Saturday, December 6, 2014


Last Saturday my wonderful husband had the idea of loading up the kids and going out to find a Christmas tree.  I know some will find it antiquated, but I grew up with a live Christmas tree and the "hunt" for the perfect tree is one of my favorite holiday traditions.  So off we went.

Speaking of family traditions, Whit has begun his own.  For the third year in a row he has tried to make the tree hunting process as difficult and un-enjoyable as possible.  The first time, when he was just 18 months old, he ran from one end of the tree farm to the other, on a mission.  Come to find out there was a play set over the fence that he couldn't play on. Cue tears.  Last year the frigid weather had him curled as tightly to his Nana as possible while Kirk, Eilidh and I found, posed with and cut down a tree.  This year, although the best to date, he firmly planted himself in his seat and stated "I'll just wait for you here in the truck while you go and cut down the tree."  Ah... perhaps in ten years he will realize how fun it is to bundle up and traipse among evergreen trees for hours in search of PERFECTION?

Now, everyone has their own idea of a perfect tree. My mother would settle for nothing but a Blue Spruce.  My sister prefers short, squat trees that need a little love and I would always pull my father's hand in the direction of the tallest most evenly balanced tree I could find.  You can imagine that deciding on a tree in that family really did take hours with my peace-making brother saying "Can't we just get this one?" at least a dozen times.

This year I had to contend with one grump who wanted a blue tree, a toddler who just wanted all of the trees and a husband who wanted to get the process over as quickly as possible since we had just spent a good five minutes convincing Whit to just leave the truck.

But, in the end, we found the "perfect" tree.  Just like we do every year.  It was Glorious. Full branches, a beautiful texture and color, just the right height and fatness. And was it ever balanced and even had a hint of blue in the green branches.

But, just like every other year, as we cut this perfect tree from the ground, dragged it home, trimmed and placed it in the tree stand we realized just how perfect it wasn't.  Suddenly all I could see was that the tree was leaning to one side.  We had to catch the thing three times as it fell, unbalanced from the tree stand.  As the branches settled after cutting the bright blue twine away I noticed that several stuck out at odd angles and there were far more bare spots than I had remembered from just an hour before.

So there we were, with a gloriously imperfect tree.   As we breathed deep calming breaths and discussed our ignorance and poor choosing I looked Kirk in the eye and said "At least there's a good blog post in this."  Because there is.

This tree is a metaphor for our lives.  Everyone has a different idea of perfect.  And when we look at our own or others' lives for just a brief moment it's easy to see the vision of perfection.  It's only when we get the tree home and really look at the details that we realize there is nothing at all perfect about it.  There are bare spots.  There are parts of our lives that don't fit neatly together, that stick out at us every time we look in the mirror.  You never know when that perfectly balanced tree is actually going to turn out to have a twisted trunk because it has grown on a hill or had branches cut and shaped to appear that way.

And when you realize your tree isn't perfect you have two choices.  You can toss it in the burn pile and go with an artificial, always perfect tree or you can decorate what you have.  You can place ornaments like memories on the branches not to disguise but to accentuate the imperfections.  You can find the perfect bare spot for your ballerina ornament and happily place your childhood Rudolf on the top because the type of tree you have is too bendy for the ornate star topper.  You can turn the tree, just so, to find the side that is the most "normal" to show to the world and then sit back on the couch and see the tree leaning toward the wall and knowing that it's only the tight screws at the very base of the tree that is keeping everything from falling apart.

Photo Updates 2014

The first week of August I began a new job, my first since Eilidh's birth.  Just a few weeks later we moved into our new home and started the settling process.  So here we are, months and months later and I've finally downloaded pictures from the last six months from our camera to our new computer setup.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Thankful November

It's been far too many days since my last blog post.  I can blame it on many things but the simple truth of the matter is that I moved it off of my priority list for too long.  During the month of November I challenged myself to find one different thing to be thankful for every day, and quite a challenge it was.  Some days were easy and some were much more difficult.  November of 2014 proved to be one of the more challenging months of my entire year; a fact I wasn't expecting when I began this journey of thankfulness.  But you know what?  I learned more through this simple exercise than I expected.  I learned that so much of how life treats you is a reflection of how you treat life.  Even if I didn't start out each day in a thankful mood, I did my best to end it that way.  And I found that I could turn around almost all of my frustrations just by saying "I'm thankful...."

 A Thankful November

Day 1: I am thankful for today and the opportunity to be thankful every day.  This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24

Day 2: I'm thankful for my budding village and all the love and acceptance I've experienced since moving back to this sleepy small town.

Day 3: Technology. I'm grateful for the current technology that allowed so many distant friends to get in touch with me yesterday on my birthday -I'm blessed! And also for the ability for my children to get some face time with Grams and Papap!

Day 4: As I rush around in the morning trying to get myself and two little ones ready to explore our day I'm thankful for the wonderful women who love and care for my children while I go out on my mission to educate our youth.

Day 5: I'm thankful for the opportunity to educate myself and hopefully plant seeds of change in my community.

Day 6: It's not the majestic mountains of Alaska or the beautiful sunsets of the Hawaiin shore, but these rustic and cozy hills are home. I'm blessed to be nestled in this safe little valley especially now as the trees put on their finest colors.

Day 7: Sometimes you have someone in your life for whom you can never be thankful enough. Someone that, without, you would be unsure of your own identity. Someone who not only knows your entire history and completely gets you and accepts you, but still insists they like you. Someone who tells you that you are beautiful when you feel the least like it and tells you they love you when you feel the most alone. Today I'm thankful that I have a certain someone in my life who will fight for anything and everything they believe in, who puts EVERYTHING he has into EVERYTHING he does. And I'm thankful that the budding little family we share is at the top of that list.

Day 8: Saturdays....enough said.

Day 9: Without going into too much detail.... a self-sufficient 4 year old.

Day 10: I can't help but feel blessed to have the warm sun shining on my back and fresh air to breath as I walk through the last few "warm" days of Autumn.

Day11: I'm thankful for all the men and women who have served our country. I'm proud to call so many of them family.

Day 12: I'm thankful for people who give me the reassurance that there are others out there who see the world the same way I do and that I'm not alone in my beliefs and principle.

Day 13: I've enjoyed the warm days recently but this morning I welcomed the crisp cool wintery smelling air and I'm looking forward to the beauty of the first snowfall.

Day 14: Although a three hour delay threw the schedule-happy side of me for a loop today, I was thankful for the opportunity for a little extra cuddle time this morning with all of my most favorite people.

Day 15: Tonight I taught my four year old son about death. It hasn't been a great day and this will likely be (obviously) the most difficult post of the month. But the thing about death is that it brings life into sharper focus. It makes us sit back and think about, not one thing, but EVERYTHING that we have. I'm thankful for a man that taught me that life is to be lived and that a smile and friendly "Hello" can get you just about anything. I'm thankful for the times, however limited, that we had together and I'm thankful that every time I look into my daughters smiling blue eyes I will know that a little bit of Pap is living on in her.

Day 16: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:17 (ESV) I'm thankful for the peace that comes with knowing Him.

Day 17: Without the sun there would be no shadows; without the darkness we could not appreciate the light.  I am thankful for the light.

Day 18: Thankful for the strength of prayer.

Day 19: The last few days have passed in such a blur. As I prepare for another difficult 24 hours I'm thankful for all the warm arms that have made their way around me today.

Day 20: "Mom" is the best title I've ever had. I'm so thankful, especially today, for the two little ones who have taught me so much and can always make me smile.

Day 21: After an exhausting 72 hours, I was welcomed back to school this morning by many caring co-workers and loving students. Feeling blessed to be at work today (did I just say that?!)

Day 22: No matter the day, the situation or sentiment, I love every member of my big and crazy family. Whether you are related by blood, marriage or adoption (both formal and informal) I'm thankful for every single one of you.

Day 23 & 24: (I finally missed one!) I was so thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate new life last night. And I was especially grateful for my amazing Mother-in-law who does everything she can to make my life easier!
Psalm 139:13New International Version (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Day 25: I'm thankful for love, joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.

Day 26: I'm thankful that certain holiday foods allow you to remember those that you cannot be with.

Day 27: I no longer eat turkey, so for me thanksgiving is far more about giving thanks than devouring the bird. Today I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to see a few family members that we don't often see. We've had a simple, quiet day surrounded by love; I couldn't ask for anything more.

Day 28: Sisters

Day 29: I'm thankful for the freedom and opportunity to celebrate our special times.  Our yearly holiday activities are actually becoming "traditions" as Kirk and I enter into the fifth year of celebrating with our own small family and the fifteenth year of celebrating together.

Day 30: I'm thankful for the imperfections of my life.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Beach Days

I'm a little late posting these beach photos as we were beach-bound over a month ago.  But with our surprisingly busy summer I've just had time to sit and download just a few of the photos.

Eilidh exploring the suitcase

Running toward the ocean!

Loving the sand

Being adorable

Jumping waves with Daddy

"The ocean is awesome!"

Time for a rest

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lucky Number 7

Summer has always been a special time in our lives.

Our courtship began in the summer and for years we used summers to re-connect and stock up on time together before the cool winds of Autumn blew us back to us back to our respective colleges.

Then, one summer, Kirk asked me a very special question.  To which, of course, I replied "Yes."  That was seven years after our first date.

The following summer we stood up in front of our friends and family and vowed to love each other through all the good stuff and bad stuff (you know the rap).  Little did we know that after so many years of easy courtship we were about to really test those vows.  It seems that each year, near our anniversary something big is happening.

Sometimes the "something big" is amazing, sometimes not so much.  On our first anniversary I was a few days out from surgery and we signed the papers on our first house and moved to what would be our home for five years.  Our second anniversary was the most difficult to date and will likely remain so for a very long time, if not forever.  Our third anniversary I spent rocking and holding a precious 3 week old miracle. 

When we got to our fourth anniversary we finally had the opportunity to "celebrate" although the celebration was small and simple.  A few weeks later I changed career paths.  The celebration I had planned for our fifth anniversary fell by the wayside when I learned I was pregnant with Eilidh just a few days before.  Last year, our sixth anniversary, was spent unpacking boxes after uprooting our little family and sending Kirk off to his first week of a new adventure.

And that brings us to the end of year seven.  The seventh anniversary is sometimes considered a pivotal one in a marriage.  Even though we had years of courtship before getting married we've still done a tremendous amount of "getting to know you" and figuring out how to live this life we have together.  In the midst of all of that, we've moved two times (make that three if you count the one coming up), brought two children into the world and each changed jobs twice (OK, more for me...but who's counting?) It's true this isn't a "growing" year for us, but it is a moving year and a new job year as well.

And, since it is such a "big" anniversary, we are actually planning a celebration! Who knew it would ever happen? And, although I have a feeling we are in for more years of excitement I wouldn't mind a nice, quiet anniversary next year.  Check back in 365 days and I will let you know how it goes!

A little throw back - circa 2000

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The one thing I can't do

I grew up in a feminist leaning environment.  It's a whole other post, but let's just say that my mother was in the military and my father can iron, clean and do a pony-tail (or a special crimped style) on anyone!

I think our motto growing up was "Girls can do anything boys can do, usually better, and can do several things boys can't do too."

And I'll maintain that this is true.  I can do, pretty much, whatever any man in my life can do.  Granted, there are several things I choose not to do (like mowing grass) but that doesn't mean that I can't do them.  And then there are the things I can do that men can't (like gestate, and lactate).

But as I've gotten older I've learned, as we all do, that there really are some things we can't do.  The number one thing on my list that I can't do stems, in whole, from the fact that I'm female.  I simply cannot be a father.  No matter how hard I could try, wrestling on the floor, throwing baseball, giving the stern "don't mess with me" look, it still would never be the same. 

Men and women are not created equally.  Sure, stick us on the scale of life and we will balance. But balance does not mean equal, or remotely the same.  We are all unique, suited for certain things.  And since I'm not created to be a father, I'm grateful that I have a wonderful man in my life who was created for just that.