer than we've ever been, and I am so incredibly grateful. (Believe me, I thank God for it everyday.)

But, when we got home, 1 hour and 7 minutes (and 4 1/2 miles total) later, my clothes were soaked. I mean so wet that they clung to my back. My legs felt like Jell-O. My head was spinning a little.

And today, my thighs BURN when I walk down the stairs.

I could complain, but I haven't. Because:

  1. Jon's pride made me proud of myself.
  2. I did it. I didn't walk, I RAN! (Ok, it was a slow jog here and there, but Jon said I maintained a runner's stride throughout, which was his goal for me.)
  3. It's been a LONG time since I've felt that proud of myself.

Thank you Jon, for your support. I love you so much. I hope that I'll get better and we can really run together. I'll try really hard to get there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary! We made it - 15 years and counting...

If someone had said to me that I would celebrate my 15th wedding anniversary in 2009, I would not have believed them. Fifteen years is a long time for many things - cars, cats and dogs, jobs. But in this day and age, fifteen years is especially long for marriages. And, I never actually dreamed that I would get married at all. I always assumed I would be one of those "Career People, in love with their work and not lucky enough to find that special someone.

Then I met Jon. I won't tell you all the gooey details, but...

We met in Spring Quarter 1993. I was literally just weeks from graduation. It was the last required course that I needed to complete to attain my business degree. The professor had already arranged us into groups, and called our names to sit together in those groups. I was grouped with 3 boys: Jon, a terribly rude foreign boy, and a football player. The course grade was contingent on a large group project, requiring us to spend many, many hours together at the computer lab.

That first day I remember the class walking from the classroom to the computer lab, about 10 minutes away. I walked with my group, but ended up talking to Jon. I remember him talking about his new niece, his family, his grandfather. I marveled at the love that this young man had for his family, and that he was willing to share those feelings with a total stranger. We talked the whole way, and for many, many days and nights afterward.

The football player was nice enough, and did his share. The rude foreign boy treated me like I was his secretary, and he and I fought often, and loud! Jon was the voice of reason. He stood between us, arbitrated our differences, and then later laughed with me at the rude boy's arrogance. We spent many days at the lab, and many evenings walking on campus, talking and laughing. As the weeks passed, we spent more and more time together. One person at the computer lab even asked us how long we'd been married! (I guess he assumed we were grad students or something.)

We got engaged in October, 6 months after our first meeting. But I knew from the first day we met that he was The One. I remember coming home to my roommate and telling her that I had met a boy and that I was really taken with him. (Mind you, I was dating someone back at home at the time.) It was as if we both knew that first day that we'd found our soulmate.

This love story has its share of bumps - don't get me wrong. Jon's job takes us all over the world. We barely have a chance to move and make friends and get comfortable, and then the Army moves us again. We miss our extended families, and Jon is away from home A LOT. (I estimate that we've spent at least 5 of our 15 years apart, maybe as much as 6 or 7 years...)

People ask how we do it. And it isn't always easy. But we've decided that this life is worth it. All the ups, all the downs, the uncertainties, the blessings. All of it. So we work hard to keep it. There are bumps along the way, but I am slowly learning to get up, dust myself off, take Jon's hand, and continue on the journey.

We've been blessed to bring 3 beautiful daughters into the world. Three caring, compassionate, funny, loveable, amazing human beings. We've been blessed to live the life that we live. It isn't a life for everyone, but it works for us. We make mistakes, and we have amazing adventures.

I love you, Jon. Here's to 15 unbelievable years. And 15 (or 30!) more...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Alexandra!

Alex is away at Camp Erdman for her 5th grade End-of-Year Field Trip. She'll be gone for 3 days - May 4th through the 6th.

It's the first time in any of my children's lives that I have not been with them on their birthdays. Now, I am sure that Alex is having a WONDERFUL time. (This morning when I woke her up, instead of saying "Good Morning, Mom", she said "It's Camp Erdman Day!!")

But for me, well, I am a little sad. Mostly because she's not here on her special day. I know her birthday will be great, and I am not worried at all about her being homesick. I am just sad that I can't hug her on her special day.

So, instead, I decided to write her a little letter, that I will share with all of you:


Dear Alex -

You're 11! I am amazed at how fast you've grown into a young lady. I can remember vividly the day that you joined our family.

I knew I was in labor at around 5 am. We were expecting you - there had been some signs that you were coming very soon. We took Alissa to a friend's house to stay and Dad drove me to the hospital.

I wasn't in labor long - you were born at 1:21 pm. It only took one push! The doctor had stepped away from me, just for a second, and almost didn't make it back in time to catch you as you came out!

The first 2 things I said to you were: "You are so beautiful" and "You look just like your big sister". (That second statement didn't last long, but in that first moment I swore you looked just like Alissa.)

You have been a joy to me since that first day. 99% of your life you have been in a wonderfully good mood. Always happy, always smiling and laughing and giggling. It is rare for you to be unhappy, and when you are it almost always goes away immediately. You always see the positive, no matter what. You are such an inspiration to me, and I know that your happiness and positive attitude will take you far in life.

You are the apple of Daddy's eye, and you look, act, and sound just like him. And me, well, you mean more to me than anything in the world (Ok, you're tied with your sisters and Daddy). I can't wait to see you at the end of the school day because I know you will have stories and laughter and hugs to share.

Oh Alex, I love you so much. And I will miss seeing you on your 11th birthday. But, we will see you the day after, and we will celebrate with our friends this weekend. Knowing that makes your brief absence a little more bearable.

I hope that your field trip is an unbelievably good time. And I hope that someone sings Happy Birthday to You. (We'll sing it here at home, too, even though you won't be here, just so you know you are in our thoughts.)

We bought your present tonight. I think you will be excited and happy and satisfied.

I can't wait to see you on Wednesday!

(To friends and family: If you call on Tuesday and I sound sad, you now know why. Things are fine, I am just missing my Alex.)