Saturday, December 31, 2011

Snowman Down

So I have a small obsession with snowmen. I love them! They are happy, smiling, and completely content with being round and plump! You can't be unhappy when you see a snowman, and unlike Santas there is no expectations of presents. You think happiness, hot chocolate and a good snowfall. What's not to love about that?  Good news is that you don't find them year round so I only have to be immersed in my obsession for 3+ months out of the year. That's not to say I don't miss my jolly snowmen in the off season.

So of course when November rolls around, my snowmen start doing their Sugar Plum Fairy dance and parade around the house making their seasonal debut. Of course the theme of winter is snowmen everywhere, and my house looks like the pit stop for all passing snowmen. I have short ones, tall ones, ceramic ones, glass ones. I have nesting snowmen from Russia.

 I have snowmen that are bells. (Does that make him a bellmen?) I have Polish pottery snowmen. I have snowmen that sing and dance. They light up and sparkle. There are a chain of snowmen that sit vigil in front of the TV. I have a parade of snowmen that Welcome you to my home. And others that wish you a happy wintertime in German.

They hang on my tree. They burn incense and pretend to be smoking. They decorate my mugs and kitchen dish towels. They hold candy, cookies and pictures. I can make snowmen cookies and muffins and serve them up on snowmen plates and platters. They even hold my poinsettias. Yes, I am in full addiction mode.

My kids think its funny to torture mom and switch up the snowmen. They put them in weird and compromising positions (I have a 16yo). They change my nesting snowmen and put different heads on different bodies. Sometimes its funny, and sometimes its infuriating.  This picture was disturbing, even the snowmen looked appalled at this behavior. The fact that they are smoker snowmen might have something to do with that too.

And well my husband, he is a tolerant man and makes sure the kids don't break my snowmen during their creative shenanigans. Not to mention he likes to buy me snowmen which in turn feeds my obsession.

So the other day I am casually walking to the bathroom and I pass our small telephone table with a keys basket sitting on it. Of course there was snowman perched on that table, duh! Well my hand caught the snowman's arch, ring, whatever you call it (look at his picture and you'll the see the ring) and oops. I tried to save him but down he went on our tiled floor and KAPUT! That was the end of him. Death of a snowman. He had been with me for about 7 years, maybe more, and I will miss him. The funny thing is... I think he was ready to go. He looked peaceful and was actually smiling when I swept him up in the dustpan. He looked like he was ready to head on to his next adventure....where ever that might be. So here I post a memorial to that silly little snowman who even when I swept him up and tossed his remains in the trash, he still brought a smile to my face.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Daze

Today could be any other day of the year, but its special to me. Today marks the 11th anniversary of my wedding to a wonderful man. I don't even know where to start to describe him. I could describe his physical characteristics, but that isn't why I married him. I could describe his tenacity, which is truly why I dated him and fell in love with him in the first place. Like a bull in a china shop, he barged into my life when I was at the height of complications. A failed marriage, messy divorce, 3 year old daughter, university requirements to finish, a full-time job and walls around my heart that would take him years to scale.

I could sit here and describe all the things that he did to break down my walls and give me a sense of security within my marriage. I could describe his love, and the unconditional love he has for our children: his, mine and ours. I could tell you how stubborn he is and how he is loyal to a fault. I could tell you how intelligent and well read he is, and how he plans for the days when are retired and growing old together. He cooks. He cleans. He does laundry. He is passionate about his job, and takes the success and failures of his men personally. All these things make him great and make our marriage work. But the greatest gift he has given me is acceptance. The ability to be myself and know that no matter what he still loves me. This belief in me, in us, instills such a sense of peace, stability, and confidence, that it is now the grout the holds our foundation in place. There is no greater breaker of barriers than the gift of unconditional love & acceptance.

So eleven years later I just want to say that my marriage is better than it was December 30, 2000. I love him more now than I thought possible, and the foundation we laid has held up under the weight of pretty heavy burdens throughout the years. He has made me a better person, and I have grown immensely as a mother, woman and wife during these eleven years.

On this day when we are supposed to celebrate the gift of us, we are miles apart. But its ok, and I am at peace with knowing that no matter how far apart we are I still feel his love around me. Thank you for wonderful life, Babe! I think of so many songs that could describe what I feel but we have a song...our Hawaii song: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

So tonight, I sit here and listen to our song. Happy anniversary Babe and I will see you in 92 days.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

93 days and counting

I don't like to complain. Truth is someone always has it worse, and people don't like whiners. Hell, I don't like whiners, but today my Soldier Boy left to serve God and country. I said my good-byes and gave hugs and kisses. I didn't cry this time. This time was different. He is deploying for a mere 93 days. Many people would balk at being separated from their spouse for 3 months. Many spouses have never spent that much time away from their other halves. As a military wife, 93 days is a drop in the bucket. Short enough to live through, long enough to miss him.  Yes I am missing him already.

I'm grateful though that I have my children and work friends to help me through the next 93 days. We have made it through twice as long, and I have no doubt that we will make it through this one.

I decided that I would use this time to train up for something I have been wanting to do for years. I want to do some sort of triathlon or mud run or half-marathon. So I am training up and getting in shape while he is gone. Hopefully he will come back to a new and improved me. I hope 93 days is long enough to accomplish that goal. We will see how that goes.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Overcoming SAD-ness

The fall/Christmas season is a difficult time of the year for me. It always has been and there were years that it was chaos. It wasn't until recently that I realized I probably have some sort of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The depression starts in earnest right around September and is in full swing by mid November, usually becoming more manageable by January and ending sometime around March.

Now many people would say that SAD is not real, and is just like every other form of depression: in your head. I would have thought so too if it wasn't for the fact that my husband, not a shrink or a medical  self-diagnosing website, by my best friend and life partner pointed it out to me about 5 or 6 years ago. At the time we had only been together about 6 years, but he noticed that every September my moods would start changing, and I was more sullen and irritable. My sleeping patterns took on a different rhythm and eating was more like a roller coaster of binge and starve. It got to the point that for years it was the season that without antidepressant medication, I couldn't function like a normal human being.

When I started to look back on my choices and decisions it seemed like everything that every went "wrong" in my life happened in those months. Whether they happened because life and destiny made them happen or because I was the root cause of the chaos, it didn't matter.  These months were always chock full of high drama living.  In my teens I moved out of my house in late August only to move into a worse situation by October. I walked out on a relationship of two years and an engagement in November. I left my first husband one October, and divorced him three Octobers later. I almost wrecked my second marriage one October, and came dangerously close to a second divorce one November. Another November I remember being away from home visiting family and friends and thinking that I would love to disappear and never return to my life. I figured out that I needed to get my shit under control or I would leave my life in shambles.

I taught myself to get through these months without meds and not making my family miserable in the process. I learned to look at myself through a different lens and understand that it would pass. I also taught myself not to make any big decisions during these months. I just ride out the storm, and then when the sun shines again, I can move on. My husband also has learned that in order to help me through these months, he just lets me be. He listens, I usually cry about things that don't always make sense. He learned that he can't fix everything, but that sometimes just a hug or a soothing movie on the couch helps more than anything else. He also learned to accept that during these months little makes me smile.

I can't tell you if its the moon or the position of the stars during these months. I don't know if it was the high drama living I grew up with as a child. Sometimes I wonder if my expectations of the fall season were always so high that I crashed around them. I just know that during these months, life can be hellish for me. I also know that I have learned to get through them. Now the sadness doesn't last nearly as long, and I don't wreak havoc on my life. This year the move to Germany made these months a bit harder than I thought but I got through them, and I am feeling good these days. Oddly enough fall is still one of my favorite seasons.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gardens of Stone

The weekend in Bastogne we also visited the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg. Yes the one where General Patton is buried. While we did visit his gravesite, that wasn't the highlight of the visit. The cemetery is breathtakingly beautiful. It is also overwhelmingly sad all in the same breath. When you enter you see the rows upon rows of stoic stone crosses with the occasional star of David interspersed throughout. As I walked up to the first row of markers, I noticed that the Star Spangled Banner had started playing from a tower-like structure behind me. As our National Anthem played tears just flowed down my cheeks at the loneliness of being buried on foreign soil, at the sacrifice that so many paid for the cause of freedom, at the debt that is owed to these individuals. Three or four more songs followed after the National Anthem, and I can only remember America the Beautiful and Swing Low Sweet Chariot, all of them instrumental. I couldn't stop crying. I took pictures to remember the lighting at the cemetery that day, as the sun finally peaked through the clouds and rays of sunlight bathed the Garden of Stone in glorious streaks of warm sun.
I went to the tower that was providing the only remembrance from home these soldiers were getting: music.  It turned out it was a chapel; the place where I said a quick thank you to all those who came before me. We didn't stay long in that amazing Garden of Stone, but you don't have to be there long to have a lasting impression of their final military formation.

*First picture says Dec 81 underneath however that is part of the iPhone app that I use to take the black and white shots. (Hipstamatic App)

The Battle of the Bulge

It's not everyday that you get to walk the same area of the largest battle fought by Americans during WWII. It's not everyday that you get to see hundreds of people come out and reenact the heroism that took place in that small town in Belgium. I got to experience this first hand the weekend of December 10th, and it was amazing! We (hubby and I) took our son on a Scouting adventure and stayed in a wonderfully renovated train station in Luxembourg. We walked the area of the battlefield and saw cars, guns, people dressed up as if it was still 1944. The small town of Bastogne had been transported back in time and was reliving its struggles along with its huge successes. The best part was the idea that we should commemorate the memory of so many who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of this town and for all of Europe. We had a great time sifting through history and experiencing a sliver of what life may have been like at that time. I know at 10 my son has no clue what he was privileged to see that weekend. I can only hope that he one day looks back and remembers fondly that when he was 10 mom and dad took me to see Bastogne.

*The pictures below were taken using my iPhone and a special app that allows me to take 'vintage' type photos. Love this app! Hipstamatic - if you're wondering.